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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 9 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 30 Sep 2016, 4:46 pm

Global Prayer Digest People of the Day
Jogi People of India
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Jogi People of India
Sep 10, 2016 01:00 am

Today's Devotional

Deuteronomy 30:6, 8, 9, NKJV "And the LORD your God will circumcise your 
heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all 
your
heart and with all your soul, that you may live. … The LORD your God will 
make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in 
the
increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good. For 
the LORD will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your 
fathers."

Pray that the Jogi communities will rejoice the heart of God by loving Him 
in return for all His love He is pouring through them to their neighbors.

Today's People Group

(This story is intended to illustrate the beliefs of this people group.)
Shahina worked with her brothers to pose her father in the correct position, 
sitting cross-legged with his head turned north. “There, I think that’s it,”
she exclaimed. “Hand me the gourd of milk, the bread, and the earthen 
vessels.” Placing them carefully around the body they left the tomb 
satisfied that
their father’s soul would be sustained in the afterlife.
Shahina’s family are Jogis, which means they practice yoga, believing that 
if they gain control over their fleshly desires, mind, and their will, they
will have power to control nature and potentially become divine. Shahina’s 
father was a master of yoga and wore large pierced earrings proclaiming his
position. Her brothers must study for 12 years to obtain this honor. The 
Jogis believe they will obtain unity with a supreme being through their 
physical
exercises and disciplines. The Jogis speak several languages as they are 
drawn from many tribes and joined by their common devotion to yoga. Shiva is 
their
god. The “work” of the Jogis often consists of begging, telling fortunes, 
divination, and swindling people by selling cheap jewelry as gold.

Pray that there will be enough Christian workers called by God to take the 
gospel to the Jogis. There are no known followers of Christ among them.

Learn more at
Joshua Project.
Copyright © 2016 Frontier Ventures, All rights reserved.


How to Step Out in Faith to Help Change the World
Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of 
Caroline Barnett's book,
Willing to Walk on Water: Step Out in Faith and Let God Work Miracles 
Through Your Life
(Tyndale House, 2013).

The pervasive problems of our broken world – from poverty to crime – can 
seem overwhelming. But God can and does use individual people to help solve 
the
world’s problems. You are part of the miracle that God is looking for to 
help change the world. If you make yourself available to God, He will work 
through
your life in miraculous ways to bring healing and hope to people in need.

It all starts with taking the step of
faith
involved in saying “yes” when God calls you to follow Him. Stepping out to 
do what seems impossible can be scary – like trying to walk on water – but
God will help you keep walking because everything is possible for Him.

Here’s how you can step out in faith to help change the world:

Start by simply finding a need you can help meet close to home. Look around 
your local community and notice problems that especially bother you and 
motivate
you to want to do something to help solve. Pray about those problems, asking 
God to direct you to the one He most wants you to deal with right now. Once
you’ve identified a specific cause, plan a simple way to start working on 
it. Among the many possibilities: babysitting for a single mom in your 
neighborhood,
mowing the lawn of a local elderly person, giving rides to the grocery store 
or medical appointments to someone you know who doesn’t have a car, 
mentoring
a student in need, volunteering at a local homeless shelter or hospital, or 
participating in a local food bank drive.

Look for needs you can help meet throughout the world. Look beyond your 
local community to the greater world and consider what needs God may be 
leading
you to help meet there. Research an area of injustice that makes you 
particularly upset – from hunger to sex trafficking – and ask God to guide 
you to
specific ways you can take action to help alleviate that injustice, such as 
by supporting charities that are working for that same cause or contacting
legislators to work for law changes that relate to your cause.

Keep your motives in check. When you think you sense God leading you to 
serve in a specific way, check your motives by asking who it will help, who 
will
receive glory, and why you believe you should do it. Then spend some time 
studying the
Bible
to see if your desires line up with what God’s Word says about God’s love 
compelling you to serve others. Afterward, if you feel at peace, move 
forward
boldly to use your influence and initiate positive change.

Trust God to give you whatever you need to do the work He calls you to do. 
God will provide what you need to accomplish whatever tasks He wants you to
perform. Trust Him to do so one day at a time. Since God’s provision comes 
after you start walking in faith, go ahead and keep taking steps of faith, 
expecting
God to give you everything you need along the way.

Incorporate service into your life. Be assured that God won’t call you to 
serve others at the expense of other areas of your life; He will help you 
develop
a habit of serving others in ways that fit well into your other commitments 
(such as to your family and your job). Make your goal simply being faithful
in your particular season of life, and ask God to show you what that looks 
like. Determine which activities are and aren’t priorities for you. Then 
evaluate
and eliminate the current activities that don’t contribute to what matters 
most to you. Also be sure to make time regularly to unwind and recharge by 
doing
activities you personally enjoy; that will help strengthen you so you can 
keep serving others well.

Consider how you might partner with others to serve together. Contact other 
people in your community (from other churches to government agencies) that
are working for the same cause you’re working for and figure out how you can 
best work together.

Walk with confidence. Place your confidence in what God can do for you, 
rather than in what you can do for God. Stay focused on God and His 
unlimited power
instead of on yourself and your own limited efforts; remember that anything 
is possible with God. Don’t let feelings of guilt, shame, brokenness, fear,
insecurity, and regret over your sin make you feel unworthy to serve others 
as God leads you. Instead, make a habit of confessing and repenting of your
sin so you can walk confidently with the forgiveness and grace that God will 
give you when you do. Remember that God loves you completely, and that no
one other than God should decide your value. Also keep in mind that the only 
qualification you need to serve others is an ability to love God and other
people.

Expect to be blessed yourself when you answer God’s call to bless others. 
God – who is a loving father, not a harsh taskmaster – notices and 
appreciates
your efforts to serve people in need. God will bless you while He is 
blessing other people through your work serving them. When you serve others, 
you can
learn to: stand firm and steady, stop complaining, remember God’s goodness, 
get a better perspective, stop feeling entitled, leave the past behind, 
believe
that God will take care of you, always be teachable, and respect your 
leaders.

Fear only God. You don’t need to fear anything or anyone except for God 
Himself. Fearing God means having a healthy respect for His awesome power, 
and
doing your best to honor and obey God in everything you do and say. When you 
fear God, He will give you the peace you need to overcome any lesser fear,
so you can keep stepping out in faith as the Holy Spirit leads you to change 
the world for the better.

Adapted from
Willing to Walk on Water: Step Out in Faith and Let God Work Miracles 
through Your Life,
copyright 2013 by Caroline Barnett. Published by Tyndale Momentum, an 
imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Ill.,
www.tyndalemomentum.com.

A Place of Nothingness

"Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations. I 
will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10)

Do you find yourself in a place of nothingness? There is a time and place in 
our walk with God in which He sets us in a place of isolation and waiting.
It is a place in which all past experiences are of no value. It is a time of 
such stillness that it can disturb the most faithful if we do not understand
that He is the one who has brought us to this place for only a season. It is 
as if God has placed a wall around us. No new opportunities - simply 
inactivity.

During these times, God is calling us aside to fashion something new in us. 
It is a place of nothingness designed to call us to deeper roots of prayer
and faith. It is not a comfortable place, especially for a task-driven 
workplace believer. Our nature cries out, "You must do something" while God 
is saying,
"Be still and know that I am God."

You know the signs that you have been brought into this place when He has 
removed many things from your life and you can't seem to change anything. 
Perhaps
you are unemployed. Perhaps you are laid up with an illness.

Many people live a very planned and orchestrated life where they know almost 
everything that will happen. But for people in whom God is performing a 
deeper
work, He brings them into a time of quietness that seems almost eerie. They 
cannot see what God is doing. They just know that He is doing a work that 
cannot
be explained to themselves or to others.

Has God brought you to a place of nothingness? Be still and know that He 
really is God. When this happens, your nothingness will be turned into 
something
you will value for the rest of your life.

To receive The Daily Encourager FREE each weekday, click on the following 
link:
http://go.netatlantic.com/read/all_forums/subscribe?name=thedailyencourager
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Post  Admin on Thu 29 Sep 2016, 6:58 pm

Answered Prayer

When you pray continually about a concern, don't be surprised at how Christ 
answers.

Paul prayed to visit Rome so he could teach the Christians there. When he 
finally arrived in Rome, it was as a prisoner.

Paul prayed for a safe trip, and he did arrive safely - after getting 
arrested, slapped in the face, shipwrecked, and bitten by a poisonous snake.

God's ways of answering our prayers are often far from what we expect. When 
we sincerely pray, God will answer - although in his timing and sometimes in
ways we do not expect.

Life Application Study Bible

To receive The Daily Encourager FREE each weekday, click on the following 
link:
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What It Really Means to be a Christian
Nick Hall

“Spiritual?” Yes.

“Religious?” No way.

“Prayer?” Yes.

“Church?” Not for years.

“Jesus?” He’s cool.

“Christian?” It’s complicated.

Ask a millennial about their faith and you will likely find some mixture of 
the answers above. Barna recently polled millennial practicing
Christians
and found that most felt misunderstood (65%) and marginalized (59%). I 
should know since I spend time with about a million of them each year. It is 
my
dream to see this generation reset to know Jesus… and the term Christian is 
getting in the way.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus' followers were called Christian
(Acts 11)
by others because they shared Jesus’ words and followed his teaching. The 
term didn’t originate with Jesus, or even his followers, but rather was a 
public
attempt to name people living their life just like Jesus. Today, over half 
of the American population claims the title Christian and people around the
world think of America as a Christian nation.

Regardless of your religious conviction, I think we would all agree that if 
50 percent of our population was living like Jesus, our world would look 
very
different.

Christian today seems to be very far from its original meaning.

“So am I a Christian?”

While many may call me a professional Christian, I avoid using the term. If 
your definition of Christian is picket signs and politics, judgment and 
division,
then I will avoid the designation at all costs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not 
ashamed of my faith, I just can’t say the same for the faithful. It’s 
actually
a beautiful irony that the best thing about following Jesus is also the 
worst thing… and that is that Everyone is Welcome. This is amazing in that 
it means
that even people like me and you are invited! It’s not so amazing in that it 
means that even people like them are invited … and sometimes they are not
as cool as us.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that after 2,000 years of 
meetings,
Christianity
has a few awkward associations to wade through. But the focus was never 
supposed to be on our perfection, rather that imperfect people are welcomed 
by
the perfect one. Sometimes I wonder if the term Christian is getting in the 
way of people meeting Jesus rather than assisting the introduction.

Jesus told us that his life mission was to love the world, not to condemn it 
(
John 3:16-17).
He told his followers that he was the way, truth and life—and that he came 
to open the doorway to God (
John 14:6).
He served endlessly, loved selflessly, and gave joyfully—even laying down 
his own life as payment for our brokenness.

I’m not sure Jesus would even want to be known as Christian in our world 
today. Some say that Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like 
your
Christians.” And rather than turning this into a discussion on proper 
sourcing, I think the truthful sting of the quote is what’s made it stick. 
Jesus
wasn’t the poster boy for the religious establishment of his day and every 
time his followers wanted to organize into some kind of organizational 
scheme,
he flipped over some tables and told them he was working toward a Kingdom 
coming.

The truth is, Christian often means the opposite of the message Jesus 
carried. Jesus told us to love our enemies. Most define Christians by who 
their enemies
are. Jesus opened the door to heaven. Christian often refers to the bouncers 
trying to keep people from getting in. While I once looked for a fake ID 
like
every other adolescent, I’m pretty sure this isn’t the kind of club we hoped 
to get into. The fact that
close to 60 percent
of young adults are leaving the church only reinforces my point.

"So am I a Christian?”

I love Jesus and believe he is the only leader in human history truly worth 
following. But Jesus never invited anyone to be a Christian. So why should
I?

If Christian describes voter blocks and those standing against certain 
people or issues, I’m not sure any of us should claim the title. If 
Christian refers
to those who have it all figured out, then I definitely don’t belong—I am 
simply trying my best to look to Jesus.

I don’t believe the world needs more Christians. I do believe it needs more 
Jesus.

In an era of politics and posturing, bullying and judgment, plastic smiles 
and social memes, Jesus stands alone. He made "campaign promises" and backed
up his words in blood, dying on a cross to open the door to a better world. 
After three days in the grave, Jesus rose and invited his followers to live
for, and tell the world about him.

Jesus is not intimidated by our skepticism or questions because He has 
nothing to hide. He welcomes everyone, from all backgrounds, religions, 
creeds,
origins and orientations to "taste and see” that He is good, that He is 
love, that He is holy, that He is worth following. If you need a place to 
belong,
Jesus welcomes you.

Again, Jesus never called his followers Christian, but simply invited them 
(as He invites us) to learn from and follow Him. This was (and still is) the
most amazing and empowering invitation on earth. Unlike leaders who 
manipulate, Jesus lived for the least and even affectionately referred to 
his followers
as “friends”—something those of his stature didn't do.

“So… am I a Christian?”

While I avoid using the term, I am one of the many doing my best to know and 
follow Jesus. I believe he offers the leadership we need to anyone willing
to come.

Religious or not. Spiritual or not. Christian or not. There is room at the 
table for you.

Nick Hall is the founder of PULSE, which is calling for one million 
Americans to gather on the National Mall at Together 2016, and is the author 
of
RESET: Jesus Changes Everything
(Multnomah, June 2016).

That Verse Before
by John UpChurch, Crosswalk.com Contributor

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I 
have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether
well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Philippians 4:12

I’d rather live a
Philippians 4:13
type life. But that verse before it always gets me. I’d rather jump right 
into the “doing all things through him who gives me strength” without 
slogging
through the “content in any and every situation” part. The second verse 
makes for such great posters, but now, when I read it, all I can think is 
“whether
living in plenty or in want.”

Talk about a buzzkill.

But God’s plans come in a larger size than my earthly satisfaction. He wants 
my sanctification, my being-made-more-like-Jesus-ness. He wants me to see
that His riches don’t come with dour-looking presidents or expiration dates 
or limited warranties. They aren’t earned by the sweat of my brow. Instead,
His riches come pouring down in my contentment.

Paul told Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6),
and he’s driving at the same thing here in Philippians. “Strength,” 
according to the world, boils down to laying claim to the most stuff--power, 
model
spouses (emphasis on the plural), houses, and influence. But those who think 
that way can never be content no matter the situation. When their “strength”
disappears, they wilt. Some do whatever it takes to get back to where they 
were; some end up in rehab; and some see no reason to live. Some strength, 
huh?

Jesus doesn’t play by our rules, though. His Beatitude bunker busters make 
that pretty clear (see Matthew 5).
The weak, the poor, the hungry--those are the ones who receive the 
treasures. You see, Jesus does want us to get to
Philippians 4:13,
but to do that, He has to demolish our strongholds by taking us through
Philippians 4:12.
We’re strong through Him only when we’ve learned to clear the detritus of 
what we think we need in this world and see Him for the all-sufficient 
treasure
that He really is (Colossians 2:3).

We can do all things through Him who strengthens us. But to get to that 
point, we have to learn satisfaction in His “all things,” the plans He has 
for
us. That’s because it’s His strength, not ours.

Intersecting
Faith
& Life: God’s plans for us don’t always send us down the paths we might 
choose. Okay, they rarely do. That’s why true contentment becomes so vital 
for
the Christ follower. And the only way we can get there is to die and die and 
die. Every day we die to the things that supposedly make us strong in this
world. Every day we kill the need to have more, to be more. Every day we die 
for Him.

You are strong--right where your contentment in Christ begins.

For Further Reading

Matthew 5
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Post  Admin on Wed 28 Sep 2016, 10:25 pm

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"(Jesus said) A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be 
scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not 
alone,
for my Father is with me." (John 16:32)

By Answers2Prayer
Never Ever Alone! Why I am a Christian, part 4

Jesus was never alone. His Father was constantly with him, and He made 
certain we would never be alone either: "And surely I am with you always, to 
the
very end of the age." (Matt 28:20b, NIV2)

This message is all over the Bible: "I am with you and will watch over you 
wherever you go . . ." (Gen 28:15a, NIV2) and "Do not be afraid, for I am 
with
you . . ." (Isa 43:5a, NIV2)

We do not have to worry about anything, as long as we shimmer in the 
presence of our Heavenly Father, who is actively present in our lives. In 
trouble?
Ask for His help. His response? "'Because he loves me,' says the Lord, 'I 
will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will 
call
upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will 
deliver him and honor him.'" (Ps 91:4,5 NIV)

We truly are covered by His presence, so much so that He compares our 
relationship with Him as: "He will cover you with his feathers, and under 
his wings
you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." 
(Psalms 91, 4 NIV)

Let me illustrate this with two personal interactions with my Father.

1. "The Smiling Cloud"

Two years ago, I truly experienced what is known as the "empty-nest 
syndrome". For the first time of my life, both my sons were away from home, 
one attending
university and the other attending seminary on the other side of our huge 
country. Gone were the days of seeing their ready smiles. Now I would only 
get
to see them for a few days every year.

As this was my youngest's first solo flight into no-man's land, my wife 
decided to accompany him. Now, I completely supported this idea; still, I 
found
myself completely alone at home. The "empty-nest syndrome" became way too 
vivid, and it didn't take me long to fall into self-pity.

Still, during this time of duress and loneliness, my Heavenly Dad came 
through big time. I remember one afternoon, just when I was completely 
demoralized,
I looked through my bedroom window and was greeted by a smiling cloud.

A smiling cloud???

I couldn't believe my eyes. I had never seen such a thing before, and deep 
down, I felt my Dad's presence, reassuring me with this "smile", 
hand-crafted
by Him for me alone, that He was with me.

Wow! I found myself filled with adrenaline. Rushing downstairs, I took a 
couple pictures of the cloud. After all, no one would believe what I had 
experienced!
I eventually enlarged one of the pictures, and it now hangs in my living 
room. Whenever I feel I am down for some reason, I look at it, and I cannot 
help
but smile, for my Father is with me.

God didn't stop by only blessing me with a smiling cloud, however. On my 
daily 4K walk, I met people who not only nodded at me as usual, but also 
smiled
brightly at me. Not one or two, but many of them. It's as if they knew what 
I was going through and were there to brighten my day. We have no idea how
powerful smiles truly are. These filled me with hope and love, for I knew my 
Heavenly Dad was making this possible." (See
http://www.sermonillustrator.org/illustrator/sermon36/Smiling%20Cloud.htm
)

2. "Lost in St. John"

Our most memorable "get lost" event in St. John, New Brunswick is when we 
were attempting to return to our camp after visiting the Reversing Falls-a 
phenomenon
that occurs where the Saint John River empties into the Bay of Fundy and is 
only made possible by the magnitude of the Fundy tides. We had struggled 
manfully
(or womanfully, as my wife was driving!) Through the maze of roads; but the 
streets of Saint John weren't cooperating. You see, the street names and 
city
indications didn't match what we found on our map, and we soon found 
ourselves utterly lost. Again. Only this time it was in a lugubrious section 
of town!
The houses that weren't completely falling apart had their windows and doors 
boarded up, and other than the homeless who were wandering the streets, 
there
was no other soul to be seen. It seemed that the more we tried to figure it 
out, the more we found ourselves lost in the grip of this grim side of town.

Once again we pulled over to the side of the road, and our now well-used 
city map again appeared spread out over the dash board as we tried, 
unsuccessfully,
to figure out just WHERE we were. A few prayers were raised heavenward, for 
after having had plenty of practice at getting lost that day, we personally
knew the nervous breakdown that was awaiting us.

All of sudden, a city bus appeared from around the corner, slowed down and 
stopped right beside us.

"Oh great!" Thought my wife as she dutifully rolled down the window. "Am I 
parked in front of the bus stop?" She called up to the driver, fully 
expecting
to be yelled at.

To our amazement, the driver was smiling. "No," he answered in a pleasant 
tone of voice. "Just thought you might need some help. Are you lost?"

"How did you know?" Asked my wife, still in shock that a bus driver, on duty 
even, would care about a vanload of tourists.

"I saw your Ontario plates and your map," he said with a grin. "Besides, 
anyone finding themselves in THIS part of town MUST be lost! Where are you 
heading?"

We explained where we were going, and he told us to follow him. We did, and 
he led us to the next bus stop where he got out of his bus, came back to our
van, and proceeded to shed some much-needed light on our map. He then told 
us that he drove a Toyota too, and he always had a soft place in his heart 
for
fellow Toyota drivers. We were left wondering, however, if he didn't have a 
variety of cars at home, and if he didn't have a soft place in his heart for
drivers of ALL makes and models! In any case, he made us feel that we were 
the highlight of his day, and his huge smile made us feel welcome in a city
that, up until then, hadn't seemed to greet us with open arms. (see
http://www.sermonillustrator.org/illustrator/sermon12/lost_in_saint_john.htm
"

There are so many other experiences I could share with you to show how real 
God is in our daily lives; but if I did so, this devotional would be beyond
a thousand pages. We truly are never alone as God's love fills us up. Wow!

If you want to experience this, come to our Heavenly Father and ask Him 
genuinely to experience Him fully. You will be astonished!

Lonely or lost? God will come through!

Rob Chaffart

Announcement:

If you would like to share your testimony with others, feel free to
send it for consideraion to us.

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


I Will Stand
by Chuck Swindoll

Esther 4:12-16

When it comes to touching the heart, few things do it as well as a song or a 
story. We all know occasions where the right music combined with the right
lyrics wooed us or someone we know back to God. Sometimes it is a song that 
our mother taught us, or some moving hymn we learned years ago in church. 
Nostalgia
serves us best when it's a magnet, drawing our hearts back to God.

A story will do the same, softening the soil of our souls. When you have the 
right characters who carry out life's issues in a plot that is mixed with
adventure, surprise, and some humor, along with purpose and an ultimate 
moral, there's something about that story that sweeps us into a right state 
of
mind. Esther is just such a story. It has adventure and suspense mixed with 
courage and hope, plus a touch of humor and certainly a twist of surprise.

What a great film or play Esther would make. Can't you just hear the words 
of Mordecai ringing with passion as he says, "If you remain silent at this 
time,
relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you 
and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not 
attained
royalty for such a time as this?"

And then, with incredible courage, Esther herself replies, "Go, assemble all 
the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for 
three
days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And 
thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I 
perish,
I perish."

I can hear the applause as the curtain closes on this act with this grand 
speech that prepares our leading lady to take her place in history.

It reminds me of something C. S. Lewis said about the importance of being 
loyal to a cause that is greater than ourselves. He likened that quality to 
a
person's chest. "What we need are people with chests." The old American word 
for this is "guts." We need people with guts who will say, "I will stand for
this, and if I must die for it, then I die."

Will you be one of those people?

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.

Insight's Bible Application Guide: New Testament
Watch Video
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Copyright © 2016 Insight for Living Ministries. All rights reserved 
worldwide.

Rivers and Trees
August 31, 2016

Read:
Revelation 22:1-5
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, 
flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the 
street
of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its 
twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree
were for the healing of the nations. (vv. 1-2)

The Bible begins and ends with rivers and trees. Have you noticed? The Bible 
begins (Genesis 1-2) and ends (Revelation 21-22) with rivers and trees.

Way back in Genesis we were told a tale of two trees. Now in Revelation we 
find one of those trees smack dab in the center of the renewed and perfected
heaven-on-earth. In the middle of this garden-city is the tree of life, with 
twelve kinds of fruit, food for each month. In God’s good future, there 
always
is something to eat, no one goes hungry, all are fed.

And the leaves of this great tree are for the healing of the nations. No 
more trees used as weapons to kill or destroy. This tree is for the 
reconciliation
of all peoples. This tree is for the flourishing of life. In this city 
stands a tree and flows a river so that all things are nourished, so that 
all things
are the way they are supposed to be, so that shalom may be fully realized.

Prayer:
God of restoration and renewal, help us rest in the promise of the 
resurrection and in the vision of this redeemed city, with its tree of life.

Author: Steven Bouma-Prediger
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Post  Admin on Tue 27 Sep 2016, 3:01 pm

TANGLED HAIR

Knoxville Airport - waiting to board the plane: I had the Bible on my lap 
and was very intent upon what I was doing. I'd had a marvelous morning with 
the
Lord. I say that because I want to tell you it is a scary thing to have the 
Spirit of God really working in you. You could end up doing some things you
never would have done otherwise. Life in the Spirit can be dangerous for a 
thousand reasons not the least of which is your ego...

I tried to keep from staring but he was such a strange sight. Humped over in 
a wheelchair, he was skin and bones, dressed in clothes that obviously fit
when he was at least twenty pounds heavier. His knees protruded from his 
trousers, and his shoulders looked like the coat hanger was still in his 
shirt.
His hands looked like tangled masses of veins and bones. The strangest part 
of him was his hair and nails. Stringy grey hair hung well over his 
shoulders
and down part of his back. His fingernails were long. Clean, but strangely 
out of place on an old man.

I looked down at my Bible as fast as I could, discomfort burning my face. 
There I sat trying to concentrate on the Word to keep from being concerned 
about
a thin slice of humanity served on a wheelchair only a few seats from me. 
All the while my heart was growing more and more overwhelmed with a feeling 
for
him. Let's admit it. Curiosity is a heap more comfortable than true concern, 
and suddenly I was awash with aching emotion for this bizarre-looking old
man. I had walked with God long enough to see the handwriting on the wall. 
I've learned that when I begin to feel what God feels, something so contrary
to my natural feelings, something dramatic is bound to happen. And it may be 
embarrassing.

I immediately began to resist because I could feel God working on my spirit 
and I started arguing with God in my mind. "Oh no, God please no." I looked
up at the ceiling as if I could stare straight through it into heaven and 
said, "Don't make me witness to this man. Not right here and now. Please. 
'I'll
do anything. Put me on the same plane, but don't make me get up here and 
witness to this man in front of this gawking audience. Please, Lord!"...

There I sat in the blue vinyl chair begging His Highness, "Please don't make 
me witness to this man. Not now. I'll do it on the plane." Then I heard 
it..."I
don't want you to witness to him. I want you to brush his hair."

The words were so clear, my heart leapt into my throat, and my thoughts spun 
like a top. Do I witness to the man or brush his hair? No brainer. I looked
straight back up at the ceiling and said, "God, as I live and breathe, I 
want you to know I am ready to witness to this man. I'm on this Lord. I'm 
you're
girl! You've never seen a woman witness to a man faster in your life. What 
difference does it make if his hair is a mess if he is not redeemed? I am on
him. I am going to witness to this man."

Again as clearly as I've ever heard an audible word, God seemed to write 
this statement across the wall of my mind. "That is not what I said, Beth. I 
don't
want you to witness to him. I want you to go brush his hair." I looked up at 
God and quipped, "I don't have a hairbrush. It's in my suitcase on the 
plane,
How am I suppose to brush his hair without a hairbrush?"

God was so insistent that I almost involuntarily began to walk toward him as 
these thoughts came to me from God's word: "I will thoroughly finish you 
unto
all good works." (2 Tim 3:7) I stumbled over to the wheelchair thinking I 
could use one myself. Even as I retell this story my pulse quickens and I 
feel
those same butterflies. I knelt down in front of the man, and asked as 
demurely as possible, "Sir, may I have the pleasure of brushing your hair?"

He looked back at me and said, "What did you say?" "May I have the pleasure 
of brushing your hair?" To which he responded in volume ten, "Little lady,
if you expect me to hear you, you're going to have to talk louder than that. 
At this point, I took a deep breath and blurted out, "SIR, MAY I HAVE THE
PLEASURE OF BRUSHING YOUR HAIR?"

At which point every eye in the place darted right at me. I was the only 
thing in the room looking more peculiar than old Mr. Longlocks. Face crimson 
and
forehead breaking out in a sweat, I watched him look up at me with absolute 
shock on his face, and say, "If you really want to."

Are you kidding? Of course I didn't want to. But God didn't seem interested 
in my personal preference right about then. He pressed on my heart until I
could utter the words, "Yes, sir, I would be pleased. But I have one little 
problem. I don't have a hairbrush."

"I have one in my bag," he responded. I went around to the back of that 
wheelchair, and I got on my hands and knees and unzipped the stranger's old 
carry-on
hardly believing what I was doing. I stood up and started brushing the old 
man's hair. It was perfectly clean, but it was tangled and matted. I don't 
do
many things well, but I must admit I've had notable experience untangling 
knotted hair mothering two little girls. Like I'd done with either Amanda or
Melissa in such a condition, I began brushing at the very bottom of the 
strands, remembering to take my time not to pull.

A miraculous thing happened to me as I started brushing that old man's hair. 
Everyone else in the room disappeared. There was no one alive for those 
moments
except that old man and me. I brushed and I brushed and I brushed until 
every tangle was out of that hair. I know this sounds so strange but I've 
never
felt that kind of love for another soul in my entire life. I believe with 
all my heart, I - for that few minutes - felt a portion of the very love of 
God.
That He had overtaken my heart for a little while like someone renting a 
room and making Himself at home for a short while. The emotions were so 
strong
and so pure that I knew they had to be God's.

His hair was finally as soft and smooth as an infant's. I slipped the brush 
back in the bag, went around the chair to face him. I got back down on my 
knees,
put my hands on his knees, and said, "Sir, do you know my Jesus?"

He said, "Yes, I do." Well, that figures.

He explained, "I've known Him since I married my bride." "She wouldn't 
marry me until I got to know the Savior." He said, "You see, the problem 
is, I
haven't seen my bride in months. I've had open-heart surgery, and she's been 
too ill to come see me. I was sitting here thinking to myself. What a mess
I must be for my bride."

Only God knows how often He allows us to be part of a divine moment when 
we're completely unaware of the significance. This, on the other hand, was 
one
of those rare encounters when I knew God had intervened in details only He 
could have known. It was a God moment, and I'll never forget it. Our time 
came
to board, and we were not on the same plane. I was deeply ashamed of how I'd 
acted earlier and would have been so proud to have accompanied him on that
aircraft.

I still had a few minutes, and as I gathered my things to board, the airline 
hostess returned from the corridor, tears streaming down her cheeks. She 
said,
"That old man's sitting on the plane, sobbing. Why did you do that? What 
made you do that?"

I said, "Do you know Jesus? He can be the bossiest thing!" And we got to 
share. I learned something about God that day. He knows if you're exhausted 
because
you're hungry, you're serving in the wrong place or it is time to move on 
but you feel too responsible to budge. He knows if you're hurting or feeling
rejected. He knows if you're sick or drowning under a wave of temptation. Or 
He knows if you just need your hair brushed. He sees you as an individual.
Tell Him your need!

I got on my own flight, sobs choking my throat, wondering how many 
opportunities just like that one had I missed along the way... all because I 
didn't
want people to think I was strange. God didn't send me to that old man. He 
sent that old man to me.

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

By Beth Moore
From her book "Further Still"
www.lproof.org/

KenBible.com

New Post on KenBible.com - One by One
----------------------------------------------------------

One by One

Posted: 28 Aug 2016 09:55 PM PDT

Our magnificent God created the entire physical universe with a word. His 
sovereignty is so complete that He simply expresses His will, and matter 
obeys.

When Jesus came, surely He could have healed the same way. With just a word 
He could have healed an entire village, an entire nation, the whole world.
But He did not. He healed personally, individually, one by one.

He healed in many different ways. Healing was not a technique but a personal 
exchange. He always established personal contact with the one requesting the
healing, whether with the needy person or their representative (sick people 
often can’t speak for themselves). From the petitioner, there was an 
expression
of faith. Then from Jesus, a word…a look…sometimes a touch…and a changed 
life.

Jesus shared the Father’s love person to person, face to face. How else 
could you fully express such a deep, personal, intimate love?

He calls us, His servants and friends, to express God’s love the same way to 
each of His loved ones all around us: person to person, one by one.

Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord; and our hearts are restless until 
they rest in Thee. --Augustine

Life is a struggle. Anybody will tell you that. No matter where we end up, 
we will wrestle with problems, be they financial, emotional, physical, or a
host of other difficulties. As many as there are, so are there more tactics 
to deal with them. Fathers of earth will have millions of different 
solutions,
be it to let them sort out themselves or to slam your nose to the grindstone 
until there's nothing left.

Unlike either of those stances, our heavenly Father tells us one thing that 
encompasses any problem we might face:

...and I will give you rest.
--Exodus 33:14

God will give us rest? Some of us had fathers who pushed and pushed us to 
the brink of mental and physical exhaustion. God the Father is different. He
comforts us. Yes, He has things for you to do--and those things are very 
important--but Scripture makes it clear that those things are done by 
depending
on God's strength working through us, rather than by us using our strength 
to try to do things for Him.

It was I [God] who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they 
did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human 
kindness,
with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the 
cheek and I bent down to feed them.
--Hosea 11:3-4

In this passage from Hosea, we see that God not only takes our burdens, but 
He WANTS to take them because of His unending love for us! There is no limit
to what He is able to handle, nor to what He will do for you. That brings up 
a pretty deep question:

What have you been struggling with in your own strength, rather than 
trusting it to the Father who loves you?

Father, take the burdens I've placed on myself. I can't tackle these things 
on my own. I release what I've been trying to do myself to You. I give up 
trying
on my own. I trust in Your strength so I may constantly rest in Your 
comfort. Amen.

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

" Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer 
who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his 
enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the 
crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. “The farmer’s 
workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good 
seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “ ‘An enemy has done this!’ 
the farmer exclaimed. “ ‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “ ‘No,’ 
he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until 
the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them 
into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’ ”" (Matthew 
13:24-30, NLT)

" Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples 
said, “Please explain to us the story of the weeds in the field.” Jesus 
replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field 
is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The 
weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the 
weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and 
the harvesters are the angels. “Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned 
in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. The Son of Man will send 
his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin 
and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, 
where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will 
shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear 
should listen and understand!" (Matthew 13:36-43, NLT)

When the disciples heard this parable they knew about the weeds that enemies 
would sow among wheat to make the wheat be of less quality. When both plants 
are young you cannot tell them apart. When they mature you can see the grain 
on the wheat and tell which plant is which. But by then the roots of the 
weeds have grown so and meshed with the roots of the wheat so that if the 
weeds were pulled the wheat would come up with them.

What does this parable say to us?

First, Jesus is telling us that there will be a judgment. This will happen 
when He returns.

Second, Jesus is telling us it is not our place to condemn people. Why are 
we not to condemn? One reason may be that even though we might know the 
Bible from cover to cover we might think we know who is wheat and who is a 
weed but we could be wrong. It could be like once when I was younger when my 
mother took me out to a flower bed. She pointed out the different flowers 
then told me the other plants were weeds and that I was to pull them up. 
Later when she checked on me I found out that I had pulled some flowers and 
left some weeds. I thought I knew what should stay and what should go. The 
same would happen if we were in charge of the condemning.

Another reason we are not to condemn is that we may not be able to tell the 
wheat from the weeds. The disciples didn’t know there was a weed among them. 
At the Last Supper Jesus told them that one of them would betray Him. The 
disciples didn’t point at Judas. They asked, “Lord, Is it I?” We need to 
examine ourselves to see if we are truly trusting in what Jesus did for our 
salvation and whether we are living the way He would want us to.

So that is all this parable is saying but that would mean that we are not to 
condemn but just let the weeds be and let them burn later. If we read the 
Bible we know that Jesus wishes that no one would perish so it is up to us 
to show the world His love.

We need to show love to other wheat (believers) to encourage them and not do 
things to uproot them. We need to show the love of Christ to the weeds 
(unbelievers) also. In nature a weed can never become wheat but a human weed 
can become human wheat. As we show the love of Christ to the unbelievers 
they might become believers. So let us all be wheat in the weeds.

by Dean W. Masters

Should We Help Believers Escape Persecution?
Nik Ripken / August 22, 2016
Should We Help Believers Escape Persecution?

Let’s rewrite the biblical story found in Genesis 39–41. Let’s make it more 
Western. Let’s make the story fit the way most of us think about the church
and the mission field.

Imagine getting this newsletter from one of your overseas workers. The 
newsletter says this:

Our brother, whom we love, has been arrested in Egypt and is in prison. 
Family whom he loved and trusted sold him into slavery and betrayed him to 
the
authorities. We know that he has remained faithful to God, and has refused 
to pay bribes that would help him escape from prison. Because of his faith,
he has been transferred to the dreaded central prison with the rest of the 
nation’s worst enemies.

How would we respond as the church? What actions would we take? Typically, 
the Western church would rush in to rescue Joseph.

• We would write and forward emails.
• We would flood social media with appeals.
• We would contact our political representatives.
• We would highlight Joseph’s plight on radio and television.

The goal of our activity would be the release of Joseph from his unjust 
imprisonment. And we would feel justified in almost any action — perhaps 
even military
intervention — to have Joseph set free.

The High Cost of Extraction

And maybe Joseph would be released. Followers and friends of Jesus would 
rejoice! We would thank God that our Joseph has been saved from prison. And 
we
would even be satisfied that one of the conditions of his release would 
include Joseph’s relocation to another country where he would be safe 
because he’s
no longer a thorn in the nation’s side.

Imagine then, years later, that a great famine hits Egypt and the 
surrounding countries. Because of his rescue, Joseph is not in prison when 
Pharaoh has
strange dreams. Joseph is not there to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams concerning 
seven years of plenty followed by seven years of terrible drought. As a 
result
of Joseph’s absence, Egypt squanders the food harvested in the seven good 
years. As a result of Joseph’s absence, Egypt is completely unprepared for 
seven
years of famine.

The famine is so devastating, in fact, that Egypt does not survive.

And because Egypt does not survive . . . the Jews in Egypt do not survive, 
either.

And that is the end of the story.

A Better Plan for Freedom

Of course the real story ends differently. Evidently, God knows when to 
leave Joseph in prison. God has a larger agenda in mind. God knows exactly 
what
is necessary for the salvation of both Egyptians and Jews.

Do we?

Do our churches, our sending agencies, and our organizations that study 
persecution know when to leave Joseph in Egypt? Despite our affection for 
Joseph,
do we understand that ultimately Joseph belongs to God, and that God can do 
with him whatever he desires? Is it possible for us to become emotionally,
psychologically, physically, and spiritually strong enough to know when to 
leave “our Joseph” with God in a seemingly dangerous place?

Advance or Extract?

Believers in persecution had much to teach us as we traveled among them for 
more than fifteen years. We listened to their stories. We learned that when
Western workers become personally and emotionally connected to believers in 
persecution, extraction of these believers often becomes the main objective.
In almost every case, we are desperate to get Joseph out of the hostile 
place, and away from persecution.

The apparent explanation for this is more than anecdotal, and less than 
statistical. It appears that Western workers who become emotionally attached 
to
believers in persecution will attempt to extract about fifty percent of 
those believers to a safe country. This observation seems to apply to 
situations
of persecution all around the world. In the Islamic world, the frequency of 
extraction seems even higher, approaching seventy percent.

Imagine trying to start a church, even in the Bible belt of America, if 
seventy percent of the believers were pulled out and taken to another 
country.
For God, conquering through persecution rather than extracting from 
persecution is the norm.

The Western church typically takes the opposite approach. For us, extraction 
is the norm. Rescuing believers from persecution feels good. Significant 
funds
can be raised to extract a family from persecution and resettle them in a 
safe country. If we gave as much energy and attention to spreading the 
gospel
in hostile places as we have to extracting persecuted believers from them, 
the Great Commission may have already been finished by now.

The End of Extraction

Why is our view so different than God’s view? Here are some possible answers 
to that question:

1. We don’t want fellow believers to suffer for Jesus in ways we are 
unwilling to or can’t relate to.
2. We can’t imagine that prolonged suffering might be part of God’s plan.
3. We do not truly believe that Jesus is worth suffering for.

And because those truths drive our actions and attitudes, we replace a 
biblical theology of suffering with something less challenging.

As a result,

1. We demand that persecution of followers of Jesus stop.
2. We demand that those persecuting followers of Jesus be punished.
3. We strive to install Western forms of democracy, human rights, and civil 
rights in foreign lands, believing these will usher in the kingdom of God.
(Much to our surprise, there is no historical correlation between these 
Western forms and the kingdom of God!)
4. We make emotional appeals to raise huge sums of money to rescue more 
believers from persecution.

And the outcome of all of our seemingly good efforts? Critical masses of 
believers are removed from the environments where God has planted them.

In some places, the birth of the church is halted; in other places, the 
multiplication of the body of Christ is hindered. New followers of Jesus 
(perhaps
people from Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or Communist backgrounds) come to 
believe that living in a safe, Christian country is necessary in order to 
live for
Christ.

After long days of interviewing, we often asked followers of Jesus in 
persecution what they learned from Western workers. They typically looked at 
one
another and refused to respond.

When we pressed them for an answer, they would reply, “Western workers teach 
us to be afraid. Western workers teach us that it’s possible to follow Jesus
only in safe places.”

This is not simply a mistake. This is sin.

Not My Will, But Yours Be Done

Before Jesus was betrayed, he prayed a prayer made up of two parts (Matthew 
26:39). First, he asked his Father for the cup to pass. He prayed for the 
suffering
to be relieved. He asked if there was a way to avoid the crucifixion. He 
wanted to avoid the pain and public humiliation. But then, he prayed 
something
else. He asked that the will of the Father take precedent over his desire to 
avoid suffering.

Following Jesus’s example, we must pray both parts of his prayer. It’s only 
natural to pray for suffering to be avoided (for ourselves or for others).
But it is then essential to pray that God’s will to be done, whatever the 
cost to us.

It seems to be our highest aim to avoid crucifixion (for ourselves and for 
others). We cannot imagine that God would choose to use our suffering for 
his
purposes. It makes no sense to leave Joseph in harm’s way.

But God’s ways are not our ways. Crucifixion, suffering, imprisonment, and 
persecution open doors for resurrection and for gospel advancement. Those 
terrible
things make salvation possible.

Let’s trust God with Joseph — and with our own suffering. And in our trust, 
let’s watch and see what God will do.

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

Next Tuesday evening, August 30,
The Insanity of God
movie, telling Nik Ripken’s story, will be in select theaters nationwide in 
the United States. The movie features a Q&A with Nik and his wife and David
Platt.
Check your local listings
for showtimes.

What Is Your Body Saying?
Abigail Dodds / August 22, 2016
What Is Your Body Saying?

When you were reborn in Christ, what were you reborn as? The obvious answer 
is a Christian. This is the most beautiful truth in the world! But more 
specifically,
were you reborn as a new you, as a woman? Or in becoming a Christian do you 
now transcend your sex and body?

It is not incidental that God made women as women, and remade us in Christ 
as women, not men or androgynous humans. Our womanly bodies are now 
Christian
womanly bodies, designed and assigned by God himself. And they have 
something to tell us about our calling and mission in life — just as Eve’s 
body, different
from Adam’s, had something important to say about her calling, distinct from 
her husband’s.

Look at Your Body

The whisper of ancient Gnosticism and modern hubris would counsel us to 
ignore our bodies and look inward to discover our calling. Granted, 
self-knowledge
of our inner person is an aspect of how we discern what we’re made for. Yet, 
if we want to have a settled and lasting sense of what we’re supposed to be
doing with our lives, we’ll need something more fixed and unchanging than 
our internal selves. We need Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today,
and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and we need to observe the bodies he’s given us, 
created through him and for him (Colossians 1:16–17).

Why are hammers heavy and flat on one side? Why do books fit so nicely in 
your hand? Why is a piano bench just the right height and piano keys sized 
for
fingers? Why do hoses stretch long and attach to spigots? And why are women 
soft and tender — with breasts and arms and curved hips and feet and legs 
and
a mind and uterus and monthly cycle?

Is it all just a fluke? What does it matter?

Your Body and Your Calling

Perhaps you think I’m minimizing your personhood, reducing women to the sum 
of their parts, implying that women are no more than a baby incubator — or
worse, no more than their sexuality.

But hear me out, women are certainly more than their sexuality. We are more 
than our bodies, more than a uterus or arms and legs, more than our minds 
even,
but we are not less than those things. We are not less than the bodies God 
has given us. Bodies matter. And these bodies will take us to our dying day
or until he comes again — and then they will be made new and endure forever. 
So God thinks highly of our bodies. He’s not shelving the idea.

The devastating way our society treats the calling of women’s bodies is to 
cleverly uncover them and use them for power and money. How many daughters 
and
sisters and mothers and friends believe their bodies to be valuable only as 
they are objectified or viewed with lust? Or only as they earn capital for
them under the false banner of empowerment?

On the other hand, our society has shamelessly rejected modesty and 
purposeful functionality as practical enslavement. Instead of using a hammer 
to hammer,
we polish and paint it and hang it on the wall to stare at. Instead of 
making music with a piano, we refuse to have it tuned and super glue the 
keys in
place so they can’t strike a chord — but boy do they look like they could 
make music, were someone ever to try them out.

How much more is this the case in twenty-first-century America? With plastic 
surgery and an inordinate emphasis on appearance, our bodies have become 
something
like a mausoleum that we dare not spend or use for any purposes other than 
the ones we decide will benefit us. So while a woman may be quite happy to 
test
her body’s limits at the gym so that she looks cute and young in a new 
outfit, she wouldn’t dream of testing its limits in hard labor of any kind 
for a
purpose with no personal benefit, solely for the sake of another.

God Gave Women Wombs

God gave women wombs so that babies could grow in them. Does every woman’s 
womb grow a baby? No, and there is no lessening of womanhood in that. But 
that
doesn’t mean we miss God’s calling in his larger design. Wombs to grow 
humanity — that’s his mindboggling plan. It was God’s idea to give wombs to 
women,
just as he decided to give us arms to lift things.

And knowing that God gave arms for lifting and wombs for babies impacts our 
calling. If God designed our bodies to be a home to a tiny person for nine
months, then that understanding will help us to make sense of the 
instructions in Titus 2:4 and 1 Timothy 5:14 to work and manage the home. 
Why? Because
he actually made our bodies a home, and making a home for others is an 
extension of that.

I’m not saying that we all must be having as many babies as we can, or that 
our arms should be lifting in perpetuity, or that our legs should never stop
walking. I’m simply pointing to God’s design and asking the question, Why 
did he make us like this?

Are we willing to accept the answer inherent in God’s design and inerrant in 
his word?

Called and Broken

The truth, of course, about God’s clear design doesn’t leave us without 
complex pains and questions. What about women who have had mastectomies or 
hysterectomies,
or have had a leg amputated, or are blind, or in any way have a body that 
doesn’t function properly?

We begin by acknowledging that’s all of us at some level. Not all of us are 
missing parts, but all of us have a level of body dysfunction. That’s what
sin does: it corrupts the creation. And that doesn’t make us any less a 
woman, or our bodies any less relevant, or our calling any less important. A 
woman
who cannot make a home inside her body for children can still make a home 
for them outside of it. She can make a place of safety and warmth for 
others,
whether they’re her children or not.

Our youngest son is disabled. He has a body and mind that “don’t work the 
way they’re supposed to” — though we believe his body and mind work 
precisely
the way God intends. So what does it mean for our son to live a full life as 
an embodied soul, whose body has something to say about his calling? It 
means
that while his calling will remain the same — the call to live as a 
Christian man, God willing — how it works out will be different because he’ll 
be in
his particular body, not someone else’s.

We Sing Together

Likewise, God has given Christian women whose bodies have a womb, but can’t 
carry a baby, a harmonious outworking of the calling of a Christian woman.
As women, we’re all singing the same song, with the same goal, with our 
varied parts, some on melody, some on harmony and descant, and some sounding 
the
minor note. And while the song is beautiful, it is heartbreakingly so.

The painful ache for those who long to have the part of bearing children is 
agonizing. It is a grief worth grieving. It does not make you lesser as a 
woman;
you are loved and oh how we need you. Your body is not irrelevant, nor is 
your womb. It still points to something; it is still valuable and made by 
God,
and it still has a role to play.

Sometimes the glory God gets from our lack far exceeds what he gets from our 
fullness. Our wombs are God’s design and calling, but empty wombs still 
point
to greater realities — not despite the sorrow that comes with them, but with 
the sorrow as part of the pointer.

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Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact 
you are doing." (1Thess 5:11)

By Answers2Prayer
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Encouraging Others

I read of a man involved in a terrible accident. When they freed his mangled 
body, there was so little life left that he was almost given up for dead.
But when the surgeons had finished their work there remained only a wreck of 
a man.

Both legs were gone; the left arm was missing together with part of the 
collar bone. Only a finger and thumb remained on the right hand. There was 
only
enough left of the man that had been, to suffer and remember.

But he still possessed a brilliant mind, enriched with a good education and 
broadened with world travel. And it was all wasted. There was nothing he 
could
do but remain a helpless sufferer.

A thought came to him. It was always nice to receive letters, but why not 
write them - he could still use his right hand with some difficulty. But who
could he write to? Was there anyone shut in and incapacitated like he was 
who could be encouraged by his letters. He thought of men in prison - they 
did
have some hope of release whereas he had none - but it was worth a try.

He wrote to a Christian organisation concerned with prison ministry. He was 
told that his letters could not be answered - it was against prison rules,
but he commenced this one sided correspondence.

He wrote twice a week and it taxed his strength to the limit. But into those 
letters he put his whole soul, all his experience, all his faith, all his
wit, and all his Christian optimism. It must have been hard writing those 
letters, often in pain, and particularly when there was no reply. Frequently
he felt discouraged and was tempted to give it up. But it was his one 
remaining activity and he resolved to continue as long as he could.

At last he got a letter. It was very short, written on prison stationery by 
the officer whose duty it was to censor the mail. All it said was:

"Please write on the best paper you can afford. Your letters are passed from 
cell to cell till they literally fall to pieces."

No matter what our personal situation is, we still have God-given gifts and 
talents, experience and encouragement that we can share with others. As we
think of those who have suffered so terribly in Syria, remember that as they 
try to re-build their lives, and later their nation, encouragement and 
prayer
is perhaps all we can give but it is important.

Pastor Ron

Announcement:

Would you like to make a difference in the world? Why not join the 
Answers2Prayer team? We have many volunteer positions available. By joining 
in, you
can help in carrying out the Great Commission: Matt 28:18-20 “Then 
Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been 
given
to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the 
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them
to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to 
the very end of the age."

The time is right and we are in need of many laborers. Matt 9:37-38 "The 
harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, 
therefore,
to send out workers into his harvest field."

If compelled by God,
let us know.

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

Anne Graham Lotz - The Joy of Working Together
View this email in your browser

The Joy of Working Together
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Colossians 3:17, NKJV

What task has God assigned you? Has He assigned you to

establish a home,

strengthen a marriage,

lead a family,

serve a church,

teach in a classroom,

or comfort in a sick room?

Check your attitude toward the assignment. Do you grumble and complain about 
it? Do you neglect and ignore it? Do you resent and reject it? Or do you 
enjoy
fulfilling it as your service unto the Lord? God wants you and me to enjoy 
our service to Him, whatever it may be. And He also wants us to discuss each
detail with Him as we do the work. One of His pleasures, as well as ours, is 
the joy of working together as we complete the task. Often, the more 
difficult
the task, the greater the joy because it enables us to see the power of God 
and just what He can do in and through and for us.

Blessings,
Copyright © 2016 AnGeL Ministries, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up at 
www.annegrahamlotz.org.


Our mailing address is:
AnGeL Ministries
5115 Hollyridge Drive
Raleigh, NC 27612


Why Israel CAN'T be Palestine in 90 Seconds!
https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=IPFcH2In7D0

Unfulfilled Desire
by Sarah Phillips, Crosswalk.com Contributor

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, 
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do 
everything
through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4: 12 - 13

"For a long time I have not belonged to myself since I delivered myself 
totally to Jesus, and He is therefore free to do with me as He pleases." ~ 
St.
Therese of Lisieux

Do you have unrealized desires? They have a way of burning up our insides, 
don't they? Perhaps you wish to be married, but year after year remain 
single.
Or you wish for children, but remain childless. Or maybe you want to write 
books, but never make any headway.

Confusion and despair over unrealized desires feel the most intense when 
they seem natural and God-honoring. Doesn't the Lord want me to be married? 
Didn't
He place in me this desire to be a pastor? Didn't God give me these gifts? 
So why do all the doors remain closed?

I've been noticing a theme lately in the stories of revered Christian 
heroes. Most of them had personal desires that were put on hold or even went 
completely
unfulfilled - at least from the outside observer's perspective. Some of 
these desires seemed especially holy.

Take St. Martin of Tours for example. From an early age, this Christian 
convert's sole desire was to be a monk. But the laws in 4th century Rome 
required
him be a soldier - an occupation that did not suite him well. Even after 
the military finally released Martin, his plan to dedicate his life to 
solitary

prayer
never played out as he hoped. Martin's unique spiritual wisdom drew crowds 
to him and ultimately, the beloved monk was ordained a Bishop against his 
wishes.

St. Therese of Lisieux is another example. This French beauty from the 19th 
century longed to be a Carmelite nun and a missionary. While Therese's first
desire came true at the early age of 15, her second never did. At 22, 
tuberculosis limited her to her French convent.

Why does God allow some desires to go unfulfilled? There's no simple answer 
to that question, however, I think it's fair to say that when good desires
lay dormant, God does important work through us that might not otherwise 
have been possible. Paul articulates this when he is torn between two holy 
desires:
a desire for heaven and a desire to continue to build up the Church on 
earth. Through eyes of
faith,
he sees how God can work through both outcomes.

I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is 
better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 
Convinced
of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for 
your progress and joy in the faith
Philippians 1: 23 - 25

The same peace we see in Paul can be found in the stories of countless 
Christians who set their personal preferences aside.

In her autobiography
Story of a Soul,
St. Therese reflected, "God cannot inspire unrealizable desires. I can, 
then, in spite of my littleness aspire to holiness." Therese recognized that 
her
earthly desires really boiled down to a desire for God, and while her 
personal limitations frustrated her, they did not limit God's work in her 
life. Therese
spent her remaining two years on earth "in the mission fields" by praying 
for and corresponding with missionary priests who drew much strength from 
her
support.

St. Martin of Tours also accepted God's calling with peace in his heart. He 
made an excellent Bishop in spite of his introverted ways. The key to his 
contentment?
His love for God enabled him to love needy souls more than his solitary 
lifestyle.

While it's hard to accept that our personal desires sometimes have to be put 
on hold, it's also incredibly freeing. I think if you had a chance to speak
with Paul, Therese, or Martin they'd all agree that life is much more 
fulfilling when the Creator of the Universe is in control instead of our 
little selves.
What desires can you hand over to Him today?

Intersecting Faith & Life: What dreams have been put on hold in your life? 
Think of ways God has worked for good in your waiting. Write down one (or 
more)
blessings you may not have received had your original dreams come true.

Further Reading
James 4: 1
Psalm 37: 4
Realizing Your Dreams

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Monday, August 29, 2016

Today's Devotional

Worship Dalton's Way

Psalm 26:8 – I love the house where you live, O Lord, the place where your 
glory dwells. (NIV)

Dalton's mother tells me that he rises at 6 a.m. on Sunday mornings, and 
then awakens his whole family for church. She says, "He loves going to 
church,
and can't wait to get there."

At the first notes the pianist plays, Dalton jumps to his feet, dances, 
claps, and makes a joyful noise. Being autistic, the preteen rarely speaks 
and
doesn't sing, so he thumps the seat and hugs his mom. He shoots sunshine 
smiles my way. When I return his smile, he ducks his head and studies his 
hands
as colour tiptoes across his cheeks. When the offering is made, he helps to 
collect it. Since Dalton's body is a whole lot older than his mind, his 
worship
is marked by the abandon of a little child. He revels in God's presence, 
sensing the Lord in ways that we staid adults seldom do. I admire him 
because
social constraints don't limit his worship, something that King David 
understood very well as he danced before the Ark of the Covenant on its way 
to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 6:14 – David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with 
all his might. (NIV)

God gladly received King David's praises, even if his queen didn't think 
that the way he worshipped God befitted a man of his social stature. Indeed, 
his
attire was socially incorrect for a king.

These days, I'm certain that God receives Dalton's non-verbal praises as he 
worships like the little child of God that he truly is.

Matthew 19:14 – Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not 
hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (NIV)

Jesus welcomed little children, using them as examples of what worship 
should be — that is, unfettered, total adoration of God, untainted by social 
restraints
and expectations. Pure worship praises God and focuses upon Him alone. God 
never inhibits the worship of His people; He inhabits their praises.

Like Dalton, our worship lifts our hearts and souls into His presence 
without constraint. Like King David, let us abandon our inhibitions and lift 
our
focus to God, praising Him with everything that is in us.

Prayer: Father God, we worship and adore You for Who You are. We praise You 
for Your Holy Spirit and for Jesus Christ our Lord, in Whose name, we pray.
Amen.

Cassandra Wessel 

The Cross
August 28, 2016

Read:
John 19:1-25
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree. (1 Peter 2:24)

The story of the Passion is soaked in blood. Jesus is flogged, a crown of 
thorns is pressed into his head, he is repeatedly hit in the face, he is 
demeaned
and humiliated, and then he is put to death by the cruelest means of capital 
punishment, at a place called The Skull.

Sometimes lost in this horrific story is the image of Jesus with a tree on 
his back. The cross was a tree. And though Matthew, Mark, and Luke mention 
that
Simon of Cyrene was compelled to relieve Jesus of the cross near the end, 
John notes that Jesus carried it by himself.

Trees have been used in many ways in human history, both for good and for 
ill. As farm tools to grow and harvest food. As planks on disaster relief 
boats.
As the source of life-saving medicines. But also as battering rams to lay 
siege to medieval cities. As sailing masts for colonial slave ships. As 
paper
for propaganda to fuel the fires of ethnic cleansing.

The cross was a tree. Intended as a means of torture and death, God used 
this tree for salvation and renewal. God took what was death-dealing and 
made
of it a means to new life.

Prayer:
Crucified Lord, help us remember how you, to make right our crooked ways and 
put to right all the world, died on a tree.

Author: Steven Bouma-Prediger


Beauty Is Born in Bad News
Scott Hubbard / September 2, 2016
Beauty Is Born in Bad News

We live in a world of bad news.

It sweeps you away like a landslide: the middle-of-the-night call, the dire 
prognosis, the sudden job loss. Or it might just erode your sanity like a 
million
raindrops in subtle rejections, disappointed hopes, and failed goals. Either 
way, we all know bad news. It comes to us as surely as the world is cursed.

If you receive enough of it, you may start to take self-protective measures. 
You look for refuge in cynicism, preparing yourself for the worst by only
expecting the worst. Or you slide into apathy, telling yourself and others 
that you don’t really care what news comes. Or you hide away in isolation, 
avoiding
any relationship or situation that might harm you.

You begin to dismiss risky opportunities out of hand. You don’t adopt a 
child, give to a missionary, cultivate deep friendships, or even ask someone 
out
on a date — all for fear of potential bad news.

But there’s a better way.

Born into Bad News

Consider Psalm 112, a ten-verse portrait of “the man who fears the Lord” 
(Psalm 112:1). Bad news doesn’t harden this man into cynicism, numb him into 
apathy,
or frighten him into isolation. No, his response to this world’s trouble is 
as surprising as it is unique: “He is not afraid of bad news” (Psalm 112:7).

Not afraid of bad news.

It’s not because bad news doesn’t come. The man of Psalm 112 knows the 
oppressive weight of darkness and the plots of enemies (Psalm 112:4, 8). He 
even
makes decisions that all but guarantee bad news: fighting for justice in a 
corrupt culture, giving his money to the poor (Psalm 112:5, 9). Apparently,
the prosperity-gospel promise of no bad news failed for this righteous man.

Bad news burdens all of God’s people, no matter how righteous. Joseph tasted 
the pain of hope deferred, from a pit in the wilderness to an Egyptian 
prison.
Job felt bad news fall on his head like breakers: his cattle, then his kids, 
then even his own skin. John the Baptist heard whispers of a beheading as
the guards approached his cell. And Jesus himself listened to his own people 
shout, “Crucify him!”

“Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7) — which means we 
are born into a world of bad news. But the man of Psalm 112 remains 
unafraid.
“His heart is steady; he will not be afraid” (Psalm 112:8). How? Why?

Dead Wheat, Living Fruit

The author of the psalm gives us the answer: “his heart is firm, trusting in 
the Lord” (Psalm 112:7). He is unafraid of bad news because he trusts in the
Lord. It’s a good answer, but we could use some handles. What about the Lord 
did he see that steadied his shaking heart?

The righteous man simply knew that his Lord would not let bad news have the 
final say. Jet-black clouds of bad news might be rolling toward him, but he
knows the sunshine of God’s good news is in tow. “Light dawns in the 
darkness for the upright” (Psalm 112:4); he will look “in triumph on his 
adversaries”
(Psalm 112:8). As this man traced God’s providence in the stories of 
Scripture, he saw a pattern emerge: God brings good news to his burdened 
people as
surely as he brings sunshine after rain.

So Joseph’s painful imprisonment gives way to an appointment as prime 
minister. Job’s misery simmers for thirty-some chapters, then breaks forth 
into a
new family and fortune. The Baptist’s beheading transfers him from prison to 
paradise. And the bad news of Good Friday entombs the Son of God, only to
have the stone roll away on Easter morning. Jesus himself was cast down dead 
in the dirt like a grain of wheat — and the world still cannot restrain the
fruit from that death (John 12:24). Our good-news God gives “a beautiful 
headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the 
garment
of praise instead of a faint spirit” (Isaiah 61:3).

It’s not that the ashes, mourning, and faint spirit aren’t real. They are — 
as real as Jesus’s tomb. But like the tomb, they’re also temporary. You may
lie battered in a tomb of bad news for three days, or for a stretch of 
miserable months, or even for many sorrowful years. But Sunday is always 
coming,
and God will exchange your death for resurrection.

Set it down as a theological axiom: for all who are in Christ, bad news 
prepares the way for good news.

Sing in the Rain

Our reflex may be to raise our self-protective walls, choosing cynicism, 
apathy, isolation, and a host of other building materials to shield us from 
the
pain. But anyone who has sought refuge that way knows it’s no escape. The 
raindrops of bad news fall with enough regularity to wear through any 
shelter.

Our other option is to link arms with the man of Psalm 112, standing with 
him as he overlooks the vista of biblical history and sees God pierce the 
clouds
of his people’s anguish. We will own his realism, on the one hand, and 
affirm that bad news is coming. But we also will share his trust in the 
Lord — the
same Lord who turned a cross into good news of great joy (Luke 2:10).

When that sort of God is for you, you can see the storm approaching and 
stand unafraid.

More than that, you can sing even in the driving rain.

Desiring God
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Post  Admin on Fri 23 Sep 2016, 9:58 pm

Lord in Prayer

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Thou shalt make thy prayer unto Him, and He shall hear thee, and thou shalt 
pay thy vows.”
Job 22:27

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Have you ever disagreed with someone and felt you were in the right? I have. 
What started out as a conversation turns into a confrontation. And the 
tension
becomes so thick you can cut it with a knife. At that point, it’s time to 
separate before things disintegrate.

And when you separate, it’s time to communicate with the Lord. It’s when you 
get alone with God that the communion of conviction comes, and what seemed
to be confusion becomes crystal clear in His light. More often than not, the 
Holy Spirit has shown me that I was in the wrong and needed to ask 
forgiveness.

ACTION POINT:
Have you had a disagreement with someone lately? It’s time to retreat, 
reflect, and receive what the Lord wants to tell you. Enter your prayer 
closet today.

Discover Jesus
Love Worth Finding Ministries

He shall bring forth from us the sweet music!

(Frederick Marsh)

Mendelssohn, on one occasion, hearing an organ being played--asked 
permission to play it for a few minutes. The organist reminded Mendelssohn 
that he was
a total stranger to him--and that strangers were not allowed to touch the 
valuable instrument.

At last permission granted, and then Mendelssohn brought forth such music 
from the organ as to make the organist weep! Ah! But before the music came 
forth,
there were two things necessary:
the first was, the instrument had to be abandoned to Mendelssohn;
and the second, Mendelssohn had to take control of it.

The same is true with us in the spiritual realm. There must be the entire 
surrender to Christ first--and then He shall bring forth from us the sweet 
music
of . . .
a holy heart,
a lovely character,
a gentle disposition,
a surpassing peace,
a sweet humility,
a lowly service,
a beautiful sympathy,
and a Christlike life!

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your 
bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your 
spiritual act
of worship!" Romans 12:1

Risk It!
by Chuck Swindoll

Esther 4:12-14

What does it matter if I get involved or not? It matters greatly—it matters 
to your character! Yes, it's true that God has other ways to accomplish His
objectives. He has other people He can use. He isn't frustrated or 
restrained because you and I may be indifferent. But when that happens, we 
are the losers.
When we have been called "for such a time as this," how tragic it is if we 
don't stand up in that hour.

There will be no celestial shout urging you to take a stand. Nor will a 
flash of lightning awaken you in the midst of your slumber. It doesn't work 
like
that, so don't sit around waiting passively. Numerous needs and issues 
surround us. They summon us to stand up and be counted. While we will not be 
able
to respond to all of them, the solution is not to respond to none of them! 
So let me ask you: What are you doing to stand up, to stand alone, to answer
the call of God in this hour? Allow me to spell out a few issues and needs 
worth considering.

Are you involved in helping dysfunctional families? How about those who are 
homeless and hungry? Or those who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol? What
do you do for the orphans and widows? In "such a time as this," what do you 
stand against and stand for? Do you take a stand against pornography? Do you
support any part of the cause of the pro-life movement against abortion? 
Where do you stand as it relates to the absence of masculinity, the whole 
extreme
feminist movement? What about the horror of sexual abuse that has become so 
rampant in our society? Or prejudice against other races or nationalities?
What about the developmentally disabled? This is an urgent hour of need. Are 
you there, ready to be salt and light, in this hour?

Not until you believe one person can make a difference will you be willing 
to take a risk. Quit being so careful about protecting your own back. Stop 
worrying
about what others will think. You don't answer to them. You answer to Him. 
He will help. He will give you wisdom and courage. You may be only one, but
you are one. So, take a risk!

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.

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You

A pastor friend of mine wrote recently and caught my attention with these 
words: "I'm thankful that the Lord has a sense of humor." He went on to tell
about a Sunday some 55 years ago. He was in child care during the Sunday 
morning worship service with a friend of his, and they decided they wanted 
to
find out what the "grownups" were doing in the sanctuary. So they devised an 
elaborate escape plan. They waited until the adult child care workers 
weren't
looking and they made their break. (Man, does this sound like something I 
could have done!) At an opportune moment, they darted out of the 
kindergarten
room, determined to see what went on in that morning worship service. 
Unfortunately, one boy got caught at the last minute, but he yelled to my 
friend,
"Keep going, Paul! They got me!"

With adults in hot pursuit, my friend entered the first door he found into 
the sanctuary and found himself on the platform with the entire church 
looking
at him. (You're busted!) He had come in during the offering and both pastors 
were seated, doing nothing. To five-year-old eyes, it looked as if nothing
was happening. The little explorer thought, "Is this all church is?" It was 
about that time his grandmother motioned to him to come down from the 
platform
to her pew. In his words, "I was summarily grabbed, placed down next to her 
and told that I was in more trouble than I could ever imagine." Here's a fun
footnote: for the past 25 years, the little boy who invaded that service? 
Yeah, he's been the pastor of that church!

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Church 
With a Pulse."

A little boy checks out what's happening in church and finds what appears to 
be little or nothing going on. There probably are some churches where that's
actually the case. It was never meant to be that way. Jesus announced the 
birth of His Church with these amazing words: "I will build My church, and 
the
gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Matthew 16:18).

That's the plan, that the church of Jesus Christ be a winner, not a loser! 
His church, which is visibly represented on earth by Bible-based 
congregations
all over the world, is His face in the world, His voice in the world, His 
hands and feet to do His work in the world.

But sometimes a church settles into a rut where it just kind of keeps that 
religious machine cranking, the most vocal saints happy and comfy, and it 
pretty
much exists just to keep itself going. What a tragic detour from the 
Master's plan! If you want to see what Jesus has in mind for any church that 
bears
His Name, take a look at our word for today from the Word of God in Acts 2, 
beginning with verse 42. You'll find at least five passions of church as it
was meant to be.

The Bible says: "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to 
the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." First passion: a 
powerful
appetite for the Lord. Healthy believers can't get enough of His Word, of 
prayer, or of being with His people. Acts goes on to say "...everyone was 
filled
with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles." 
Second passion: expecting God to do the supernatural. This passage goes on
to say they "...had everything in common...they gave to anyone as he had 
need." Third passion of a church with a pulse: looking for and taking care 
of
people's needs.

Acts then says, "Every day they continued to meet together...they broke 
bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts." There's 
that
fourth passion: being totally committed to each other. Then, "The Lord added 
to their number daily those who were being saved." One final passion that
drove them: talking up Jesus. That's the only way people could be getting 
saved every day!

That's the standard to measure your church by. Is there a powerful appetite 
for the Lord? Are you expecting God to do the supernatural? Are you looking
for and taking care of people's needs? Are you totally committed to each 
other? Are you talking up Jesus? If it's not that way, be a thermostat that 
helps
set that temperature, not just a thermometer that reflects the chilly 
reading. Jesus loves His church. Jesus is counting on His church.

Let's do all we can to help the church be the church - a church with a 
pulse!
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. 


Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
By Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
"
Porcupines"
August 31, 2016
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, 
kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if
one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has 
forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, 
which
binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ 
rule in your hearts ...." Colossians 3:12-15a
The woodland creature known as the porcupine weighs 15-20 pounds.

This primarily nocturnal animal gets its name from the Latin word for "pig" 
and the French word for "thorn." These "prickly pigs" have 30,000 quills, 
each
with a mass of tiny overlapping barbs.

When threatened, these rodents first try to escape and if that doesn't work, 
they tuck their vulnerable little heads, turn their backs and whamo! When
touched, the quills dislodge into an attacker's warm flesh, and the barbs on 
the quills flare out and work their way deeper into the flesh of the 
attacker.

Though not poisonous, the quills may kill. Animals with quills in their 
mouths can die of starvation or from an infection.

Porcupines are not known to be lovable or amiable.

* They don't hang out in colonies like other rodents do.

* They detach from their mother and are self-sufficient just a few months 
after birth.
It's a small wonder their peculiarities don't render them extinct.

Have you ever thought that most of us have some porcupine tendencies? All of 
us have personality traits that are a bit prickly toward others, qualities
that keep people away.

If that's so (and it is), then maybe we might do well to look at the 
porcupine and see how they manage to survive and get along. There are some 
things
they do to minimize their prickliness.

1. When they want to get close, they flatten their quills. If both do this 
at the same time, the chances of injury are greatly diminished.

2. In wintertime, a small group may do the same, so the individuals may 
cluster together for warmth in what is called a "prickle."

Maybe there are a few porcupines in your life that have stuck their prickles 
on you. Probably you've jabbed your spikes into someone too. We all have 
quills,
but like the porcupine we can learn to get along.

We, who have been washed of our sins by the Savior's blood and are 
recipients of His grace, can learn to flatten our quills and make harmony a 
reality.

This week let us take a lesson from the prickly pigs: flatten our quills and 
make things work.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, in spite of the world's hatred toward Him, Jesus came 
into this world to win our forgiveness. In doing so, He suffered often from
the quills of angry and jealous individuals. Grant that Jesus be glorified 
as we put down our barbs and do our best to get along. This we ask in Jesus'
Name. Amen.

In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus

You Don’t Like Me
LYSA TERKEURST


Do not be anxious
about anything ...”
Philippians 4:6
a (NIV)

Have you ever been taunted by toxic thoughts? I have.

“You are not liked.”

“Who are you to think you could do that?”

“Why did you say that? Everyone thinks you’re annoying.”

“Your kids just illustrated every inadequacy you have as a mom.”

“You are invisible.”

Why do we let such destructive words fall hard on our souls? Toxic thoughts 
are so dangerous because they leave no room for truth to flourish. And in 
the
absence of truth, lies reign.

One day I was discussing something with my husband and I said, “I know you 
think I’m being annoying and overly protective about this but ...”

He stopped me and said, “How do you know that’s what I’m thinking? Please 
don’t hold me liable for saying things that are really only thoughts in your
mind.”

Wow. He’s so right. He hadn’t said those things. I was assuming he was 
thinking them and operating as if those toxic thoughts were reality.

I think we girls do this way too often. People aren’t thinking about us and 
assessing us nearly as much as we think they are.

As Christian women, we should hold our thoughts to a higher standard. How 
dare these runaway thoughts be allowed to simply parade about as if they are
true and manipulate us into feeling insecure, inadequate and misunderstood! 
Oh how much trouble we invite into our lives based on assumptions. But God’s
Word instructs us:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and 
petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of 
God, which
transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in 
Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is 
noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is 
admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such 
things.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me -- put 
it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you”
(Philippians 4:6-9,
NIV).

This is probably a passage you’ve read before. But, have you thought of 
applying it to your every thought -- especially the toxic ones?

The mind feasts on what it focuses on. What consumes our thinking will be 
the making or breaking of our identity.

That’s why we need to think on, ponder and park our minds on constructive 
thoughts -- not destructive thoughts. Thoughts that build up, not tear down.
Thoughts that breathe life, not drain the life from us. Thoughts that lead 
to goodness, not anxiety.

So, here are three questions we’d do well to ask ourselves when thoughts are 
dragging us down.

1. Did someone actually say this or am I assuming they are thinking it?

If they actually said it, deal with it then. If I’m assuming it, that’s 
unfair to them and unnecessarily damaging to me. Instead of staying anxious, 
I
need to seek truth by seeking God and asking Him for peace.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and 
petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”
(Philippians 4:6).

2. Have I been actively engaging with truth lately?

The more we read God’s truths and let truth fill our mind, the less time we’ll 
spend contemplating untruths.

Thinking runaway, worrisome thoughts invites anxiety. Thinking thoughts of 
truth wraps my mind in peace and helps me rise above my circumstances.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your 
hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
(Philippians 4:7).

3. Are certain situations or friendships feeding my insecurities?

If so, maybe I need to take a break from these for a season.

I need to seek friendships that are characterized by truth, honor and love.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, 
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is 
admirable --
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things”
(Philippians 4:8).

I know this is tough stuff. I know these issues can be more complicated than 
three simple questions. But it’s a good place to start holding our thoughts
accountable.

After all, how a woman thinks is often how she lives. May we think upon and 
live out truth -- and only truth today.

Dear Lord, reveal to me untruths throughout my day that can so easily 
distract and discourage me. Help me see You and Your truth in all I do. In 
Jesus’
Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 4:15,
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every 
respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (NIV)

John 8:32,
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (NIV)
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challies.com - Informing the Reforming
A Drop in the Bucket
I love words. I love language. I love the Bible. I especially love it when 
these 3 friends meet. This happens often because the Bible—the King James 
Bible—played
such a pivotal role in the development of English. Over the next little 
while I’m going to take a few Sundays to discuss some common English idioms 
that
have their origin in the Bible. (Do I need to define idiom first? An idiom 
is an expression that has a meaning unrelated to the actual words that 
comprise it.)

The Expression

A drop in the bucket, sometimes alternately rendered as a drop in the ocean, 
is “an insufficient or inconsequential amount in comparison with what is 
required.”
A bucket (or an ocean) contains so many drops that the addition of one more 
makes no meaningful difference. So if a charity is fundraising for a new 
building
and that building is going to cost $2 million, we might say that a $2 
donation is a drop in the bucket—it is inconsequential when compared to the 
need.
So when Italy sued Volkswagen for malfeasance after they lied about their 
cars’ emissions, the media
reported
that the $5.5 million fine was merely a drop in the bucket as it represented 
just 0.037 percent of the American settlement.

The Origin

This phrase originates in Isaiah 40:15 and follows soon after some of the 
best-known words in all of Isaiah’s long prophecy—words you will recognize 
from
the ministry of John the Baptist and, of course, from Handel’s Messiah:

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Isaiah goes on to bring further comfort to God’s people by assuring them 
that God has not forgotten them, but will come to their rescue and tend to 
them.
And then he says this:

Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;

God’s people may have felt intimidated by the mighty nations around them, 
but in the eyes of God, those nations were like a drop from a bucket. Notice
that the original expression is “drop from a bucket” where we tend to say 
“drop in a bucket.” Apparently God’s concern was the loss of a drop rather 
than
the gain of a drop, though this makes no difference to the meaning. The ESV 
Study Bible interprets the verse succinctly: “The nations of mankind may 
seem
insurmountable to Israel, but they are as nothing to God.” John Oswalt says 
the passage implies this question: “What are the nations—so impressive in 
their
glory, and earthshaking in their power? They are the drop of water falling 
back into the cistern as the bucket is pulled up, the speck of dust on the 
pan
of the balance scales that does not even cause the scales to flutter. Both 
are ephemeral and neither is cause for a moment’s notice.”

The Application

We tend to use the expression “drop in a bucket” when we feel that our 
contribution is too small to make a difference—or perhaps, worse, when we 
feel that
another person’s contribution is too small to make a difference. In this way 
it is an expression of hopelessness or pessimism. But in the hands of an 
almighty
God, no contribution is meaningless—none is too big, none is too small. He 
is not bound by the limits of what we can offer. God is far more concerned 
with
the state of our hearts than the magnitude of our contributions. See Mark 
12:41-44.

When we use the expression in a way consistent with its origin we see that 
it is not meant to make us consider ourselves but our God. God’s people were
so significant in his eyes that he comforted them with this declaration of 
power: Those other nations are like a drop from a bucket. No matter how 
difficult
or intimidating the circumstances we face, they are but a drop from a bucket 
in the eyes of a sovereign God. They are but that minuscule drop that falls
from the bucket and trickles back to the bottom of the well.

Finally, there is great comfort to be found in the context of the verse, and 
perhaps especially in the verses that immediately precede it (12-14):

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD,
or what man shows him his counsel?
Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?

Perhaps you would do well to
sing these words:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qx9-0v9m2Sg

(This
is a very nice, moody, alternate version of the song.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dO8v7v-Nbw

Anne Graham Lotz - God Is the Potter
View this email in your browser

God Is the Potter
You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the 
work of Your hand.

Isaiah 64:8, NKJV

The principle that suffering leads to glory is illustrated in Scripture by a 
vivid description of clay on the Potter’s wheel – clay that was once 
cracked,
shattered, and broken, clay that was totally useless and ugly. The Potter 
took the clay and broke it down even further, grinding it into dust then 
moistening
it with water before He put it on His wheel and began to remake it into a 
vessel pleasing to Himself. The cracks and chips and broken pieces 
disappeared
as the clay became soft and pliable to the Potter’s touch.

But the clay was still soft and weak, the color dull and drab. So the Potter 
placed the vessel into the fiery kiln, carefully keeping His eye on it as
He submitted it to the raging heat. At a time He alone determined was 
sufficient, the Potter withdrew the pot from the furnace. The blazing heat 
had radically
transformed into a vessel of strength and glorious, multicolored beauty.

You and I are just little clay pots destined for glory!

Blessings,
Copyright © 2016 AnGeL Ministries, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up at 
www.annegrahamlotz.org.
To purchase a collection of the Joy of My Heart devotions, please click
here.
Our mailing address is:
AnGeL Ministries
5115 Hollyridge Drive
Raleigh, NC 27612

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
By Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour

"
Waiting"
August 27, 2016
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the 
LORD! Psalm 27:14
How would you feel -- what would you do if you knew you had 48 hours to 
live?

As I was researching this devotion, I tried to find out how various church 
leaders said they would get ready if they knew they had only a week or a 
day,
before they would stand before Jesus. The results were fascinating:

* In the 13th century, St. Francis said he would keep on watering his 
garden.

* In the 1500s, Martin Luther said, "If he knew Jesus was coming tomorrow, 
he would plant a tree today."

* In the 18th century, John Wesley, said "I would spend my last day exactly 
as I expect to spend it now."

Amazing, isn't it?

Three representatives from three different branches of Christianity, 
speaking from three different centuries, are in agreement. They all believe 
the best
way to prepare for Jesus' coming back is to be in a constant state of 
preparedness.

More important than the advice of these three is that which comes from the 
Savior, Himself. Jesus says, "Keep watch, because you do not know the day or
the hour" (Matthew 25:13).

About 20 years ago, a father who had taken his two children swimming in the 
Atlantic, realized the tide was pulling them out to sea.

Knowing his limitations, he told his daughter -- the stronger swimmer -- 
"Honey, I've got to get your brother to shore. When I do, I'll come back for 
you.
I want you to float on your back till I return. You don't have to swim. Just 
float on your back."

With that the father swam away, brought his son to shore, and in a state of 
near exhaustion, went out with some lifeguards to find his daughter. She 
wasn't
where they expected her to be. Further and further out to sea they searched. 
After two hours, they spotted a little body floating in the water.

No, don't worry. She was okay.

After they brought her aboard the boat, one of the lifeguards asked, "Were 
you frightened being out in the ocean all by yourself?"

She answered, "I wasn't afraid. My father told me to float on my back, and 
he told me that he would come back. I trusted him. He loves me and never 
lies."

That's the attitude the Lord expects from us as we wait for Jesus to come 
back. He expects us, for as long as it takes, to remember He loves us, 
hasn't
forgotten us, and to be unafraid. Understand, I'm not going to tell you that 
your life will be untroubled. Christians have more than their share of 
tribulations.
But I will tell you that until Jesus returns He will give you what you need 
to deal with those problems and pains.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, stay with me. In a troubled world with myriad 
sorrows, be by my side and keep me prepared for that unknown hour when Jesus 
will
return to me or I will be brought to Jesus. In the Savior's Name I ask it. 
Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker Emeritus of
The Lutheran Hour
Lutheran Hour Ministries
Today's Bible in a Year Reading: 2 Chronicles 4-6; 2 Corinthians 1
Print this Devotion
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all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
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Hope in Barrenness

Sing. O barren one. -
Isaiah 54:1

Although we may have brought forth some fruit and have a joyful hope that we 
are abiding in the vine, yet there are times when we feel very barren. 
Prayer
is lifeless, love is cold, faith is weak, each grace in the garden of our 
heart languishes and droops. We are like flowers in the hot sun, desperately
needing the refreshing shower. In such a condition what are we to do? The 
text is addressed to us in just such a state. "Sing, O barren one . . . 
break
forth into singing and cry aloud." But what can I sing about? I cannot talk 
about the present, and even the past looks full of barrenness. I can sing of
Jesus Christ. I can talk of visits that the Redeemer has paid to me in the 
past; or if not of these, I can magnify the great love with which He loved 
His
people when He came from the heights of heaven for their redemption.

I will go to the cross again. Come, my soul, you were once heavy-laden, and 
you lost your burden there. Go to Calvary again. Perhaps that very cross 
that
gave you life may give you fruitfulness. What is my barrenness? It is the 
platform for His fruit-creating power. What is my desolation? It is the dark
setting for the sapphire of His everlasting love. I will go to Him in my 
poverty, I will go in my helplessness, I will go in all my shame and 
backsliding;
I will tell Him that I am still His child, and finding confidence in His 
faithful heart, even I, the barren one, will sing and cry aloud.

Sing, believer, for it will cheer your own heart and the hearts of others 
who are desolate. Sing on, for although you are presently ashamed of being 
barren,
you will be fruitful soon; now that God makes you hate to be without fruit 
He will soon cover you with clusters. The experience of our barrenness is 
painful,
but the Lord's visits are delightful. A sense of our own poverty drives us 
to Christ, and that is where we need to be, for in Him our fruit is found.

Family
Bible
reading plan  verse 1 Lamentations 5  erse 2  Psalms 36

Mindscape

Anxiety and worry. They’re commonplace in everyday life. We worry about the 
safety and wellbeing of our children. We worry about our health. We become
anxious over our jobs and our finances . . . and uneasy over the seemingly 
endless challenges of everyday life. Unfortunately, when difficulty happens,
worry can lock us it its grip. So, how do we change our thinking? How do we 
alter our mindscape? Author Timothy Witmer, Professor of Practical
Theology
at Westminster Theological Seminary, looks to the Apostle Paul to help us 
reset our thinking.
Mindscape
helps readers replace fear and worry with peace that surpasses all 
understanding. By exploring the root of anxiety, worry, and escapism, learn 
to rest
in what is true, right, noble, pure, lovely, and admirable to find freedom 
from stress and worry.

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


The Reality of Revelry

2 Samuel 22:1–7

Recommended Reading:
Exodus 15:1–21; Psalm 18:1–50; Luke 1:46–55; Acts 16:16–40

“Music is an outburst of the soul.”

While this expression came from 19th-century English composer Frederick 
Delius, it could easily describe King David’s attitude toward worship.

The people around David probably grew accustomed to his musical outbursts. 
After all, it was King David—much to the chagrin of Saul’s daughter—who 
“[danced]
before the LORD with all his might” (
2 Samuel 6:14).
Moreover, David wrote many of the psalms. We can imagine the shepherd-king 
in his bedchamber at night strumming his harp and composing another song to
the Lord. Yet David was hardly a soloist in the family of God.

The whole Bible reverberates with the songs of people so enraptured by God’s 
work that their day-to-day lives gave way to melody. Moses and Miriam 
harmonized
praise after God had led his people out of Egypt (see
Exodus 15:1–21).
Solomon crooned his way through Song of Songs, celebrating the marriage 
relationship between a husband and wife. Isaiah offered a prophetic song 
from the
coming choir of the new Jerusalem (see Isaiah 26). Mary, when told that she 
would give birth to the Son of God, lifted a song to the child’s Father in
heaven (see
Luke 1:46–55).
Paul and Silas shouted their praise, and God split the walls of their 
cellblock (see
Acts 16:25–26).
The Bible is full of the songs of God’s people.

What does this Biblical legacy of song say about us? We sing, as Moses, 
David and Mary sang, because God is worthy of song. When David opened his 
song
(see 2 Samuel 22), the attributes of God came streaming out of the king’s 
mouth so quickly that he barely formed sentences—my rock, my fortress, my 
deliverer,
my shield, my salvation, my stronghold, my refuge.

Like David, may we be so overcome by the knowledge of God that our natural 
response is to burst forth in song. May we sing from a heart-knowledge of 
God—longing
after him with our greatest affections and deepest desires.

Somehow, God Will Come To You

I don't know how God will do it, but somehow, while you are in your dark and 
lonely place, God will come to where you are and confirm His faithfulness
and His promises to you! God will use your dark, lonely place of despair as 
a banner to write His love over your life!

Elijah had his ravens; Moses had his burning bush; Daniel had his quiet 
night in a lion's den. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego has their deliverance 
from
a fiery furnace. God has a way of showing us that it will be all right. He 
has promised never to leave us or forsake us, and He never will. (Hebrews
13;5)

--John Patterson
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Prosperity

Deuteronomy 28:1 – 14 NASV95
1 “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being 
careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your 
God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.
2 “All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you 
obey the Lord your God:
3 “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in 
the country.
4 “Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of 
your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and 
the young of your flock.
5 “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
6 “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be 
when you go out.
7 “The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be 
defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee 
before you seven ways.
8 “The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in 
all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the 
Lord your God gives you.
9 “The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He 
swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in 
His ways.
10 “So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by 
the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you.
11 “The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring 
of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your 
ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you.
12 “The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to 
give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; 
and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.
13 “The Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you only 
will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the 
commandments of the Lord your God, which I charge you today, to observe them 
carefully,
14 and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you 
today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Moses had just brought God’s laws including the Ten Commandments to the 
Israelites. He said that if they followed every single one of them God would 
prosper them. God would give prosperity to individuals, families and the 
nation. Other nations would know that something was different, that God was 
with them. That would scare them when they got close enough to know it and 
they would run. There are a number of accounts in the Bible where this has 
happened. The Israelites didn’t have to fight at all, just obey the Lord.

After this Scripture Moses tells them that if they don’t obey the laws, they 
will be cursed and their land will be cursed. Nothing will grow on that land 
as long as they are not obedient. We know through the bible and other 
history how the Hebrew people were driven out of their promised land and the 
whole place ruined. Jerusalem was destroyed several times. This was all 
because of the disobedience of the people.

How does this fit us today? Do we Christians still have to obey all of the 
laws? Aren’t we under grace? We are not under the curse so we are under 
grace. God still provides our needs. If He went by how well or poorly we 
obeyed his laws, we would have nothing. God is holy and commands that His 
people are holy. We are made holy by the blood of Jesus Christ. He took our 
curse on the tree at Calvary.

Several times in the above passage it mentions God blessing what you do with 
your hands. God does not usually just give you what you want, He prospers 
what you do when you belong to Him. Today we see on television a lot of 
preachers talking about “name it and claim it”. Just tell God what you want 
and He will give it to you. That is not how it worked back in Moses’ time 
and that is not how it works today. God expects us to do our part.

If we use the wisdom God gives us and what He blesses us with, we will have 
enough for ourselves and enough to help others.

We who belong to Jesus Christ live in the age of grace and should be able to 
say with Paul:

Philippians 4:11 (NASB95)
11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever 
circumstances I am.

by Dean W. Masters

Do You Pray Like a Nonbeliever?
John Piper / August 21, 2016
Do You Pray Like a Nonbeliever?

Something is amiss when Christians pray the way unbelievers pray. Of course, 
unbelievers do pray. They pray by the millions. Countless nominal Christians
in all the nations of the world pray almost every day.

Just recently I read this about Latvia in
Operation World:
“Christianity is characterized by nominalism. . . . Although 60% belong to a 
Christian confession, only a small minority actually practice their faith.”
With varying percentages, the same is true everywhere Christianity has 
spread. The wheat and the tares grow together. And both pray.

This was true in Jesus’s day, as in ours. The Pharisees loved God least, and 
prayed most. They “devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long 
prayers”
(Mark 12:40). “They love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the 
street corners, that they may be seen by others” (Matthew 6:5). And not only 
the
Pharisees, but the Gentiles pray as well: “Do not heap up empty phrases as 
the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many 
words”
(Matthew 6:7).

It is possible that nominal Christians learn the language of true, 
Christ-exalting, God-centered, sin-confessing, Spirit-dependent, 
promise-trusting, holiness-pursuing
prayer. But I have found that it is rare for those with little love to 
Christ to pray as though they love him and his kingdom.

What’s Better Than Good

How then do they pray? Generally, they do not ask God to do bad things. They 
ask him to do good things without asking him to do the best thing. They pray
as though God were the giver but not the gift. They pray for protection, and 
shelter, and food, and clothing, and health, and peace, and prosperity, and
social justice, and comfort, and happiness.

All of these good things are things the world wants. You don’t have to be 
born again to want these or love these. And you don’t have to be a Christian
to pray for them — for yourself or for others. Every religion prays for 
them, more or less. So do the non-religious, when things get scary enough.

So then, what is the difference? How should Christians pray? Do they not 
pray for these good things?

What Makes Prayer Christian

The difference is that Christians are people who have a new nature through 
the new birth. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is
born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).

• This new nature is formed by the presence of the Holy Spirit whose mission 
is to glorify Christ (John 16:14).

• The Spirit forms our inner being by a new dynamic of faith in the promises 
of God. “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God”
(Galatians 2:20).

• At the heart of this faith is a new experience of valuing Jesus above all 
things. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of 
knowing
Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

• The new Christian heart longs for God to be seen as glorious in every 
event and every act and every affection. “Whether you eat or drink, or 
whatever
you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

• The Christian heart is eager that “Christ will be honored” in everything — 
every answer to every prayer (Philippians 1:20).

True Christians do not pray for less than what nominal Christians pray for. 
They pray for more — infinitely more. The heartbeat is always that the 
supremely
treasured Christ be supremely magnified in answer to every prayer.

Praying for Protection

For example, every prayer for protection (if miners are trapped underground, 
or soldiers are going into battle, or Christians are leaving on mission, or
sons and daughters are heading for college, or police are in harm’s way, or 
hostages are threatened with death, or children are playing where bullets 
fly)
— every Christian prayer for protection should be a prayer for the best 
protection, not the least.

The best protection is protection from Satan, unbelief, sin, and eternal 
perishing. The Christian sees the world as it really is. Temporal dangers 
are
shadows of eternal dangers. And the eternal ones are far more destructive. 
To pray for temporal protection without caring and praying for the far 
greater
protection sounds compassionate to the world — and to nominal Christians — 
but not to those who live in the light.

Pray for More, Not Less

So it is with every good gift that people need. Christians do not pray for 
less, but for more — infinitely more.

• Lord grant them shelter, both for the body and the soul — a shelter from 
the heat and cold and rain, and from the greater heat of your wrath, and 
from
the cold of hate, and from the flood of destruction that comes upon all 
unbelief. Show them the glory of your sheltering grace.

• Grant them food, Lord, and the saving knowledge that there is a “food that 
perishes” and a “food that endures to eternal life” (John 6:27). Oh feed 
them,
dear God, on both. Grant them to taste and see that you are all-satisfying.

• Lord, provide the clothing that they need. Let them not go in rags, but be 
attired with dignity. Show them, O Lord, that there are “garments of 
salvation”
and a “robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). Show them that these are 
free — bought with the costly blood of Jesus. O Lord, let them not be found 
clothed
in the best finery of the world, but naked at the judgment. Grant them to 
love the shining of your all-encompassing presence.

• Father, give them health. Grant that they would be made well. Rescue them 
from disease. Heal them. And forbid that they would be like the nine lepers
who took their healing from Jesus and never turned to thank him or love him 
(Luke 17:17). Let their healing be full and eternal — to the glory of the 
healing
God. Grant that it would go well with their physical health, and even more 
so with their souls (3 John 2).

• Great God of peace, bring peace between the warring nations — tribes, 
ethnicities, families, children, gangs. Overcome the bitterness and rage and 
revenge
and hostility. Reveal the Prince of Peace. Reveal the one who shed his blood 
so that in him the most implacable enemies might be reconciled to God and
to each other (Ephesians 2:15–16). Open their hearts to Christ and make them 
peacemakers.

• Lord, according to the infinite riches that you have as Creator and 
Redeemer, grant prosperity to those who lack what they require. Provide them 
with
what is needful, lest they be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” 
or lest they be poor and steal and profane the name of God (Proverbs 
30:8–9).
Grant that every soul would know, O God, that it is you who gives power to 
prosper (Deuteronomy 8:18). Let them see this, and give you glory.

• You know, O Lord, the plight of the oppressed. “Let justice roll down like 
waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). Let 
liberty
be proclaimed to the captives, and freedom to those who are unjustly bound. 
Bring to nothing wicked powers of tyranny. Break the arms of unjust rulers
who fail in their God-appointed vocation “to punish those who do evil and to 
praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2:14). And grant to both the strong and
the weak to see that justice is of the Lord, and in the end, every wrong 
will be set right. Oh turn the hearts of oppressor and oppressed to seek 
mercy
from the Judge of the universe while there is time (Acts 17:31).

• Lord, you are “Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 
1:3). We pray that you would show this comfort and mercy to those who have 
lost
so much — the dearest earthly treasures of their lives. Leave them not, O 
God, hopeless in their grieving. Show them the greatness of what Christ came
to do for those whose sorrows are overflowing (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). May 
their sorrows be the wound that opens their hearts to the everlasting 
healing
that you offer in Christ. Show them the surpassing worth of Jesus beyond all 
this world gives.

• Finally, Father, grant happiness. We do not desire or pray for anyone’s 
lasting misery or sorrow or sadness. If the pain of surgery is needed for 
lasting
healing, we trust you with that sting. But our heart is for the lasting joy 
of every living soul. We do not ask for what Moses repudiated as “the 
fleeting
pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25), or the “passions of the flesh that wage 
war against [the] soul” (1 Peter 2:11), or for the comfort of riches that 
turn
the door of heaven into a needle’s eye (Matthew 19:24). But we ask, even for 
our enemies, fullness of joy at your right hand and pleasures forevermore
in your presence (Psalm 16:11). Jesus died for this. May they see and 
receive.

Not Deterred by Nominal Critics

Nominal Christians do not usually pray this way. In fact, they will pull 
away from those who do. They will feel uncomfortable around such prayers. 
They
have no real heartfelt affections for the beauty of such prayers. Such 
prayers feel alien.

Therefore, nominal Christians will deflect the exposure of their spiritual 
emptiness by twisting such prayers inside out and saying things like, “All 
you
care about is pie in the sky.” Or, “Empty bellies don’t care about 
religion.” Or, “What people need is love, not religion.” Or, “You can’t 
even pray people’s
needs without a few pious platitudes.” And so on.

Of course, none of these arrows hit the mark. Except in the eyes of other 
nominal Christians — who do have a few million Twitter accounts.

But true Christians refuse to stop loving just because nominal Christians 
mock that we care about eternity. True Christians press on with Jesus in the
conviction that we should care about all suffering, especially eternal 
suffering.

Christians hold fast to the conviction that 85 years of protection, shelter, 
food, clothing, health, peace, prosperity, social justice, comfort, and 
happiness,
followed by an eternity of misery, is not a good life. And we know that real 
love will not settle for such a tragic life. It prays for more.

So, I am pleading for all Christians to pray like real Christians. I am 
pleading that you never give into the criticism that it is more loving to 
ask God
to give people his gifts but not himself. I am pleading that all prayer be 
Christ-exalting, God-centered, sin-confessing, Spirit-dependent, 
promise-trusting,
holiness-pursuing prayer. In other words, I am pleading that we really love 
people when we pray for them.

Desiring God
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Minneapolis, MN 55413
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KenBible.com

New Post on KenBible.com - Do You Want to Make a Difference?
----------------------------------------------------------

Do You Want to Make a Difference?

Posted: 23 Aug 2016 09:55 PM PDT

Years ago I went to a prayer seminar taught by my mentor and close friend, 
Dr. Morris Weigelt. He asked the group of us to recall the people in our 
lives
who had influenced us the most. Names filled the chalkboard as we fondly 
recalled a wide range of people who had made a lasting impact on our lives.

Then he asked us why these people had been so influential. What was it about 
them that left such a deep and permanent effect on us? Again, the chalkboard
was filled with reasons.

When they had all had been listed, we looked at them as a whole. To my 
surprise, there was not a single “professional” ability on the board. No one 
had
been considered influential because they were intelligent or talented or 
specially capable in some way.

Why had the long and varied list of people been so influential in our lives? 
All the reasons boiled down to only one: we had each been the most deeply
influenced by the persons who had cared about us, who had taken a personal 
interest in us. The people who changed us most profoundly were those who 
made
us feel valued, respected, and loved. It was the people who had cared about 
us, not just in word, but by giving of themselves actively, personally, 
individually,
unselfishly. They had said to us by their actions, “You are special! I 
believe in You!” And because they said it with their actions, we believed 
them.

Do you want to make a difference? Do you want to have a lasting impact on 
some person’s life, and therefore on our world as a whole? Go out of your 
way
to give someone your personal attention. Love – active, sincere, sacrificial 
love – is still the greatest force for bringing change, blessing, joy, and
new life to our world. If you want to make an investment that will pay off, 
invest yourself in people. Invest yourself in love.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who 
loves is born of God and knows God…God is love. (1 John 4:7-8, NASB)

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Today's Devotional

God's Invitation

John 5:17 – Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this 
very day, and I, too, am working." (NIV)

In the churches that I have attended, I've always enjoyed serving in some 
capacity. I once attended a church where all the jobs seemed to have been 
taken.
Whilst praying to be used somewhere, I realized that several times, I'd 
wondered why the sanctuary seemed to be rather bleak. There were no flowers 
in
sight. I love flowers, and I could easily pick some from my garden, so I 
enquired whether I could bring some the following week. The person I asked, 
stared
at me, then gazed around the sanctuary. "I never noticed that!" she 
exclaimed. From then on, that was my job.

Other church members were enthusiastic, saying how much we'd needed flowers 
to brighten the place up. After a few weeks I had become the "Decorating 
Committee"
— a committee of one! I was even given a budget. That led to other duties. 
It was a simple enough task, but often, we're given a small responsibility 
first,
to see if we're faithful. Isn't that how we teach our children to begin 
taking on chores?

Sometimes, we pray that God might use us, and then, we wait to be asked. But 
God doesn't ask — He tells us what to do, and He expects us to obey! If we
say that we don't have time, or we can't do that, or we'd rather not, that 
is disobedience. But often, we just don't see His invitation. We ask, but we
don't really expect Him to answer, or we don't see His answer because we're 
not looking for it. We don't make the connection between our prayer and His
answer.

Of course, God wants to use us. That's what we're here for, to be His hands 
and feet. So we should expect Him to give us a task. We should watch for His
answer. Pay attention to what He is doing around us. That's His invitation! 
Join in.

Sometimes, we hesitate. We think, I don't know if God wants me to do this. 
I'd better pray on it. By the time we pray, the opportunity is gone. When we
see an opportunity to serve, that is God revealing Himself to us. When we 
see God at work, we need to be ready to respond.

How committed are you? Could it be that you're really asking God to bless 
you, not to actually work through you? If we want God to use us, we can 
expect
Him to do exactly that. Let's stay alert to opportunities. There are no 
coincidences, only "God-instances". And let's not be picky! You never know 
how
one thing will lead to another.

Pray with me: Father, open my spiritual eyes and show me what You're doing, 
where You're working. Give me a heart sensitive to Your prompting, and use
me to accomplish Your purposes. Amen.

JJ Ollerenshaw 


challies.com - Informing the Reforming

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

5 Life Lessons From An Olympic Gold Medalist
5 Life Lessons From An Olympic Gold Medalist

Of all the people you’ve ever seen preach in a Speedo, David Boudia must be 
the most eloquent. A world-class diver who, after Rio, now has 4 Olympic 
medals
to his name, he often stands with reporters after competitions and does all 
he can to deflect attention away from himself and toward Jesus. He usually
does this by telling how his identity is not wrapped up in being an Olympian 
or a medalist but in being in Christ Jesus. Just before the 2016 Olympics
he released his biography
Greater Than Gold
. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and wanted to share the 5 big life lessons 
he communicates.

Don’t live by how you feel, but by what you know to be true. Our hearts and 
minds deceive us by telling us that we should trust ourselves—our wisdom, 
our
feelings, our instincts—rather than trusting what God says through the 
Bible. But this is a sure path to pain. “Your old self (before Christ) would 
live
by how you felt. But if you’ve been made new in Christ, you don’t have to 
live that way. You are free from that bondage.” Pointing to Galatians 2:20 
(“I
have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who 
lives in me.”), he explains that the culture around us teaches us to live by
our emotions, to assume that a good life requires pursuing whatever feels 
good. But this is a lie. What is true is that this kind of good life 
delivers
momentary satisfaction while leading ultimately to heartache and despair.

Take your thoughts captive. Sin is the great enemy of the soul and while it 
eventually expresses itself externally, it always begins internally. As 
Christians
we need to take our thoughts captive so we can take our actions captive. “As 
followers of Christ, we are called to battle [sin] valiantly and vigorously.
Don’t be passive in the war against sin and resign yourself to the fact that 
you have no control over your thoughts. You do! God provides grace and will
help you in the fight. Our obedience to Christ must be marked not just by 
how we act externally but by how we think inwardly. You don’t have to give 
in
to sinful thoughts. Take them captive to obey Christ.” Here he points to 2 
Corinthians 10:5 which is one of his favorite verses and one he often 
recites
to himself in important moments: “We destroy arguments and every lofty 
opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive 
to obey Christ.”

Be process oriented, not results oriented. Of all his life lessons, this is 
the one drawn most directly from his diving. As he was learning to master 
his
craft, he had to learn the importance of prioritizing process over results. 
A focus on results may lead to pragmatism, but a focus on process leads 
naturally
to all-around excellence. “So many times in our lives, results are out of 
our hands and we are dependent on things we can’t control for the outcomes 
we
desire. Learning instead to focus on the process, the journey itself, allows 
us to focus our energies more on the things we can control. That, in turn,
leads to greater fulfillment and more enjoyment as we go through life 
leaving our ultimate path in the Lord’s hands,” just like it says in Psalm 
37:5:
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.”

Put your hope in the right place. Much of Boudia’s story recounts times he 
was looking for satisfaction in all the wrong things, and especially in 
Olympic
glory. It was only when he found Christ that he found the right place for 
his hope. “I tried my utmost to find lasting satisfaction and joy in things 
that
were never designed to provide them—in the creation rather than the Creator. 
I thought the Olympics and a gold medal were a surefire way for me to be 
happy
for life. The result? Destruction, despair, and disillusionment. Fame is 
fleeting. Riches can vanish in an instant. Pursuing such temporary pleasures 
may
provide some momentary joy, but not joy in its fullest as God designed his 
people to have it. True joy on earth and eternal joy in heaven are found 
only
in a relationship with Jesus Christ.” Here he points to Titus 3:1–7, one of 
the New Testament’s great “but” passages where Paul describes who Christians
once were and how they once lived before telling of the transformation they’ve 
undergone since salvation. “But when the goodness and loving kindness of
God our Savior appeared…”

All I have is Christ. The final lesson is the one that summarizes all the 
others—his utter dependence upon Christ. He has come to rely fully on Christ
for his hope but also for his joy, for his identity, for his worth, for his 
life, for his future. “You can take the gold medal away from me. You can 
take
my health and my career. You can take my particular church. And as much as I 
love them, you can take my friends and my family. If all I have is Jesus,
then Jesus is enough. It’s a scary thought, yes, but true. He is worth every 
sacrifice you may have to make. He is worth every struggle in this life you
may have. The Bible says that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and 
that no one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6). He is my 
only
hope, and he is your only hope.”

Greater Than Gold
is an interesting, meaty, and encouraging read. It’s one you may well enjoy.
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The Message of Creation

Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the 
immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and 
creeping
things.
(Romans 1:22–23)

It would be a great folly and a great tragedy if a man loved his wedding 
band more than he loved his bride. But that is what this passage says has 
happened.

Human beings have fallen in love with the echo of God’s excellency in 
creation and lost the ability to hear the incomparable, original shout of 
love.

The message of creation is this:

There is a great God of glory and power and generosity behind all this 
awesome universe; you belong to him; he is patient with you in sustaining 
your rebellious
life; turn and bank your hope on him and delight yourself in him, not his 
handiwork.

Day pours forth the “speech” of that message to all who will listen in the 
day, speaking with blindingly bright sun and blue sky and clouds and untold
shapes and colors of all things visible. Night pours forth the “knowledge” 
of the same message to all who will listen at night, speaking with great 
dark
voids and summer moons and countless stars and strange sounds and cool 
breezes and northern lights (
Psalm 19:1–2).

Day and night are saying one thing: God is glorious! God is glorious! God is 
glorious!
John Piper
Copyright Information

This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper's 
ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.

A Note of Encouragement

from Ciloa

Send this Note of Encouragement to a Friend
A woman looks down, having made a mistake
What was I thinking?

Volume XVI, Issue 34
August 22, 2016

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

What was I thinking?...by Janet Perez Eckles

One may believe I'm successful---magazine articles, four books, speaking 
hundreds of times across the US and other countries. But all was God's 
doing.
His grace and sense of humor took a blind chica and accomplished this 
without me seeing a thing. And I savor my gratitude as often as I can.
A woman's panicked eyes

But memories can drag me to times less successful...the echo of something 
missed, a reflection of an act gone wrong. They remind me of my flaws and 
all
those moments of "What was I thinking?"

• When I lost my sight at 31 and knew my life had ended.
• When I learned my son was murdered and knew I was alone in my pain and 
would never survive.
• When without permission I sent my first book (the "masterpiece of the 
century") to another author and knew she would gladly endorse it.
• When I received a rejection from "Chicken Soup for the Soul" and knew my 
story was worthless.
• When I spoke at my first large event, missed a critical point, and knew I 
was a failure.
• When I saw a fellow author attempt an avenue to reach higher levels and 
knew I had to copy her.
• When without prayer or reflection I accepted an agent's contract and knew 
it was best for me.
An embarrassed man with head in hand
What was I thinking? All those times I thought I knew my next step, right 
path, perfect choice, and certain future. You'd think I would've known 
better.
After all, I had written about the pitfalls of looking to the past. I had 
seen the drawbacks of dwelling on yesterday's mistakes and last year's 
failures.

But though I may blush and cringe at the memories, there's something helpful 
about pondering those moments that cross my life. My mistakes and flawed 
approaches
have great value in making me the person God wants me to be---a servant 
focused on Him, guided by His hand, living in His Word.

God gently turns my mistakes into mighty lessons. And each tugs me higher to 
build my character, to be grateful for the flaws, to understand my 
weaknesses
and, goodness gracious, to consider it all joy.

Rather than lamenting my "What was I thinking?" moments, I can relish in the 
answer to a new question..."What am I thinking now?" And my answer? I'm 
thinking...pondering...God's
promise of a special life. James speaks this into my soul when he wrote:
A highway sign that says KEEP GOING
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, 
not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 NIV

As you face your own "What was I thinking?" moments...
May God's promise line your heart as He leads you into a life that lacks 
nothing!
Seeing the best of Life,

Janet

Janet Perez Eckles, founder of JC Empowerment Ministries, is a professional 
speaker and author of books to inspire and help thousands overcome fear and
anxiety.
www.JanetPerezEckles.com


Sweet Perfume
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Editor

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider 
others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own
interests, but also to the interests of others. –
>Philippians 2:
3-4

Some time ago a stranger visited my Church's Sunday service. He arrived 
early, while the worship team was still setting up, and the minute I saw him 
I
became nervous. It was clear from his appearance that he’d made a lot of bad 
decisions in life. His cloths were worn and dirty, while his body had been
grossly contorted by years of unhealthy living. I remember doing my best to 
avoid him as I went about my work, hoping that if I ignored him long enough
he’d just go away.

Not exactly my finest moment. In fact, I’d say my attitude was no different 
than Simon the Pharisee in
Luke 7:

“Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went 
to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had 
lived
a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's 
house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him
at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she 
wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the 
Pharisee
who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a 
prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she 
is--that she
is a sinner.’" -
Luke 7:36-40

This is one of the biggest dangers we face as Christians: becoming exclusive 
with the grace of Jesus Christ. The Church is not a showcase for saints, but
a place where people of all backgrounds can come and say “I need Jesus”. 
Neither is God’s love ours to withhold, nor are we more deserving of His 
mercy
than the stranger off the street. In fact, the
Bible
is pretty clear that Jesus made a habit of knocking “Holy” individuals down 
to size:

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I 
came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet
my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a 
kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my 
feet.
You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. 
But
he who has been forgiven little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your 
sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is
this who even forgives sins?" Jesus said to the woman, "Your
faith
has saved you; go in peace" -
Luke 7:44-50

As for the man at the service, my friend reacted much more graciously. He 
struck up a conversation with the man and welcomed him to the service. He 
even
agreed to help him go grocery shopping later on in the week. I learned a 
valuable lesson that Sunday; you cannot love someone by omission, you can 
only
love them through action.

Intersecting Faith and Life: “The way to love anything is to realize that it 
may be lost.” – G.K. Chesterton

Further Reading
>Matthew 15:21-28
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Post  Admin on Fri 16 Sep 2016, 8:56 pm

The Crushing Times
LYSA TERKEURST

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in 
despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 
Corinthians
4:8-9 (NIV)

No one wants to have their heart crushed. But being wounded in deep places 
happens. Sometimes it just seems to be part of the rhythm of life.

And when these hard times come, we feel it all so very deeply. And we wonder 
if others have these hard, hard moments. After all, we don’t snap pictures
of the crushing times and post them on Instagram.

We just wonder if we have what it takes to survive …… when the doctor calls 
and says he needs to talk to me in person about the test results.… when the
teacher sends one of “those” emails about my child.… when someone I love 
closes their heart and turns their back on me.… when I feel so utterly 
incapable
and unable and afraid.

I suspect you know the tear-filled place from which I speak.So, let’s 
journey to the olive tree and learn.To get to the place I want to take you, 
we must
cross the Kidron Valley in Israel.

Kidron Valley Map

John 18:1-2 tells us, “When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his 
disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an 
olive
grove, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, 
knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples” (NIV).

Jesus often met in the shadow and shade of the olive tree.

The olive grove mentioned above is the Garden of Gethsemane. This garden is 
where Jesus, just before his arrest, said to Peter, James and John, “My soul
is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” (Mark 14:34, NIV).

Jesus knew the crushing-heart feeling. He felt it. He wrestled with it. He 
carried it.And I don’t think it was a coincidence the olive tree was there 
in
this moment of deep sorrow for Jesus.

Garden of Gethsemane

The olive tree is such a picture of why our hearts must go through the 
crushing times.

The crushing times are necessary times.

First, in order to be fruitful the olive tree has to have both the east wind 
and the west wind. The east wind is the dry hot wind from the desert. This
is a harsh wind. So harsh that it can blow over green grass and make it 
completely wither in one day.

The west wind, on the other hand, comes from the Mediterranean. It brings 
rain and life.

The olive tree needs both of these winds to produce fruit — and so do we. We 
need both winds of hardship and relief to sweep across our lives if we are
to be truly fruitful.

The crushing times are processing times.

Another thing to consider about the olive tree is how naturally bitter the 
olive is and what it must go through to be useful. If you were to pick an 
olive
from the tree and try to eat it this month, its bitterness would make you 
sick.

For the olive to be edible, it has to go through a lengthy process that 
includes:
washing,
breaking,
soaking,
sometimes salting,
and waiting some more.

It is a lengthy process to be cured of bitterness and prepared for 
usefulness.

If we are to escape the natural bitterness of the human heart, we have to go 
through a long process as well … the process of being cured.

The crushing times are preservation times.

The final thing I want to consider about the olive is the best way to 
preserve it for the long run. It must be crushed in order to extract the 
oil. The
same is true for us. The biblical way to be preserved is to be pressed. And 
being pressed can certainly feel like being crushed.

But what about our key verse, 2 Corinthians 4:8, where it says we are 
“pressed … but not crushed”? Let’s read verses 8 and 9 in the King James 
Version:
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but 
not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not 
destroyed; …”

This was one of the biggest “aha” moments for me standing in the shadow of 
the olive tree: crushing isn’t the olive’s end.

Crushing is the way of preservation for the olive. It’s also the way to get 
what’s most valuable, the oil, out of the olive. Keeping this perspective is
how we can be troubled on every side yet not distressed … pressed to the 
point of being crushed but not crushed and destroyed.

I think I need to revisit these truths often: When the sorrowful winds of 
the east blow, I forget they are necessary.

When I’m being processed, I forget it’s for the sake of ridding me of 
bitterness.

And when I’m being crushed, I forget it’s for the sake of my preservation.

I forget all these things so easily. I wrestle and cry and honestly want to 
resist every bit of this. Oh, how I forget.

Maybe God knew we all would forget. And so, He created the olive tree.

Dear Lord, I’m so thankful that on the other side of the process of being 
broken and waiting is a useful heart free of bitterness. Help me to hold 
fast
to You when the days are especially hard. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you 
face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith 
produces
perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and 
complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)

I love how Eugene Peterson describes those same verses, “You know that under 
pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.
So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you 
become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (MSG)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If you enjoyed today’s devotion you will love seeing Lysa TerKeurst teach in 
the Garden of Gethsemane in her Uninvited Bible Study. Filmed on location
in the Holy Land, this curriculum will speak powerfully to any group!
Find out more information here.

Learn how to overcome the heartbreaks that have been holding you back with 
the FREE “Untangle Hurt from Your Heart” 5-Day Challenge. Sign up
here
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Are you walking through a difficult season? Look back on the points Lysa 
made. Write out how your situation may fall into one or all of these 
categories.

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Singing for Joy
August 22, 2016

Read:
Psalm 96
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy. (v. 12)

The tall eastern white pine, a favorite home for bald eagles, whistles its 
familiar tune when the west wind blows through its bundles of long needles,
singing praise to the God who made it. The smooth-barked American beech, 
whose nuts are sought after by grouse, raccoons, and bear, slowly bends in 
the
breeze, bowing in reverence to the God who tends it.

The broad-crowned white oak, whose acorns are nourishment for famished 
turkeys, squirrels, and deer, turns red-brown each autumn as the days grow 
shorter,
saying thank you to the God who nourishes it. The crooked crab apple, its 
white-pink flowers exploding with color each spring, hunkers down close to 
the
ground, glorifying the God who rejuvenates it.

The giant sequoia, by volume the world’s largest living tree, whose bark is 
20 inches thick, whose crown is more than 300 feet above the ground, who was
an adult long before Jesus was born, in whose presence one can only gaze 
slack-jawed and stone silent—this Tree of trees sings for joy to God, the 
Maker
and Sustainer and Redeemer of all.

All the trees of the forest shall sing for joy. In this hymn of praise to 
our Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, all creatures—human and 
nonhuman—worship
God. So be it. Amen!

Prayer:
O Lord, help us, your human earthkeepers, to live in such a way that all the 
trees of the forest shall sing to you for joy.

Author: Steven Bouma-Prediger
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Post  Admin on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 9:15 pm

Kindness

While traveling from one city to the next, a man was overtaken by robbers. 
Taking his clothes and possessions, they left him badly beaten. Not long 
after
the attack, a priest traveled the same road. He passed by without stopping. 
Then another traveler saw the man but did not offer to help.

Finally, someone stopped--a Samaritan. He put bandages on the man's wounds 
and took him to an inn for the night. The next day he gave the innkeeper 
money
and instructions to take care of the wounded man.

The parable of the Good Samaritan in
Luke 10
is a wonderful example of godly kindness. It also demonstrates that kindness 
often requires something of us--time, plans, privacy, and desires. The Good
Samaritan interrupted his travel plans to help a stranger. What better 
example to follow than that of Christ? He gave us the ultimate gift of 
kindness--He
died that we might live.

However, we cannot learn to be kind simply by disciplining ourselves. 
Kindness can be hard work, and from time to time, this may mean that we have 
to face
difficult situations that drain us emotionally and physically.

Often kindness cannot grow apart from conflict and strife. We learn to be 
kind through the kindness of others, but we also learn a greater kindness 
when
we are called to be kind and caring in difficult situations.

A disagreement with a co-worker, spouse, friend, or family member can tempt 
us to be abrupt or uncaring. Circumstances appear out of focus and God's 
fruit
of kindness becomes lost in the battle. However, through the power of Christ 
we are able to act in kindness even toward those who hurt us. Is there 
someone
who needs your kindness today?

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love 
as brothers, be compassionate and humble
(1 Peter 3:8).

****

God, Help Me Rebuild My Broken World

With society crumbling around us, it’s time to rebuild. In his upcoming 
book,
God, Help Me Rebuild My Broken World,
Dr. Michael Youssef applies the powerful story of Nehemiah to today’s 
troubling times, encouraging believers to rise up and rebuild the broken 
walls around
our families, communities, and nation. Learn how prayer, courage, and godly 
leadership can fortify broken walls of faith in this timely application of
Nehemiah. Enjoy this special sneak peek of God, Help Me Rebuild My Broken 
World until it releases in September.

Visit us today at
http://www.ltw.org/

Listen to
Michael Youssef
on Today's Broadcast of "
Leading The Way"
at OnePlace.com

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

By Answers2Prayer
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I Want to Fly

When my kids were young we bought them two pet cockatiels. These beautiful, 
white birds would whistle and chirp all through the day. We had a big cage
for them with perches, toys, and a mirror, plus food and water dishes. We 
couldn't let them loose in the house because of our dogs and cats, but they 
seemed
content in their cage or so I thought.

One day in the Springtime when the sun was awakening the earth and the air 
had turned warm, I cracked the window to let in the breeze. The songs of 
dozens
of different birds filled the air and our two cockatiels whistled with 
excitement. I went over to their cage to replace their water, but as soon as 
I opened
the door one of them flew out and headed for the window.

He banged into the glass, fell over onto the couch, staggered back up and 
then started to flyaround the living room. The cats chased after him, hoping
for a quick meal. The kids screamed and I rushed to save him. It took 
several minutes to corral the cats, catch the bird, and get him safely back 
in his
cage. After that day, however, I always felt a bit sorry for my cockatiels. 
I knew that no matter how comfortable their cage was they still wanted to 
fly.

Many of us in this life live in cages of our own making. We close our minds, 
lock away our hearts, and limit our lives. We refuse to see the love that
God has for us and the greatness that lies within us. We sit in our cells 
day after day and never dare to once open the door.

I for one don't want to waste my days sitting bored in a cage. I want to 
fly! I want to fly to new heights of love every single day. I want to zoom 
through
the sky on wings of kindness and joy. I want ride on the winds of God's love 
and help everyone I can to do the same. Heaven may seem high above us, but
Heaven is within us as well. Don't stay stuck in your own cage then.

Let yourself fly!

Joseph J. Mazzella

Announcement:

Do you have a Bible question you would like to see answered? Why not
submit it to us.
We have dedicated volunteers who would gladly take the time to find your 
answers.

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

What Can I Do to Bring You Joy?
SUZIE ELLER

“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because 
our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”
>Romans 5:11
(NLT)

Lord, take care of that friend who is a missionary.

Lord, heal my hurting heart.

Father, help me to be wise with our finances.

Father, I need You right now.

If I could stack up my prayer requests, I’m sure they’d reach the sky. I’ve 
been bringing them to God for a long time, sometimes whispered in a time of
crisis and other times as I settle in the morning for quiet time. I love 
that God is receptive to each request and hears every one.

However, a while back, I started praying a little differently.

I started talking to God as if He were truly a friend, someone who wasn’t 
just the recipient of my requests, but a dear friend where the conversation 
was
mutual. This idea might seem strange to some, but it’s very biblical.

In
Romans 5,
Paul reminds us that Jesus came to earth as a result of God’s love for us. 
It was God’s desire that the cross and resurrection forever break down walls
that sin erected.

Paul doesn’t stop there, however. He joyfully shares that this 
reconciliation brought us into a wonderful new relationship with God -- that 
of a friend.

This concept of God as a friend doesn’t diminish His sovereignty or the fact 
that He is powerful. Rather it reveals His desire not only to know us, but
to be known.

I would never come to a friend with only requests or only praise of their 
virtues. I would tune in to that person’s heart; sharing would be mutual.

That’s what led me to pray in a different way. I began my conversations 
every morning asking one simple question: Lord, is there anything I can do 
to bring
You joy today?

That simple question led to answers, some of them surprising. One day I was 
rocking 2-year-old Josiah, my grandson. His tired mama rested in the other
room. I sang a silly song over him and he snuggled close.

This brings Me joy.

Those words came from deep within. A confirmation that God was delighted by 
what I was doing.

He saw something I didn’t. Perhaps it was the fact that Josiah was snug in 
my arms and that moment was building security in this little man’s heart. I’ll
never know for sure, but it brought God joy and that was enough.

On another day, a friend messaged me. She was having a bad day. I didn’t 
have a lot of time, but I felt that gentle tug so I messaged her and we 
chatted
for no more than 15 minutes. I ended our conversation with the words, “I 
love you big and I’m going to pray for you.” Then I knelt and prayed before 
going
on with my schedule for the day.

There it was again. That inner knowing.

This brings Me joy.

I had assumed it was the bigger things that brought God joy. You know, like 
telling someone about Jesus or changing the world. Certainly, these are 
beautiful
in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, but these small moments matter to God, 
too.

As we begin our everyday conversations with God asking, “What might I do to 
bring You joy today?” our spiritual ears start to open. We might discover 
that
some of the smallest events of our day are actually miracles, as we partner 
with God to love people.

Coming to God as a friend as well as our heavenly Father draws us into the 
wonderful relationship Paul talked about in
Romans 5:11:
“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because 
our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

Maybe today is a great day to flip our prayer lives in a whole new 
direction.

What can we do to bring You joy today, Lord?

We just might be surprised at the answer.

Heavenly Father, what can I do today to bring You joy? Not to earn points 
with You, but to simply talk with You. To hear Your heart, as well as to 
share
mine. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
>John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know 
>his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything
that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (NIV)

(c) 2016 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.
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Post  Admin on Wed 14 Sep 2016, 11:13 pm

Thoughts on Why Everything Exists
John Piper

One of the main points of the book,
Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ,
is that sin and God's wrath against it were part of God's plan when he 
created the world. This is different from saying that God sins or that he 
approves
of sinning.

The main reason for making this point is to exalt the revelation of God's 
grace in the crucifixion of Jesus to the highest place. This is the point of
the universe--the glorification of the grace of God in the apex of its 
expression in the death of Jesus.

Jesus died for sin (
1 Corinthians 15:3).
The death of Jesus for sin was planned before the foundation of the world (
Revelation 13:8
;
Ephesians 1:4-6).
Therefore, sin was part of the plan. God carries this plan through in a way 
that maintains full human accountability, full hatred for sin, full divine
justice, and full saving love for all who trust Christ. And we don't need to 
know how he does it to believe it and rest in it and worship him for it.

This morning I was meditating for my devotions on
Ezra 8
and
Ezra 9
. I saw there another pointer to the truth of God's planning for human sin 
and divine wrath.

In
Ezra 8:22,
Ezra says, "The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and his 
power and his wrath are against all who forsake him." This text leads me to 
ask:
Did God know before creation that his creatures would "forsake him." Yes, he 
did. The plan for their redemption was in place before the foundation of the
world (
Ephesians 1:3-6).

Was
Ezra 8:22
true before the foundation of the world? Yes, it was. God did not become 
holy and just after creation. He has always been holy and just. "His power 
and
his wrath are against all who forsake him" because this is, and always has 
been, the holy and just thing for God to do.

Therefore, since God knew that his creatures would forsake him, he also knew 
that his power and wrath would be against them. Therefore, this was part of
his plan. He created the world knowing that sin would happen and that he 
would respond as
Ezra 8:22
says he does.

This planning is what Paul means in
Romans 9:22
when he says that God was "desiring to show his wrath and to make known his 
power. . ." And if you ask Paul why God would go forward with this plan, his
most ultimate answer is in the next verse: "in order to make known the 
riches of his glory for vessels of mercy" (
Romans 9:23).

God knew that the revelation of his wrath and power against sin would make 
the riches of his glory shine all the brighter and taste all the sweeter for
the vessels of mercy.

"The riches of his glory" are the riches we inherit when we see his glory in 
all the fullness that we can bear (
Ephesians 1:18)
and are transformed by it (
Romans 8:30
;
2 Corinthians 3:18
;
1 John 3:2).
These riches of glory reach their supreme height of wonder and beauty in the 
death of Jesus as he bore the condemnation of God's wrath and power in our
place (
Romans 8:3
;
Galatians 3:13).

In other words, God's plan that there be sin and wrath in the universe was 
ultimately to bring about "the praise of the glory of his grace" in the 
death
of Christ (Ephesians 1:6).
What is at stake in the sovereignty of God over sin is the ultimate aim of 
the universe, namely, the exaltation of the Son of God in the greatest act 
of
wrath-removing, sin-forgiving, justice-vindicating grace that ever was or 
ever could be. The praise of the glory of God's grace in the death of Christ
for sinners is the ultimate end of all things.

Christ is the aim of all things. When Paul says, "All things were created . 
. . for him
" (Colossians 1:16),
he means that the entire universe and all the events in it serve to glorify 
Jesus Christ. May the meditations of our hearts take us ever deeper into 
this
mystery. And may the words of our mouths and the actions of our hands serve 
to magnify the infinite worth of Jesus and his death. This is why we exist.

By John Piper. (c) Desiring God. Website:
www.desiringGod.org.


Remember Your Baptism
by Liz Kanoy, Crosswalk.com Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intersecting
Faith
and Life: Thank your Savior Jesus Christ for your baptism today, thank Him 
for the baptism of all those in the body of Christ and those in the covenant
family, and pray for the baptism of many more for no one is without need of 
grace and no one is beyond God’s reach.

Further Reading

1 Corinthians 12:13
1 Peter 3:21
;

Colossians 2:12
;

Galatians 3:27;

Mark 16:16
What is Baptism?
Is Baptism Necessary for Salation?


Peace, Be Still
BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Keep me as the apple of the eye…hide me under the shadow of Thy wings.”
Psalm 17:8

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Charles Wesley was walking through the woods on a stormy day when a 
lightening storm broke out and the rain began to come down in torrents. A 
bolt of lightening
flashed, and a little bird was so frightened that it flew down to Wesley and 
it tried to hide in his coat.

He was so moved by the scene that he wrote a song we often sing: “Jesus, 
lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly, while the nearer waters roll, 
while
the tempest still is high. Hide me, O my Savior, hide, ‘til the storm of 
life is past; safe unto the haven guide me, O receive my soul at last.” That’s
what our Lord does. He hides us, sustains us, and keeps us.

ACTION POINT:
Are the storms of life raging around you? Hide yourself in the dark 
clouds—they are just the shadow of His wing.
Discover Jesus

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.

The email address this message was sent from does not accept replies. If 
you would like to send a comment, prayer or praise, please visit us
here.
May God continue to strengthen and encourage you by the Love Worth Finding 
devotions.
Copyright © 2016 Love Worth Finding Ministries, All rights reserved.
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Post  Admin on Tue 13 Sep 2016, 3:21 pm

Run the Race
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT)
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to 
the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, 
especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with 
endurance the race that God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our 
eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was 
willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew 
would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor 
beside God’s throne in heaven. 3 Think about all he endured when sinful 
people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and 
give up.

On a Saturday in September 2016 was the first Battle of Bristol. It was a 
football game between the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech. It took 
place at a NASCAR racetrack known as the world's fastest half mile. They put 
a football field right in the
middle of the infield of the track. The record for the most people attending 
a college
football game was made that day with 156,000 people attending.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be on that field and looking into 
the stands with all those people?This is what I think the great crowd of 
witnesses is like that Hebrews mentions. These are people who have run the 
race before us and are not choosing sides like they did at the football game 
but are there cheering us all on. WE can turn almost anywhere in the Bible 
and find someone who showed great faith. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews has 
a long list of people of faith. All of them were not perfect but picked 
themselves up and kept on going. Other members of the great cloud are the 
many Christians we can read about in biographies. Some are past members of 
the church we go to or maybe some of our relatives.

If you belong to Jesus Christ you are in a race. I consider the race to be 
more of a cross country race than one on a track. Life is full of ups and 
downs and curves. WE who are in this race are here because of Jesus Christ. 
AS we are running this race we can see in our minds many types of footsteps 
ahead of us. These are the footsteps of the Christians who went before us. 
More important is one set of footsteps, that of Jesus himself. He ran this 
race. He was fully human and fully divine. He experienced everything that we
experience. He even experienced death. He knows everything you are going 
through.

If you look beside you, you will also see Jesus there. He is right there 
with you no matter where you are in the race. If you have fallen or gotten 
off track He is there to help you get back into the race.

WE can also see Jesus at the finish line. He is standing there with his arms 
open wide to welcome us when we get to heaven. Jesus suffered all that he 
did because he knew that He would end up at the right hand of God. WE can 
endure and persevere because we know that Jesus is with us and is also 
waiting for us.

Back in Greece the runners used to practice running while carrying weights 
on their back. They had to take these off before the race or they would be 
slowed down. There are things that can weigh us down in our race also. These 
can be things like doubt and fear. They can also be good things that keep us 
from a relationship with Jesus like family, work, hobbies, etc. WE may need 
to get rid of some of those weights to continue on the race.

The early runners did not wear any clothes. You could imagine trying to run 
in one of those long robes which they wore. The writer of Hebrews relates 
this to sin that besets us. So many Christians have a pet sin that keeps 
tripping them up. WE have to take these sins off by the power of the Holy 
Spirit to continue in the race.

In a race you need to keep looking straight ahead. If you look to the side, 
you are going to run in that direction. If you are running in a cross 
country race and start looking at a squirrel in a tree you may even run into 
something and knock yourself down. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t be looking 
at other things that might tempt you to get off course.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (HCSB)
12 Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, 13 and make 
straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, 
but healed instead.

In our race some bad things may happen. God may discipline us for the wrong 
things we have done but not everything bad that happens is of God’s doing. 
Whatever happens, we need to learn from it. WE are not to let these things 
keep us down. Get back in the race.

When you see someone else in the race who has fallen, do not kick them when 
they are down. Go to them and help them up. Give them whatever they need so 
they can get back in the race. WE who belong to Jesus Christ are in this 
race together. All who reach the finish line are winners.

You may be near the starting line, in the middle of the race or near the end 
but wherever you are, continue to run the race.

by Dean W. Masters


How to Pray for the Toxic People in Your Life
by Jennifer O. White

Love gives. Loves goes the extra mile. Love endures.

That love is not always reciprocated.

As Christ followers, we strive to give love from a pure heart that doesn’t 
require a person to love us perfectly in return. We intentionally allow God
to be our source of perfect love, and we relinquish the right to demand it 
from others. In obedience to God and His Word, we set our hearts on being 
patient
and kind. We commit to modeling Jesus’ sacrificial love. But sometimes the 
person we give our love to consistently betrays and wounds us. How do we 
give

1 Corinthians 13
love in that situation?

Kuddos to Debbie McDaniel for her insight in "
How to Protect Yourself from these 10 Toxic People."
McDaniel wisely suggests we set boundaries and limit the control an 
unhealthy person might be placing on our life. She also notes when "we look 
deep into
the mirror of our souls, we may realize that we are the ones who have some 
unhealthy tendencies that God wants to change."

I’ve got a really strong mercy streak. For decades, I’ve looked for the best 
in everyone. I pursued relationships with very emotionally unhealthy people.
I was sure God loved them and I could, too, but I had no idea how to employ 
boundaries. I gave love no matter how much pain was delivered to me in 
return.
I was too timid to speak the truth in love.

I lived with a desperate fear of confrontation. My rational thinking dropped 
into a coma if I sensed any threat of an explosive reaction. Eventually 
resentment
wrestled mercy to the ground. Wounded and exhausted, I would just walk away 
from the relationship.

That is how I handled my first marriage. Years later, I was very close to 
repeating the pattern in my second marriage.

A major crisis in our marriage led me to intense
Bible study
and prayer counseling. God exposed many of my own toxic relationship 
patterns. I was addicted to the approval of others. I was a great blamer and 
gossiper.
If there had been a contest for arrogant victims, I would have won the 
crown.

I once was blind, but now I see.

Pride kept me from seeing these things about myself. It also kept me focused 
on how the “other person” needed to change so I could be ok. With amazing
grace, God revealed the truth for the purpose of restoring me to wholeness.

He sent His Word and healed me and delivered me from self-destruction.
(Psalm 107:20,
my paraphrase)

God offers healing and freedom to everyone.

He is waiting to transform the lives of everyone leaking nuclear emotions 
and throwing verbal grenades. The controller, the abuser, and the too-easily
angered are not immune to the power of God’s Word. We are promised that 
nothing is impossible with God (
Luke 1:37,
Mark 10:27).
There is hope for the bully, the addict, and the one whose mind is stuck in 
a negative gear. The blamer, the gossiper, the arrogant, and the victim are
all offered fresh doses of mercy from God each and every day.

God created those who hurt us. He has a good plan for their lives. He knows 
the “why” behind their destructive behaviors. He knows the lies they believe
about themselves. He knows what stands in the way of their wholeness. He is 
a Shepherd who pursues every sheep that wanders away from all He offers.

We are temples of God’s Holy Spirit, empowered by Him to believe in what we 
cannot yet see. We are vessels of His mercy, His wisdom, and His Word. His
mighty power is at work within us to accomplish infinitely more than we can 
ask or imagine (
Ephesians 3:20).

We do not wrestle against flesh and blood (
Ephesians 6:12).

There is a dark force of evil behind every lethal personality disorder and 
self-defensive coping mechanism. Every casualty in a relationship war has 
fallen
prey to the one who steals, kills, and destroys.

The great news is... God has far more power than Satan. The God of angel 
armies makes us ready for battle with His truth, salvation, faith, 
righteousness,
peace, and the sword—the Word of God. His banner of victory flies over us. 
When we arm ourselves and pray, we salute His authority and partner with His
plan for the family of God.

What would delight our God more than for us to turn our minds away from the 
problems and focus on Him? He is our solution.

Praising God is a powerful first line of defense. We can worship and adore 
Him, our wonderful counselor and supreme relationship expert.

Holy God. You are full of mercy and compassion, slow to anger and full of 
love. No one can measure Your greatness. You open your hand to satisfy the 
needs
of everyone.

You protected Daniel in the lion’s den. You provided an ark before
the flood.
You create streams in deserts. No situation is too dire for You. Everything 
is possible because You are the Creator and Redeemer.

You love imperfect people extravagantly. Your perfect love drives out fear.

You are mighty to save!

We can choose to live prayerfully and humbly before God. He can help us love 
those who do not love us well with a pure heart.

Father, I may be blind to my own role in toxic relationships. Help me see 
the truth about myself. Apply the healing power of Your Word to my heart and
mind. Deliver me from any stronghold that causes me to harm people with my 
words and actions. Save me from self-destructive patterns.

I struggle in my relationship with ______. I need You to give me wisdom on 
how to love ____ well. You are my shield and defender. Show me how, when and
where to erect boundaries in our relationship. I believe You are my healer 
and I trust You to guard my heart and mind.

I need Your specific directions on how to interact with ______.

I want to love _____ with a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere 
faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)

Help me to love ______ courageously. Fill me with Your truth and compel me 
to fearlessly tell the truth with love. Let Your perfect love cast out all 
of
my fears related to our relationship.

I forgive ______ for hurting me. I ask You to forgive me for _______ and 
_______. I acknowledge my emotions: _______, _________, and _______. And I 
invite
You to steady my heart so my emotions do not rule my decisions

I surrender what I think our relationship should be. Please transform it so 
that it honors You.

In Jesus, I pray. Amen

The toxic person in your life may feel like an enemy. That is certainly how 
Satan wants you to feel about your husband, your family member, your church
leader, etc. But remember the real culprit is Satan.

God has given us clear instructions to bless those who curse us and pray for 
the people who mistreat us (
Luke 6:27–28).
Jesus modeled this pure love for us on the cross, and when He washed Judas’ 
feet knowing he was going to betray Him.

Praying for your enemy is like training for the Christian Olympics. The 
stakes are high. The requirements are intense. But the reward is far greater 
than
any gold medal. Your prayer can be used by God in a person’s life, their 
family, and the generations after them.

Use this prayer prompt to launch an ongoing conversation with God on behalf 
of the toxic person in your life.

God, I acknowledge You as _______’s provider. Thank You for providing all 
______ needs to live in peace and harmony with me and others.

Your Word is alive and a gift of healing to ______. I invite You to fill 
_____’s life with It. Let It be a salve to _____’s wounds. Use it to set 
______
free from the snare of the enemy.

You are the Good Shepherd. Please rescue _______ from paths of destruction.

You are the Wonderful Counselor. Break down the walls in _____’s heart and 
mind with Your battering ram of revelation. Give ____ spiritual wisdom and 
insight
to know You. Flood ______’s heart with Your light.

Where _____ has endured shame, pour double portions of honor into _____’s 
life.

Your Holy Spirit intercedes for _____ 24/7. Use me to do the same and raise 
up an army of intercessors on _______’s behalf. Let heaven and earth work in
tandem to deliver ____ from evil.

Make _____ ready to hear me and others speak Your truth in love. Help ____ 
to experience Your love and Your presence.

You are the One who can enable _____ to hunger for Your Word and obey Your 
commands. Let that be so for ________.

With faith in Jesus, I pray. Amen

Jennifer O. White is the author of
Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God’s Armor After the Wedding Dress
and
Marriage Armor for the #PrayingBride.
Jennifer is a natural encourager who offers hope from the truths of God’s 
Word at her blog,
Prayerfully Speaking.
With every blog post, Jennifer is exalts the one true God who can empower us 
to do more than we can ask or imagine.

Anne Graham Lotz - God’s Primary Purpose
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God’s Primary Purpose
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they 
comfort me.

Psalm 23:4, NIV

Trusting God to accomplish His primary purpose through our pain was 
eloquently expressed by the widow of Todd Beamer. Todd was a passenger on 
the fateful
United Flight 93 when it was hijacked by suicide bombers on September 11, 
2001. He and other passengers overpowered the hijackers, thwarting their use
of the plane as a flying missile apparently aimed at the very heart of 
Washington, D.C. But the passengers were unable to prevent the plane from a 
nosedive
crash into a vacant field in Pennsylvania, so September 11, 2001, was the 
date of Todd Beamer’s entrance into heaven. Lisa Beamer gave us a snapshot 
of
her faith that is being developed through suffering when she told an 
interviewer, “God says, ‘I knew on September 10, and I could have stopped 
it, but
I have a plan for greater good than you can ever imagine.’ I don’t know God’s 
plan, and, honestly, right now I don’t like it very much. But I trust that
He is true to His promise in Romans 8:28.”

Thank you, Lisa, for trusting God when you don’t understand why!
Copyright © 2016 AnGeL Ministries, All rights reserved.

September 11

9/11

That date is now burned forever as a national memory for every American. It 
is a “day of infamy” just like December 7, the day of the great attack on 
Pearl
Harbor.

The attackers may have framed their actions as a high and noble service to 
their deity, but most of the world saw 9/11 for what it really was--cowardly
murder of unarmed and innocent civilians. How can anyone feel safe anymore? 
Are the wheels and hinges coming off our civilization? Will evil triumph 
over
good? Will Satan triumph over Christ?

Believers for centuries have cried out to the Lord God for wisdom and 
protection. We need help in making sense of a world gone crazy, and we need 
divine
and angelic protection in a world gone violent. Have you ever feared that 
God’s plans have failed and that the throne in heaven is empty? Let King 
David’s
shout of confidence be yours too: “The kings of the earth take their stand 
and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed 
One.
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. ‘I have 
installed my King on Zion, on my holy hill’” (Psalm 2:2,4,6).

The King is alive. He rules from his heavenly Zion and governs all things 
according to his plan. He will come back and bring us all to the new Zion. 
Soon.
Don’t be afraid. Soon.
: "Dean Masters

Is Faith Something We Believe? Or Something We Do?
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“She thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’” Mark 5:28 
(NIV)

Many of us struggle with health concerns, money woes or family traumas and 
wonder why God hasn’t answered our prayers. Do I need more patience? More 
courage?
More faith?

We’ll find the answer in Capernaum, a fishing village on the northern shore 
of the Sea of Galilee. A place of miracles and healings. A sacred place.

As soon as Jesus arrived that day, a large crowd gathered, including a 
certain woman. No name. No age. We only know she came a long way to see 
Jesus —
30 miles, some scholars say. A challenging walk for someone who was unwell 
because she’d been “bleeding for twelve years” (Mark 5:25b, NIV).

Every woman’s nightmare. An endless flow of blood. Not one week a month, but 
every week of every month for 12 long years. Imagine the pain, the shame,
the hygiene issues, the anemia, the exhaustion.

Desperate for relief, she spent all she had in seeking medical help, but 
“instead of getting better she grew worse” (Mark 5:26b, NIV). Not only was 
her
body bleeding, her bank account was bled dry as well. Have you been there, 
friend? At the end of your rope?

Here’s the good news: Faith was all this woman had left. And faith was all 
she needed.

In God’s perfect timing “When she heard about Jesus” (Mark 5:27a, NIV) she 
made tracks for Capernaum. Our bleeding woman, who wasn’t supposed to touch
anyone, “came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak” (Mark 5:27b, 
NIV).

Today’s verse reveals the depth of her faith: “If I just touch his clothes, 
I will be healed” (Mark 5:28b). She believed. She trusted. And so she turned
her faith into action. Truth is, she’d done so miles ago when she left the 
safety of her home and started out for Jesus Town. It was a walk of faith on
the outside and a leap of faith on the inside.

Too often we base our faith on how we feel. A better measure is what we do, 
since“faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James
2:17b, NIV).

When we put feet to our faith, believing we’ll find an answer, that’s when 
miracles happen. “Immediately her bleeding stopped” (Mark 5:29a, NIV). She 
didn’t
simply feelbetter. She was utterly “freed from her suffering” (Mark 5:29b, 
NIV). No more blood, no more pain, no more shame.

She’s not the only one who noticed. “At once Jesus realized that power had 
gone out from him” (Mark 5:30a, NIV). Zap! When He “turned around in the 
crowd
and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’” (Mark 5:30b, NIV), this woman’s 
stomach had to be tied in a knot, especially when He “kept looking around to 
see
who had done it” (Mark 5:32, NIV).

She could have avoided His gaze, crawled away, kept her healing to herself. 
But those are cowardly acts, and faith requires a measure of courage. She’d
walked many miles. She’d stretched out her hand. This was her third act of 
faith: she “fell at his feet” (Mark 5:33b, NIV).

So brave, so honest, so open! Then she spoke to Him — another step of 
faith — and despite trembling with fear, she “told him the whole truth” 
(Mark 5:33c,
NIV), holding nothing back.Jesus responded by calling her “Daughter” (Mark 
5:34b, NIV). Of all people! This ostracized, unclean, don’t-get-anywhere-near-her
woman. His tender endearment assured the crowd, “She’s family. She belongs 
to Me.”

Then He told her, “Your faith has healed you” (Mark 5:34c, NIV). Her faith? 
How is that possible? Because the healing power of Jesus passed through His
garment to meet her outstretched hand. Even before her fingers brushed 
against the threads, she was already healed because she dared to believe.The 
Lord
is calling us to do the same. God calls us to demonstrate our faith by doing 
something brave and bold. To act on our belief in Jesus by reaching beyond
our comfort zone, knowing He is ready and waiting with healing in His wings.

Heavenly Father, remind me that I am Your daughter and can call on Your 
power to help, to heal, to save. Give me the courage to take risks and the 
faith
to believe You are with me and for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 3:12, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with 
freedom and confidence.” (NIV)Luke 1:45, “Blessed is she who has believed 
that
the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
You'll find more encouragement from the stories of women in Scripture in Liz 
Curtis Higgs’ newly updated bestseller,
Really Bad Girls of the Bible.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
It’s right and good to pray for more faith. God also wants us to act on our 
faith. To knock on a closed door, to respond kindly to an enemy, to ask for
the impossible, believing all things are possible with God.

What leap of faith is God asking you to take right now?

© 2016 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.
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Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

A Serious Commitment
Sunday, August 21, 2016

“So then let us not sleep as others do, but
let us be alert and sober.”
1 Thessalonians 5:6 NASB

Francis Asbury had a profound impact on the life of America. After arriving 
from his native England in 1771, he based his first sermon in America on 1
Thessalonians 5:6. He felt that many Believers had been content to live in 
comfort, and were not concerned for the Lost. He felt his call from God was
to “spread scriptural holiness to every city and hamlet in America.” He 
called Christians to take action and commit themselves to spread the Gospel.

He sought men who shared his passion for evangelism and recruited them to be 
circuit riders. These men endured many hardships for their faith.

Author Wesley Duewel describes how half of these men “died before age 
thirty.”

But they reached thousands with the Gospel following Asbury’s exhortation: 
“We must reach every section of America—especially the new frontiers.

We must not be afraid of men, devils, wild animals, or disease. Our motto 
must always be FORWARD!”

In his journal, Asbury wrote, “How I wish to spend all my time and talents 
for Him who spilt His blood for me.” Some might worry about other people, 
but
Asbury wrote, “I have nothing to seek but the glory of God; and nothing to 
fear but His displeasure.”

Today, many Christians are spiritually asleep. But God wants us to be 
vigilant and dedicated to His Kingdom. The needs are great. Families are in 
trouble.
Sin abounds. Millions still need the Gospel.

Right now, make sure that you are not spiritually asleep. Don’t allow 
yourself to become lazy or complacent. Spend time with God in prayer. Ask 
Him to
give you a passion for Souls, a hunger to serve Him. Study His Word. 
Dedicate your time and talents to His Kingdom. Follow the leading of His 
Spirit. And
seek to bring Him glory.

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, give me a passion for Souls. Here are people who need salvation: 
__________. Open their eyes that they might be saved. Use me to impact lives 
for
Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Further Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5

We Need Your Help

Millions of daily devotionals just like this are delivered to Believers 
around the globe to strengthen their daily walk and deepen their 
relationship with
their Savior. Please consider participating in this Kingdom work through a 
gift of any amount to help us. Click the button below to help now.

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

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Climbing Hills to Nowhere - #7725

There was just something about those great vacation adventures I would plan 
for our family. Somehow our kids got to dreading my announcement that "Dad
has another great adventure!" Maybe it was the day on Cape Cod. Near 
Provincetown there are these monster sand dunes. And I heard that if you 
climbed to
the top of this particular mountain of sand, you'd have this beautiful 
panoramic view of the ocean. So on a hot July day, we started trudging up 
that dune.
And I kept encouraging the troops with the prospect of that fabulous view at 
the top. And when we finally reached the top, there it was - a panoramic 
view
of another sand dune! Well, against strenuous protests, I moved the troops 
down that dune and up the next one, sure that our view was one dune away. 
And
there, atop that next dune, we were rewarded with, yeah, another sand dune. 
And so went our afternoon, up a dune, down a dune, up a dune, down a dune.
My mistake - I was sure that what I was looking for must be just over that 
next hill. It wasn't.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Climbing 
Hills to Nowhere."

You know, a lot of people live their whole lives that same way-thinking that 
what they're looking for is just over the next hill. The love, the peace,
the fulfillment, the meaning I'm looking for; oh it will be in that next 
relationship, that next accomplishment, that next experience. But so far 
we've
left behind us a trail of hills that were supposed to fill the hole in our 
heart and didn't. Some people trudge on all the way to that final hill 
called
death - still looking, still not finding. Maybe for you, life has been a lot 
of climbing hills to nowhere; to disappointment, emptiness and loneliness.

You may need to climb one more hill - the one that really does have what 
your soul has been searching for. Our word for today from the Word of God 
comes
from John 6:35, where Jesus Christ promises to satisfy what nothing and no 
one else has been able to satisfy. It says, "Then Jesus declared, 'I am the
bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes 
in Me will never be thirsty'." Oh, there have been people or things that 
briefly
satisfied the hunger and thirst in your heart, but never for long, certainly 
never for good.

Jesus says He is the end of that search for satisfaction. Why? Because He 
came to earth to reunite us with the God whose love we were made for. We've 
lost
Him by living for ourselves instead of for Him. We've got this wall between 
us and God, the One we were created for. The hole in your heart was made for
your Creator - and He's on the other side of that sin-wall. No one and 
nothing on earth can ever fill that hole, no matter how many more hills you 
climb.

But there is that one hill that will finally bring the restless years to an 
end. It's called Skull Hill. It's got a cross on top of it. On that cross 
hangs
the Son of God, suspended by nails in His hands and feet. He's there, in 
Jesus' own words, "giving His life as a ransom for many." In other words, 
paying
the price to get you back to your Creator. And when you fall at the foot of 
that cross, putting all your trust in the Man who died for you there, the 
wall
between you and God finally comes down. And the hell you deserve is replaced 
with the heaven you couldn't possibly deserve. And the search for what's 
always
been missing is finally over.

Today could be your day to climb the only hill where you'll find what you've 
looked for all these years. At Jesus' cross, you can finally begin the 
eternal
love-relationship you were made for. If you want to begin that relationship 
with Jesus, would you tell Him that right where you are?

Go to our website, ANewStory.com, and let me show you there how you can be 
sure you have begun a relationship with Jesus Christ that will last forever.
You don't have to waste one more day climbing hills to nowhere.

Jesus is what your heart has always been hungry for, and your lifelong 
search can end today at His cross.

LET GO OF THE PAST

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. Behold, I am doing a 
new thing!" (Isaiah 43:18)

My child,

Give up! Give up those hurts of the past. It's time to move on. Satan loves 
to have you live in the past because that renders you ineffective to live
in the present-in the now.

Tell Me, child. What is it that has happened to you? Who hurt you? What 
mistakes have you made that you regret? Did what happen to you change the 
fact
that Jesus loves you, and He died on the cross for you so you could live in 
heaven with Him for all eternity?

Can anything or anyone ever change that fact? You know that nothing can ever 
nullify what Jesus did for you on the cross. If that's true, and it is, then
nothing else matters, does it?

There is nothing that can happen to you, nothing anyone can do to you that 
can ever change the fact that My Son, Jesus, loves you and died on the cross
for you so you gain heaven for all eternity. No one can ever take that away 
from you. No One!

Hold on to that thought. Put things in their proper perspective. When you do 
that, you'll see that being loved unconditionally, attaining salvation and
the right to go to heaven is your ultimate goal. Everything else pales in 
comparison to that.

Even physical death cannot take heaven away from you, for then the real 
you-your spirit-just changes abodes. Physical death for Christians is moving 
from
living in the temple of the Holy Spirit, your body, to living in heaven.

I know, My child, I know. Your mind is often filled with hurtful things that 
happen to you. Sometimes you even say to people "You don't know how much it
hurt Me when such and such happened." Well, I ask you again, does what 
happen to you in the past change the fact that Jesus loves you and died for 
you,
and now you can spend eternity with Him in heaven? I don't have to wait for 
your answer, because I know immediately your mind said, "No!"

Then, child, nothing else matters! Compared to eternity, all problems are 
nothing. Loving Me, being in My family, gaining the right to live in heaven 
for
eternity-that's what's important in life. If you lose that, you've lost it 
all. Don't hold grudges. forgive! Nothing you can gain on earth can make up
for that loss, and nothing can happen to you on earth that can take that 
away from you - Nothing!

Love,
God
Author Unknown
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Your Choices Control Your Calendar
By Rick Warren

“We are each responsible for our own conduct”

(Galatians 6:5
NLT, second edition).

Your choices are far more powerful than your circumstances. You may not like 
how complicated your life has become. But with few exceptions, no one is 
forcing
you to keep your life complicated.

You have the power to simplify your life. In fact, God expects us to assume 
responsibility for our lives and to carefully choose how we spend our time.

You have just enough time to do God’s will while you’re here on Earth. You’ve 
been given just enough time to fulfill your purpose. When you try to do more
than God planned for you, it’s only natural that you will find yourself 
constantly out of time or stressed over your schedule.

My prayer for you is that you will find relief from stress and a new sense 
of satisfaction as you do only the things God created you to do.

Playtoday’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick >>

Talk It Over

• Make a list of the activities and responsibilities that are causing you 
stress. Ask God to help you determine the things on your schedule that he 
never
intended for you to do.
• Where do you believe God wants you to focus your time and energy?
• What choices do you need to make that will help you focus more on what God 
has planned for you?

For more Daily Hope with Rick Warren, please visit
pastorrick.com

The Tale of Two Trees
August 17, 2016

Read:
Genesis 2:4-25
And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is 
pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst 
of the
garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (v. 9)

In the middle of this garden are two unique trees: the tree of life and the 
tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What are we to make of this tale of
two trees? We must first understand that this text is not a scientific 
explanation of how the world came to be, but rather (and more importantly) a 
narrative
that tells us who we humans are.

The tree of life signifies the means to eternal life. It represents a life 
of obedience to God, in which we acknowledge our dependence on God. To eat 
from
this tree results in human flourishing—true life gained through a proper 
relationship with God.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents the human possibility 
of universal knowledge—“good and evil” is a Hebrew of way of saying 
“everything.”
To eat from this tree indicates the desire to be all-knowing, like God, but 
in a way not appropriate for humans. Eating from this tree is a bold 
declaration
of independence from God. Hence the admonition not to eat and the assertion 
of deadly consequences (v. 17).

We still face this choice today: acknowledge our dependence on God, or try 
to go it alone.

Prayer:
Almighty God, help us acknowledge our dependence on you.

Author: Steven Bouma-Prediger


About That Whole Control Thing
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an 
undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (
Psalm 86:11,
NIV)

Friend to Friend

I had been out of town at an event. Gone just one night. While I was away, 
my then eight-year-old daughter, Kennedy, had spent the night at her 
girlfriend
Catherine’s house. I came home to a groundswell of enthusiasm.

“Mom! We have to go to Walmart to buy sponge rollers! They are incredible! 
Last night, before we went to bed, Mrs. Robertson rolled our hair in sponge
rollers and when we woke up this morning our hair was CURLY! Can you believe 
it? My hair was curly! We just have to get some!” my flaxen-haired 
buttercup
exclaimed.

My daughter is many wonderful things, but patient is not one of them. So, 
the very next day we went to Walmart and got us some. Fast forward to that 
evening.
I gave her a few basic sponge roller instructions: “After your shower, blow 
dry your hair to be mostly-dry. Leave it just an itty bit damp and then I 
will
come up to roll it. And in the morning your hair will be bouncy and curly 
for school!”

“No, Mom! I know how to do it. I watched Mrs. Robertson last night. I don’t 
need help.”

Right.

“Kennedy, it’s a bit tricky. There are a lot of important little details 
that I can teach you, but I really think it would be best if you let me roll 
your
hair tonight so you can learn.”

“I can do it, Mom! I want to do it myself,” the girl insisted.

(Yep. She’s mine.)

And she rolled her hair . . . exactly as you would expect an 
eight-year-old-sponge-roller-novice to roll her hair. It was a whack job. I 
knew that the
rising sun would not shine light on her finest hair morning, but I also knew 
enough to bite my tongue for the sake of the lesson she would learn. With
an ache in my momma heart, I tucked her in and prayed for the best.

While it was still dark, she shook me awake. BIG alligator tears falling. 
“Mom! It didn’t work! My hair is a mess! Half the rollers fell out onto my 
pillow...
sniff... and I look horrible!”

More tears. Deep little-girl sorrow dripped everywhere.

“Honey, I’m so sorry. It’s okay. Just go wash your hair again and wear it 
straight for school today. We can try again tonight, and I will help you 
this
time.” I used my most consoling mom-voice . . . and stuffed down the “I 
told you so” that wanted to slip out.

That night after her shower, Kennedy blew her hair to mostly-dry and then 
handed me her sponge rollers. As we sat on the edge of her pink comforter, I
taught her some sponge-roller basics. Section off your hair evenly. Begin at 
the crown of your head and roll down. Tuck the ends under so they don't go
funky on you. Give each roller the same amount of tension and secure them 
close to your scalp so they stay on while you sleep. Once her hair was 
rolled,
she dozed off with tender expectations of curly hair.

Morning brought the beauty she had hoped for! I snapped a photo as she ate 
her cereal because it was a darling moment. A little girl and her bouncy 
blonde
curls and unstoppable smile. Good times.

I wrote in my journal about the sponge roller ordeal once Kennedy and the 
boys had gone to school, and I was struck by how stubborn she had been that 
first
night. She simply would not hand over the sponge rollers to me, even though 
I had a lifetime of experience with the squishy beauty tools. Once she 
surrendered
them, however, lessons were learned and she began to understand the proper 
way to accomplish her beauty goal.

As I wrote, the Lord whispered to my heart. “You know, darling, you do this 
all the time with Me.”

And I do.

I frequently and stubbornly insist on doing things on my own. Without help 
from God. Without help from the One who is all wise, all knowing, all 
powerful,
all gracious, and fully able.

Perhaps you do too?

Oh that we would hand over the sponge rollers to the Master Beautician and 
allow Him to craft a work of radiance in and through us. I constantly pray 
as
David did. “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; 
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11, NIV).

I surrender!

Your way, Lord.

YOUR Way.

Not mine.

The last thing you and I want to do is be stubborn with God. I am learning 
that the beauty of surrender is this: when I lay down my mess, my hands are
then free to pick up God’s rest.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord,

Forgive me! I am so guilty of taking matters into my own hands. I want You 
to lead. I need You to lead. I need to want You to lead – so much more than
I do. Teach me Your ways. Empower me with Your Spirit and give me an 
undivided heart that I might follow tight to Your Word and to Your will.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Now It’s Your Turn
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Welcome to the Nugget
August 20, 2016
The New Trees
By Answers2Prayer
Over the course of the 15 years we've lived at our current address, we've 
lost about 6 or 7 trees off of our property. Some died due to disease, some 
to
a couple of consecutive dry years, but the results have been the same: Our 
beautifully-treed property has some noticeable gaps!

My youngest son spent the entire summer working for a tree nursery in 
Alberta, Canada, and the last time he was home, he found about 30-40 
saplings of
a variety of sorts growing in what I thought was simply a "weed patch". The 
day before he had to fly back to Alberta, he carefully transplanted 17 of 
those
seedlings to various places around our property, and left me with specific 
instructions to give each of them a half-pail of water daily. I did. 
Unfortunately,
a heat wave hit our neighbourhood the following week, and by the time the 
temperatures finally began to drop again, we only had one sapling that 
looked
like it would make it.

My son said to stop watering the dead saplings, but somehow I couldn't bring 
myself to do that. What if, by some small chance, there was still life in
those blackened trunks and dead, brown leaves? And so I continued faithfully 
dumping a half a pail of water on each sapling.

Imagine my joy to discover, just yesterday, that there are tiny signs of 
life on every one of those saplings? For some, it's just a greening of the 
trunk.
For others, it is new leaf buds. But for the majority of those trees, there 
are definitely new leaves sprouting.

I'm so glad I never gave up on those saplings!

This all reminds me of prayer. So often we pray about something once. Maybe 
twice. Or maybe even we fervently pray for a week, a month, even a year. But
nothing happens. It is so human to give up praying to "accept" that God 
hasn't chosen to answer our prayer.

What if I had stopped watering those saplings? I would now have 16 dead 
saplings on my property. But I didn't give up, and as a result, I now have 
17 new
trees.

It is the same with prayer. If we stop praying, we stop "watering" the 
problems with "living water". What would happen if we just continue on? 
Perhaps,
just perhaps, we will at some point begin to see new life in our "dead" 
situations! Maybe we will begin to see salvation for our lost family 
members! Maybe
we will stop suffering from so many illnesses! Maybe...

Aren't we told to "constantly pray" (1 Thess 5:17)?

Aren't we told to keep on praying about our situations and to never stop? 
Remember the story of the persistent widow (
Luke 18:1-8)?
"And the Lord said, 'Listen to what the unrighteous judge says! Won't God 
give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he 
delay
long to help them? I tell you, he will give them justice speedily.'" (Luke 
18:6-8)

Remember the persistence of the Syrophoenician woman whose daughter was 
possessed by a demon (
Matt 15:21-28)?
After pestering Jesus, didn't Jesus say to her, "Woman, your faith is great! 
Let what you want be done for you" (Matt 15:28a)? Aren't we then told, "And
her daughter was healed from that hour" (Matt 15:28B)?

I don't know what it is that seems "dead" in your lives, but whatever it is, 
never stop applying the "living water" of prayer. You never know when you
go out to inspect that area of your life, when you will find signs of new 
life in your situation. Never stop praying!

Anybody want about 30 more saplings? They are living out in my patch of 
weeds as I type!

In His love,
Lyn

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

Announcement:

POEM SUBMISSIONS
Just a reminder that we accept submissions for poems of Christian content to 
be published on Scriptural Nuggets. If you have a poem you would like to see
published on Scriptural Nuggets, please submit it
here!

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

challies.com - Informing the Reforming
3 Keys To a Powerful Prayer Life

Every Christian comes to find that prayer is difficult. Prayer is a 
tremendous joy and a tremendous blessing but the joy and blessing come 
through tremendous
difficulty. Thousands and tens of thousands of Christians have written about 
prayer and offered their counsel on becoming more skilled, more consistent,
and more confident in this precious discipline. I was recently reminded of 
David McIntyre’s counsel as offered in The Hidden Life of Prayer and it both
encouraged and motivated me to pray and to pray all the more. Here are his 3 
keys to a powerful prayer life.

A Quiet Place. The first key is a place of quiet, a place that is free, or 
as free as possible, from distractions. “With regard to many of us, the 
first
of these, a quiet place, is well within our reach. But there are tens of 
thousands of our fellow-believers who find it generally impossible to 
withdraw
into the desired seclusion of the secret place. A house-mother in a crowded 
tenement, an apprentice in city lodgings, a ploughman in his living 
quarters,
a soldier in barracks, a boy living at school, these and many more may not 
be able always to command quiet and solitude. But, ‘your Father knoweth.’” 
Of
course today we have distractions that may arise from the very devices we 
use to pray—the iPhone that houses our prayer app, for example—so we need to
take special care that we “silence” our devices so they do not distract us.

A Quiet Hour. Having found a quiet place, we also need a quiet, committed 
period of time. This is the second key. “For most of us it may be harder to 
find
a quiet hour. I do not mean an ‘hour’ of exactly sixty minutes, but a 
portion of time withdrawn from the engagements of the day, fenced round from 
the
encroachments of business or pleasure, and dedicated to God. … We who live 
with the clang of machinery and the roar of traffic always in our ears, 
whose
crowding obligations jostle against each other as the hours fly on, are 
often tempted to withdraw to other uses those moments which we ought to hold 
sacred
to communion with heaven. … Certainly, if we are to have a quiet hour set 
down in the midst of a hurry of duties, and kept sacred, we must exercise 
both
forethought and self-denial. We must be prepared to forgo many things that 
are pleasant, and some things that are profitable. We shall have to redeem 
time,
it may be from recreation, or from social interaction, or from study, or 
from works of benevolence, if we are to find leisure daily to enter into our 
closet,
and having shut the door, to pray to our Father who is in secret.” The most 
important appointment you make every day is the one you make with God. All
of life’s other responsibilities will threaten to encroach upon this time. 
You will be constantly tempted to neglect it. But it is too good, too sweet,
to miss.

A Quiet Heart. With place and time secured, we now face the most difficult 
task—securing the heart. McIntrye is right when he says “For most of us, 
perhaps,
it is still harder to secure the quiet heart.” Prayer is difficult when we 
are hurried or surrounded by distractions. Prayer is more difficult still 
when
our hearts are withdrawn, when our hearts are distracted, when our hearts 
are uninterested in praying. McIntrye shows how this has been the challenge 
of
many great Christians: “Stephen Gurnall acknowledges that it is far more 
difficult to hang up the big bell than it is to ring it when it has been 
hung.
Mc’Cheyne used to say that very much of his prayer time was spent in 
preparing to pray. A New England Puritan writes: ‘While I was at the Word, I 
saw I
had a wild heart, which was as hard to stand and abide before the presence 
of God in an ordinance, as a bird before any man.’ And Bunyan remarks from 
his
own deep experience: ‘O the starting-holes that the heart hath in the time 
of prayer; none knows how many bye-ways the heart hath and back-lanes, to 
slip
away from the presence of God’.” It is difficult but necessary.

Christian, find a quiet place and a quiet time where you can quiet your 
heart before God. These are the keys to powerful prayer, to effective 
personal
devotions. If you need further inspiration, consider Jesus himself:

Crowds were thronging and pressing Him; great multitudes came together to 
hear and to be healed of their infirmities; and He had no leisure so much as
to eat. But He found time to pray. And this one who sought retirement with 
so much solitude was the Son of God, having no sin to confess, no 
shortcoming
to deplore, no unbelief to subdue, no languor of love to overcome. Nor are 
we to imagine that His prayers were merely peaceful meditations, or 
rapturous
acts of communion. They were strenuous and warlike, from that hour in the 
wilderness when angels came to minister to the prostrate Man of Sorrows, on 
to
that awful “agony” in which His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood. 
His prayers were sacrifices, offered up with strong crying and tears.

Now, if it was part of the sacred discipline of the Incarnate Son that He 
should observe frequent seasons of retirement, how much more is it incumbent
on us, broken as we are and disabled by manifold sin, to be diligent in the 
exercise of private prayer!
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nourish

A Reason to Worship

When you first believe in Jesus, there is a deep and immediate gratefulness 
for the unearned forgiveness of sin, the assurance of God’s love, the 
promise
of heaven, the restoration of our relationship to God, and the sacrifice of 
Jesus.

The more we grow in the knowledge of Christ, the more we mature as 
believers. As a result, our gratefulness is ever-increasing.

Worship is some days gathering with other believers and singing songs in 
church. But the definition of worship in the Bible goes further. Worship for 
believers
is so much more. The worship God desires means submitting my entire life to 
be transformed, becoming a reflection of His glory. All of life is intended
to be worship for the redeemed. In other words, “Worship is about what you 
live for.”

Pull quote

Those words gave such clarity to me. If worship is about what you live for, 
then I need to ask, What am I living for? What is the focus of my attention?
The desire of my heart? What drives me? Moves me? Inspires me?

All of life is worship. We cannot turn off our worship or stop being vessels 
of worship. Humans were made to worship. We will either worship the one, 
true
God, or we worship idols—but either way, all of life is worship.

With this understanding of worship, I can truly say I long to worship God 
with my life. I long to live for God. My acts of worship come from a desire 
to
please God, but on their own, they would never be enough. Yet they are 
enough because each act, word, thought, feeling, and song I sing is hidden 
in Christ,
my Savior. The Redeemer covers me and makes my worship acceptable and 
pleasing to God. Just like my life, my acts of worship are being redeemed. 
And praise
the Lord, I don’t have to worry about doing worship right.

The greater act of obedience is keeping a check on my desire. How will I 
know if I am worshiping God in spirit and in truth? My life will proclaim 
the
truth by:

The things I make important
The objects that hold my attention
The way I spend my time
The way I work
The way I relate to others.
My life, and yours, will shout the truth of our heart’s desire.

Redeemed
Excerpted from
Redeemed
by Angela Thomas-Pharr.
© 2016. LifeWay Press.
Used by permission.

Rejection from Man Doesn’t Mean Rejection from God
LYSA TERKEURST

“For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the 
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his 
majesty.”
2 Peter 1:16 (NIV)

There’s nothing quite like waiting 15 years to receive a phone call. When it 
finally came, it was the slightest crack in the doorway of my dream to be
a speaker.

I was hesitantly excited. When you have wanted something for a long time and 
it comes close enough to become a reality, it’s thrilling and terrifying all
at the same time.

Suddenly, your heart shifts from neutral into this vulnerable place where 
acceptance commingles with rejection. And you are all too aware, things 
could
go either way.

So, I packaged up a CD of one of my talks and sent it off. And I let my mind 
prematurely celebrate.

Then I waited.And waited.And nothing.

Feeling like a foolish girl who’d bought a prom dress before actually being 
asked to the dance, I sheepishly called to inquire whether or not the CD had
been received. I was told it had been and if I hadn’t heard anything yet, I 
should assume it was a “No.”

Ouch.

That’s when you go sit on your back deck, close your eyes and decide whether 
to let the tears slip quietly down your cheeks or blink them back in an act
of courageous defiance.

Rejection stinks.I mean it really stinks.It stunk when no guy asked me to 
couple skate in the 5th grade. It stunk when when my dad left our family. It
stunk when I thought I was getting engaged at the very dinner when my 
college boyfriend broke up with me. It stunk when for years, all of my book 
proposals
were declined by publishers. And it stunk when I sat on my deck and 
processed this situation.

Sometimes things like this just simply stink and there’s no cheery rainbow 
or pot of gold around the next corner. The music doesn’t crescendo as the 
hero
in the story swoops you onto the side of his horse and the two of you ride 
off into the sunset to live happily ever after.Sometimes it just is what it
is. And that’s that.

But God’s girls have a beautiful promise tucked in our pockets that lets us 
smile even when tears puddle in the corner of our eyes. Even when there’s no
rainbow, pot of gold or galloping prince — we have the promise of 
resurrection.

On the other side of death there will always be a resurrection of some sort. 
Maybe not a resurrection of our circumstances. And maybe not a resurrection
of things lining up like we thought they should. But there will be a 
resurrection.

Jesus has insured that.Nothing in this world can permanently strip hope from 
our lives when we know, “we do not follow cleverly invented stories about
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” but we follow the reality of 
the Risen One (2 Peter 1:16).

Jesus.

The One who was well-acquainted with rejection. The One who was betrayed, 
abandoned, beaten, crucified and buried. The One death could not hold down.

He is our resurrection.

He is our hope.He is that beautiful reminder that rejection from man doesn’t 
equal rejection from God.

And He is the One who is weaving a story into our life that will one day 
make sense.

Dear Jesus, You know what rejection feels like. That’s why You are the 
perfect One for me to run to when I feel rejected. Today, I’m bringing you 
the broken
pieces of my heart and asking You to stir hope deep within me again. 
Rejection did not get to have the final say in Your life, and I am choosing 
to believe
it will not have the final say in mine either. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 11:25-26, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The 
one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by
believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
The enemy wants us to feel left out, lonely and less than. But the Lord 
wants us to know we are destined for a love that can never be diminished, 
tarnished,
shaken or taken. Join us as we learn more about living from the abundant 
place that we are loved in our free Online Bible Study of Lysa TerKeurst’s 
book,
Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. The 
study begins September 6 but you can
sign up today.

Get the most out of the study by purchasing your copy of Uninvited
here.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have recent rejections left your heart feeling hollow and hopeless? Spend 
some time today thanking Jesus for the price He willingly paid for you on 
the
cross. You may feel rejected by man, but you can remind your heart that you 
have been purposefully pursued by our God.

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
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We Weren't Born that Way

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which 
God prepared in advance for us to do”— Ephesians 2:10(NIV).

His neon orange bathing trunks were easy to spot. I was glad. Otherwise, I 
would have had a difficult time keeping up with my almost 7-year-old 
grandson
at a crowded outdoor swimming pool recently.

Sitting at poolside in a lounge chair reading, I could spot Cash anywhere 
within the confines of the chain link surrounding the water park area. Since
he doesn’t live in this community, and was only visiting me for the week to 
attend VBS, he didn’t know any other children. However, he had made friends
with two boys, cousins, who were also from another town and visiting 
relatives. During the hour and a half we were at the pool, I kept watch on 
Cash and
his friends.

During a break from my reading, I noticed the three boys were visiting with 
two girls, both in wheelchairs. I sat, watching and waiting, until everyone
was ordered out of the pool because of an approaching storm. Gathering up my 
things, I approached the boys, who were still conversing with the two 
handicapped
girls. What I learned from the girls’ mother gladdened this grandmother’s 
heart.

She posted the following, along with a photo of the three boys and her 
daughters, on Facebook:

“So today we went to the pool. I try very hard to help my girls feel just 
like all kids. To be honest, it’s so hard somedays (most days). Just to get 
to
the pool is a lot for them. My girls have great attitudes about most things, 
but sometimes, when they watch kids their age play, I see that wanting and
that loneliness (in them) to play with other kids. Most time, kids warm up 
to them. Today was just one of those days when we met some wonderful kids. 
These
boys came up to us and wanted to buy them a snack from the snack bar, which 
was very thoughtful. But the best part is when we got back in the pool, they
played with Grace and Dee—just played like kids, splashing them and helping 
them. It was wonderful to just watch for a few hours. Spina Bifida wasn’t 
there.
Just some kids making summer memories.”

I was further encouraged by the comments this mother’s post received on 
Facebook. Comments like “these boys’ parents have taught them well.”

We try to instill in our children and grandchildren the importance of loving 
and respecting others in spite of our differences. We’re not born disliking
others who are different from us, whether it is race, religion or other 
defining characteristics.

Pastor Charles R. Swindoll says, “Prejudice is a learned trait. You’re not 
born prejudiced; you’re taught it.”
James 2:1 says, “My friends, as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord 
of glory, you must never treat people in different ways according to their
outward appearance.”

Copyright © 2015 Carol Round, All rights reserved.


Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Hope With Skin On - #7722

Well, our ministry was being honored with a gracious award from a Christian 
foundation, named in honor of a visionary pastor in a major American city.
Before his sudden death some years ago, he'd been a powerful spiritual force 
in that city. But he didn't start out as a pastor. First, he was known and
loved as a news anchorman for a major network station. On the night that 
changed his life forever, he went to cover a gang shooting. He reported at 
the
spot where the killing had taken place with the chalk outline of the victim 
on the street behind him. He interviewed a gang member from the neighborhood
and asked him, "Have you ever thought about living another way; getting out 
of this cycle of violence?" It was this young man's answer that rocked him:
"How can you think about another way to live when you've never seen another 
way to live?" It was a question that ultimately caused that anchorman to 
change
the whole direction of his life.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hope With 
Skin On."

I wonder how many people are living the way they are because they've never 
seen another way to live. Everyone they know is living the same way, so how
could they think about another way?

That's where you come in if you belong to Jesus Christ. He put you where you 
are to be a living alternative; a flesh-and-blood demonstration of another
way to treat people, another way to handle stress, a way to be happy without 
having scars and regrets. Our word for today from the Word of God explains
how important you are (or you could be) to people you work with, or play 
with, or live near. Philippians 2:15, "Become blameless and pure, children 
of
God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine 
like stars in the universe, as you hold out the word of life."

For centuries, men have charted their course through the darkness by the 
light of the stars. The stars have shown them the way to go. You are God's 
guiding
star for some people in your personal world. Our children all went to public 
school in an area where they were often the only Jesus-follower in their 
class.
But we didn't send them to school every day playing defense, just trying to 
"survive." We wanted them to understand that God wanted them playing 
offense-aggressively
showing others a different way to be.

It started when our daughter came home from an early grade talking about all 
the bad things the kids at school said and did. That's when I began to give
our kids two send-off words every day as they left for school, "Go mad!" 
That meant "Go Make a Difference!" I told our kids that in a class where 
everyone
lies, you need to show them that not "everyone" does, because you always 
tell the truth. In a class where everyone talks dirty, show them not 
"everyone"
does by always keeping it clean. Show them someone who thinks sex is too 
special to ruin, that your body is too important to trash, and that other 
people
are too important to cut down. In a world where it's "all about me," you 
live as if it's all about them. If you become like the people around you, 
the
light goes out and then everyone really is living in total darkness.

So don't let the darkness around you dim your light; don't let it extinguish 
your light. They may try to put it out sometimes or they may attack you 
because
you're not like them, but believe me, they desperately need for you to be 
different. Because you're the only Jesus they can see; you're their only 
hope
of another way to live.

And either your life is a reason to come to Jesus or a reason to reject Him. 
Don't condemn them-love them. Show them the better life you can live with
Jesus in your heart. Without you, there's no hope of a better way. You are 
their hope with skin on!
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.

Mundane and Miraculous
by Chuck Swindoll

Esther 2:1-7

Woven through the tapestry of this wonderful story we find at least three 
timeless lessons thus far. The first has to do with God's plan. The second 
has
to do with God's purposes. And the third has to do with God's people.

First, God's plans are not hindered when the events of this world are carnal 
or secular. God is at work. He's moving. He's touching lives. He's shaping
kingdoms. He's never surprised by what humanity may do. Just because actions 
or motives happen to be secular or carnal or unfair, it doesn't mean He's
not present. Those involved may not be glorifying Him, but never doubt it, 
He's present. He's at work.

Second, God's purposes are not frustrated by moral or marital failures. How 
do I know that? Because He is a God who applies grace to the long view of 
life.
Wrong grieves Him, and serious consequences follow, but no amount of wrong 
frustrates His sovereign purposes! He is a God of great grace.

Third, God's people are not excluded from high places because of handicap or 
hardship. Esther was a Jew exiled in a foreign land. She was an orphan. She
was light-years removed from Persian nobility. Yet none of that kept God 
from exalting her to the position in which He wanted her.

God's hand is not so short that it cannot save, nor is His ear so heavy that 
He cannot hear. Whether you see Him or not, He is at work in your life this
very moment. God specializes in turning the mundane into the meaningful. God 
not only moves in unusual ways, He also moves on uneventful days. He is just
as involved in the mundane as He is in the miraculous.

He is a sovereign God at work amid the vast scenes of state and empires in 
our world. And we, even in the midst of our usual days, must remain pure and
committed to the things of God and His work in our lives, even as we remain 
sensitive to His hand moving in carnal, secular, even drunken places. Only
then can we bring to our broken world the hope it so desperately needs.

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.

Where We Stand
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3 Things I've Learned about Work
by Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk.com Contributor

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal 
life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has 
placed
his seal of approval”
(John 6:27).

Since I've been old enough to babysit, I've always been working at 
something, whether a project for school, a part-time restaurant gig, or my 
current office
job. And over the years I’ve come to learn many lessons about work. For 
example, work can become a joy and a passion if it’s something you truly 
love and
you’re surrounded by like-minded partners. Or, on the other hand, even a job 
you like can become a drudge if you can’t see eye-to-eye with your 
co-workers.

As I prepare to celebrate a day off work this upcoming Labor Day, I've been 
pondering three things that God has been teaching me about work in the past
year or so.

1. A Christian never clocks out

It's easy and refreshing to hop in the elevator at 5 p.m. and not worry 
about work until the next day. But as a follower of Christ, I recognize that 
I’m
called to carry his banner 24/7. When I’m grumpy? Yep. When I’ve been out 
all day and come home to a messy house? Absolutely. When I'm on Facebook and
somehow everything in my feed is making me frustrated and irritable? Even 
then. Perhaps that's why we call ourselves "soliders" in God's army. 
Everything's
a battle... one we must remember to fight with love and peace!

2. God is the boss, not me

As easy as it is to judge another person's work (or seeming lack-therof) 
I've had to be reminded a lot lately that it's simply not my job to critique 
other
people's lives. Just as my supervisor has given me tasks to complete, and 
that's between the two of us – so God has a personal relationship with every
single one of us, and he hasn't asked us to poke our noses into each other’s 
to-do lists. And boy, don’t we all have plenty of thoughts on the matter?

Why do they go to THAT church? Why is that woman constantly panhandling on 
that same streetcorner? Why doesn't he just get a spine and break off that 
harmful
relationship?

If only I ruled the world. But I don't – and thank God I don't. Someday we’ll 
all stand before The Boss and our choices will be evaluated. But for now,
it’s my job to do MY job, to love people where they’re at, and to remember 
that life sometimes looks really different inside someone else's shoes.

3. Your work does make a difference

It’s common for me to feel small and powerless. Maybe you feel that way too. 
But when small people like us put our minds to something, amazing things 
truly
do happen. Even something as small as a smile or a word of encouragement can 
make all the difference in someone’s day...maybe even in someone’s life. So
whether you teach, write, or clean up trash; whether you sit in a cube 
crunching numbers or you bag groceries – God wants to use your work to not 
only
bless others, but grow you closer to him.

Intersecting
Faith
and Life: This Labor Day, try reading a few passages about work in the
Bible
(I've linked to some below). What kind of worker does God want you to be?

Further Reading
Why Your Work Matters... and Why it Doesn't
>1 Thessalonians 4:11
>Luke 10
>Deuteronomy 15:1-18
>1 Corinthians 15:58
>Matthew 25:14-30


Labor Day

Work Is a Blessing

What’s the one thing nobody wants to do on Labor Day? Right. Labor. It seems 
to be people’s dream to quit working just as soon as they can afford it, or
as soon as their employment contract permits.

In God’s view and design, work is not a painful, necessary evil that one 
puts up with for the least amount of time possible. Scrounging off other 
people
is nothing he admires. In fact: “When we were with you, we gave you this 
rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’ We hear that some among 
you
are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and 
urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat”
(2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).

When you bend your intelligence, strength, and servant-spirit to your tasks, 
you are doing nothing less than continuing the divine work that God began
in the six days of creation. He is exerting his intelligence and strength 
each day, sustaining all things and feeding the world. We honor his work 
when
we work.

We do our country and our God a great service when we teach our children and 
grandchildren the dignity and satisfaction of labor.

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

Marvelous Metaphors DVD study set

Everyone longs to be connected with God. And if you ask most people today, 
they’ll tell you that however you want to connect with God is fine. All 
paths
are valid. But the
Bible
paints a much different picture.

The four-message Marvelous Metaphors DVD study set shows you exactly what 
Jesus says about what it takes to be connected with God. You’ll get a 
powerful
glimpse into our Savior’s relationship with his Father. You’ll also get 
insight into what exactly Jesus came to do and the importance of staying 
connected
to him.

The Marvelous Metaphors DVD study set is our thank-you for your support to 
help share the timeless truths of God’s Word with more people through Time 
of Grace.

God Is Calling You
August 15, 2016

Read:
James 2:14-26
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (v. 17)

James makes it clear that while we are not saved by our works, we need to 
examine whether we truly know Jesus Christ if we aren’t obeying his 
commandments
and serving in God’s kingdom. We might be big fans of Jesus, but God isn’t 
looking for fans. God is looking for people willing to speak his Word, feed
the hungry, house the homeless, and hug the hurting.

You may have been involved in different ways serving Christ in the past. 
Perhaps you feel like you’ve paid your dues and it is someone else’s turn to 
step
up. Maybe you feel inadequate and ill-equipped to serve God. You might feel 
too busy to serve right now.

Whatever your reason, remember that God gave you this day for a purpose. It 
is a gift to you from him. How will you use this gift? He expects you to use
it to follow him wherever he may call. In doing so you will experience God’s 
blessing. Ignore the call and you will miss part of God’s plan for your 
life.
I encourage you to accept this calling, whether it is going on mission to 
build houses for the homeless or whether it is simply to encourage a 
neighbor
with the good news of Christ. Answer the call!

Prayer:
Lord God, open my eyes to your calling for my life and give me the courage 
and the strength to follow this calling, whatever it may be.

Author: Rob Donoho
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Labor Day

This is Labor Day weekend in the United States and Canada. Some people treat 
this as the last weekend to take off and take a short vacation while others 
treat it as a day to labor around the house. I heard a woman call in to a 
radio station the other day saying she was going to labor around the house 
including taking down her Christmas decorations. Whatever way the day is 
celebrated it should remind each of us who know Jesus Christ what He wants 
us to do because of our love for Him:

Luke 10:2 (KJV)
2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers 
are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth 
labourers into his harvest.

When Martin Luther set out on the work which shook the world, his friend 
Myconius expressed sympathy. “But,” he said, “I can best help where I am. I 
will remain and pray while you toil.” Myconius prayed day by day, but as he 
prayed he began to feel uncomfortable.
One night he had a dream. He thought the Saviour himself approached and 
showed him his hands and feet. He saw the fountain in which he had been 
cleansed from sin. Then looking earnestly into his eyes the Saviour said, 
“Follow me.” The Lord took him to a lofty mountain and pointed eastward. 
Looking in that direction Myconius saw a plain stretching away to the 
horizon. It was dotted with white sheep—thousands and thousands of them. One 
man was trying to shepherd them all. The man was Luther. The Saviour pointed 
westward. Myconius saw a great field of standing corn. One reaper was trying 
to harvest it all. The lonely laborer was spent and exhausted, but still he 
persisted in his task. Myconius recognized in the solitary reaper his old 
friend Luther.
“It is not enough,” said Myconius when he awakened, “that I should pray. The 
sheep must be shepherded; the fields must be reaped. Here am I; send me.” 
And he went out and shared his old friend’s labors.
—Fiery Crags, by Boreham

I heard of one woman who was bedridden but asked for prayer requests which 
were put on a bulletin board by her bed so she could pray for them. She 
probably did minister to those who were there to help her also. We could do 
the same if we were in the same position. We could spend our time in prayer 
but also minister to those with whom we came in contact.

May we pray that laborers will go into the harvest field. Let us be open to 
the leading of the Holy Spirit that we may become the laborers the Lord is 
calling.

by Dean W. Masters
Unedited redistribution approved 

"In Spite of Everything" #83-50
Sermon Text for August 14, 2016
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on August 14, 2016
By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
Copyright 2016 Lutheran Hour Ministries

Click to watch a special video invitation from Dr. Paul Maier.
Listen to The Lutheran Hour podcast online
Text: Romans 8:28

We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him, who 
are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Grace, and mercy, and peace to you in Jesus' Name. Amen!

St. Paul said, "We know that in everything God works for good with those who 
love Him." Paul had learned this himself from God. It is just as good today
as it was the day it was first written. In spite of everything, God works 
for good to those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.

Indeed, in everything God works for good to those who love Him. As J.B. 
Phillips translated this passage, he said it this way, "Everything fits into 
a
pattern for good to those who love God." They do not make it this way. God 
makes it that way. It is a promise from Him. It is a guarantee from Him. It
is God doing His work in the world.

But you might indeed be asking; do you mean, "Everything, really 
everything?" Does everything fit into a pattern for good to those who love 
God? That's
hard to believe. Everything includes earthquakes, heart attacks, losses of 
jobs, ruined lives, and even death. Can those things work for good?

That sounds, I know, as if someone is saying that in every cloud there is a 
silver lining. It reminds us of other pious statements that suffering builds
character. It doesn't always work that way. Suffering can break people down 
as well as build them up. Clouds sometimes rain nothing but destruction. It
isn't the suffering and it isn't the clouds that do it. It is God Who does 
it, every step of the way, making all things good.

St. Paul said it because he knew God. Anybody who knows God can say it too. 
It works because God is God. St. Paul said, "I consider that what we suffer
in this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going 
to be revealed in us." That's someone who knows God! He knows God as God 
wants
to be known-in His Son, Jesus Christ. He knows God as God comes to be known 
through the power of His Spirit.

"Those who are led by God's Spirit are God's sons and daughters," said St. 
Paul. They are no longer slaves and they don't have to be afraid anymore. 
They
have the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of Christ gives life. It's 
absolutely true: "If the Spirit of God, Who raised up Jesus from the dead, 
lives in
you, then He Who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your 
mortal bodies by the presence of His Spirit in you."

Knowing God is knowing Jesus Christ and knowing Jesus Christ is knowing God. 
It is as simple as that and just as profound. It is knowing that Jesus 
Christ
died by the design of His Father for the sins of the world. It is knowing 
that Jesus Christ is your personal Savior and also accepting God's 
forgiveness
for yourself all for the sake of Christ. It is having confidence that God 
raised Jesus Christ from the dead and living by that confidence that Jesus 
Christ
is alive and He is Lord. Don't say that faith doesn't make any difference. 
This is the difference that it makes. Paul says, "We know that in everything
God works for good to those who love Him, who are called according to His 
purpose."

It is not true that there is a beautiful, beneficial side to everything that 
happens, including the most heinous crimes or the most devastating 
disasters.
That's not the real world in which we live. Evil is evil, wherever you see 
it. Suffering is suffering, wherever you have it. Death is death, wherever 
you
experience it. We are not dealing here with illusions, this is the real 
world.

We are also dealing with faith in God in this real world. When you come to 
know Jesus Christ, when you walk by faith in Jesus Christ, when you love God
as God loves you, and love your neighbor as God loves you, you begin to see 
things you would never see otherwise. God has a purpose in this world. God
has a purpose for you. God has a purpose for all who love Him, who are 
called according to His good and gracious purpose.

Jesus did not get around evil, He met it head on.

The suffering of Jesus Christ was not play-acting and the death of Jesus was 
not a sham. When the good we talk about only gets around evil, we are not
where Christ was. He took on everything, including suffering and death, with 
complete confidence in His Father that He cared, and that He always was 
there
in love.

Jesus knew the purpose of God the Father. It was the purpose of His Father 
that this Son, this wonderful and unique Son of His, should give His life 
for
the life of the world. He should die to pay the price for the sins of the 
world. He should suffer everything people have had to suffer, all for the 
sins
that He never Himself committed at all. That's where Jesus was. He did not 
come just to show us a better world. He did not just dramatize the evil. He
took it all into His own heart, as only He could do.

Out of that suffering and death of Jesus Christ has come new life. It is 
life by faith in Jesus Christ. It is acceptance of forgiveness from God and 
recognition
that life comes only from God. It is following Jesus Christ and walking in 
His way. Faith and love and courage are all mixed up together. Going with 
Christ
does not get around evil; it goes with Christ right through it all. It is 
faith in Christ that says, "We know that in everything God works for good 
to,
and for, and with those who love Him, who are called according to that great 
purpose of His."

This is not just telling people to look on the brighter side of things. It 
does not urge them to repress their guilt and deny the reality of life. It 
doesn't
even tell them to quit grieving over the loss of a loved one. It doesn't say 
simply, "Cheer up! It can't be all that bad!" Really?

Of course, it can be that bad. It can be even worse than you thought. Now 
there is this to think about, only because of God: "In spite of everything, 
we
know that in everything-God works for good-God works for good to those and 
with those who love Him." He does have a purpose, and that purpose is 
altogether
clear: His purpose is life and nothing short of real life. In spite of 
everything, there is life because God works and continues to work.

Does He do this in spite of everything? Everything? Does everything fit into 
a pattern for good to those who love God?

The law of sin and death which truly dogs us all is not good. It does more 
than nip at our heels, it trips us up, it weighs us down, it overwhelms. It
does not promise anything good.

Accusation and oppression are evils. Keeping your mind on the things of the 
flesh does not work out as a good. Worship of self and of things-of anyone
or anything above God-is an evil that destroys the human spirit. Because of 
that people kill and are killed all the time.

As St. Paul said, "The whole creation is subjected to futility, not by its 
own will but by the will of God Who is going to disclose something glorious
in His own good time." The old order is not good, it is bad. Nothing works 
out right, because everything is doomed. There is no intrinsic good in 
tribulation,
distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, or death. Height and 
depth, along with the principalities and powers of this world can be a 
potential
threat all the time. Because of them people have separated themselves from 
the love of God.

St. Paul does not tell us to find good in evil. It is evil enough, without 
trying to find good in it.

But there is God. There is God Who loves and continues to love. There is His 
Son Jesus Christ the very embodiment of His love. There is the death of 
Christ,
and the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It is the striking fact in all 
of human history. There is nothing like it, and there never will be anything
like it: God working in this world.

God works for good to those who love Him. This must be a way of describing 
people who have come to know Jesus Christ, to trust in Jesus Christ, and to
walk in love even as Christ walked and walks in love. People who love God 
believe in God's love and they express love themselves, both for God and for
their fellow man. Faith works-faith works by love. I did not make that up. 
Christ's men said that and they meant every word of it.

It takes faith-real faith in Someone great like Jesus Christ-to accept this: 
"We know in everything God works for good to those who love Him." Even that
faith comes from God. It is a gift from Him. His Holy Spirit gives faith to 
people like you and me. When we pray for the gift of God's Holy Spirit, He
gives faith. What could be greater than to believe that there is no 
evil-nothing at all anywhere, anytime, or in any place-that can cancel out 
the love
of God that He has for you? No matter what happens to anyone who loves God, 
whether we call it good or bad, God is working His good and gracious purpose
nevertheless.

God takes the evil and He works His good purpose in the world. He does it in 
the lives of people like you and me. The basic ingredients of evil He takes
and turns around to a good purpose. His purpose!

Do you know what salt it? It is a blend of sodium and chlorine. Sodium, I'm 
told, is a metal so unstable that it bursts into flame when exposed to 
water.
Many of us know that chlorine is a deadly gas. When these two substances are 
combined, they become a part of the essence of life. Your body contains 
eight
ounces of salt. Do you realize what would happen if you lost those eight 
ounces of salt? The result would be convulsions, paralysis, and death.

You can see God's salt in the lives of His children, those who love Him. 
Have faith in Jesus Christ and live by that faith in love. In fact, that is 
life.
God takes the headaches and the heartaches, the sin and the sickness and the 
suffering, and He goes to work. In spite of everything, everything turns out
to fit into a pattern because God in His love wants it to be so.

Even people who know this to be true have their moments when they wonder. 
Everything is turning out bad. Everything is going wrong. There are times 
when
we are baffled by what is happening to us.

You need not be surprised that there are times when you are baffled. Every 
waking second of every day three billion impulses are generated in your 
nervous
system. How can you possibly grasp something so complex as that? How can 
such a thing happen? Why-it is just little old you, without even considering 
all
the billions of people in the world. It doesn't even take into account the 
gigantic forces of nature, and the courses of the immense stars out there in
the universe. In all of this, God has His purpose. In spite of everything, 
even when we are baffled by things that happen, God has His great purpose; 
everything
is going to fit into a pattern for good to those who love God.

That is what happened to Jesus Christ when He died on His cross. He rose 
from the dead. That is what happens to you every day. It will happen to you 
one
day in exactly the same way as it happened to His Son Who died on the cross. 
In spite of everything it all fits into a pattern for good to those who love
God, who are called according to His purpose.

Martin Luther once said that from the vantage point of his later years, he 
felt that God had led him through life like a blind horse. When you look 
back
at something that did not look very good at the moment, you'll say, "It 
certainly turned out well. It turned out just right, in fact. Good for me. I 
learned
a lot." It reminds us of the words of Jesus, "What I am doing you do not now 
know, but afterwards you will understand." It also reminds us of the words
of St. Paul, "Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I 
know in part; then I shall know even as also I am known."

One day, the mystery will disappear. Now we live by faith. There is no faith 
at all, unless it is faith in God that He loves and cares. We know God for
sure in His Son, Jesus Christ. He cares enough to forgive and to give life 
to His people, the ones who love Him.

God's people love Him. They love because they believe in Him, they trust 
Him, they follow Him. There is no doubt that His will is good and gracious. 
God's
people pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," and they trust 
Him to do His will as only He can. They trust Him because they trust His 
Son,
Jesus Christ, Who died and rose again. They believe in spite of everything, 
that everything fits into a pattern for good because God is doing His work
in this world, all for those who love Him, for you and me who are called 
according to His great and wonderful purpose upon which you can depend, as 
you
depend upon the Son of God, even Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayer: Lord God, in Your good and gracious purpose for the world, please 
don't forget us. In all the things we have to endure, keep us mindful that 
everything
fits into a pattern for good to those who love You. Out of Your great 
goodness, remove our anxieties and give us faith in Your Son Jesus; forgive 
our sins
for the sake of Your Son Jesus, and give us life with faith in Your Son 
Jesus Christ our Lord. Then help us to live in all confidence that in spite 
of
everything-everything will serve Your purpose for those who love You. In the 
Name of our Savior Jesus we pray. Amen.
Listen to the sermon by Dr. Hoffmann, originally aired October 14, 1979
Print this Sermon
Action in Ministry for August 14, 2016
Guest: Kurt Buchholz

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour and this is Action In 
Ministry. St. Paul wrote "we know that in all things God works for the good 
of those
who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

SELTZ: Boy, that's a powerful passage especially, Mark, because it gives 
such hope and encouragement in all seasons of people's lives.

ANNOUNCER: Throughout all the seasons of its history the Lutheran 
Church-Missouri Synod, the LCMS, has been about the work of proclaiming the 
gospel to
people around the world. Lutheran Hour Ministries has produced a new video 
resource that details some of our church body's history and development as 
well
as some of its challenges. It's called
We The Church: The Priesthood of All Believers.

SELTZ: One of the featured speakers is the CEO here at Lutheran Hour 
Ministries, Kurt Buchholz. Kurt, thanks for joining us here.

BUCHHOLZ: Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

SELTZ: Kurt, give us a brief account; some of the highs, great opportunities 
the LCMS has had in its beginnings and a few highlights of its history.

BUCHHOLZ: Back in 1847 a group of Saxon and German immigrants came to the 
United States. They were looking for something they did not have from where 
they
came from in the homeland. As I understand it, what they were looking for is 
a freedom; a freedom to practice what it means to be a Christian in the 
Lutheran
tradition; not just for themselves but also for their mission and ministry; 
without the undue influence of politics, of social structures trying to 
manipulate
them or use them to some earthly gain.

ANNOUNCER: Nowadays we've got around 2 ½ million members...

BUCHHOLZ: Thereabouts, yeah.

ANNOUNCER:...but in recent years it's been experiencing a decline in 
membership. Why might that be?

BUCHHOLZ: We need to be looking in two general areas in terms of what might 
be causing this. I would look to both changes that are happening in society
outside the church but we also need to be careful because we don't like 
looking inside the church. I think we always have to be looking at inside 
the church
to the way we're structured, the way we do ministry, the way we engage our 
communities, so that, ultimately, the Word and the message of salvation 
comes
through loud and clear speaking to the hearts of people where they're at; 
not where people used to be; but where they are at today.

SELTZ: Mark, you were talking about decline and sometimes people use 
statistics to talk about these things in general terms. We even have to be a 
little
bit careful about that as well, right? I mean, when we're talking about 
actual averages and things like that because you've got to dig down deeper, 
don't
you?

BUCHHOLZ: Absolutely. We have to be careful because when you go just one 
layer under there, you realize there's a lot of really great information 
there.
Because not only do we see the church down the street that may be closing 
its doors, that may not be successful in reaching its community and serving 
its
community in the day and thus causing that average to decline. On the other 
side, on the above average side of that decline, we can see examples of 
churches
out there and ministries out there that are being creative, that are taking 
their solid Lutheran doctrine and engaging a culture in a way that is being
blessed by the Holy Spirit, is successful, and people are coming to faith 
and those churches are growing in dynamic ways.

SELTZ: The study is subtitled The Priesthood of All Believers and I think 
this is a crucial reality from the Scripture; the church is not only for 
pastors,
the public servants of the Gospel, and also for those who work full time at 
the church; but also for the laity. All of us need to understand our role in
the church; men and women and young people who together we all make up the 
church. What you've been talking about is the church exists to serve. It 
exists
to create those relationships with others to share the Gospel.

BUCHHOLZ: When we talk about the church today, we often fall into the trap 
of...we assume when I say church, you're talking about a building, a 
structure,
a budget, a board. You're talking about maybe Sunday morning worship 
services and some of the other ministries that our churches have been 
historically
known to do. But I think that we would be well placed as a church to 
encourage people to first see the Body of Christ around the world; all of 
those believers,
the priesthood of all believers. When they think of the church, it's the 
priesthood of all believers spread out in a network around the globe sharing 
their
faith in their daily lives with those that God puts in front of them, those 
that need to hear a word of salvation.

ANNOUNCER: Kurt, when we think about the challenges, though, that the church 
faces today; you have the rise of non-Christian religions, you have people
falling away from Christianity, you have outright persecution taking place; 
you might start to think has God stopped working. Is He forgetting about us?

BUCHHOLZ: It is what it's always been. Maybe it's a little harder in some 
scenarios; maybe it's a little easier. But one thing to remember is looking 
outside
of our own context. We need to remember that today there are more Christians 
in this world today than at any other time in human history.

SELTZ: So you're telling me that the story is not over.

BUCHHOLZ: Never over.

SELTZ: Is that right? Well, the story is not over. We're very thankful to 
hear about that. Our congregations are still vital and as always they have 
been
the key to the church. Like you've been saying, Kurt, God is working through 
the Spirit and through His Word, and now we have this wonderful resource to
help people really engage that, right? So thank you for being here with us 
and sharing that resource with us and being a part of this ministry 
together.

BUCHHOLZ: Thank you so much. It's been fun.

SELTZ: And that today is our Action In Ministry segment to bless, to 
empower, and to strengthen your life in Christ for others.

ANNOUNCER: Once again, the title of this resource is
We the Church: The Priesthood of All Believers.
To view or download this content for free, go to lutheranhour.org and click 
on Action in Ministry. Or call, 1-855-john316. That's 1-855-564-6316. Our 
email
address is info@lhm.org.

LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for August 14, 2016
Topic: The Holy Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit

ANNOUNCER: Now, we're back once again with Pastor Gregory Seltz responding 
to questions from listeners. I'm Mark Eischer. Today we continue with a 
question
brought up by one of our listeners concerning the work of the Holy Spirit in 
our lives. Last week, we talked about the gifts of the Spirit, but this week
it's the fruit of the Spirit. Right off the bat, first question; what's the 
difference?

SELTZ: Mark, great question. Last week we talked about how the gifts of the 
Spirit are special gifts given to different people for unique service to 
others
in the church. Today's topic is about the fruit of the Holy Spirit that He 
wants to build into every believer's life for their own spiritual strength 
and
well being as well as for their empowerment to serve others in the stations 
of life where they find themselves.

ANNOUNCER: It sounds like this fruit is meant to help everyone be who God 
has created them to be.

SELTZ: Well said, I would only add that it is God helping you to be the best 
that you can be so that others will see Him through your life and hopefully,
believe.

ANNOUNCER: What is some of this fruit of the Spirit then?

SELTZ: You can find that list in Galatians 5:22 where Paul says the fruit of 
the Spirit is: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, 
faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control."

ANNOUNCER: I would think every Christian would desire and aspire to have 
these sorts of things.

SELTZ: I agree. This is the fruit that the Spirit wants us to have in our 
lives in Him for others. But, again, we need to be careful here. We should 
aspire
to these things too but they are gifted to us by the Spirit as well through 
the Scripture and through the means of grace. They are even to be exercised
by our life of prayer and service. But, even here they are not to be sought 
after as some kind of special level of Christianity. In fact, pride is 
exactly
the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit.

ANNOUNCER: Jesus even talks about this attitude of service in Matthew 6 
where he says that "when you give to the needy," for example, "don't let 
your right
hand know what your left hand is doing."

SELTZ: Good point. He talks about serving in secret. So, when it comes to 
aspiring to this fruit; that's the humble spirit that desires that such 
fruit
be used to serve others better. So, in serving, even with the fruit of the 
Spirit, the goal is that another is blessed because of our work in their 
lives.
The fruit is something to be enjoyed as something graciously gifted to us 
even as the people we love and serve are to be enjoyed in their own right 
too.

ANNOUNCER: How might we grow in these benefits of the Spirit?

SELTZ: Again, the place to go is where the Holy Spirit can be received and 
that's the Word of God. When we read the Bible, we don't just grow in 
knowledge;
we receive and grow in the things of Christ by the power of the Spirit. With 
His Word in our hearts and minds fruit grows in our life, just like a plant
or a tree that is properly watered and fed and rooted. Fruit grows when 
healthy plants are fed.

ANNOUNCER: That touches upon the unique nature of the Bible too, doesn't it?

SELTZ: It does. The Bible is not a rule book, per se. It is not a book of 
principles, per se. It is above all, a book about what God has done to 
create
and offer forgiveness, life, and salvation to people who are in bondage to 
their sin. It is a Spirit-filled book proclaiming real freedom in Jesus. It
actually reconciles us to God and empowering us to be people in and by the 
Holy Spirit who really can begin to serve others the way God has loved and 
served
us!

ANNOUNCER: Even as God is patient and kind, faithful, good, full of joy and 
love for us, we receive all of that from Him and then begin to share what 
we've
been given with those around us.

SELTZ: And we need to remember, that this side of heaven, even as forgiven 
sinners, there are going to be days when we keep in step with the Spirit and
there are going to be days when our sin and pride still get the best of us. 
When serving others, each day should begin in repentance and faith, and end
in repentance and faith.

ANNOUNCER: And each day we should also pray for the Spirit's fruit and be 
fed by the Spirit-filled Word of God so that we can get up again the next 
day
and continue to serve others the best that we can by the Spirit's power.

SELTZ: Exactly. I love the talk about the fruit of the Spirit, because, boy 
oh boy, would our world be a better place if there were people who were full
of this fruit; full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and 
self-control. Like Paul says, "Against such things, there is no Law."

ANNOUNCER: What a great blessing, this fruit of the Spirit; these gifts that 
the Holy Spirit wants to build into your life today. 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.

"Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 
Concordia Publishing House)

"Holy Spirit, Light Divine" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia 
Publishing House)
Change Their World. Change Yours.
This Changes Everything.
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God Keeps the Score
BIBLE MEDITATION:
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even 
as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:32

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
I read something that deeply touched my heart about a PGA golfer named De 
Vicenzo. As he was leaving a golf course with his winnings, a woman 
approached
him and said, “I have a baby who is dying.” Moved with compassion, he 
endorsed the check and gave it to her saying, “Take this, and try to buy 
some happiness
for yourself and your child.”

A week later he was in the clubhouse having lunch, and one of the PGA 
officials came up to him and said, “Did you know that the woman who 
approached you
last week didn’t have a baby dying of an incurable disease!” And De Vicenzo 
said, “There’s no baby dying? That’s the best news I’ve heard all week!” 
What
an attitude!

ACTION POINT:
Do you ever feel like people are going to take advantage of you? Be thankful 
today that God keeps the score.
Discover Jesus

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
Copyright © 2016 Love Worth Finding Ministries, All rights reserved.

Let God Take the Driver’s Seat
By Rick Warren

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the 
driver’s seat; I am”
(
Matthew 16:24
MSG).

How do you let go and let God? First, you have to make Jesus the manager of 
your life.

The problem is, we usually want to be the manager of our own lives, and so 
we argue and disagree with God. We think we know what’s best. The reason you’re
under a lot of stress is that you’re constantly fighting God in your mind -- 
“I know God says to do this but I want to do that instead!”

Every morning when you wake up, you have a decision to make: Who’s going to 
be in charge of your life? Who’s going to be in control -- you or God? Who’s
going to call the shots -- you or God? Every day, moment-by-moment, you are 
making that decision. When you choose to make yourself the manager of your
own life, it causes conflict, confusion, and stress.

Jesus says in
Matthew 16:24,
“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the 
driver’s seat; Iam” (MSG). Here’s what
Christians
tend to do: When we become believers in Christ, we give him the driver’s 
seat and then promptly hop into the backseat and become backseat drivers. We’re
constantly giving him “advice,” like, “No, turn this way. Stop. Wait. 
Faster! I want to go that way. I want to see that sight.”

Many years ago Kay and I took dancing lessons from Arthur Murray Studios. 
The instructor told us that one of the biggest problems couples have is 
letting
the other lead. When they’re both trying to lead, they’re stepping on each 
other’s feet all the time, and it doesn’t look very pretty.

Your life doesn’t look very pretty when you’re trying to lead with God at 
the same time. You just need to let God be God and make Jesus the manager of
your life.

Playtoday’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick >>

Talk It Over

• What are the details of your life that are most difficult for you to 
surrender to God?
• How have you been quarreling with God without saying a word? What do your 
actions reveal about who is managing your life?
• Determine today to give God control of the areas of your life where you 
have concerns and stress. What will that look like? What difference will 
that
make in your life?

For more Daily Hope with Rick Warren, please visit
pastorrick.com
This devotional (c) 2016 by Rick Warren.

The 5 Best Things to Say to a Friend Today
LYSA TERKEURST

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with 
the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:12-13 
(NIV)

I remember sitting in the smelly middle school gym like it was yesterday.

I’d survived the awkward and much-dreaded moments of changing into my PE 
uniform in the girls’ locker room. And now I sat on the hard bleachers 
listening
to the squeak of tennis shoes, the uneven cadence of bouncing balls, the 
teacher’s sharp whistle and the girls laughing behind me.

They weren’t laughing with me. That would have meant I was accepted, wanted 
and invited in to be a part of their group.

No, they were laughing at me.I was the subject of their gossip. I was the 
punch line of their jokes.And it hurt.I imagine you know that hurt too. 
Change
the scenery and people, and this same hurt can be found in most of our 
lives:

• When your coworkers all make plans to go to lunch, but you weren’t 
invited.
• When that other preschool mom says, “Several of us moms are concerned with 
how aggressive your child seems on the playground.”
• When everyone else’s social media makes marriage look dreamy and 
uber-romantic as you’re crying yourself to sleep.

Then a friend steps in with a gentle smile and a few simple words of 
encouragement and suddenly you’re not alone.

I want to be that friend for you today.

In the midst of whatever made your heart feel knocked off-kilter, can I 
whisper what I believe are the 5 best things one can say to a friend? And 
then
might you give the gift of saying these things to a friend today?

This list is from our key verses, Romans 12:12-13, in a section titled 
“Love.”

1. “You’re wonderful.”

(Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope …”)

The world is quick to tell us all the ways we fall short. We are hyperaware 
of our faults and frailties.

So, what a precious gift to remind a friend of specific ways she’s a 
wonderful friend, a wonderful mom, a wonderful Jesus girl, a wonderful wife, 
a wonderful
co-worker, a wonderful person.

2. “Me too.”

(Romans 12:12, “… patient in affliction …”)

What a blessing to remind a friend we all have afflictions, hurts, faults 
and tender places. We all get sick both emotionally and physically.The 
patient
friend freely gives grace because she so desperately needs it herself. “Me 
too” acknowledges I’m no better than you, but together we are stronger. It’s
such a loving and disarming admission that we’re all in this together.

3. “I’ll pray.”

(Romans 12:12, “… faithful in prayer.”)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to tell a friend you will absolutely be faithful in 
praying for her? I have someone who prays for me faithfully and even texts
me Scriptures she’s praying.But here’s what I really love about her. She 
doesn’t just pray about my situations: She prays me through them.

4. “I’ll share.”

(Romans 12:13, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need …”)

When we notice a need in a friend’s life, might we be willing to step in and 
be part of the solution?I have a friend who lost every possession she owned
due to a chemical spill in her home. So, we threw her a “Job Party” (like 
the man in the Bible). Each of us brought a few things to help her family 
start
over.We didn’t come close to fully meeting their financial needs. But we 
helped build a foundation of restoration and gave this family the assurance 
God
was working on their behalf.

5. “Come over.”

(Romans 12:13, “Practice hospitality.”)

Welcoming a friend inside the sacred space of our home is such a needed 
gesture. There’s just something about relationships that are less pixelated 
when
we get eye-to-eye, voice-to-voice and talk. Really talk.

Over broken bread we share broken hearts. And then we celebrate the parts of 
us that are still intact. We reach across the table and across our 
differences
to grab hold of the glorious bond of friendship.

Yes, these are 5 great things to say to a friend.

And I’ve found as we purposefully ease the loneliness ache in others, we 
will see it is beautifully eased in us.

Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of friendship. Please show me who I can 
encourage today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Hebrews 13:16, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for 
with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
The more fully we invite God in, the less we feel uninvited by others. Join 
us as we learn about inviting God closer in our upcoming free online Bible
study of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less 
Than, Left Out, and Lonely.
Sign up today.

Purchase your copy of Uninvited
here
and get 10 free printables that are only available through the Proverbs 31 
Ministries bookstore.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Think of a friend in need. Of the five statements above, which one can you 
put into practice with her today?

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
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God’s Call Transcends Cultures
August 10, 2016

Read:
1 Corinthians 12:12-31
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves 
or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (v. 13)

As Paul traveled throughout the Roman Empire he recognized that all 
believers, regardless of background or abilities, were part of the body of 
Christ.
We experienced this in different ways—working together and then worshipping 
together—while serving in Mexico.

Three separate parts of the same body worked together to serve the families. 
The local church in Mexico first identifies families in need of housing. 
Pastors
working in the barrios know which families would most benefit from a house. 
Then our Mexican ministry partner works with these local churches to plan 
and
perform the work using churches like ours.

We also experienced the joy of worshipping together as one body. On 
Wednesday night of build week, we worshipped with the local church 
supporting our building
projects. We worshipped in Spanish and English. At the end of the service, 
the Mexican pastor asked to pray for us.

We shared that our associate pastor was with his 15-year-old son in the 
hospital suffering with leukemia. We gathered in a circle, holding each 
other as
the Mexican pastor implored God to heal this young man. Tears streamed down 
our cheeks as we fervently prayed together. Despite the language barrier we
all felt the power of the Holy Spirit at work.

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for making the body of Christ much greater than our 
local church. Help us to fulfill our part in your body.

Author: Rob Donoho

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Painful Times, Beautiful Harvest - #7721

Our friends have a nice vegetable garden and they wanted it to be nicer. So, 
they decided to try the Squanto method. You might remember from your 
American
history that Squanto was the Native American who helped the Pilgrims survive 
by teaching them about corn, and especially about how to get it to grow -
by burying a dead fish with the seed as fertilizer. Remembering that little 
secret, our friends brought home a bunch of dead fish from the New Jersey 
Shore
and they buried those fish in their garden with their vegetable seeds. Well, 
as time wore on, the fish announced their presence to the entire 
neighborhood
- with a horrendous stink! Now, it is possible that no suburban garden has 
ever smelled so bad. That's the bad news, but the good news is that they 
were
literally overwhelmed with the harvest of vegetables that year! They were 
hauling it in faster than they could eat it, freeze it, or can it. They 
called
a lot of their friends and begged them to come over and get some vegetables. 
Yes, the stench was pitiful, but the harvest that came from it was 
bountiful!

I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Painful 
Times, Beautiful Harvest."

Let's face it! There are things that happen in our lives that just plain 
stink like our friends' fertilized garden, and when everything stinks you 
usually
can't see anything good about it. You might be in one of those painful 
seasons right now. If so, it's important for you to remember something that 
is easy
to forget. The things in our lives that really stink are used by God to 
ultimately produce a wonderful harvest.

Maybe we should figure that out just from the way we all entered the 
world-through this painful process called labor. But the pain of the 
process - which
is very real and very intense-is ultimately overshadowed by the beautiful 
result of that baby. And take it from our daughter or our two 
daughters-in-law.
They love every day with their children; the beautiful result that lasted a 
lot longer than their painful process.

This idea of what I'm calling the "beautiful stink" is explained in our word 
for today from the Word of God in Romans 5 beginning at verse 3. Paul, who
experienced many of the things in life that stink, says, "We also rejoice in 
our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 
perseverance,
character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us."

Now, like our friends with the fishy garden, God calls us to endure the 
stink. That's called perseverance-hanging in there, not giving up, not 
losing hope,
not turning our back on Him, and we'll harvest what the Bible calls 
character. Right now you might need some encouragement, a reminder of the 
great harvest
that may come through this hard-to-bare season of your life.

For example, it's our hard times that give us a more tender heart so we can 
help heal other hurting people. God may use this unpleasant season to give
you a ministry you have never had before, or to bring you into a new 
humility, a new closeness to people you love, new priorities that clarify 
the things
that really matter and the things that really don't. Your suffering might be 
God's means of giving people an opportunity to pour out love on you, or of
bringing you closer to Him than you've ever been, or to experience His grace 
and His power in a measure you have never touched before.

Maybe the harvest of your hard times will be some deep relationships, forged 
in the crucible, or a firsthand faith in God, rather than one that is just
your family's or your church's, or maybe even people going to heaven someday 
because they saw Jesus in you during your time of great pain.

It's a Law of Life - God brings beautiful results out of painful processes. 
But you do have to make it through the stink first. Just ask our gardener 
friends
- thinking about the great harvest coming doesn't make the stench go away 
but it sure helps you endure it. Down the road, when you're hauling in the 
overwhelming
harvest of God's goodness in your life, you know, the stink won't matter 
much anymore.
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.


Re-Read the Promise

I will remember my covenant. -
Genesis 9:15

Note the form of this promise. God does not say, "And when you shall look 
upon the bow, and you shall remember My covenant, then I will not destroy 
the
earth," but it is gloriously put, not upon our memory, which is fickle and 
frail, but upon God's memory, which is infinite and immutable. "When . . . 
the
bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant." It is not my 
remembering God--it is God's remembering me that is the ground of my safety; 
it is
not my laying hold of His covenant, but His covenant's laying hold on me. 
Glory be to God!

The ramparts of
salvation
are secured by divine power, and even the minor towers, which we could 
imagine being left to man, are guarded by almighty strength. Even the 
remembrance
of the covenant is not left to our memories, for we might forget; but our 
Lord cannot forget the names of those whom He has graven on the palms of His
hands. It is with us as it was with Israel in Egypt; the blood was upon the 
lintel and the two side-posts, but the Lord did not say, "When you see the
blood I will pass over you," but "When I see the blood I will pass over 
you."

My looking to Jesus brings me joy and peace, but it is God's looking to 
Jesus that secures my salvation and that of all His elect, since it is 
impossible
for our God to look at Christ, our bleeding Surety, and then to be angry 
with us for sins already punished in Him. It is not left with us even to be 
saved
by remembering the covenant. There is not a single thread of human effort in 
this fabric. It is not of man, neither by man, but of the Lord alone. We 
should
remember the covenant, and we shall do it, through divine grace; but the 
hinge of our safety does not hang there--it is God's remembering us, not our 
remembering
Him; and hence the covenant is an everlasting covenant.

Family
Bible
reading plan

verse 1
Jeremiah 41

verse 2
Psalms 17
From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright (c) 
2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good 
News
Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,
www.crossway.org.
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