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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 10 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 11:20 pm

The Adventure of a Lifetime

For many years sporting enthusiasts had a limited number of options. We all 
knew them: baseball, soccer, football, basketball, golf, hockey, tennis, and
a handful of other games that most people recognized and understood. These 
sports were not dangerous (unless the rules were broken). Then, in the 1980s
and 1990s things began to change. A whole new generation of sports began to 
emerge. Out of the labor pains of a generation looking for a bigger rush and
greater risks, birth was given to a class of sports that have been 
classified as “extreme.” “What would happen if I tied a bungee cord to my 
ankles and
jumped off a bridge?” “Could I strap a snowboard to my feet, launch off a 
jump, do two flips, and still land without breaking my neck?” “Is it 
possible
to take a motorcycle off a jump, slide off the seat, let the bike get so far 
ahead of me that it seems I am flying like Superman, grab the seat at the
last moment, pull the motorcycle back to me, and get back on the seat before 
it lands?”

All such questions, and countless more, have been answered by a generation 
looking for a new thrill and a greater sporting high. From body numbing 
triathlons
to snowboard skydiving to extreme ice climbing, the human spirit and body 
have been pushed to the outer limits.

What is it in us that longs for a higher mountain to climb and an infusion 
of new adventure in our lives? God created us with a need to live by faith.
He wants us to enter a journey of faith that will make our hearts beat fast 
with excitement and anticipation. Stepping out in faith, taking risks, 
experiencing
the excitement of new things — these are all part of God’s plan for his 
followers.

Anyone who thinks the Christian life is boring has never read the history of 
Israel. God called his people to places they never dreamed they could go.
He gave them assignments that could never be accomplished without his 
miraculous power breaking in. The history of Israel is a series of faith 
stories
that will inspire, encourage, and teach us as we learn to step out in faith.

As the history of Israel unfolds, we see example after example of people who 
have gone before us and learned about stepping out in faith. We look over
the shoulders of key biblical figures and learn from their experiences.

• We watch Joshua lead the people as they cross the swollen Jordan River, 
and we learn to take the first step of faith even when it might not make 
sense.

• The judges model both good and bad examples of following God, and they 
show us what we should do and what we should not do if we want to walk by 
faith.

• Samuel learns to listen to God, and we discover that hearing and obeying 
God’s voice are part of his plan for all of his followers.
• Saul lacks confidence to live by faith, but his mistakes help us avoid 
pitfalls on our journey.
• Finally, our courage grows as we discover that Jesus is revealed 
throughout the Old Testament and that he is leading and guiding his people 
on the greatest
adventure of all.
Followers of Christ might enjoy engaging in many sports, including some 
extreme ones, but we have a greater rush than any sport can offer. God 
invites
us on an adventure of following him, step by step, on the most amazing 
journey of faith ever imagined.

Ask God to help you enter a new level of commitment to follow him on the 
adventure of a lifetime.

Why Not Gathering Together Will Hurt You
Kelly Balarie

Why am I always so hesitant to gather?
Why do I always see the distance I have to drive?
The screaming kids I have to transport?
The house I have to clean?
The work I have to prepare?
The things I need to remember?

I'm like the anti-Martha, I don't want to do anything to get ready because I 
am already tired. I just want to sit around at Jesus' feet, but I want to
do it alone. I am not sure I am much of a Mary either, because I am pretty 
sure Mary didn't plan to close the door on the disciples before they 
arrived.

Can you even imagine that?
How could I want to shut out modern day disciples of Christ?

Disciples who are ready to:

Stir up Good Works and to Encourage:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not 
neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one 
another,
and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb. 10:24)

Bring Christ with them:
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Mt. 
18:20)

Light a House on Fire with Wisdom and Joy:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one 
another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with 
thankfulness
in your hearts to God. (Col. 3:16)

Teach me Humility:
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to 
associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. (Ro. 12:16)

Build Love, Compassion and Humility:
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be 
compassionate and humble. (1 Pet. 3:8)

Foster Stronger Faith:
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Ro. 
10:17)

The real roots of Christian life are watered when we gather.
They are watered when we look at a brother or sister and say, "I need 
you..."

Not when we say,
I have figured out the way.
In my home I am going to stay,
so I can stay above the fray.

When we do this, we start to spiritually decay.

Christianity is meant to be an "I need you..." kind of thing. It's supposed 
to be an "I-can't-be-all-God-wants-me-to-be-without-you" kind of thing.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Cor. 
12:27)

If we all make up his body, is there a use for a head, without a neck? If 
we don't have each other, can we, the body, really operate effectively?

Rolling heads really can't serve God and they surely can't carry out God's 
mission on earth with any power. Rolling heads can't even speak coherent 
words
because they haven't been fed by the body.

Faith is really developed as we feed the body and build each part stronger. 
Then each part can go and accomplish what it was set forth to do.

As the body meets, Christ meets the body.
As the body gathers, Christ equips it.
As the body prays, Christ is present.
As the body moves, Christ prompts it through his word.

Christ equips his body, because his body is him. He comes to strengthen us, 
the body carriers, who are all at work building up the body of Christ, 
attaining
the unity of faith and the knowledge of the son of God, until we attain the 
full measure of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:12-13).

I want a "full measure of Jesus Christ", don't you?

Until then, I am starting to think the secret to unity is found in this 
verse:

"Be humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make 
every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." 
(Eph.
4:2-3)

Perhaps, the biggest reason why I may not want to meet is that I fear I 
won't bear up under another or I will get annoyed or I will judge. I am 
afraid. Perhaps,
it's not even about them, but it is about me and my fears.

But, here is the thing, if we are the body of Christ and Christ lives in us, 
then in a sense, there is nothing for me to fear. Because "there is no fear
in love. But perfect love (the perfect love of Christ) drives out fear..."

Gathering as a body, unites the body in love and, through the power of Jesus 
Christ, fear is cast out.

Who needs to fear
when Christ has already made me entirely secure in his love
and incredibly significant through his promises?

In this, there is no longer fear when others gather near, but only a deep 
knowledge that Christ is near.

Join Kelly on her blog,
Purposeful Faith

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Today's Devotional

The Surprise

Matthew 7:11 – If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good 
gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good 
gifts
to those who ask him! (NIV)

When we replaced our septic tank last year, it required a lot of digging and 
earthmoving, which resulted in the loss of our biggest grazing area for the
horses and goats. In another year or two, our greenery will be restored, but 
in the meantime, having to feed extra hay during the summer months was 
getting
expensive. So I decided to pray about it. I simply asked God to help me to 
find some really great, inexpensive hay. And He did.

The fact that He supplied the hay was not a surprise. The way that He 
supplied it, however, was. I was busy working the counter at the hardware 
store when
one of my neighbours from down the road came in and stopped to chat for 
awhile. In the course of our conversation, he told me that his lawn mower 
was broken,
and if I wanted to bring the horses and goats down to graze, he would be 
quite happy for them to do the "mowing".

Wow! I was in awe at his offer that had come so quickly after my prayer, 
which no one knew about except God.

So now, every morning around seven, the horses and our biggest goat take a 
short walk to my neighbour's property, where they spend a good portion of 
the
day "mowing" his lawn.

My neighbour is happy. The goat and the horses are happy. And I'm happy — 
happy that I serve a God Who enjoys answering prayer with such good gifts 
simply
because He loves me, just as He loves you and all of mankind.

So today, don't be shy about asking God for what you need, and you, too, 
might end up with a wonderful surprise!

Prayer: Father God, how marvellous You are in Your love for us. Thank You 
that we can talk to You about everything and anything, and not only know 
that
You hear us, but also know that we can count on You to answer us with the 
greatest gift of all: Your good and perfect will. In Christ's name, we pray.
Amen.

Lynne Phipps
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Post  Admin on Thu 01 Sep 2016, 10:57 pm

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do
LYSA TERKEURST

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone 
who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not
know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

I felt so fragile sitting in the parking lot, too sad to stop crying. And 
although I had a list of things that really couldn’t be put off another day,
I was now entirely too tired to run errands or do much of anything. So there 
I sat.

Alone.

Moments earlier, a friend had called to tell me something she’d seen posted 
about me online.

It was harsh and hurtful.

I tried to give myself a little pep talk, “Sticks and stones can break my 
bones, but words can never hurt me.” Who on God’s green earth came up with 
that
ridiculous saying? It’s not true. I cried a little more.

I pulled up the Facebook page my friend referenced, and there it was for all 
the world to see: Opinions about me flying through the Internet, intent on
ripping me apart. As soon as I read the unkind words, daggers hit their mark 
deep inside my heart.

It was only a handful of people, but they debated me as if I were a product 
sitting on a shelf, void of a soul. A soul that feels and breathes and cares
so very deeply about everything.

Instantly, I wanted it all to stop.

I looked up and saw people walking into the store and felt so very envious 
of them. They seemed peaceful, happy or at least neutral. I suddenly wished
for a less risky life.

Why do I display my heart to all the world, typed in pixelated letters?

Words like, “calling” and “disciple” suddenly felt like burdens, not 
blessings.

I looked back at my phone and reread the hurtful remarks posted online. What’s 
a girl to do when she’s feeling desperate to fix something that can’t be
immediately fixed?

Should I defend myself?

But I don’t want to sound defensive.

Should I pray for others to defend me?

But I don’t want to pull others into this.

Should I just stay quiet?

But then what if my silence just feeds their case?

Every response felt like the wrong response.

What do you do … when you don’t know what to do?

Maybe you’ve sat in a parking lot crying, too. The circumstances might have 
been different, but the hurt is the same … that sliced-open feeling of being
judged, misunderstood and wrongly exposed for the purpose of a good debate.

I wish I had the perfect answer. I don’t. These kinds of situations are 
messy, complicated and unable to fit in formulaic boxes.

However, I have an imperfect solution that will get us pointed in the right 
direction: Do the next small thing, the right way, right away.

In other words, find some small right thing to do that negates the 
negativity. Do that right thing, right away, to prove to yourself what’s 
being said
isn’t ALL true.

There might be some small tangles of truth in the hurtful thing being said. 
We can pray about that and do something later when the hurt isn’t so fresh.

But first things first. We have to stop the bleeding from the deepest wound.

Do the next small thing, the right way, right away.

The small thing I decided to do was see their comments coming from a place 
of hurt, not hate. Hurt people hurt people. Something caused hurt to stir up
in their hearts. Maybe I even inadvertently added to it without meaning to. 
Regardless, having compassion for them eased my pain.

I called my friend who’d told me about the hurtful comments and said, “I don’t 
know what to do except be a picture of love in this situation. If I respond
out of hurt, things will only get worse.”

Our key verse, 1 John 4:7-8, reminds us of the importance of showing love to 
each other, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love 
does not know God, because God is love.”

So, I must let love guide me.

Love can empower me to feel hurt without becoming a person consumed by that 
hurt …I can feel offended, but I don’t have to be offended.

I can feel insecure, but I don’t have to act insecure.

I can feel angry, but I don’t have to respond in anger.

That’s the choice love makes.

And please understand I’m not all Pollyanna about this and able to walk it 
out perfectly. I have to give myself permission to be honest about my 
feelings.
But I don’t have to compound the hurt by reacting out of those feelings. And 
I don’t want today’s reaction to become tomorrow’s regret.

I never did make it into the store that day. And there are still days I feel 
so very fragile and vulnerable. Maybe you do too?

Let’s allow God’s love to take us by the hand and empower us in each and 
every situation where we don’t know what to do.

We can feel afraid, but we don’t have to be afraid to do the next right 
thing, right away.

Dear Lord, I want love to guide me today. Help me do the next right thing 
right in front of me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 13:10, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the 
fulfillment of the law.” (NIV)


God’s Call Provides Strength
August 8, 2016

Read:
Ephesians 3:14-21
That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be 
strengthened with power through
his Spirit in your inner being. (v. 16)

I was exhausted after the first day of work building a house for a Mexican 
family. Paint covered my clothes and every inch of my body felt dirty. My 
back
ached and my neck was stiff. I wanted nothing more than a warm shower, a 
quick meal, and a good night’s sleep.

As we drove away, I was surprised to see the family for whom we were 
building a house remain on the home site. The father sat on the ground 
guarding the
building materials. The mother held her one-year-old son, and the 
three-year-old girl sat on the steps of the framed house, waving good-bye to 
us with
a big smile, eyes beaming. The family was so excited to have a home, they 
were ready to move in despite not having finished walls, a roof, or 
furniture.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel so tired. Not only did I feel a new sense of 
commitment towards the task, I felt reenergized by God’s Spirit. God filled 
my heart
with love and compassion for this family.

Answering God’s call can be tiring. When we feel our strength waning and our 
commitment wavering let’s put our eyes on Jesus and those he loves. Doing
so will provide us with renewed strength.

Prayer:
Lord God, strengthen me when I am weak by helping me see the purpose of your 
call. May I always keep my eyes on you, Lord.

Author: Rob Donoho
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Post  Admin on Wed 31 Aug 2016, 7:51 pm

13 Scriptures to Meditate on When Your Future Is Uncertain
by Mark Altrogge

At one time or another, all of us will face times of uncertainty.

Maybe you graduated from college and have no idea what you will do this 
coming January. Perhaps you just lost your job. Or you’ve just moved to a 
new area
where you know no one. Maybe you’ve just started a new job and feel 
overwhelmed at the challenges that loom before you. Maybe you’re single and 
wonder
if you’ll ever get married. Your life may even be so uncertain you don’t 
know where your next meal will come from.

The reality is that none of us are secure in this world except in Christ. 
Nothing is certain. We aren’t guaranteed our next meal. We aren’t even 
guaranteed
our next heartbeat. Even when we feel secure, we are incredibly fragile and 
completely dependent on the Lord for every breath. But when we are 
particularly
tempted about the future it is important for us to meditate on these bedrock 
truths. My suggestion would be to copy these
verses
and put them somewhere so you can see them regularly, like in your Bible or 
on your fridge. Even if you only meditate on the first three or four, God
will use his word to encourage your heart.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare 
and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel 
you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8

Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man 
of peace. Psalm 37:37

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not 
also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all 
the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.
Proverbs
23:17-18

My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are 
sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it,
there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 24:13-14

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we 
drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these 
things,
and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the 
kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to
you. Matthew 6:31-33

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which 
God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them 
eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of
my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no 
one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. John 10:27-29

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, 
for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the 
rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall 
not be
burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts 
in you. Isaiah 26:3

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous 
forsaken or his children begging for bread. Psalm 37:25

Are You Enjoying God?
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

You will go out with joy, and be led out in peace. The mountains and the 
hills will break out into sounds of joy before you. And all the trees of the 
field
will clap their hands
(Isaiah 55:12
NLV).

Friend to Fiend

When I was a little girl, I used to love pretending to be a bride. I’d wrap 
a sheet around my body, drape a towel over my head, and hold a bouquet of 
plastic
flowers to my chest. Then I would start at one end of our ranch-style house’s 
hallway and make my saunter down the “aisle.” In my little mind, all eyes
were on me, as my sheet became a pearl studded wedding gown, my towel a lace 
veil, and the bouquet a spray of white roses.

My Uncle Ernest understood the longings of little girls to be a bride, so 
for Christmas one year, he gave me a two-foot doll dressed in full bridal 
regalia.
Along with her white wedding gown and netlike veil, she had short cropped, 
curly brown hair that felt as real as my own, soft plump skin that squished
when I squeezed her, and moveable eyelids lined with thick black lashes. Her 
eyes opened and closed with her changing positions so that when she lay in
her box, she resembled Sleeping Beauty just waiting to be kissed. Her 
perfectly shaped lips were small and dainty, and her crystal blue eyes 
appeared strangely
real.

But there was one problem with this delightful gift. Because she was so 
expensive, my mother wouldn’t allow me to play with her.

“You’ll have to wait until you are older,” she explained. “She’s too nice of 
a doll to play with. You might tear her gown. We’ll just keep her in the box
until you’re old enough to know how to take care of her.”

So the bride doll remained in her box, safely stowed away in the bottom 
dresser drawer.

Day after day, I slowly opened the drawer and stole a peek at the doll as 
she lay sleeping inside the drawer like a treasure in a safety deposit box. 
Sometimes
I removed the box lid and gently stroked her pink skin, but I knew if I ever 
took her out of the box and played with her, I would be in big trouble. As
time passed, I forgot about the bride doll in the drawer, and today, I don’t 
even know what became of her.

I am sure the doll’s fate was never my uncle’s intent when he gave her to 
me. I imagine he envisioned me spending hours and hours playing with her, 
pretending
with her, and enjoying her. As a matter of fact, had he known the doll lived 
in the bottom dresser drawer, I think he would have been sorely 
disappointed.

Oh friend, have we done the same with the greatest gift of all time? Have we 
done the same with Jesus? Have we accepted the gift of the Gospel and then
stored it away in a drawer for safekeeping? Have we put Jesus on display, 
but neglected or refused to enjoy Him? Have we made the Gospel into a
religion
-in-a-box rather than a relation in the heart?

The Shorter Catechism, written by the Westminster Assembly in 1647, reads, 
“The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Enjoy God! 
The
only way to enjoy God is by being in His presence, by making
Acts 17:28,
in Him we live and move and have our being, a present reality. Glory moments 
will not be found in a boxed up religion but in a budding relationship.

What does God want from us? Some say that He wants obedience and 
sacrifice–that He wants us to stick to the rulebook and color inside the 
lines. Others
say that God wants us to be happy and victorious in all things. None of that 
is necessarily wrong, but it neither is the greatest desire of God’s heart.
What He longs for, more than anything, is for you to be in relationship with 
Him. He wants your heart. He wants you to enjoy Him, to love Him, to join
Him in intimacy as you live and move and have your being in Him.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, thank You that You initiated a relationship with me--that You 
want to spend time with me. I love that I can talk to You and share my 
thoughts
with You. Thank You for talking to me and sharing with me. Thank You for 
giving me all things to enjoy!

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
What does this portion of
1 Timothy 6:17
tell you?
...put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our 
enjoyment.
What are some ways that you can enjoy God?
Crank up the Christian praise music today! Sing along! Enjoy being in the 
presence of God!

The Point of Creation

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; 
male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:27)

God made humans in his image so that the world would be filled with 
reflectors of God. Images of God. Seven billion statues of God. So that 
nobody would
miss the point of creation.

Nobody (unless they were stone blind) could miss the point of humanity, 
namely, God — knowing, loving, showing God. The angels cry in
Isaiah 6:3,
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his 
glory!” It’s full of billions of human image bearers. Glorious ruins.

But not only humans. Also nature! Why such a breathtaking world for us to 
live in? Why such a vast universe?

I once read that there are more stars in the universe than there are words 
and sounds that all humans of all time have ever spoken. Why? The Bible is 
crystal
clear about this: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (
Psalm 19:1).

If someone asks, “If earth is the only inhabited planet and man the only 
rational inhabitant among the stars, why such a large and empty universe?" 
The
answer is: It’s not about us. It’s about God. And that's an understatement.

God created us to know him and love him and show him. And then he gave us a 
hint of what he is like — the universe.
Copyright Information

This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper's 
ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.
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A Tabernacle of Trash
AMY CARROLL

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose 
the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things
of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to 
nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” 1 
Corinthians
1:27-29 (NIV)

Looking around, I can scarcely take in a home so different from my own. I am 
at Raju’s house, a man who has spent his whole life as a rag-picker in 
India.
Along with the rest of the community he leads, he spends his days sifting 
through a local dump, looking for materials to retrieve and recycle.

His house is a hodgepodge of things he’s salvaged. The walls are draped in 
plastic, old blankets and sheets. Metal bicycle rims, tires and rusty car 
parts
secure the tarp roof of his large tent home. Thin blankets on the floor are 
seats for children and adults who come to meet with me and the rest of our
Proverbs 31 International Initiatives team. We are given plastic chairs of 
hospitality and honor.

Raju circulates in the midst of the gathered crowd, smiling and greeting his 
guests. There are families that he not only loves, but that he pastors and
teaches in the church and literacy class that meet in his home.

When everyone is gathered, Raju stands and greets us through an interpreter 
before he prays. He bows his head and starts a stream of words I can’t 
understand.
Later, we learn he prayed a blessing over us. All I know is I am suddenly 
overcome.

Unbidden, tears stream down my face, and I steal myself against the sobs 
threatening to wrack my body. Through the sweep of emotion, I ask myself, 
What’s
going on here? I can’t even understand what he’s saying. Why do I feel such 
awe and broken-heartedness?

The weight of God’s Spirit fills the room. I can hardly explain it. It’s the 
most powerful, tangible presence of God I’ve ever encountered. As Raju 
prays,
it’s truly as if God is sitting in the room with us.

Suddenly, a tent made of trash became a tabernacle for the very presence of 
God.

It’s been months since I sat in Raju’s house in the cloud of God’s power, 
but I’ve been reflecting on it ever since. Raju isn’t a man our world would 
consider
wise. He barely has a fifth-grade education gained through one year of 
attendance in literacy classes, yet he has partnered with Mission India to 
teach
others to read.

He isn’t physically strong, yet this man leads his community with a 
fierceness and joy that none can deny.

He might not be a man of material wealth, but as a pastor, he daily leads 
his congregation to the greatest riches of the King of Kings.

He’s found the secret to joining Jesus in life-changing, Kingdom-growing 
work: God wants you to give Him your all, but all that’s essential is your 
heart.

So often, I mistakenly think the essentials to having a life that counts is 
more Bible knowledge, more financial resources or more influence. But both
Scripture and Raju’s life tell me differently. Our key Scripture tells us 
that God doesn’t just tolerate the foolish, weak and lowly. He chooses them.
To make a difference, I don’t need more. I need a willingness to give more.

Though the world may tell us we’re unworthy or unqualified, or that our very 
lives consist of “trash,” God can take a heart like Raju’s — or yours and
mine — and change the world around us. All that’s required is our surrender 
and His power.

Lord, I surrender my whole self to You for Your work. I know what I’m 
offering is completely insufficient, so I trust and find joy in Your 
sufficiency.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 3:13, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by 
their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” 
(NIV)
© 2016 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

nourish

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The cross took away the penalty of our sin. It doesn’t just mean He’s 
declared it a wash. (“All that sin of yours? We’ll just forget about all 
that, OK?”)
No. Your sin and mine required a just payment. Death. For all of it. And 
Jesus paid it. Death. For all of it. For all who would receive Him by faith.

And honestly, if that’s the sum total of what the cross accomplished for 
us—escaping what we deserve: eternal separation from God in hell—this fact 
alone
should be enough to garner our unending gratitude, causing us to fall on our 
knees in awed worship every single day.

But the cross really is the gift that keeps on giving. Because it didn’t 
just take something from us, it gave something miraculous to us.

Pull quote

When you trust Jesus as your personal Savior, the penalty of sin is removed 
and the gift of God’s own righteousness is given (imputed) to you. It is 
“credited”
to your spiritual account. The perfection and holiness of God Himself has 
become yours in Christ.

So when God looks at you now, He no longer sees your humanity, your frailty, 
your sin … your unrighteousness. He sees you through the blood-stained 
filter
of His own Son, the perfect Lamb of God. You no longer need to exhaust 
yourself striving for perfection. You are already completely, wholly, and 
perfectly
righteous because of Christ’s gift to you.

Perfect righteousness discourages you. Comparative righteousness deceives 
you.

Imputed righteousness defines you and declares you innocent before all 
accusers.

Pull quote

Listen to me closely now. The enemy is constantly on the warpath to keep you 
from realizing and utilizing this gift. He doesn’t want you to rest in the
fact that your sins have been completely forgiven, that your current status 
and position is one of complete righteousness before God. He knows as long
as you don’t see yourself as a righteous, holy daughter of God, you can 
never get around to wearing the breastplate that blocks him from 
successfully attacking
the most vital part of your life—your heart. He knows that your knowledge 
and acceptance of imputed righteousness is the key.

So hear me loud and clear: YOU ARE RIGHTEOUS.

Seriously, say it out loud where the devil can hear you and be assured you’re 
not messin’ around:

“I AM RIGHTEOUS!”

Right now as you hold this book in your hands. As you wash the dishes after 
dinner tonight. As you deal with the difficulties on your job. As you 
struggle
to keep your marriage intact. As you wade through troubled emotions. As you 
fight to keep yourself financially afloat. No matter what your present 
circumstances
or past entails. None of the ailments of life can take away what the cross 
has given you. “The old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2
Cor. 5:17).

The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer.
Excerpted from
The Armor of God
by Priscilla Shirer.
© 2015. LifeWay Press.
Used by permission.

Anne Graham Lotz - Transformed Into His Likeness
View this email in your browser

Transformed Into His Likeness
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being 
transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.

2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV

Do you want to experience real, lasting, God-pleasing change so that you are 
filled with satisfaction, peace, joy, love, purpose-abundant life? Then don’t
look to

a bottle,

a pill,

a therapist,

a once-a-week trip to church,

Look to God’s Word for yourself. Read your Bible every day in order to 
understand, apply, and obey it.

As we long to grow not only in our faith but in our Christian character so 
that others can readily see Christ in us, we need to live in the power of 
the
Holy Spirit and in obedience to His Word. This transformation is a continual 
process that is brought about by daily saturating ourselves in the 
Scriptures
then living it out on the anvil of our experience, until even our friends 
exclaim, “I see Jesus in you!”

Blessings,
Copyright © 2016 AnGeL Ministries, All rights reserved
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The Blue Jay

Matthew 22:8-10NCV
After that, the king said to his servants, “The wedding feast is ready. I 
invited those people, but they were not worthy to come. So go to the street 
corners and invite everyone you find to come to my feast.” So the servants 
went into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good 
and bad. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. ()

There is a tree not far from the covered patio behind my parents’ house. For 
years, my mother would take bread, tear it into small pieces and throw it 
out off the patio. In the morning, there is a Blue Jay that is sitting in 
that tree watching for her to come outside and throw out the food. He then 
squawks and lets all the other birds know that breakfast has been served. 
Then birds of different sizes and colors come to see what has been served 
for breakfast.

Today’s Scripture is from a parable Jesus told about a king who was planning 
a wedding feast for his son. He sent his servants out to invite several 
groups of people to it, but most of them turned him down, having more 
important things to do. So the man told the servants to go out and invite 
everyone to the feast.

At the end of the age, God, the High King, will put on a great wedding feast 
which will be in honor of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is up to us, as His 
servants, to invite everyone to the feast. We cannot invite just those we 
think might accept the invitation but give all a chance of partaking of that 
great feast.

So let us all be like the Blue Jay. Let us say loud and strong, “The feast 
is prepared! Come to the feast!”

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, we thank You for the feast that is being prepared 
for us. Help us to let everyone know that the feast is prepared and that all 
are invited. In Your name, we pray. Amen.

by Dean Masters

How to Love Your Friends Who Don't Love Jesus
Matt Moore

When Your Friends Can’t Stand Your “Obsession” With Jesus

In early 2010, Jesus decided to annoy the mess out of me by getting his 
hands on one of my closest friends. One week she was partying and engaging 
in all
kinds of godless banter with me, and the next she was shopping for Bibles 
and acting like Mother Teresa. The change in her behavior left me speechless
(a rarity!) for some time. But as we ate dinner together one evening, I 
finally asked her, “Did you get God-happy?” That was my snide way of asking 
if
she had become a Christian. She chuckled and said, “If that’s what you want 
to call it, then yeah . . . I am God-happy.” She then went on to tell me 
about
this recent encounter of hers with Jesus. Though I was certain she had lost 
her mind, I nodded and smiled as she shared how deeply he had affected her
life. I really was happy she was happy. I didn’t understand why she needed 
religion to attain that happiness, but hey—whatever works.

In the weeks following, I poked fun at her newfound churchliness, but I wasn’t 
abrasive—not at first, anyway. I had not a smidgen of interest in religion,
but I wasn’t some militant atheist who made it my life’s mission to attack 
the beliefs of others. If you felt like you needed to get you a lil’ Jesus 
on
Sunday, more power to you—just don’t make me feel like Adolf Hitler if I don’t 
want to join you. Besides, I really thought my friend’s religiosity would
fizzle out. Living in the
Bible
Belt, I had seen my fair share of people get excited about God and church 
and what not. After a few months of holy rolling, they always simmered down.
I figured she would go through a similar process. She would balance out a 
bit and realize not everything had to be about Jesus.

But she didn’t . . . she got worse.

I vividly remember the day I realized the seriousness of her 
Jesus-freakness. A girl we both knew posted on Facebook about how grateful 
she was God helped
her make the college tennis team. With a mixture of humor and annoyance, I 
commented: “Honey, Jesus had nothing to do with you making the tennis team.
You worked hard for months; that’s why you made it!” With disapproval 
written all over her face, my newly Christian friend asked me to delete the 
comment,
insisting that God did help this girl make the tennis team. Seriously? No—no 
he didn’t. Jesus did not jump out of heaven and meet this girl on the courts
at 7am every morning to practice. She set her mind to something, and she 
accomplished it because she was willing to do what it took. I deleted the 
comment
to appease my friend, but at that moment the reality of her craziness became 
undeletable. She was in deep—real deep. I didn’t know if she would ever 
fully
recover from all this religious brainwashing.

As time ticked forward,
Christianity
consumed every aspect of my friend’s life. I would ask her to hang out, and 
she couldn’t because she would be downtown serving homeless people with her
dorky church friends. She would express dissatisfaction with her job, and I 
would tell her to resign, but she wouldn’t because she felt like Jesus 
wanted
her there. I couldn’t even enjoy my dinner without her weirding me out 
across the table, closing her eyes and praying silently before she ate. I 
mean,
come on! Your whole life didn’t have to be about J.C. (my preferred name for 
him, back then)!

Her faith really began to grind my nerves ... and I didn’t hide it. I became 
increasingly hostile to her face. I told inappropriate jokes about Jesus.
I criticized her pathetic Christian friends. I made great effort to 
regularly rub my “sinfulness” in her face. I constantly tried to tempt her 
to “sin”—to
go out with me to clubs and get drunk, etc. I was intentionally offensive 
and abrasive, thinking maybe I could wear her down. I thought if I just 
pressed
hard enough, she would begin to see how ludicrous all of this was and start 
acting like a normal human being again.

But she didn’t . . . she got worse.

My friend continued to love Jesus more and more, despite my best efforts. 
And what was even more shocking to me was that she continued to be my 
friend.
Crazy, right? If I had been in her shoes, I would have kicked me to the curb 
a long time ago! She didn’t, though. When I pushed her buttons, she remained
calm. When I mocked her faith, she didn’t retaliate. When I tried to stir up 
an argument about her beliefs, she responded in gentleness. One day, I asked
her straight up if she thought I was going to burn in hell forever because I 
was gay. Her response was one I didn’t see coming: “Matt, I don’t know why
God has allowed you to experience these feelings. But I do know that 
everyone is tempted to do things the Bible calls sinful. And with all my 
heart, I
believe the Bible is true. Though I will always love you no matter what, I 
do believe the life you are living is sinful. But I don’t think you will go
to hell for being attracted to guys—I think you will go to hell for not 
accepting Jesus as your Savior and refusing to surrender your desires to 
him.”
I didn’t even know how to respond to that kind of ... non-judgmentalism? She 
was truthful, but kind. Firm, but gentle.

I would have never admitted it at the time, but my friend’s expression of 
Christianity was refreshing. The way she walked out her faith was so 
sincere.
She believed Jesus loved her despite her crappiness, so she loved others 
despite their crappiness. She believed Jesus was a friend to sinners, so she 
was
a friend to sinners. And though I would have never admitted this either, the 
way she lived her life was piquing my interest in her God. I remember 
praying
to him two or three times in the months leading up to my conversion. They 
were all “Hey, I don’t know if you’re real. And because you might not be 
real,
you probably can’t hear this. But just in case you are up there, I just 
wanted to say I might be interested. Okay, bye!” kind of prayers, but they 
were
significant. Something inside of me was shifting. My heart was softening. 
Jesus was getting his hands on me.

And he was doing it through the steadfast love of my friend.

After nearly a year of enduring the war I waged against her faith, my friend 
rejoiced with tears as I began to cling to Jesus alongside her. God opened
my eyes to see what she had been seeing all along: the irresistible beauty 
of Jesus. Though he wasn’t tangible, he satisfied my heart more than any 
tangible
person or thing ever had. He was so merciful, so powerful, so gentle, so 
righteous, so wonderful, so perfect. In what felt like the blink of an eye, 
I
became just like my God-happy friend. I was a joyful prisoner of Jesus 
Christ.

You do see how integral my friend was in my conversion, don’t you? Through 
her patient love and refusal to silence her faith, I was continually exposed
to bits and pieces of the gospel and eventually transformed by it. Every 
time she endured my mockery, I got a glimpse of Jesus. Every time she shared 
the
truth in love, I got a glimpse of Jesus. Every time I deserved nothing but 
her rejection and she continued to stand by me, I got a glimpse of Jesus. 
She
embodied the gospel.

If you have a friend like the pre-Jesus Matt Moore, I beg you: 1) don’t 
silence your faith when you are around them, and 2) love them with the kind 
of
unshakeable love with which my friend loved me. Don’t lash out in anger when 
they push your buttons. Don’t cut them out of your life when they degrade 
and
offend you. You have no idea what kind of enlightening work God might do in 
their dark heart through your commitment to love them without condition.

This article was originally published on
moorematt.org.
Used with permission.

Matt Moore is a Christian writer living in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he 
moved in 2012 to help plant NOLA Baptist Church. Matt spends his days 
drinking
way too much coffee and writing about a wide variety of topics at
www.moorematt.org.
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KenBible.com

New Post on KenBible.com - Strengthen Yourself in the Lord
----------------------------------------------------------

Strengthen Yourself in the Lord

Posted: 02 Aug 2016 09:55 PM PDT

1 Samuel 30:1-6

On February 20, 2015, our 38-year-old son, David, took his own life. During 
the terrible grief that followed, the Lord led me to a lesser-known story in
1 Samuel 30.

The biblical David had been anointed as the next king of Israel, and as a 
result, the current king, Saul, was pursuing him to kill him. To escape 
Saul,
David and his men had settled among Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, and 
had been given the town of Ziklag as their home.

David and his men had traveled a great distance to fight for their 
Philistine hosts. But when they arrived, they were mistrusted and turned 
away. So they
had to turn around and make the long, exhausting trip back home.

When they arrived, a foreign raiding party had struck their town. They had 
taken all their wives, children, and possessions and had burned everything 
else
to the ground. They had absolutely nothing left. They all wept until they 
had no more strength to weep. I identified with that detail.

When it seemed things couldn’t possibly get any worse for David, his men 
blamed him for their loss and talked of stoning him.

But here comes the important part of the story. With all this facing him, 
“David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6b, NASB). 
That
one sentence grabbed me.

We go through times when the darkness is so deep that we can’t see God 
acting. We can’t feel His presence. We can’t understand what He is doing or 
not
doing. Sometimes He just seems gone.

We have to remind ourselves who He is. We have to remind ourselves what He 
has done in the past. He has repeatedly proven Himself to us to build our 
faith
for times just like this.

When life is overwhelming, strengthen yourself in the Lord your God. Grab 
hold of the truth. Cling to it. Claim it as your own, and act on it.

The psalmists express that idea over and over. When trouble and pain settle 
in and seem to block everything else, remember, remember, remember. God hasn’t
changed. He hasn’t moved. He hasn’t abandoned you, and He never will.


What Keeps You Up At Night?
KATY MCCOWN

“I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because 
you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 63:6-7
(NLT)

Darkness blanketed my quiet house. No one was stirring, not even a mouse. 
Yet my heart would not be still.

Just a few hours before, my heart danced to the sweet sounds of my husband, 
Luke, tucking our boys into bed. The spaghetti dishes piled up in the sink
didn’t even bother me.

The buzz of Luke’s phone interrupted my party. Who could be calling at this 
hour? When Luke met me in the kitchen, my dancing heart had ceased.

“Someone’s calling you,” I choked out. “The number is from work.”

The voice on the other end confirmed our fears — a job change, effective 
immediately.

And when I say immediately I mean like by breakfast the next morning our 
family would be in a new city hundreds of miles away.

Let the packing begin.

Working at the pace of an Olympic sprinter, I washed clothes and folded them 
into piles, sorted them and threw them into bags. I arranged for doggy care
while we figured out where on earth we’d live in this new place, then 
gathered snacks for the journey ahead.

Finally, with only a few hours to spare I tried to force my eyes shut, and 
tried to shut down my mind. But this night, I couldn’t find the off button.
In the midst of my midnight mayhem, a friend sent a message to say, “God’s 
up. You don’t have to be.”

Her timely words remided me of a principle my kids learned one day at violin 
lessons.

“Don't squeeze. Just kind of sink all the way to the bottom,” the teacher 
instructed.

As she taught her eager students to play new notes, she noticed they took 
their effort a little too far. They focused hard and fixed their eyes on the
strings. They wanted so badly to do it right.

But their work didn’t produce the results they’d hoped for. The note 
screeched off the strings and the sound pierced the air, forced and 
unpleasant.

My boys looked confused. They’d tried so hard, and it just wasn’t working. 
“What did I do wrong?” they wondered. That’s when the music teacher loosened
their grip.

“Sink don't squeeze,” she said. “The note will play itself. Simply place 
your finger on the string and let it sink all the way down.”

What if God's plans for us are like those strings? Created. Arranged. Ready. 
We simply need to sink into them.

But sometimes we don’t. We squeeze instead of loosening our grip. We 
encounter a challenging assignment and assume God brought us to it, but left 
us alone
to do it. So we work really hard and give it all we’ve got, all the while 
screeching out a substitute version of the beautiful melody God intended.

Our key verse gives us another option, "I lie awake thinking of you, 
meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for 
joy in
the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 63:6-7).

King David penned these words in the wilderness, on the run from a vast army 
led by his own rebellious son.

Yikes! If there were ever a moment to be up at night worrying, this would be 
it.

David did lie awake at night, but not for the reasons we’d expect. Instead 
of fearing for his life or devising a plan of escape, he couldn’t stop 
thinking
about God.

When you find yourself squeezing and not releasing, maybe move your mind 
from the goal to the Giver of the goal.

After I read my friend’s wise words that night, my heart shifted. Instead of 
counting all the things still left to do, I counted on God’s greatness, 
power
and provision. I even giggled as I considered my great big, powerful God 
watching me scurry about thinking it’s all up to me.

If you’re confused and exhausted today, wondering why your best effort hasn’t 
played the tune you hoped for, maybe it’s time to loosen your grip. Sink
into God’s love for you, then rest in the shadow of His wings.

Dear God, I want my thoughts to swirl with praises to You instead of churn 
with anxiety over the assignments You give me. Help me shift my thoughts to
the richness of Your presence and provision. And as I do, let me sink into 
the wonderful plans You have for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all 
things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good
work.” (NIV)Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs 
according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (HCSB
© 2016 by Katy McCown. All rights reserved.


Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Revival
Saturday, August 6, 2016

“Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear.
O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years,
in the midst of the years make it known; in
wrath remember mercy.”
Habakkuk 3:2 NASB

Christians throughout America heard that something was happening. That 
special services would be taking place at a Presbyterian camp meeting at 
Cane Ridge
Meeting House, in Cane Ridge, Kentucky. Word spread throughout the region, 
and people from Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee responded to the call.

This became the first great revival of the American West. And it began on 
this day in 1801. The crowds started arriving early. Many had traveled long 
distances.
Some traveled by foot. Others on horseback. The fortunate few arrived with 
wagons (complete with tents and provisions).

The weather was terrible, as heavy rain drenched the area. It would have 
been easy to find an excuse not to attend, or leave early. But the spiritual 
hunger
was so great that people kept flooding in, and staying.

There were people from all ages, races, and economic levels. In the end, as 
many as 30,000 people gathered, all committed to seek God.

One participant, Colonel Robert Patterson, later described what took place. 
There was a large “congregation assembled in the woods.” Ministers were 
“preaching
day and night.” It was an amazing sight as the camp was “illuminated with 
candles, on trees, at wagons, and at the tent.” The throng became caught up 
in
worship. Some people were “falling down,” many prayed, while others sang. It 
was a glorious time!

This revival set the tone for many other revivals that were to come.

Today, our world needs to be revived again. As in the day of Habakkuk, we 
need not just to hear reports about revivals but to have our own move of 
God.
Pray that God would move on His people. Pray for a new move of the Spirit. 
Pray for revival.

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, send a mighty revival in our time. Pour Your Spirit on all flesh. 
Draw people to a deeper walk with You. Revive me! I hunger for Your Word. I 
praise
You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: Habakkuk 3
© 2016 Inspiration Ministries, All rights reserved
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Desperate for Reassurance
LYSA TERKEURST

“Whatever is true … think about such things … And the God of peace will be 
with you.” Philippians 4:8b, 9b (NIV)

If you’ve ever heard me give my testimony, you know part of what I share is 
being a little girl twirling around next to my daddy, wishing I could know
that he loved me.

Maybe in his own way, he did love me. But something was broken in our 
relationship that left me feeling desperate for reassurance.

Over the years, God has healed my heart in miraculous ways. Through God’s 
promises I’ve been reassured of all those things I wished my earthly father 
would
have said. I know God’s love for me is deep, unwavering and certain.

But there are still times I catch myself twirling again. Crying out again. 
Wishing I could feel totally secure. Hating my insecurities. And mad that 
this
struggle I thought was over, surfaces still.

Maybe it always will.

And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

For it keeps me desperate for a reassurance I can’t get any other way. It 
keeps me desperate for God.

I can hear my husband tell me a hundred times that he loves me and no, my 
backside isn’t big … and yet I still feel my heart desperately twirling.

I can stand in an arena with thousands of people clapping for the message I 
just gave … and still feel my heart desperately twirling.

I can conquer my food demons and finally fit back into my skinny jeans … and 
still feel my heart desperately twirling.

The only thing that stops the desperation, the uncertainties, the 
insecurities, the twirling … is for the Spirit of God to lay across my heart 
and make
it still. The blanket of His presence and His protection is the only perfect 
fit for the deep creases and crevices carved inside me.

I don’t know what tough things you’ve been through sweet sister, but I do 
know this: Brokenness is universal. We all have things in life that trigger 
deep
insecurities and our own personal “twirling about,” searching for 
reassurance.

But here’s the amazing thing.

While brokenness is universal, God’s redemption is also universal for those 
who proclaim Christ as Lord. No matter what cracks and crevices we have in
our hearts, if we seek the truth of God above all else, He is enough to fill 
in those raw places.“Whatever is true … think about such things … And the
God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8b, 9b).

Have you caught your heart twirling, desperate for reassurance lately? 
Today, spend a few minutes letting these truths fill your mind and seep into 
those
desperate places of your heart:

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take 
great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you; but will 
rejoice
over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV).“I pray that you … may have 
power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long 
and
high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17b, 18, NIV).

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV).

“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an 
everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness’” (Jeremiah 
31:3).

I pray these truths flood your heart with peace like they do mine. Peace 
that gives you permission to stop twirling and start to live like you are 
loved.

Because you are.

Deeply. Abundantly. And without end.

Dear Lord, may Your spirit fall fresh upon each of us today. Remind us. 
Reassure us. Rest upon us. Help us to be still and know that You are our 
loving
God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 36:5, “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to 
the skies.” (NIV)

Psalm 48:9, “Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.” 
(NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Stop feeling left out by believing that even when you are overlooked by 
others, you are handpicked by God with Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, Uninvited.
© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

WAITING FOR THE WIND

My nephew's 10 year old son came for a visit one hot, July weekend. I was 
enticing him to stay inside by joining him in a Nintendo game. After being 
mercilessly
defeated by a more experienced player, I suggested that we relax awhile. I 
collapsed into my favorite recliner to let my neck muscles relax and my ego
recover from such a beating. He had slipped out of the room and I was 
catching a few relished moments of peace and quiet.

"Look, Alice," he said enthusiastically as he ran over to the chair where I 
was recovering.

"I found a kite. Could we go outside and fly it?" Glancing out a nearby 
window, I noticed there was not a breeze stirring. "I'm sorry, Tripper," I 
said,
sad to see his disappointed eyes, but thankful for the respite from more 
activity. "The wind is not blowing today. The kite won't fly." The 
determined
10 year old replied. "I think it's windy enough. I can get it to fly," he 
answered, as he hurried out the back door.

I peeked through the slats in the Venetian blinds to watch determination in 
action. Up and down the yard he ran, pulling the kite attached to a small 
length
of string. The plastic kite, proudly displaying a picture of Batman, 
remained about shoulder level. He ran back and forth, as hard as his ten 
year old
legs would carry him, looking back hopefully at the kite trailing behind.

After about ten minutes of unsuccessful determination, he came back in. I 
asked, "How did it go?" "Fine," he said, not wanting to admit defeat. "I got
it to fly some."

As he walked past me to return the kite to the closet shelf, I heard him say 
under his breath, "I guess I'll have to wait for the wind." At that moment
I heard another Voice speak to my heart. "Alice, sometimes you are just like 
that. You want to do it your way instead of waiting for the "Wind" - the 
"Wind"
of God."

And the voice was right. How easy it is to use our own efforts to accomplish 
what we want to do. We wait for the "Wind" only after we have done all we
can and have exhausted our own strength. We must learn how to rely on Him in 
the first place!

"I can do all things through God who strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13
Author Unknown
To receive The Daily Encourager FREE each weekday, click on the following 
link:
http://go.netatlantic.com/read/all_forums/subscribe?name=thedailyencourager

Nothing but a Number

Joshua 13:1–7

Recommended Reading:
Genesis 6:5—9:17 (especially 7:6); Luke 2:36–38

Japanese mountain climber Yuichiro Miura reached the summit of Mount Everest 
at age 70. George Brunstad was also 70 when he swam the English Channel. 
Naval
officer Grace Hopper became the first female rear admiral of the United 
States Navy when she was 79. Margaret Haggerty completed her quest to run a 
marathon
on each of the seven continents when she was 84.

If stories like these teach us anything, it’s that senior adults are capable 
of amazing things.

That was certainly true of Joshua. Even though he was probably nearing the 
century mark, God had a plan for him. Age didn’t matter to God. Rather than
telling Joshua to rest, retire or step aside for a younger replacement, God 
instructed him to get to work.

Perhaps we should take a cue from God in our attitude toward older adults. 
From an early age most of us were taught to respect our elders. However, too
often we confuse politeness for respect. What’s the difference? Politeness 
might include offering a hand to senior adults when they struggle with steps
or making awkward small talk with aging relatives at family gatherings. 
Respect, however, would include realizing that with their years of 
challenges and
experiences these adults are a rich, God-given resource.

In this age of politically correct labels, perhaps a better name for senior 
citizens is “ultra-experienced adults.” God entrusted Joshua with an 
important
duty a quarter century after Joshua reached retirement age because of his 
vast military experience and knowledge.

Think of the older adults you know. How does God want to use them in your 
life? What experiences of theirs might benefit you? What life lessons have 
they
learned that might keep you from making a bad decision? And what might you 
be able to learn from hearing their stories and asking for their advice?

To Take Away
• How would you describe your attitude toward senior adults?
• Think of two or three seniors you know. What might getting to know them 
better add to your life?
• What steps can you take this week to build a mutually beneficial 
relationship with an older adult?
----------------------------------------------------------

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If You Ever Feel Lonely, Read This
LYSA TERKEURST

“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The 
troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.” Psalm 
25:16-17
(ESV)

There were many feelings I expected to have at a conference I’d been looking 
forward to attending. Acceptance. Fun. Camaraderie.

On paper, these were my people.

They lead organizations. I lead an organization. They are vulnerable. I am 
vulnerable. Like me, they know the stresses of deadlines, trying to balance
kids with ministry, and the nagging sense that we should keep hidden the 
fact that we have the pizza delivery place on speed dial.

Yes. I couldn’t wait to be with these people.

And I couldn’t wait for the deep friendships that would surely bloom as a 
result of our time together.

I walked into the meeting room and quickly located the table of the people I 
was excited to meet. Every seat had a nametag attached so I circled the 
table
looking for mine. As I got to the last chair and realized my name wasn’t 
there, I got a sinking feeling.

I milled around the room looking for my name, feeling increasingly out of 
place. Finally, at a table on the opposite side of the room, I found my 
name.
I rallied in my heart that the Lord must have a special plan for me to meet 
and connect with the others assigned to my table. I took my seat and pulled
out my cell phone as I nervously waited for my tablemates.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

As the prayer for the meal concluded and the event got underway it became 
painfully apparent to me that the others assigned to my table weren’t able 
to
come for some reason. So, I’d be seated alone. Very alone.

In reality, I don’t think anyone else really noticed my predicament. After 
all, by this time everyone in the room was busy passing rolls and salad 
dressings.

In my head I started to have a little pity conversation: Well self, would 
you like a roll? Or 10 perhaps? It’s certainly an option when you’re sitting
single at a table for 10.

And that’s when a very clear sentence popped into my head: “You aren’t set 
aside, Lysa. You are set apart.” It wasn’t audible. And it wasn’t my own 
thought.
I knew it was a thought assigned by God that I needed to ponder.

To be set aside is to be rejected.

That’s exactly what the enemy would have wanted me to feel. If he could get 
me to feel this, then I’d become completely self-absorbed in my own 
insecurity
and miss whatever reason God had for me to be at this event.

To be set apart is to be given an assignment that requires preparation.

That’s what I believe God wanted me to see. If He could get me to see this, 
I’d be able to embrace the lesson of this situation.

Have you ever been in this place?

I wasn’t just in this place at the dinner that night. I’ve been in whole 
seasons of my life where, though I had people around, I felt quite alone in 
my
calling.

Can I give you three thoughts that might encourage you today?

1. Look for the gift of being humbled.

Proverbs 11:2b reminds us that “with humility comes wisdom” (NIV). In this 
set-apart place, God will give you much-needed special wisdom for the 
assignment
ahead.

2. Look for the gift of being lonely.

This will help you develop a deeper sense of compassion for your fellow 
travelers. You better believe when I walk into a conference now, I look for 
someone
sitting alone and make sure they know someone noticed them.

3. Look for the gift of silence.

Had I been surrounded by the voices of those people I was so eager to meet 
that night, I would have surely missed the voice of God. I’m trying to weave
more silence into the rhythm of my life now so I can whisper, “God what 
might You want to say to me right now? I’m listening.”

I know it can be painful to be alone. And I know the thoughts of being set 
aside are loud and overwhelmingly tempting to believe in the hollows of 
feeling
unnoticed and uninvited.

But as you pray through your feelings, ask God exactly what the psalmist 
does in Psalm 25:16-17, our key verse — to turn to you and be gracious to 
you
in your loneliness. And then see if maybe your situation has more to do with 
you being prepared than overlooked.

There is something wonderfully sacred that happens when a girl chooses to 
look past being set aside to see God’s call for her to be set apart.

Dear Lord, help me see the gifts hidden in this season of loneliness. I’m 
believing today that I’m set apart, not set aside. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 15:16a, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you.” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Do you want to know how to steady your soul and restore your confidence in 
the midst of rejection? Lysa TerKeurst shares powerful and practical tools 
that
will help you in her newest book, Uninvited.
Pre-order your copy here.

And for even more encouragement from Lysa, download our First 5 app and 
watch her speak live TOMORROW, July 22, at She Speaks 2016.
You can download the free app here.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Think about your current struggle with loneliness and the three 
encouragements Lysa listed. Then, choose to look for one of those gifts in 
your situation.

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Refined by Fire

1 Peter 1:6-7

God is always at work in our lives. Even during seasons of adversity, He 
wants to accomplish something powerful and good. How should this knowledge 
affect
our response? Today's passage teaches us to choose to rejoice during 
difficult times. This doesn't mean we have to be happy about the hardship 
itself.
Instead, joy comes from drawing close to the Lord and believing steadfastly 
that through His redemptive power, He is growing and preparing us. If your
usual response to trials is anxiety, anger, or depression, the idea of 
having joy in the midst of a negative situation might not seem logical. 
However,
if you look beneath the surface, you will discover that this biblical 
directive makes sense for several reasons.

Often, our natural reaction to pain is to run in the opposite direction, and 
as fast as possible. However, God wants to teach us endurance--much like a
long-distance runner builds up strength in training--so that we can fully 
benefit from what He is doing in our hearts. He uses trials as a refining 
fire
to purify us like gold and bring us to greater spiritual maturity. As we 
realize that we are actually being made more complete through our 
adversities,
we'll begin to face challenging times with confidence that He always has our 
best interest in mind.

While a worldly viewpoint sees hope and joy in the midst of dark times as 
naïve, a spiritual perspective discerns that we're really progressing on a 
journey
toward life at its fullest. We can be filled with supernatural joy, knowing 
that the Lord is making us into world-changing spiritual warriors.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please 
visit
www.intouch.org.

Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. (c) 2009 All Rights 
Reserved.

Will They Know Us By Our Love?
by Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk.com Contributor

"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for 
one another
" (John 13:35).

Love is patient,
love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and it not arrogant, 
does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does 
not
take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness but 
rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all 
things,
endures all things
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

These two passages are arguably the most famous
Bible
verses about love. Love is a concept promoted
by Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Muslims. It is a thing acknowledged by 
atheists and agnostics.
Something every man, woman, and child strives to obtain every day. Love is 
something we all know
about and all desire. But so often it seems to be the most difficult thing 
for us to practice.

As Christians, we have no excuse for not knowing what love is. 1st 
Corinthians chapter 13 tells us in no
uncertain terms. And Christ tells us in
John 13
that the world will know that we belong to Jesus if we
practice this love. But how often do we truly think of those two scriptures 
as one command? How often
do we piece together the “how?” and the “what?” of love in our own lives?

The ramifications of doing so present a clearly defined, but difficult life. 
If we combine 1 st Corinthians 13
and
John 13,
what would our lives look like? How would people come to recognize 
Christians?

Well, they would know us by our patience. They would know that we are 
Christians by our
contentment, modesty, and humility. They would recognize us, for we would 
not be rude. We would
seek the best for others, be difficult to make angry, and refuse to keep 
count of how many times we've
been hurt. They would know us because evil makes us sad, and truth makes us 
happy. They would
know us because we protect the defenseless and we do not live in suspicion 
of others.

They would know us by our hope. They would know us by our perseverance.

That is what love looks like. Those should be the marks of Christ’s 
disciples.

Oftentimes when the world hears “Christian” – they do not think of this 
love. They think Patriotic. They
think of rules. They think of stingy, bad-tippers, who blindly vote 
Republican and will judge you if you
drink beer or use four-letter words. And that might not be fair. That might 
not be you. But it’s still your
responsibility to change what the world thinks of Christians. It’s still 
your responsibility to demonstrate
that radical love Paul described to the Corinthians.

Because then, one by one, people might start to know Jesus a little better. 
Because then, one by one, we
could really reach the world with this radical, biblical, Christ-like love.

Intersecting Faith and Life: Find one relationship or duty in your life that 
lacks love. And change it.

Further reading
>1 John 1:5
Romans 13:8
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No One Escapes Suffering
David Burchett

A lot of folks dear to me are going through valleys right now. Good and 
decent people deal with financial, emotional and physical suffering all 
around
us and it is easy to lose heart. The news seems to be only tragedy and 
heartbreaking sadness. What can be redeemed of all of this suffering?

A song called
“The Hurt and the Healer”
by
MercyMe
resonated when I first heard it but now that same song ministers much deeper 
in my soul recently.

Why?
The question that is never far away
The healing doesn’t come from the explained
Jesus please don’t let this go in vain

I can’t explain why things happen. Sometimes it is sin. Sometimes it is 
simply life. I have learned in my years of following Jesus that He does not 
let
suffering go in vain. I have seen over and over how God redeems sadness and 
tragedy. He does bring beauty out of ashes. When I cannot see how any good
can come out of a trial I trust my Abba Father in
faith.
Believe me I don’t “feel” that but I can move forward in faith. God has 
never let me down. And I believe He never will.

Breathe
Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through

Most of us have been there at some point. If not, you will be someday. Peter 
talked about the inevitability of suffering in this life in a passage that
we usually leave out of the brochure when we tell others about our faith. 
All of us who follow Jesus are going to suffer.

Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, 
as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for 
these
trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have 
the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.
(1 Peter 4, NLT)

Count me among the brethren who tried to dance around this truth for as long 
as I could. Be very glad? Seriously? But when you have nowhere else to turn
but to Christ you find out that you should have turned to Him first all 
along.

So here I am
What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

Jesus meets you there and not in theory. He suffered. He agonized with God 
the Father. He knows the human condition. He has already been where you are.
When the hurt and the Healer collide something amazing happens. The pain may 
not immediately go away but peace and hope begin to slowly heal the pain.
Peter did not end his writing on suffering with the buzz kill of Chapter 4. 
He wrapped it in a bow of incredible hope in the next chapter.

In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of 
Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, 
support,
and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. (1 Peter 5, 
NLT)

That is a promise that we can hold on to in times of sorrow and suffering. I 
am trusting that promise this week for myself and my friends who are 
hurting.

Dave Burchett is the Author of
Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace.
A portion of every sale goes to train service dogs for wounded veterans
through Patriot Paws.

 All Your Heart
by Chuck Swindoll

1 Kings 17:20-22

That was some prayer. Elijah was not able to say, "Let this child's life 
return to him, as it happened to Enoch, as it happened to Isaac, as it 
happened
to Moses," because there was no precedence for this particular miracle. So 
Elijah said, "Lord, I'm trusting You for a miracle. I'm asking You to 
perform
the impossible." He then waited. Everything, at that epochal moment of 
faith, rested in the Lord's hands.

You may be in the process of placing your own life before the Lord in this 
way. Things are critical, and only a miracle can breathe new life into your
situation. Circumstances are totally out of your control. So you take it to 
your special place, and, standing in the shadow of your God, you lay it out
before Him, prostrating yourself before Him, pleading for His intervention, 
trusting completely in His miraculous power, refusing to lean on your own 
understanding.

Dr. Raymond Edman, in his little book, In Quietness and Confidence, writes 
about a godly man who faced just such a trial.

This is how he met it: He was quiet for a while with his Lord, then he wrote 
these words for himself:

• First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this strait place: in 
that fact I will rest.
• Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His 
child.
• Then, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He 
intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.
• Last, in His time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows.1

Can you make these four statements? If you can . . . will you?

1. I am here by God's appointment.
2. I am in His keeping.
3. I am under His training.
4. He will show me His purposes in His time.

By God's appointment, in God's keeping, under His training, for His time. 
What an outstanding summary of what it means to trust in the Lord with all 
your
heart!

1. V. Raymond Edman, In Quietness and Confidence (Wheaton, Ill.: Scripture 
Press, 1956), 63.

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
Flood-proofing Your Family - #7714

Spring is nice. I mean, it means flowers! Spring is not nice. It also can 
mean floods! One North Dakota town some years ago, saw it coming; the 
floods,
not the flowers. And they decided they weren't just going to sit there and 
float away. Because of a winter that had produced mountains of snow, they 
knew
where that snow would go when it melted - right into their homes and 
businesses. So, while the snow was still deep, they started to make an 
island out
of their town. Everyone pitched in to literally build an earthen dike around 
the town. Yes, they would be an island. Yes, they would be surrounded by a
flood. But they made a wall so they would be safe in the middle of it!

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about 
"Flood-proofing Your Family."

That's not just a good idea for a town; that is a good idea for a married 
couple, for a family! Because you can be sure that your marriage, your 
family
is going to get hit by some flooding. Maybe it already is. There are just 
too many stresses and pressures and crises in our world today for any family
to live flood-free. We're all in a flood zone!

Well, here's our word for today from the Word of God starting in Luke 6:47. 
Jesus is speaking, "I will show you what he is like who comes to Me and 
hears
My words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who 
dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the 
torrent
struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built."

Let's apply that to your home. I mean the relationships, not just the 
building. If you build it Jesus' way, it won't collapse when the flood 
comes. Unfortunately,
most of us build our family our way, or the way we grew up. But families 
that are built Jesus' way are ready for the flood.

Let me give you some words that describe a family that's building a 
flood-wall that in Jesus' words, is "well built". If you're already doing 
this, be
encouraged. If you're not doing enough of these words, there's still time to 
work on it. Here are the words.

Listening. The Bible says to be "slow to speak and quick to listen." We tend 
to reverse that don't we? "Quick to speak, slow to listen." A relationship
built Jesus' way is one in which you hold your tongue, you ask those second 
and third questions, and you listen for that person's heart, not just their
words.

Talking. Or, as the Bible says, "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 
4:15). If you want to prevent a lot of floods, taking your family down, keep 
talking
with each other. Don't stuff your feelings or let them build up. And don't 
expect people to understand what you're feeling if you're not explaining 
what
you're feeling!

And then there's encouraging. Giving your spouse or parents or your children 
daily encouragements - telling them what's good about them. The only thing
that should come out of your mouth according to Ephesians 4:29 is "what is 
useful for building others up." Hebrews 3:13 says, "Encourage one another 
daily."

Here's another flood-proofing word - loving. How are you doing on that one? 
See, that's the big one! I mean showing each family member love and 
affection
in ways that make them feel loved in their language. If you're not saying it 
and you're not showing it, they're probably not sure of it.

And, of course, there's that other word - praying. The greatest strength of 
any relationship is that those people often come to God together - a couple,
parents and kids. Things happen when you're in God's Throne Room together 
that just don't happen anywhere else. Remember, Psalm 127:1 says, "Unless 
the
Lord builds the house, its laborers labor in vain."

You know floods are coming. Just don't wait for the floods to build that 
wall around your family. If you make each day a flood-proofing day, your 
family
may be in the flood, but the flood won't be in your family.
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How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?
RACHAEL CARMAN

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15 (NASB)

Like most mothers, I’d gotten into a daily habit of using certain phrases to 
keep my crew in line:

“Make your bed.”

“Stop hitting your brother!”

“Go to time-out.”

Sure, I also tried to throw in an occasional “I love you!” when I thought 
about it.

One day, one of my seven children was being passively disobedient. I 
responded with a full-blown sermonette composed of frequently used phrases:

“What part of this is unclear?”

“Do you understand what I am trying to tell you?”

“What is the problem?”

“I will never ask you to do something that I do not believe you are able to 
do or that I am unwilling to help you try.”

“Are you even listening to me?”

Suddenly, time froze. It was as if I could hear God saying, “Rachael, are 
you listening to Me? I think I’ve been pretty clear. I have some things I 
would
like for you to do, and I promise to help you.”

My own chided child had disappeared during this moment of revelation, and I 
was left alone with my heavenly Father’s question: Rachael, are you 
listening
to Me?

I was convicted. I hadn’t been listening. I’d been hearing but not obeying. 
In fact, I had been ignoring the very sin in me that I was so quick to point
out in my child.

So often, the things we say to our children are the very things God wants 
us — His children — to hear:

“Be still.”

“I’m the Parent, that’s why.”

“Pay attention.”

“Please, just trust Me.”

Take out the trash.”

“Share.”

Look at the list of things you’ve been saying. Do you hear your heavenly 
Father whispering the same things to you?

God is speaking. Our key verse puts it simply, “He who has ears to hear, let 
him hear” (Matthew 11:15).

What do you hear?

Is He asking you to be still and wait on His timing? Is He calling on you to 
take action? Is He asking you to trust and know that He is God? Maybe He 
simply
wants you to know that He understands how you’re feeling.

More than anything else, God wants you to hear that He loves you.

Dear God, help me listen carefully to what You have to say to me. Help me 
hear and respond the first time with obedience and joy. Your Word speaks 
clearly.
All of creation declares Your glory. Incline my heart to be still and know 
Your will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 10:2-4, “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To 
him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own
sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes 
ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (NASB)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Do you dare dive a little deeper and hear God’s still, small voice amidst 
the chaos of raising children? Rachael Carman’s heartwarming insights in her
book,
How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?,
will help you hear God’s voice in the midst of it all.

Visit
Rachael’s blog
for more encouragement today.

On God's anvil.

Perhaps you've been there? Melted down. Formless. Undone. Placed on the 
anvil for reshaping...

I know. I've been on it. It's rough. It's a spiritual slump, a famine. The 
fire goes out. Although the fire may flame for a moment, it soon disappears.
We drift downward. Downward into the foggy valley of question, the misty 
lowland of discouragement. Motivation wanes. Desire is distant. 
Responsibilities
are depressing.

Passion? It slips out the door. Enthusiasm? Are you kidding?

Anvil time.

It can be caused by a death, a breakup, going broke, going prayerless. The 
light switch is flipped off and the room darkens. "All the thoughtful words
of help and hope have all been nicely said. But I'm still hurting, 
wondering..."

On the anvil.

Brought face-to-face with God out of the utter realization that we have 
nowhere else to go. Jesus in the garden. Peter with a tear-streaked face. 
David
after Bathsheba. Elijah and the "still, small voice." Paul, blind in 
Damascus.

Pound, pound, pound.

I hope you're not on the anvil. (Unless you need to be, and if so, I hope 
you are.) Anvil time is not to be avoided; it's to be experienced. Although 
the
tunnel is dark, it does go through the mountain. Anvil time reminds us of 
who we are and who God is. We shouldn't try to escape it. To escape it could
be to escape God.

God sees our life from beginning to end. He may lead us through a storm at 
age thirty so we can endure a hurricane at age sixty. An instrument is 
useful
only if it's in the right shape. A dull ax or a bent screwdriver needs 
attention, and so do we. A good blacksmith keeps his tools in shape. So does 
God.

Should God place you on his anvil, be thankful. It means he thinks you're 
still worth reshaping.

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast 
me not away from your presence; or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore
unto me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain 
me." (Psalm 51:10-12)

Max Lucado
www.maxlucado.com

Welcome to the Nugget

July 26, 2016

By Answers2Prayer
"Then He said, 'Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.' And 
behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the 
mountains
and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the 
wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the 
earthquake;
and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after 
the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he 
wrapped
his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave." 
(1 Kings 19:11-13)

As a writer I am always looking for inspiration. I can always tell that God 
has a sense of humor too, because my best inspirations often come at the 
most
inconvenient times when I have nothing to write them down on.

I can remember once years ago when I was walking with my children around a 
local lake in the Summertime. The sun was sparkling off the crystal clear 
waters.
Butterflies were dancing above the wild flowers. The shady trees were full 
of chirping birds. It felt so peaceful there. I smiled and relaxed. Of 
course,
that is when the idea for a new story suddenly appeared, fully formed, in my 
mind. We were still a half-mile away from our car and I was afraid my aging
brain would forget part of the story before I got there. I took my pen out 
of my pocket then and started writing it down on the palm of my hand.

Later after I had transferred the inspiration to paper and was washing the 
ink off my hand I laughed and asked God why He always seemed to speak to my
heart at the strangest times. As soon as I said it, I heard in my mind: 
"Because that is the only time you are listening!"

Maybe if we all want to hear from God more often we should just shut up and 
listen. God speaks to us in the silence of our souls. God whispers to us in
the quiet of the storm. God talks to us but never talks over us. If you want 
to hear God's inspiration and guidance in your heart and mind, you have to
shut off your own noise. If you want to feel God's love inside you, you have 
to silence the chattering monkey within.

We are all Children of God and He is forever ready to love us, inspire us, 
guide us, improve us, and help us to grow into the people we were meant to 
be.
His inspiration comes to us through our thoughts, our intuition, our 
experiences, and our lives. All we have to do is let Him in. All we have to 
do is
open our hearts and close our mouths. All we have to do is listen.

By: Joseph J. Mazzella

Announcement:

Are you frustrated with an ineffective prayer life? God does answer prayers, 
my friend. Why don't you come to
Answers2Prayer
and discover the power of prayer for yourself?

©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."
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Unqualified
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Editor

It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his 
commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. -
Deuteronomy 13:4

Sometimes I feel like, as a Christian, I’m no good. I have no memory for
Bible
verses, I don’t have any gifts in leadership or preaching, and I’ve done 
some pretty stupid, not to mention embarrassing, things while trying to 
serve
Christ in the past. In moments like these, I try to remember Gladys Alyward.

Gladys Alyward was a London-born woman who became a missionary to China in 
the 1930’s. Another missionary named Mrs. Lawson had invited Alyward to 
China,
where the two women would run an inn and tell Bible stories to the passing 
travelers. Lawson and Alyward were the only foreigners in the city, at a 
time
when Europeans were looked on with great distrust by the Chinese, and not 
long after her arrival, Mrs. Lawson suffered a severe fall and died a few 
days
later.

Only a few weeks after Lawson’s death, Alyward was approached by the city’s 
Mandarin. The government had decided to put an end to the ancient practice
of foot-binding, and this meant the government needed a foot-inspector, a 
woman (someone who could invade the women's quarters without scandal) who 
would
patrol the district and enforce the decree. Though Alyward was now running 
the inn by herself, she chose to accept the position and used it to minister
to countless individuals.

A year after that, Alyward was once again summoned by the Mandarin. A riot 
had broken out at a local prison, and Alyward was told to calm it. The 
prison
guards had heard of her strange religion and wanted to put it to the test, 
so Alyward had no choice but to walk into the rampaging prison. To everyone’s
surprise, when Alyward called for the rioting prisoners to stop, they did. 
She told them to select a spokesman for the prisoners whom she could speak 
with,
which again, they did without argument. It turned out the prisoners were 
confined to close quarters all day, with nothing to do and nothing to eat 
but
food sent to them by family members. Though prison reform was unheard of at 
the time, Alyward managed to gather equipment the men could use to grind 
grain,
earning them money for food.

As the years passed, the people of the city gave Alyward the name 
Ai-weh-deh, meaning "Virtuous One." Her inn expanded to become an orphanage 
where she
cared for over 100 children, and when the Japanese threatened to invade in 
WWII, it was she who led the children over the mountains to safety. Alyward
continued to preach the message of Christ all her life until she died in 
1970.

Funny thing about Gladys Alyward: when she first applied to be a missionary, 
she was turned down. The organization she’d applied for considered her 
"unqualified"
to minister in a foreign country.

God loves unqualified Christians. Look at Peter - a day laborer and a 
coward. Look at Matthew, who was a tax collector and an outcast. Look at 
Mary, who
the scripture say Jesus cast twelve demons from. Don’t underestimate what 
Christ can do with your life. Give God one willing Christian, and he can 
change
the face of the world.

Intersecting
Faith
and Life: Do you feel like an unqualified Christian? Don’t feel down; pray 
to God and seek a place where you can serve him.

Further Reading
>Romans 12:11

The High Cost of Wavering Faith

Deuteronomy 1:19-40

God has given believers personalities, abilities, and spiritual gifts which 
will equip them to accomplish His specific plans for their lives. But each
one must choose to step out in faith and obedience. At times the Lord 
challenges us to do something that seems beyond our ability, but if we back 
off,
we’ll miss His awesome blessings.

Let’s learn from the Israelites who made several choices that led to 
unbelief, resulting in a lifetime of aimless wandering. They . . .

* Listened to the wrong voices. To walk obediently with the Lord, we need to 
guard ourselves from being swayed by those who don’t understand the 
greatness
of our God. Not only that, but we must also learn to recognize the lies of 
Satan. He wants us to become ineffective, accomplishing little for the 
kingdom
of God.

* Relied on human perspective.At times trusting God conflicts with human 
reasoning. But those who choose to trust Him--even when the external 
evidence
points to an impossibility--will find that He is bigger than any obstacle.

* Let feelings overcome faith. Perhaps the biggest hindrances to obedience 
are fearand inadequacy. An internal focus is a trust killer. The way to 
overcome
our feelings is to rely on the Lord and His promises. He will equip us for 
whatever He calls us to do.

Every challenging call to obedience is a fork in the road of our lives. To 
go the way of unbelief will lead to a lifetime of regret and aimless 
wandering,
but to courageously trust God and do what He says will result in the 
greatest blessing of your life. The choice is yours.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please 
visit
www.intouch.org.

Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. (c) 2009 All Rights 
Reserved.
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How Long?

Lev. 18:20-22, 24-25 NRSV
20 You shall not have sexual relations with your kinsman’s wife, and defile 
yourself with her. 21 You shall not give any of your offspring to sacrifice 
them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. 22 You 
shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination…
24 Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, for by all these 
practices the nations I am casting out before you have defiled themselves. 
25 Thus the land became defiled; and I punished it for its iniquity, and 
the land vomited out its inhabitants.

The eighteenth chapter of Leviticus lists a number of sexual sins that the 
Lord hates. He said that is why they were thrown out of the Promised Land. 
Does God still do this? Will He do this in the future?

One thing God came against was sacrificing children to Molech. This was a 
burnt offering to a deity. You say that we don’t do that today. No, today we 
don’t even wait until the child is born to sacrifice it. We do it in 
abortion clinics. We don’t do this to appease any deity except possibly the 
god of ourselves. We know better than God who should be brought into this 
world. We put ourselves in the place of God in this instance. If a baby 
would be inconvenient or if it might have some defect, just get rid of it. 
It won’t feel a thing. It’s just amass of matter.

The other thing God is against which is listed above is homosexuality. It is 
something He abhors. He created man and woman and planned on them to fill 
the earth. This can’t be done in a homosexual relationship. There are more 
and more homosexuals parading and letting themselves be known today. A local 
university recently had a gay pride parade. And this is the middle of the 
Bible Belt of America! There are homosexuals in the pulpits and heading some 
denominations! Homosexuals can now be married!

With these and other sexual sins running rampant today can we last much 
longer? The land vomited out the inhabitants years ago. How soon will it do 
that again?

2 Peter 3:9 NASB95
9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is 
patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to 
repentance.

I believe we have had some warnings from God about these things. God also 
warned His people to repent or something would happen to them. They didn’t 
believe it and scoffed at the prophets. The Babylonians did come in and kill 
a lot and took the rest prisoner. God did give them time but they did not 
repent.

If you have not repented of your sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your 
savior, you must do it now. The time is getting short. Today is the day of 
salvation.

If you do belong to Jesus Christ, He is sending us out to spread the Gospel. 
WE must show the love of God but also tell others the truth of God. There 
are so many that need to know the Good News. WE are commanded to tell others 
wherever we are.

I once heard of someone who was being interviewed for a job. He was asked 
what his goal in life was. He said it was to live for Jesus Christ and go to 
heaven and take as many people with him as he could. May we follow his 
example.

by Dean W. Masters


"The One Thing You Really Need" #83-46
Sermon Text for July 17, 2016
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on July 17, 2016
By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
Copyright 2016 Lutheran Hour Ministries
Listen to The Lutheran Hour podcast online
Text: Luke 10:38-42

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named 
Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who 
sat
at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted 
with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care 
that
my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me." But the Lord 
answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many 
things,
but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not 
be taken away from her."

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia.

She went the extra mile. Literally. Well, actually, she went ten extra 
miles.

13.1. You've seen those stickers on cars. It seems like everyone has a 
sticker on their car boasting of their accomplishments. Whether it is 26.2 
or 13.1,
it seems like most everyone has run either a marathon or a half-marathon. 
Well, at least many people have bought the stickers.

A young girl, though, recently ran a half-marathon in New York. That doesn't 
really sound all that remarkable. In our world today, many people are 
interested
in exercise and running. There are half-marathon races all over the country 
every weekend, and many people, young and old, male and female, run these 
races.

But this girl was unique. Not because we was specially abled or disabled or 
fast or slow. She was unique because she intended to run a 5K. That's just
over 3 miles. Instead, she ran over 13. Can you imagine running 13 miles 
when you intended to run 3?

You might wonder how this happened. It's simple. She was late. When she 
showed up for the race, she told the starter she was late, and he pointed 
her to
a group of people about to begin the race. The girl didn't discover that she 
was in the wrong race until she had already begun. So she just kept running.

It helps to be young. A 12-year-old girl can run. Some of us need to train 
for a long time to be able to run that far. But she did it based on 
someone's
words. She was told to start and she did. She was on a course that stretched 
13 miles, so she just kept running until the end.

She quite literally went the extra mile. Or, more accurately, she went 10 
extra miles.

In our text for today, Martha went the extra mile. She wanted to make sure 
that Jesus was taken care of. She loved Jesus and wanted to make sure that 
His
needs were met. She wanted to make sure He felt welcome in her house, and 
she worked hard to make Jesus feel welcome, to make sure that Jesus was well
taken care of. And that's a wonderful thing.

We do this. When people come to our house, we prepare special food for them. 
We change our routine and make sure our guests feel welcome and cared for.
We probably clean our houses up a little bit more than normal. We might 
prepare food with our guests in mind. Or we might prepare other things just 
to
make sure they feel loved.

Martha cared about Jesus. And so she went the extra mile to make sure that 
He was taken care of. She went the extra mile to provide for Him and to show
her love for him.

Mary didn't spend time preparing things for Jesus at all. She didn't get in 
the kitchen and provide for Jesus' needs. Instead, Mary sat at Jesus' feet
listening to His teachings. She showed her love for Jesus by listening to 
His Word.

When Martha got annoyed with Mary for not helping, she asked Jesus to help 
her. She asked Jesus to tell Mary to stop sitting around and help.

Jesus's response is pointed and astounding. He does not command Mary to help 
her sister. Instead, He commends Mary. Jesus tells Martha that Mary has 
actually
chosen the one thing that is necessary and that Martha is busy with so many 
things that she has missed what is necessary entirely.

The Protestant work ethic. We work hard because that is our duty. We work 
hard. That is what we are to do. Some have suggested that the result of the 
Protestant
work ethic is the rise of successful capitalism in the western world. We go 
the extra mile, they say.

A lot of us, we work hard. We sacrifice in order to work hard. We save what 
we have earned because we have learned from the mistakes of our past. So we
work hard. It's what we do. And when something is worth the effort, we work 
even harder. We go the extra mile.

Many people read this story and suggest that we are either like Mary or 
Martha. People teach that we are all a little like Martha, and we should 
strive
to be like Mary.

Typically, the message of a sermon on this text will command us to spend 
more time at the feet of Jesus, and less time doing other things in our 
lives.
Usually people hear this story and think that it means that we should go the 
extra mile for Jesus by listening to Him. But that message doesn't resonate
well with us. We know that no matter how pious it sounds, we can't spend all 
day reading the Bible and we can't spend all of our days in church. The idea
that we need to go the extra mile for Jesus simply wears us out. And is an 
actual fact, quite impossible.

Things need to get done; spiritual things, physical things. Dinner needs to 
be done. The house needs to be cleaned. The lawn needs to be mowed. Children
need to be driven all over the place. And even if we don't do all of those 
things, someone needs to go to work so that we can afford to pay for the 
things
in our lives.

We can't just sit around and listen to Jesus. As much as we are tempted to 
say that we should all be like Mary, we all know the reality of day to day 
living
is that we need to be more like Martha. The result is that we all just feel 
more guilt. We all feel like somehow we need to add to our already busy 
schedules
the time to be more like Mary and sit at Jesus' feet. We feel the stress and 
the guilt of trying to get everything done and be a good Christian. We feel
the burden of working hard and being conscientious and choosing the one 
thing necessary - to sit and listen to Jesus. The extra mile is just simply 
too
much.

The result is that we all hear this text and we feel condemned. In one way 
or another, we hear this story and think that we are too much like Martha 
and
we need to be more like Mary. Or, if we are honest, we disagree with the 
conclusion and feel like this teaching of Jesus simply isn't practical. 
There
is no way to go the extra mile and just sit to listen. If we really wanted 
to, we cannot just listen to Jesus all the time. That's just not practical.

Let me suggest that the question of whether you are like Mary or Martha, 
that's the wrong question. When we concentrate on Mary and Martha, we miss 
the
whole point of the story. The story was not written so that we try to be 
more like Mary and less like Martha. The story was not told so that we focus 
more
on us. We feel like we need go the extra mile for Jesus by listening more. 
We feel convicted that we need to go the extra mile and do less somehow. And
in so doing we still wind up doing more.

The whole point of this lesson is to focus on Jesus. The whole point of the 
Gospel of Luke is Jesus. The Bible is not written about you and me. We are
not supposed to read every story and try to identify with one of the 
characters. Instead, the Bible teaches us about Jesus.

This story is ultimately about Jesus. What do we learn about Jesus in this 
story? How does the story of Mary and Martha point to Jesus?

You see, Mary chose the right thing because she allowed Jesus to be exactly 
Who He came to be. She received from Jesus His Word and His love. This is 
our
act of worship. This is how we believe. This is how we trust. Faith and 
trust means not trying to run our lives for ourselves. Instead, we love and 
trust
Jesus by repenting of our sins and letting Him give us His gifts of love, 
forgiveness, and grace.

The Gospels are not written to teach us what people did for Jesus. There are 
very few stories of anyone doing anything to benefit Jesus. Instead, the 
main
story of the Bible is what God is doing for us. The overarching story of God 
is what He is doing for those Whom He loves.

But here's the good news. This is your story about what God has done for 
you. This is who you really are in Him. You are one who is loved by God in 
Jesus
Christ. You are one who has been served by God. You are one who gets what 
God gives; life, salvation.

We tend to measure people by what they deserve. We think that if we work 
hard, we should be rewarded. It's the basis of our economic and social 
system.
And that might be good to a degree. It might be a good idea for 
socioeconomic growth. But it is a horrible idea when it comes to who we are, 
especially
before God.

God demands that we love Him perfectly if we are going to go it on our own. 
God demands that we love others fully. He created us to love Him fully and
others as ourselves. But sin has corrupted our nature so that we love 
ourselves first and foremost. We love God only as long as our lives go well 
or He
allows us to do what we want. And we love those in our lives whom we deem 
worthy of our love.

God says that kind of behavior is sinful and not worthy of His love. God 
says that our sin removes us from receiving His love and His gifts. God says 
that
we are enslaved to that. Like Martha in our story, our sin makes us 
self-centered.

Even when it comes to our life of service, we tend to serve selfishly. 
Listen to Martha's words. She demands Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Martha 
might
think she is serving selflessly, but in reality, she is jealous of her 
sister. She is so consumed with how she is affected that she tells Jesus 
what to
do!

Can you image that? Can you imagine telling Jesus what to do? Can you 
imagine having the guts to tell God what to do and how to do it?

That is actually what we do when we ignore God's commands and desires for 
our lives and live however we want. We tell God that we know better than He 
does.
We ignore God's will and do whatever we want, we are in effect telling God 
He doesn't know what is actually best for us.

We also tell God what to do when we decide how to worship Him or serve Him. 
When we spend more time performing for God than receiving from Him, we have
reversed His plan. He does not desire our performance. He desires to serve 
us and to give us His love.

Our response to all of this is to thank and praise Him first and foremost. 
But that response can only come when we have first received what He gives to
us.

We are so sinful that we even turn our religious life into a selfish 
pursuit, just like Martha. But just like Martha, you are loved. Jesus loves 
you. Not
because you are like Mary, but because that is Who He is.

You see, our story about Martha and Mary is really in a section of Luke that 
is all about love. Before our story, Jesus was discussing with a scholar the
way to read the Bible. The scholar said that the real message of the Bible 
is to love the Lord with all of your heart and soul and mind and strength 
and
to love our neighbor as our self.

Jesus said that he was right. Those are the two greatest commands and the 
summary of what our lives should be like.

Luke records two stories to explain this kind of love. The first is the Good 
Samaritan. You know that story. A man was beaten and left for dead, we've
talked about that. A priest and a Levite walk by the man. These are two 
religious leaders of the day, but neither stops to help. They are too busy, 
too
consumed with their religiosity. Along comes a Samaritan; an outsider, a man 
of no worth or value in that society of that day, a man with no status.

The Samaritan stops and bandages up the wounded man. He helps the man and 
even pays for all the care the man needs to fully recover. The conclusion of
the story is that the Samaritan loved his neighbor.

Our story of Martha and Mary follows that story of the Good Samaritan.

What if these two stories are told to illustrate what Jesus means when He 
says that God desires to us to love Him with our whole heart, mind, 
strength,
and to love our neighbors as ourselves? What if we read these stories as 
though they are teaching us the truth of love?

You see, Jesus came to reveal God's love, actually to love you God's way. He 
came to love you like the Good Samaritan. Jesus was an outsider. He was 
different.
Yet He came to pay the price to bind up our wounds. He came to carry us and 
to restore us. Jesus came to bear the sins of the whole world. He loves all
people. He gives us His life.

And Jesus came to love us with the love of God. He came to love us fully 
with the love of God. He gives us all of God's love. You see, Jesus loved 
His
Father with all of His heart, soul, mind, and strength. He loved God the 
Father fully.

And when He died on the cross, He paid the price for all of your sins and 
all your lack of love for God and for neighbor. When Jesus died on the 
cross,
He took away from you all your guilt and failures.

In the place of your sin, He gave you His love. His perfect love. And that 
is His role in your life. He is not in your life to be served so that you 
have
to live up to certain expectations. Jesus came to give you God's perfect 
love, to teach you in His Word about the God of love. He came to serve you 
by
dying for you and rising again.

But when it comes to the most important thing in life, we think that we have 
to work hard and go the extra mile for Jesus first. We think that we are 
really
religious when we serve how we think we should serve God. But today, Jesus 
reminds us in the story of Martha and Mary that one thing is necessary. 
Jesus
has fulfilled all that is necessary. He has done it all for you and that's 
the one thing that ultimately matters.

Yes, we work hard. And that is great. We are called to serve neighbor in our 
work and in our day to day responsibilities. And we should work hard at the
tasks that God has given us. But we never do so in order to earn God's 
favor. We work hard to serve others because we have been loved by God with 
an incredible
love.

We don't need to go the extra mile to get the one thing necessary. We run 
like the young girl who accidentally went 10 extra miles. We run as far as 
necessary.
With those who are running with us. We love because we have been loved. We 
serve because we have been served and we go to whatever mile our neighbor 
needs
us to go.

There is one thing necessary. It is not your work. It is not your effort to 
go the extra mile. The one thing necessary is God's love, His eternal extra
miles of grace for you in Jesus Christ. And that one thing has been done. 
That one thing necessary, Jesus, is God's love given to you freely. You have
all that you need, put your faith in Him, in His Word, in His promises and 
you'll see. Amen.
Print this Sermon
Action in Ministry for July 17, 2016
Guest: Dr. John Nunes

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour and this is Action in 
Ministry. Pastor Seltz, we all find ourselves in a different journey in 
life.

SELTZ: Mark, what I love is no matter how rough or broken or tragic your 
journey, there always is hope for a new start.

ANNOUNCER: To talk with us today about that is The Rev. Dr. John Nunes, the 
new president of Concordia College, New York; prior to that he was CEO of 
Lutheran
World Relief and professor at Valparaiso University in Indiana and Concordia 
University in Chicago. He's the host of a video resource titled: The Journey
From Unbelief to Faith.

SELTZ: Dr. Nunes, thanks for joining us.

NUNES: Thanks for having me, Pastor Seltz.

SELTZ: John, tell us about the people we meet on this journey.

NUNES: We have four very distinct, very unique stories on the Journey From 
Unbelief to Faith: someone who is deeply embedded in science and evolution;
someone else who comes from the Jewish background as a part of their 
tradition, and culture, and faith; another person who came from a deeply 
violent and
volatile...a family background that she had to work her way through; and 
then the fourth person who was deeply embedded in a new age, pseudo 
spirituality.
So, four very distinct stories.

SELTZ: Wow.

ANNOUNCER: But the title, the
Journey From Unbelief to Faith
shows us that the journey doesn't end with unbelief; so how does God work in 
the lives of all these different individuals?

NUNES: Our God is a God of second chances. Through the work of the Holy 
Spirit working through the Word of God, working through the people of God, 
God
finds a way to bring people to Himself. No one is so far out that they can't 
be brought back in. That's the power of God working through the Holy Spirit
Who calls us, Who gathers us, Who enlightens us in our faith and keeps us 
set apart and sanctified in God's business.

SELTZ: And these people, John, were influenced in various degrees by others. 
How easily, though, can people be led down the wrong path?

NUNES: You know, Pastor Seltz, the kind of world in which we live is without 
much need for evidence. Politicians argue about it, psychologists try to 
work
at it, environmentalists can tell you about it. We live in a world that is 
broken at one level or another and it is tragically broken. It's quite easy
for us to be led down a wrong path in life. The greatest miracle, however, 
is God's miracle, the miracle of faith, which I think sometimes, Mark and 
Greg,
is even greater than the miracle of creation; that God can out of dead 
things create a living faith.

SELTZ: In these stories, too, you have these people who just know there is 
something more. I remember them saying, "For some reason I started to go to
church. For another reason I went to Bible study." They really don't know 
what they're seeking, but little by little they're led closer to Christ. 
Talk
a little bit more about how that happens as well.

NUNES: In each of the stories there is a very unique set of events that seem 
at the time to each individual to be purely serendipitous; something that
seems to be coincidental or coming from nowhere. But then in the long view 
or in their retrospective view, it's clear that God is active and at work in
the lives of each of these people bringing them on that journey from 
unbelief to faith.

ANNOUNCER: And what do these stories say to those who are already 
Christians?

NUNES: Never give up. Never give up praying. Never give up hoping. Salvation 
is never outside of the realm of possibility for anyone. Jesus Christ died
for everyone. No one is too far out to be brought back in. No one is too far 
gone to come home to the God Who created them and loved them. In fact, 
Pastor
Seltz, I was in Detroit yesterday and I was at a church and there was a 
baptism of an 89-year-old man whose entire life, he had disavowed 
Christianity.
He was an avowed atheist, and yesterday I celebrated in the Name of the 
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit his coming to Christ. So, the word to the 
believers,
to the church, is never give up.

SELTZ: Wow! That's something we all need to hear, right? To be ready to 
share Christ. To be reminded of the power of Christ to reach anyone, 
anytime, anywhere,
no matter how far from faith they might seem. Dr. Nunes, thank you so much 
for joining us today.

NUNES: Thanks, Greg. Thanks, Mark.

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

ANNOUNCER: You can view or download this content for free at our website. Go 
to lutheranhour.org and click on Action in Ministry. That's 
lutheranhour.org.
For information on ordering a DVD copy, call 1-855-john316. That's 
1-855-564.6316. Our email address is info@lhm.org.

LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for July 17, 2016
Topic: What does Galatians 2:20 Mean Today?

ANNOUNCER: Now, Pastor Gregory Seltz responds to questions from listeners. 
I'm Mark Eischer. Today we are going to talk about a Bible passage that is a
favorite of many people: Galatians 2, verse 20. A lot of times when we talk 
about favorite Bible verses, many times they are either misquoted or taken
out of context. There's something very different about today's verse.

SELTZ: Right, Mark, Galatians 2:20 is one of the best verses in the Bible 
for people to memorize.

ANNOUNCER: People say things like this is my favorite verse or this is the 
best verse. But really there is no better or best or worst, is there?

SELTZ: Well, the whole Bible is the Word of God, that's for sure, but there 
are certain passages that summarize important teachings and they serve as 
easy
passages to memorize in order to call to mind the really, really important 
things about God and His love.

ANNOUNCER: And Galatians 2:20 is one of those summary verses?

SELTZ: Absolutely. Listen to the words of Galatians 2:20. "I have been 
crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in 
me. And
the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who 
loved me and gave himself for me." It's all in there; the death and 
resurrection
of Jesus, the hope of eternal life, salvation by grace through faith, and 
even sanctification, our new life in Him. It's all in this short and 
precious
verse.

ANNOUNCER: Walk us through and show us how those important teachings are 
summarized.

SELTZ: I would love to. First of all, this verse focuses our attention on 
Christ and what He has done for us. Jesus was crucified for us, rose from 
the
dead for us. His death means that the penalty that our sins have earned is 
paid. His resurrection means that we share in His eternal life.

ANNOUNCER: What does it mean to be crucified with Christ?

SELTZ: Jesus's death and resurrection is for all people. It is faith that 
delivers the forgiveness and eternal life to us individually. Faith is the 
means
through which God gives us what Christ has accomplished for all. Therefore, 
those who have been baptized, those who believe in Jesus, they're joined 
with
Him in His death and His resurrection. When I am joined with Jesus to His 
crucifixion, I freely receive the benefits of His Work, His death, His 
resurrection.

ANNOUNCER: What does it mean when it says I no longer live?

SELTZ: Mark, when we are joined to Jesus's crucifixion, our sinfulness, our 
guilt, it's literally put to death. That "me" has been crucified with Him!
My sinful nature is put to death when He died in my place.

ANNOUNCER: This really speaks to the reality of our baptism.

SELTZ: As a "means of grace," Christ delivers the benefits of the cross, as 
our sinful nature is drowned in the waters of His Name!

ANNOUNCER: But the message of Jesus is not one of death?

SELTZ: No way; in fact, like Jesus Who was raised from the dead, when we are 
joined to Jesus in His death, we are also joined with Him in His 
resurrection.
So, by faith in Him, your life, my life is no longer defined by us.

ANNOUNCER: Which is good news.

SELTZ: I think it's the best news. In fact, our sin does not condemn us; 
death is not my eternal destination, and it's not yours either. Instead, 
Jesus
defines us. He makes us God's children. He forgives our sins. This is 
incredible. He promises us eternal life.

ANNOUNCER: And we don't lose our individual identity either.

SELTZ: Yes, you are still you. And Paul says that in this verse as well. My 
sinful nature has been crucified with Christ, and yet I am alive. Paul says
this life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me 
and gave Himself for me. Christianity does not remove us from our bodies or
seek to separate us from our bodies. God created all of these things.

ANNOUNCER: Really that's how we live out our faith.

SELTZ: In our bodies, right. We were meant to be forgiven, redeemed, 
restored people! We are made alive to live. We love our neighbors as a 
reflection
of God's love for us.

ANNOUNCER: You said earlier this verse deals with Jesus's death and 
resurrection. Where is the resurrection?

SELTZ: The phrases "Christ lives in me" and "the life I live in the flesh," 
they both point us to the resurrection of the Jesus Who is still alive. God
doesn't just remove our sins through faith; He also gives us the gift of 
eternal life. Jesus is alive in His flesh. We now live and will live forever 
with
Him. God is always a God of life.

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

Music Selections for this program:

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

"In the beginning God." Genesis 1:1.

We hear quite a bit these days about the worldview people have. 

Simply put, one's worldview is the way we view the world in which we live. 

It serves as a road map for one's life—the guide for the way we live and orchestrate our life. 
It has to do with one's belief system about the world in which we live.

A Christian worldview is based on reality—on truth—on truth as it is revealed and/or confirmed in God's Word, the Bible, which is the only viable source of truth that can realistically answer the four questions one's worldview takes into account. 

These questions are as follows:

    "Where did I come from?
    Why is the world in such a mess?
    Is there a way to fix it?
    Is there a purpose for my life?"

First, where did I come from? 

The Christian believes that we came from God; that in the beginning he created all—including you and me. 
Because of this we are accountable to Him and are morally responsible for all our actions.

Second, why is the world in such a mess? 

We believe that this is because of sin and evil which was introduced into the world by Satan the devil, a fallen angel, who wanted to dethrone God and become God himself. 

"I will become as the Most High," he said. Consequently he was dismissed from God's Heaven. Isaiah 14:12.

Tragically-
- because mankind chose to disobey God's directions and follow Satan's, sin entered the entire human race. 

Because sin cannot exist and sinners cannot survive in the presence of a holy and just God, any more than a moth can survive in a flame, our sin has destined us to eternal separation from a just and holy God in the place the Bible calls hell—the place prepared for the devil and other fallen angels known as demons.

Third, is there an answer to mankind's dilemma—a way to fix our problem? 

Fortunately for mankind there is. 
As the Bible says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus Christ], that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16.

In other words, because God's justice required that the just judgment for all sin is death; that is, eternal separation from God the author of all love and life, God gave his only son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place to pay the just penalty for all our sin. 

Because of Christ's sacrifice God now offers to all who will accept it a free pardon and the gift of eternal life with God in Heaven forever. 

Based on the Word of God-
- Jesus Christ is God's only provision for mankind's sin, 
- and the only way into God's Heaven. John 14:6.

Fourth, is there a purpose for my life? 

Man's chief end [purpose] is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

We glorify God, first by building a deeper understanding of and a stronger relationship with Jesus Christ, and then by living a morally upright life, in loving God and worshipping God, by loving our neighbours as ourselves, and by our service to God. 

And we serve God by using our God-given natural and spiritual gifts to serve others.

The important thing is: 
Do you know what your specific God-given life purpose is?

"Dear God, thank You that Your word, the Bible, gives us the only secure road map for all of life's journey—from the cradle to the grave and beyond. Please help me to be certain my world view is in line with Your Word so that I will live in harmony with Your will here on earth and spend eternity with You in Heaven forever. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's Name, Amen."

Tough Spots
by Chuck Swindoll

1 Kings 17:5-7

Elijah was in a tough spot. A life-threatening spot. The brook had dried up. 
Had God forgotten His faithful servant? Has God forgotten you? Has He left
you all alone?

The God who gives water can also withhold water. That's His sovereign right.

Our human feelings tell us that once our faithful heavenly Father gives 
water, He should never take it away. It just wouldn't be fair. Once God 
gives a
mate, He should never take a mate. Once God gives a child, He should never 
take a child. Once He gives a good business, He has no right to take that 
business.
Once He provides a pastor, He must never call him elsewhere. Once He gives 
us rapid growth and great delight in a ministry, He has no right to step in
and say, "Wait a minute. There's no need to grow larger. Let Me take you 
deeper instead." On the contrary, He has every right!

When we hit a tough spot, our tendency is to feel abandoned, to become 
resentful, to think, How could God forget me? In fact, just the opposite is 
true.
In times of testing, we are more than ever the object of His concern.

But God says, in the midst of your dried-up brook, "You are written on the 
palms of My hands. You are continually before me." Then He uses that 
wonderful
image of a young mother with her new baby, and He surprises us with a 
realistic reminder: "Can a woman forget her nursing child?" You wouldn't 
think so,
would you? But look at the stories in the news, and you know how many women 
do exactly that. Babies left in garbage dumpsters. Tiny babies 
abandoned—sometimes
even abused or tortured or murdered. Yes, as unimaginable as it seems, even 
a mother can forget her nursing child. But here's the clincher: Not God. Not
God! He will never forget us. We are permanently inscribed on the palms of 
His hands. Pause, and let that sink in.

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.


Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Jesus Saves
Thursday, July 21, 2016

“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me 
will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep 
them,
I do not
judge him; for I did not come to judge the world,
but to save the world.”
John 12:46-47 NASB

Priscilla Jane Owens had a burden for children. Committed to fulfill this 
burden, she became active in both the public schools and Sunday schools in 
her
native Baltimore. Born on this day in 1829, she found that music was an 
effective way to minister to children, and wrote many hymns specifically to 
enrich
this ministry.

In 1882, she wrote a song for the children of her church that expressed the 
joy that salvation brought her. It was called “Jesus Saves.”

She wanted them to understand that salvation wasn’t a burden or an 
obligation but a joyful experience. That being saved opened the door to a 
wonderful
relationship with our Lord!

What a “joyful sound” it was to realize that “Jesus saves!” It is such a 
glorious experience that Believers should feel delighted to “spread the 
tidings
all around,” bearing “the news to every land.”

What a joy it should be to share this message. But we also should realize 
that this was “our Lord’s command.” That we are to “tell to sinners far and 
wide”
about salvation.

We still may face battles and problems that cause us to be discouraged, but 
nothing must stop us from telling others about Jesus. We are to “shout it 
brightly
through the gloom, when the heart for mercy craves; sing in triumph o’er the 
tomb: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!”

Even the winds are to carry forth this message: “Shout salvation full and 
free; highest hills and deepest caves; this our song of victory!”

Today, Jesus still saves. And millions of people still need to hear the 
message of salvation. Dedicate your life and resources to bringing salvation 
to
the nations.

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, I pray for these people who need salvation: ___________. And bring 
revival to my life. Take away my burdens and fill me anew with Your Spirit.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: John 12
© 2016 Inspiration Ministries, All rights reserved

Turn aside and see this great sight!

(Hugh Dunlop, "
Altogether Lovely!"
1896)

"When all the people who had gathered to witness that sight saw what took 
place, they beat their bosoms and went away." Luke 23:48

There have been . . .
many wonderful sights upon the earth,
many sad and sorrowful sights,
many grand and awe-inspiring sights
--but never before or after in all the world's history, such a sight as was 
seen by the group that gathered around the cross. What a strange and motley
group it was! How many kinds of sinners were represented there!

There were the hardened Roman soldiers who gambled for His clothes. There 
were the mockers, the revilers, the chief priests and scribes who hated 
Him--the
rulers who derided Him--the people who wagged their heads saying, "If You 
are the Son of God, come down from the cross!"

There were also the weeping women, the trembling disciples, and--best of 
all--the penitent thief who trusted in Him for salvation in that dread hour, 
and
gave Him a sweet foretaste of the "joy that was set before Him," for which 
"He endured the cross, despising the shame."

Other spectators also, unseen by human eyes, were doubtless there--Satan and 
all his horrid hosts, the Victor's baffled foes, watching Him with malignant
hate; the holy angels, too, looking on with silent awe; and God Himself, Who 
was about to "bruise Him and put Him to grief" and "make His soul an 
offering
for sin"--Whose voice even then shook the deep, "Awake, O sword, against My 
Shepherd and against the Man who is My Fellow!"

As Moses took his shoes from off his feet, when he drew near to see the 
burning bush--let us also with reverence and adoring love, now turn aside 
and see
this great sight!

That was a sight of WONDER. What do we see?
The Lord of glory--put to open shame!
The Creator of Heaven and earth--nailed to a cruel cross of wood!
The King of kings and Lord of lords--treated as the vilest malefactor!
The holy Son of God--crucified!
He who was the very Fountain of life, whose life was the light of 
men--dying!

That was a sight of SORROW. We live in a world of sorrow, a valley of tears. 
"Man who is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble." "Man is 
born
to trouble--as the sparks fly upward." "The whole creation groans and 
travails in pain together until now."

But, of all men, Jesus was "a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief." He 
saw His Father's law broken, His Father's name dishonored, His Father's love
despised. "Rivers of water run down My eyes--because they keep not Your 
law." How His soul must have turned with loathing, from the defilement in 
the midst
of which He walked--while His heart was bursting with pity for the sinners 
whom He had come to save! Now was the culmination of His woe. His holy 
nature
shrank from the slightest touch of sin--yet now "He bore our sins in His own 
body on the tree"--and what that meant, God alone can tell.

That was a sight of SIN! What is sin? Its very essence is revolt against the 
Most High God. And here we see the crowning manifestation of this revolt.
God's law had been broken, His commandments disobeyed, His name dishonored 
by a rebellious world--but never was the enmity of the human heart so 
intensely
shown as when they crucified His beloved Son!

Oh, the malignant hate with which sinners cried "Away with Him, away with 
Him! Crucify Him, crucify Him!" The awful wickedness with which they closed 
around
His cross, "breathing out cruelty!" The madness that cried, "Not this Man, 
but Barabbas!" They mocked, they wagged their heads, they railed, they 
scoffed--and
in their puny impotence, defied the God of Heaven!

That was a sight of WRATH. If the crucifixion of the Son of God was the most 
awful manifestation of the sin of man--so was the cross also the most 
terrible
revelation of divine wrath--the righteous wrath of a holy God! Not all the 
woe of the lost--not the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, of which 
God
in His compassion warns us in His Word--not all the weeping and wailing and 
gnashing of teeth of those upon whose heads God's righteous judgments 
fall--can
reveal to us, as does the cross of Christ, the attitude of God toward sin!

In the cross of Christ, we see the burning holiness of God, Who is "of purer 
eyes than to behold iniquity and cannot look upon evil."

Here we see the inviolable righteousness of God, who "can by no means clear 
the guilty."

And here we see the terrible fierceness of His anger, the sword of His 
justice, the tempest of His wrath! "God is angry with the wicked every 
day"--but
here the whole of His wrath against sin was gathered up and burst forth with 
relentless fury!

But, hearken!
Against whom did God's anger burn?
Against whom did God's sword awake?
Upon whose head did God's storm of wrath burst?
Not upon the heads of the guilty sinners--but upon the sinless One, the Holy 
One, the spotless Lamb of God!

That was a sight of LOVE!
What pen can write,
what tongue can tell,
what heart can comprehend
--the infinite love of God? Behind the awful wrath and righteous 
judgment--was the eternal love. Back in the counsels of eternity "God so 
loved the world."
Why, we cannot understand; only we have heard of "the great love with which 
He loved us"--and we know of the great redemption which He planned for us.
Yes, it was out of the infinite depths of that deep, mysterious love for the 
souls whom He had made, that the cross of Christ grew!

~ ~ ~ ~
We have published Hugh Dunlop's precious 75 page booklet, "
Altogether Lovely!"

~ ~ ~ ~
Feel free to forward these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited 
by them!
Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)
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Love is On the Move
by Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk.com Contributor

“Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and 
feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see 
You
a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You 
sick, or in prison, and come to You?' The King will answer and say to them, 
'Truly I say to
you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even 
the least of them, you did it to Me.’” -
Matthew 25:37-40

“On the corner of 5th Street / a homeless man needs to eat / down on the 
edge of town...”
-Leeland, “Love is On the Move”

Actually it was 14th Street. 14th and Cary.

I was driving slowly across the cobblestone of downtown Richmond, one block 
away from pulling into my parking garage before work. However, I noticed a
new addition to my morning drive: a middle-aged man with sandy hair sitting 
on the corner, facing me. He was holding a cardboard sign which read “STUCK
LIKE CHUCK.” I had never seen him there before. On my way to work this 
morning I had already passed a beat-up looking group of teenage boys 
hitch-hiking
on the side of 95 south, so by now my maternal instincts were driving me 
crazy.

I specifically made sure that I made my way to the office via the man with 
the sign. Before I walked past him I stopped and asked, “Sir?” He looked up
at me. His skin was very weathered and tan, but his eyes were electric blue. 
Almost shocking. “Do you need some food?” I asked.

He sort of looked down, as though thinking, Well, I can’t pay my bills with 
food... But he looked back up at me and hesitantly conceded, “It sure would
help.” I gave him part of my lunch I had packed for the day, said “God bless 
you, sir,” and tried not to cry.

It’s so hard to translate Christ’s mandate to love the poor into modern, 
daily city life. What if I give someone money and they just go buy drugs or 
cigarettes?
What if I help a hitchhiker and they put a gun to my head? How could my 
pitiful Tupperware container full of fruit possibly help a genuinely 
struggling
man? But Christ made no bones about it: we at least have to try. Not just 
the important, desperate, convenient people. God’s empathy extends to “even 
the
least of them” – He feels both their pain and their gratitude.

“If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and 
one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you
do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?”
–James 2:15

“Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to 
be rich in
faith
and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”
–James 2:5

Intersecting Faith and Life

How can you be a powerful, physical force for God’s love? In your life, who 
are the poor, “the least,” that Christ would have you notice?

Further Reading/Listening
Love is on the Move
– Leeland (Essential Records, 2009)
>Matthew 25:1
>James 2:1
Permission to Feed the Poor?


4112 cdd Antidote for Stress
Wednesday July 20, 2016
Volume 17 Number 145

Today's Author: Pastor Bill
Scripture: John 14:27
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I 
give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" NKJV

In a recent survey, it was reported that most Americans are suffering from 
moderate to high stress. 44 percent reported that their stress levels have 
increased
over the past five years.

Stress categories listed included the economy, work, money, relationships, 
family responsibilities, personal safety and health problems, among others.
With all this stress what is one to do? Answer: Take it to Jesus!

Prayer for stress release

Lord, I need your help. I am feeling the strain of stress in my life. My 
body is daily disturbed by the worry and fear stress causes.

Jesus I confess to you my inability to handle this stress alone. I surrender 
my mind to you. Take charge. Refresh my nervous system with the harmony of
your peace, power and patience.

Forgive my anger rooted in my irritable self-will.

Make me a light of Your love to others. Help me embrace the inspirations You 
give me. Take charge of my tongue so that it becomes an instrument of 
therapeutic
healing. Design my communication to reflect Your love and forgiveness.

Lord, I commit my schedule to you. Bring good decisions that indicate that 
my yes is yes and my no is no with decisive strength.

Set me free from materialism and seeking security in things, events or 
pleasure rather than in my relationship with you.

Forgive me when I take my signals of success from others and not You.

Most of all, Lord, help me to live by your timing. Here is my life - invade 
it, fill it, and transform it.

I thank You Lord in advance for healing my tension and giving me strength to 
conquer the stress of daily life --- all for Your Glory.

Prayer: Father thank you for a healthy amount of stress in my life. And when 
stress piles on help me to leave it at the foot of the Cross with my eyes
on Jesus. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

Pastor Bill Team Prayer
Father please bring 1............. 2............. 3.............. into your 
kingdom.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Copyright (c) 2016
Pastor Bill Christian Cyber Ministries
All Rights Reserved

What If Your Worst “What If” Does Happen?
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does
(Psalm 33:4
NIV).

Friend to Friend

Some people just seem happy and positive all the time. They appear to never 
worry and fret. These people act like they eat rainbows for breakfast and 
ride
a unicorn to work. But life isn’t all lucky charms. Sometimes it is just 
plain hard. We anticipate trials. Jesus promised trouble. “In this world you 
will
have trouble,” He warned
(John 16:33).

So what if the worst thing you can imagine does happen? What then?

What if my child gets sick?

What if my husband does leave?

What if I lose my job?

What if I get on a plane to go to a speaking engagement and the plane 
crashes?

I decided a long time ago, when I get on a plane, I’m either going to get 
where I’m headed, or I’m going to heaven. Either one is all right with me. I
know that whatever may happen in this life, God’s still on His throne, and 
He’s in control.

Yes, worry is a down payment on a problem that you may never have . . . but 
sometimes you do have the problem. Sometimes the sinkhole is worse than you
ever imaged. But here’s what you can always grab hold of when you feel you’re 
being sucked down: God will be right smack dab in the middle of your 
sinkhole
even if your worst “what if” does occur.

What is your greatest fear? What worries threaten to hold you hostage? 
Perhaps you’ve already experienced your greatest fear. Maybe you have lost a 
child,
gone through a divorce, foreclosed on your home. Perhaps you’ve already gone 
through radiation, filed for bankruptcy, or lost your job.

If you have already experienced your greatest fears, then oddly enough, you 
have an advantage over those who haven’t. You’ve seen that God does give you
the strength to get through your most horrendous seasons imaginable. You’ve 
come out on the other side and realized that by the grace of God you’ve made
it.

None of us would choose to experience the horrific losses or painful 
situations that are part of living this side of heaven. But some treasures 
can only
be discovered in dark places. One such treasure unearthed by those on the 
other side of their worst “what ifs” is the knowledge of God’s sustaining 
power
that got them though and held them up--that gave them the power to move on 
despite the losses and live bold despite the pain.

The truth is, the worst “what if” that could ever occur already has--what if 
someone killed the Son of God? What if they forced a crown of piercing 
thorns
on his head, thrashed a flesh-tearing whip embedded with sharp objects 
across his back, spat in His face, beat Him with fists, nailed his feet and 
hands
to a splintery cross? What if they plunged a sword into his side? What if 
they murdered Jesus? What if that happened?

Oh, friend, it is with tears in my eyes that I type those words. But there’s 
more to the story. You know the rest.

Death was not the end of the story. It never is. Three days later God rolled 
the stone away from the mouth of the cave in which Jesus was buried, and 
Hope
walked out in newness of life--resurrection life.

Because of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ; because 
of the power of the Holy Spirit who now lives within us, we no longer have 
to
buckle under the spirit of fear or go weak-kneed due to worry. We can live 
bold knowing that God empowers and equips us to do everything He has called
us to do. We can refuse to bury our dreams in shallow graves of fear, but 
live in bold obedience expecting the best.

Let’s Pray

Lord, no matter what happens in my life, I know that You are faithful, 
loving, and kind. Help me to trust in Your Sovereignty, knowing that You are 
in
control. Even if the worst “what if” happens in my life, I know that You can 
use it for good.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Read
Isaiah 43:1-3
and describe God’s assurance to you in your own words.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

More from the Girlfriends

Today’s devotion came from my latest book,
Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go, Move Forward, Live Bold.
Just as a trapeze artist who grabs hold of a second bar, but refuses to let 
go of the first, we can get stuck in our faith when we refuse to let go of
all that holds us back. It’s time to let go of all that holds us hostage to 
a “less than” life...and that includes WORRY about the future and regret 
about
the past. We need to let go of worry and take hold of total trust in the 
goodness of God! Then we will truly move forward and live bold. Let’s take 
hold
of all that Jesus has already taken hold of for us and placed in us! Check 
it out at
www.takeholdthebook.com
where you can download a free chapter and watch a video book trailer. The 
book also comes with a Bible study guide.
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The Signs of Drifting

Hebrews 2:1-3

Regularly gathering in the house of the Lord with brothers and sisters in 
Christ provides an "anchor" of support and accountability. But skipping 
church
in order to pursue other interests is an obvious sign that a believer has 
begun to drift away from God. Less apparent are the men and women who 
mentally
skip the worship service. The act of attending means nothing unless we make 
a deliberate decision to receive God's Word and apply it to our life. As the
writer of Hebrews warned, if we do not pay attention to what we have heard, 
we will drift away from it (2:1).

However, Sunday morning is not the only time for receiving a steady diet of 
nourishing principles and encouragement from the
Bible.
We should be in its pages every day, reading and meditating for ourselves. 
When our interest in what God has to say decreases, we're already slipping 
out
into troublesome waters. The only way to keep our way pure is by following 
His Word (Ps. 119:9).

If Bible reading is neglected, a prayer life has usually faded as well. 
Prayer is the way believers communicate with the Navigator. If we stop 
talking
with Him, the God who once seemed so close soon feels far away. That chasm 
in our spirit is one more sign that we're far from shore and safety.

I've watched many a captain guide his cruise ship through a narrow channel. 
The crew members are intensely focused on their tasks because drifting means
disaster. Life is full of narrow channels to navigate. We cannot afford to 
drift away from God and His Word. Only He can bring us safely through.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please 
visit
www.intouch.org.

Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. (c) 2009 All Rights 
Reserved.

Love among men is awakened by something in the beloved. But the love of God 
is free, spontaneous, unevoked, uncaused. God loves men because he has 
chosen
to love them. --J. I. Packer

Believe it or not, there is a controversy going on that is even older than 
whether we should sing more hymns or more choruses in church. It’s the 
“nature
vs. nurture” debate. There’s a lot of discussion in our culture about why 
people do the things they do, especially bad things. (For some reason, they 
don’t
seem to be too concerned when humans actually do good things.)

Some say it’s the way we were nurtured: parents, people, and environment 
determine how we turn out. Others say it’s our nature: our genetic, 
physical,
mental makeup determines whether we will be naughty or nice this Christmas 
season. Trust me, it’s one of the oldest debates on the planet and if you 
dwell
on it too long, your head is bound to explode.

I say, “Time out! Let it go! What difference does it make if it’s nature or 
nurture? Once we become
Christians
and are placed in Christ, we get that new heart--the new nature. But that 
new nature needs to be nurtured as well. Amazingly, we now live in the 
family
of the the best nurturer in the universe.

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it--we’re 
called children of God! That’s who we really are!
--1 John 3:1
(The Message)

So get this: He’s given you a new nature, and now, as His kid, He’s going to 
perfectly nurture you so that you can walk in His righteousness. You have
the heart. You have the Father. What’s left to debate?

My awesome, perfect Father, I receive the love that You are extending to me! 
Thanks for my new nature in Christ. I entrust it to You now. I give You full
access and full permission to nurture me as no human could ever do. Amen.

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


A Note of Encouragement

from Ciloa

Send this Note of Encouragement to a Friend
Jack Awtrey and his cousin Mary
God is our refuge and strength
an ever-present help in time of trouble. Psalm 46:1
In Desperate Times

Volume XVI, Issue 29

July 18, 2016

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

In Desperate Times...by Mollie Awtrey

Jack Awtrey
My dad is Jack Awtrey. For 20 years he made the deliveries for my mom's 
flower shop. But in 2003 I noticed something was wrong. He had difficulty 
remembering
where regular customers lived. Sometimes he would get lost, and maps only 
made him more confused.
The problem grew worse. Dad, forgetting the simplest of things, became 
frustrated and angry. Then he started just giving money away and even adding 
strangers
to his bank account.

Eventually we got the terrible news...Alzheimer's. From that day, life was a 
constant physical and emotional struggle. Our days were filled with growing
confusion and fear. Where was God?

Mom died suddenly just 2 years later, leaving me as sole caregiver. As Dad's 
condition declined, he often refused to take his medication. Frequently he
fell and hurt himself. And at times he wandered from his house that was 
deteriorating right along with him.

Desperate, ignored residents in a nursing home
Living alone became a huge health risk for Dad and I could no longer care 
for him. The time had come. He needed to live where he could be better cared
for, where he would be safe.

For months I searched. I tried one, then another, but the care did not match 
their promises. Residents were ignored, some abused. Dad got a black eye on
one occasion and a broken tooth on another. There was little care, but many 
excuses.

Dad struggled. He would go from not knowing where he was to thinking he had 
always lived there. He felt alone and afraid, lashing out at me for leaving
him in such places. So the search continued.

Overwhelmed, I prayed in desperation, "Lord, You know our situation and our 
needs. Guide me, Jesus, on where to put Dad. Please keep him safe where he
is. God help me, I can't do this any longer."

Caring staff hugging a smiling resident
One day, out of the blue, I decided to visit a facility about 20 miles from 
my home. I was amazed. The staff cared for the residents and loved their 
work.
Everything was clean and orderly. It was perfect!

Then I met one of the owners. Turns out we had graduated from the same high 
school. We hit it off immediately. Dad was soon approved and moved into his
new room. But would he be happy?

One day while Dad was in physical therapy, a resident stopped by. Seeing 
"Awtrey" on Dad's wheelchair, she said they must be related because that was 
her
name, too, and it was such a unique spelling. Dad introduced himself and 
they got to talking about their families and life growing up.

When Dad mentioned he went by "Alvin" as a boy, the lady's face lit up. She 
was Mary, Dad's cousin. As little children, they had played together at his
parents' house where Mary spent much of her time growing up. They had not 
seen each other in decades.

Aged hands, one holding another
Mary is a Christian with a loving, kind spirit. Today she will find Dad, 
kiss him on the head, and give him hugs. Dad will go to her room and visit 
for
hours. And as much as she's meant to Dad, he has meant to her. "I have 
family here," she says. "I feel at home."

This has strengthened my relationship with God. I know that no matter what 
happens, He does work all things out for our own good. His hand is upon us.
God had this planned out long, long ago.

Without a doubt, Dad and Mary are God's gift to each other......and to me.
Mollie

Mollie Awtrey lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia, USA. This is her story, as 
shared with Chuck Graham.
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The journey which our Divine Lover took

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

The story of Christ's redeeming love surpasses anything related in the pages 
of the wildest romances. These tell of a prince, who, enamored with a humble
maiden, assumed a disguise. Doffing his crown and royal state for the dress 
of common life, he left his palace, traveled far, faced danger, and fared 
hard--to
win the heart of a peasant's daughter, and raise her from obscurity to the 
position of a queen!

Facts are more wonderful than fables. The journey which our Divine Lover 
took was from Heaven to earth. To win His bride, He exchanged the bosom of 
the
eternal Father--to lie, a feeble infant, on a woman's bosom. The Son of God 
left the throne of the universe, and assumed the guise of humanity--to be 
cradled
in a feeding trough and murdered on a cross!

In His people, He found His bride deep in debt--and paid it all. Herself 
under sentence of death--He died in her place. A lost creature, clad in 
rags--He
took off His own royal robes to cover her. To wash her--He shed His blood! 
To win her--He shed His tears! Finding her poor and miserable and naked, He
endowed her with all His goods--and heir of all things. Everything that He 
possessed as His Father's Son--she was to forever enjoy and share with 
Himself!

"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand 
fully!" Ephesians 3:19

~ ~ ~ ~

We have published Samuel Davies' helpful article: "
The One Thing Needful".

~ ~ ~ ~

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

The Power to Profess Christ

With great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the 
resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
(Acts 4:33)

If our ministry is to witness to Christ tomorrow in some unsympathetic 
situation, the key will not be our brilliance; the key will be abundant 
future grace.

Of all people, the apostles seemed to need least help to give a compelling 
witness to the risen Christ. They had been with him for three years. They 
had
seen him die. They had seen him alive. In their witnessing arsenal they had 
“many proofs” (
Acts 1:3).
You might think that, of all people, their ministry of witnessing, in those 
early days, would sustain itself on the strength of the past glories that 
were
still so fresh.

But that is not what the book of Acts tells us. The power to witness with 
faithfulness and effectiveness did not come mainly from memories of grace, 
or
reservoirs of knowledge; it came from the new arrivals of “great grace.” 
That’s the way it was for the apostles, and that’s the way it will be for us 
in
our ministry of witnessing.

Whatever added signs and wonders God may show to amplify our witness to 
Christ, they will come the same way they came for Stephen. “And Stephen, 
full of
grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people” (
Acts 6:8).

There is an extraordinary future grace and power that we may bank on in the 
crisis of special ministry need. It is a fresh act of power by which God 
“bore
witness to the word of his grace” (
Acts 14:3
; see also
Hebrews 2:4).
The grace of power bears witness to the grace of truth.
Copyright Information

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

3 Things NOT to Say When Someone is Suffering
by Edward T. Welch

If we are affected by someone’s suffering, we will remember it, which is one 
of the great gifts that we give to each other.

A young man’s father died, and his local church, as we would expect, loved 
him well—invitations to dinner, a high priority on everyone’s prayer list, 
and
warm e-mails, texts, and cards. After a week or two, the generous care began 
to taper off, also as we would expect. The few people who still asked the
young man how he was doing stood out to him as unusually caring.

A year later, on the anniversary of the father’s death, a friend from the 
church called and left a message: “I remember that your father died on this 
day
last year. I just wanted you to know that I was thinking about you and 
prayed for you. I prayed that there will be times today when the memories 
you have
of him bless you.”

The young man was stunned. He was changed. He was comforted and encouraged, 
and he committed to keep others on his heart long term.

God’s premiere self-description is “the compassionate and gracious God” (
Ex. 34:6 NIV).
This means that both our pain and our prayers affect him, and he has us on 
his heart. He takes our burden on himself and remembers us. As we imitate 
our
Father, we want to feel the burdens of others too.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (
Gal. 6:2)

So we call, e-mail, track down the suffering at church. We have them on our 
heart, and we want them to know it.

Say something. Do something. Remember. That is the basic idea.

Yet the call to say something does not mean that everything we say is good 
and helpful. It’s important to know what not to say. Sometimes we may be 
tempted
to respond to someone’s suffering with thoughtless platitudes. Here are 
three offenders.

Believe it or not, that is only the first half of a hideous comment, for 
example: “It could be worse—imagine if you broke both legs.”

We have some odd ways of cheering each other up.

The comment is accurate—everything could be worse. We suffer and then, along 
with the suffering, have a comforter who says it could be worse.

Such a comment is utterly thoughtless. God himself would never say or 
sanction it. God does not compare our present suffering to anyone else’s or 
to worst-case
scenarios. Ever. If we hear friends do this in their own suffering, it does 
not give us the right to chime in. Instead, it might be a time to warn them.

“Yes, your suffering might not seem as severe as _______, but God doesn’t 
compare your sufferings to others.”

If we make such comparisons, we might be tempted not to speak of the 
suffering from our hearts to the Lord because we would consider it whining, 
which
it certainly is not.

So even though things could be worse, that is never an appropriate thing to 
say to others or to let others say about their situation. God is not 
dismissive
of our hardships, and neither should we be.

Those platitudes are biblical in that God does teach us in our suffering, 
and he is working all things together for good (
Rom. 8:28).
We agree with C. S. Lewis when he writes that pain is God’s megaphone to 
arouse a deaf world. But these kinds of comments have hurt so many people; 
let’s
agree that we will never say them.

Consider a few of the possible problems with this and other poorly timed 
misuses of biblical passages:

In our attempts to help, we can over-interpret suffering. We search for 
clues to God’s ways, as if suffering were a scavenger hunt. Get to the end, 
with
the right answers, and God will take away the pain. Meanwhile, the quest for 
answers is misguided from the start and will end badly. Suffering is not an
intellectual matter that needs answers; it is highly personal: Can I trust 
him? Does he hear? Suffering is a relational matter, and it is a time to 
speak
honestly to the Lord and remember that the fullest revelation he gives of 
himself is through Jesus Christ, the suffering servant. Only when we look to
Jesus can we know that God’s love and our suffering can coexist.

This heads in a better direction; it is not quite a platitude. However, this 
common and kind comment reveals that we do not really know the person. 
Sufferers
usually don’t know what they want or need, and they won’t call you. The 
comment is the equivalent of, “I’ve said something nice, now see ya later.” 
It
gives no real thought to the sufferer’s needs and circumstances, and the 
suffering person knows it.

Instead we could ask, “What can I do to help?”

Or (better) we could consider what needs to be done and do it.

Wise friends buy more dog food, do the dishes, drop off a meal, cut the 
grass, babysit the kids, clean the house, give a ride to small group, drop 
off
a note of encouragement and then another and another, help sort out medical 
bills, and so on.

Any such acts of love and service make life easier for the suffering person. 
And a meal is never just a meal; maid service is never merely a timesaver
for those served. These acts say to the sufferer, “I remember you”; “I think 
about you often”; “You are not forgotten”; “You are on my heart”; “I love
you.” The time we give to creative strategizing is the power behind such 
acts. It is unmistakable love that mimics the strategic planning of the 
triune
God’s rescue mission. He planned and acted even before we knew our real 
needs.

The oddity of our clumsy and sometimes hurtful attempts to help is this: we 
have clear ideas from what has helped us in our suffering, but we do not 
adopt
it when seeking to love others. We do not always speak to others in the way 
we would like to be spoken to.

Side by Side Book
Taken from
Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love,
by Edward T. Welch. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of 
Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187,
www.crossway.org.

Everyone needs help from time to time, especially in the midst of painful 
circumstances and difficult trials. In this short book, a highly respected 
biblical
counselor and successful author offers practical guidance for all 
Christians—pastors and laypeople alike—who want to develop their “helping 
skills” when
it comes to walking alongside hurting people. Written out of the conviction 
that friends are the best helpers, this accessible introduction to biblical
counseling will equip believers to share their burdens with one another 
through gentle words of wisdom and kind acts of love.
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Weekly or Weakly?

"I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give 
you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, – 
since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened – so that you may know 
what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious 
inheritance in the saints, and what is the incomparable greatness of his 
power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense 
strength." (Ephesians 1:17-19, NET)

I heard an announcer on a Christian radio station say that he had a 
spiritual grandmother who prayed for him weekly. After he said that I HAD 
SOME QUESTIONS. Did he mean that she prayed for him regularly or that she 
prayed without power?

We may pray regularly but are we praying with power? We may ask god to bless 
a person but is that powerful prayer? In the verses above Paul prays a 
powerful prayer for the believers in Ephesus. We could use this prayer as a 
model for our prayers if we don’t know what specifically to pray about a 
person or group.

Prayer: Lord, forgive us when we don’t pray regularly or when we don’t pray 
with power. Put those on our hearts that need our prayers at this time and 
those who need prayers on a regular basis. In the name of Jesus Christ, 
Amen.

Thought: Let us pray for those who need power from the Lord.

by Dean W. Masters

An Eerie, Unacceptable Silence
Nik Ripken / July 15, 2016
An Eerie, Unacceptable Silence

When I read the Gospels for the first time, the repetition confused me. Why 
revisit the same story four times? Yet it was in and through that repetition
that I fell deeply in love with Jesus. The Gospels invited me in, 
encouraging me to ask questions of God, to write myself into his story. They 
demanded
an honesty and openness, with God and myself, unlike any I had experienced.

I even questioned the Creator himself. How could he do it? What kind of 
Father lets his Son be tortured, humiliated, and crucified? Perhaps what 
troubled
me most was when the Son cried out to his Father, “My God, my God, why have 
you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). And what reply does the Son receive from
his Father God? Nothing.

The Acceptable Silence

Bible scholars sometimes explain this “silence from heaven” as the Father’s 
necessary reaction to the Son who had actually become sin (2 Corinthians 
5:21).
The spotless Lamb of God had become sin for those who betrayed and crucified 
him. He had become sin for you . . . for me.

This painful silence may also point to the Father’s unspeakable pain at the 
suffering of his Beloved. In either case, it is a silence I can understand
and accept.

There is a second kind of silence, however, that I cannot accept.

The Church the West Doesn’t Know

For more than two decades, my wife and I have embraced a pilgrimage that has 
brought us face to face with many of the most severely persecuted Christians
of our time. This phase of our ministry began in Somalia, on the east coast 
of central Africa, a nation that has been shredded by an ongoing civil war
that began in 1991. Watching the nation devour itself has been bad enough; 
witnessing the persecution of Somali followers of Jesus has been unbearable.

The statistics still shock me. When we arrived in Somalia in the 1990s, we 
learned of approximately 150 followers of Jesus from Muslim backgrounds. 
When
we were forced from that country some eight years later, only four believers 
were left alive.

Four.

My honesty with the God of the Bible haunted me. What does one do when all 
seems to be crucifixion, and nothing resembles resurrection? In the face of
a death rate among Somali believers higher than 97 percent, I could neither 
say nor pray among the Somali people that “he who is in you is greater than
he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

The questions in my heart demanded expression. Is Jesus still trustworthy? 
Is he still Lord for the really tough places of the world, the modern-day 
Roman
Empires defined by severe persecution? Or is Jesus limited to the 
dressed-up, building-oriented, literate, theologically intolerant, and 
denominationally
defined Western church?

My wife and I went on to spend many more years among believers in 
persecution, most of them gathered in house churches, behind the scenes, 
under the radar.
We visited more than 72 countries and sat at the feet of more than 600 
followers of Jesus who had lived — who do live — in settings of persecution, 
whether
from communism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or something else.

These modern-day giants of the Christian faith mentored us, taught us, and 
showed us the power of Jesus. They were men and women, young and old, 
literate
and non-literate, rural and urban. Their names are rarely known outside 
their immediate communities. They don’t blog or tweet or post on Facebook. 
But
they did teach my wife and me how to follow Jesus and make him known in 
environments of persecution. And because we begged them to, they showed us, 
not
merely how to survive in seasons of extreme suffering, but how to thrive.

At a time when our world had been defined far too long by crucifixion, they 
showed us resurrection.

In the former Soviet Union, we interviewed two deacons who had been 
imprisoned for three years in a Siberian labor camp. They told us that one 
day some
240 pastors were brought into the camp, men who had refused to deny their 
faith.

These pastors were given the truly impossible job of plowing the frozen 
tundra outside the camp, using only sticks and broken tools. Each evening, 
as punishment
for another day of inevitable failure, they were stripped to their underwear 
and doused with buckets of cold water. Within three months all had died of
various diseases, each remaining “faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10).

This is not ancient history. This story, and a hundred more like it, have 
happened within my lifetime. Some are happening right now. Today.

Persecution Is for Losers

Approximately seventy percent of Christians who are practicing their faith 
live in environments of persecution. In the West, most believers find it 
shocking
— even unbelievable — that followers of Jesus should face real persecution 
at all, anywhere. In stark contrast, more than 90% of Christians in the West
will never share the good news of Jesus with another person. Not. Even. 
Once.

Somehow the “gospel” we love has become so associated with health, wealth, 
and happiness that it leaves no room for persecution, at least, not for 
those
whom God truly loves. If we think about persecution at all, we think its 
absence from our own lives is a sign of our special standing with God. No 
wonder
we pray so little for our persecuted brothers and sisters. No wonder they 
hardly even cross our minds.

Rarely do sermons inform or inspire us about the suffering church. Seldom is 
a seminary course meant to prepare its students for suffering and 
persecution.
We pray more for our military than we do for the suffering church. Even 
though Jesus said that he was sending us out as “sheep in the midst of 
wolves”
(Matthew 10:16), most people in seminary or Bible school are trained for 
domestic ministry, staying as sheep among the sheep.

All the while, elsewhere on the planet, believing brothers and sisters, 
living daily in contexts of suffering and persecution, display the 
unquenchable
power of the resurrection. And as a result their children are taken from 
them. They are beaten. They are imprisoned. They are martyred.

This silence from the West is one I can neither understand nor accept.

Unacceptably Quiet

What does our silence do? It increases the suffering of believers in 
persecution. It breaks God’s heart. It demonstrates that we have forgotten 
our eternal
family members who live daily with persecution.

What it may mean is that we simply don’t care.

My wife expresses the heart of the matter when she explains, “There is no 
such thing as a persecuted church and a free church. There is only the 
church!
There is one church — one church that is at the same time free and 
persecuted.” Hebrews 13:3 beautifully captures our calling in light of this 
reality:
“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those 
who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” — or, as the NIV puts 
it,
“as if you yourselves were suffering.”

No nation and no form of government lasts forever. When persecution comes 
for us, will we be content to have others pray for us, carrying us, to the 
same
extent that we pray for and carry our suffering brothers and sisters today?

There are times to be silent. But this is not one of them.

This is a time to tell the truth, to remember, to recite the stories.

This is a time to speak of God, to share the gospel, to sing the promises of 
God.

This is a time to pray, to cry out to God on behalf of our brothers and 
sisters, to count on the Spirit to intercede for us — and for them — when 
our words
are not enough.

This is the time to be the church — one church, at the same time free and 
persecuted.

Indeed, there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity 
under heaven. Truly, there is a time to be silent and a time to speak.

This moment — the moment that belongs to us today — this is a time to speak.

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A Simple Formula for Effective Preaching
Jonathon Woodyard / July 15, 2016

It is an amazing thing that the God who spoke the world into existence has 
spoken to his people in a book. Think about that. The invisible God has 
revealed
himself through the writings of men who were moved along by the Spirit (2 
Peter 1:19–21). What grace! If you are not astonished by this, please do not
become a preacher.

A riveting conviction that the Bible is God’s direct, personal communication 
to his people is the fountainhead of effective preaching. Indeed, the man
who answers a call to preach undertakes a massive responsibility that should 
be laced with holy fear. It’s not something we should go into casually.

This Is Not a Game

I did some amateur boxing when I was in my twenties. The gym where I trained 
was on a university campus, and with each new school year a parade of fresh
young faces would come through the door eager to “give this sport a try.” 
Many of them had watched Mike Tyson or Roy Jones Jr. or replays of Muhammed 
Ali,
and thought boxing looked like fun.

Those of us who had been around a while especially enjoyed it when the 
bodybuilders swaggered in. I’m sure our motives weren’t very good, but we 
found
it amusing when they seemed to assume that their bulging arms, chiseled 
chests, and washboard abs would make them instantly fearsome in the ring.

They didn’t, and they weren’t. Some of them were simply impatient — 
unwilling to put in the time necessary to learn the basics. These were the 
guys who
just wanted to pull on some gloves, climb through the ropes, and begin to 
spar. And in my youthful arrogance, I was only too happy to oblige.

Typically, within about two minutes they began to realize that, without the 
proper training and skill, big muscles don’t mean much in boxing. It’s not
something you play at, whatever your physique. Boxing is serious stuff. If 
you don’t know what you’re doing, you can get hurt.

In much the same way, preaching is serious business, too. It isn’t a game. 
On the one hand, it really can help people. But preaching that isn’t 
informed
by biblical wisdom, faithful exegesis, and homiletical skill can cause 
massive damage. Get in the ring without grasping the basics, and the risks 
are high.
Before we walk to the pulpit and unleash big ideas or rhetorical flourishes, 
we have to learn how to do what we are called to do.

See, Then Savor, Then Speak

All that being true, preaching is not fundamentally complicated. Yes, there 
are numerous factors to consider when thinking through what to say and how
to say it, but I would like to suggest that all faithful, biblical preaching 
shares a single characteristic. It flows from the heart of a man who has 
seen
great things in the Bible, has savored what he has seen, and stands before 
God’s people to say what he saw. Faithful preaching can be much more than 
this,
but it shouldn’t be less.

If all great preaching flows from seeing great things in the Bible, then 
preparing to preach can often be a relatively simple process — 
intellectually
difficult, yet practically simple. If you want to preach well and safely — 
in a way that helps your hearers rather than harms them — you must read, 
pray,
study, and think over the Scriptures until they yield sight. You need to 
see, by the power of the Spirit, what God has said. And because this sight 
comes
through the Spirit, by God’s grace you will also savor what you see: when 
you truly see, your heart will sing.

So here it is in a single sentence: After you have gone to the Bible and it 
has yielded sweet and glorious truths, you must take time to think over how
to tell others what God has shown you, and how it applies to their lives. 
That, simply put, is the process of preparing to preach, and it all begins 
with
seeing.

Remember the Goal

Now, there are good and wise strategies that we should employ in order to 
see. There are ways we can help ourselves savor the eternally glorious 
truths
of the Bible. And there are good homiletical practices that inform how we 
can most effectively say from the pulpit what ought to be said.

But all our strategies and methods must serve the same goal: We want to see, 
savor, and say what God has said so that God’s people may themselves see,
savor, and be further transformed into the image of the beloved Son. All the 
exegetical and homiletical tools we utilize are simply means to facilitate
our seeing, savoring, and saying what God has revealed in his word, for the 
good of God’s people and the glory of his name.

Preaching is weighty. You will need to work hard in order to preach well. 
But before you get bogged down in the details, before you begin translating,
tracing arguments, and reading commentaries, make sure you are clear on the 
basic idea of your task. Preaching flows from the heart of a man who has 
seen
great truths in the Bible, has savored what he has seen, and cannot wait to 
share with others what he saw.

So, preacher, go to the word of God. Ask God to open your eyes to see great 
things in his word. Plead with him that what you see would set your heart 
aflame.
And then, for the joy of his people and the fame of the name that is above 
every name, stand and say what you saw.
Copyright © 2016 Desiring God, all rights reserved

Lie 

Ravi Zacharias in "A Slice of Infinity" shares how he was invited to participate in a discussion with six Russian generals (all of whom but one were atheists) at the Lenin Military Academy in Moscow.

Zacharias reported:"As the conversation unfolded from early unease through robust argumentation all the way to our warm conclusion, something incredible happened. One by one, each of these generals conceded that Russia was now in a pathetic state, not just economically but morally. As the men stood to bid us good-bye, the senior-ranking general grasped my hand and said, 'Dr. Zacharias, I believe what you have brought us is the truth. But it is so hard to change after seventy years of believing a lie.'"

Again I recall the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian-born Nobel Prize winner for literature(1970), who said, "Over half a century ago while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: 
'Men have forgotten God, that's why all this has happened.'"

How tragic when nations forget God and exchange the truth for a lie. ver and over again history records the results of those nations who forgot the one true God and believed a lie. 

And it's happening today in the world in which you and I live.
And that includes here in India also!

"Dear God, please help me to be a messenger of grace and truth in all that I am, do, and say—and help me to live it first so that others seeing Your love flowing through me will want Your truth and love for themselves. And please save our nation from believing any and all lies about You and the devastation that believing lies cause. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, Amen.


When Jesus Says ‘I Love You’
Greg Morse / July 16, 2016
When Jesus Says ‘I Love You’

Often, those who have injured us the most have been love’s greatest 
spokesmen.

The unfaithful husband sang, “My bride, my jewel, I love you!” — only to 
kiss her cheek and depart to his mistress’s bed. A seemingly faithful friend 
swore,
“Brother, I love you!” — only to leave the dagger in your back after his 
embrace. The co-dependent mother muttered, “It’s only because I love you my 
child!”
as she devoured him like a black widow.

So we may conclude that talk is cheap. The inflation of pretty words and 
Hallmark sentiments bankrupt the three little words that should be most 
precious:
I love you. In the midst of profuse pleasantries and sweet nothings, how can 
we — as a friend asked me the other day — trust these words when they come
from our Savior’s lips?

A Love from Greater Heights

The answer I wish I had ready for my friend is this: Jesus professes his 
love from greater heights. Your Romeo may have sung up to you in your tower 
only
to leave the next morning. Your father may have professed his love to you as 
he tucked you into bed, only to back down the driveway and never return. 
Your
companion may have strode side-by-side with you, laughing with what seemed 
to be love’s affection, only to travel on and leave you behind. But Jesus 
does
not proclaim his love from below your castle, beside your bed, or while 
walking alongside you. He declares it from above:

The Savior who loves you says so from above you,
From high on a hill and hung up on a tree.
The Savior who loves you cries so from above you,
His blood paints a picture of love you can see.

Jesus did not whisper he loves you over a candle-lit dinner. He did not tell 
you he loves you in a penthouse suite. He did not send a card and flowers
from heaven. He did not write you a poem in the clouds. He came down to be 
crucified. He says that he loves you as your sin hammers nails through his 
hands
and hangs him up on a cross. He did not simply say that he loved you, he 
died to display that he loved you in the most powerful way imaginable: “God 
shows
his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” 
(Romans 5:8).

So how can you know that Jesus really loves you? How can you really believe 
that his love will not leave like others who abandoned you? Look to the 
place
where God manifests his love for sinners. Each wound, each affliction, each 
nail flashes love’s lightning. Every thorn endured in his brow, every claw
withstood on his back, every tolerated mock to his misery thunders behind 
his words of love. He did not give us a red rose; he spilled his crimson 
blood
to prove his profession.

Where He Proved His Love

Don’t let experience steal your great Ruby. Do not let sinners, who vampired 
love of its blood, keep you from Jesus’s love evidenced by his blood. Jesus
is not your ex-boyfriend. He is not your absent mother or abusive father. He 
is not Judas Iscariot — who came as a friend but kissed as an enemy. Jesus
is not like them — nor is he like us. He received the betrayer’s kiss — our 
kiss — and embraced those cursed nails — our nails.

And he suffered more than nails. He was forsaken by his Father as he bore 
our sin. He cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken
me?” (Matthew 27:46). Mere men could not inflict this pain. Bring on a 
thousand bloody crosses before this. Bring on ten thousand thorny crowns and 
scourging
whips before this. Jesus, forsaken by the world, forsaken by his people, 
forsaken by his disciples, is now forsaken by his Father.

Now consider: Did he writhe in agony on a cross, lay down his life, drink 
your cup of judgment just to abandon you later like sinners have done in 
your
past? Did he cross the desert of wrath, slay the great dragon, and win his 
bride, with intentions to eventually divorce her?

Oh How He Loves

We dishonor him by looking at the cross and seeing an unfaithful human love. 
Others may have abandoned you; he did not. Others may have broken promises;
he does not. Others’ love expired or were broken in death; his will not.

Lost soul, return home to God’s love. Beloved saint, warm yourself by the 
flames of this love.

The Savior built an everlasting memorial of love in his death atop a hill. 
From these heights, he proved his trustworthiness. He exalted his word of 
love
by lifting up his mangled body. His word stands as far beyond questioning as 
his body now stands beyond the reach of Roman spears.

He is infinitely trustworthy — even with our love.

The Heart of the Gospel: The Righteousness from God that Depends on Faith
John Piper / July 16, 2016

Christ’s righteousness imputed to sinners through faith undergirds the whole 
of the Christian faith.

Copyright © 2016 Desiring God, all rights reserved

Energy for Today’s To-Dos

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works 
in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
(Philippians 2:12–13)

God is the decisive worker here. He wills and he works for his good 
pleasure. But believing this does not make Christians passive. It makes them 
hopeful
and energetic and courageous.

Each day there is a work to be done in our special ministry. Paul commands 
us to work at doing it. But he tells us how to do it in the power of future
grace: believe the promise that in this day God will be at work in you to 
will and work for his good pleasure.

It is God himself, graciously arriving each moment, that brings the future 
into the present. It is not the gratitude for past grace that Paul focuses 
on
when explaining how he “worked harder than any of them.” It is fresh grace 
for every new conquest in his missionary labor.

The power of future grace is the power of the living Christ — always there 
to work for us at every future moment that we enter. So when Paul describes
the effect of the grace of God that was with him, he says, “I will not 
venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me 
to bring
the Gentiles to obedience — by word and deed” (
Romans 15:18).

Therefore since he would not dare to speak of anything but what Christ 
accomplished through his ministry, and yet he did, in fact, speak of what 
grace
accomplished through his ministry (
1 Corinthians 15:10),
this must mean that the power of grace is the power of Christ.

Which means that the power we need for tomorrow’s ministry is the future 
grace of the omnipotent Christ, who will always be there for us — ready to 
will
and ready to work for his good pleasure
Copyright Information
This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper's 
ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; 
all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
"
One Thing Needed? Yes, One Thing!"
July 18, 2016
But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled 
about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good 
portion,
which will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42
What's going on in your life today? Do you have pressing matters this 
morning -- so important that they are dominating your thoughts, your 
actions, your
preparations? What if I told you that they are not as important as you 
think? You'd probably say I am crazy. But hear me out. It's not that what 
you are
doing is unimportant; it's just that it is not the most important thing you 
need to think about today. There is one thing in life that makes all of our
lives worth living. If you know that one thing, you actually have the power, 
the perspective, and the purposeful perseverance to deal with -- even attack
-- whatever it is you face today with gusto. If you don't know the one 
thing, even today's successes will become nothing in the end.

Today, Jesus says that one thing is knowing, trusting and following Him in 
all things: the number-one priority.

Let me illustrate. In my position as the Speaker of The Lutheran Hour, I 
travel a lot and I speak to people all around the country. I do love meeting 
God's
people from coast to coast, even around the world. But, I must admit, that 
there are times when I get weary of the travel, weary of waking up in 
another
hotel room, or even eating at another restaurant. So, there's one thing 
(besides doing my devotions and prayers) that I try to do when I'm traveling 
that
helps me stay focused and alert and refreshed.

Do you know what it is? Yes, you guessed it: call home, talk with Yvette, my 
wife. Just hearing her voice and sharing my day, or listening about her day,
it snaps me back. We laugh, sometimes we cry, but in all things we encourage 
one another. And when my daughter was home, Yvette would pass her the phone
and then I'd hear the words, "I love you, Daddy!" Wow! What else do you need 
to get ready for the next day, right? That phone call -- calling home on a
regular basis -- made all the difference.

Well, Jesus is telling us there's something even more precious than that. 
There are times when even a phone call home won't be enough. That's why He 
tells
Martha, He tells Mary, He tells you and me that He is the key to all that 
you are and do. Period.

Priority one, call upon Him!

So, as you go about your tasks this week, take time to call on Him, in Bible 
reading, in prayer. Also, think about the ways that knowing Jesus Christ by
faith, knowing Him through His Word, think how that might impact everything 
you are, say and do. For when you begin to realize that the one thing needed
is the one thing you have: a relationship with the God who created you, who 
redeemed you, and who loves you. It makes life worth living no matter the 
challenges,
people worth loving no matter the struggles, work worth doing no matter the 
obstacles, and even leisure worth taking because God is in control of all 
things.

It's not that what Martha was doing was unimportant. No, it was that what 
she was doing was clouding her ability to see what God was doing for her in 
Jesus
Christ and preventing her from seeing the joy of life in the midst of it 
all. That's what only Jesus can provide, and that's what He stands ready to 
give
to you -- no matter what you face today.

THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, give us clarity of thinking to see that the things 
of this life, no matter how valuable they might seem, they are nothing 
compared
to knowing and believing in You by grace through faith. Amen!

In Christ,
Seltz signature
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of
The Lutheran Hour
Lutheran Hour Ministries
Today's Bible in a Year Readings: 2 Kings 19-21; Galatians 5

4110 cdd Circumstances of Hope
Monday July 18, 2016
Volume 17 Number 143

Today's Author: Pastor Bill
Scripture: Colossians 1:27
"God decided to let his people know this rich and glorious secret which he 
has for all people. This secret is Christ himself, who is in you. He is our
only hope for glory" NLT (Bible Paraphrase)

When you've cried so long and your heart is in pain ---
Jesus brings hope and has counted your tears.

If you feel that your life is on hold and time has passed you by ---
Jesus brings hope and is waiting with you.

When you are tired and discouraged from unsuccessful efforts ---
Jesus brings hope and knows how hard you have tried.

When nothing makes sense and you are confused or frustrated --- 
Jesus brings hope and has the answer.

When you think you've tried everything and don't know where to turn --- 
Jesus brings hope and has a solution.

When you're lonely and your friends are too busy even for a phone call ---
Jesus brings hope and is by your side.

If suddenly your outlook is brighter and you find traces of hope ---
Jesus is whispering favor to you.

When things are going well and you have much to be thankful for ---
Jesus is smiling on you.

When you have energy and purpose to fulfill and a dream to follow ---
Jesus is blessing you.

When something joyful happens and you are filled with awe and 
expectation --- 
Jesus is opening your eyes and calling you by name.

Remember that wherever you are or whatever you are facing ---
Jesus knows, Jesus cares, Jesus repairs, Jesus loves you beyond measure and 
Jesus is Hope.

Romans 15:13 "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in 
believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" NKJV

Prayer: Father thank you for your more than 3,000 promises in the Bible 
which give me unlimited HOPE and expectations. In the name of the Lord Jesus 
Christ.
Amen!

Pastor Bill Team Prayer
Father please bring 1............. 2............. 3.............. into your 
kingdom.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Copyright (c) 2016
Pastor Bill Christian Cyber Ministries
All Rights Reserved


Love among men is awakened by something in the beloved. But the love of God 
is free, spontaneous, unevoked, uncaused. God loves men because he has 
chosen
to love them. --J. I. Packer

Believe it or not, there is a controversy going on that is even older than 
whether we should sing more hymns or more choruses in church. It’s the 
“nature
vs. nurture” debate. There’s a lot of discussion in our culture about why 
people do the things they do, especially bad things. (For some reason, they 
don’t
seem to be too concerned when humans actually do good things.)

Some say it’s the way we were nurtured: parents, people, and environment 
determine how we turn out. Others say it’s our nature: our genetic, 
physical,
mental makeup determines whether we will be naughty or nice this Christmas 
season. Trust me, it’s one of the oldest debates on the planet and if you 
dwell
on it too long, your head is bound to explode.

I say, “Time out! Let it go! What difference does it make if it’s nature or 
nurture? Once we become
Christians
and are placed in Christ, we get that new heart--the new nature. But that 
new nature needs to be nurtured as well. Amazingly, we now live in the 
family
of the the best nurturer in the universe.

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it--we’re 
called children of God! That’s who we really are!
--1 John 3:1
(The Message)

So get this: He’s given you a new nature, and now, as His kid, He’s going to 
perfectly nurture you so that you can walk in His righteousness. You have
the heart. You have the Father. What’s left to debate?

My awesome, perfect Father, I receive the love that You are extending to me! 
Thanks for my new nature in Christ. I entrust it to You now. I give You full
access and full permission to nurture me as no human could ever do. Amen.

 Pete, Jill & Stuart Briscoe
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6 Ways Jesus Fought Depression

And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be 
sorrowful and troubled.
(Matthew 26:37)

There were several tactics in Jesus’ strategic battle against despondency.

1. He chose some close friends to be with him. “Taking with him Peter and 
the two sons of Zebedee” (
Matthew 26:37).
2. He opened his soul to them. He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, 
even to death” (v. 38).
3. He asked for their intercession and partnership in the battle. “Remain 
here, and watch with me” (v. 38).
4. He poured out his heart to his Father in prayer. “My Father, if it be 
possible, let this cup pass from me” (
v. 39).
5. He rested his soul in the sovereign wisdom of God. “Nevertheless, not as 
I will, but as you will” (v. 39).
6. He fixed his eye on the glorious future grace that awaited him on the 
other side of the cross. “For the joy that was set before him [he] endured 
the
cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of 
God” (Hebrews 12:2).

When something drops into your life that seems to threaten your future, 
remember this: The first shock waves of the bomb are not sin. The real 
danger is
yielding to them. Giving in. Putting up no spiritual fight. And the root of 
that surrender is unbelief — a failure to fight for faith in future grace.
A failure to cherish all that God promises to be for us in Jesus.

Jesus shows us another way. Not painless, and not passive. Follow him. Find 
your trusted spiritual friends. Open your soul to them. Ask them to watch 
with
you and pray. Pour out your soul to the Father. Rest in the sovereign wisdom 
of God. And fix your eyes on the joy set before you in the precious and 
magnificent promises of God.
Copyright Information
This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper's 
ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.
 
The Worst Way to Share the Gospel
Liz Kanoy

THE worst way to share the gospel is to share it without love. Have you ever 
said something rude to someone else "for the sake of the gospel?” Maybe you
tried to have meaningful conversations with this person to no avail, so one 
day you snapped and told them they were going to hell or maybe that they 
were
an evil sinner. While that’s the truth for every non-believer ... maybe 
there’s a better way to approach it. Joshua Rogers, a writer for
Boundless.org
and an attorney, has written an article titled
How to Rudely Proclaim the Gospel.

When Rogers was 21 years old, he worked at a medical clinic with other 
college students. He had tried unsuccessfully to convert one of his fellow 
co-workers,
but he admits that he spent more time trying to proselytize Jeff than 
getting to know him. Rogers reveals,

“One day, in a burst of exasperation, I said, “Do you know what your problem 
is, Jeff?”
“What?”
“You’re evil,” I said.
To my surprise (really!), Jeff rolled his eyes, turned around and walked 
off. We never had another substantive conversation.”

It is true that as believers we carry an offensive message. Scripture points 
to the heart of every human and says you’re evil and spiritually 
dead--undeserving
of a Savior, but Scripture also says there is One who loves you as you are, 
a Savior who freely gave His life to redeem you.

Rogers points out that as Christians we often make the mistake of carrying 
our offensive message offensively--focusing on evil hearts and the need to 
repent
rather than the love of Christ who makes repentance possible.

Rogers advises,

“There’s a way to go about speaking the truth -- and it’s by doing so “in 
love” (Ephesians 4:15).
People who are speaking truth in love will do a lot of listening and won’t 
be easily irritated by people who simply don’t agree. As
James 1:19
says, “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get 
angry.” But more importantly, Christians who are speaking the truth in love 
will
actually love people, regardless of whether those people eventually give 
their lives to Jesus.”

Spreading the gospel is not a game to see how many tally marks you can get 
for converts; it’s about getting to know people at their core and showing 
them
that Jesus loves them right where they are. How do we know this? ...Because 
Jesus met us right where we were and He alone made us new.

Rogers concludes,

“Sometimes people inaccurately quote Saint Francis of Assisi to say, “Preach 
the Gospel at all times -- when necessary, use words.” This has taken on a
life of its own and is often used to justify Christian cowardice when it 
comes to evangelism. So forget that quote, and just remember what Scripture 
actually
tells us to do: In word and deed, preach the Gospel at all times, and do so 
in love.”

Yes preach the gospel with your actions and your life ... but also preach 
the gospel with your mouth whenever you get the opportunity, but let us 
remember
to speak truth with love. Let us remember the compassion Jesus had for 
sinners, the desire to meet them where they were and embrace them as dearly 
loved
friends, and the words He spoke out of love even unto death.

To read Joshua Rogers’ full article please visit
Boundless.org.

Sometimes we forget that God is the only one who can change hearts.
Crosswalk Contributor Erica Giesow
reminds us,

“God is the one that makes the big impact happen; our role is to follow Him 
and be faithful in the little.”

Our call is to spread the good news, to speak God’s truth out of love, and 
to lead by Christ’s example. Let’s practice this by really getting to know 
people,
and let’s make sure they know we genuinely care about them and love them 
when we share Truth.

Related article:
Stop Worrying about Making a Big Impact

Related video:
Christianity.com: Is street preaching a good way to evangelize in today's 
culture?-Shai Linne
from christianitydotcom2  on GodTube.
Publication date: July 11, 2016
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.

You Don’t Need a Plan. You Need ‘I Am.’
By Rick Warren

“When they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They 
cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke
to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid”
(Mark 6:49-50
NIV).

You only learn what Jesus is really like in the storms of life. You see that 
he’s not a mere man. He’s not just a nice teacher. He’s not simply an 
ethical
leader. He is God, the Creator of the universe.

In
Mark 6,
Jesus noticed the disciples were in distress in the middle of a lake as the 
wind and waves pounded their boat and kept them from making any progress. 
And so Jesus walked out to them on the water. Vers
es 49
and 50 say, “When they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a 
ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. 
Immediately
he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid’” (NIV).

The disciples had doubted and thought that Jesus was maybe just a nice 
prophet who could do some miracles. By
walking on water,
Jesus revealed that he’s far more than a man. He was showing that he’s God.

He also gave them a challenge (“Don’t be afraid”) and a reassurance. He 
said, “It is I.”

In the Greek this phrase is actually two words: Ego ima. And ego ima simply 
means “I Am.” Why is that important?

“I Am” is the name of God -- not “I was” or “I will be” or “I hope to be.” 
When Jesus says, “I Am,” he is saying you don’t need to be afraid. You don’t
need to sweat it. He is God. And that is enough.

If you’re going through a storm right now, you don’t need a job -- you need 
Jesus. You don’t need a plan; you need a person. You don’t need a system; 
you
need a Savior. You don’t need a new goal; you need God.

When you’re going through a storm, remember that God is not distant, 
apathetic, or uninvolved. He is “I Am.” And he will get you through the 
storm.

Playtoday’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick >>

Talk It Over

• What or who do you usually look to save you in a storm? What keeps you 
from looking to God?
• What is it that you need from God to get through your storm? Talk to him 
about it, and then watch for him to provide at just the right time.
• What have you learned about God through the storms of your life?

For more Daily Hope with Rick Warren, please visit
rickwarren.org
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e Your Enemies
Dena Johnson

~~“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your 
enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In 
that
way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he 
gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the 
just
and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is 
there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind 
only
to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do 
that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. 
Matthew
5:43-48

Sometimes following God just…sucks.

Have you ever felt that way? I have a group of people rising up against me, 
making my life very difficult right now. I want so badly to hold onto anger
and bitterness. I want to shout my innocence to the world. I want to unleash 
every ounce of pent up anger.

And yet I hear the gentle voice of God say, “Love. Love your enemies. Love 
them well. Do it my way.”

Sometimes I simply don’t want to do it His way.

When I started writing, I quickly learned that criticism went hand-in-hand 
with being in the public eye. Because I write so often on divorce, I 
frequently
have those who are holier than me who like to make sure I know I am a false 
teacher, purporting a doctrine that will destroy me and those to whom I 
write.
I frequently have to remind myself that these people are clinging to a human 
interpretation of scripture…which means a fallible interpretation. Truth be
told, none of us knows the exact interpretation this side of heaven. We 
simply have to take the
Bible,
study it carefully, seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and use the greater 
context of scripture to determine the interpretation.
And the greater context of scripture is that of a loving, gracious God who 
forgives every sin, who sets captives free, who came to give us abundant 
life.

Yes, God hates sin. He hates divorce. He also hates greed. He hates 
arrogance. He hates lust. He hates every sexual sin. He hates unforgiveness. 
He hates
gluttony. And He hates pride.

Why does He hate these things so much? Because they separate us from Him, a 
holy God who cannot look on sin. Because they cause so much devastation and
destruction to His children, and His Father heart breaks when we hurt 
because of our own stupidity.

But in His grace, He looks down and scoops us up into His arms and restores 
us. Gives us new life. Helps us see that His way is the best way. He takes
even our most horrible, miserable failures and uses them to mold us into His 
image. He takes our messes and gives us a ministry.

And I am so thankful for His grace.

But the enemies I fight today are not strangers who are accusing me of being 
a false teacher. They aren’t names lurking behind a computer screen, 
searching
the internet for people like me proclaiming a different interpretation of 
scripture.

They are people I know. People I love. People I gave so much of my life to.

People who now believe lies about me.

I’ve spent many hours crying over the bitter attacks, struggling to 
understand why they would turn against me. My heart breaks over the hatred, 
the venomous
attacks. I’m so tired and weary from the battle.

And I want to lash out.

I want to return evil for evil. I want to shout my innocence from the 
mountaintop. I want to fiercely defend my reputation, my good name.

Yet I look at the greater context of scripture to realize my responsibility 
is to love. To love those who seek to harm me. To love those who lash out at
me. To love those I’d rather hate right now.

I seek to look beyond the words and actions and see the reasons behhind 
their actions. Yes, I know they are fighting their own battles. I know they 
have
been told lies about me. I know they are hurting in their own right.
And I know that their words and actions flow from the anger and bitterness 
pent up inside their own hearts.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an 
evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What
you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45

I don’t want to have the ugliness and bitterness corrupt my heart. I don’t 
want my actions and words to flow from an ugly heart.

I want my life to be characterized by the grace of God, by His unconditional 
love. I want my life to be a testimony of the goodness of my Father who has
poured out His mercy upon me. I want my life to be an example of a life 
transformed by the God of the universe.

The God who sent His son to earth to die for my sins so I could receive His 
forgiveness.

The God who is faithful to me even when I am faithless.

The God who came and lived a perfect life for me to imitate.

The God who showed His love for me even while I was lost in my own sin.

As much as I sometimes want to handle situations such as these in my own 
way, ultimately I know His way is best. Therefore, I will strive to love my 
enemies
and pray for those who persecute me…even when I don’t want to.

Lord Jesus, my flesh wants nothing more than to lash out at those who hate 
me, those who want to destroy me. But I pray your blessings over them. I 
pray
today that you, LORD, will bless my enemies and protect them. May you, 
LORD, smile on them and be gracious to them. May you, LORD, show them your 
favor
and give them your peace. In Jesus name I pray, amen.


Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Setting People Free - #7698

John Parker had it made. After two attempts to escape being a slave to a 
Southern slave owner, he had finally gotten his freedom. He chose to live in 
Ripley,
Ohio, right on the freedom side of the Ohio River. He got a house and he got 
a good job as a factory worker. In fact, ultimately, he owned a foundry and
he invented many processes that were used widely in the foundry industry. He 
was safe, secure and successful. But night after night, John Parker risked
it all. Under cover of darkness, he rowed across the river to the Kentucky 
side-slave territory. If he was caught, he could lose his freedom. He could
even lose his life. But in spite of the risks, John Parker went looking for 
runaway slaves. And he found them and rowed them across the river to the 
freedom
side. It's actually believed that John Parker was responsible for at least 
900 slaves going free.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Setting 
People Free."

A liberated slave, taking great risks, because he can't leave other slaves 
where he once was - that is a hero. That's the kind of hero Jesus is looking
for right now among His followers. It's the kind of hero who, humanly 
speaking, is the only hope for some folks that you're close to ever having a 
chance
at heaven.

The Bible graphically describes the bondages we're all in until we're set 
free by Jesus and by His life-saving work on the cross. In John 8:34, He 
said
that "whoever commits sin is a slave to sin." It's true. We can't stop being 
selfish, being hurtful, thinking dirty, talking trash, being negative, 
prideful,
angry, or self-absorbed. We're addicted to our sin. The Bible also describes 
us as being "without hope and without God in the world." (Ephesians 2:12)
It also says that all our lives we have been "held in slavery to the fear of 
death." (Hebrews 2:15) We're nervous about death because we know God's on
the other side, and we're not ready to meet Him.

And ultimately, our family and friends and coworkers who haven't been to 
Jesus to have their sins forgiven, will in God's own words, "...be punished 
with
everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord." (2 
Thessalonians 1:9) Thank God, someone came to you with the liberating news 
of what
Jesus did on the cross for you, and you were set free by the Son of God! Now 
the question is, can you be content just to be free and forgiven yourself
and let the sin-slaves all around you stay where they are? Whose 
responsibility is it to take the risks to rescue them? You're the liberated 
slave that
Jesus has placed in their world. He's counting on you. They're counting on 
you and they don't even know it.

Which brings us to our Lord's orders in our word for today from the Word of 
God in Jude, verse 23; eight words that describe just why you are where you
are, with the people you see all the time. "Snatch others from the fire and 
save them." You were rescued. Now you need to be the rescuer.

If you'll evaluate the fears that keep you from "crossing the river" to 
bring them out, you'll notice those fears all have one thing in common. 
They're
all about "me." They might reject me, I might mess it up. But rescue is all 
about them. A rescuer is still afraid of what might happen to him if he goes
in for the rescue, but he's driven by a greater fear. What will happen if he 
doesn't go in for the rescue? Someone will die without a chance.

Jesus rescued you to be a rescuer. You are the liberated slave that He set 
free whose mission is to liberate others who are where you were. Jesus gave
everything to snatch you from the fire. If you leave others where you were, 
you'll explain to Jesus why you did. You are their chance!
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. · P.O. Box 400 · Harrison, Arkansas 72602 · 
USA


Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Trusting God for the Future
Saturday, July 16, 2016

“Then Elisha said, ‘Hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord: “Tomorrow 
about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two 
seahs
of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.”’”
2 Kings 7:1 NKJV

Many were filled with panic and worry. Fear spread throughout Israel. The 
army of Aram was besieging the land. Food was running out and there was a 
“great
famine.” Cornered by difficult conditions, the king blamed Elisha.

But Elisha was not afraid. In fact, He was confident in God. So confident 
that he declared specifically what would happen in the future. What he 
prophesied
didn’t seem likely. But he had heard from God, and knew that His Word was 
true, even giving advice to others based on this confidence.

This is the kind of confidence all of us need to have in God. We can find 
ourselves worrying about the economy, relationships, health, or events in 
the
world. But the Bible teaches us that God already knows the future. That, if 
we trust Him, we can have peace. That He is ready to take away our burdens,
meet our needs, and direct our steps.

This kind of confidence is available to all who know God intimately and 
trust Him. In the midst of any situation, He offers us His peace. His 
wisdom. And
His Word tells us that He knows that future, and that we can trust Him.

What issues are you facing? Do you find your heart and mind filled with fear 
and worry? Or are you totally trusting in God?

Commit your needs to Him, no matter how serious they might seem, or how 
helpless you might feel. Don’t be besieged with worry, doubt, or fear. Seek 
to
know Him more intimately. Read His Word with more intensity. Seek to be more 
sensitive to His Spirit. And trust Him, for today, and the future.

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, I believe that You are the Creator and that You know all things. I 
seek Your wisdom. Please give me Your guidance, direction, and peace. Thank
You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: 2 Kings 7
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5 Reasons to Hope in God This Election Season
Kevin Halloran

With important issues on the table and potential long-lasting implications 
of an election, it can be easy to get caught up in all of the hype, madness,
and passion that abounds during an election cycle.

There are several pitfalls Christians can fall into with their thinking in 
regards to politics:

• You can put your favorite candidate on a pedestal and give them 
“savior-like” status
• You can have a doomsday mentality if things don’t turn out the way you 
would like
• You may doubt God’s sovereignty if your candidate does not get elected
• You may develop a greater passion for a certain political cause than the 
passion you have for Jesus

Any of these mentalities forget important scriptural truths about the 
character of God.

The following five truths will help to avoid those pitfalls and renew our 
minds with the truth of God:

1. Compared to God, mankind is next to nothing.

Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the 
dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coast lands like fine dust.
Isaiah 40:15

Isaiah wrote
Isaiah 40
to exalt the greatness of God and give humans the proper perspective about 
both God and man. In light of God’s greatness, the nations of the earth are
a mere drop in a bucket.

God is so much greater and more powerful than man that even
the most powerful people
on the planet are still dust on the scales compared to his greatness. That 
includes the President, his cabinet, and all of the great rulers in the 
world’s
history.

This is a theme Isaiah touched on throughout the book of Isaiah: “Stop 
trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is 
he?”
Isaiah 2:22

2. God rules over earthly kingdoms.

The story of the humiliation and restoration of King Nebuchadnezzar in
Daniel 4:28-37
documents this perfectly. The king basically said about his kingdom, “look 
at what my hands have done!” taking the glory for himself and failing to 
give
God the glory he deserves.

God then humbled him, saying he would be driven from his kingdom of Babylon 
and his dwelling place would be with the beasts of the field, “...until you
know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he 
will.”
Daniel 4:32

Even if the “wrong candidate” gets elected, it is encouraging to remember 
that nobody is outside of the mighty rule of God because he has total 
control
of the situation.

3. God ordains those who are elected to office.

He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings.
Daniel 2:21

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no 
authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Romans 13:1

Nothing slips past God. He has total control of every situation and works 
everything out the way he desires.

The world of politics is no different. God has total control of each leader 
who is elected and has total control over every day they are in office.

God is more than capable of turning a bad situation into something that 
glorifies him, and he is for the ultimate good of his people.

4. God is our only Savior and deliverer.

No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine. Psalm 33:16-19

Politicians can write bills and laws, give speeches, render judgments, and 
lead a nation. One thing they never will be able to do is save us from our 
sins.
Only by
the blood of Jesus Christ
can we receive forgiveness of sins and the salvation we need to escape God’s 
judgment and begin to live the new life that God created us for.

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under 
heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
Acts 4:12

5. The reign of earthly leaders is temporary, but Jesus’ reign is forever.

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord 
God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over
the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.
Luke 1:32-33

No matter how you slice it, forever is a long time. Even if an earthy ruler 
ruled an entire lifetime, that still would not compare to forever. It would
be like a grain of sand in the Sahara desert or a bucket of water in the 
ocean.

This is especially encouraging to us because we know that for all of 
eternity Jesus will be reigning. Jesus’ rule will bring perfect justice and 
perfect
peace. This is a truth we can cling to when our current situation is far 
from what we desire!

A
Prayer
for Election Season

Sovereign Lord, we pray that we can echo the words of the humbled 
Nebuchadnezzar:

Your dominion is an everlasting dominion, and your kingdom endures from 
generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as 
nothing,
you do according to your will among the host of heaven and among the 
inhabitants of the earth.

Lord, help us have the proper perspective on politics and the proper hope in 
you. Help us care more about loving you and loving others than we do any 
political
cause, and help us have a deeper desire to share you with others. -adapted 
from
Daniel 4:34-35

This article was originally published on
UnlockingTheBible.org.
Used with permission.

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; 
all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
"
Mercied Lives in a Fairness World"
July 11, 2016
(Jesus said) "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man 
who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied to Jesus,
"The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." Luke 
10:36-37
At many high school and even college graduations last month, there was a 
famous list about practical life rules that "you didn't learn in school." 
It's
often attributed to Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, but the rules weren't 
written by him. They were actually written by California educator, Charles 
Sykes.
Do you remember his number-one rule about life -- one you didn't get in 
school, but really needed to learn to live? Are you ready?

The number-one rule is life is not fair, so get used to it.

Ironically, Sykes learned that lesson personally when everyone from Ann 
Landers to Paul Harvey wrongly attributed his list to Bill Gates. He 
lamented,
"I don't get upset because, hey, life isn't fair, so I'm used to it."

He also pointed out that the average teenager uses the phrase "It's not 
fair" 8.6 times a day. The kids got it from their baby-boomer parents who 
were
the most idealistic generation ever. It's not fair that some people are 
taller or faster or some can eat gallons of H agen Dazs without gaining a 
pound.
It's not fair that some high school dropout, coke-snorting Hollywood actor 
makes more money on one bad movie than all the high school teachers of a 
school
combined. It's not fair when bad things happen to me, but not to others. You 
know the list, right?

Fairness. We all seem to worry about fairness.

In fact, I think we live in a world more concerned about fairness among 
sinners rather than justice and mercy before a Holy God. We can so easily be 
concerned
with temporal fairness, even as we discard God's mercy and leave behind His 
righteousness.

As wise as Sykes number-one rule sounds, it's not the whole story. In fact, 
in reality, it misses the whole point. Here's the one truth about real life:
the Bible proclaims it clearly -- that Jesus Christ came into this unfair 
world not with a utopian message or a grin-and-bear-it perspective, He came 
to
bring grace, mercy and peace to people who don't deserve it, people who 
can't earn it, people who can't survive without it.

In fact, because of Jesus, God the Father doesn't treat you fairly at all; 
He treats you with undeserved kindness and mercy -- mercy that you can be 
sure
of no matter what is going on at the moment! Life isn't fair, but you can 
face it with the assurance of God's grace and mercy.

Period.

Like the Good Samaritan in the text who treated the beaten and left-for-dead 
young man with mercy:

* God doesn't treat you fairly according to your predicament, even if you 
have caused it;

* God doesn't treat you fairly according to His blessings as if He merely 
gives you what you deserve;

* and even when others do treat you unfairly, God promises to be with you 
and never let this world overcome you, and that's not fair either.

So face your life today with a gusto born of faith, knowing that Jesus is 
more than a good neighbor, He is your eternal, good Savior, and your life 
matters
to Him. Be bold with His gracious mercy and truth in this unfair world. Know 
this one thing in life: there's real mercy in this unfair world, and that
makes all the difference for those who put their faith in Jesus.

THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for being my resource of mercy and grace 
in an unfairness world. Give me strength to trust You in all things and live
graciously to others in Your Name. Amen!

In Christ   Seltz signature  Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of  The Lutheran Hour
Lutheran Hour Ministries
Today's Bible in a Year Readings: 2 Kings 13-14; James 5


Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; 
all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
"
Mercied Lives in a Fairness World"
July 11, 2016
(Jesus said) "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man 
who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied to Jesus,
"The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." Luke 
10:36-37
At many high school and even college graduations last month, there was a 
famous list about practical life rules that "you didn't learn in school." 
It's
often attributed to Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, but the rules weren't 
written by him. They were actually written by California educator, Charles 
Sykes.
Do you remember his number-one rule about life -- one you didn't get in 
school, but really needed to learn to live? Are you ready?

The number-one rule is life is not fair, so get used to it.

Ironically, Sykes learned that lesson personally when everyone from Ann 
Landers to Paul Harvey wrongly attributed his list to Bill Gates. He 
lamented,
"I don't get upset because, hey, life isn't fair, so I'm used to it."

He also pointed out that the average teenager uses the phrase "It's not 
fair" 8.6 times a day. The kids got it from their baby-boomer parents who 
were
the most idealistic generation ever. It's not fair that some people are 
taller or faster or some can eat gallons of H agen Dazs without gaining a 
pound.
It's not fair that some high school dropout, coke-snorting Hollywood actor 
makes more money on one bad movie than all the high school teachers of a 
school
combined. It's not fair when bad things happen to me, but not to others. You 
know the list, right?

Fairness. We all seem to worry about fairness.

In fact, I think we live in a world more concerned about fairness among 
sinners rather than justice and mercy before a Holy God. We can so easily be 
concerned
with temporal fairness, even as we discard God's mercy and leave behind His 
righteousness.

As wise as Sykes number-one rule sounds, it's not the whole story. In fact, 
in reality, it misses the whole point. Here's the one truth about real life:
the Bible proclaims it clearly -- that Jesus Christ came into this unfair 
world not with a utopian message or a grin-and-bear-it perspective, He came 
to
bring grace, mercy and peace to people who don't deserve it, people who 
can't earn it, people who can't survive without it.

In fact, because of Jesus, God the Father doesn't treat you fairly at all; 
He treats you with undeserved kindness and mercy -- mercy that you can be 
sure
of no matter what is going on at the moment! Life isn't fair, but you can 
face it with the assurance of God's grace and mercy.

Period.

Like the Good Samaritan in the text who treated the beaten and left-for-dead 
young man with mercy:

* God doesn't treat you fairly according to your predicament, even if you 
have caused it;

* God doesn't treat you fairly according to His blessings as if He merely 
gives you what you deserve;

* and even when others do treat you unfairly, God promises to be with you 
and never let this world overcome you, and that's not fair either.

So face your life today with a gusto born of faith, knowing that Jesus is 
more than a good neighbor, He is your eternal, good Savior, and your life 
matters
to Him. Be bold with His gracious mercy and truth in this unfair world. Know 
this one thing in life: there's real mercy in this unfair world, and that
makes all the difference for those who put their faith in Jesus.

THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for being my resource of mercy and grace 
in an unfairness world. Give me strength to trust You in all things and live
graciously to others in Your Name. Amen!

In Christ,Seltz signature
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
Lutheran Hour Ministries
Today's Bible in a Year Readings: 2 Kings 13-14; James 5


Faith Expels Guilt, Greed and Fear

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good 
conscience and a sincere faith.
(1 Timothy 1:5)

Faith in God’s grace expels from the heart the sinful powers that hinder 
love.

If we feel guilty, we tend to wallow in self-centered depression and 
self-pity, unable to see, let alone care, about anyone else’s need. Or we 
play the
hypocrite to cover our guilt, and so destroy all sincerity in relationships. 
Or we talk about other people’s faults to minimize the guilt of our own.

It’s the same with fear. If we feel fearful, we tend not to approach a 
stranger at church who might need a word of welcome and encouragement. Or we 
may
reject frontier missions for our lives, because it sounds too dangerous. Or 
we may waste money on excessive insurance, or get swallowed up in all manner
of little phobias that make us preoccupied with ourselves and blind us to 
the needs of others.

If we are greedy, we may spend money on luxuries — money that ought to go to 
the spread of the gospel. We don’t undertake anything risky, lest our 
precious
possessions and our financial future be jeopardized. We focus on things 
instead of people, or see people as resources for our material advantage.

Faith in future grace produces love by pushing guilt and fear and greed out 
of the heart.

It pushes out guilt because it holds fast to the hope that the death of 
Christ is sufficient to secure acquittal and righteousness now and forever (
Hebrews 10:14).

It pushes out fear because it banks on the promise, “Fear not, for I am with 
you. . . . I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with
my righteous right hand” (
Isaiah 41:10).

And it pushes out greed because it is confident that Christ is greater 
wealth than all the world can offer (
Matthew 13:44).

In every case the glory of Christ is magnified when we are more satisfied 
with his future grace than we are with the promises of sin.
Copyright Information

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

"Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must 
turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 
9:23, NLT)

On a small town radio station I heard the disc jockey dedicate a song to a 
woman who was going to have surgery the next day. Then I heard Willie Nelson 
start to sing “All of me? Why not take all of me?” After the song the disc 
jockey apologized profusely. He did not realize which song was to be played 
before he made the dedication.

Dedication is a day by day, minute by minute act. Jesus tells us to take up 
our cross daily. That is to say to Him, “All of me. Take all of me”.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for giving your life for us. Help us to dedicate 
our lives to you daily. Amen.

Thought: Let us dedicate our lives to Jesus each day.

by Dean W. Masters

Today's

Turning Point
Thursday, July 7

Willing to Wound

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are 
deceitful.
Proverbs 27:6

Recommended Reading
2 Timothy 3:1-5
The modern religions of tolerance and pop culture have created a dangerous 
crossroads: Almost anything is considered to be acceptable behavior. From 
dress
to language to moral boundaries, few people are willing to hold up a hand 
and say, “Wait! Are you sure that is a choice you should make? Have you 
considered
carefully the implications?” Those who advise restraint are considered old 
fashioned or intolerant. The danger is this: If we refuse to say “Stop!” we
run the risk of going along ourselves.

Listen to Today's Radio Broadcast
We need friends—and need to be a friend—like the one described in Proverbs 
27:6. We need to be a friend who will run the risk of wounding another for 
the
sake of their temporal and eternal well-being. We need to be a source of 
salt and light, illuminating the path of righteousness and preserving a 
friend’s
safety. Our biblically-based counsel may not be heeded or appreciated, but 
we would be wrong not to offer it.

Which would be better when Jesus Christ appears: to be loved by our friends 
because we approved their choices or to be commended by our Lord? If 
separating
ourselves from impurity is the only way to maintain our own purity, then so 
be it.

For the Christian, to do wrong, is to wound his Friend.
William Temple

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Proverbs 24 – 26
David Jeremiah's

Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah
Copyright © 2016 Turning Point for God. All rights reserved.
Turning Point, P. O. Box 3838, San Diego, CA 92163

No One is Beyond the Reach of Truth
LYSA TERKEURST

“‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away 
and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.’” Luke 8:39 (NIV)

Do you ever find it stressful to talk about Jesus with friends and family 
members?

I certainly do sometimes, but I think it’s important to think about. We’ve 
all got people in our lives who need us to break past our hesitations and 
share
the reality of Jesus.

I was profoundly reminded of this several years ago when I spoke at a 
Pregnancy Care Center dinner in Florida. At the end of the night, the center’s 
director
asked a board member to come forward and close the evening in prayer. I 
almost fell out of my chair when I saw this board member was a guy I’d known 
in
high school.

Well, let me clarify that. I knew who he was. He didn’t have a clue who I 
was.

He had been in the popular crowd — the star athlete who dated the beautiful 
girls. I was one of those girls in high school who was easy to miss. I felt
invisible back then. And judging by the blank look on his face when I made 
the connection we’d graduated the same year, my assessment was pretty 
accurate.

He apologized profusely for his wild behavior in high school and 
acknowledged that he could have been voted, “Least likely to grow up to be a 
pastor.”
I agreed. But then again, I wasn’t exactly on the fast track toward ministry 
in high school, either.

After we chatted for a few minutes, he got a very serious look on his face. 
Then he said something I won’t soon forget.

“You know what is really odd, Lysa? All those years of high school and 
college, I was a very visible person. I had lots of friends. Then I got a 
college
scholarship to play basketball at a major university and there were even 
more people who knew me. But no one — no family member, no peer, no 
girlfriend,
no teacher, no coach, no professor, no fan — no one — not one person ever 
told me about Jesus. All those years, all those people, and not one time did
someone try to tell me the truth. Finally when I was 21 years old, someone 
took that chance to share with me how they met Jesus, and it radically 
changed
my life.”

His statement startled me. And I hope it startles me the rest of my life.

No one is beyond the reach of truth.

Not the wispy, invisible girl who thinks of herself as nothing more than a 
little background noise. And not the star athlete revered by thousands.

Everyone deserves to hear about Jesus sooner rather than later.

And we must never assume that surely someone else would do a much better job 
than we would.

Who in your sphere of influence needs to hear a bit of your HIS‒story this 
week? Don’t let Satan whisper that this message is meant for other people. 
It’s
not. If you read this, it’s meant for you, sweet sister.

And don’t fret trying to figure out the perfect words to say. It’s as simple 
and beautiful as Jesus’ command to the man in Luke 8:39, “… tell how much
God has done for you.”

You don’t even have to worry about how to arrange the perfect situation to 
connect with that person who came to mind. Just tell Jesus you are willing.
He’s very capable of handling all the details.

Our job is obedience. God’s job is results.

Dear Lord, thank You for loving me before I even knew You. Give me Your eyes 
and Your heart to be able to see anyone who needs to know about You today.
And give me the right words and the necessary courage to share with my 
friends and family members. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Philippians 1:27a, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy 
of the gospel of Christ.” (NIV)

Romans 10:20, “And Isaiah boldly says, ‘I was found by those who did not 
seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.’” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Have you ever felt invisible like Lysa TerKeurst did in today’s devotion? 
God wants you to know you are seen and loved. And in Lysa’s newest book, 
Uninvited,
she’ll help you start believing that even when you’re overlooked by others, 
you are handpicked by God.
Pre-order your copy of Uninvited here today
and get limited-time resources you can’t get anywhere else!

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Who could you share your story with this week?

Pray. Seek God for the right words and the right opportunity. Take a step of 
faith. Trust that God will be glorified.

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
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"None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, and yet still we 
go forward. Because we trust." – Brida in Brida by Paulo Coelho

I joined my daughter Annika at her summer camp one evening, to listen to a 
talk titled “Whatever You Do, Don’t Marry a Christian.” As the speaker 
taught
how to find someone walking the “Trusting God” path, I was thinking, Yes! 
That’s the kind of guy I want Annika to marry!

Then the Holy Spirit whispered to me, I want you to fight for that for her.

Of course I will. I’ll fight for it!

I want you to pray for it, the Holy Spirit continued.

Sure I will. I’ll pray for it!

Up front, kneeling by those bales of hay, the Spirit clarified.

What? I didn’t want to go up front. It would be awkward, and some young 
staff member would place a hand on my back.

But I also know trust happens when I say yes to God. So I slid out of my 
row, tapped Annika on the shoulder, and told her, “Come on. God wants me to 
pray
for your future husband.”

“Daaad!!”

I knelt by the bales of hay, alone, and started counting to 40, pretending 
to pray. Halfway in, I felt the hand on my back. “No need,” I told the young
man in the STAFF T-shirt. “I’m not praying; I’m just counting to 40. Right 
now I’m at 22.”

“Then we have 18 seconds. Do you mind if I pray?”

I relented, and that young man prayed the most beautiful prayer over my 
daughter – praying for things I’d never considered. I felt the Holy Spirit 
whisper,
I wanted to show you how to do this.

When he’d finished, I felt Annika’s hand on my back, “Dad, what do we do 
now?”

Feeling empowered, I said, “This is where I pray for your marriage.” And 
then I plagiarized that guy’s prayer – every word. Annika was so impressed.

Some of the things God asks us to do will appear unnecessary.

By faith
Noah,
when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his 
family. - (Hebrews 11:7)

Unnecessary? Probably not. So let’s say yes because it pleases our Father as 
we trust Him. This makes all the discomfort worth it.

Lord, are You asking me to do something that doesn’t make sense? Today, my 
heart cries out, “Yes!” Show my feet how to walk into that circumstance of 
trusting
You. Amen.

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

There’s a Lady at the Gym Who Hates Me
LYSA TERKEURST

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

There’s a lady at my gym who hates me.

No, I’m serious. She sees me coming, and I can feel little poofs of disdain 
chugging out of her ears as her feet churn at 87 mph on the elliptical 
machine.
I honestly don’t know how she goes so fast. I once tried to keep up with 
her.

It was awful.

And I think that was the day her infuriation with me began.

Let me back up and confess my sins that started this whole thing.

The elliptical machines are very close together and completely awkward with 
their angular moving parts. Think if a New York high-rise and an elephant 
had
a baby … that would be these elliptical machines.

Now, conjure up a picture in your mind of the most athletic person you know. 
The one who doesn’t have a drop of fat on her entire body, not even at her
belly button, which should be illegal in my cellulite-ridden opinion. OK, do 
you have your person?

That’s her. She’s honestly stunningly beautiful.

Then picture a marshmallow dressed in a T-shirt and spandex pants. Her 
ponytail is rather tight, but not much else is. That’s me. Hello, world.

So, I had to sort of get in her space just a tad to mount my machine, and I 
think I threw off her rhythm. That was sin number one.

Then I decided to try to stay in sync with her because I wanted to teach all 
the folks at the gym that, though my legs and derrière might not look like
it, I’m in shape. That was sin number two.

And then there may have been a little issue with me taking a phone call 
while working out. In my defense this is not at all my common practice. But 
a friend
called who really needed me.

I tried to chat quietly, but when you feel like a lung might very well pop 
out of your mouth at any minute, it’s difficult to whisper-talk. Sin number
three.

Three strikes, and she deemed me out. Out of my mind. Out-of-line. 
Out-of-control.

She abandoned her elliptical and huffed over to the treadmill. And I think 
she’s hated me ever since. But then the other day, something occurred. 
Something
odd that stunned me.

She smiled at me.

It wasn’t an evil, I’m-about-to-whip-your-tail-on-the-gym-floor kind of 
smile. It was more like an, “Oh hey, I’ve seen you here before, right?” kind 
of
smile.

And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized her hating me has 
all been a perception thing on my part.

Which got me thinking about all the many times I assign thoughts to others 
that they never actually think. I hold them accountable to harsh judgments 
they
never make. And I own a rejection from them they never gave me.

I know not every rejection is like this. Some are completely certified and 
undeniable.

But we have to know there are also perceived rejections, like I had with my 
fellow gym-goer.

I don’t even think I was really on her radar.

But in my mind, I was absolutely in her crosshairs. And so goes the crazy 
inside our heads sometimes.

Thankfully, the Lord reminds us in our key verse that He is able to “quiet” 
our crazy thoughts with His love.

It makes me remember something I saw an author friend of mine do several 
years ago when she was signing a book. Her approach was simple. Before 
signing
her name she wrote, “Live loved.”

Not only an instruction, but a proclamation. One that arrests my soul and is 
so applicable to our discussion at hand.

Live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won’t find yourself 
begging others for scraps of love.

It’s not deciding in your mind, I deserve to be loved. Or manipulating your 
heart to feel loved.

It’s settling in your soul, I was created by a God who formed me because He 
so very much loved the very thought of me. When I was nothing, He saw 
something
and declared it good. Very good. And very loved.

This should be the genesis thought of every new day.

I am loved.

Not because of how terrific I am. God doesn’t base His affection on my 
wilted efforts.

No, God’s love isn’t based on me.

It’s simply placed on me.And it’s the place from which I should live … 
loved.

Dear Lord, I'm so grateful I don’t have to walk around all day trying to 
figure out who likes me and who doesn’t. I can simply rest in the truth that 
I
am completely and perfectly loved by You. Help me simply live loved today. 
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 John 3:1a, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we 
should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (NIV)
© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.


Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Our River or God’s River?
Wednesday, July 13, 2016

“‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to 
you, and you shall be clean.’
But Naaman became furious . . . ‘Are not . . . the rivers
of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?
Could I not wash in them and be clean?’
So he turned and went away in a rage.”
2 Kings 5:10-12 NKJV

As commander of the armies of Syria, Naaman knew how to lead troops. He 
expected obedience, and wanted others to do things his way. Facing a serious 
health
problem, he certainly displayed the same attitude. He had his own ideas, and 
his own expectations.

When he heard what Elisha proposed as a solution to his health concerns, 
Naaman was surprised and even angry. It seemed like a simple command: “Go 
and
wash in the Jordan seven times.” Elisha promised that if he obeyed, he would 
be healed.

But Naaman “became furious,” particularly because of the choice of rivers: 
He felt that the rivers of Damascus were better than those in Israel. He 
could
not understand why he needed to go to Israel. In fact, he wanted to choose 
the river. He wanted a river that was familiar to him and part of his 
tradition.

But eventually, Naaman obeyed. When he did, he was healed. And it was 
because he did things God’s way and washed in His river.

Like Naaman, we can want to choose the “rivers” for our own lives. We find 
it easier to follow our tradition or lifestyle, and do things that seem more
familiar.

But God wants us to learn to do things His way. This can be challenging. We 
may resist Him, and insist on doing things that make sense to us. But the 
real
key to blessing is when we obey Him, and trust Him. In fact, He pours out 
His blessings on those who obey Him unconditionally. Who walk by faith!

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, forgive me for wanting to do things my way. Help me to obey You in 
my life. I want to follow You. Thank You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: 2 Kings 5
© 2016 Inspiration Ministries, All rights reserved
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The Attractiveness of a Surrendered Life
by Sarah Phillips, Crosswalk.com Contributor

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell 
everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in 
heaven.
Then come, follow me."
Luke 18:22 NIV

"I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work 
through anyone." St. Francis of Assisi

Have you ever wished you could share your
faith
with friends or loved ones who do not know Christ? Or have you ever worried 
that our culture is slipping farther and farther away from God's truth, but
don't know how to turn it around? In past
devotionals,
several of us have quoted St. Francis of Assisi's approach to evangelism: 
"Preach the Gospel all times and when necessary, use words."

St. Francis' entire life was one of radical conversion that led to many 
giving their lives to Christ. Let's see what we can apply from his medieval 
story
to modern times.

Francis' story takes place in the early 1200's - an era when Christianity 
enjoyed prominence in Europe. But sadly, even with widespread power and 
acceptance
of the Church, many Christians did not lead lives in keeping with their 
faith. Francis was no exception. He came from a wealthy Italian family; his 
father
earned a comfortable life as a successful cloth merchant, and his mother was 
of noble birth. The handsome, witty Francis was spoiled rotten by his 
parents,
showing more interest in playing than in his academics or his father's 
career.

Francis' life of ease and play received a rude but life-changing 
interruption in 1201. After being captured in a small battle between rival 
cities, Francis
spent a year sick and alone. His time of weakness and contemplation made him 
realize how useless his life had been up to that point.

But transformation for Francis was slow. After he regained his health, 
Francis desired personal glory. He signed up for the military, even fancying 
one
day he'd be a great prince. But illness and a sense that God was calling him 
back to Assisi brought him home again.

It was around this time friends began to notice a lasting change in this 
attractive, party guy. Friends asked if he had a woman on his mind. He 
responded,
"I am about to take a wife of surpassing fairness." But this wife was not a 
mortal woman. Instead, Francis renounced his inheritance, gave what he had
to the poor, and wedded himself to "Lady Poverty" (much to his father's 
fury).

Not long after taking his vow of poverty, Francis heard Christ speak to him 
while he was praying in a small, shabby chapel. The voice said, "Francis, go
out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down." At first, Francis 
thought he needed to repair the actual building he was praying in. But soon
it became clear Francis' mission was really to restore genuine faith among 
the church - God's people.

So Francis began spending most of his time praying, serving the sick and 
preaching repentance throughout the region. He had no intentions of starting 
a
community of religious, but single men of diverse backgrounds became 
intrigued by Francis' humility and wholehearted devotion to the Gospel. And 
not long
after men began joining his mission, a privileged young woman named Clare 
left her riches behind, bringing women alongside Francis to restore genuine 
faith
among the people.

With so many joining in, Francis realized he was becoming the leader of a 
monastic movement. So, he sought to keep their focus on Christ by 
establishing
a rule of life on Scripture. In short, the mission of the Franciscan monks 
and Poor Clare nuns would be to "Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or 
silver
or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff" (Luke 
9:1-3). They imitated the early disciples by traveling in twos, owning few 
personal
possessions, and serving those in need while sharing the Gospel to all. 
Their spiritual legacy continues with Franciscan and Poor Clare communities 
in
regions all over the world today.

Some other little-known facts of how God worked through this influential 
Christian:

Did you know Francis once challenged a Muslim sultan to consider the truth 
of Christianity - and the sultan actually considered it?

Did you know Francis is credited with creating the first living Nativity 
scene at Christmas?

Did you know that, centuries before the Reformation, Francis taught and 
wrote about the faith in local dialects so commoners could understand?

Francis' story gives us encouragement today. After all, we too live in a 
culture where Christianity was the dominant religion for a long time but 
sadly,
it's now common for good people to lose sight of the faith. But God worked 
through a spoiled, wealthy young man to show the surrounding community that
even worldly comforts could not satisfy the deepest yearnings of their 
souls - and He can do the same today.

While most of us are not called to take vows of poverty, it was Francis' 
unwavering, single-minded devotion to the Gospel that most attracted others 
to
him. And this is something we can - and should - aspire to imitate. As we 
seek to surrender our lives to Christ more completely, God will work through
each one of us in unique ways to inspire others to join us on the faith 
journey.

Intersecting Faith & Life: Sometimes, the idea of giving everything to God 
is scary. I personally used to dislike reading stories like Francis of 
Assisi's
because I was afraid I'd have to leave my life behind and become a nun in a 
foreign country. But the truth is, God will never disappoint those who 
surrender
all to Him. Are you holding anything back from God? Ask God to give you the 
faith to surrender whatever fears, sins, or idols to Him.

Further Reading
Mark 8: 34


4103 cdd Rebounding
Thursday July 7, 2016
Volume 17 Number 136

Today's Author: Pastor Bill

Scripture: Isaiah 40:31
"But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount 
up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk
and not faint" NKJV

Batting slumps in baseball happen for no apparent reason. Truth be known, it 
is something batters fear most. Perhaps the worst batting slump in baseball
history happened in the career of Rogers Hornsby. He began his professional 
career at age 18 playing for St. Louis, Boston, New York and Chicago. He 
clearly
was one of the greatest right-handed batters ever. And yet he experienced a 
batting slump.

Hornsby led the National League in batting seven times. Three times his 
batting average was over .400. He was a tremendous player, but this time in 
his
career he went for weeks without so much as a single hit!

What causes such a slump? Managers and players would like to have the 
answer, but so far no one has been able to diagnose the cause or come up 
with a cure.

It happens in life, too. In Psalm 73:2b Asaph pens these words: "My feet had 
almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped" NKJV. He was in a slump. He
kept striking out, hitting fly balls to the outfield or grounding out to the 
infielders.

And it happens to you and me. Sometimes we are going along playing well, 
scoring profusely and winning regularly. Then all at once a dry spell comes 
and
we couldn't buy success or imagine a win. How do we deal with this?

Think about Elijah in the Old Testament. You may remember things were going 
great for him on Mount Carmel during his contest with the prophets of Baal.
Then Elijah went into a massive slump. He had just won the World Series of 
spiritual confrontations --- And he ran away in fear wanting to die. But he
rebounded.

Life fluctuates with ups and downs --- good days and bad days. Life is 
forever changing; things never remain the same. I like to say there is 
nothing constant
like change!

Elijah spent time with God renewing their relationship. He learned he was 
trying to do it all by himself. You remember there was the earthquake, wind 
and
fire, and then a still small voice that gave Elijah a new lease on life. His 
new life included getting up and moving out; "Elijah we still have a lot to
do!"

This same great God is available to you and me when we are in a major slump. 
He is waiting even now to speak to our hearts putting us back in the game
for His purposes. And this time relax and tell the Lord what is on Your 
mind. Knowing that there is still a lot to do for the Kingdom --- Jesus will 
cheerfully
swing the bat. Wait on Him!

Prayer: Father help me to keep my eyes on Jesus in the good times --- and 
the challenging times --- while I wait on Him. In the name of the Lord Jesus
Christ. Amen!

Pastor Bill Team Prayer
Father please bring 1............. 2............. 3.............. into your 
kingdom.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Copyright (c) 2016 Pastor Bill Christian Cyber Ministries  All Rights Reserved

Real Faith: What It Is—What It’s Not
BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord 
Jesus Christ.”
Romans 5:1

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
It’s faith that enables us to live the Christian life. In order to know what 
faith is, let me tell you what faith is not.
• Faith is not a hunch.
• Faith is not positive thinking.
• Faith is not responding to emotions, feelings, or icicles up and down your 
spine or miracles, signs and wonders.
• Faith is not believing that God can do something.
Faith is knowing that God will. Faith is taking God at His word. Real faith 
dies to doubt. It is deaf to discouragement. It is blind to impossibilities.
Now this is the kind of faith we need.

ACTION POINT:
What kind of faith do you have? Do you have the faith that is small as a 
mustard seed, but can move a mountain? Ask God for it today.
Discover Jesus
|Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
Copyright © 2016 Love Worth Finding Ministries, All rights reserved.
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"Extreme Neighborliness" #83-45
Sermon Text for July 10, 2016
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on July 10, 2016
By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
Copyright 2016 Lutheran Hour Ministries
Listen to The Lutheran Hour podcast online
Text: Luke 10:25-37

And Jesus said, "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man 
who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The
one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia.

Won't you be my neighbor? Since Sunday School days I've heard the parable in 
our reading from Luke, chapter 10. It's one that I really like-especially
Jesus' punch line at the end. It's the parable of the Good Samaritan. Do you 
like it, too? Let's listen to how it starts: On one occasion an expert in
the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to 
inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" [Jesus] replied. "How 
do you
read it?" He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and 
with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 
'Love
your neighbor as yourself.''" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. 
"Do this and you will live." But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked
Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:25-29 NIV)

Hmmm, that's an interesting reply: "Who is my neighbor?" Do you think that 
the expert in the law had a neighbor he didn't like? Do you have any 
hard-to-get-along-with
neighbor stories? I've had a few neighbors who bugged me over the years.

Neighbor issues abound. Countries fight with countries, people like us 
dislike people like them, politicians bicker, coworkers quarrel, and family 
members
squabble. We've got neighbor issues. Why? Because, like the expert in the 
law in Luke 10 who was trying to justify himself and prove that he was an 
all-around
very good guy, we are, in truth, fallen, flawed, and frail people. We have 
problems with each other. We are a mess. We are sinners. It's true whether 
we
admit it or not. We need help and repair. We need a Good Samaritan, don't 
we?

If you're tired of living in neighborly conflict, in discord with people in 
your life, pay close attention. You may not be able to solve the tension in
your life, but you have a Friend and a Savior Who cares and Who can. His 
name is Jesus. That's why He answered the expert in the law by telling a 
remarkable
story. As I mentioned, it is called the Parable of the Good Samaritan. This 
is what Jesus said in response, then, to the question from the expert in the
law, "Who is my neighbor?" A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, 
and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, 
leaving
him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he 
saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came
to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side (Luke 10:30-32).

You might think the priest and the Levite were being heartless for avoiding 
the man in trouble, but as people listened to this story back then, they may
have applauded those two church officials. You see, they may well have been 
doing the right thing according to the letter of the law. According to the
Law, an upright, religious person was made ceremonially unclean by touching 
a dead body. If the man was dead, this priest and Levite were supposed to 
stay
away according to their Law. Since the man could have been dead, many people 
during Jesus' time figured those religious leaders were right in what they
did.

You see Jesus' point, don't you? It is possible to be right, but be wrong at 
the same time. You can fulfill the law outwardly but violate the heart of
God. Bible verses may even back you up to a degree, but you may be missing 
the Bible's ultimate point, the grace and the love of God.
Let's bring it home a bit. You may very well have been totally right, 
absolutely innocent, and completely blameless when you tangled with your 
loved one,
but you may still need to humble yourself and compassionately apologize to 
your wife, to your kids, or to your parents, or to a person who is totally 
wrong
and may even be violating God's ways for the sake of a greater good, a 
greater love. That's a tough one, isn't it?

Jesus is digging deep here, friends. Extreme neighborliness, as I like to 
call it, has to be resourced in something more than the best efforts of 
sinful
people like us. Extreme neighborliness means taking some chances based on 
the love, the kindness, and even the humility that finds its source in this 
grace
of God in Christ for you. Such self-sacrifice, which risks looking wrong 
even when you are trying to do the right thing, often shouldering unjust 
blame
for a time in order to bring God's life-changing love into the equation; 
that's a gracious love that really changes things!

When you read the Bible, you can see that those are the exact charges that 
Jesus often faced when trying to do what people needed from God's point of 
view.

In fact, He was even crucified as a criminal! Jesus carried the sin of the 
world, was given the death penalty on earth, and received the complete wrath
of God as He hung on the cross. Why, in order to give the gift of 
forgiveness, God's forgiveness, to the world. Jesus looked completely wrong 
so He could
make your life and mine completely right by His grace. It was a risk. It was 
selfless. It was counterintuitive. It was the compassionate way of God in
Jesus.

Sometimes the world understands extreme neighborliness more than we do. 
That's what we hear as Jesus continued the parable of the Good Samaritan. 
Remember,
a man was robbed and beaten and was left for dead on the side of the road. 
Law-abiding religious officials steered themselves to the opposite side of 
the
road when they saw the bleeding heap of naked flesh on the other side. But 
something shocking happened next. Jesus said: "But a Samaritan..."

Let's put the brakes on right here. Jesus brought a Samaritan into the 
picture. The Jewish listeners must have nearly fainted. Samaritans then were 
despised
by Jews. They would rather kill a Samaritan than shake his hand. Jesus might 
as well have said a terrorist stopped by. The very mention was repulsive.
This was mind-boggling. Jesus continued: But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, 
came to where [the injured man] was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.
He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set 
him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And
the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 
"Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I 
return" (Luke
10:30-35).

A despised Samaritan, an unholy, messed up heretic, from their point of 
view, showed kindness. He was neighborly. He was probably helping an 
arch-enemy,
a Jew. But he let love prevail. Jesus then asked:"Which of these three, do 
you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the 
robbers?"(Luke
10:36) The expert in the law replied, "The one who showed him mercy." He 
probably couldn't even say the word "Samaritan," but he had to admit that 
the
Samaritan proved to be a neighbor. How did Jesus reply? Jesus said to the 
expert in the law, "You go, and you do likewise" (Luke 10:37). Jesus didn't 
only
teach him who his neighbor was; He taught him how to be a neighbor to 
someone else.

Extreme neighborliness. Do you know how to be a neighbor? Jesus, of course, 
was not merely talking about helping the people who live next door. He was
addressing the issue of extreme neighborliness for all. Really, this is 
where the Christian faith begins: with kindness and self-sacrifice.

In verse 33, the phrase "took pity on him" is a verb connected to Jesus over 
and over again in the Gospels. I love it in Greek: splangknizomai. You might
have heard the word before. It sounds like what it is: overflowing 
compassion; a compassion from deep within. It is a word that refers to a 
deep and sincere
outpouring of the heart for someone, manifested in gracious and generous 
action. It's a Jesus Word - a God Word. You can't do this on your own, no 
matter
how hard you try; but you can receive this mercy from God as a gift, by 
grace through faith, and you can share it with others.

You see, we could look at this parable in a different way and see how it can 
also teach us about Jesus. Although Jesus does tell us to "go and do 
likewise," take
a moment and picture Jesus as the Samaritan. Then imagine that you're the 
beat up guy on the side of the road, dying and injured because of your 
wounds,
your struggles, your sin, your imperfection. You're the undesirable heap, 
beat up and traumatized by this broken world and by your own failures.

And Jesus is the Samaritan, the most unlikely Savior from your point of 
view. He stopped for you. He came to heal your wounds. He picked you up and 
carried
you to safety. He paid the price for you when He gave His life for you on 
the cross.

Hear the extreme neighborly words from Titus, chapter 3 that describe what 
this Christmas-Good Friday-Easter Sunday Jesus is all about. He says, "When
the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because 
of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy...Poured out on us
generously through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:4-6 NIV).

That sounds like a Good Samaritan type of grace, doesn't it? Kindness 
through the cross, a washing and pouring out through baptism, generously; a 
new life
given by the grace of God. Jesus is the extreme Neighbor to you, to me, to 
all people. And by faith, through His Word, He lives in you. By His Spirit,
He teaches you and gives you everything you need. Mercied by the Good 
Samaritan, or even better, by the In-the-flesh Servant Messiah Jesus; "Go 
and do
likewise."

If you've received that kind of mercy in your life, then what might extreme 
neighborliness look like through your life today to others? How might the 
love
of God in Jesus Christ spill over through you to your family or to the 
person in the cubicle next to you or to the person who just cut you off in 
traffic?

Do you feel humility? Do you see how you don't have to be right about 
everything anymore? Do you see how you can say, "I'm sorry" and carry the 
load of
someone else's foul-up while you show them undeserved love? Do you 
understand that your job in life is not to criticize everyone; your calling 
in life
is to generously show compassion to people who may not deserve it at all. 
But when you do, that's when people will see how distinct and amazing Jesus 
is.

Jesus said, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you 
have love for one another" (John 13:35). This isn't mushy, milquetoast love.
It is strong, courageous, risk-taking, faith-filled confidence in the 
life-transforming work of God through the counterintuitive work of Jesus 
Christ.
It is extreme neighborliness that defeats hatred, prejudice, selfishness, 
grudges and infighting. It heals relationships and it mends souls. It builds
people up and it opens the door to the Good News of eternal life for them. 
It will change your life and point everyone to the miraculous compassion of
Jesus.

It's extreme neighborliness flowing from the cross of Christ as you take up 
your cross and follow Him. And it works, dear friend. It works.

Bernard Hare was a student living north of London in the early 1980s when 
his father sent him an urgent message: "Get home, son. Get home." His mother
was in the hospital and was not expected to survive the night. Bernard 
immediately rushed to the train station only to find out he missed the last 
train.
He spent all of his money to board a train to another town, but would miss 
the connection. He went anyway, wondering what he would do. As he sat 
despondent
and crying on the train, he contemplated hitch-hiking, stealing a car, or 
stealing some money to make it the rest of the way home.

That's when the conductor sat down next to him and said, "Are you okay?" 
Bernard brushed him off and told him to leave. The conductor persisted, "You 
look
awful. Is there anything I can do?" "Get lost," Bernard said. Bernard was a 
big guy and the conductor was smaller in stature, but he didn't give up. 
"Listen,
if there's a problem, I'm here to help," he said. "That's what I'm paid 
for." Finally, Bernard relented. He told him his story, "My mom, she's in 
the hospital,
dying. She won't survive the night. I'm going to miss the train connection 
in the next town and I don't know how I'll make it home. It's tonight or 
never.
I won't get another chance. I'd be grateful if you'd just leave me alone, 
okay?"

"I'm sorry to hear that, son," the conductor said. "I'll leave you alone, 
then. I hope you make it home in time." The conductor got up and he made his
way to the back of the train.

After about ten minutes, the conductor was back. Bernard was irritated, but 
the conductor said, "Listen, when we get to your stop, go to platform one as
quickly as possible to catch your train to your home town. It will be 
waiting for you." Bernard was confused. "What do you mean? Is it late or 
something?"
"No, it isn't late. I've just radioed ahead. They're going to hold the train 
for you. As soon as you get on, it goes. Everyone will be complaining about
how late it is. Let's not worry about that this time. You'll get home and 
that's the main thing. Good luck and God bless."

All Bernard could do through tears and surprise was to say, "Thank you. 
Thank you."
Bernard made it home that evening. He was at his mother's side when she died 
in the early morning hours. The conductor and his colleagues took all the
complaints that night for the sake of a boy in need. Bernard said later, "My 
meeting with the good conductor changed me from a selfish, potentially 
violent
hedonist into a decent human being, but it took time." Having been blessed 
so generously and so graciously, Bernard became a social worker to serve 
young
people in need.

When someone is an extreme neighbor to you, it's difficult not to share that 
love with the world. When God in Christ is that extreme Neighbor to you, 
forgiving
you, serving you, blessing you by grace, there's power to go and do 
likewise! Try me. Try me and see, in Jesus!
Amen.
Print this Sermon
Action in Ministry for July 10, 2016
Guest: Dr. Susan Mobley
ANNOUNCER: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour and this is the segment of 
our program called Action in Ministry. Pastor Seltz, the story of the Good
Samaritan is the story of the classic good neighbor.

SELTZ: That's the story of grace given without discrimination. It's a 
beautiful picture of Who Christ is for us, Mark. However, as we look back in 
history,
there was a time when the church kind of obscured this message of grace. A 
German monk named Martin Luther appeared on the scene and caused quite an 
uproar
because, once again, he brought to life this Gospel of grace alone through 
faith in Jesus.

ANNOUNCER: And we have a brand-new resource that we're excited to tell you 
about today. It's the second part of our series on Martin Luther: A Man 
Named
Martin. This segment is called The Moment and it's the story of Luther; his 
impact on history. But here specifically we're talking about events and 
things
that led up to the Reformation. In a sense, the back story of the 
Reformation. Joining us to talk about that is Dr. Susan Mobley of Concordia 
University,
Wisconsin. Dr. Mobley, thanks for joining us.

MOBLEY: Thanks for having me. I'm always happy to talk about the 
Reformation.

SELTZ: We're happy to have you here to do just that. Dr. Mobley, then, if we 
know Martin Luther at all, we probably are most familiar with his story of
how he posted the 95 Theses, the debating points, on the door of the Castle 
Church in Wittenberg. He wanted to discuss the selling of indulgences. But
how is this the tip of the iceberg of what led to the Reformation in the 
16th century?

MOBLEY: Well, if you go back and look at the history of the church, it 
changes all the time. So, in terms of indulgences, what Luther was really 
concerned
about was people's salvation because you can't buy forgiveness, you can't 
buy salvation. But what he was really worried is that's what people thought 
they
were doing. The question he really was answering is...it has to do with 
justification. How is an individual made right with God? And when he looked, 
he
realized that the church didn't have one definitive answer to that question. 
There were lots of answers but all of the prevailing answers emphasized 
man's
actions, not God's.

SELTZ: Monks in monasteries; there were a lot of them. How did that impact 
the church at the time?

MOBLEY: Well, for most of the Middle Ages the monastic ideal really 
prevailed as the ideal life. It was a sense, again, if you were focusing on 
human actions
and making one's self right with God, then you do that by removing yourself 
from temptations of the world and trying to live a good life. Most people 
knew
that they couldn't live that sort of life and so they depended upon the 
monks to live that for them and to pray on their behalf.

SELTZ: Okay.

ANNOUNCER: What role did Scripture play in the lives of the people at that 
point and what role did it play in helping to form their thoughts and 
opinions?

MOBLEY: That's a really hard question to answer. If you go to Europe and you 
walk through any cathedral, it's telling the stories of the Bible visually.

SELTZ: ...in the windows.

MOBLEY: The stories of the Bible are prevalent. They're everywhere; in the 
songs, in the literature of the Middle Ages; so I think the Scriptures were
important to people but they did not have the ability to read them for 
themselves.

ANNOUNCER: Directly.

MOBLEY: So most people couldn't read, and even if you could read, the Bible 
in its entirety is only available in Latin. The chances of being able to 
read
Latin...

SELTZ: They wouldn't be able to do that...yeah...

MOBLEY: ...is slim.

SELTZ: It was an oral culture, but in spite of all of that though, what I 
love about God's plan is how He uses even these deviations and human errors 
for
His good. Didn't all of this just set the scene for someone like a Martin 
Luther to bring the light of the Gospel again to the forefront?

MOBLEY: It's funny you say that because the movement, the cultural movement, 
preceding the Reformation was the Renaissance. Within that is something 
called
humanism which is not used today in the correct sense; but it did place an 
emphasis upon man as the pinnacle of God's creation. But it's the humanists
who gave Luther the tool to read the Scriptures in the original languages.

SELTZ: Absolutely. Many doctrines not compatible with Scripture have been 
adopted before Luther's time. The biggest loss was the understanding of the 
application
of grace. That takes us back to the Good Samaritan. We are broken. We're 
hurt. We're in need of a Savior. Christ came to save us not because of 
anything
we have done to deserve it and that was Luther's message. It wasn't focusing 
on what people had to do to make this reconciliation, but what God had done.
Dr. Mobley, the events that triggered the Reformation took place more than 
500 years ago; why is it important to remember this stuff today?

MOBLEY: Our era, if you look at it, is actually not really that different 
from the 16th century. We are not all that different. We are still broken 
and
sinful. We still live in a fallen world, but we have to be reminded that we 
can't fix it. So we don't have hope for this world; we have hope in this 
world
because of Christ.

SELTZ: There you go. I love it.

ANNOUNCER: We've been talking about part two of our series on Martin Luther 
and the events of the Reformation. The title is A Man Named Martin: The 
Moment.
Our conversation today really is just a glimpse, the tip of the iceberg, of 
what's available to you through this resource. You can watch it in its 
entirety
online. There are also discussion guides available. Dr. Susan Mobley, thanks 
again for joining us.

MOBLEY: Thanks for having me.

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

ANNOUNCER: You can view or download this content for free at our website. 
You'll also find more of our conversation with Dr. Susan Mobley. Go to 
lutheranhour.org
and click on Action in Ministry. That's lutheranhour.org. For information on 
ordering a DVD copy, call 1-855-john316. That's 1-855-564-6316. Our email
address is info@lhm.org.

LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for July 10, 2016
Topic: What does it mean to be a good neighbor in the church?

ANNOUNCER: Now Pastor Gregory Seltz responds to questions from listeners. 
I'm Mark Eischer. Today a listener says, "I hear a lot about being a good 
neighbor
to people in the community who are not followers of Jesus, but, let's face 
it, sometimes the biggest challenge is how to get along with our fellow 
believers.
What does it mean to be a good neighbor to people in the church?"

SELTZ: That can be a real struggle, Mark. Remember, inside and outside of 
the church, people are people. We are unique and varied-but we are all 
sinners
who are saved by grace alone. Even as followers of Jesus, whose sins are 
covered by Christ, it's not always easy to get along.

ANNOUNCER: We see the same thing happening even in the Bible. The Apostle 
Paul when he wrote his letters, a lot of times he was addressing conflicts 
within
the church.

SELTZ: He made it very clear, though, Paul did, that followers of Jesus do 
have a higher calling. Christians aren't supposed to conform to the ways of
the world. The church is the body of Christ; it's designed to show the world 
what a new creation in Jesus looks like.

ANNOUNCER: So, while disagreements and conflicts could arise even within the 
church, the followers of Jesus are called to address those difficulties in
such a way that it shows the world who Jesus is.

SELTZ: Think about what the Apostle Paul said to his good friends in 
Ephesus. He said, "I urge you, then, to walk in a manner worthy of the 
calling, coming
to faith in Jesus, to which you have been called, with all humility and 
gentleness, with patience, bearing one another in love, eager to maintain 
the unity
of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3).

ANNOUNCER: That's packed with answers for our listener. It's got humility, 
gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love. He also says we are
to be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit.

SELTZ: Right, and when Paul is talking about this, he wants us to know what 
walking in this worthy calling is all about. We're people justified by grace
through faith and it leads us to a proactive effort toward self-sacrificial 
love, humility, and peace with one another. In fact, the miracle of the 
church...you
can love your friends, but the miracle of the church is you come together 
with this group of people...and you start to love people you don't even like
all the time. We get to practice that first with our families, and then, of 
course, with our church families.

ANNOUNCER: Even though there times in the church where we face big issues. 
It involves debate and disagreement.

SELTZ: Yeah, again though, if we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, we can deal 
with these things. Ephesians, chapter 4, addresses the challenge. He invites
people to grow up into Jesus Who is the head of the church and in that way, 
"we may no longer be children..." he says, "carried about by every wind of
doctrine, human cunning, craftiness in deceitful schemes." And here it 
comes, I love this verse. "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to 
grow up
in every way into him who is the head, Jesus" (Ephesians 4:14-15).

ANNOUNCER: So, instead of falling into the trap of bickering, we are called 
to speak the truth in love.

SELTZ: Right. Christ's truth, in Christ's love...that's how the church is 
set apart from the ways of the world. If we conform to the ways of the world
and how they handle differences, we're acting in the flesh. But if we keep 
in step with the Spirit, the church is built up in His love.

ANNOUNCER: To be a good neighbor in the church is very challenging.

SELTZ: It is challenging, but we don't do this under our own power. Remember 
again, we're new creations in Christ. We live by the grace of God and do the
works He prepared in advance for us to do. When these Ephesian Christians 
felt a little overwhelmed by this, Paul let them know that it's God's love 
that
gives us the power to live this new way.

ANNOUNCER: Right. He tells them to be....<"i>Be imitators of God, as beloved 
children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us"
(Ephesians 5:1-2).

SELTZ: Yes, we simply love because God first loved us.

ANNOUNCER: Okay, how do you start doing that?

SELTZ: First, I would recommend reading the Gospel of John to see how much 
God really does love you and how He sent His Son to save you. Revel in that.
Be awed by that. And then I would recommend a humble and gentle approach to 
others, because that's how Jesus approaches you, especially the people you
disagree with or the people you might be annoyed by.

ANNOUNCER: And as we read the Bible, we find that it always recommends 
listening to people and seeking to understand them before you start talking.

SELTZ: That's a good idea too because when you're ready to dialog, I would 
recommend really be intent on continuing that relationship, doing it 
privately
with a spirit of love, constantly being aware of what they're saying and 
what their heart is saying to you. It would be good as a fellow believer, to 
pray
together and to seek unity, to not push your agenda, but to walk with each 
other and, of course, in all these things see what God's agenda might well 
be.

ANNOUNCER: Good advice for how to be a good neighbor not only within the 
community but to your neighbors within the church.

SELTZ: Absolutely.
ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Pastor Seltz. This has been a presentation of Lutheran 
Hour Ministries.
Music Selections for this program:

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

"Where Charity and Love Prevail" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 
Concordia Publishing House)

"O God of Mercy, God of Might" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia 
Publishing House)
Visit lutheranhour.org

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
By Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; 
all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
"
Fruit Pies"
July 7, 2016
To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give 
him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his
head." Romans 12:20
The five-year-old boy was at a fast-food restaurant with his mother, brother 
and sister.

I'm proud to say the family, just because they were surrounded by others, 
saw no need to change their custom of praying before their meal. The boy 
asked
if he could say the prayer. They bowed their heads, and he led them.

Loudly, he began with the common table prayer: "Come, Lord Jesus, be our 
Guest, and let these gifts to us be blest." Then, he added, "And, Lord, if 
mom
would add the gift of fruit pies for dessert, I would be even more thankful. 
God, this is Your friend, Danny, signing out for the entire family. Amen."

Many of the people at the other tables smiled, especially at that last part.

Most did, but not all.

At the next booth, with her back to the family, a lady whispered so all 
could hear, "No wonder this country has gone to the dogs. Kids today don't 
even
know how to say their prayers. As if God doesn't have other things to do 
than provide fruit pies. And since when do we 'sign out' at the end of a 
prayer."

She said other things, but you get the drift.

The boy who had prayed, with deep concern etched into his face, asked his 
mom, "Was that a bad prayer? I didn't know I shouldn't pray for fruit pies."

Mom said, "Danny, I'm sure God liked your prayer."

Her comforting was complimented by an older man who leaned across the aisle, 
smiled, and said to the boy, "I've been praying for a lot of years, and if
I know God like I think I do, He would rate that prayer as being one of the 
best He's heard. In fact, I think it's a shame more people don't ask Him for
fruit pies. You know, fruit pies can be good for our hearts and souls."

Unsurprisingly, mom did buy fruit pies for the entire family. She warned her 
children, "Take it slow. They're hot." During the mother-mandated cooling
time, the little boy picked up his fruit pie, knelt on the booth seat, 
turned around, and tapped the shoulder of the lady who had critiqued his 
prayer.

When she turned, the lad encouraged, "Here, I want you to have my fruit pie. 
Fruit pies sometimes can be good for our hearts and souls, you know."

And that, my friends, is as fine an example as I have ever seen of heaping 
burning coals upon someone's head.

You see, most people when they insult you expect an insult in return. But 
that's not what Christians do, is it? We (ought to) return kindheartedness 
for
abuse and gentleness for the world's harshness. We do that not because it 
drives them nuts or because we want to heap coals of fire or even because we
think in doing so we will show them we can rise above their pettiness.

We do it because that's what Jesus did for sinful humanity. We do it because 
He wants His followers to love others, even as He has loved and sacrificed
Himself for us.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, there is not a practicing Christian who has managed 
to escape the taunts and insults of the world. Grant that we may deal with 
this
kind of abuse in a way that brings honor and respect to the Savior. May we 
teach those who offend us that the forgiveness the Christ has won for us --
like fruit pies -- is good for our hearts and souls. In Jesus' Name we pray 
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 Readings: 2 Kings 1-3; James 1
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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 10 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 07 Aug 2016, 10:02 pm

"Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” 1 Samuel 18:1.

Making good friends in our constantly-moving society is getting harder. 

It’s not that we don’t want close relationships-
- but people come and go so fast it’s difficult to establish long-lasting friendships.

But it’s more than that. 

Some of us have been hurt and betrayed so often we keep others at arm’s length. 
Perhaps you had a close friend once who proved to have looser lips than you thought. 

Behind your back she spilled your secrets to others. 
You felt betrayed and rightly so. 
Now, you suffer from hurt, unforgiveness and distrust.

While it’s tempting to wish God would bring me a good friend, more often than not-
He asks me to be a good friend to someone else first. 

That’s when I need to go to Scripture for a reminder of what true friendship looks like.

God knows the agony of broken relationships and our need for godly role models. 
That’s why we’re allowed to look into the lives of two biblical characters who succeeded at a long, intimate friendship. 

Their names are David and Jonathan.
We find their story in 1 Samuel 18 and 19. 

Jonathan, son of King Saul, was David’s closest friend. 
The king despised David because he was growing in popularity and because God had anointed David to be king-instead of Saul’s own son. 

These facts enraged King Saul.
And he commanded his aids and Jonathan to assassinate David. 

Love!

But because of Jonathan’s love for his friend-
- he refused to betray David.

Love isn’t the only fruit of true friendship. 
It consists of sacrifice too.

Jonathan is a picture of sacrifice. 
He removed his robe and gave it to David, along with his armour, sword, bow and belt. 

Jonathan was the potential heir to his father’s throne- - but we see him sacrificing his future as he gives David his place as king. 

We learn from Jonathan’s action that true friendship means a willingness to sacrifice for each other. It’s the choice to put another’s needs, desires and wishes above our own.

Loyal​ty​!

Loyalty is also a mark of true friendship.

We’re told that Jonathan went to his father and spoke well of David. 
He reminded the king that David had done nothing wrong. 
In fact, David had been loyal to Saul.

It’s tough to do the right thing and stand up to authority. 

We learn by his actions that a true friend is a loyal defense before others, and one who won’t talk badly about you when you’re not around. 

True friends stick up for each other and are ready to defend when others attack.

Lasting!

Finally, true friends trust each enough to be themselves.

When Jonathan told David that his father was out to kill him, the two were forced to say goodbye. 
The text in 1 Samuel 20:41 tells us that they “wept together.” 

When your heart is broken, you can fall apart and a good friend understands. 

True friends weep together. 
They listen to fears. 
They don’t bail. 
They stay. 

They allow you to be yourself-
- no matter what “self” looks like.

God challenges me to be a better friend with the story of Jonathan and David. 

I check my heart to see if my friendship is loving, loyal, and lasting-
- then I ask God to help me be that kind of friend and bless me with the same.

A good friendship takes time. 

If things get rocky-
- don’t walk out. 
- but work it out. 

Give your relationship time to grow because a true friend is a rare, precious and a lasting gift.

​Blessed Friendship Day!​


Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, 'Here is a boy with five small 
barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?'" 
(John 6:8-9)
By Answers2Prayer

What Are So Few Bibles?

Yesterday, God answered a question that I had asked in a moment of 
discouragement over 42 years ago - and I was blessed beyond words!

A friend and I had taken Bibles with us into Russia, even though it involved 
considerable danger, because doing so was strictly prohibited at that time.
The Lord led us through several obstacles to a tiny church where we gave 
them to the overjoyed pastors.

I vividly recall watching in horror as they began to tear out page after 
page and place them in piles. On noticing my expression, they quickly 
explained
that these would be distributed to the members of their congregation, who 
would copy out each page and then pass them along for others to copy. In 
such
a way, the Word of God was spread among the believers who were so hungry for 
His Word.

As we left that church, teenagers crowded around me with tears streaming 
down their faces, crying words that would haunt me for many years. "Young 
people
never get Bibles; only old people." I remember the feeling of futility that 
engulfed me. What was the point of it all? It had taken a lot of planning 
and
a high degree of risk, and for what? What were so few Bibles among so many?

Yesterday, as I shared this story with a group of ladies in a seniors' 
residence, the Lord gave me my answer with reference to the miracle of 
feeding the
hungry crowd that had gathered in the wilderness to listen to Jesus. When 
the disciples suggested that they be sent away to get something to eat 
before
they fainted from hunger, Jesus replied, "You give them something to eat." 
(Luke 9:13 NIV)

John 6:8-9 "Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, 'Here is a boy with 
five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among 
so
many?'" (NIV)

Luke 9:16-17 "Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to 
heaven, gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to 
set before
the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up 
twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over." (NIV)

Suddenly a light went on. When the pages were torn from those few Bibles and 
their words were copied over and over again, their message was multiplied,
just as the loaves and fishes had been, and many thousands would eventually 
be fed. My part was in simply being obedient to His direction to take the 
Bibles
to the pastors in Russia (my five loaves and two fish).

As for my question, "What were so few Bibles among so many?" One day, I 
shall know, when I meet the untold number of recipients who were fed by 
these precious
words of the gospel. In the meantime, my heart can rejoice.

I'm sure that we all have days when we wonder exactly what effect all our 
efforts and dedication will have in glorifying God or extending His kingdom.
Such days can be discouraging, and when months or years go by, and we see no 
concrete results, we may even be tempted to give up. Next time this happens
to you, think back on this account. Hopefully you will see, as I did, when 
our all is in the Master's hands for Him to bless and break, miracles will 
happen.

Prayer: Father of understanding and compassion, we are so grateful that You 
know us inside out. Be with us when doubts and questions assail us. Lift our
failing spirits, and give us Your encouraging smile, so that we will keep on 
keeping on, until that day when we will hear Your loving words, "Well done,
good and faithful servant." Amen.

Sharon Greer
Sandycove Acres, Innisfil, Ontario, Canada

Announcement:

One of the ministries connected with Answers2Prayer provides
inspirational stories.
If you have written inspirational stories and would like to share them with 
others, please feel free to submit them to me. The writer of any story 
published
on our site will receive proper credit. Please
submit your story to us.
Thank you.

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

KenBible.com

New Post on KenBible.com - A Prayer for Many Occasions
----------------------------------------------------------

A Prayer for Many Occasions

Posted: 05 Jul 2016 09:55 PM PDT

Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever 
wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. (Mark 10:43-44, NASB)

God, what should I do with this free time?
I am Your servant.

I tend to get preoccupied with my own plans, Father.
Forgive me.
I am Your servant.

I’m feeling overwhelmed and confused, God,
but I look to You and rely on You.
I am Your servant.

I face a decision, and I don’t know which way to go.
Lead me, Lord.
I am Your servant.

Father, I feel for that person.
I sense their need, but
I don’t know how to help them.
Use me.
I am Your servant.

I am Yours, my Lord.
I am listening.
I am available.
I am Your servant.



The varied and rich profusion with which God had clothed His world!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

As we looked down on the pleasant scene, we were astonished at the varied 
and rich profusion with which God had clothed His world.

Nature, like Joseph, was dressed in a coat of many colors--gray, black and 
yellow lichens clad the rock.

The glossy ivy, like an ambitious child, had planted its foot on the crag, 
and, hanging on by a thousand arms, had climbed to its stormy summit.

Mosses, of hues surpassing all the colors of the loom, spread an elastic 
carpet around the gushing fountain.

The wild thyme lent a bed to the weary, and its perfume to the air.

Heaths opened their blushing bosoms to the bee.

The primrose, modesty shrinking from observation, looked out from its leafy 
shade.

At the foot of the weathered stone, the fern raised its plumes, and on its 
summit the foxglove rang his beautiful bells; while the birch bent to kiss 
the
stream, as it ran away laughing to hide itself in the lake below, or 
stretched out her arms to embrace the mountain ash and evergreen pine.

By a very slight exercise of imagination, in such a scene one could see 
Nature engaged in her adorations, and hear her singing, "The earth is full 
of the
glory of God! How manifold are Your works, O Lord God Almighty! In wisdom 
You have made them all."

Insects--as well as angels,
the flowers that spangle the meadow--as well as the stars that spangle the 
sky,
the lamp of the glowworm--as well as the light of the sun,
the lark that sings in the air--and the seraph that is singing in Heaven,
the thunders that rend the clouds--or the trumpet that shall rend the tomb
--these and all things else, reveal God's attributes and proclaim His 
praise!

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!" Psalm 150:6

~ ~ ~ ~

We have published Samuel Davies' insightful article: "
The Christian Feast".

~ ~ ~ ~

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

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)
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