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Post  Admin on Thu 07 Jul 2016, 6:59 pm

The Gift of Love

We now finish the series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit with the gift of 
love. All of the gifts we have studied so far can be faked. We are warned in 
the Scriptures about false prophets and teachers. We know of other gifts 
like tongues which someone can make up to be in the “in crowd”. Even some 
miracles or healings can be conjured up with the help of others. So if all 
these can be false, you cannot trust anyone who does these to be a true 
Christian. How, then, do you know who is a true believer? A true Christian 
will have the gift of love. As John wrote:

1 John 4:8 (NKJV)
8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

If you belong to Jesus Christ, you know God. This verse says that if you see 
someone who does not love, they do not know God.

We now come to the famous Scripture Paul wrote about this gift:

1 Corinthians 13 (ISV)

1If I speak in the tongues of humans and angels but have no love, I have 
become a reverberating gong or a clashing cymbal. 2If I have the gift of 
prophecy and can understand all secrets and every form of knowledge, and if 
I have absolute faith so as to move mountains but have no love, I am 
nothing. 3Even if I give away all that I have and surrender my body so that 
I may boast but have no love, I get nothing out of it.

4Love is always patient,
Love is always kind,
Love is never envious
Or vaunted up with pride.

Nor is she conceited,
5And never is she rude,
Never does she think of self
Or ever get annoyed.

She never is resentful,
6Is never glad with sin,
But always glad to side with truth,
Whene’er the truth should win.

7She bears up under everything,
Believes the best in all,
There is no limit to her hope,
And never will she fall.

8Love never fails. Now if there are prophecies, they will be done away with. 
If there are tongues, they will cease. If there is knowledge, it will be 
done away with. 9For what we know is incomplete and what we prophesy is 
incomplete. 10But when what is complete comes, then what is incomplete will 
be done away with.
11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and 
reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways. 
12Now we see only a blurred reflection in a mirror, but then we will see 
face to face. Now what I know is incomplete, but then I will know fully, 
even as I have been fully known.
13Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of 
these is love.

In the first section of this Scripture Paul writes about things that people 
have done that look good and upright but they have not had love, meaning 
that they were not followers of Jesus Christ. They did these things for self 
or for duty without a relationship with Jesus.

The next section shows us how we can show others that we have the love of 
God inside us. These include patience, kindness and not being selfish.

The third section is about when the gifts of the Holy Spirit pass away. This 
is when the complete (or perfect) comes. I have heard quite a few say that 
this means that the gifts of the Spirit went away when Jesus Christ came to 
earth for the first time. How could this be? The gifts were not given to us 
until after He ascended back into heaven! This phrase could mean when Jesus 
comes back again. It also could mean that the gifts of the Spirit would be 
no more when we become complete or perfect. When does that happen? When we 
who belong to Jesus Christ die or when He raptures us from this earth. Then 
we will not need the gifts of the Spirit.

In the last section Paul writes about how the Christian life is similar to 
our earthly life. We start out as babies and grow. In the Christian life, we 
don’t stop growing until we get to heaven. Here on earth we can know some of 
Jesus Christ but when we get to heaven we will know Him fully just as He 
knows us now.

So as we walk on our Christian journey, we must show the love of God 
everywhere. We are to desire the spiritual gifts and obey when led to 
display them but as the chorus says, “They’ll know we are Christians buy our 
love”.

by Dean W. Masters


How to Take Radical Risks for God
Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of 
Caleb Bislow's upcoming book,
Dangerous: Engaging the People and Places No One Else Will
(Bethany House, 2013).

God is still powerfully active throughout our world today – even in the most 
dangerous places – redeeming people from the devastating effects of sin. But
too few people respond to God’s call to join Him in that work, because they’re 
afraid of taking the risks necessary to reach out in the midst of danger.

You can experience the thrill of God’s power working through you if you’re 
willing to take radical risks for Him. When God sees that you trust Him 
enough
to follow Him anywhere – even to dangerous places – He will use your life in 
amazing ways.

Here’s how you can take radical risks for God:

Tune into the Holy Spirit. Developing and nurturing a close relationship 
with the Holy Spirit is crucial to being able to take bold risks for God, 
since
it’s the Spirit who empowers you to do so. Incorporate prayer into your 
daily life, and spend at least as much time listening as you do talking. The 
more
you practice listening to the Holy Spirit, the better you’ll be able to 
recognize Him speaking to you. Every day, ask the Holy Spirit to give you 
fresh
doses of
faith
and courage to do the work God wants you to do.

Pay attention to impressions, burdens, and whispers. All three represent 
ways that God may choose to communicate with you. Impressions come in the 
form
of visual images that present pictures of something or someone God wants to 
bring to your mind. You may see impressions in a dream while sleeping, or in
a mental vision while praying. Burdens involve compassionate feelings about 
a particular group of people that motivate you to reach out to them. You 
experience
them as mental urges that call you to action. Whispers are messages from God 
in words that you hear like strong whispers within your mind, or sometimes
even audibly. Pay attention to all of these types of messages as you seek 
God’s guidance for specific ways He wants you to join Him in His work.

Never mark anyone as unreachable. Even the people whom you think would be 
least likely to respond to Jesus’ Gospel message may actually begin 
relationships
with Him if someone like you shares that Gospel message with them. Keep in 
mind that it’s always worthwhile to share the Gospel with anyone (even those
with the hardest hearts) because you serve a God who knows how to do the 
impossible.

Consider the cost and value of taking risks. Recognize that the process of 
taking risks to join God’s work in dangerous places will cost you 
investments
of time, energy, money, and emotions. Keep in mind, too, that your work won’t 
always lead to the results you’d expected or hoped to see. However, whenever
you’re doing what God has led you to do, your work is worthy of great 
sacrifice, because the hope that you bring to others is invaluable. Be 
confident
that your victories (big or small) will always outweigh your defeats when 
you work for God.

Reach out to the world’s unreached people. Ask God to show you how He may 
want you to help reach people who have haven’t yet heard the Gospel 
message –
from refugees living in your local community, to people living in areas of 
the world where the Gospel is rarely communicated.

Reach out to the world’s restricted people. Pray for the wisdom to discern 
how you may help bring spiritual hope to people living in nations where the
government restricts religious freedom and is hostile to those who try to 
share the Gospel message. One way to do this is by building relationships 
with
people through global business rather than formally working as a missionary.

Reach out to the world’s hunted people. Consider how God may be calling you 
to help people who are the victims of the world’s atrocities, such as 
warfare
or genocide. Get information about how people worldwide are currently 
suffering in this way and ask God to show you how He may want you to help 
some of
them, such as by supporting organizations that work with them.

Reach out to the world’s convicted people. Pray about how potential 
opportunities to help people whom society considers scandalous, such as 
prisoners.

Reach out to the world’s infected people. Ask God to show you ways you may 
help people who are afflicted with infectious diseases.

Reach out to the world’s marginalized people who are discriminated against. 
Consider what opportunities God may present for you to help people whom 
society
considers unimportant and therefore lack power in society and become victims 
of bigotry. People may be discriminated against for many reasons, such as
their physical appearance (people of minority races and disabled people), 
their gender (women), their age (senior citizens), or their economic status 
(poor
people).

Reach out to the world’s enslaved people. Pray for the wisdom to discern how 
you may help people who are enslaved worldwide, such as child laborers and
prostitutes in the sex trafficking industry.

Ask some key questions to discern the opportunities on which you should act. 
If you think that God may be urging you to take action in a specific way to
help a specific group of people, ask these questions before stepping out: 
“Have other spirit-led people confirmed what I feel called to do?”, “Is it 
biblical?
Can I find circumstances in the Bible
of people doing what I feel called to do?”, “Is this endeavor expanding God’s 
kingdom, or mine?”, “Will it ultimately bring God glory?”, and “Are 
circumstances
leading toward this actually happening?”

Go to where the people are rather than expecting them to come to you. Many 
of the people who are currently caught in dangerous sin won’t come to 
church,
but they will listen to you if you build friendships with them in places 
they frequent, such as bars. Don’t be afraid to go to the places that are 
hangouts
for the people God is leading you to reach. But cover yourself in prayer and 
take precautions to prevent falling into sin yourself when you’re in those
environments.

Give people love instead of judgment. When you’re reaching out to people who 
are living dangerous lifestyles of sin, push away judgmental thoughts and
let God’s love flow through you to them – that’s the only way you’ll be able 
to truly help them, since love is the force that will inspire people to turn
to God.

Adapted from
Dangerous: Engaging the People and Places No One Else Will,
copyright 2013 by Caleb Bislow. Published by Bethany House Publishers, a 
division of Baker Publishing Group, Bloomington, Mn.,
www.bethanyhouse.com.

Caleb Bislow jumped off the “cliff” of safety and security in 2005, and 
since then has been humbled to advance God’s kingdom on every inhabited 
continent
in the world. He is a sought-after speaker through Kingdom Building 
Ministries. Caleb and his wife, Jessica, and their three children, call 
Franklin, Nebraska
their home. Learn more at
www.unusualsoldiers.com.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for 
many years, is author of the new Christian novel
Dream Factory,
which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at:
whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: August 16, 2013
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Post  Admin on Wed 06 Jul 2016, 11:58 am

Freedom's Price Has Been Paid ... Serve It Forward"
July 4, 2016
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a 
harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do
good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of 
believers. Galatians 6:9-10
In the United States, on July Fourth, Americans celebrate Independence Day. 
One of the things that people need to be reminded of is that freedom isn't
free. In this world, someone always pays the price for people to be truly 
free. In reading for this devotion, I went back to the very signers of the 
Declaration
of Independence, all 56 of them.

Did you know how much they risked for your freedom?

If they won the war with the British, there would still be years of hardship 
as a struggling nation. If they lost, they would face a hangman's noose. And
yet there it is where it says, "We herewith pledge, our lives, our fortunes, 
and our sacred honor." They signed it, but did you know what price they paid
for those signatures?

In a broadcast on July 4, 1974, Paul Harvey reminded us

* that Carter Braxton, a wealthy planter and trader, after signing saw his 
ships swept from the seas to pay his debts. He lost his home and all of his
property. He died in rags;

* that Thomas McKean of Delaware was so harassed by the enemy that he was 
forced to move his family five times in five months. He served in Congress 
without
pay -- his family in poverty, and in hiding;

* that Thomas Nelson, Jr. of Virginia raised $2 million on his own signature 
for provision for our allies, the French fleet. After the War he personally
paid back the loans, wiping out his entire estate; he was never reimbursed 
by his government. He died bankrupt;

* that John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside while she was dying; his 
13 children fled in all directions for their lives. His fields and gristmill
were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves and 
returned home after the War to find his wife dead, his children gone, his 
properties
gone. He died a few weeks later of exhaustion and a broken heart.

Of the 56 signers of the Declaration, few were long to survive. Five were 
captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their 
homes
-- from Rhode Island to Charleston -- sacked and looted, occupied by the 
enemy, or burned. Two of them lost their sons in the Army; one had two sons 
captured.
Nine of the 56 died in the War from its hardships or merciful bullets. They 
had learned that liberty is so much more important than security, for that
they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. They 
fulfilled their pledge; they paid the price, and freedom was born.

It's hard to imagine paying such a price so that others might be free. But 
then, we're reminded of the price Jesus Christ paid for our freedom, not 
just
politically for the moment, but eternally for all time. In order to save us 
from our sins, God literally had come into our predicament, as the God-Man,
to live our life perfectly, to pay the debt for our sin personally, and to 
give us the eternal life He earned as a gift, received by grace alone, 
through
faith. When it comes to freedom, I pray that you yearn for the freedom that 
comes in Christ alone more than any of the other freedoms combined. You'll
be blessed if you do!

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the freedom that You earned for 
us, that You give by grace to us. Let us joyfully receive that freedom by 
faith
and share it with anyone who will receive it! Amen!

In Christ,
Seltz signature
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of
The Lutheran Hour
Lutheran Hour Ministries
Today's Bible in a Year Readings: 1 Kings 16-18; Acts 13:1-25

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Why You're Spiritually Dry - #7664

It was a fogged in morning at the country house we were using for our 
vacation. The valley below us and the mountains beyond us were nowhere to be 
seen.
In fact, you couldn't see much beyond the front porch. But by about 10:00 A. 
M., the sun started doing its thing. I was sitting there literally watching
the mist being sucked upward and up and away by the heat of the sun.

I called my wife's attention to the vanishing moisture, and she made an 
interesting observation. Recalling my own experience with vanishing 
moisture, she
said, "That's what happened to you when you got dehydrated." Now, watching 
the moisture being sucked away and thinking about when I got dehydrated - it
made me want to have a bottle of water with me at all times! I've got one 
right next to me right now.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why 
You're Spiritually Dry."

When our Native American Outreach Team spent a month on reservations in the 
Southwest, you can be sure that bottles of water were standard issue for 
every
team member every day. That desert heat can dehydrate you fast. And take it 
from me, when you get the moisture sucked out of you, which I've had done,
you really fall apart. Dehydration is serious business physically and 
spiritually.

Spiritual dehydration is the shutdown that occurs in your walk with God when 
you let your source of spiritual strength start to dry up. And it can happen
pretty quickly when you live in the kind of spiritual desert most of us live 
in - like where you work, where you live, or where you go to school. We 
absorb
what our culture pumps into our mind and it drains the spiritual life out of 
you. The way to battle dehydration of any kind, of course, is frequent 
replenishing
of the source of your strength.

Which is why David said what he said in our word for today from the Word of 
God in Psalm 42:1-2. Remember, this is the man God called "the man after His
own heart." "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for 
You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and 
meet
with God?" That ought to be the driving passion of every one of us who 
belongs to Jesus Christ, "When's the next time I can meet with my God?" 
Without
those regular meetings, we'll dry up spiritually. We'll dry up fast because 
we live in an environment that is so spiritually dry.

And in the rush and the stress of your overheated life, it could very well 
be that your personal time with your Lord has gotten abbreviated, postponed,
or cancelled. Each day you're getting hit with so much that isn't God's 
perspective, isn't God's way - and you know you're going to get the stuff 
that
depletes you spiritually.

You've got to commit yourself to drink at God's spring each new day, early 
in that day, or you'll find yourself beat up, compromised, discouraged, 
detoured,
and overwhelmed. Not because the sun is so hot, but because you didn't 
replenish yourself with the living water that God alone can give you.

In times like these, you've got to make your time with Jesus in His Word the 
non-negotiable of your personal schedule; the sun around which all the 
planets
of your life have to revolve. Not if I get time, or whenever I can get 
around to it, or when I feel like it. But it becomes now the "must" of my 
day, the
beginning of my day; hearing the voice of God before you hear any other 
voice.

However early you have to get up, whatever you have to change, make sure 
your Jesus time happens. It's your water bottle in the desert, and you just 
simply
cannot afford to ever leave home without it.


Putting the Emphasis on the Eternal
View this email in your browser
BIBLE MEDITATION:
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me 
shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.”
John 6:35

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Sometimes people in large churches get a lot of grief from “the world” 
because of the great expenses of building and maintaining their church. I’ve 
heard,
“Why didn’t they take that money and feed the poor?”

Here’s my answer, “People need Jesus.” The social gospel thinks all men need 
is food. If I had five billion dollars and bought everybody on earth a meal,
in several hours they’d all be hungry again.

There’s nothing wrong with feeding the poor. We ought to do that. But the 
social gospel puts an emphasis on what is temporary. The true gospel puts 
the
emphasis upon what is eternal. Folks need more than soup and soap, they need 
salvation.

ACTION POINT:
Think about ways that you can get involved with the need to feed, clothe, 
and house the homeless. Then find the open door to feed them with the Bread 
of
Life, Jesus Christ.
Discover Jesus
Copyright © 2016 Love Worth Finding Ministries, All rights reserved.
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Post  Admin on Tue 05 Jul 2016, 11:07 pm

Freedom in Christ - It's the Key to It All!"
June 27, 2016
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not 
let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
All throughout the month of June and in the beginning of July, we are 
talking about a subject near and dear to many people's hearts: freedom. For 
many
in the United States and in many other parts of the world, individual 
freedom is as precious a thing as there is in life. But it will shock many 
people
to know that the person who said, "Give me liberty or give me death," didn't 
think that our individual freedoms, as important as they are, were the most
important thing in life, by far.

In his Last Will & Testament, filed in the Brookneal County Courthouse in 
Virginia, Patrick Henry noted something especially interesting.

He wrote, "I have now given everything I own to my children. There is one 
more thing I wish I could give them and that is Christ. Because if they have
everything I gave them and don't have Christ, they have nothing." I would 
say that Patrick Henry understood what Paul was talking about in our verse 
for
today. He knew that there is one thing in life that is the key to all of 
life: Jesus Christ. Indeed, faith in Jesus Christ alone is that key.

In fact, throughout the Gospels, Jesus Himself is pretty clear about this 
whole matter of Him needing to be your Savior: the key to your life and 
salvation.
He says things like "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to 
the Father except by Me" (John 14:6). He also says, "I am the Resurrection
and the Life" (John 11:25a). And about this thing we cherish, freedom, Jesus 
says, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).

There are indeed so many things in this life that demand our attention, but 
as we get older, we begin to realize that many of them aren't really that 
important
at all. In fact, when it comes right down to it, it's knowing God in Christ 
as our Creator, Redeemer, and Life-Giver alone that gives meaning and 
purpose,
even power to live life to its fullest, now and forever.

So as you go about your tasks this week, take some time to think about the 
ways that knowing Jesus Christ by faith, knowing Him through His Word, think
how that might impact everything you are, everything you say, everything you 
do. For when you begin to realize that Jesus is not only the key to life,
He's the key to your life -- that makes your life worth living no matter the 
challenges. That makes people worth loving no matter the struggles, and that
makes work worth doing no matter the obstacles, and even leisure worth 
taking because God is in control of all things, even the very life you get 
to live
by grace through faith in Him.

There are many things that claim to be the key to life, test them and then 
compare them to Jesus Christ. I know you'll be blessed if you do. Patrick 
Henry,
a great champion of freedom, knew that even something as vital as personal 
liberty and freedom needed to be resourced and empowered by faith in Jesus 
Christ
for it to have real, lasting value. Let that key open the door for you for a 
graced life of faith in Jesus Christ, full of His abundant promises and full
of His grace this week and always.

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

nspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Land of Liberty
Monday, July 4, 2016

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is 
liberty.”
2 Corinthians 3:17 NASB

Born in Boston in 1808, Samuel Francis Smith graduated with honors from 
Harvard in 1829. After working as a journalist, he felt a call to the 
ministry.
One of his friends was composer Lowell Mason, and in 1832, Mason sent Smith 
several German hymnals he had received (since Smith understood this 
language).

As he reviewed these hymns, Smith discovered a melody he liked and 
“instantly felt the impulse to write a patriotic hymn” based on this tune.

(Smith did not know that the same melody had been used for England’s 
national anthem: “God Save the Queen.”)
Smith quickly picked up “a scrap of waste paper” and began writing the words 
that formed in his mind. The whole piece was completed within just thirty
minutes. The result was the hymn that became known as “America.”

Smith felt inspired to write about the liberty he felt in the United States. 
He wrote, “My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died! Land of the Pilgrim’s pride! From every mountain 
side, let freedom ring!”

But Smith realized that, without God, there could be no freedom. He knew 
that “Our father’s God to Thee, Author of liberty, to Thee we sing.” He knew 
that
America needed God’s hand of blessing and protection. “Long may our land be 
bright with freedom’s holy light; protect us by Thy might, Great God, our 
King!”

Today is the day Americans celebrate their “independence.” Wherever you 
live, make this a day to pray for your country. More than ever, the world 
needs
God. He is the Author of liberty! Only He can keep us free, and give us true 
freedom! Pray for His blessing and protection. Pray for your leaders. Pray
for revival.

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, thank You for my country. Forgive us of our sins. Bless our leaders. 
You are My King; I dedicate my resources to You. Use me to bring salvation
to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 3

What's the sweetest freedom in the world?

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”— John 8:32 
(TLB).

Do you consider yourself free? I guess it depends on your definition of 
freedom.

Dictionary.com offers these seven definitions:

• the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under 
physical restraint.
• exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
• the power to determine action without restraint.
• political or national independence.
• personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery.
• exemption from the presence of anything specified (usually followed by 
from): freedom from fear.
• the absence of or release from ties, obligations, etc.
The very word “freedom” resonates with so many, especially with Americans 
who will be celebrating our nation’s independence this weekend. For those 
who
have accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord, the same word denotes a more 
powerful meaning.

Almost 15 years ago, I discovered that Jesus loved and wanted a personal 
relationship with me. When I did, I found a freedom no man can take away. 
Before
that day, I lived in bondage to other people’s opinions of me. I wasn’t 
free. Although I wasn’t confined behind the physical bars of a jail cell, I 
was
still a prisoner.

2 Corinthians 3:17 tells us, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the 
Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Finding freedom in Christ means we make different choices in life, choices 
that glorify Him, instead of catering to our own selfishness or to the whims
of others. Pastor John Piper describes it this way: “You are fully free when 
you have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will leave
you with no regrets forever.”

He explains, “If you don't have the desire to do a thing, you are not fully 
free to do it. Oh, you may muster the will power to do what you don’t want
to do, but nobody calls that full freedom…. And if you have the desire to do 
something, but no ability to do it, you are not free to do it. And if you
have the desire and the ability to do something, but no opportunity to do 
it, you are not free to do it. And if you have the desire to do something, 
and
the ability to do it, and the opportunity to do it, but it destroys you in 
the end, you are not fully free—not free indeed.”

In Romans 6, Paul writes that we are all slaves—either slaves to sin or 
slaves to righteousness. If we are slaves to sin, we cannot free ourselves 
from
it. However, once we are freed from the penalty and power of sin through 
Jesus’ death on the cross, we become a different kind of slave. And, it’s in 
that
slavery that we find complete peace and true freedom.

Thomas Watson, an English, non-conformist, Puritan preacher and author once 
said, “To serve God, to love God, to enjoy God, is the sweetest freedom in
the world.”

Have you discovered the sweetest freedom in the world?

I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to email me with 
your thoughts about this post and please feel free to share this post with 
others.
Thank you for subscribing!

For more inspiration, visit my blog at
carolaround.com
Copyright © 2015 Carol Round, All rights reserved.
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Do You Celebrate These 6 Freedoms on Independence Day?
Guy Hatcher
The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on 
July 4, 1776, and announced the separation of the thirteen American colonies
from Great Britain. With this, a new nation was formed—the United States of 
America. History verifies Thomas Jefferson as the composer of the original
draft. Once completed, Jefferson submitted his draft to Benjamin Franklin 
and John Adams for their changes. Eventually, it made its final destination 
to
Congress where it was amended for the last time. Today, we see in its 
detailed wording why Congress was declaring independence from Great Britain.
The most quoted line from the Declaration is "We hold these truths to be 
self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their 
Creator
with certain unalienable rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Our 
forefathers were declaring they not only deserved freedom, but were willing 
to continue
fighting for it.
Freedom is a great definition of independence, as it is the result of the 
choices we make in our life. The power of choice is one of the greatest 
freedoms
we have in our country, and knowing where to find it is important, as we see 
in
Proverbs 2:6:
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and 
understanding.”
Let's review six freedoms we must all celebrate this July 4th:
1. The freedom to believe. Our country continues to serve as a magnet for 
oppressed individuals who come to the USA for an opportunity to capture 
their
dreams. Many dream for a good job, food, and shelter for their family. But 
our government should not be relied upon as the only resource to replace our

faith
in a God “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (
1 Timothy 6:17).
2. The freedom to live out our faith. In some countries the mention of 
serving God or his son means instant death. Our forefathers recognized the 
creator
through their extension of certain God-given rights in the Declaration of 
Independence. Our faith is the most important of all, as it gives us the 
foundation
and assurance that God is in control of a world in chaos. When life seems 
out of control, seek the source of all creation — God. He will provide peace
in the midst of all your life's storms.
3. The freedom to worship. We are allowed the choice to worship in any way 
we desire. God created us for fellowship. Our individual gifts are stronger
when they are joined with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Sadly, 
statistics show worship attendance is in a decline as more people choose a 
life of
independence which ultimately leads to a life of solitude. Choose today to 
ask God to direct you to a community in which to be involved. He will direct
you to “give and receive“ as needed.
4. The freedom of prayer. Self-reliance is an American lifestyle demanded 
and respected in numerous circles. Just as this can be seen as a strength, 
it
can also be a tremendous weakness when it leads us to put God on the 
sidelines of our life, and call upon him only when we need his rescue. In 
personal
times of self-reliance, I sometimes take on an image of seeing myself as 
"God-like" which results in my placing other gods before him, namely the god 
of
“Me." By choosing to submit our requests to God in prayer we are making the 
choice to live out the faith to which he calls us.
5. The freedom to vote. In the last Presidential election over 30 million 
professed Christians did not vote. We must recognize in our nation every 
vote
does count, as issues such as mixed
marriage,
abortion, social services, and taxes continue to create further 
divisiveness. Our nation was founded on God, yet we continue to chip away at 
God’s sovereign
place of authority through the decisions continually implemented by the 
Senate, Congress, and Judicial branches. As a body of believers, we must 
call sin
what it is and stand united as we cast our votes through God’s divine wisdom 
and direction.
6. The freedom of happiness. If you notice in the Declaration, one of the 
rights it defines is "the pursuit of happiness."
Galatians 5:22
says we can have real joy in our life as we walk in the Holy Spirit. We 
don't have to pursue happiness; rather we can choose to live it out in the 
Spirit.
This allows us to receive what we richly deserve. So what about the disease, 
divorce, death and disappointment we may receive along life’s journey? Paul
summarizes our responsibility well: "Dear friends, do not be surprised at 
the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you as though something 
strange
were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the 
sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is 
revealed” (
1 Peter 4:12-13).
The fifty-six leaders who signed the Declaration of Independence had the 
foresight to understand things had to change so the generations who followed 
them
would experience Life, Liberty and Happiness. They accomplished this for all 
of us to enjoy by having fortitude, a strong vision, and steadfast faith.
As we celebrate this July 4th holiday, is it possible for us to have the 
same impact as our forefathers did for future generations? I believe we can, 
through
the manner in which we act upon the six freedoms listed above. Legacy 
Planning begins when you realize you will not necessarily complete what you 
begin
in one generation, but rather you become the visionary patriarch or 
matriarch, understanding the importance of planting strong seeds that may be 
harvested
by many future generations. As we celebrate this holiday, may we plant well 
so God will provide a bountiful crop which will be enjoyed by many future 
generations.
Guy Hatcher: The Legacy Guy® – is passionate about helping families plan 
their legacy. His book,
Your Future Reflection: How to Leave a Legacy Beyond Money,
is available at amazon.com. Follow him on twitter @guyhatcher or contact him 
at
www.guyhatcher.com.
Publication date: June 29, 2015

The Gift of Teachers

We look at the gift of teachers today. It is included in the list below:

1 Corinthians 12:28 (ASV)
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, 
thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, 
divers kinds of tongues.

The Holy Spirit inspires a truly Christian teacher who has been given that 
gift. They might use materials by some other teachers. If they are gifted as 
teachers they should be able to discern whether they are reading the truth 
or not when they study to teach. Some rely only on the Bible to teach itself 
by going from one verse to another that expounds on the previous verse.

There are those who teach who don’t have the spiritual gift. They might 
sound great, knowledgeable and enthusiastic but be teaching something other 
than the truth of the Bible. Of course, they will use the Bible to their own 
purposes. We read about these kinds of teachers below:

2 Peter 2:1-3 (NCV)
1 There used to be false prophets among God’s people, just as you will have 
some false teachers in your group. They will secretly teach things that are 
wrong—teachings that will cause people to be lost. They will even refuse to 
accept the Master, Jesus, who bought their freedom. So they will bring quick 
ruin on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil ways and say evil things 
about the way of truth. 3 Those false teachers only want your money, so they 
will use you by telling you lies. Their judgment spoken against them long 
ago is still coming, and their ruin is certain.

There are true and false teachers. You must compare all they say to what the 
entire Bible says. They can take a verse or two out of context to make them 
say one thing. Does what they say go along with all Scripture?

It is up to you to study to see what the Bible says on the topics taught. 
Ask the Holy Spirit to be your teacher as you read your Bible. He is the one 
who taught Paul when he was in Arabia for three years. A friend of mine 
calls that the “University of the Holy Spirit”. Paul had been taught by man 
but after his conversion he was taught by the Holy Spirit. Then he went out 
with the power of the Holy Spirit.

You are accountable for what you believe. Find out the truth in your Bible 
to know whether your teacher is true or false.

by Dean W. Masters
Unedited redistribution approved.
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Anne Graham Lotz - God Is with You
View this email in your browser

God Is with You
I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.

Psalm 13:5, NIV

The apostle John, suffering in exile on Patmos near the end of his life, 
must have prayed earnestly to be restored to his church and to his ministry. 
He
must have begged God to get him off of the remote island so he could 
continue preaching and serving as a pastor and evangelist. Yet God didn’t 
answer his
prayers. Instead, John related that it was on Patmos that God drew near to 
him and gave him a vision of the glory of Jesus Christ – a vision he 
recorded
for the encouragement of every generation of believers since that time in 
the Book of Revelation. Jesus was with him in exile on Patmos!

What is your Patmos? A place where you are seemingly cut off and exiled from 
ministry and family? Is it a hospital bed? Or a small home with small 
children?
Is it a workplace where you are surrounded by politically correct hostility 
to Christ?

Then look up! God is with you!

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

The Power of the Tongue
By Skip Heitzig

Your tongue is one of the most important parts of your body. It's small, but 
you depend on it. Without your tongue, you wouldn't be able to speak or 
sing.
I know for some that might be a plus, but for most it wouldn't be. Without 
your tongue, you wouldn't be able to taste or eat, because it's your tongue
that directs the food in your mouth toward the throat, enabling you to 
swallow it.

But your tongue is also one of the most dangerous parts about you. James 
3:5-6 says, "The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can 
do.
A great forest can be set on fire by one tiny spark. And the tongue is a 
flame of fire. It is full of wickedness, and poisons every part of the body. 
And
the tongue is set on fire by hell itself and can turn our whole lives into a 
blazing flame of destruction and disaster" (TLB). In Proverbs 18:21, Solomon
went as far as to say, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue."

Whenever I said a bad word as a boy, my mom would take a bar of soap, bring 
me over to the sink, and shove that bar of soap in my mouth. She'd say, "I
have to clean up your speech." I'm not going to forget that anytime soon!

It's estimated that the average person will open their mouth 700 times a day 
to speak. That's not how many words you speak, but you will open your mouth
about 700 times. So we have 700 opportunities every day to get it right or 
to blow it badly. How can we make the most of these opportunities? In 
Colossians
4:6, Paul wrote, "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with 
salt"—filled with truth, but also with love. Let me share with you three 
kinds of
speech to practice.

First, there's real prayer. It only makes sense if you're going to open your 
mouth 700 times a day that some of those times be directed upward to God.
Part of real prayer is praying honestly. Honest prayer is better than 
dishonest piety, and God is able to sift through the rubble of even the 
gnarliest
prayer and pick out the gems. The other part of real prayer is praise—the 
highest use of the tongue. So instead of using sharp words, use sanctified 
words.
When you feel the urge to take God's name in vain, make God's name of value 
instead.

The second is regular petition. If you have an issue, pray about it 
regularly.James said, "No man can tame the tongue" (3:8). That implies that 
God is
the only one who can tame it. Now, if that's true, then you should be asking 
God to help you T.H.I.N.K. before you speak: Is what you want to say true?
Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind? The basic truth is that a closed mouth 
gathers no feet.

The third form of helpful speech is righteous rebuke. Psalm 141:5 says, "Let 
the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; it
shall be as excellent oil; let not my head refuse it." This is the ability 
to express love through tactful criticism, to warn a person. Solomon wrote 
in
Proverbs 27:6, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an 
enemy are deceitful." A true friend will hold you accountable right to your 
face.

Note this: all words originate from the heart. Jesus said, "Out of the 
abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). So when my mom 
washed
out my mouth with soap, it didn't cure the deeper problem.Words are like an 
outward gauge of what's going on inside of you. So what do your words say 
about
you? Do you discourage and gossip and shock people, or do you encourage and 
add worship to God and inspire?

Copyright © 2016 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

Selective Memory: Focus on the Good Times
By Rick Warren

“I thank God for the help you gave meâ€
(Philippians 1:5a
NCV).

Developing an attitude of gratitude does not come naturally. We are not by 
nature grateful people. We are by nature discontented. We always want more 
or
something different.

In the book of Philippians, Paul was writing to the church that he started 
in Philippi, where a woman named Lydia opened up her home and, along with 
others,
welcomed Paul to the city. The Philippian church even helped fund Paul’s 
missionary journeys. In Philippians 1:5, Paul says, “I thank God for the 
help
you gave me†(NCV).

The thing is, Paul didn’t have a good time in Philippi. In fact, it was one 
of his toughest churches to get started. When Paul went to this city to 
start
a church, he was beaten, whipped, humiliated, falsely arrested, thrown into 
prison, and survived an earthquake. Then, he was politely asked by the city
leaders to leave town.

Yet Paul told the believers, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my 
God†(Philippians 1:3 NLT, second edition).

What is Paul doing there? He is choosing selective memory. Philippi was not 
a happy place for Paul, and he endured a lot of persecution and suffering 
during
his time in that city. But he chose not to dwell on painful memories and 
instead expressed his gratitude for the good things that God had done.

The longer you know someone, the more likely you are to take that person for 
granted and to look for faults and remember the bad things instead of the
good things.

Are you still reliving painful memories with some people in your life? You’ve 
never let them off the hook, and you can’t enjoy the relationship because
you’re still holding on to the past.

You need to understand that memories are a choice. I heard a story one time 
about two friends. One of them asked the other, “Don’t you remember that 
time
when your husband did this?†Her friend replied, “I distinctly remember 
forgetting that.â€

Your memories are a choice. If you want to hold on to your painful memories, 
go right ahead. But you’re not going to be happy! Paul had a lot of reasons
to have painful memories of Philippi. Instead, he made the choice to be 
grateful for the people in his life and the work God was doing in and 
through them.
When you do the same, God will bless your relationships far beyond your 
expectations.
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A Letter to America
by John UpChurch, Crosswalk.com Contributor

Even though you can’t stand my exclusive cries for true freedom; even though 
you’d rather I show more toleration with my mouth shut; even though you hear
my sermons as an assault upon the things you hold sacred; even though you’d 
haul me to court to make me fall in line; even though your movies typecast
me as the blundering hypocritical monster; even though you’d dig in your 
nails to stop other people from hearing my prayers in the name of a man who 
died
2,000 years ago; even with all of that, I can’t stop loving you.

Even though you’ve been charmed into believing that the sexual revolution 
was somehow liberating; even though you’ve given yourself at the altar of 
instant
gratification; even though your body shows the scars of lovers torn from 
your arms; even though you feel the sting and hot anger over being cast 
aside
and sing those radio songs with grit; even though you cry when no one can 
see how empty you feel in a roomful of friends; even though you’ve gone numb
from rivers of meaningless promises; even with all that, I can’t stop loving 
you.

Even though you parade through the streets with banners rejecting the 
ancient chains of a book you detest; even though you throw yourself into the 
endless
revels of the night; even though you churn out words meant to destroy; even 
though you suck, inhale, inject, consume fire into your veins and visions in
your head; even though you scream and rage against the light; even though 
you hate the very One who longs to make you see; even though you refuse 
peace
inside; even though you discard Truth in your search for meaning; even with 
all that, I can’t stop loving you.

Even though you defame the boundaries of what God joined together; even 
though you explore every dark corner of human connections; even though you 
raise
equality as your golden calf; even though you brand those who disagree with 
spiteful epithets; even though you push the faithful from your midst; even
from out there, I can’t stop loving you.

Even though you call the life growing inside nothing more than tissue; even 
though you reject the divine spark created in your womb; even though you 
tear
out limbs and snip spinal cords; even though you spit on those who fight to 
save your child; even though you suffer the labor pains of regret for the 
rest
of your life; even then, I can’t stop loving you.

Even though you hate me, I can’t stop loving your sin-soiled skin. I can’t 
stop loving your blinded eyes. I can’t stop loving your idol-worshiping 
hands.

He died for you, and that makes you lovely.

For Further Reading:

Hosea
Romans 1-2
Adrian Roger  Love Worth Finding

When Doors Don’t Open
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

I will never leave you nor forsake you.
(Joshua 1:5,NIV)

Friend to Friend

The morning had been hectic and they were running late because the baby 
needed a last minute diaper change. Tara needed to get all three kiddos 
loaded
up and to the car pool location quickly, but for some strange reason the 
back doors of her van would not open. She tried her clicker. She tried the 
key.
She tried jiggling the lock.

Anxiousness started to well up in her heart.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” She grumbled loudly while trying to open the 
back doors of her minivan. “This is NOT what I need right now!”

The kids began to sense the tension and take on the stress for their own.

“What’s wrong, mommy?”

“The back doors aren’t opening and we’re gonna be late! That’s what’s 
wrong!”

Pressed for time and strongly annoyed, Tara told the kids to get in through 
the front door and had them crawl back to settle into their car seats. As 
she
started the car she was aware of her agitation and didn’t like it.

Taking a deep breath, Tara began to recognize the stress for what it was. 
She remembered the Bible
verse that is written on the chalkboard in their kitchen. Spoken from the 
lips of Jesus Himself, the words flooded her heart…

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the 
world.(John 16:33)

Yes. They were having trouble getting a few doors open, but it was nothing 
that Jesus couldn’t help her handle. Calmed and cooled by the red-lettered 
love,
Tara made an empowered decision … and a very cool minivan ministry moment 
followed that went something like this:

“Okay, guys! Here we go!” Tara began. “That was a bit stressful and I’m 
sorry for raising my voice. I’m not sure why the doors didn’t open, but we 
aren’t
going to let it mess up our day. We can choose to let this situation get the 
best of us, or we can get the best of the situation by asking God to bring
peace to our anxiousness. Remember the verse on the kitchen chalkboard? 
Jesus said that in this world we’re going to have trouble. Sometimes doors 
don’t
open, but He’ll help us! Jesus told us to “take heart” because He has 
overcome the world.”

Then, from the back of the van her eight-year-old theologian son piped up 
and joined the sacred conversation.

“Yeah! And Jesus said that He'll never leave us or forsake us. God is always 
with us, mom!”

From. The. Lips. Of. A. Child.
God is always with us.

What began as a chaotic and stressful drive to school became a celebration 
of the presence of God. It was a devotion-on-wheels that began with a door 
that
wouldn't open. A beautiful memory that started with stress but was changed 
by the grace of Jesus, our Overcomer.

Sometimes doors don't open for us. We don’t always get the position we want, 
the response we want, the admiration we want, or the health we want. But 
with
every closed door comes an opportunity of response. When Tara invited God 
into her frustration and opened her heart to His presence the tension 
transitioned to peace.

A few minutes after the “stuck door debacle” they arrived at the carpool 
line to pick up the other children. Tara figured she’d try again. She 
pressed
the button to unlock the back doors, and this time they opened with no 
resistance.

A smile spread across her face as this thought danced in Tara’s mind. If the 
back doors had opened a few moments earlier, we would've lost the 
opportunity
to celebrate God’s peace and our time of sacred conversation would never 
have happened.

With that in mind she thanked God for the doors that didn’t open as she 
drove the kids to school.

I don’t always respond perfectly in stressful situations. And Tara readily 
admits that she doesn't either. But when we choose to turn our frustrations
and disappointments over to God He gives us the grace we need to experience 
His peace in the midst of pressure.

Let’s Pray

Lord, Thank You for reminding me that You are dependable, available, and 
willing to help at all times. Please guide me toward Your grace when I 
grumble.
Teach me to turn to You when I’m stressed so that others would see Your joy 
and peace in me.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Psalm 37. What verses in the chapter resonate with your heart today? 
What doors are not opening in your life that have you frustrated? 
Girlfriends in God. 


KenBible.com

New Post on KenBible.com - Feed My Sheep
----------------------------------------------------------

Feed My Sheep

Posted: 26 May 2016 09:55 PM PDT

from the devotional book,
PICTURES OF GOD

Read John 21:1-17

The setting was the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberias) after 
Jesus’ resurrection. Peter had gone fishing, which was his former 
profession,
and six other disciples had joined him. Jesus appeared, and without 
introducing Himself, blessed them with a huge catch of fish, then cooked 
them breakfast
on the shore. What had been frustrating work was now rewarding and relaxing.

After breakfast, Jesus and Peter apparently got alone and had a conversation 
in private. Jesus was probably looking straight into Peter’s eyes when He
asked him,

“Simon, son of John, do you love Me more these?” (John 21:15, NASB)

What did Jesus mean by “more than these”? More than Peter loved the other 
disciples? Or perhaps more than the other disciples loved Jesus? Maybe, but 
it
seems more likely that Jesus was asking if Peter loved Him more than fishing 
and the other familiar, comfortable things in life to which Peter had now
returned. In any case, He was pointedly asking Peter where He stood in Peter’s 
values.

Jesus basically asked the same question three times, using two different 
words for “feeding” or “taking care of” sheep, two different words for 
“sheep”
(“sheep” and “lambs”), two different words for “love”, and two different 
words for “knowing”. Some make much of these differences, but I think Jesus 
was
using virtual synonyms to drive home His point. He was gently giving Peter 
the chance to reaffirm his love after Peter had denied Jesus three times on
the night of His trial.

How did Jesus ask Peter to prove his love?

“Tend My lambs…
“Shepherd My sheep…
“Tend My sheep.” (John 21:15-17, NASB)

What is the best way to thank our Shepherd and express our love for Him? 
Feed His sheep. Nurture those He loves. Jesus has the heart of a Shepherd, 
and
He longs for us to join Him in that work.
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Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
On Assignment from Heaven - #7663

It was enough to make a girl stop talking for years to come-when it comes to 
talking about her relationship with Jesus, that is. One day in high school,
God laid it on my wife's heart, (of course she wasn't my wife yet), to share 
Christ with one of her fellow band members. Ricky was a drummer. In my 
experience,
drummers are usually cut from a little different piece of cloth than 
everybody else, and Ricky was no exception. He was a wild and crazy guy with 
a mouth
to match. But one day my wife got up the courage to rise above her shyness 
and tell him about her Savior. Ricky didn't exactly fall to his knees in the
band room and repent. In fact, he said, "Well, if you're going to heaven, I 
want to go to the other place!" Ouch!

Years later, my wife and I were visiting a church where the pastor 
introduced us during the service. Afterwards, the man who had been sitting 
behind us
said to my honey, "I've been hoping for years I'd get to see you and tell 
you what happened." It was Ricky and his wife. He said, "I know I blew you 
off
that day you tried to tell me about Jesus, but you were the first person who 
ever did that. Later a couple of others did the same thing. I just wanted
you to know I finally gave my heart to Christ." Needless to say, it was one 
of those spiritual what they used to call "Kodak moments." Ricky went on to
tell about working on a Christian radio station and how he had even pastored 
a church. Ricky-the one who nuked a girl who tried to tell him about 
Jesus-ended
up actually working on our team, helping us tell the world about Jesus.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "On 
Assignment From Heaven."

Ricky's story is the story of so many who have changed their eternal address 
from hell to heaven. They didn't find Christ through one exposure to Him,
but through a string of faithful witnesses who sowed the seed of the Gospel 
in their heart. One day, the harvest came because of those who sowed the 
Gospel,
those who watered the Gospel, and then someone who recognized that it was 
time to harvest the Gospel.

God has placed you as His designated ambassador in the lives of the people 
in your personal world. Here's how the great rescue plan of God works, as 
revealed
in 1 Corinthians 3, beginning with verse 5, our word for today from the Word 
of God. "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, 
through
whom you came to believe-as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I 
planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow...The man who 
plants and
the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to 
his labor. For we are God's fellow workers..."

Do you realize how important you are in the life-saving plan of God? He's 
invited you to work side by side with Him in His harvesting of lives for 
heaven!
In one life, you may be the one who sows the first thoughts a person has 
about Jesus-as my wife did in Ricky's life. For another person, you might be 
the
one who unknowingly builds on seed someone else sowed to bring them a step 
closer to Jesus. For someone else, you'll be the one God puts there when the
other seed sown in their life is ready to be harvested and they're ready for 
Jesus.

As you ask the Holy Spirit to show you what part He wants you to play and 
where that person is in the process of coming to Him, He'll give you the 
opening,
the courage, the approach, and the words if you ask Him to. You can never 
judge the final result of your witness by the immediate response. It is God 
who
provides the seed, it's God who miraculously grows that seed into a heart 
that's ready for Jesus. But He's counting on you to sow His seed, water His 
seed,
or harvest His seed.

There's only one way you can fail in sharing Christ and that's if you don't 
do it! Your mission is to leave each lost person God leads you to closer to
Jesus than they were before; knowing more about Jesus and what He did for 
them than they knew before.

God has an amazing plan for the spiritual rescue of every lost person you 
know and He's asking you to join Him in it. Don't miss the most important 
thing
you will ever do in your life!

Today's Daily Encounter

Struggling to Believe

“Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present
world."1

“Robert Robinson came from a poor family; his father
died when Robert was a child and his mother sent him to
London to learn barbering when he was a teenager.
Instead he fell in with a gang and was involved in
vandalism, looting and petty theft. They went to heckle
a traveling evangelist, George Whitefield, who was
preaching in the town square but Robert encountered the
Lord Jesus and eventually accepted Him as his Savior.
He went on to become a renowned preacher and pastor, as
well as a writer of extraordinary hymns and was well
known throughout Europe. But late in his life he left
the faith. We don’t know the reason why, we don’t know
the circumstances, but the story is told that there
came a day late in his life when he was traveling by
stage coach, seated next to a woman who was humming the
hymn, ‘Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.’

“If nothing else, maybe simply to make conversation,
she asked him, ‘Sir, do you know this song?’

“Robinson replied, ‘Know it? Madam, I am the miserable
man who wrote it and I would give a thousand lives to
know the joy and peace that I knew then but I’ve lost
it.’

“Mr. Robinson died shortly thereafter.

“’Come thou Fount’ is one of my favorite hymns and that
story is one of the saddest--and I am afraid,
all-too-familiar--ones that I know."2

This hymn also happens to be one of my favorites. The
words of the last stanza say: “O to grace how great a
debtor / Daily I’m constrained to be / Let Thy grace,
Lord, like a fetter / Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee /
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it / Prone to leave the
God I love / Take my heart, O take and seal it / Seal
it for Thy courts above."

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, please keep me from
straying from You for I, too, know that my heart is
prone to wander and that I could very easily leave the
God I love. Please take my heart and seal it for Your
courts above. Thank You for hearing and answering my
prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."

1. 2 Timothy 4:10 (NKJV).
2. By Tod Bolsinger, Sermon, “The God Who Does the
Impossible … A story for those who struggle to
believe."

<:((((><

NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness
for all your sins and His invitation for a full pardon
Click on:
http://www.actsweb.org/invitation.php.
Or
if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ,
please click on
http://www.actsweb.org/decision.php
to note this.

* * * * * * *

Daily Encounter is published at no charge by
ACTS International, a non-profit organization,
and made possible through the donations of
interested friends. Donations can be sent at:

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ACTS International
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Copyright (c) 2016 by ACTS International.

When copying or forwarding include the following:
"Daily Encounter by Richard (Dick) Innes (c) 2016
ACTS International.

Authentic vs. Phony Faith

Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear 
a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly
await him.
(Hebrews 9:28)

The question before us all is: Are we included in the “many” whose sins he 
bore? And will we be saved by his coming “for salvation”?

The answer of
Hebrews 9:28
is, “Yes,” if we are “eagerly awaiting him.” We can know that our sins are 
taken away and that we will be safe in the judgment if we trust Christ in 
such
a way that it makes us eager for his coming.

There is a phony faith that claims to believe in Christ, but is only a fire 
insurance policy. Phony faith “believes” only to escape hell. It has no real
desire for Christ. In fact, it would prefer it if he did not come, so that 
we can have as much of this world’s pleasures as possible. This shows that a
heart is not with Christ, but with the world.

So the issue for us is: Do we eagerly long for the coming of Christ? Or do 
we want him to wait while our love affair with the world runs its course? 
That
is the question that tests the authenticity of faith.

So let us be like the Corinthians who were “awaiting eagerly the revelation 
of our Lord Jesus Christ” (
1 Corinthians 1:7),
and like the Philippians whose “citizenship was in heaven, from which also 
[they] eagerly waited for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (
Philippians 3:20).

That’s the issue for us. Do we love his appearing? Or do we love the world 
and hope that his appearing will not interrupt our worldly plans? Eternity 
hangs
on this question.
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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Post  Admin on Thu 30 Jun 2016, 6:47 pm

The Gift of Pastors

We now look at the gift God gave to his church, the gift of pastors as 
listed below:

Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)
11 He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the 
prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their 
responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the 
church, the body of Christ,

We find in the Strong’s Concordance the Greek word used for pastor and how 
it is translated in other Scripture and its definition:

18 occurrences; translates as “shepherd” 15 times, “Shepherd” twice, and 
“pastor” once. 1 a herdsman, esp. a shepherd. 1a in the parable, he to whose 
care and control others have committed themselves, and whose precepts they 
follow. 2 metaph. 2a the presiding officer, manager, director, of any 
assembly: so of Christ the Head of the church. 2a1 of the overseers of the 
Christian assemblies. 2a2 of kings and princes. Additional Information: The 
tasks of a Near Eastern shepherd were: 1) to watch for enemies trying to 
attack the sheep; 2) to defend the sheep from attackers; 3) to heal the 
wounded and sick sheep; 4) to find and save lost or trapped sheep; 5) to 
love them, sharing their lives and so earning their trust. During World War 
II, a shepherd was a pilot who guided another pilot whose plane was 
partially disabled back to the base or carrier by flying alongside him to 
maintain visual contact.

In the article above we find out what the Near Eastern shepherd’s duties 
were. These same things were to be done by the pastors. They are to watch 
over their flock, protect them, heal them, etc. Jeremiah wrote that there 
were false shepherds during his time that did not take care of the sheep 
under them but only looked after themselves. They misled the people under 
them. The same warning that Jeremiah gave back then is still good today:

Jeremiah 23:1-4 (NLT)
1 “I will send disaster upon the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my 
sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected 
to care for,” says the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, 
says to these shepherds: “Instead of leading my flock to safety, you have 
deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment 
on you for the evil you have done to them. 3 But I will gather together the 
remnant of my flock from wherever I have driven them. I will bring them back 
into their own fold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 
Then I will appoint responsible shepherds to care for them, and they will 
never be afraid again. Not a single one of them will be lost or missing,” 
says the Lord.

Even though false shepherds mislead their congregation, there will be a 
remnant that does not fall for the false teaching. These people who still 
follow all the Bible says, are taught by the Holy Spirit and study for 
themselves rather than believing what a man tells them will be gathered. 
They may find a church with a true man of god to lead them or they may be 
taken away to be with the Good Shepherd for eternity.

Check out what your pastor is saying. See if it goes along with the full 
Scripture. Some are crafty and quote Scripture to prove a point but leave 
out other Scripture. Study for yourself. If you find your pastor giving 
false teaching, pray for the Lord to teach you and to give you wisdom as to 
what to do.

by Dean W. Masters

The Heavens, a Testimony of Creator God
View this email in your browser
BIBLE MEDITATION:
“For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly 
seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power
and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
Romans 1:20

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Can intellectuals believe in God? Absolutely! Many intellectuals believe in 
God. As a matter of fact, your intellect has very little to do with your 
belief
in God.

Out of all of the secular professional groups, do you know what professional 
group has the highest number of believers in God? The astronomers do. Over
90% of the world’s great astronomers believe in God. Why? Because they have 
studied the heavens.

It’s not a sign of intelligence not to believe in God. If you’re 
intelligent, you have to say, “Somebody created all of this.”

ACTION POINT:
Take a walk with your family under the canopy of the night sky. Praise God 
for His handiwork in the heavens.
Discover Jesus

Read
Ephesians 1:4–6

The apostle Paul tells us that God chose us before the foundations of the 
world to be his adopted sons and daughters, beloved, blessed, and provided 
for by his heavenly riches.

Upside Down

Life will eventually turn every person upside down, inside out. No one is 
immune. Not the mom in the suburbs who finds out her teen daughter is 
pregnant.
Not the husband who is entangled in an affair with a woman who is not his 
wife. Not the kid whose parents are strung out on drugs. Not the girl 
entrenched
in human trafficking. Not the boy with HIV or his brother without any 
prospect of enough to eat.

Not the woman who finds out her whole sense of identity is based on a family 
connection that turns out to be a lie.

Not you.

Not me.

But just as life will upend you, so will love.

God’s love, which knows you and claimed you before you were even born, can 
take you beyond yourself, as it did Jesus, who left heaven to go to the 
cross
and pass through the grave in order to bring us back home. His love can 
bring you through emotional earthquakes. Love like Christ’s can lift you out 
of
betrayal and hurt. It can deliver you from any mess. Love like that can 
release you from every prison of fear and confusion. And love like God’s can 
fill
you up till it spills out of you, and you have to speak about it, share it, 
and spread it around.

Despite my resolute (or was it desperate?) clinging to God’s Word and his 
promises, I’d have been something other than human if I hadn’t been 
emotionally
stunned when my mother disclosed to me one day that I was adopted. But I was 
determined not to be daunted by it. So many people allow life-changing news
to drive them into anger, resentment, and depression, to push them to 
question their identity and self-worth and value. I chose to trust that, in 
ways
I could not yet see, God would use this. God would not only uphold me as I 
worked through it, but he would honor it by pointing out ways in which this
totally unexpected and life-changing revelation could be used for his glory. 
I had no idea yet what those ways would be. But I had faith that they would
come.

Point to Ponder

Do you wonder if God really loves you? Do you wonder if he sees and cares 
about your current circumstances? He does, for he has chosen you to be his 
own
child, adopted into his holy family. He knows and loves you more than you 
could imagine. No matter what you face in your life, God will be there to 
help you.
Copyright Information

Devotions by Christine Caine, Copyright © 2012 by Christine Caine and Equip 
& Empower Ministries.
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Post  Admin on Wed 29 Jun 2016, 8:33 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

May 24, 2015
Grumbling is Contageous
By Answers2Prayer

Throughout the book of Exodus and Numbers the Israelites complained. God, 
through Moses, had battered the Egyptians with ten plagues until Pharaoh 
finally
agreed to let the Israelites leave after God struck all of the first-born of 
Egypt, both people and animals. As they made their way to the Red Sea, God
moved on Pharaoh's heart to change his mind and chase the children of 
Israel, to re-capture their slaves they had become dependent on to build 
cities and
perhaps even the pyramids (the Bible does not say that the Israelites worked 
on the pyramids, but the secular historian, Josephus, in his work entitled
"The Antiquities of the Jews," does).

When the Israelites saw the Egyptian army coming for them this is what they 
said in Numbers 14:11-12, "They said to Moses, 'Was it because there were no
graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done 
to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us
alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to 
serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!'"

God, in a dramatic why, parted the Red Sea, saved the Israelites, and 
drowned the entire Egyptian army. And in the beginning of Exodus 15 they 
sing and
praise Him, but the party didn't last long. By the end of Exodus 15, after 
three days without finding water, they were at it again. They complained 
about
the lack of water, and when they found water, it was bitter. God caused 
Moses to throw a stick of wood into the water and it became drinkable (the 
first
water purifier). By the next chapter, it is the lack of food they are 
complaining about. Again they say that they should have stayed in Egypt 
where they
had food instead of starving to death is the desert. God gave them quail at 
evening and manna in the morning.

Moving into Chapter 17, we again have a water problem combined with a death 
wish. The people complain they are thirsting to death. God brings water from
a rock. There is more, but suffice it to say, at every stumbling block they 
tripped. The next issue was scouting out the Promised Land, which was indeed
"flowing with milk and honey," but also was occupied by giants and people in 
fortified cities. Out of the 12 spies only two, Joshua and Caleb, suggested
they push on, but the other 10 said they should not go. Again they accuse 
the Lord of bringing them out of Egypt to kill them!

This was not the end of their complaining, but you get the idea. Complaining 
about what God has provided for us is sin, but there are other consequences
also. When we complain about what God has given us, or not given us, others 
may be listening and imitating us. Remember the old saying, "little pitchers
have big ears?" Our kids are taking their cues from us, and while they may 
get further than we did, the things we speak sometimes come back to haunt us
or our decedents.

After entering the Promised Land, the Lord gave the Israelites a great 
victory over Jericho, but shortly thereafter things took a turn for the 
worst. Although
the Israelites defeated Jericho, a large fortified city, they were unable to 
conquer the smaller city of Ai even though the Israelite army was much 
larger
than they. It was, we find out later, related to the sin of Achan in taking 
some of the treasure from Jericho that was to be dedicated to the Lord. But
hear what Joshua, the brave spy, says at this defeat.

And Joshua said, "Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people 
across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy 
us?
If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan!" 
(Joshua 7:7)

Joshua had heard his parents, grandparents, and relatives ask this same 
question over and over during the 40 years that they wandered in the desert 
until
all the unfaithful ones had died before God allowed the others to enter the 
land He promised.

Although Joshua was strong in the Lord and had seen His mighty works, as 
soon as something unexpected happens, he joins his voice to the cries of the 
Israelites
accusing God of planning their destruction. I know that sounds harsh to say 
he accused God, but that's what he did and he learned it at his father's 
knee.

Our inheritance may include both good and bad, but it is up to us which we 
choose to remember. Throughout history people have chosen to do better than
their parents in their words, deeds, and actions. Racial prejudice carries 
from generation to generation, but it only takes one generation to break 
that
cycle. Joshua had successfully broken the cycle of not trusting God enough 
not to question His plans, and yet, when the chips were down, he fell back 
on
his parent's way.

Happily, Joshua rooted out the offender and went on into the Promised Land, 
but this is a word for us and our children to seek to carry on only good 
things,
and to teach only good to our children. Before you speak or act, think about 
who is watching and listening to you and what effect that may have on future
generations.

Sonya Richards

Announcement:

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

©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."
Moving From Pain to Possibilities
images/14657734-ecfe-4635-b13e-91eaa600f3b1
AmyLayneLitzelman.com

TM@MW
Take Me @ My Word
"Enlarge the place of your tent;
Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;
Lengthen your cords
And strengthen your pegs.

For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left.
And your descendants will possess nations
And will resettle the desolate cities."
Isaiah 54:2-3 NASB
----------------------------------------------------------

How often we say (with a groan)
"Boy, God is stretching me!"

Believe me, I've said it more than once! At times it was like a painful 
badge of honor; something to bravely endure.

Until a wise man changed my perspective.

"God is not stretching you,"
my friend said. "He's enlarging you."

Think about it: Growth is a natural part of creation and change is a natural 
part of growth. It reveals that life exists within.

We recognize and celebrate the varied stages in children, animals, and 
plants. Even before a baby or plant burst into our world, they are expanding 
a womb
or breaking out of a seed. For all intents and purposes, this appears to be 
a very violent act.

That's why perspective is so important: Stretching speaks of pain, while 
enlarging speaks of possibility.

As Believers in Jesus, we, also, should be experiencing growth and change. 
Knowledge, wisdom, understanding, vision, ability, and experience must 
increase.
Love, peace, patience, joy, kindness, long-suffering should be hanging from 
our boughs.

These come as you submit to the refining, training, and enlarging work of 
the Holy Spirit.

In this, you are making room for the increased manifestation of the life of 
Christ from within.

Ephesians 3:20 is one of my favorite truths:

"Now all glory to God, who is able,
through his mighty power at work within us,
to accomplish infinitely more
than we might ask or think."

Listen: if you are not growing, death is encroaching. If you get hung up at 
the point of change, weary and overwhelmed at the stretchmarks, you will 
soon
find yourself going with the flow and away from your goal.

One of the most important ways you can keep moving forward is to change your 
perspective. The Creator of the universe wants to do more through you than
you can dream or imagine. Amazing, joy-filled, exciting, Kingdom stuff.

But He can only work according to the measure you allow His power to have 
room in your soul.

Allow the enlarging to come.
Take joy in the process of growing into the full stature of Christ.
You are called to multiply and bear those who will resettle desolate places.
Please share with friends and family
Copyright © 2016 Amy Layne Litzelman, All rights reserved.

When a Fellow Christian Stumbles

Galatians 6:1-5

The Lord doesn't want the members of His body to live in isolation; 
believers are intended to function as a loving family who actively care for 
each other.
One of our responsibilities as part of God's household is to come alongside 
a brother or sister who has stumbled. Paul specifies that those "who are 
spiritual"
are to restore the fallen ones to fellowship with the Father and the family. 
"Spiritual" doesn't mean some elite group of pious leaders; it refers to any

Christians
who are living under the Spirit's control. A key element in this process is 
the attitude of the one who seeks to restore a fellow Christian.

A Spirit of Gentleness: This isn't a time for harshness, anger, judgment, or 
condemnation. Our goal is not to heap pain and guilt upon a hurting brother
or sister but to show mercy and forgiveness (2 Cor. 2:5-8).

A Spirit of Humility: Those who have a superior attitude look down on a 
fallen brother and think, I would never make those mistakes. But the humble 
know
their own vulnerability. Instead of judging others, they examine their own 
lives in order to recognize and deal with areas of weakness.

A Spirit of Love: When we love others, we'll willingly sharing their burden. 
This requires an unselfish investment of our time, energy, and prayer on 
their
behalf.

How do you react when a fellow Christian has stumbled? One of the ugliest 
human traits is our tendency to feel better about ourselves when another 
person
misses the mark. Instead of sharing the latest gossip about a fallen brother 
or sister, let your heart break, and come alongside to love and help.

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

Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2009 All Rights 
Reserved.

LightSource.com Featured Ministry

Dr. David Jeremiah Turning Point
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Post  Admin on Tue 28 Jun 2016, 10:47 am

What Will You Do With Your Pain?
Mary Southerland

Todays Truth

He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are 
weak(Isaiah 40:29, NCV).

Friend to Friend
I love a great movie! To me, a movie is great when good wins over evil, the 
right guy gets the right girl, nobody gets hurt and everyone lives happily
ever after. A bit naive, I know. But I have decided that there is enough 
harsh reality ripping through daily life without paying to see more on a 
movie
screen.

With these criteria in mind, I went to see the movie "Sea Biscuit." There I 
was; popcorn in hand, minding my own business and enjoying my brief respite,
when his words slammed into my soul, yanking me back to the tenacious 
essence and interminable power of truth.

"You don't throw a whole life away just because it's banged up a little."

I was done.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the movie, those words linger 
still because it seemed they were written just for me.

The reality is that we are all "banged up a little." In "A Farewell to Arms" 
Ernest Hemingway writes, "The world breaks everyone and many are strong at
the broken places."

We all have hidden scars, fresh wounds and broken places. The good news is 
that God is drawn to broken people. In fact, He accomplishes His greatest 
work
through those who are most broken.

Isaiah 45:3 (NIV) "I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored 
in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of 
Israel,
who summons you by name."

God has gone before us and in every trial and painful circumstance has 
buried a treasure or stored rich secrets that can only be found by going 
through
that darkness. The most powerful truths are revealed in the darkest times. 
In fact, pain intensifies our need for God and can be counted as a blessing.

I struggle with clinical depression. The darkness has been an all too 
familiar companion for most of my life. Over the years, I tried just about 
everything
to soothe the pain - things like success in ministry, the approval of 
others, perfectionism, doing good things, food and ... you get the idea.

In 1995 my carefully constructed world fell apart and I spent two long years 
at the bottom of a dark pit of depression. I had no idea how to handle the
pain and hurt. I cried out to God. He heard my cry and led me to a passage 
of Scripture that continually heals me and helps me handle hurt.

Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV) "I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and 
heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He 
set
my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my 
mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their 
trust
in the LORD."

I don’t know what your particular pit is.

But I know what you are feeling.

You may be desperately clinging to the broken and mismatched remnants of 
your life, wondering how you can go on.

Whispers of the enemy creep into your heart, soul and mind, taunting you 
with the lie that you are just too dirty and broken for God to love or use.

It seems as if nothing and no one can change that reality, so you might as 
well give up, throwing your life away.

Stop!

Nothing could be further from the truth, girlfriend. Hurt may be inevitable, 
but misery is optional. How we respond to pits and pain is our choice.

We can surrender to the darkness and create an identity that feels at home 
in a pit or we can embrace the pain and learn from it.

We can settle for a life defined by pain or we can harness the power of our 
pain and use it for good.

We can try to ignore the pain and hope it all goes away or we can face it 
and let God heal the broken places.

Those are not just words, girlfriend. They are choices that you and I can 
and must make every single day. God knows. God hears. God will breathe life 
into
the right choices that we make. And today He is asking, “Daughter, what will 
you do with your pain?â€

Let’s Pray

Father, my heart is broken and I don’t understand what You are doing in my 
life. The darkness is very real and filled with more questions than answers.
And I don’t like it! But I love You, Lord, so I choose trust over fear and 
faith over doubt. Lord, please fill each broken place in my heart with Your
peace and love. Today, I choose You.

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

Now Its Your Turn
Pour out your heart to your God in prayer, asking Him to uncover the hurt 
in your life. In your journal, record each one in simple, honest words. 
Every
day this week, read aloud Psalm 40:1-3 and claim it as a certain hope from 
God's heart to yours.
How has hurt impacted your life?
 What has been your typical response to hurt? Does that response line up 
with the truths of Psalm 40:1-3?
Do you really believe that if you cry out to God He will hear your cry? 
What does that mean to you?
 Are you willing to face and deal with the hurt in your life?


Gods Design in Detours

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord 
Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17)

Have you ever wondered what God is doing while you are looking in the wrong 
place for something you lost and needed very badly? He knows exactly where
it is, and he is letting you look in the wrong place.

I once needed a quote for a new edition of my book Desiring God. I knew I 
had read it in Richard Wurmbrand. I thought it was in his devotional book, 
Reaching
Toward the Heights. I could almost see it on the right hand side of the 
facing pages. But I couldnt find it.

But while I was looking, I was riveted on one page, the devotional for 
November 30. As I read it, I said, This is one of the reasons I have had to 
keep
looking for my quote. Here was a story, not for me, but for parents of 
broken children.

Having broken children is like looking in the wrong place for what you have 
lost and cannot find. Why? Why? Why? This was the unplanned reward of 
wasted
moments.

In a home for retarded children, Catherine was nurtured twenty years. The 
child had been [mentally handicapped] from the beginning and had never 
spoken
a word, but only vegetated. She either gazed quietly at the walls or made 
distorted movements. To eat, to drink, to sleep, were her whole life. She 
seemed
not to participate at all in what happened around her. A leg had to be 
amputated. The staff wished Cathy well and hoped that the Lord would soon 
take her
to Himself.

One day the doctor called the director to come quickly. Catherine was dying. 
When both entered the room, they could not believe their senses. Catherine
was singing Christian hymns she had heard and had picked up, just those 
suitable for death beds. She repeated over and over again the German song, 
“Where
does the soul find its fatherland, its rest?†She sang for half an hour with 
transfigured face, then she passed away quietly. (Taken from The Best Is 
Still
to Come, Wuppertal: Sonne und Shild)

Is anything that is done in the name of Christ really wasted?

My frustrated, futile search for what I thought I needed was not wasted. 
Singing to this disabled child was not wasted. And your agonizing, unplanned 
detour
is not a waste not if you look to the Lord for his unexpected work, and do 
what you must do in his name (
Colossians 3:17).
The Lord works for those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4).
Copyright Information
This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper's 
ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.

Give Thanks
Greg Anderson, in "Living Life on Purpose" tells a story about a man whose 
wife had left him. He was completely depressed. He had lost faith in 
himself,
in other people, in God - he found no joy in living. One rainy morning this 
man went to a small neighborhood restaurant for breakfast.

Although several people were at the diner, no one was speaking to anyone 
else. Our miserable friend hunched over the counter, stirring his coffee 
with a spoon.

In one of the small booths along the window was a young mother with a little 
girl. They had just been served their food when the little girl broke the
sad silence by almost shouting, "Momma, why don't we say our prayers here?"

The waitress who had just served their breakfast turned around and said, 
"Sure, honey, we can pray here. Will you say the prayer for us?" And she 
turned and looked at the rest of the people in the restaurant and said, "Bow your 
heads."

Surprisingly, one by one, the heads went down. The little girl then bowed 
her head, folded her hands, and said, "God is great, God is good, and we 
thank
him for our food. Amen."

That prayer changed the entire atmosphere. People began to talk with one 
another. The waitress said, "We should do that every morning."

"All of a sudden," said our friend, "my whole frame of mind started to 
improve. From that little girl's example, I started to thank God for all 
that I
did have and stopped majoring in all that I didn't have. I started to be 
grateful."

"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus 
concerning you." (1 Thes. 5:18)
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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 12 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 27 Jun 2016, 7:57 pm

The Gift of Evangelists

We now look at the gift of evangelists. In the following Scripture we see it 
in a list of gifts and why they were given:

Ephesians 4:11-12 (NASB95)
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as 
evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the 
saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

Below is what the New Bible Dictionary says about evangelists:

EVANGELIST. The word translated in the New Testament ‘evangelist’ is a noun 
from the Verb euangelizomai ‘to announce news’, and usually rendered as 
‘preach the gospel’. The verb is very common in the new Testament, and is 
applied to God (Gal. 3:8), to our Lord (Lk. 20:1), and to ordinary church 
members (Acts 8:4), as well as to apostles on their missionary journeys. The 
noun ‘evangelist’ occurs three times only in the New Testament. Timothy (2 
Tim. 4:5) is exhorted by Paul to do the work of an evangelist; that is to 
say, make known the facts of the gospel. Timothy had accompanied the apostle 
on his missionary journeys. But it is plain from the injunctions in the two 
letters addressed to him that his work when the apostle wrote was very 
largely local and pastoral. That he is enjoined to do the work of an 
evangelist shows that a man who was an evangelist could also be a pastor and 
teacher.
In Acts 21:8 Philip is described as ‘the evangelist’. Philip had been chosen 
as one of the Seven in Acts 6, and after the persecution of Stephen he was 
prominent in preaching the gospel in unevangelized parts (e.g. Acts 8:5, 12, 
35, 40). Though an evangelist, he was not included among the apostles (Acts 
8:14). A similar distinction is made between Timothy and the apostles in 2 
Cor. 1:1 and Col. 1:1. It will be seen, then, that though apostles were 
evangelists, not all evangelists were apostles. This distinction is 
confirmed in Eph. 4:11, where the office of ‘evangelist’ is mentioned after 
‘apostle’ and ‘prophet’, and before ‘pastor’ and ‘teacher’. From this 
passage it is plain that the gift of evangelist was a distinct gift within 
the Christian church; and although all Christians doubtless performed this 
sacred task, as opportunity was given to them, there were some who were 
pre-eminently called and endowed by the Holy Spirit for this work.

So evangelists are those who God calls to give all their time telling the 
Good News but we all are to do this. Jesus commands us to go make disciples. 
This means wherever we are, we are to do this as the Holy Spirit leads. I 
pray that all of us would be like John Harper as in the account below:

Harper Was Still Pleading
John Harper, the newly-called pastor of Moody Church in the early 1900s, 
manifested his Christian character in the sinking of the Titanic. Dr. W. B. 
Riley related the death of Harper.
“We have the history of John Harper’s end, for survivors, brought to harbor 
in safety, told the same. When the Titanic was struck by the iceberg that 
drove in her sides, and sent the ship to the bottom, John Harper was leaning 
against the rail pleading with a young man to come to Christ. … ”

Four years after the Titanic went down, a young Scotchman rose in a meeting 
in Hamilton, Can., and said, “I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was 
drifting alone on a spar that awful night, the tide brought Mr. John Harper, 
of Glasgow, on a piece of wreck near me. “Man,” he said, “are you saved?” 
“No,” I said, “I am not.” He replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and 
thou shalt be saved.”
“The waves bore him away; but, strange to say brought him back a little 
later, and he said, “Are you saved now?” “No,” I said, “I cannot honestly 
say that I am.” He said again, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou 
shalt be saved,” and shortly after he went down; and there, alone in the 
night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed. I am John Harper’s 
last convert.”
—quilla Webb

by Dean W. Masters

Grieve and Receive the Gift of Special Needs
Andrew Wilson / May 25, 2016
Grieve and Receive the Gift of Special Needs

Finding out your children have special needs is kind of like being given an 
orange.

Imagine sitting with a group of friends in a restaurant. You’ve just 
finished a decent main course and are about to consider the dessert menu, 
when one
of your friends gets up, taps their glass with a spoon, and announces that 
they have bought desserts for everyone as a gift. They disappear round the 
corner,
and return a minute later with an armful of round objects about the size of 
tennis balls, beautifully wrapped, with a bow on each.

As they begin distributing the mysterious desserts, everyone starts to open 
them in excitement and, one by one, the group discovers that they have each
been given a chocolate orange. Twenty segments of rich, smooth, lightly 
flavored milk chocolate: a perfect conclusion to a fine meal, and a very 
sociable
way of topping off an enjoyable evening. The table is filled with chatter, 
expressions of gratitude between mouthfuls, and that odd mixture of 
squelching
sound and intermittent silence that you always get when a large group is 
filling their faces. Then you open yours.

You’ve been given an orange. Not a chocolate orange; an actual orange. 
Eleven segments of erratically sized, pith-covered segments, with 
surprisingly large
pips in annoying places, requiring a degree in engineering in order to peel 
it properly, the consumption of which inevitably involves having juice run
down to (at least) your wrists, being squirted in the eye with painful acid, 
and spending the remainder of the meal picking strands the size of iron 
fillings
out from in between your molars. You stare at the orange in front of you 
with a mixture of surprise, disappointment, and confusion. The rest of the 
table
hasn’t noticed. They’re too busy enjoying their chocolate.

You pause to reflect. There’s nothing wrong with oranges, you say to 
yourself. They are sharp, sweet, refreshing, and zesty. The undisputed kings 
of the
citrus fruit world — when did you last order a freshly squeezed lemon 
juice? — oranges are enliveningly flavorsome, filled with vitamin C, and far 
better
for you than the mixture of sugar, milk powder, cocoa butter, and milk fat 
your friends are greedily consuming. With a bit of practice, they can 
probably
be peeled without blinding your neighbors. Looked at from a number of 
perspectives, in fact — medical, dietary, environmental — you have actually 
been
given a better dessert than everyone else. And you didn’t have a right to be 
given anything anyway.

But your heart sinks, all the same. An orange was not what you expected; as 
soon as you saw everyone else opening their chocolate, you simply assumed 
that
was what you would get too. Not only that, but it wasn’t what you wanted — 
you could pretend that it was and do your best to appreciate it and be 
thankful,
but you really had your heart set on those rich, smooth, lightly flavored, 
milk chocolate segments. And because you’re surrounded by other people, you
have to come to terms with the sheer unfairness of being given your orange, 
while your friends enjoy, share, laugh about, and celebrate theirs. A nice
meal has taken an unexpected turn, and you suddenly feel isolated, 
disappointed, frustrated, even alone.

It’s a trivial analogy, of course, and disabilities are far, far more 
challenging than oranges. But discovering your kids have special needs is a 
bit like
that.

Gift We Didn’t Ask For

Before we become parents, we have all sorts of ideas, expectations, and 
dreams about what it will be like. These ideas come from our own childhood, 
whether
good or bad, from the media, and from seeing the experiences of our friends 
and relatives: pushing prams with sleeping babies along the riverside, 
teaching
our children to walk, training them how to draw with crayons rather than eat 
them, answering cute questions, making star charts, walking them to school.
We don’t look forward to the more unpleasant aspects of parenting — 
interrupted nights, nappies, tantrums — but because we know that they will 
come, and
because we know that they will pass, we are emotionally prepared for them. 
Mostly, we daydream about the good bits, and talk to our friends about the 
joys
and challenges of what we are about to take on.

Then something happens. For some of us, it is at a twelve-week scan, or at 
birth; for others, it is several months or even years later. But something 
happens
that tells us, somehow, that all is not well. It rocks everything, and the 
entire picture of our lives, both in the present and the future, gets 
repainted
in the course of a few hours. Gradually, as time starts to heal, we come to 
terms with the situation, and we learn that there are some wonderful things
about what we’ve been given, as well as the difficult and painful things. 
Yet we can’t help feeling isolated, disappointed, frustrated, even alone.

Special needs, like the orange, are unexpected. We didn’t plan for them, and 
we didn’t anticipate them. Because our children are such a beautiful gift,
we often feel guilty for even saying this, but we might as well admit that 
we didn’t want our children to have regressive autism, any more than we 
wanted
them to have Down’s syndrome, or cerebral palsy, or whatever else. Give or 
take, we wanted pretty much what our friends had: children who crawled at 
one,
talked at two, potty trained at three, asked questions at four, and went off 
to mainstream school at five. We could have lived quite happily without 
knowing
what Piedro boots were for, or what stimming was, or how to fill out DLA 
forms.

God Knows What He’s Doing

So there are times, when we’re wiping the citric acid out of our eyes and 
watching our friends enjoying their chocolate, when it feels spectacularly 
unfair,
and we wish we could retreat to a place where everyone had oranges, so we 
wouldn’t have to fight so hard against the temptation to comparisonshopping 
and
wallowing in self-pity. We know that oranges are juicy in their own way. We 
know that they’re good for us, and that we’ll experience many things that 
others
will miss. But we wish we had a chocolate one, all the same.

Holding those two things in tension, when it comes to special needs or 
disabilities (or pretty much any kind of suffering, as it turns out), is 
extremely
important. On the one hand, we want to receive gifts from God precisely as 
gifts, and acknowledge that because they have been given to us by a good 
Father,
they will work to our good. On the other hand, we want to acknowledge, 
grieve for and pray for deliverance from the suffering itself, identifying 
it as
a consequence of a fallen world, and as something that will no longer be 
here when death is swallowed up by life.

Sometimes gifts are not quite what we wanted—and we need to allow ourselves 
the space to say so, while acknowledging that God knows what he is doing.

I find it so helpful to reflect on what Paul did, when he was given a gift 
that he didn’t want (2 Corinthians 12:7–10). He identified it as 
fundamentally
destructive: “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to 
harass me.” Yet he also recognised what God was doing through it: “to keep 
me
from becoming conceited.” Yet he also prayed emphatically that it might be 
removed: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should 
leave
me.” Yet he also found a place of peace with it: “For the sake of Christ, 
then, I am content ... for when I am weak, then I am strong.” By affirming 
both
its divine purpose and its fallen nature, he was able to hold exactly the 
tension we have been talking about.

So, as we’ve processed special needs together as a family over the last five 
years, we’ve come to see them this way—given yet painful, broken yet 
redemptive.
Which, of course, is very much like a thorn. Or an orange.


We Are Not Entitled to the World’s Respect
David Mathis / May 24, 2016
We Are Not Entitled to the World’s Respect

Winning arguments is not the same as winning souls. Very few, if any, have 
lost a quarrel and found themselves converted. But we all know the impulse 
deep
down, when engaging with unbelief, to lash out in an effort to show 
ourselves right rather than win the unbeliever.

If we genuinely are willing to take our cues from the New Testament, rather 
than instinct, we might be surprised to find the way the apostles would have
us to engage with our society. Paul points to kindness, patience, and gentle 
correction (2 Timothy 2:24–26), and Peter lays out the way of “gentleness
and respect” and compelling hope.

In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make 
a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;
yet do it with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)

Will they ask about our hope if our rhetoric is full of fear and at fever 
pitch?

Church Meets World

Don Carson has seen a lot come and go in the church and in the world.

Not just a world-class scholar of the New Testament, he’s been a keen 
observer of cultural upheaval and societal change for some five decades now. 
He laid
bare the philosophical foundations in his impressive volume
The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism
and authored
Christ and Culture Revisited
as a steady guide for orienting Christians in a swiftly changing milieu.

Being cosmopolitan, in the best sense, has helped. He was born to British 
parents, raised in French Canada, has taught at the graduate and doctoral 
level
for more than thirty years, and has traveled extensively, observing trends 
worldwide like few have.

Recently I had the privilege of sitting down with Carson to ask about his 
sense on the state of the church in America today, and going forward.

You might wonder whether someone with his ecclesiological pedigree and 
breadth would dream nostalgically about the 1950s and join the fight to 
reclaim
the golden era that seemed so much more conducive to Christianity. Carson, 
however, is much less worried about the broadening gap between church and 
society
— and much more eager for Christians to learn to engage with humility and 
kindness.

We are all products of our age, in some degree, admits Carson, and in the 
days ahead, evangelicals desperately need to take their cues from Scripture,
rather than engaging with society on its own terms, in its own tenor.

“What is first of all required is to take our cues on conduct and civility 
and tongue — what we say, what we think, where we’re going, what our values
are, living in the light of eternity, living under the shadow of the cross — 
take all of that from Scripture, from the gospel, from Christ and 
subconsciously
work toward being a counter culture, a different culture, one with an 
allegiance tied to the kingdom of God.”

Carson’s concern is that far too often we have let the surrounding culture 
define the rules and assumptions of our engagement. When shouted at, we are
prone to respond with the natural human instinct to shout in return. We 
return shrillness with shrillness. But in our increasingly post-Christian 
society,
we are in increasing need of being the kind of people who respond to a slap 
on one cheek by turning to the other and who respond to vitriol and venom 
with
gentleness, perceptive questions, careful listening, and loving kindness.

We need to learn, in the words of the apostle Paul, “to show perfect 
courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2).

Growing Up in Opposition

This isn’t the first time Carson has experienced firsthand growing 
opposition to the church. His patient vision for engagement today has its 
roots not
only in the biblical text, but also in his upbringing in French Canada, 
where evangelicals were openly opposed, even persecuted, in the 1950s. 
Carson’s
childhood in Quebec was not your mother’s upbringing in the southern United 
States.

“Because of the background in which I grew up, I never held a view that 
Christians are entitled or Christian ministers ought to be revered by the 
culture.
Baptist ministers alone between 1950 and 1952 in French Canada spent about 
eight years in jail. I’ve never been tempted by the view that Christians 
ought
to be honored by the culture.”

Carson says he understands why people raised in deeply Christian contexts 
would develop a different reflex than his, and he is not eager to minimize 
the
losses that come with an increasingly secular society. We should be honest 
about the real pains and losses of growing opposition, he admits, but he’s 
eager
to highlight the gains as well.

“I probably feel a little less that we’re losing something massive. We’re 
losing some things, but we’re also gaining some things now.”

Among those gains, he includes the purifying of the church from “nominal 
Christianity” — from those who are Christian in name only, not truly born 
again
from the heart.

“The rising antipathy against the church means that there’s less and less 
Christian nominalism around. . . . If what’s going down is the nominalism, 
so
that proportionally there’s more authentic Christianity that’s biblically 
based, this becomes a way of purifying the church, too.”

“Some of the apparently Christian ethos inherited from Judeo-Christian roots 
was fake, it was hypocritical,” and Carson appreciates the fresh desire in
our day to be honest — “authentic” in its best conception — rather than put 
up a façade. This is a gain.

He also finds among the gains his sense of less rebellion against 
Christianity among young adults — and even new curiosity about the faith.

“As the culture moves further and further away from Christian roots, what 
you’re finding nowadays, for example on university campuses, is that there 
is
less rebellion against Christianity than there was fifteen years ago because 
they don’t know enough about it to hate it. There’s at least a sort of open
curiosity.”

We Are Not Entitled to the World’s Respect lkiyjocf

In the days ahead, Titus 3:1–3 is one of many passages that will help us 
take our cues from Scripture, as Carson charges, rather than from society’s 
manner
and assumptions in public speech. There Paul writes to his protégé Titus, 
ministering in the moral chaos of Crete, a society hostile to the gospel,

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to 
be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling,
to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we 
ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various 
passions and
pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating 
one another. (Titus 3:1–3)

Whether in private conversation with friends, family, and coworkers, or in 
the public speech that an increasing number engage in through the Web and 
social
media, we are prone to forget the depravity into which we were born, and the 
sin that still courses in our veins. But we are called to remember from 
where
we’ve come — and the sinful proclivities we’re still fighting within.

The Christian’s charge is not to respond to fools with folly, but to 
cultivate the empathy that is fitting when we’re aware that we ourselves 
were once
foolish — but for God’s grace — and still war against our foolishness in 
many respects.

It is striking in our day of soundbites and the growing polarization of 
perspectives to “speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle.” 
It rings
of Paul’s charge to another protégé, Timothy, in the caldron of Ephesus.

The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to 
teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. 
God
may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and 
they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after
being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24–26)

It is remarkable that the apostle would say, related to our engagement with 
outsiders, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that
you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:5–6). Always 
gracious — always. And that graciousness, he says, is vital to knowing how
we ought to answer. As Christians, only by the grace of God, we have no 
excuse to let any words fly — in speech, tweets, or Facebook comments — that 
are
ungracious.

Called to Engage with Kindness

At the end of the day, our gracious speech may open the door to some, but it 
doesn’t mean we will avoid being misunderstood, mistreated, and maligned.

“A great deal of public opinion,” says Carson, “is shaped by dogmatic heated 
antitheses. It’s really hard to find people to engage civilly on many 
topics.
. . . It really is increasingly difficult to hold a civil conversation in 
the broader discourse because when you put your head up above the parapet, 
you’re
labelled and shut down.”

It is inevitable that in such an age our kindness will be rejected, but that 
doesn’t mean we devolve into the meanness and shrillness that surrounds us.
In Christ, we have a higher calling and capacity.

“One of the things that Christians have to learn in this frame of reference 
is, even if the whole society becomes uncivil in all discourse, we must not
descend to that level, we must not project ourselves as screaming angry 
people but as broken people living under the cross, submitting to the 
lordship
of Christ, wanting to think fairly and accurately and faithfully and truly 
and hopefully and edifyingly in a Christ-honoring, church-building-up sort 
of
way.

“If that earns us a certain amount of opprobrium, pay the price. That’s what 
we do. But we don’t want to descend to the screaming level.”
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Post  Admin on Sun 26 Jun 2016, 11:43 pm

ATTITUDE: IT’S HOW YOU LOOK AT LIFE (Author Unknown)
There’s a story told about an elderly lady in Arkansas.

The state voted to increase welfare payments to indigents. Hoping for a 
tear-jerker story, a television interviewer went into the back hills where 
many
welfare recipients lived.

The old woman he interviewed lived in a one-room shack: draughty in winter; 
stifling in summer. Her bed was a few rough planks nailed together, with a
pine-needle mattress. A couple thin blankets, and a fireplace, did little to 
protect her from the cold.

Her furniture, a table and two chairs, were fashioned from the same rough 
wood as her bed. Some shelves held a few cans of food from the general 
store,
a three mile walk down the road. Several jars of preserves and a few squash 
completed her larder.

She had no fridge or freezer. The fireplace provided heat for cooking. With 
no phone or television her only connection with the outside world was an old
radio that pulled in two or three local stations on a good day.

The old woman had one convenience, running water. A crystal clear stream 
gurgled a short distance behind her home.

A small garden near her back door provided fresh vegetables during the 
summer, and some squash and turnips for the winter. A tidy flower garden 
brightened
the front of her house.

The television crew broadcast pictures of the woman and the place she called 
home.

Eventually the interviewer asked the old woman, “If the government gave you 
$200 more each month, what would you do with it?”

Without hesitation the woman replied, “I’d give it to the poor.”

How do you look at life? Do you see only what you don’t have, or are you 
thankful for what is yours?

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

All Your Days
by Anna Kuta, Crosswalk.com Contributor

“Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written 
in your book before one of them came to be” (
Psalm 139:16).

Last month, my family was saddened to hear the news of a friend who suffered 
an untimely and tragic death. A believer in Christ, he had struggled with
dementia for years.

At the funeral, the pastor read this verse from the Psalms:

“Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written 
in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16).

What a comforting and peaceful reminder that is – that there is nothing we 
can do to lengthen or shorten our days. How especially powerful those words
are for anyone who has lost a loved one “too young.”

Before you were born, God already knew the number of days you would live on 
this earth. How incredible is that thought? Though circumstances and their
timing don’t always make sense, we can trust that God, in his eternal 
wisdom, has written in His book a grand master plan. As He reminds us in 
Isaiah 55:8-9:
“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says 
the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways 
higher
than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

No death is a surprise to God, nor is any death out of the control of His 
will. Though none of us know in advance how long we will live, we do know 
that
the Lord is with us from the moment of conception until our last breath – 
and then for all eternity for those who have put their trust in Him as 
Savior.

Let us never doubt the significance and impact of any life – no matter how 
short – for God has ordained all of our days for His purpose.

Intersecting
Faith
& Life: Take a minute to consider the words of Psalm 139:16 – a testament to 
the holy power and omniscience of God. Though life and death is a mystery
to us, it isn’t to God. Let us all strive to serve and live for Him today 
and every day, so whether we meet the Lord tomorrow or in 50 years, we will 
be
ready when our time comes.

Further Reading
Psalm 139
Ecclesiastes 11:5
Psalm 119:73


The Danger of Forgetfulness
by Association of Biblical Counselors

by
Paul Tripp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When you forget God’s generosity and think you’re deserving, you find it 
very easy to withhold generosity from others. Proudly, you think that you’re 
getting
what you deserve and that they are, too. Your proud heart is not tender, so 
it’s not easily moved by the sorry plight of others. You forget that you are
more like than unlike your needy brother or sister, failing to acknowledge 
that neither of you stands before God as deserving.

...[W]ill you remember to remember the generosity of God? Remembrance 
produces upward worship, inward humility, and outward generosity. Give 
thanks, be
humble, and be generous, because the blessings you receive from the Lord are 
not what you deserve.

God bless

Paul David Tripp
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Pray Forward
AmyLayneLitzelman.com

Your Kingdom come...
Holy God and Friend, how great You are! And You call us to join You in this 
greatness. To partner with You as disciples, bond-servants, friends, and 
sons.
Draw me deeper into You; into Your Kingdom plan. Train me. Help me recognize 
You in all that I do and am. May I hunger for truth. May I thirst for Your
word. May Your Kingdom come in every corner of my soul and life, for Your 
glory and joy.
Copyright © 2016 Amy Layne Litzelman, All rights reserved.

4 Biblical Things Christians Can Do about Same-Sex Marriage
Mike Nappa, Gregory Coles
Many Christians talk about homosexuality the way we talk about life on Mars. 
It’s an abstraction, a thought experiment. We can take a stance, form a 
belief,
and go on with life as usual. We don’t really have to do anything.
But sexual minorities aren’t simply abstractions, people hidden from view in 
some distant place. They have names we recognize, faces we love and live 
with.
They’re our friends, our coworkers, our siblings, our children. They come to 
youth group on Tuesday nights. They live two doors down. They’re Rachel’s
two moms and Samuel’s new husband.
What happens when our abstract beliefs about homosexuality collide with a 
living, breathing, bleeding human being?
It’s a complex question, and many of us find ourselves immobilized by the 
complexity. We’re so afraid of saying and doing the wrong things that we say
nothing, do nothing. But if we claim to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, we 
can’t be content to stand still.
Here are four biblical things you can do to love like Jesus as you respond 
to same-sex
marriage:
1. Listen more than you preach.
At Penn State University, on the front steps of the Willard Building, stands 
a man known as “The Willard Preacher.” Until the weather gets below 
freezing,
he’s there like clockwork, wearing a red hoodie, preaching about fornication 
and homosexuality.
“You,” he taunts as people walk by. “You have sex. You’re going to hell.” In 
his eyes, they’re all “you.” As if everyone walking past him lives an 
identical
life of sexual indulgence. As if thousands of people can be reduced to one. 
As if we all have the same story to tell.
John 4 tells us that Jesus once approached a Samaritan woman, a serial 
divorcee, at a well. He knew her history without being told, but instead of 
condemnation
his first words were an invitation to relationship:
“Will you give me a drink?”
He already knew everything this woman had done; yet he gave her a chance to 
know him as well. Others had spoken to her in monologue; Jesus spoke in 
dialogue.
He wasn’t content to preach from a distance, to an abstract “you.” When 
Jesus said “you,” he knew exactly who he was talking to.
What would happen if, instead of blustering about same-sex marriage like The 
Willard Preacher, we took time to listen like Jesus? To hear people’s 
stories?
To speak in dialogue instead of diatribe?
Whose lives might be changed then?
2. Own your own sin.
Our van was barreling down the highway when we heard a sound like an 
exploding grenade.
All heads turned. Two lanes over, a small white car was grinding against the 
concrete barrier, sparks flying, its back wheel sagging and limping. 
“Probably
a teenager texting,” our driver said disdainfully—while our own van drifted 
dangerously into the next lane.
We didn’t crash that day. But if we had been two lanes over, with a concrete 
barrier beside us, we would have. Our driver was so busy accusing someone
else of error that he was oblivious to his own error.
The great danger of diagnosing other people’s sin (or what we perceive as 
sin) is that it distracts us from dealing with our own sin.
Remember the Pharisees in
John 8:2-11?
They wanted to stone a woman caught in adultery. They tried to get Jesus to 
collaborate in their condemnation—but he changed the topic from her sin to
their sin: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a 
stone at her.”
And just like that, the execution was called off.
When it comes to same-sex marriage, the question that demands our attention 
has nothing to do with other people’s sin. The question is for us: If we 
believe
Jesus calls us to obedience and radical self-denial, how fully are we 
following that call?
3. Vest your interests in Christ’s power—not in human laws.
On June 26, 2015—the day the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of same-sex 
marriage—Facebook was a kaleidoscope. There were the people in favor of the 
ruling,
with their rainbow-flag-themed profile pictures and #lovewins and exuberant 
celebrations. And there were the dissenters, with stars and stripes instead
of rainbows, ominous prophecies instead of exclamation points.
But for all their disagreement, the Facebookers seemed to agree on one 
thing: a national law’s alignment or misalignment with a person’s ethical 
preferences
was a matter of utmost importance.
Jesus took a very different approach. He chose to be more interested in 
people than in legal structures themselves. It wasn’t political revolution 
he wanted,
but a heart revolution. Here’s why:
A biblical agenda isn’t always a political agenda. If we want to see a world 
transformed, a world more in love with Jesus, we need to put our hope in 
something
better than politics. We need to vest our efforts in Christ’s power to 
transform from within—not in the law’s power to conform from without.
“Therefore,” writes Paul in
2 Corinthians 5:17,
“if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.”
Christ alone is the source of newness, the source of hope. Human laws don’t 
change hearts; only Christ does. Human arguments don’t mend brokenness; only
Christ does. Human political agendas don’t bring eternal life; only Christ 
does.
Why put our
faith
in anything less?
4. Embody Christ’s love in every encounter.
They sat outside the church building in a car with a running engine. “Do you 
want to come in?” he asked. “There’s food.”
“No thanks,” she said. “Church people don’t like me very much.”
“Sure they do,” he said. “I’m a church person, and I like you.”
“But you’re different,” she said. “You like everyone. If there were more 
Christians like you, maybe I’d be a Christian too.”
Far too often, Christians who engage the issue of same-sex marriage have 
failed to communicate love to those across the political and theological 
divides.
We speak the word “love” when our actions look nothing like love. And at 
times we’re guilty of being more interested in “winning” than we are in 
really
learning how to show love to others.
What if we loved first and foremost? Recklessly and with determination? 
Loved the way Christ did, as
1 Corinthians 13
describes? What if, next time we entered a discussion of same-sex marriage:
We were patient…
And kind…
Not easily angered…
Not dishonoring to others?
What if we protected those who’ve been cast aside…
Hoped even when hope seemed lost?
It seems like that kind of love that would make a real difference in our 
nation. Without it, our best arguments are nothing more than “a resounding 
gong
or a clanging cymbal”
(1 Corinthians 13:1).
So when it comes to doing something about same-sex marriage, how about if we 
choose this: Let’s LOVE.

Gregory Coles and Mike Nappa are entertainment journalists at
PopFam.com.

KenBible.com

New Post on KenBible.com - Rejoice!
----------------------------------------------------------

Rejoice!

Posted: 22 May 2016 09:55 PM PDT

The New Testament was not written in an ivory tower. Most of its authors and 
its first readers were people in deep suffering. Their pressures and 
persecutions
were more severe than most of us will ever experience. Thus when the Bible 
tells us how to handle difficult times, it’s speaking from experience. Its 
wisdom
is thoroughly life-tested.

What do the New Testament writers consistently emphasize for those who are 
suffering? “Rejoice!” “Be glad!” “Consider yourselves blessed!”

Strange advice? These sufferers give us lots of reasons why rejoicing is a 
healthy, productive, and reasonable response to difficulties.

1. Suffering produces a whole garden of beautiful fruit within us, 
such as endurance, character, and hope (Romans 5:1-5). It strengthens and 
refines
our faith, that essential connection between God and us (1 Peter 1:6-7). It 
produces maturity and gradually makes us complete in Christ, lacking in 
nothing
(James 1:2-4).

2. Suffering is our best chance to glorify God (1 Peter 4:16). The 
closer Jesus got to the Crucifixion, the more He talked about glorifying His 
Father.
His greatest, most enduring work was accomplished on the Cross. There God’s 
love was displayed most purely and undeniably.

It will likely be so in our lives as well. Suffering will probably be our 
greatest chance to glorify God in a world that desperately needs to witness 
God’s
reality in our life.

3. Suffering is part of releasing what is temporary and grasping what 
is eternal and of greater value. While our outer person is decaying, our 
inner
person – the real “us” that will live forever – is growing stronger and 
stronger, day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).

4. When we suffer for Jesus and for the spread of the gospel, we have 
been granted a great privilege! We stand with the greatest saints of all the
ages (Matthew 5:11-12; Hebrews 11). Far from being disgraced, we are highly 
honored to be counted worthy of suffering for Christ (Acts 5:40-42; 1 Peter
4:16). We have become part of His great work to save the world (1 Peter 
4:13). Paul said of his own sufferings, “In my flesh I am completing what is 
still
lacking in Christ’s afflictions for his body” (Colossians 1:24, para.). As 
we suffer, we carry on what Jesus started.

5. Suffering helps us enjoy more intimate fellowship with Jesus 
(Philippians 3:7-11). The One with whom we walk face-to-face was “a man of 
sorrows”
(Isaiah 53:3). Suffering was a major part of His life experience. When we 
suffer, we share a deeper bond with Him.

6. Our present suffering can’t compare, either in degree or in 
duration, to the joy we will know when Christ takes us to Himself forever 
(Romans
8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Rejoice! Suffering draws us closer to Jesus. As we trust Him, He turns even 
suffering into great blessing!

We will suffer,
but we need not fear suffering.
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He Knows What We Need
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“Get up, take your mat and walk.” Mark 2:9b (NIV)

Get ready, friend. Jesus is “in the house” (Mark 2:1, ASV), and it’s 
standing room only. In fact, that day in Capernaum, “they gathered in such 
large numbers
that there was no room left, not even outside the door” (Mark 2:2a, NIV). 
People surely stepped on one another’s sandaled feet and craned their heads 
to
get a better look.

Whatever they were seeking, the Lord gave them what they needed: “and he 
preached the word to them” (Mark 2:2b, NIV). Whether we’re fully aware of it 
or
not, that’s what our souls hunger for most: God’s Word. We may pray for 
material things or mended relationships or financial blessings or easier 
lives,
but what our hearts truly want is to hear His truth and experience His 
presence.

Jesus encountered a man that day who wasn’t content with simply hearing Him 
speak. This man wanted to be changed, forgiven, healed. He wanted Jesus, but
he needed help to reach Him. Then, “Some men came, bringing to him a 
paralyzed man, carried by four of them” (Mark 2:3, NIV). What a perfect 
picture of
how we’re to bear one another’s burdens!

Sadly, no one made room for a paralyzed man on a mat. No one gave up their 
place. So, his resourceful buddies “made an opening in the roof above Jesus”
(Mark 2:4b, NIV) and lowered the paralyzed man into the house.

The crowd must have looked up in astonishment as a man on a mat entered the 
room through a door that didn’t exist before. A helpless man who didn’t have
the ability to create that opening or lower himself down.

This is how God rescues us, beloved. It is not of our own doing. The Holy 
Spirit is our Helper, our Comforter, our stretcher-bearer, delivering us to 
the
only One who can save us.

When He looked up, “Jesus saw their faith” (Mark 2:5a, NIV). Yes, their 
faith, not just the faith of the paralytic man. Faith might be invisible, 
but the
evidence of it was clear in their brave, bold, collective move.

Then Jesus spoke directly to the man lying before him. “Son, your sins are 
forgiven” (Mark 2:5b, NIV).

Oh, my. We weren’t told the man was a sinner. We thought he was merely 
stricken with a malady and in need of a physician.

But Jesus was far more concerned with the state of the man’s soul than the 
state of his body. Like many of us, this man on the mat was paralyzed with 
fear,
with shame, with guilt. Jesus had to address that first, just as He does 
with us.

At once, the deed was done. Jesus told him “the penalty is remitted, the 
sense of guilt removed, and you are made upright and in right standing with 
God”
(Mark 2:5b, AMPC). Glory!

But not everyone in the crowd was pleased. The teachers of the law watched 
all this unfold and thought to themselves, “‘Why does this fellow talk like
that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” (Mark 2:7).

How this truth must have irked them! Because if no one can forgive sins 
except God, then Jesus must be …

Right. God. In the flesh.

With the crowd hanging on His every Word, Jesus told the teachers of the 
law, “But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to 
forgive
sins” (Mark 2:10a). To further prove His power, Jesus said to the paralyzed 
man “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home” (Mark 2:11, NIV).

The man arrived unable to do any of those things. He couldn’t stand, he 
couldn’t hold his mat, and he definitely couldn’t head for home on his own. 
Now,
because of Jesus, he “walked out in full view of them all” (Mark 2:12a, 
NIV).

No wonder people praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like 
this!” (Mark 2:12b, NIV). Now, you and I have seen it as well, through the 
eyes
of a broken man made whole.

Lord, You really do know what we need most: Your truth, Your forgiveness and 
the freedom You offer us through Your Son. Give us the humility to accept
help and seek You, whatever it takes. Only You can forgive. Only You can 
heal. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Acts 13:38, “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus 
the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” (NIV)John 8:36, “So if the 
Son
sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
In Liz Curtis Higgs’
© 2016 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.


God Works for You

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes 
from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be 
moved,
he who keeps you will not slumber.
(Psalm 121:1–3)

Do you need help? I do. Where do you look for help?

When the Psalmist lifted up his eyes to the hills and asked, “From where 
does my help come?” he answered, “My help comes from the Lord” — not from 
the
hills, but from the God who made the hills.

So he reminded himself of two great truths: one is that God is a mighty 
Creator over all the problems of life; the other is that God never sleeps.

God is a tireless worker. Think of God as a worker in your life. Yes, it is 
amazing. We are prone to think of ourselves as workers in God’s life. But 
the
Bible wants us first to be amazed that God is a worker in our lives: “From 
of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God 
besides
thee, who works for those who wait for him”
(Isaiah 64:4).

God is working for us around the clock. He does not take days off and he 
does not sleep. In fact he is so eager to work for us that he goes around 
looking
for more work to do for people who will trust him: “The eyes of the Lord run 
to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show his might in behalf of those
whose heart is whole toward him”
(2 Chronicles 16:9).

God loves to show his tireless power and wisdom and goodness by working for 
people who trust him. Jesus was the main way the Father showed this: “The 
Son
of man came not to be served but to serve” (
Mark 10:45).
Jesus works for his followers. He serves them.

This is what we must believe — really believe — in order to “rejoice always” 
(
Philippians 4:4)
and “give thanks in everything” (
Ephesians 5:20)
and have the “peace that passes understanding” (
Philippians 4:7),
and “be anxious for nothing” (
Philippians 4:6)
and “hate our lives in this world” (
John 12:25)
and “love our neighbor as we love ourselves” (
Matthew 22:39).

What a truth! What a reality! God is up all night and all day to work for 
those who wait for him.
This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper's 
ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.

Be Worthy

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ. - 
Philippians 1:27

The apostle's concern is not simply with our talk and conversation with one 
another, but with the whole course of our life and behavior in the world. 
The
Greek word translated "manner of life" signifies the actions and the 
privileges of citizenship: And in this way we are commanded to let our 
actions, as
citizens of the New Jerusalem, be worthy of the Gospel of Christ. What 
"manner of life" is this?

• In the first place, the Gospel is very simple. So
Christians
should be simple and plain in their habits. There should be about our 
manner, our speech, our dress, our whole behavior that simplicity that is 
the very
soul of beauty.
• The Gospel is preeminently true. It is gold without dross; and the 
Christian's life will be lusterless and valueless without the jewel of 
truth.
• The Gospel is a very fearless Gospel; it boldly proclaims the truth, 
whether men like it or not. We must be equally faithful and unflinching.
• But the Gospel is also very gentle. We see this in Jesus: "a bruised reed 
he will not break."1 Some professing Christians are sharper than a 
thorn-hedge;
such men are not like Jesus. Let us seek to win others by the gentleness of 
our words and deeds.
• The Gospel is very loving. It is the message of the God of love to a lost 
and fallen race. Christ's command to His disciples was, "Love one another."
We need more real, hearty union with and love for all the saints, more 
tender compassion toward the souls of the worst and vilest of men!
• We must not forget that the Gospel of Christ is holy. It never excuses 
sin: It pardons it, but only through an atonement. If our life is to 
resemble
the Gospel, we must shun not merely the grosser vices, but everything that 
would hinder our perfect conformity to Christ.

For His sake, for our own sakes, and for the sake of others, we must strive 
day by day to let our manner of life be more in accordance with His Gospel.

1 Matthew 12:20

Family
Bible
reading plan

verse 1 Isaiah 25

verse 2 1 John 3

Jesus Christ, God’s Son, The Saviour

Ichthus is the Greek word for a fish. Its five Greek letters form the first 
letters of the early Christian confession that 'Jesus Christ is the Son of
God and Saviour.' To draw a fish sign meant: '
I am a Christian.'
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The Gift of Apostles

We now look at the gift of apostles.

1 Corinthians 12:28-29 (KJV)
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily 
prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, 
helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all 
prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

The following is the entry found in the New Bible Dictionary:

APOSTLE. There are over 80 occurrences of the Greek word apostolos in the 
New Testament mostly in Luke and Paul. It derives from the very common verb 
apostellō to send, but in non-Christian Greek., after Herodotus in the 5th 
century B.C., there are few recorded cases where it means ‘a person sent’, 
and it generally means ‘fleet’, or perhaps occasionally ‘admiral’. The sense 
of ‘sent one, messenger’ may have survived in popular speech: at least, 
isolated occurrences in the Septuagent and Josephus suggest that this 
meaning was recognized in Jewish circles. Only with Christian literature, 
however, does it come into its own. In the New Testament it is applied to 
Jesus as the Sent One of God
(Heb. 3:1), to those sent by God to preach to Israel (Lk. 11:49) and to 
those sent by churches (2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25); but above all it is 
applied absolutely to the group of men who held the supreme dignity in the 
primitive church. Since apostellō seems frequently to mean ‘to send with a 
particular purpose’, as distinct from the neutral pempō (save in the 
Johannine writings, where the two are synonyms), the force of apostolos is 
probably ‘one commissioned’—it is implied,

Most of the time when we hear the word “apostle” we think of the original 
twelve who were with Jesus. Then when Judas hung himself and they had to 
find another one, they wanted someone who had seen Jesus personally. That 
was what people then thought made someone an apostle. That is why Paul made 
a big deal out of having seen Christ so that the people reading his letter 
would accept him as an apostle which he called himself. Paul called other 
Christians who had been sent out from some churches to another church 
apostles. This must be the type apostles he is speaking of here in the list 
of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In this sense, we might call them 
missionaries today. He did write that not everyone is an apostle. That is 
correct in that not everyone is sent out with a specific job sponsored by a 
church. But we are all apostles in the original sense of the word.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority 
in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the 
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy 
Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given 
you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

This is called the Great Commission which Jesus gave to his first apostles 
but he also gives it to us just as all His commands are for us to obey. You 
are being sent no matter where you are. You are to be telling others about 
Jesus Christ no matter where you go. This means at the supermarket, ball 
field, anywhere and everywhere. Be obedient and do the job you are sent to 
do, to make disciples!

by Dean W. Masters

Letting God Work In and Through You
View this email in your browser
BIBLE MEDITATION:
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good 
pleasure.”
Philippians 2:13

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
One of the greatest secrets I have ever learned is this: God doesn’t want me 
to do anything for Him. He wants to do something through me.

People say, “Well, I just serve God in my poor, little, old weak way.” I 
feel like saying, “Well, quit it. He doesn’t want you to serve Him in your 
poor,
little, old weak way. He wants you out of the way, so He can flow through 
you!”

We need to make ourselves available to God and say, “God, I’m tired of being 
inhibited. I want to be inhabited by You. I want You to live Your life 
through
me.”

ACTION POINT:
Where have you been standing in the way of God instead of surrendering to 
God and letting Him live through you?
Discover Jesus
Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.

Marriage Reveals What’s Unhealed
By Rick Warren

“In the end, people appreciate honest criticismfar more than flattery”
(Proverbs 28:23
NLT, second edition).

If you’re dating and you’re prolonging a relationship that you know is going 
nowhere, don’t continue it. “But I won’t have anybody to take me out on 
Friday
night,” you say. A bad marriage is a million times worse than not going out 
on Friday night! The longer you’re in an unhealthy dating relationship, the
more difficult it’s going to be to get out of it.

Proverbs 28:23 says, “In the end, people appreciate honest criticismfar more 
than flattery” (NLT, second edition).

If the relationship is healthy, you should be able to ask each other the 
tough questions about any anger, resentment, or bitterness in your lives. I’d
encourage you to talk about any hurts, habits, or hang-ups you have in your 
lives. If you can’t have these conversations with each other, that’s a huge
warning sign about the relationship.

Regardless of the emotional state of your partner, you need to begin with a 
personal relationship with Jesus Christ yourself. If you don’t have that, 
you
need to start there. You need to get spiritually connected to God.

Next I want to challenge you to commit yourself to God’s standard and not 
let oceans of emotions sway you into making a stupid decision. It’s possible
to think you’ve fallen in love when all you’ve really done is fall in love 
with the idea of being in love. And that may lead to a decision you'll 
regret!

God knows you can get lonely, frustrated, tempted, or feeling like there’s 
no hope. But in Jeremiah 29:11, God says he’s working in your life to give 
you
a hopeful future.

Don’t date until your own emotional hurts are healed or at least until 
you're in the healing process. We've got to get rid of any bitterness in our 
lives.
Get rid of any anger in our lives. In other words, we've got to deal with 
our own baggage. How do I do that? Get with God. Learn from Jesus.

I remember marrying a couple many years ago at Saddleback. About five years 
later we had them over for dinner. The woman told me, “When I walked down 
the
aisle in that white dress, I had no idea that I was carrying an entire bag 
of emotional garbage on my back. And I took all that garbage into the 
marriage.”

Marriage does not create problems. It reveals them. The more you can deal 
with it before you get married, the happier, more God-honoring, and more 
fulfilling
your marriage is going to be. You and your spouse will develop a deep soul 
intimacy that is personal, spiritual, even sexual. It is the oneness that 
comes
from being unified by a relationship to God.


• What are the hurts, habits, or hang-ups you need to address before you get 
married? We all have hurts, habits, or hang-ups; ask God where you need 
healing
and how he can help you do that.
• How would your relationships change if you committed to God’s standards?

For more Daily Hope with Rick Warren, please visit
rickwarren.org
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Why We Should Expect Suffering
by Paul Edwards

Contemporary culture is, in the words of the late author and social critic 
Christopher Lasch, a "culture of narcissism." Tragically, the American 
church
is not immune to this virus. For today the lifestyles and longings of many 
modern day followers of Christ often bear no appreciable difference from 
that
of our non-Christian neighbors and co-workers.

At some point during the last quarter century it became all-too-common to 
stop proclaiming a gospel directed at people's real spiritual needs and 
instead
focus on the wants and desires of potential church goers. More than 
mirroring the first century church, this conduct reflects the way Starbucks 
markets
overpriced coffee to potential consumers.

For example, conventional wisdom in evangelicalism today is that suffering 
is the exception, not the norm for the believer. Moreover, if a Christian 
does
suffer it is quite possibly because of sin in his or her life. Many segments 
of the American church—immersed in a culture of happy, prosperous 
consumers—have
failed their constituency by not faithfully proclaiming what the Bible says 
about the reality of suffering.

But suffering in the Christian life is the rule, not the exception. From the 
day Christ called us to follow Him he fully disclosed two prerequisites: 
denying
ourselves and taking up our cross. When Saul of Tarsus was converted on the 
road to Damascus, he didn't experience a Benny Hinn-esque healing. On the 
contrary,
God blinded him, left him in that condition for days and sent a reluctant 
evangelist by the name of Ananias to inform him of how much he would suffer 
for
the name of Christ (
Acts 9:15).

And suffer he did. Consider what Paul endured: five times beaten with 39 
stripes, three times beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked three times, a 
night
and a day floating in the sea, danger of all kinds, weary and in pain, 
hungry and thirsty, naked and cold. And to add insult to injury God refused 
to answer
his prayer for healing from whatever was ailing him—a thorn in his flesh. 
Paul was told to be content with grace in the midst of his sufferings (
2 Corinthians 11:1).

How did Paul respond to his sufferings?

I will glory in the things which concern my infirmities
(2 Corinthians 2:30).

I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at 
hand …henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the 
Lord, the righteous
judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto them also who 
love His appearing
(2 Timothy 2:8).

The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto 
his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen
(2 Timothy 2:18).

How could Paul rejoice in his sufferings and give glory to God? The answer 
lies in a full reading of
2 Timothy 3:1,
written in prison just prior to his execution. Note the use of the word 
"love" five times in these two chapters: lovers of self (3:2); lovers of 
money
(3:2 - "covetous" in some translations); lovers of pleasure (3:4); love his 
appearing (4:8); loved this present world (4:10).

One of the five loves mentioned stands in stark contrast to the other four: 
loving the appearing of Jesus Christ.

When we live in anticipation of seeing Jesus and hearing Him say, "Well 
done, thou good and faithful servant: enter into the joy of your Lord," we 
can
endure suffering. Why? Because such a focus helps us realize that the worst 
thing that happens to us here and now can never separate us from the love
of God which is in Christ Jesus. With our focus not on self but Jesus, we 
more fully realize the truth of
2 Corinthians 2:17:
"Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more 
exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

The tragedy is that much of contemporary evangelicalism has sold the future 
and eternal "weight of glory" for the immediate and transient satisfaction
of "your best life now." As a result, when Christians encounter difficultly 
they are ill-prepared to deal with it biblically: the storms come, the winds
blow and "Cultural Christian" is blown away because there was no firm, 
biblical foundation for life (
Matthew 7:24).

In contrast, the English Baptist John Rippon wrote in 1787 of the believer's 
firm foundation:

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake.

In Jesus we have a foundation not only for this life, but for all eternity. 
Therefore, come what may, the Christian can proclaim, "My flesh and my heart
may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (
Psalms 73:26).
Paul Edwards is the host of "The Paul Edwards Program" and a pastor. His 
program is heard daily on WLQV in Detroit and on godandculture.com. Contact 
Paul
at paul@godandculture.com.


How to Hate Your Life

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth 
and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever 
loves
his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for 
eternal life.”
(John 12:24–25)

“Whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” What 
does that mean?

It means, at least, that you don’t take much thought for your life in this 
world. In other words, it just doesn’t matter much what happens to your life
in this world.

If men speak well of you, it doesn’t matter much.
If they hate you, it doesn’t matter much.
If you have a lot of things, it doesn’t matter much.
If you have little, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are persecuted or lied about, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are famous or unheard of, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are dead, these things just don’t matter much.

But it’s even more radical. There are some choices to be made here, not just 
passive experiences. Jesus goes on to say, “If anyone serves me, let him 
follow
me.” Where to? He is moving into Gethsemane and toward the cross.

Jesus is not just saying: If things go bad, don’t fret, since you are dead 
anyway. He is saying: choose to die with me. Choose to hate your life in 
this
world the way I have chosen the cross.

This is what Jesus meant when he said, “If anyone would come after me, let 
him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (
Matthew 16:24).
He calls us to choose the cross. People only did one thing on a cross. They 
died on it. “Take up your cross,” means, “Like a grain of wheat, fall into
the ground and die.” Choose it.

But why? For the sake of radical commitment to ministry: “I do not account 
my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my 
course
and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the 
gospel of the grace of God” (
Acts 20:24).
I think I hear Paul saying, “It doesn’t matter what happens to me — if I can 
just live to the glory of his grace.”
This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper's 
ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.

A Big View of God
by Max Lucado

Exactly what is worship? I like King David’s definition in Psalm 34:3, “O 
magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” Worship is 
the
act of magnifying God, enlarging our vision of him, and observing how he 
works.

Of course his size doesn’t change, but our perception of him does. As we 
draw nearer, he seems larger. Isn’t that what we need? A big view of God? 
Don’t
we have big problems, big worries, and big questions? Of course we do. 
Hence, we need a big view of God. Worship offers that. How can we sing, 
“Holy, Holy,
Holy” and not have our vision expanded? How can we sing these words and not 
have our countenance illuminated? A vibrant, shining face is the mark of one
who has stood in God’s presence. God is in the business of changing the face 
of the world! Let him begin with yours!

From
Just Like Jesus
Listen to
UpWords with Max Lucado
at OnePlace.com
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3 Ways to Press Through Unanswered Prayer
LYSA TERKEURST

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is 
now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

I opened the anonymous letter and my heart sank. It was from another mom who 
wanted to make sure I had a list of all the ways one of my daughters was 
falling
short. There in black and white she listed my daughter’s mistakes, 
shortcomings and frailties.

And then just to make sure I took her nameless letter seriously, she 
informed me she’d be sending a copy to my pastor.

My initial reaction was to figure out who sent this so I could call her. 
Talk this through face-to-face. Assure her my husband and I were not only 
aware
of some struggles my daughter was having, but also working diligently to 
help her course-correct.

But as I reread the letter, I discerned it wasn’t sent from a place of love 
for my family or a heart that wanted to help.

From the language she used and the fact that there wasn’t a way to contact 
her, it was obvious she didn’t send it because she wanted the best for my 
daughter.

I sat on the edge of my bed and cried.It’s so hard to have someone attack 
you in an area that’s already rubbed raw with hardship. Her letter was like 
a
bullet straight to my heart.

However, it was also a wake-up call to get more intentional in praying for 
my daughter. I thought about her struggles a lot. I talked about her 
struggles.
I worried about her struggles.

But thinking about, talking about and worrying about something is not the 
same as praying about it.

I clung to the truth in our key verse, Genesis 50:20, and determined to turn 
this letter that felt like a bullet into a blessing by using it as a 
catalyst
to ramp up my prayer life.

Through my tears I cried out to the Lord, “I will not sacrifice Your grace 
for my child on the altar of people’s opinions. Of course I want my daughter
to walk the straight and narrow path of great choices. But I trust You, 
Lord, to write her testimony. My main goal for her is not behavior 
modification
but total heart transformation. I want her to want You, Lord, and Your best 
for her life. Give me the courage to not just pray about my daughter, but to
pray her all the way through this.”

Praying her through the ups and downs wasn’t easy. There were days I 
wondered if God even heard my prayers.

It’s tough to pray someone all the way through a messy, hard, complicated 
situation and not see answers. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there 
now.

Can I speak hope into your heart with 3 ways to press through unanswered 
prayers?

1. Know with confidence God hears your prayers.

First John 5:14 reminds us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching 
God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (NIV).

2. Trust that prayer makes a difference, even when you don’t see the 
difference.

It may take a while for you to see God answer your prayers. But don’t miss 
an “in the meantime answer” you can receive right away. Philippians 4:6-7 
reminds
us of the immediate answer to every prayer: “Do not be anxious about 
anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, 
present
your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all 
understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV, 
emphasis added).

Did you catch it? It’s the peace of God that will guard your heart and mind 
in the process while you’re waiting for God to reveal His answer to your 
request.
When you pray, you can trust you’re doing your part, and God will certainly 
do His part.

3. Tell fear it has no place in this conversation.

These prayers are your gateway to feel an assurance you don’t see yet. But 
fear will beg you to focus on the problem more than God’s promises. Isaiah 
41:10
says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your 
God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous
right hand” (NIV).

It’s been a few years since I got that hard letter that prompted more 
frequent prayers for my daughter. But I still remember the day I visited her 
at college
and could hardly believe my eyes.

She had become a completely different girl.At one point during our time 
together, I asked her, “What finally made following Jesus wholeheartedly 
click
for you?” She said, “Mom, I’ve made friends who love Jesus. I saw a joy in 
them that I wanted. So, I started doing what they do even when I didn’t want
to. At first I thought getting up to do devotions was unrealistic, prayer 
meetings were boring and listening to praise music, excessive. But as I kept
doing these things, the Lord started changing my thought patterns. And when 
I started thinking about life from the standpoint of truth, I had so much 
more
joy.”

She then paused and said words I’ve longed to hear and prayed to hear for so 
long, “Mom, I’ve just completely fallen in love with Jesus.”

I can hardly type those words without crying.

I pray this infuses your heart with hope to keep praying. I pray you believe 
God can take the things others intended to harm you or the ones you love,
and use them for good to accomplish His purposes … because He can!

Dear Lord, only You can turn what was meant for evil into good. I thank You 
in advance for all that You’re going to do in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 116:1-2, "I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for 
mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I 
live."
© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries

Silence is Golden
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Entertainment Editor

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men 
succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. –
Psalms 37:7

Recently, while vacationing in Ireland, I managed to visit an old monastery 
in a place called Glendalough. According to legend, the monastery was 
originally
founded by Saint Kevin, a 6th century priest renowned for his wisdom and 
piety. Kevin’s fame as Holy had begun to interfere with his Christian walk, 
so
he withdrew to Glendalough in order to pray and meditate in peace. The small 
monastery was built later by disciples who followed him, hoping the secluded
valley would allow them to pray to God without distraction. Tucked away in a 
small valley, surrounded by mountains and a tiny lake, the silence in 
Glendalough
was almost palpable.

It didn’t strike me until later how unfamiliar that silence was. After all, 
we live in a world that is filled with distractions: iPads, iPods, TV, 
Internet,
movies... there are so many things demanding our time and attention, often 
at the expense of our time with Christ. Saint Kevin knew the value of 
silence,
just like Christ,

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to 
hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to
lonely places and prayed. – Luke 5:15-16

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed 
him. On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall 
into
temptation." – Luke 22:39

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of 
James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. –Matthew 17:1

The world is filled with so much noise, so much distraction, how often do we 
really get the chance to listen to God? I don’t know about you, but this is
something I struggle with on a daily basis. Don’t allow the toys of this 
world to distract you from your Heavenly Father. Instead, the next time you 
pray,
turn off your cell phone and find a place far away from your computer. Pray 
to God in the silence and listen to his reply.

Intersecting
Faith
and Life: When was the last time you found a quiet place to be with God? 
Take an hour to unplug from the world and spend time with Christ.

Further Reading
Matthew 4
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Post  Admin on Mon 20 Jun 2016, 10:48 pm

The Gift of Helps

Another gift Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 12:28 is the gift of helps. The 
New International Version says the gift of helping others.

Here is what the Matthew Henry Commentary says:

helps, or such as had compassion on the sick and weak, and ministered to 
them;

This gift is different from the gift of governments or administrations we 
have already studied. With the gift of governments the person is using 
resources of the church the person is acting in part of and not necessarily 
out of his own resources. Let’s see what Jesus said:

Matthew 25:31-46 Darby
31 But when the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, 
then shall he sit down upon his throne of glory, 32 and all the nations 
shall be gathered before him; and he shall separate them from one another, 
as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and he will set the 
sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left. 34 Then shall the King 
say to those on his right hand, Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the 
kingdom prepared for you from the world’s foundation: 35 for I hungered, and 
ye gave me to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave me to drink; I was a stranger, 
and ye took me in; 36 naked, and ye clothed me; I was ill, and ye visited 
me; I was in prison, and ye came to me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer 
him saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, and nourished thee; or 
thirsting, and gave thee to drink? 38 and when saw we thee a stranger, and 
took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee? 39 and when saw we thee ill, or in 
prison, and came to thee? 40 And the King answering shall say to them, 
Verily, I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of 
these my brethren, ye have done it to me. 41 Then shall he say also to those 
on the left, Go from me, cursed, into eternal fire, prepared for the devil 
and his angels: 42 for I hungered, and ye gave me not to eat; I thirsted, 
and ye gave me not to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; 
naked, and ye did not clothe me; ill, and in prison, and ye did not visit 
me. 44 Then shall they also answer saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, 
or thirsting, or a stranger, or naked, or ill, or in prison, and have not 
ministered to thee? 45 Then shall he answer them saying, Verily I say to 
you, Inasmuch as ye have not done it to one of these least, neither have ye 
done it to me. 46 And these shall go away into eternal punishment, and the 
righteous into life eternal.

We see in these verses that Jesus expects all those who belong to him to 
have the gift of helps. Helping others won’t get you into heaven but if you 
belong to Jesus Christ you are expected to help others. This does not come 
easy to most people. That is why it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy 
Spirit puts it in your heart to help others when you don’t think you have 
the time or the resources. If we obey the Spirit’s leading in these things 
the Lord will provide the time and resources for everything He tells you to 
do. This includes the desire and everything else needed to do them by the 
power of the Holy Spirit.

by Dean W. Masters

"No Longer Slaves, But Free" #83-42
Sermon Text for June 19, 2016
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on June 19, 2016
By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
Copyright 2016 Lutheran Hour Ministries
Listen to The Lutheran Hour podcast online
Text: Galatians 3:23-4:7

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of 
woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that 
we might
receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit 
of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a
slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

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

Dystopia. Dystopia, do you know what that means? Dystopia is a bleak and 
it's an ugly place, a place where all is wrong. I hope you are not living in 
"dystopia"
right now, that's for sure. It's a place where nothing is right. Nothing is 
good. No hope. Usually, dystopias are the result of someone's 
inappropriate/destructive
actions, or even worse, the downward spiral of a whole community or a whole 
society. Most people talk about dystopia in the future. You know, it's a 
time
of coming bleakness because of what we're doing today. Dystopia will be a 
time when crime runs rampant, a time when the government is totally corrupt,
when natural resources will be used up and people are left to seek ways just 
to survive. Times like that pit neighbor against neighbor, brother against
brother because resources are scarce, protection is personal, and the 
survival of the fittest becomes a daily reality. Dystopia. How does that 
sound to
you? I hope it doesn't sound good.

But the opposite of all of that is just as dangerous. What's the opposite of 
dystopia? Right, Utopia; a place of perfection; a place where everything is
just right. That might be a dream that even you are having right now, one 
that is helping you cope with what's going on all around you. Utopian dreams
are dreams that see us magically whisked away from where we are now to a 
place where everything is as it should be. For many, it's a hope against 
hope
reality, wishful thinking that's for sure.

So, my question for you today is "What's going on in your life right now and 
what does all of that all mean for your future." Is your story a dystopian
tale? A Utopian dream? Both? Neither? And why does this all matter anyway? 
Why is your life important enough to ask and find out answers to these 
questions?
Well, that's what our Bible reading is all about today. You were meant to be 
a "Child of God," living in freedom, and joy, and perfection, and peace. And
this is no utopian wish because of a dystopian reality. This is the most 
real thing in this world right now and it is a promise, a reality, and a 
certainty
for all who put their faith in a real Savior, Jesus Christ.

You see, God gets a bad rap today. Most of us think about Him in ways that 
we dream up and we project. So He either gets blamed for the brokenness and
the evil of our dystopian reality or He gets mocked as a wishful projection 
of a utopianism that can never exist. We do that, I believe, to keep God at
bay, to prevent Him from really having a say in our lives or a way for our 
lives.

Let me illustrate by asking you a question. If you were to put a hat on God 
to describe what He means to this world, what hat would you have Him wear?
Whenever I ask people that question, they often say, I think God would be 
wearing a policeman's hat, that's for sure. He is the ultimate Law and Order
force in the world. Others have Him wearing the magicians/sorcerer's hat 
because power is needed to really change things. For dystopians, that's a 
God
who makes sense or at least has some value in our thinking, right? Others 
protest and they say, "No, God wears the hat of the chef, the giver of all 
good
things. Or God wears the Santa Claus hat, because He makes dreams come 
true." To utopians, that God makes sense or at least helps us be motivated 
to get
to work and make our utopian dreams a reality.

So, let me ask you the ultimate question. When it comes to a hat that God 
wears that can amply reflect His promise, His reality, His hope for your 
life;
what hat does the Bible itself describe as vital to Him? Yes, you guessed, 
it was the hat that Jesus, the Messiah, wore on Good Friday; it was the 
crown
of thorns. That crown describes His very real work for you. It was not a 
dystopian hopelessness, or a utopian myth, it was the real work of God in 
the
flesh for you and for me. The crown of thorns was a real crown because this 
world is in real hopelessness and pain because of sin. That crown of thorns
was a real crown; because there is real hope in the work of the One Who wore 
it for you.

In Galatians 3 and 4, our reading for today, Paul tells us that God is 
neither dystopian nor utopian. As a matter of fact, God is much more 
involved in
the daily reality of our lives even now.

Galatians was a letter written to a people who wondered if, as believers, 
they had to obey the Old Testament law to be graced and loved by God. Paul 
tells
the church that the point of the law in the Old Testament was to lead people 
to God's love for us all in Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, the law was
given to show us our sin, to show us our need, and even to guide God's 
people to yearn for a real solution, a Messiah who would come.

Paul doesn't speak of utopian dreams, he talks about saving realities. He 
says this Messiah has come; born of a woman, born under the law. God's 
Messiah
came into this world just like you and me. He was born into this mess that 
we have created by our own sinfulness, rebellion, and willingness to try to
deal with our dystopias and utopias on our own, as if we are the lords of 
our life.

And incredibly, He didn't come to judge, even though He had that right. He 
was born into our mess to redeem us, to save us, to reconcile us back to God
the Father. He was willing to be born to ultimately wear a crown of thorns, 
to die on the cross for the sins of the world, and give the world and every
person in it, the hope of an eternal life that He earned for each one.

Listen to the language Paul uses. He doesn't talk about total gloom or total 
bliss. He doesn't talk about dystopian futures or realities. He doesn't talk
about ephemeral, perfect utopian bliss. He talks about saving reality; a 
birth, a man, children, a Father, real adoption for those who are on their 
own
without Him.

God Himself is reaching into your life right now by the power of His Spirit 
to call you to Himself. He wants you to have His promises in your life. He
wants you to have real purpose for living. He wants you to have His love, 
His joy, His peace, His forgiveness; real, concrete, certain.

When Paul says that "God's Law does condemn us," it is not to grind us into 
the dust. No, it's just the reality of life if you are disconnected from the
God Who created and redeemed you. God's holy standards were what you and I 
were meant to be, naturally, on our own. To live then in rebellion to that,
that sin cuts us off from the spiritual oxygen for our very lives.

Someone sang back in the '80s, "I'm only human, born to make mistakes." That 
might seem right, but the premise is wrong. Our sin actually destroys our
humanity. To be human was to be a child of God, created in His image, made 
alive to live as truly human beings to one another. Sin has destroyed all 
that
and God's law now exposes the culprits; right, you and me, and all people in 
the world.

This is the reality of our situation in God's sight when we are measured; 
our actions are measured by His holiness, His intentions for us all.

The Bible tries to describe how serious this reality is when it uses one of 
the most gut-wrenching of all metaphors. The Bible describes all of us as 
sinners
who are "enslaved to our sins." It even then describes our status as "slaves 
outside of the family of God." Every time we chose to live in rebellion and
sin, acting against God's law, acting as if our feelings and desires are the 
only standard to which we need to adhere....we enslave ourselves to sin, we
go it "alone" as it were. Nothing could be more destructive. When Paul 
paints this picture, it is a reality check because God doesn't want chaos, 
and destruction,
and death, and eternal damnation to be anyone's reality, and surely not 
yours.

Remember, He wore that hat, that crown of thorns, to paint the picture of 
what hope His work grants to you; what He made possible for you, and what He
wants for you right now!

Sin, slaves to sin; that may be real for you right now, but it doesn't have 
to be. Paul says something incredible to you and me, even if we feel 
disconnected
from God; even if we feel we are outside of the family at the moment because 
of our sins and actions. He talks about "adoption, being real sons and 
daughters
of God" again.

If you want to get to the heart of this passage, then hear the key to these 
words. The promise of the Good News of the Bible is that God does not view
us in light of our sin. We are no longer slaves to sin because God made a 
new reality possible for us, because God Himself, in the person and work of 
Jesus,
has set us free from our slavery and our bondage to sin. God has changed the 
reality, the status of who we are. He has given us something we don't 
deserve;
given us freedom in spite of our spiritual enslavement. God has given us 
forgiveness even though we deserve judgment. He has called us children, even 
though
we have lived contrary to everything He desires.

This isn't utopia because real things had to happen to make it so. This 
isn't merely a dream, because Someone has died and risen again to make it 
true.
This isn't a myth because real names, places, people, and events have been 
recorded down through history that demonstrate that this is a promise that 
God
not only made but He fulfilled.

In the movie "Grand Torino," (one of my favorites) Clint Eastwood paints a 
tale of racial dystopia, cultural clashes, and potential hopelessness; this
movie seems to illustrate all the problems that we have as people today. The 
story is about an aging white veteran living in a changing neighborhood. The
neighbors are Hmong immigrants from another part of the world. But as they 
seek to make it in the Motor City, Detroit, the reality of gangs, violence,
and dystopia seem to overpower everyone in the film. I won't tell you the 
plot or the story; it's pretty powerful. You should watch it for yourself. 
But,
I'll say this. What makes this movie so compelling is that at one defining 
moment, someone has to die so that everyone else can really begin to live. 
Someone
has to make a selfless action so that there can be a redeeming reaction.

That's a glimpse of what Paul is talking about in Jesus Christ. In fact, the 
Bible says it this way, "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person,
though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die (You know, like 
the guy did in the movie, "Grand Torino" or like people sometimes do in 
life) but
God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, 
Christ died for us."

Utopia? No way, there was blood shed so that you and I might live. There was 
a real resurrection of a Savior Who wore a real crown of thorns, so that you
too might live an eternal life.

God doesn't ignore your sin and mine. Such injustice would merely be another 
form of dystopia and death. To ignore the reality of sin is not love. To say
one thing and then do another isn't truth or justice. God does exactly what 
He says and He keeps His Word. And that is a good thing.

And forgiveness doesn't come from nor result in some kind of utopia. 
Forgiveness comes through the death and resurrection of a real Savior, Jesus 
Christ.
You see, God does indeed punish our sins. He did pour out His wrath against 
our evil choices and actions. God does bring about death because of your 
sin.

Law and Gospel, death and life, without Jesus, there's only dystopian 
realities or utopian wishful thinking, but thank God there is a saving 
reality and
possibility for you today because God so loved us that He sent Christ to 
save us all.

Jesus is God in the flesh. He is God with skin and bones. He is God and man. 
And as God, He was the only Man without sin. He did not deserve death or 
punishment.
He had no dystopian future. But He also knew that Utopia is a fairy tale. 
Jesus came as a real person and gave His life as a sacrifice for all of your
sins. He willingly died on the cross in order to pay the price that your 
sins and my sins deserve.

And through that death and resurrection three days later, Jesus has set you 
free from your sin. He has set you free from your slavery to sin and death.
You are no longer a slave to sin, you are free in Jesus. Through faith in 
Jesus, you no longer an orphan cut off from God's family. By faith in Him, 
you
are now a child of God. To put your faith in Him means you're adopted into 
the family of God as a son, as a daughter, as an eternal heir.

If you've ever truly been on your own, alone, you know that's no way to 
live. God created us to be His sons and daughters, part of His family in a 
community
of people who truly love each other, forgive each other, encourage each 
other the way that He does to and for us. If you've ever been cut off from 
such
a family or community, you know how truly good it feels to be adopted by one 
that cares for you again. There's nothing like it. If you don't believe me,
talk to a child who has been adopted into a loving family. Talk to a person 
who was all alone and then suddenly was part of a family or a community that
really looked out for each other and looked out for them. Try as we might, 
we don't make such things happen without the love of God as the glue, as the
key to it all.

Paul lays it on the line. With Jesus, there is an answer. With Jesus, you 
are part of a family that endures. With Jesus, enslavement to sin ends and 
hope
for the future begins. Your salvation is a flesh and blood reality.

You might look around you today and see a dystopian reality in your life or 
maybe you're looking around and you just hope that there is a utopia out 
there
somewhere.

But there is something better. His Name is Jesus. In Him, your sins are 
forgiven and eternal life is your future. It's not pie in the sky hopes. 
It's real.
Your Savior was born of a woman. Your Savior suffered and died. Your Savior 
really rose from the dead. And in Him, because of Him, with faith in Him, 
you
are free, forgiven, restored with real hope and a real future. Don't trust 
me, trust Him. Amen.
Print this Sermon
Action in Ministry for June 19, 2016
Guest: Dr. Joel Biermann

ANNOUNCER: You are listening to The Lutheran Hour and this is Action in 
Ministry and today we are going to talk about something that is really one 
of my
greatest joys, that of being a father.

SELTZ: Well, me too. I mean fatherhood is something I treasure very dearly. 
I love my daughter. But there are challenging times to being a father as 
well,
right?

ANNOUNCER: Well, we're excited to welcome Dr. Joel Biermann as our guest 
today. He's also a dad and he's going to help us put all these pieces 
together
in a video Bible study titled Fatherhood.

SELTZ: Joel, it's great to have you with us.

BIERMANN: Good to be here.

SELTZ: Becoming a father is the easy part though, right?

BIERMANN: Yeah, I suppose that's the easy part.

SELTZ: But being a real father, day by day, how can we learn to go about 
this the right way?

BIERMANN: Well, actually, while you might say there is no instruction 
manual, but there is a whole lot of guidance on being a father; especially 
within
God's Word. He lays things out; there's actually quite a bit more there to 
grab onto than you might think.

SELTZ: There you go.

ANNOUNCER: Now we're surrounded by a culture that presents many obstacles to 
being a good father. What do you see as some of those main obstacles?

BIERMANN: There are so many. There is just the whole denigration of the 
family which we are experiencing and so then the father feels like what's 
the point.
You have the radical individualism, which is so rampant in our culture-it's 
all about living for myself. The idea of sacrificing myself and my agenda 
for
someone else, even my own child, that just kind of goes against the grain. 
If the kid fits into my life, nice; but if it doesn't, I'll do my own thing.
The feminization of our culture doesn't help either. I think we've made a 
lot of men very meek and very retiring and they're not able to do the things
they would naturally want to do.

SELTZ: Naturally the family needs them to do.

BIERMANN: Absolutely! And this is the way God put it together. The man is to 
lead, care, protect; that's his role.

SELTZ: Right; and I was just going to say, too, that's what the Bible calls 
their self-sacrifice. It's not them taking charge so much as doing the 
things
they need to do for the family by leading. And that's a whole different 
thing.

BIERMANN: Right.

SELTZ: How do we stay focused? How do we stay on track with all this, Joel?

BIERMANN: We stay focused by hearing God's Word, by being in conversation 
with other men. I've become more and more convinced the more I learn, the 
more
I read, how important habits and behaviors are, and the things we learn to 
do and the things we don't do. Praying with my kids, spending time with my 
kids,
investing in them; these are the things that matter. It's the little stuff 
that adds up to making a huge impact.

SELTZ: Dr. Biermann, there are times when we as fathers, we know we just 
blew it.

BIERMANN: Yeah.

SELTZ: Anyone who's out there, you know that this has happened with you too. 
What do we do when we completely miss the mark as dads?

BIERMANN: That is going to happen and maybe one of the reasons why fathers 
are sometimes reluctant is they're not sure of themselves. They think they 
might
blow it. The answer is you are going to. We are simple people. We make 
mistakes. One of the most powerful things you can do as a father is by 
simply doing
what you know you need to do, which is taking responsibility for your 
actions, and admitting you are wrong, and apologizing, and even apologizing 
to your
children when necessary. If you lose your temper, you go and say "I'm sorry. 
I was wrong." Not just to blow it off, but take it seriously and take 
responsibility.
It's humbling but it's also very powerful.

SELTZ: But it demonstrates what they need to do too.

BIERMANN: Exactly, and what you're doing is you're living the reality of the 
gospel. Part of what I try to explore in this Bible study is this 
interaction
between the law parts and the Gospel parts and how those things fit because 
they both need to be there.

ANNOUNCER: Now in this Bible study you also compare fatherhood to waging 
war....

BIERMANN: Yeah.

ANNOUNCER: ...what does it mean to "report for duty"?

BIERMANN: You are basically waging war against the pull of our culture and 
against Satan's intentions. Satan wants to destroy families. Satan wants to
destroy people. If he can mess a family up from the very beginning, he's 
made some really good progress. So a father needs to realize he's up against 
some
serious things and so he needs to be fighting hard against the pull of the 
culture, fighting hard against Satan's desire to undo what God wants us to 
do.
It is a battle and you need to have that kind of sense going in that this is 
not a hobby; this is serious business.

SELTZ: Right, the big picture can be overwhelming and that's what we need to 
understand. This isn't really us fighting; this is God with us fighting to
do the things that really will bless people.

BIERMANN: Yeah.

ANNOUNCER: And working through this Bible study either as an individual or 
maybe in the company of other dads might be a great way to proceed.

BIERMANN: Yeah, and especially in the company of other men because then you 
get the chance to interact and to encourage each other. That's pretty 
tremendous.

ANNOUNCER: Dr. Joel Biermann, thank you for being with us.

BIERMANN: My pleasure.

SELTZ: Thank you very much and that's our Action in Ministry segment today 
to bless, to empower, and to strengthen your life in Christ for others.

ANNOUNCER: To view or download this content at no cost, go to 
lutheranhour.org and click on Action in Ministry. For information on 
ordering a DVD copy
of the video resource Fatherhood, call 1-855-john316. That's 1-855-564-6316. 
Our email address is info@lhm.org.

LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for June 19, 2016
Topic: How Do We Encourage Someone to Return to Church?

ANNOUNCER: And we are back once again with Pastor Gregory Seltz. I'm Mark 
Eischer. Our question today is, "How can we encourage someone who is staying
away from Church, how can we encourage them to return to worship?"

SELTZ: Mark, that is a tough issue because there are many reasons for people 
to get disconnected from Church. There are also lots of emotions and fears
involved, and the people we love are often harder to talk to about faith 
than complete strangers because we don't want to risk saying something that 
might
drive them further from church and even further from us.

ANNOUNCER: Is there a sure way to get someone back in Church?

SELTZ: As usual, the answer is unfortunately yes and no. Yes, getting them 
to see that it's about the blessings of Jesus and the work of Christ, that 
is
a sure way to touch on what they really need; but no, we can't make them 
want them, then, want to go to church, just as we can't force someone to 
believe.

ANNOUNCER: How then would you go about talking to this loved one who has 
stopped attending?

SELTZ: There are really two issues involved that need to be addressed. The 
first and most important one is the issue of faith and seeing how vital 
faith
in Jesus is for them. It is important to discuss with a person who has 
stopped attending worship exactly why they stopped attending. How do they 
feel about
God? How do they think God feels about them? What role does God play in 
their lives? Did God disappoint them or let them down in some way? Did they 
have
expectations that God failed to live up to in their mind?

ANNOUNCER: Those are some weighty questions.

SELTZ: Yes they are, but these are exactly the kinds of questions that need 
to be asked. Sometimes one of the most important things we can do is to 
allow
people to express their feelings about God. Many times when you ask someone 
how they feel about God or how they think God feels about them, you will 
learn
pretty quickly the root of why they don't go to Church or why they are 
hesitant to return.

ANNOUNCER: And what if they respond by saying they are mad at God or they 
tried God and that didn't work for them?

SELTZ: It's interesting that Jesus tells His disciples that they will be 
witnesses. And that's exactly what they were and we are. We can't answer 
every
question that people have about God. And God doesn't need our defense 
anyway. He needs us to testify about His love, His guidance, His 
forgiveness, His
grace and then to prayerfully care for those He places in our path.

ANNOUNCER: And even if our loved one is upset with God, we should also tell 
them about God's love for them in Jesus Christ?

SELTZ: That's exactly right. We can help someone talk through their issues 
with God and help point them back to Jesus Christ. And of course, if they 
see
His love anew in their life, well, going to church would seem to follow 
pretty naturally.

ANNOUNCER: But what if they think they don't need God?

SELTZ: That is when we need to speak God's Word of Law and there are many 
ways to do that. But people tend to know that they are supposed to live 
rightly,
deep in their hearts; just ask them what should happen in their life if they 
fail to meet their own standards, and then keep asking, what should happen
if they fail to meet the righteous standards of God Himself? Keep in mind; 
it's impossible to talk about a Savior to those who don't think they have 
spiritual
needs.

ANNOUNCER: You said there were two issues to address. The first was to ask 
them about God. What is the second?

SELTZ: The second issue to address is if something happened at Church that 
is keeping them from attending. They might need to forgive someone at church
or seek forgiveness from someone at Church.

ANNOUNCER: That could be harder to talk about than questions about God and 
faith!

SELTZ: Yes. Many times the things happen at Church are so emotionally 
upsetting that it takes our focus off what we still really need. I am going 
to say
this again; the Church is full of sinners, so we need to put into practice 
the forgiveness we've received. That too needs friendship conversation.

ANNOUNCER: What do you say in those circumstances?

SELTZ: I remind people often about the hurts that we all give and receive in 
our daily lives. Forgiveness is needed there so don't run from that. Don't
let it cause you to run from the place where the Word of God is shared and 
the Sacraments are received. You need that now more than ever!

ANNOUNCER: Are you saying we should go to Church because that's where God 
gives us things? I thought we go to Church because we have to.

SELTZ: No, we go because we get to! You won't find a message like Jesus' 
anywhere else in the world. Go, because you can. Go, because you need it. 
Go,
to learn how to share it.

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.

"Today Your Mercy Calls Us" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia 
Publishing House)

"Thy Works, Not Mine, O Christ" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 
Concordia Publishing House)
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Who Killed Jesus?
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)

One of my friends who used to be a pastor in Illinois was preaching to a 
group of prisoners in a state prison during Holy Week several years ago. At 
one
point in his message, he paused and asked the men if they knew who killed 
Jesus.

Some said the soldiers did. Some said the Jews did. Some said Pilate. After 
there was silence, my friend said simply, “His Father killed him.”

That’s what the first half ofRomans 8:32
says: God did not spare his own Son but handed him over — to death. “This 
Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of
God” (Acts 2:23).Isaiah 53
puts it even more bluntly, “We esteemed him stricken, smitten by God. . . . 
It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he (his Father!) has put him to
grief” (Isaiah 53:4,10).

Or as Romans 3:25says, “God put [him] forward as a propitiation by his blood.” Just as 
Abraham lifted the knife over the chest of his son Isaac, but then spared 
his son
because there was a ram in the thicket, so God the Father lifted the knife 
over the chest of his own Son, Jesus — but did not spare him, because he was
the ram; he was the substitute.

God did not spare his own Son, because it was the only way he could spare 
us. The guilt of our transgressions, the punishment of our iniquities, the 
curse
of our sin would have brought us inescapably to the destruction of hell. But 
God did not spare his own Son; he gave him up to be pierced for our 
transgressions,
and crushed for our iniquities, and crucified for our sin.

This verse is the most precious verse in the Bible to me because the 
foundation of the all-encompassing promise of God’s future grace is that the 
Son of God bore in his body all my punishment and all my guilt and all my 
condemnation and all my blame and all my fault and all my corruption, so 
that I might stand before a great and holy God, forgiven, reconciled, justified, 
accepted, and the beneficiary of unspeakable promises of pleasure forever 
and everat his right hand.
John Piper
Copyright Information
This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper's 
ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.

Is God Calling You to be a Father to the Fatherless?
Chris Brown
The little girl I’ll call Hannah was a complete stranger until she 
absolutely rocked my family’s world.
Hannah, a seventh grader, lives in our neighborhood, and I’d noticed her a 
couple times playing in the park we can see from our kitchen window. It’s 
the
place to be for all fourth through seventh graders in their neon-colored 
Nike Elites and LeBron James high-tops.
My wife Holly and I noticed that Hannah began to linger around the park a 
lot more. Then she started making her way to our house to jump on the 
trampoline
or play video games with our three kids. I was getting used to seeing Hannah 
often, but I didn’t know much about her.
A few weeks ago, while watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals with my kids and 
Hannah, I asked her several questions. What came out of her precious mouth 
wrecked
my heart.
Hannah is one of nine kids. She told me her parents aren’t divorced but that 
her dad doesn’t live with them anymore. I asked why. She replied in a broken
voice, “Because he was killed in a car accident two months ago. He was hit 
by a drunk driver.”
My heart fell to the floor.
I no longer cared how many points LeBron scored or if my kids took their 
nightly shower. All I could think was that this precious girl was made 
fatherless—her
world shattered—in an instant. Through my shock, I remembered an Andy 
Stanley quote: “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.”
In that moment, Hannah became our one.
As I sat there with my mouth hanging open, my boys arguing over whether 
LeBron or Curry or Jordan was the better basketball player, Hannah quietly 
wiped
her tears. I heard God tell me, “She is going to have some gaps in her life. 
Step in and fill the ones you can. Be Me to her. I am the Father to the 
fatherless.
Show her.”
Over the next week, I realized God wasn’t asking me to do anything huge. 
Just to be a little more intentional in involving Hannah in our lives.
To swing by her house on the way to the pool with an invitation to join us.
To offer her a ride to church on Sunday.
To include her in a kickball game.
To throw an extra burger on the grill.
To watch one more trick on the trampoline.
To the fathers who have healthy families, committed wives, happy and 
well-cared-for kids, homes full of laughter, and bills that get paid every 
month,
I want to say this: Thank you for your leadership. For staying committed, 
for pulling into the driveway every evening. You are heroes.
But what if God were asking us to be a hero to just one more?
According to the National Center for Fathering, one of every three kids is 
growing up without their biological father in the home. Those kids are more
likely to run away, abuse drugs and alcohol, suffer behavior problems, drop 
out of high school, and commit suicide.
If you’re a stepfather, a foster dad, an adoptive dad, or a mentor to a 
fatherless child, thank you for owning the gaps! But for those of us who 
aren’t
any of those things, we can still make a difference. We can step into the 
lives of the Hannahs in our own neighborhoods and make them our one more.
You know, if I’m being completely honest, some days when I get home from 
work I’m tired and don’t feel like playing with my kids. But when Hannah’s 
standing
there next to them asking me to throw a football or jump on the trampoline, 
I see the mountain of expectation in her eyes. And I say yes. Because even
though my kids get my attention all the time, Hannah may never have a grown 
man throw a football with her or watch her do tricks on the trampoline or 
tell
her she’s a great runner.
So I push past my exhaustion and run into the backyard night after night.
Hannah makes me a better father to my own kids. And she makes me realize 
that although I don’t have this
parenting
thing down completely—do any of us ever?—maybe this whole thing isn’t just 
for the three kids God has given me.
Maybe it’s for one more too.
Happy Father’s Day to all you dads who are knocking it out of the park in 
your own families and to all the “one more” fathers. You are both changing 
theworld.
Originally published at stewardship.com.
Used with permission.

In a Plain Brown Wrapper

The song service is finished. The sermon begins. During the first three 
sentences, expectant faces look toward the preacher.

A single mother sighs, praying her children will let her make it through the 
sermon, maybe even listen. An older man in failing health turns up his 
hearing
aid. Frustrated and angry with diminishing strength and energy, he searches 
to make sense of his losses. A high school sophomore listens with an 
MTV-conditioned
attention span. She is not trained to listen long. A successful business 
person caught in the depths of depression hopes for an alternative to 
suicide.

A Bible class teacher dealing with major failure clings to faith by a 
fingernail. A married couple, sitting together in the pew but hardly 
speaking at
home, hopes for renewal of lost affection. A frustrated parent of an angry 
teen looks for confidence. A widow's eyes fill with tears as her hand 
touches
the empty seat beside her. A cancer patient needs a reason to suffer through 
another chemo session. The mate is desperate for strength to persevere.

A contractor, competing with kickbacks and cheats, wonders if his ethics are 
antiquated. A nurse, exhausted from a twelve-hour-pressure-filled shift, 
hopes
for renewal. A lonely soul hopes for connection with others. New Christians 
listen to build faith.Long-time members hope for revival from spiritual 
lethargy.

Debaters want a convincing argument. Condemners want a reason to feel 
superior. Tired church volunteers long for a boost. Frazzled church staffers 
need
a shot in the arm. Elders need power to persevere through the pressure. 
Deacons need to be uplifted.

The confused seek wisdom. The guilty seek forgiveness. The sad seek help. 
The mad seek release. The glad seek rejoicing.

The preachers stands.

For three sentences everyone listens intently, wondering, "Is there a word 
from God for me today?"

Who dares to rise to preach in the face of such need? Who can meet such a 
multiplicity of expectations?

God can. Only God can.

God speaks through the preacher's faltering words, stiff outlines, and 
overused illustrations. God speaks through his words, his tears, his 
personality,
his humor, his gestures, his spirit. God uses unworthy vessels to anoint 
hearts, persuade minds, lift spirits, comfort pain, and enlighten 
understanding.

The power in preaching is not the preacher. It is God. God, speaking through 
a man, gives a beautiful gift in a plain brown wrapper.

God has a word for you. Shhhhh. Listen!
Greg Cummings
Copyright (c) 2002. Used by permission.
Posted at www.heartlight.org
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3 Reasons Why Some Christians Avoid Church by Theologically Driven
by John Aloisi

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about
the myth of unchurched Christians.
Unfortunately the reality is that there are a good number of professing 
Christians who either shy away from church membership or avoid church 
attendance altogether. The problem of professing Christians who neglect church 
involvement is sadly not a myth.

There are a number of excuses that such professing believers give for their 
lack of church involvement. Here are three that I’ve heard:

Sadly, this reason is often grounded in reality. Many people have been 
emotionally torn up by the actions of other people. Churches are full of 
sinners—hopefully,
redeemed sinners, but sinners nonetheless. It should come as no surprise 
that sinners sin, and although all sin is ultimately against God, human sin 
often
has harmful consequences in the lives of people who have been sinned 
against. But someone’s sin against you is not a good excuse for you to sin 
against
God by ignoring his plan for this dispensation which is for his people to 
identify with a local church.

Yes, local churches contain people who live hypocritically. To some extent, 
every person that acknowledges the lordship of Christ but continues to sin
is acting hypocritically. This was a problem in the first century, and it 
remains a problem in the twenty-first as well. As long as believers possess 
a
sin nature, they will sin against their Lord and Savior, and such sin runs 
contrary to their profession. However, this isn’t a good reason for avoiding
the church, for few things could be more hypocritical than professing to 
love Christ while refusing to identify with his people in a local expression 
of the body of Christ.

Some professing believers speak of being “churchfree” or “satellite 
Christians.” They feel that because they can approach God directly through 
Christ,
they do not need to be connected to a local church. In fact, some profess 
that their relationship with God has actually improved by walking away from 
the
church. But if God’s plan for this age involves his people assembling 
together for worship, fellowship, and mutual accountability, then it doesn’t 
ultimately
matter how one feels. The quality of one’s worship is not completely 
separate from affections or “feelings,” but feelings cannot override 
commands. One
cannot worship God better by ignoring his instructions and the model that is 
pretty clearly laid out in the NT.

Sometimes these three excuses are used together, as if one could build a 
cumulative case for why he or she doesn’t need to be connected to a local 
church
body. I’ve provided only the simplest replies to these excuses. Here are a 
few NT passages so-called unchurched Christians must wrestle with if they 
wish
to continue excusing their lack of local church involvement:

Acts 16:5:
“So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.”

1 Corinthians 5:2,
4–5,
and
12–13:
“Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your 
fellowship the man who has been doing this?… So when you are assembled and I 
am
with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this 
man over to Satan…. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the 
church?
Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the 
wicked person from among you.’”

1 Timothy 3:14–15:
“Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so 
that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves
in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and 
foundation of the truth.”

Hebrews 10:24–25:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good 
deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, 
but
encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Hebrews 13:7,
17,
and
24:
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the 
outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith…. Have confidence in 
your leaders
and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who 
must give an account…. Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people.”

See also
Acts 15:41 ;1 Cor 1:2 ;1 Cor 4:17 ;1 Cor 7:17 ;2 Cor 8:1–24 ;Gal 1:2 ;1 Tim 5:17 ;Titus 1:5–9 ;Jas 5:14 ; and 1 Pet 5:1–4 among others.

Living in the Present

Exodus 16:11–21

Recommended Reading:
Deuteronomy 8:16–18; Matthew 6:31–34; John 6:48–51

When you were a kid, did you ever wish you could see into the future? Most 
kids wonder what will happen to them as the years pass by and they grow 
older.
Where will they go to school? Will they go to college? What about a career? 
Will they get married and have a family?

This kind of thinking doesn’t end when a person reaches adulthood. Singles 
wonder whether there’s a spouse for them out there somewhere. Parents dream
about what their kids will grow up to be. College freshmen wonder about 
their eventual career path; older workers prepare for—or worry about—their 
retirement
years.

Human nature compels us to look ahead with wonder. Dreams of the future make 
the drudgery of work today worthwhile. Anticipation of future events gets
us up in the morning and forces us to plan for tomorrow. It’s what separates 
a man from his best friend, his dog.

The Israelites in today’s story were no different from us today. Faced with 
an uncertain future and an immediate need for food and water, they started
grumbling. While they’d labored hard during their years of slavery, at least 
in Egypt they’d always had plenty of food and water. Now here they were, out
in the desert, and they and their kids were hungry and thirsty. Put yourself 
in their place, and try to look at the situation from their perspective. 
Chances
are you’d have had a few pointed questions for Moses as well.

God heard them, and responded by promising to provide for them. Those of us 
who attended Sunday school know the story well—each morning, flakes of bread
appeared on the ground; in the evening, quail covered the camp. But they 
couldn’t hoard what they gathered, and they couldn’t store it. Moses 
instructed
the Israelites to gather only what they needed for the day—no more, no less. 
Tough to do when you’re thinking about what the kids will eat for breakfast!

Why was limiting what they gathered important to God? Because the Israelites 
needed to understand what we all need to learn—that we can sustain a 
relationship
with God only in the present.

Our past is nothing more than the story of how we got to where we are, and 
dwelling on it causes us to become stagnant and unsatisfied. We can’t find 
God
by worrying or dreaming about the future, either, because that just makes us 
want to control whatever lies ahead.

Yes, we have concerns and hopes and dreams for the future. But this story 
tells us that we can live out our relationship with God only in the here and
now. God longs for us to trust him every hour and every minute of today.

To Take Away
• What worries about the future do you need to place in God’s hands?
• What hinders you from developing your relationship with God today?
• Consider the fact that the present, while fleeting, is the testing ground 
for your faithfulness to God and his plan for your life. Then pray for the
wisdom to make the right decisions and place your plans and concerns for the 
future in God’s good hands.

PresbyCan Daily Devotional
Friday, May 20, 2016
Today's Devotional
Get Going!

Joshua 1:2a – Moses my servant is dead. Get going. (MSG)

Joshua needed a prod. He had been Moses' assistant, and now it was up to him 
to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. But Joshua was hesitating.
Doubting. Was he the right man to do this? Would the people follow him? Was 
he able to do the job? But God told him, "Get going." So Joshua stepped out.

Haven't we all been there? We're not sure if this is what God wants us to 
do. We hesitate. Moses himself had been in the same predicament years 
before:
"Me? Why me?" Surely, God must mean someone else. He argued with God. But 
God said, "Get going!"

When we're faced with an opportunity to serve, we can all think of reasons 
why this must be a mistake: we don't have the time, we don't have the 
knowledge,
the resources, equipment. We're too young, too old. What if …? And of 
course, someone else could do a far better job. Perhaps we haven't heard God 
correctly.
Better wait.

Some years ago, I took a spiritual gifts class at my church. When the result 
of the survey was "leadership", I doubted that it was true. I did it again.
And again. I tweaked the answers here and there. But it always came out the 
same. When I was asked to lead a Bible study group, I did the very same 
thing
as Moses. Me? Not me! I love Bible study. But leading? No, there must be 
some mistake. But God was prodding me. Get going! Several years later, I 
find
that this is my place. God knew what He was doing after all.

God doesn't just lead us into a situation and then let go. He promised 
Joshua that He'd be beside him and before him. God is always beside us. He 
strengthens
and encourages us with His Word. He sends others along at just the right 
moment. God is always ahead of us. He already knows the outcome. He had a 
plan
for us before we were even born. Every one of us was made to fulfill a 
different purpose. He builds on what went on in our lives before. He puts us 
in
the environment and into situations that will train us for His purpose. He 
gives us the gifts and abilities required for the job. He equips us and 
provides
everything that we need when we need it. But it's up to us to trust Him and 
take that first step.

Can you feel God prodding? Get going! Speak! Tell them! Make it! Do it! Go! 
Don't be afraid. Don't get discouraged. He is always with us.

What are you waiting for? Get going!

Prayer: Lord, sometimes it seems unlikely that You could use us to be Your 
hands and feet in this world. You created us to serve You by serving others
and to bring You glory by doing that. But we have trouble understanding why 
You would choose us. Help us to step out, just like Joshua, Moses, and 
countless
others through the centuries. Prod us, Lord! Help us to get going! In Jesus' 
name, we pray this. Amen.

JJ Ollerenshaw <
sandjollie@yahoo.com>
Belleville, Ontario, Canada

Thought for Today: Love is friendship set to music.
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Post  Admin on Fri 17 Jun 2016, 10:36 pm

Dena Johnson

~~For the last two months, my life has been moving at warp speed. Every 
waking moment seems to be spent watching my children, looking for signs that 
their
grief is overwhelming them. I haven’t taken the time to watch the news, and 
have in many ways withdrawn from the world in which I live.

Today, that changed.

I heard a few blurbs about a shooting in Orlando yesterday, but I did not 
understand the magnitude of the situation.
It wasn’t until I found myself captive in a doctor’s office with my daughter 
this morning that I began to hear the harrowing accounts of a madman 
entering
a club and senselessly killing 50 people. My heart began to ache. I began to 
read a number of articles about the shooting. My anger raged even as the 
tears
streamed down my face.

Before the death toll was even tallied, the rallying cries began. Support 
gun control. Ban all Muslims. Finger-pointing commenced: Donald Trump spews 
hatred.
President Obama refuses to say, “Islamic Terrorist.”
And as I began to examine the issue, my mind went straight to one word: 
Extremism.

There are extremists in every sect of our society. There are Muslims who are 
extremists, those who are bent on destroying anyone whose beliefs contradict
their own. There are Christians who are extremists, those who spew hatred in 
the name of the God I love. There are heterosexuals who believe it is their
job to eliminate anyone who supports the LGBT agenda.

Let’s go even further than this attack. There are black extremists who are 
bent on killing law enforcement officers simply because they wear the 
uniform.
There are white extremists who seek to destroy others for the color of their 
skin. There are Democrats who seek to demonize their opponents. And there
are Republicans who will stop at nothing in their effort to destroy the 
Democrats.

My heart aches as I look at the division in our country, as I grapple with 
the hatred for anyone whose opinions might differ from our own. Many times 
the
cry of “tolerance” seems to fall from the mouths of those who seem so 
intolerant of anyone different from themselves.

I want to end extremism.

Until I suddenly remember the most radical extremist of all time, Jesus 
Christ.

Yes, my Lord and Savior, the One I have pledged to love and serve with all 
my heart, was the most radical extremist of all time. He came to this earth
and turned it upside down with His radical teachings and counter-cultural 
way of thinking.

And I can’t help but wonder what this world would look like if we could all 
follow His radical way of living.
I see at least three areas in which He was radical.

Jesus was radical about God. Jesus Christ entered this world at a time when 
the Pharisees had hi-jacked God’s people and heaped a ton of rules and 
regulations
upon people. The Pharisees made it so difficult to walk with God, making 
decisions about what was acceptable and what was not. They had the final 
judgmental
say in all religious matters.

But, when Jesus entered this world, He shook it up. He turned the tables on 
the Pharisees, pointing out that while their actions might make them appear
righteous, their hearts were actually far from God (Matthew 23:27). His 
harshest words were aimed at the self-righteous leaders of the day, as He 
sought
to turn the religious establishment on its head.

Instead, Jesus said it was all about God, all about loving God with all our 
heart, soul, mind and strength (Matthew 22:37). He gave us an example to 
follow
by always making time to get away and spend time with the Father (Matthew 
26). He made sure that He was doing only what He saw the Father doing (John 
5:19).

Jesus had a single-minded devotion to a relationship with the Father, and 
the Father never led Him astray. If only we as Christians could follow His 
example.

Jesus was radical about people. When Jesus walked this earth, He was radical 
about people. He was radical about the outcasts of society. He was radical
about the orphans and widows. He was radical about the poor and the 
down-trodden. He was radical about the helpless. He was radical about 
sinners.

Instead of an eye for an eye, Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. 
Instead of stoning the adulterer, He set free the woman caught in adultery. 
Instead
of turning His back on tax collectors like Zaccheus and Matthew, He called 
them to join Him. Instead of condemning the woman at the well who had five 
husbands,
He offered her living water.

Jesus was radical about His love for people. He was radical about pouring 
out mercy and grace. He didn’t tell them to change their ways so He could 
love
them; He loved them just as they were (Romans 5:8). His extravagant love was 
poured out on those who needed compassion and acceptance long before He 
pointed
out their sins.

As Christians, it can be tough to balance the calls to love and truth. I 
stumble as I try to figure out how to hold tightly to my Christian beliefs 
while
loving those in a different camp. One thing I always try to remember is that 
truth is foolishness to those who do not believe and therefore I cannot 
expect
a non-Christian to adhere to my values (1 Corinthians 1:18). I cannot expect 
anyone to conform to my way of life unless I show them the radical love 
demonstrated
by my Savior. And, after they experience His radical love, I can trust that 
He will transform them to His image as they seek to know Him better. It’s 
the
Holy Spirit’s job to convict of sin, not mine.

Jesus was radical about purpose. Today, we hear so much about ISIS being 
radically committed to converting the world to Islam and eliminating 
anything
contrary to its belief system. As much as we hate the ways, you have to 
admit that followers are committed to their purpose.

Jesus was also radically committed to His purpose. He came with His mind set 
on saving humanity, on bridging the gap between a Holy God and a sinful 
people.
He came to show us that it is possible to live in communion with the Father, 
to live a life that points the world back to Him. He came to serve and to
give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). And absolutely nothing 
could deter Him from His purpose.

What would this world look like if we, as Christians, could join together 
and be just as radically committed to our purpose of loving others into the 
family
of God? What if we put aside all political allegiances, prejudices, and 
preconceived notions and chose to be radically committed to winning others 
to Christ,
to furthering the Kingdom of God? What if we had a single-minded devotion to 
living our lives in such a way that pointed the world back to Christ at all
costs? What if we simply reached across the aisle and joined hands with 
those who ultimately want the same thing we do? What if…

I am certain that if we were as radically committed to our purpose as what 
Christ was that we would see this world transformed by the God we serve.

Radicalism is alive and well in so many segments of society. Perhaps it’s 
time for us as Christians to recognize that we are called to a radical love 
and
commitment to our God. Perhaps it is time we let Him do a radical 
transformation in us and through us. Perhaps it is time we, too, become the 
most radical
extremists this world has ever seen.


Anne Graham Lotz - Wonder of Wonders
View this email in your browser

Wonder of Wonders
Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though 
they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18, NKJV

In the Old Testament, when a person sinned, he was required to take the very 
best, blue-ribbon lamb he could find, one without any spots or blemishes,
to the priest at the temple. There, in front of the priest, the sinner would 
grasp the lamb with both hands and confess his sin. His guilt was 
transferred
to the lamb. The priest would then hand the sinner a knife, and the sinner 
would kill the lamb so that it was obvious the lamb had died as a result of
the sinner’s action.

The pervasive misconception today is that since Jesus died as a sacrifice 
for the sins of the world, then we are all automatically forgiven. But we 
overlook
the vital truth that we must grasp the Lamb with our hands of faith and 
confess our sins. We then must acknowledge that He was slain for our sins as 
surely
as if we had plunged the knife into His heart. At that moment, the Lamb 
becomes our High Priest and offers His own blood on the altar of the Cross 
on our
behalf. And, wonder of wonders! God accepts the sacrifice and we are 
forgiven!

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

Is the
Bible
Relevant for Today?

May 18

Forever, O LORD, your word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.

Psalm 119:89

I was driving down the road not long ago when I pulled up behind a car that 
had a Christian bumper sticker on it. It said, “God said it; I believe it;
and that settles it!” Well, with all due respect to the driver of that car, 
I’d change that little slogan a bit to say, “God said it and that settles 
it!”

You see, the truth of God’s Word, or any subject for that matter, isn’t 
dependent on our belief of it. Truth is truth no matter what we think or how 
we
feel about it. It just is. That means the Bible verses we put on coffee cups 
are just as true and inspired as the sometimes monotonous genealogies of the
Old Testament!

So what does this mean for us? It means that all the Bible—every chapter, 
every verse, and every word —is inspired and deserving of our attention. 
Yes,
there may be certain verses that are more inspiring, but it’s all equally 
inspired!

God’s entire Word is firmly fixed in heaven and is as relevant to your life 
today as it was to those who wrote it so long ago. Don’t neglect the Word of
God. Dig in daily and relish its wonderful teachings. It’s God’s gift to 
you… so open it!

GOD’S ENTIRE WORD IS AS RELEVANT TODAY AS IT WAS THE DAY IT WAS WRITTEN. 
OPEN IT DAILY AND LET GOD GUIDE YOUR LIFE!

----------------------------------------------------------
For more from PowerPoint Ministries and Dr. Jack Graham, please visit
www.jackgraham.org

and Listen to
Dr. Jack Graham's daily broadcast on OnePlace.com.
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Post  Admin on Thu 16 Jun 2016, 9:21 pm

The Gift of Governments
Another gift of the Holy Spirit which Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 12 is 
the gift of governments. It is called the gift of administrations in the New 
International Version and just administrations in the New American Standard. 
But what is this spiritual gift?

If you look at the Greek, you get the definition of the word: “governments”. 
In
1 Corinthians 12:28 is the only time it is used in the whole New Testament.

In Matthew Henry’s Commentary we find the following:

governments, or such as had the disposal of the charitable contributions of 
the church, and dealt them out to the poor;

Reading this brought to mind the following Scripture:

Acts 6:1-8 KJV
And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there 
arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows 
were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve called the 
multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we 
should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look 
ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and 
wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves 
continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying 
pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and 
of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and 
Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the 
apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 7 And the 
word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in 
Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the 
faith.
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among 
the people.

The word “ministration” here has a number of meanings. Two of them have to 
do with providing money and providing food for the poor. In this Scripture 
we see that it means providing food for the widows. Seven were chosen to do 
this including Stephen. Since we are all commanded to go make disciples, 
These seven must have also ministered to those they fed. This would lead to 
the thousands who became Christians. We can see in verse 8 that Stephen had 
other gifts of the Holy Spirit as well as the gift of administrations. He 
did not just use the one gift we are talking about here but used all the 
gifts that were given to him. You also may have more than one gift of the 
Holy Spirit and God expects you to use all of them.

Other definitions for the word “ministration” are ministry, elder, deacon, 
etc. These have to do with the governing of the local church. That must be 
where the King James and other older versions of the Bible get the word 
“governments”. The people who fill these positions as well need to be filled 
with the Holy Spirit and be truly called to serve. We find Paul writing what 
the qualifications are to be for these church leaders:

1 Timothy 3:1-12 NIV
1 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an 
overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer must be above 
reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, 
respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not 
violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage 
his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 
5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take 
care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become 
conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have 
a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and 
into the devil’s trap.
8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging 
in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the 
deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be 
tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as 
deacons.
11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not 
malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children 
and his household well.

To fit all these qualifications a person must be filled with the Holy 
Spirit. There is hardly any way a natural man can live the way Paul says a 
leader of the church should live.

If you have the spiritual gift of governments or administrations, use them 
but don’t forget any other gifts you might have.

by Dean W. Masters


God Has Not Forgotten You
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BIBLE MEDITATION:
“And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment 
as the noonday.”
Psalm 37:6

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
A preacher was in a church where he felt God had led him. But nothing seemed 
to be working out, so he wanted to go to another church.

He told a friend, “I know where God put me, and I know God put me here, but 
I just wonder if He remembers where He put me.”

Yes, God remembers! He has not forgotten. He is never late. Don’t rush God. 
Don’t think He has abandoned you because your prayers are not answered. He
will turn your midnight into a sunrise and your mourning into dancing.

ACTION POINT:
Read Psalm 37:4-7 and rejoice in the hope of God’s providence and provision 
in your life.
Discover Jesus
Copyright © 2016 Love Worth Finding Ministries, All rights reserved.

God's Chosen Servants

You are my servant, I have chosen you. - Isaiah 41:9

If we have received the grace of God in our hearts, its practical effect has 
been to make us God's servants. We may be unfaithful servants, we certainly
are unprofitable ones, but yet, blessed be His name, we are His servants, 
wearing His uniform, eating at His table, and obeying His commands. We were 
once
the servants of sin, but He who made us free has now taken us into His 
family and taught us obedience to His will. We do not serve our Master 
perfectly,
but we would if we could. As we hear God's voice saying unto us, "You are My 
servant," we can answer with David, "I am your servant. . . . You have 
loosed
my bonds."1

But the Lord calls us not only His servants, but His chosen ones—"I have 
chosen you." We have not chosen Him first, but He has chosen us. If we are 
now
God's servants, it wasn't always so; the change must be ascribed to 
sovereign grace. The eye of sovereignty singled us out, and the voice of 
unchanging
grace declared, "I have loved you with an everlasting love."2 Long before 
time began or space was created, God had written upon His heart the names of
His elect people, had predestinated them to be conformed unto the image of 
His Son, and ordained them heirs of all the fullness of His love, His grace,
and His glory.

What comfort is here! Having loved us for so long, will the Lord then reject 
us? He knew how stiff-necked we would be, He understood that our hearts were
evil, and yet He made the choice. Our Savior is no fickle lover. He does not 
feel enchanted for a while with some gleams of beauty from His church's eye
and then afterwards reject her because of her unfaithfulness. No, He married 
her in old eternity; and He hates divorce! The eternal choice is a bond upon
our gratitude and upon His faithfulness, which neither can disown.

1) Psalm 116:16
2) Jeremiah 31:3

Family
Bible
reading plan

verse 1 Isaiah 16

verse 2 1 Peter 4

Jesus Christ, God’s Son, The Saviour

Ichthus is the Greek word for a fish. Its five Greek letters form the first 
letters of the early Christian confession that 'Jesus Christ is the Son of
God and Saviour.' To draw a fish sign meant: '
I am a Christian.'

From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. 
Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News 
Publishers,
Wheaton, IL 60187,
www.crossway.org.
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Post  Admin on Wed 15 Jun 2016, 4:16 pm

I Believe in God
May 17, 2016

Read:
Deuteronomy 6:1-9
The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (v. 4)

What is the essential Christian belief about God? Christians believe there 
is one God. Moses taught the Israelites, wanting them to hear “our God . . .
is one” (Deut. 6:4). Christians believe that this one God exists in three 
persons. Jesus, after his crucifixion and resurrection, met with his 
disciples
and told them to “make disciples of all nations.” He spoke to them of God, 
in terms of Trinitarian truth, as “the Father,” “the Son” (Jesus himself, 
with
us always, to the end of the age), and “the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19-20).

Mr. Mullins was a leukemia patient who believed in God, even through painful 
days. Enduring needle pokes, chemo, and raging fevers, most people would 
have
given way to what Mr. Mullins called “shaky faith.” But his faith remained 
solidly grounded on the Rock. From his hospital bed, he would look up with 
wide
eyes and affirm, “My God is a great big God! He’s so good to me!”

The living and comforting presence of God could actually be felt by visitors 
to his hospital room, as he kept thanking the Lord. Mr. Mullins bravely 
believed
what the Israelite people learned at the Red Sea crossing and as they 
crossed over the Jordan and into the promised homeland: “My God can make a 
way where
there is no way!” Through intense suffering, he continued to say, “I believe 
in God.”

Prayer:
Help me to keep on trusting in you, triune God, even through days of 
suffering.

Author: John Tousley

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Wrapping Jesus In Hard Words - #7659

It's an English-speaking church. The visiting pastor was Hispanic. He spoke 
in Spanish, using an interpreter to help his audience understand. I've 
spoken
through an interpreter. So, you either have to say half as much or it takes 
twice as long. The pastor chose the latter. It took quite a while to get 
through
his message. To be honest, I know some minds started to wander at times. At 
the end of his message, the pastor surprised everybody. He spoke to them 
completely
in English. And he made a promise-the next time he would definitely speak in 
English. Of course, some folks were just a little frustrated. He could have
spoken in the language of the people he was talking to; he just chose to 
speak in his own.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Wrapping 
Jesus In Hard Words."

It doesn't matter how important your message is, how sincere it is if you 
deliver it in words the other person can't understand. And not all language 
problems
are linguistic. Parents of teenagers know that. What their kids are saying 
may be some kind of "English", but who can understand what they mean?

More importantly, when Christians tell about Jesus in church words, how many 
people without Christ can understand what they're saying? That's not just
a casual question. It really matters, because the message of Jesus is 
life-or-death information-like the directions to get out of a burning 
building. Every
missionary to another culture knows you can't just settle for the easy 
thing; speaking in the language you're comfortable with. You don't just 
transmit
the Gospel, you have to translate it. It's unacceptable that people might 
miss Jesus because I didn't put it in words they can understand.

American church folks speak a language I call Christianese. And sometimes 
I'm not sure we even understand what some of our words mean! But we tell 
people
they need to be "born again", to "accept" or "receive Christ", to "become a 
Christian" or be "saved." And they either have no idea what those words mean
or they have the wrong idea. The same is true of important words like "sin" 
and "Savior" and "believe." We think we've told them about Jesus, but they
have no idea what we meant.

Thus, our word for today from the Word of God. It's a great prayer request 
from the Apostle Paul himself in Colossians 4:3-4. "Pray for us...that God 
may
open a door for our message...Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I 
should" Then he also asked people to pray that "whenever I speak, words may 
be
given me..." (Ephesians 6:19). The words you use matter. Proclaiming it 
clearly can make the difference.

So ask the Lord to help you hear yourself using Christianese and to help you 
find non-religious words to explain what a person needs to know to come to
Christ. For example, sin can be explained as "you running your life instead 
of God running it" or "hijacking your life from your Creator." In our time,
a "Savior"? Well, that would be a rescuer; someone who rescues you from a 
deadly situation you can't get yourself out of. That's exactly what Jesus 
came
to be for us.

What does it mean to "believe" in Jesus? Most people would say they do, but 
not by the Bible's definition. The Bible's meaning is similar to what a 
drowning
person would do when a lifeguard came; what a dying person would do when the 
rescuer comes. You hold onto Him as if He's your only hope. When did you do
that with Jesus? That's what believe means. "Whoever believes in Him (grabs 
Him like He's their only hope) will have eternal life."

The most urgent, the most important news in the world needs to be delivered 
in words that a lost person can understand-non-religious words! We can do it
if we choose to do it. There's someone you know whose only hope is hearing 
about and understanding what Jesus did on that cross for them. Would you 
please
put Jesus where they can reach Him.
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. · P.O. Box 400 · Harrison, Arkansas 72602 · 
USA
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Defying Gravity
by Katherine Britton, Crosswalk.com Contributor

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as 
generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only 
what
comes from your hand.
1 Chronicles 29:14

While I was in elementary school, family friends made the decision to leave 
the States for Kiev, Ukraine. This family of seven, including children my 
age,
had to downgrade from a four bedroom suburban home to an 800 square foot 
flat. That meant getting rid of a house full of clothes, toys, yard tools, 
furniture,
dishes a whole host of personal preferences and needs. Each family 
member had the luxury of one big trunk as they moved halfway around the 
world.

For this family, however, the joy of sharing the Gospel in a former USSR 
satellite nation outweighed all their possessions. My dad asked his friend 
how
he was handling the sudden loss. His answer was telling.

Actually,the new missionary responded, this is the most freeing thing Ive 
ever done.

This family found a special freedom far before I began to sniff it out. For 
me, this reorientation is coming slowly, helped along recently by a little
book called The Treasure Principle. In it, Randy Alcorn uses a science 
metaphor to explain why our friends felt unshackled rather than empty. He 
writes:

It's a matter of basic physics. The greater the mass, the greater the hold 
that mass exerts. The more things we own”the greater their total mass the 
more
they grip us, setting us in orbit around them. Finally, like a black hole, 
they suck us in.

Consider our materialism that way  the more stuff, the more mass. The more 
mass, the greater its gravitational pull. And the harder it is to escape.

Compare this to Davids exhilaration in 1 Chronicles. He is humbled not by 
how much God has blessed him with  but by how much God has allowed him to 
give
away. The king of Israel, a center of the ancient world, found his joy not 
in the palaces and the women at his disposal, but in the act of returning to
God was rightfully Gods. How many of us can say the same?

We live in a physical, material world. But we have the chance to defy its 
hold on us with every cent, toy, and need that comes our way. Are you 
ready?

Intersecting
Faith
& Life: I want to relearn the joy of giving in a more tangible way than ever 
before. As Alcorn puts it, We give because He first gave to us the most
valuable gift of all. What ministries, families, or other kingdom cause is 
on your heart?

Anne Graham Lotz - The Pearly Gates

The Pearly Gates
The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl.

Revelation 21:21, NIV

Pearls are formed when a small grain of sand becomes embedded in an oyster, 
irritating it. To soften the irritation, the oyster coats the grain of sand
with a smooth layer of what is called mother of pearl. As long as the oyster 
can feel the irritation, it continues to coat the sand with layers of pearl.
What kind of irritation would have been necessary to form the pearls that 
make up the gates to our heavenly city when they are so large they can fit 
into
a wall that is two hundred feet thick?! It must have been more than just 
irritation. It must have been horrendous, severe suffering!

I wonder . . . are the pearls a reminder, every time you and I enter My 
Father’s House, that we enter only because of the intense suffering and 
death of
God’s Son? Do those pearly gates reflect the Cross of Jesus Christ?

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

3 Misleading Rules You Need to Start Breaking
Dr. Jacqueline Bussie

3 Rules Christians Should Break

#1. ALWAYS APOLOGIZE FOR TEARS.

When someone starts to cry in front of you, what is the first thing they 
usually say? What is the first thing you say when your broken heart makes 
you
cry in front a friend? “I’m sorry,†we all say. But Christians must ask, are 
tears really wrong, mean, disrespectful or embarrassing—something that 
merits
an apology? Our culture teaches us that grief and sadness are unwelcome and 
shameful, but scripture teaches the opposite. When Jesus saw that his friend
Lazarus was dead, he wept (
John 11:35).
Jesus cried even though he knew he would resurrect Lazarus five minutes 
later (!).

Obviously, Jesus grieved his heart out and hoped like mad at the same time, 
and thus models for us what an authentic Christian
faith
looks like in a broken world. Jesus’ tears reveal that even though 
Christians believe in redemption and resurrection, we can and should mourn 
death. Jesus’
cries show us that it is okay to cry and wail our hearts out whenever and 
wherever the world tries to trample on hope’s face. What could God be doing 
through
Jesus’ tears besides showing us that our tears are legitimate, and never 
more so than when someone we love has died?

Remember: the cross reminds us that God understands our grief from the 
inside out. Let’s stop apologizing for tears; tears are our divine 
birthright.

#2. DON’T AIR YOUR DIRTY LAUNDRY.

For our entire lives, many of us are taught to be keep our real story a 
secret—especially stories about sexual assault, abuse, miscarriage, or 
mental illness.
“Don’t be a downer.†Where is the place in our culture to openly lament life’s 
true traumas?

Everyone’s life has scars, but we are taught not to share them. The 
unfortunate results? Shame, secrecy, and loneliness. Everyone feels alone in 
their
grief, when really this is a lie. In our culture, scars are stigmas. 
Tellingly, Christians even refer to the scars in Jesus’ hands and feet as 
stigmata,
meaning a sign of disgrace or shame.

In the
Bible,
however, Jesus refuses to see his scars as a source of humiliation or shame, 
or even as a thing to keep hidden. Instead, Jesus readily and boldly shows
his scars to his friends. When the resurrected Jesus meets the disciples, 
he immediately “showed them his hands and his side†(
John 20:20).
Similarly, when Thomas asks to see Jesus’ scars, Jesus responds, “Put your 
finger here and see my hands†(
John 20:27).

In this passage, Jesus flat-out rejects the rule that we should be ashamed 
and secretive about the unjust and terrible things other people have done to
us. (And Thomas breaks the rule that it is improper to ask other people 
about their scars.) Have we neglected to see that scripture reveals that 
scar-sharing
brings resurrection and real relationship? Following Jesus’ bold outlaw 
example, Christians are called to share their scars with one another on 
their journey
toward mercy and healing.

#3. Always speak in clichés about evil and suffering.

Let’s face it, we live in a cliché-culture. Whenever we are hurting, 
well-intentioned folks bombard us with greeting card wisdom like “Everything 
happens
for a reason†and “God needed another angel.â€

The Bible, however, encourages a more complex response to our complicated 
world than platitudes can provide. The Bible gives us license to lament. I 
define
a lament as a tear put into words.

The Bible has an entire book called Lamentations, in which the Jewish people 
cry out to God after the destruction of Jerusalem. “Why have you forgotten
us completely? Why have you forsaken us these many days? Restore us to 
yourself, O Lord†(
Lamentations 5:20–21).

In the book of Job, Job also laments. Declares Job, “I will not restrain my 
mouth. I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the 
bitterness
of my soulâ€
(Job 7:11).
Job says to God, “Bold as a lion you hunt me…Why did you bring me forth from 
the womb? (
10:16–18)

If you feel whiny, guilty or ungrateful saying such words yourself, consider 
this: in a shocking twist at the end of the book, God affirms all Job has
said. While we expect that God would be furious with the things Job has 
said, and side with Job’s friends who have done nothing but speak in clichés 
about
Job’s suffering, God does nothing of the sort. When God appears in the 
whirlwind, God sides with Job and disparages the friends and their 
sugar-spun clicheÌs,
“The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My wrath is kindled against you and 
against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as
my servant Job has†(
42:7–8).

The lesson? God wants to hear your laments, and God can handle them. When we 
lament, we put not only all of our sorrow upon God’s shoulders, but also all
of our hope into God’s hands. This is a paradox for sure, but is the very 
truth a lament invites us to tell.

It’s time to break the rules.

This article is adapted from the book
Outlaw Christian
by Dr. Jacqueline Bussie.

Dr. Jacqueline Bussie is the author of
Outlaw Christian
and Director of the Forum on Faith and Life and Professor of Religion at 
Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. She has a BA, Magna Cum Laude, Phi
Beta Kappa, from Davidson College; an MA in Religion from Yale University; 
and a PhD in Theology, Ethics, and Culture from the University of Virginia.

Publication date: May 11, 2016
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The Gift of Discerning of Spirits

We now look at another gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of discerning of 
spirits. Below are two versions of the Bible which shed some light on what 
this gift is:

1 Corinthians 12:10 (NKJV)
10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another 
discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the 
interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:10 (GNB)
The Spirit gives one person the power to work miracles; to another, the gift 
of speaking God’s message; and to yet another, the ability to tell the 
difference between gifts that come from the Spirit and those that do not. To 
one person he gives the ability to speak in strange tongues, and to another 
he gives the ability to explain what is said.

Here is what Matthew Henry says about the gift:

To another the discerning of Spirits, power to distinguish between true and 
false prophets, or to discern the real and internal qualifications of any 
person for an office, or to discover the inward workings of the mind by the 
Holy Ghost, as Peter did those of Ananias, Acts 5:3.

This gift of discerning of spirits is one of the gifts that is needed most 
today with all the false gifts that can be found. We see above in the 
different texts that this gift could be to distinguish between true and 
false gifts, true and false prophets and true and false Christians. It can 
also be a gift to warn you what to stay away from. Today there are so many 
games, TV shows, movies, etc. that are evil but are wrapped in beautiful 
packaging. A lot of people don’t see the harm behind some of these things 
but there is evil behind them.

If you have this gift, and God may give it to you for a certain time and 
purpose, you may have a physical sensation or it may just be a feeling. You 
might just have a sense that this needs to be left alone.

No matter what the situation, if you feel the Lord giving you a sense that 
what you are seeing is false or evil, follow the lead of the Holy Spirit and 
let it be known. This is the gift of discerning of spirits.

by Dean W. Masters
Unedited redistribution approved.

Real Men Love Strong Women
Paul Maxwell / May 11, 2016
Real Men Love Strong Women

I’ve heard it too many times: “A man likes a quiet woman.” “Guys don’t 
respond well to smart girls.” “Educated women are too intimidating to 
attract good
men.”

I understand why we believe these things. It’s a nice story. It makes sense 
of the success of some women to find husbands, and the failure of others. As
Christians (and as humans), we feel very clever when we get to diagnose the 
cause and cure of singleness. “You’re too opinionated.” “You’re too 
boisterous.”
“A woman should be small, and quiet, and delicate.”

Yet, it’s easy to forget in the midst of all our diagnosing: whether a woman 
is “intimidating” is a factor of male perception, not female personality.
Do we want women to be less intimidating? That’s a question to be put to men 
who experience them as such, and we can only wait for such men to grow. The
real question we need to ask is: Do we want women to be *weak? And the 
answer must forever be, on the basis of Scripture, “May it never be.”

Strong women are as vital as strong men to God’s purpose in the church. Why?

1. Strong women expose evil men.

I can’t speak for Christian men everywhere, but I can speak for myself, and 
for many of the men in the Bible: Godliness is attractive to both men and 
women
(Proverbs 31:30). And often, godly femininity requires being strong, even 
intimidating. Consider Jael in Judges 4. Jael’s husband Heber “had separated
from the Kenites,” and “had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in 
Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh.”

So, when a Canaanite military general Jabin the King of Hazor — the enemy of 
the people of God — tried to seek refuge, he went to Heber’s tent, “for 
there
was peace between Jabin the King of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite” 
(Judges 4:17). But Jabin fount Jael at the tent and started barking orders
at her, “Give me a little water.” “Stand at the opening of the tent.” In 
response, “she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it 
went
down into the ground” (Judges 4:21). Deborah later sang of Jael, “Most 
blessed of women be Jael . . . She sent her hand to the tent peg and her 
right hand
to the workmen’s mallet.” (Judges 5:24–25).

Thank God Jael wasn’t meek and submissive and respectful toward this friend 
of her wayward husband. She wasn’t one to be trampled on. Strong women 
reject
the requests of evil men.

2. Strong women rebuke good men.

When David set out to kill Nabal — the brash and brute man who embodied pure 
masculine folly — Nabal’s wife Abigail offered hundreds of fig cakes and 
loaves
of bread and wine skins to David. Yet, she uses the opportunity to warn 
David that he should “have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for 
having
shed blood without cause or for my lord working salvation for himself” (1 
Samuel 25:31). In other words, Abigail warned: “Be careful. Don’t use your 
power
in a way that will make you guilty.”

David responds, “Blessed be your discretion, and blessed by you, who have 
kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own 
hand!”
(1 Samuel 25:33). Nabal soon after died of a heart attack. “Then David sent 
and spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife” (1 Samuel 25:39).

David was attracted to this strong woman for her strength, for her rebuke, 
and for her character. Abigail made life harder for David. And David, in a 
moment
of grace, was able to see that Abigail’s standing in David’s way was a gift 
of purity to him. That day, David was seeking salvation for himself, but it
was gifted to him by God in Abigail, who, even while she was at his mercy as 
his subject, told him what he needed to hear.

Strong women rebuke good men, who need help in their weaknesses, who need 
someone to help them see how to be strong.

3. Strong women raise believing men.

There is no stronger, more consistent reminder of the gospel in my life than 
my mom. Paul says something very similar of Timothy: “I am reminded of your
sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your 
mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (1 Timothy 3:5).

In an ideal world, men and women would partner together in their strength. 
But we live in a world where we need strong women to make men strong, 
because
sometimes there simply are no men there to do it. My mom’s dad died when she 
was nine, and my own dad wasn’t present in my life enough to be a father.
So she did the work of two parents — the work of two disciplers — for both 
my sister and me. With Timothy and Paul, I’m so glad that God gave us these
gifts of strong women to survive the inconsistent presence and consequences 
of “strong” men.

Of course, some of the godliest mothers have had some of the ungodliest 
children, and vice versa. But in an age when fathers often fail to bestow 
the gift
of faith to their children, the future often hangs on the strength of women 
to do that gospel work.

Whether as children or their disciples, strong women raise believing men.

The Beauty and Strength of Faith

We live in a time when women are outperforming men in many areas of 
professional and personal competency. And men have two choices: to find 
female strength
captivatingly attractive, or to be insecure and intimidated. Real men love 
strong women, because God’s glory is beautiful, and “woman is the glory of 
man”
(1 Corinthians 11:7).

Jesus, give men the grace to see the beauty of glorious female strength. 
Give women the resilience to remain strong long enough for the right men to 
find
them beautiful for the right reasons. And help men and women to fall in love 
with proven, genuine faith, which is “of greater worth than gold, which 
perishes
even though refined by fire” (1 Peter 5:7)

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

More from Desiring God
• The Fourfold Beauty of a Godly Woman
| As we imitate the faith of Sarah, we can leverage our God-given gender and 
unique gifts to glorify our God and advance his kingdom.

• Why We Educate Our Girls
| On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 girls because they 
believe it is sinful for girls to be formally educated.Here are four reasons
we educate our girls.

• The Heart of the Christian Faith
| How would you describe the core of the Christian faith? Do you have a 
place you would turn in the Bible? Here are two verses that give us the good 
news.


Don’t Always Follow Your Conscience
Andy Naselli / May 11, 2016
Don’t Always Follow Your Conscience

Your conscience is your consciousness of what you believe is right and 
wrong. It’s a generally reliable instrument, so as a general rule you should 
follow
your conscience.

But general rules have exceptions. That voice in your head is not 
necessarily God’s voice. Sometimes your conscience may be theologically 
incorrect. That
was the case for Christians in Rome in the middle of the first century. Some 
of those Christians had a weak conscience in three specific areas:

1. They ate only vegetables (Romans 14:2, 21).
2. They valued some days more than others (Romans 14:5a).
3. They abstained from wine (Romans 14:21; see also Romans 14:17).

So you can have a weak conscience in a particular area — that is, you may be 
theologically incorrect (but not heretical) about a particular issue.

The terms “strong” and “weak” in Romans 15:1 imply that a strong conscience 
is more desirable than a weak one. Why wouldn’t you want your conscience to
be as scripturally informed as possible?

Calibrating Your Conscience

Moving from weak to strong on a particular issue requires that you calibrate 
your conscience. Just like you may calibrate a clock or a scale that is a
bit off, you may need to align your conscience with the standard of God’s 
Word so that it functions accurately.

So how do you know the difference between sinning against your conscience 
and calibrating your conscience?

• You are sinning against your conscience when you believe your conscience 
is speaking correctly and yet you refuse to listen to it.
• You are calibrating your conscience when Christ, the Lord of your 
conscience, teaches you through the Bible that your conscience has been 
incorrectly
warning you about a particular matter, so you decide no longer to listen to 
your conscience in that one matter.

Suppose that your conscience condemns you for eating bacon. You think that 
Christians today still must follow what the Mosaic law commands about food.
The theologically correct view is that bacon is victory food that Christians 
under the new covenant can enjoy to the glory of God. But if you think that
it’s wrong to eat bacon, then you are sinning if you eat bacon.

But you could calibrate or adjust or train your conscience that bacon is no 
longer taboo for God’s people (Mark 7:18–19; Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 
8:8).
Even after you are convinced that it is not sinful to eat bacon, your 
conscience may warn you the first time you eat bacon. But ignoring that 
warning is
not searing your conscience but calibrating it under the lordship of Christ.

A Biblical Example

God graciously included an example in the Bible of someone calibrating their 
conscience on this very issue: Peter in Acts 10:9–16. God gave Peter a 
vision
of certain kinds of animals that the Old Testament forbade Jews to eat. The 
Lord Jesus commanded Peter, “Kill and eat.” Peter’s weak conscience revolted
against this command: “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything 
that is common or unclean.”

When it came to eating unclean animals and fellowshipping with Gentiles, 
Peter’s faith was weak. But because Christ himself was commanding him, he 
had
to calibrate his conscience so that he would have the faith to accept food 
and people that he was previously not able to accept.

That’s the difference between sinning against and calibrating your 
conscience.
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