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Post  Admin on Mon 16 May 2016, 11:12 pm

Holy Spirit Series - Baptism

We receive the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior but is 
that all there is? Let’s look at the Scriptures.

John 20:21-22 ASV
21 Jesus therefore said to them again, Peace be unto you: as the Father hath 
sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on 
them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit:

Did Jesus fill them with the Holy Spirit or just give them a little bit to 
give them the new life? Was Jesus telling them to receive what He was giving 
them then or to receive the overflow on the day of Pentecost?

Luke 24:49 KJV
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in 
the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

Endued – some translations use the word clothed. This is close to the Greek 
translation. Jesus said this about the same time as the Scripture above in 
Luke so He knew there was more to come.

Acts 1:5 ASV
5 For John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy 
Spirit not many days hence.

Baptized is baptizo in Greek which means immersed, sunk, overwhelmed as 
opposed to just dipped which is bapto. This makes it similar to being endued 
or clothed with power. The disciples were going to be immersed into the Holy 
Spirit. This is definitely after Jesus breathed on His disciples.

Acts 2:1-4 Darby
1 And when the day of Pentecost was now accomplishing, they were all 
together in one place. 2 And there came suddenly a sound out of heaven as of 
a violent impetuous blowing, and filled all the house where they were 
sitting. 3 And there appeared to them parted tongues, as of fire, and it sat 
upon each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and 
began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave to them to speak forth.

The Greek word for filled means either to be filled or to be fulfilled. So 
Jesus’ promise was fulfilled and the sign was the speaking of other tongues.

Acts 10:44-48 NIV
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all 
who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter 
were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on 
the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, 47 “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with 
water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered 
that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to 
stay with them for a few days.

Peter was called to Cornelius’ house. Cornelius was a Roman Centurion and 
not a Jew. This is the first time Gentiles were baptized in the Holy Spirit 
and it happened before they were physically baptized. It could not have 
happened to them without their wanting to know Jesus. They were searching 
for the truth. When they found the truth they also found the Holy Spirit.

Acts 19:1-6 Darby
1 And it came to pass, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed 
through the upper districts, came to Ephesus, and finding certain disciples, 
2 he said to them, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye had believed? And 
they said to him, We did not even hear if the Holy Spirit was come. 3 And he 
said, To what then were ye baptised? And they said, To the baptism of John. 
4 And Paul said, John indeed baptised with the baptism of repentance, saying 
to the people that they should believe on him that was coming after him, 
that is, on Jesus. 5 And when they heard that, they were baptised to the 
name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And Paul having laid his hands on them, the Holy 
Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

Here it said that the Holy Spirit came upon them. This is another phrase 
that was used for the same idea. So as I heard one minister say, whether you 
call it a hot dog, a wiener or a frankfurter, put some mustard on it and let 
me have one. So the phrases all mean the same thing. We receive new life and 
we each get a taste of the Holy Spirit when we surrender our life to Jesus 
Christ but there is more, lots more!

Luke 11:13 ASV
13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, 
how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that 
ask him?

The Holy Spirit is a good gift from God. If you have never received that 
great gift, trust Jesus Christ as your savior and ask Him now.

by Dean W. Masters

Forgiveness: The Very Essence of Our Faith
by Steve Arterburn

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive 
you. But if you refuse to forgive others, you Father will not forgive your
sins.
Matthew 6:14-15

Joseph was the pride and joy of his father. Though Jacob had ten other sons, 
he favored Joseph, the one born to him in his old age. Jacob never bothered
to hide his special feelings—not even from his other sons. In fact, he 
expressed his favoritism blatantly and visibly by having an expensive coat 
made
especially for Joseph.

This did not go unnoticed by the older brothers, and they began to resent 
their spoiled young sibling. Joseph, who was either oblivious to their 
resentment
or insensitive to it, made it worse by bragging to his brothers about his 
dreams that he would one day rule over them. In one dream, his brothers' 
sheaves
of grain bowed down to his. In another dream, the sun, moon, and eleven 
stars bowed down to him.

Eventually, Joseph's vivid dreams and their father's favoritism so 
infuriated the brothers that they plotted Joseph's death. While trying to 
decide the
best way to accomplish it, they spotted a caravan of spice traders on the 
way to Egypt. Instead of killing Joseph, they decided to sell him as a 
slave.
They said good riddance to their dreaming brother and made up a story to 
tell their father about his favorite son's tragic fate.

So much for dreams of greatness. At age seventeen, Joseph became a slave in 
Egypt, then a prisoner in a rank dungeon for a crime he did not commit. The
situation provided Joseph with plenty of time to think about his life and 
what he had done. Somewhere along the way, Joseph made a choice. He decided 
to
forgive his brothers. Eventually God fulfilled the promise he had conveyed 
through dreams to the brash young man, but not before refining Joseph's 
character
through forgiveness.

The Importance of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is something all of us want to receive but most of us hesitate 
to give. Jesus makes it clear, however, that we can't have it without giving
it. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will 
forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not 
forgive
your sins
(Matthew 6:14-15).
These words allow no room for doubt or discussion. Forgiveness flows two 
ways. We cannot separate receiving forgiveness from extending forgiveness.

Forgiveness is at the core of emotional well-being. It is fair to say that 
unforgiving people are emotionally sick. Their bitterness is a disease of 
the
spirit, and it is inevitable that the unforgiving person eventually will 
experience physical illness as well. Anger causes surges of adrenaline and 
secretes
other powerful chemicals that attack the body. The stress we carry when we 
refuse to give or receive forgiveness affects our hearts, minds, and bodies.
To make matters worse, both rage and depression contribute to obsessive 
behaviors such as overeating, workaholism, overspending, and even addictions 
to
pornography and mood-altering drugs. We cannot rid ourselves of emotional 
pain and its side effects unless we are willing to forgive.

Unresolved anger keeps us from moving forward because it locks us in a time 
machine, frozen on the exact moment when a particular offense occurred. Fear
of further injury makes us unwilling to move to new levels of relationship, 
not only with those who have hurt us but with anyone who represents a 
similar
threat.

Furthermore, if we allow unforgiveness to continue, we are likely to 
experience depression, bitterness, or both. Yet more important than any of 
these concerns
is the most serious consideration of all—the spiritual consequence of 
unforgiveness: alienation from God.

Forgiveness cannot begin until we admit our own failures. If we cannot do 
that much, we can neither give nor receive forgiveness. We cannot receive 
forgiveness
without acknowledging our need for it, and we cannot extend forgiveness 
without admitting that because of our own imperfect condition we have no 
right
to withhold forgiveness from anyone else. For Christians, forgiveness is 
nonnegotiable; it is the very essence of our faith.

Obstacles to Forgiveness: Fear or Misconception

Fear

The reason many of us refuse to forgive is our fear of loss. And there's no 
denying that forgiveness requires us to give up attitudes and actions that
are important to us.

Fear of Losing the Energy that Anger Produces. Some people are reluctant to 
let go of the burning energy that rage generates. It's like a fuel that 
keeps
them moving. Without it they would likely descend into despair and 
purposelessness because their anger is their purpose.

Fear of Losing Leverage in a Relationship. Those who are still smarting from 
pain are not eager to risk being hurt again. They assumed that if they 
forgive
the guilty party, he or she will feel free to repeat the offense. This 
brings up an important point: Forgiveness does not guarantee change in the 
other
person's behavior. Forgiveness is an act of obedience, not a tool of 
manipulation. It is a way of cleaning up the grudges and resentments that 
damage us.
Although we cannot stop people from hurting themselves, we can, in some 
situations (if we are not legally or morally tied to the offender), guard 
ourselves
against repeated injury. By removing ourselves from the relationship or by 
changing the rules of engagement, we can limit the person's ability to 
continue
hurtful behavior.

Fear of Losing Hope for a Better Relationship. Some people have expectations 
for friends and family that are too high. As years go by, repeated foolish
choices and ongoing evidence of serious character flaws devastate those who 
expect too much. In such cases, it is necessary to forgive people simply for
being who and what they are and to accept that they probably are not going 
to change.

Fear of Losing Power and Control. Refusing to forgive keeps others in our 
debt. In families, we often see parents who hold some wrong against an adult
child, exacting payment in visits, gifts, and favors. Although forgiving 
feels like an act of surrender, those who've done it know it's an act 
requiring
tremendous strength.

Fear of Losing the Image of Superiority. Holding an offense against another 
person places us in a "good guy, bad guy" picture with ourselves wearing the
white hat. Imagining that we are better than others makes us feel good, but 
such a prideful attitude is unacceptable to God. When we hold people captive
to our judgment, we play God in their lives. This places us in an unwinnable 
wrestling match with our Creator, who, as the apostle James reminded us, 
"sets
himself against the proud" (
James 4:6).

Misconception

Some of the greatest obstacles to forgiveness are the misconceptions about 
what it is. Realizing what forgiveness is not may make it easier.

It is NOT Condoning the Behavior. Once we understand that the act of 
forgiving does not compromise our moral standard by condoning the offense, 
we are
in a position to forgive even the worst of sins. To forgive is not saying, 
"What you did is okay." It is saying, "The consequences of your behavior 
belong
to God, not to me." When we forgive, we transfer the person from our system 
of justice to God's. To forgive is to recognize that the wrong done against
us is a debt of sin, and all sin is against God. Therefore, in forgiving, we 
transfer the debt from our ledger of accounts to God's, leaving all 
recompense
in his hands.

It is NOT Forgetting What Happened. It would be foolish to erase from mind 
some of the wrongs done to us. If we were to do so, we would never learn 
from
our experiences and would walk right back into the same or a similar 
situation, only to face the same disappointments. What can eventually be 
forgotten
are the raw emotions associated with the event. When we forgive, the 
terrible memories and feelings gradually diminish.

It is NOT Restoring Trust in the Person. Trust is earned. It is something we 
give to those who deserve it. To blindly trust someone who has hurt us is
naïve and irresponsible. If a person is a thief, it is foolish to give her a 
key to your house. If he were a pedophile, you would be derelict to hire him
as a baby-sitter. We can forgive people from the wrong they've done without 
extending to them an open invitation to do it again. It is foolish to trust
and untrustworthy person.

It is NOT Agreeing to Reconcile. Forgiveness is a necessary step toward 
reconciliation, but reconciliation is not necessarily the goal of 
forgiveness.
In fact, there are some situations when reconciliation is not a good idea. 
It is silly, if not dangerous, to press for reconciliation when the other 
person
is unrepentant, unchanging, or unwilling.

It is NOT Doing the Person a Favor. In Judaism, forgiveness is not required 
unless repentance is demonstrated and pardon is sought. But Jesus raised the
standard of forgiveness to a higher level. According to him, we are to 
forgive even those who remain unrepentant. Forgiveness benefits the giver at 
least
as much as the receiver, so we extend it whether or not the person asks for 
it.

It is NOT Easy. Forgiving is difficult enough when it involves a one time 
transgression. It verges on the impossible when the offense is ongoing. Such
circumstances require an attitude of forgiveness, not simply and act of 
forgiveness. When Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive, Jesus gave 
an
unsettling answer:

Think about the mathematics of that statement. Can you imagine forgiving 
anyone, even for a minor offense, 490 times? Imagine having a neighborhood 
kid
ride his bike through your garden even day of the week for seventy weeks. 
(That's one year, four months, and two weeks!)

Jesus is asking us to do something that is humanly impossible. In and of 
ourselves we don't have enough forgiveness to go around. But God does. So 
when
our limited resources run out and we are unable to forgive, we can ask him 
to forgive others through us. In so doing, we take one more step of 
obedience
and allow ourselves to become a conduit of God's grace.

The above piece is an adaptation from Transformation, by Steve Arterburn. 
Wheaton, Tyndale House Publishers.

Stephen Arterburn is the founder of New Life Ministries, the largest 
provider of Christian counseling and treatment in North America. As host of 
the daily
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Post  Admin on Sun 15 May 2016, 8:32 pm

Where Genuine Fellowship Really Begins

April 26

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree 
with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with
you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Corinthians 13:11-12

One of my mentors was the pastor at a church for 43 years before he 
retired. One way he would greet older ladies and young girls was by giving 
them a
short peck on the cheek. One day I asked him, “Pastor, not many people can 
make that kind of greeting work. What’s the secret?”

And he told me, “Just make sure they’re either old enough or young enough, 
because somewhere in the middle is bound to get you a punch in the mouth!”

The truth is, in many cultures, a kiss on the cheek or lips is an 
appropriate way of greeting. Greeting with a kiss is much less common today 
than it was
in biblical times, as there are other things we do to extend a warm welcome. 
Whether it’s a hug or a handshake, the command of the Scriptures is to greet
other believers in a way that quickly says, “I accept you.”

So however is most appropriate in your setting, make others feel welcome. 
When you express warmth and genuine acceptance to others in the faith, you’ll
find genuine fellowship and grace that transcends any boundary!

EXTEND A WARM WELCOME TO ALL PEOPLE AND YOU’LL CULTIVATE AN ATMOSPHERE OF 
GENUINE FELLOWSHIP!

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


Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the 
Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive 
the
gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38'

By Answers2Prayer

Being Saved

Years ago, a British express train was racing through the night.

Its powerful headlamp speared the fog ahead. This train was special for it 
carried Britain's Queen Victoria. Suddenly, revealed in the beam of the 
train's
headlight, the engineer saw a figure in a black cloak. On the middle of the 
tracks, he was waving his arms.

It took but a second for the engineer to throw the brake lever, a little 
longer for the train to scream to a halt. The engineer, along with the other 
railroad
employees, got out to find the fellow who had stopped them.

The man was gone.

They did, however, find a section of track, which had been washed out by a 
swollen stream. The engineer cringed at the thought: if the unfound man in 
the
black cloak had not stopped them, they would have derailed, creating a 
national catastrophe. Eventually, the bridge was repaired, and the train 
finished
its trip in London.

There, the mystery of the man in the black cloak was discovered.

At the base of the engine's headlamp was a great moth. The engineer studied 
it, wet its wings, and pasted it to the glass of his lamp. Climbing back 
into
his cab, he switched on the lamp and saw the "phantom flagman" in the bright 
beam. Seconds before the train reached the ruined track, the moth had flown
onto the lamp.

In the fog, it appeared to be a black-cloaked man waving his arms.

Queen Victoria's reaction to the strange occurrence? She said, "I'm sure it 
was no accident. It was God's way of saving us."

I wonder, how has God saved you?

Most certainly, we are all saved through the sacrifice of the Savior. His 
gracious act wherein He carried our sins, resisted temptation, and conquered
death is the common denominator for all who are forgiven and redeemed.

How has God saved you?

Many of us have been saved by simple means whereby the Holy Spirit has 
placed faith into our transformed hearts. How has the Lord saved you? What 
delivery
system did He use? Was it through the preaching of a faithful pastor, a 
never-to-be-forgotten teacher, your parents, a radio or television 
broadcast? Did
He use a watershed moment in your life to make plain His commitment to 
rescue you?

Although I don't know the particulars of your life, I do know two things:

1. You couldn't save yourself. No matter how hard you tried, you remained a 
condemned sinner.

2. God's love for you is so great He was willing to sacrifice His Son, so 
you could be adopted into His family of faith. God's mercy and grace ... 
that's
what saved the Queen ... it is what saves us, too.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, without You I would have been lost forever. For my 
salvation, a gracious gift which comes to me through Jesus' sacrifice and 
the
Holy Sprit's work, I am saved, and You have my never-ending appreciation. In 
Jesus' Name. Amen.

Pastor Ken Klaus
Lutheran Hour Ministries
All rights reserved; not to be duplicated without permission.
Announcement:
Do you enjoy reading Chicken Soup for the Soul? Wait until you visit
The Sermon Illustrator
and read its thousands of inspirational stories. A real faith lifter! Come 
on over my friend.

©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."
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Post  Admin on Sat 14 May 2016, 10:19 pm

4051 cdd The Perfect Destination
Tuesday April 26, 2016
Volume 17 Number 084

Scripture: Hebrews 4:12
"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 
sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and
marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" NKJV

A recently married young couple decided that their first purchase should be 
a piece of land. A place where they could have the perfect destination to 
spend
time away from the city. They viewed many parcels of land but most were too 
expensive, un-accessible or lacked the beauty they had in mind.

Finally, after an exhaustive search they found a location for sale that at 
first glance was boring. Nothing but tall brown grass. As they walked over 
the
parcel they were able to see that the land bordered a river.

They found circles of stones with cold ashes as evidence that campers had 
stopped while canoeing on the river. From where they stood perhaps the 
canoes
paddled to the distant mountains. They knelt and prayed by the fire pit and 
sensed the Lord wanted them there.

So --- even though it was slightly over budget, not exactly what they had 
envisioned --- it did have ease of accessibility. They purchased the land.

With deed tucked safely away they decided to spend their two-week vacation 
by the river and fire pit. The two weeks on the river changed their lives.

Any reservations they had about this parcel of land were soon erased. To 
their amazement flowers sprung up and added beautiful colors to the 
landscape.
And the breeze from the mountains played like a sweet melody.

Bluebirds, robins, hummingbirds and rabbits kept them company by day. By 
night they were lulled to sleep by the flowing river tumbling over 
protruding
rocks. Occasionally deer passed through.

And best of all every cloudless night the majestic beauty of Gods handiwork 
stretched as far as they could see, in any direction. As they watched --- 
the
constellations and galaxies winked at them --- all night long.

Most homes have a Bible. Many have multiple Bibles. They are in a variety of 
colors, sizes and versions. Probably there is a family "show" Bible with all
the special dates of births, baptisms, weddings and deaths. This Bible is 
the one set out on a table when the preacher stops in.

From the roadside the parcel of land for the newlywed couple looked boring. 
But as they discovered when they explored there --- their land sprang to 
life
and became an endless opportunity to Declare God's Glory. They found glory 
in the flowers, colors, wildlife, river and the stars.

The "show" Bible lies on the table for all to see. First glance it might be 
offensive and look boring compared to the new High Definition TV next to it.
The Bible may look archaic compared to the stack of DVD's resting on the 
shelf for everyone to evaluate. Each DVD with its imaginary 2-hour tale of 
make
believe, smoke and mirrors.

There is no color photo on the front cover of the Bible to attract attention 
and beckon the reader. But two hours in the Bible will spring forth 
abundantly
more than the young couple experienced in their two-week exploration on 
their newly purchased land. The Bible is full of true and accurate accounts. 
Each
account from the past that teaches us wonderful life experiences. And 
sprinkled throughout that Bible are prophecies of the exciting future we 
have in
store.

So if you are looking for the perfect destination --- there it is right in 
front in you on the table --- Your Bible --- the pure word of God saturated
in truth.

Prayer: Father thank you for your Bible to inspire, challenge and confront 
me with truth. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

Currently the amount we need to complete the matching funds pledge by 
Tuesday May 3rd is $2,574.00.

Giving in support of Pastors Bill and Carol while in Jerusalem.
Click Here
Mail to us at: ccm, PO Box 406, Cambridge, MN 55008
Each gift receives a bottle of Holy Land Anointing Oil
(Please place Jerusalem 2016 in the check memo)

And if helping financially currently is not possible please pray all the 
funds come in.

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


The more bloody--the more lovely!

(Thomas Watson,
"The Loveliness of Christ")

"Yes, He is altogether lovely!" Song of Solomon 5:16

Lost men cannot see the stupendous beauty of Christ. All sparkling beauties 
are found in Him, but they lack eyes!

He is infinitely and superlatively lovely! All that we could ever say about 
Jesus falls infinitely short of His matchless worth. He is pure, unspotted
beauty! There is an infinite resplendency, a sparkling luster to His beauty!

Jesus is most lovely in His sufferings, when He made an atonement for our 
sins. What, lovely in His sufferings? Lovely when He was buffeted, spit 
upon,
and besmeared with blood?

Oh yes, He was most lovely upon the cross, when He showed most love to us.

He bled love at every vein!

Those drops were love drops!

The more bloody--the more lovely!

Oh how lovely ought a bleeding Savior be to our eyes! Let us wear this 
blessed crucifix always in our heart!

The cross of Christ is the key that opens paradise to us!

How beautiful is Christ on the cross!

The ruddiness of His blood, took away the redness of our guilt!

Christ's crucifixion, is our coronation!

He left His Father's bosom, that hive of sweetness, to come and live in this 
poor world. Truly, He exchanged the palace for the dunghill.

"The unsearchable riches of Christ!" Not even the angels can dig to the 
bottom of this mine! They adore Christ, being ravished with His amazing 
beauties!

Jesus is the very extract and quintessence of beauty. He is a whole paradise 
of delights!

~ ~ ~ ~

We have published
Richard Baxter's
helpful short article, "
Directions for hating sin".

~ ~ ~ ~

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

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)
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Post  Admin on Fri 13 May 2016, 1:03 pm

The Power of the Cross
Throughout the Old Testament we see the Cross foreshadowed and foretold. But 
no message about the Cross is more poignant than the words of Jesus Himself.
During His last Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus said, "I have 
eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer" (Luke 22:15).

Jesus was eager to eat that last Passover meal with them because He knew 
that the Cross would fulfill and complete the Passover. The Passover 
foreshadowed
the Cross through its sacrificing of animal blood. Once the blood of Christ 
was shed, the Passover had finally found its true fulfillment.

In the first Passover, people placed the shed blood of animals on their 
doorposts, so that the angel of death would pass by their homes and their 
firstborns
would live. In the final Passover, the angel of death will pass over and 
cannot touch any of those who are washed by the blood of the Lamb of God.

In the first Passover, people had to purchase their own animal sacrifices, 
whether they could afford it or not. But in the last Passover, Jesus paid 
the
price in full.

The Cross established Christ's memorial in the form of Communion. As Jesus 
celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples, He also began Communion, the
First Supper. Communion reminds us of the enormity of our sin, and the 
generosity of God's grace. Communion reminds us of the price that Jesus paid 
for
the forgiveness of sins.

Whenever we receive Communion, we must do so in humility and brokenness 
before God. We must rejoice and be grateful and thankful for our
salvation.

This Cross that fulfilled Passover and began Communion has power in our 
daily lives. When we live under the Cross of Christ, we can say to whatever 
guilt
or shame plaguing us: "Jesus nailed it all to the Cross." When Satan accuses 
us and reminds us of past sins, we can say, "Jesus nailed it all to the 
Cross."
When we are tempted to think of ourselves as failures, we can remind 
ourselves that Jesus made us victors when he nailed it to the Cross.

Only in the Cross of Christ will we receive power when we are powerless. We 
will find strength when we are weak. We will experience hope when our 
situation
is hopeless. Only in the Cross is there peace for our troubled hearts.

****
devo End Times and the Secret of Mahdi
When war, terrorism, persecution, and fear threaten to overwhelm us, where 
do we look for hope? In his highly anticipated new book, End Times and the 
Secret
of the Mahdi, Dr. Michael Youssef demystifies the book of Revelation and 
highlights its relevance to our lives today. You’ll be shocked at the 
parallels
between the central figure of Islamic prophecy, the Mahdi, and the 
Antichrist depicted in Revelation—and filled with hope as you see the 
unfolding of God’s
master plan for eternity.

Order
your copy of End Times and the Secret of the Mahdi today!

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

Anne Graham Lotz - Jesus Understands
View this email in your browser

Jesus Understands
I will pour . . . on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and 
supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced.

Zechariah 12:10, NKJV
Hymn writers and artists have conveyed to us a picture of Jesus hanging on a 
Cross on a hill far away. In fact, the place of execution was just outside
the city gate, beside the main road leading into Jerusalem. And those to be 
crucified were only raised two to eighteen inches above the ground. That 
meant
all the dignity and modesty and purity of Jesus’ physical person was 
stripped away and He was left naked to die in searing, scorching heat, 
writhing and
groaning in agony, at virtually eye level with those who passed by on their 
way to and from the city.

In their rush to get to the temple area in time to purchase a lamb for 
sacrifice, did the pilgrims preparing for Passover even notice the Lamb that 
God
was sacrificing for their sin? As Jesus poured out His life, people must 
have passed by without a glance.

In a small way, are you pouring out your life for those who don’t notice? 
Copyright © 2016 AnGeL Ministries, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up at 
www.annegrahamlotz.org.


HEAVEN!
(James Smith,
"HEAVEN!" 1858)

"You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in 
Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!" Psalm 16:11

HEAVEN! What is it?
It is . . .
God's residence,
the Savior's home,
our Father's house,
a paradise of pleasure,
a temple of worship, and
the residence of perfect purity and peace!

There . . .
God unveils His glory,
the Savior exhibits His charms,
the angels perform their service, and
the saints are entirely happy with their God.

In Heaven . . .
sin is banished,
holiness is perfected,
life is a continual feast, and
mortality is swallowed up in life!

From Heaven . . .
all pain is banished,
all enemies are excluded, and
all causes of sorrow are shut out!

In Heaven . . .
all our prayers are answered,
all our desires are gratified, and
all our needs are supplied.
There is no weeping, wailing, or wishing there.

In Heaven . . .
our knowledge will be perfect,
our happiness will be abiding,
our pleasures will be ever new.

In Heaven we shall . . .
see Jesus,
be with Jesus, and
be like Jesus, forever!

HEAVEN! Who are there?
All tried and tempted followers of Jesus are there.
All doubting and fearing disciples of Jesus are there.
All poor and despised believers are there.
Multitudes, who felt totally unworthy of such glory, and feared they would 
never reach the place--are there.

All who were chosen by the Father,
all who were redeemed by the Son, and
all who were sanctified by the Holy Spirit--are there.

HEAVEN! What do they enjoy there? Who can answer this question--but one who 
has been there; and he would need a new language to state, and new figures
to represent the enjoyments of Heaven. They enjoy rest from their pains--and 
a full supply of all their needs. They enjoy perfect satisfaction, a 
fullness
of joy, and pleasure forevermore. They see all that they believed, realize 
all that they hoped for, and possess all that they loved. They have . . .
health--without sickness;
pleasure--without pain;
and holiness--without sin.
Every sense is gratified, every power is pleasurably employed--and they are 
perfectly and perpetually happy!

O Heaven, in you there is . . .
no tempting devil,
no ensnaring world,
no indwelling corruption,
no doubts, fears, or misgivings!
And best of all, there is no sin!

O Heaven, in you I shall see my God, possess my Savior, and enjoy the 
fullness of the Holy Spirit! O my God, in Heaven I shall be satisfied--for I 
shall
be with You, serving and enjoying You without weariness or cessation!

HEAVEN! Who will yet get to Heaven? Who? Ah, perhaps many we little think 
of! We shall miss many whom we expected to find there--and find many whom we
never expected would reach that glorious place!

Who will go to Heaven? That poor man who is striving against sin, mourning 
over corruption, and loathing himself before God. That poor woman, who sighs
because she sins, pants for perfect holiness, and clings to the cross of 
Jesus. Do you see that poor soul on his knees, confessing his 
transgressions,
pleading for pardon, and seeking grace to sanctify his nature--he will go to 
Heaven. Do you see that lowly Christian, who is visiting the sick, pointing
sufferers to the cross, and trying to alleviate human woe, out of love to 
Jesus--he will go to Heaven. Do you see that Sunday School teacher, who, 
after
a hard week's work, is regularly in his class, speaking loving words, in 
tender tones, to win the little ones for the Savior--he will go to Heaven. 
Do
you see that preacher who exalts Christ in his ministry, honors the gospel 
in his life, and travails in birth for souls--he will go to Heaven.

Heaven will be peopled by all who believe in Jesus, love the brethren, and 
worship God in Spirit and in truth. There will be a numberless multitude 
there--all
deeply indebted to free mercy, washed in the Savior's blood, and sanctified 
by the Spirit's grace!

Reader, there is a way--but only one way to Heaven! Only those found in that 
way will ever reach it! You yourself, may be within an hour or two of either
Heaven or Hell--do you know which? If called away suddenly--to which would 
you go? You have a Heaven to obtain, or a Hell to endure--to all eternity! 
Which
shall it be? O that you were wise, that you properly realized this, that you 
would consider your latter end!

Heaven with all its glories--or Hell with all its horrors--must be your 
eternal portion! If you despise the Savior, make light of the Gospel, and 
neglect
God's great salvation--then Hell, an eternal Hell, with all its unspeakable 
horrors--is your portion!

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined--what God has 
prepared for those who love Him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9

~ ~ ~ ~
We have published
Richard Baxter's
article, "
Ministerial Pride!"
Must reading for pastors. Please forward to your church leaders.

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

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)
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Learning from Failure

Luke 22:31-34

The disciple Peter was a man of great faith and bold action. But as readers 
of the New Testament know, his brash style sometimes led him to make 
humiliating
mistakes. More than once, this disciple had to wear the label of "miserable 
failure" rather than that of "obedient servant."

We can all relate when it comes to falling short of expectations. Obedience 
to God is a learning process, and failure is a part of our development as 
humble
servants. When we yield to temptation or rebel against God's authority, we 
realize that sin has few rewards, and even those are fleeting.

Failure is an excellent learning tool, as Peter could certainly attest. 
Through trial and error, he discovered that humility is required of 
believers (John
13:5-14); that God's ways are higher than the world's ways (Mark 8:33); and 
that one should never take his eyes off Jesus (Matt. 14:30). He took each of
those lessons to heart and thereby grew stronger in his faith. Isn't that 
Romans 8:28 in action? God caused Peter's failures to be put to good use as 
training
material because the disciple was eager to mature and serve.

God doesn't reward rebellion or wrongdoing. However, by His grace, He 
blesses those who choose repentance and embrace chastisement as a tool for 
growth.

We would probably all prefer to grow in our faith without ever making a 
mistake before God's eyes, but we cannot deny that missteps are instructive. 
Failure
teaches believers that it is much wiser and more profitable to be obedient 
to the Lord. That's a lesson we all should take to heart.

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. Henry P. Davis III
First Baptist Church of Highland Park

A White Bread
Faith
By Ryan Duncan, Croswalk.com Entertainment Editor

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the 
devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor
is anyone who does not love his brother.-
1 John 3:10

When I was still in high school my mother became a vegetarian. Now, I have 
nothing but respect for vegetarians, but as a guy who likes his steaks 
extra-rare,
this created a few problems in our household. Suddenly our family was 
exploring what people called “organic†dishes. Tofu, quiche, we dined on 
whole-grain
pastas sprinkled with nuts, strange cheeses, and enough broccoli to kill an 
entire fourth grade class. It wasn’t all that bad actually; my mother was 
very
gracious and still cooked meat for the carnivores in the house, but I 
suspect a soy based meat substitute found its way into our meals on more 
than one
occasion.

The worst part though, was the bread. My family went from using your typical 
sleeve of wheat bread to buying those thick, iron cast loaves so brown they
were almost black. I can remember sitting in the cafeteria during lunch, 
watching my classmates as they flagrantly devoured their delicious, 
white-bread
PB&J’s, while I chewed the same bite of sandwich over and over for almost an 
hour because chunks of grain were still floating around in it. Back then,
I would have given anything for a sandwich made from white, Wonder Bread.

The thing is though, ask any nutritionist and they’ll tell you white bread 
barely counts as grain at all. It tastes good, but that’s because it’s been
almost entirely drained of nutrients. All the beneficial vitamins and 
minerals have been lost, and in the end we are left with a food that really 
isn’t
as healthy as we’d like to think it is.

How many of us Christians are looking for a “White Bread†relationship with 
God? We show up at Church on Sunday and pray before each meal, then tell 
ourselves
that should be enough to help us grow in our faith. It’s a sweet deal with 
all of the benefits and none of the drawbacks. Don’t fool yourself; God 
wants
to be so much more in our lives than our Sunday morning service. He is 
looking to make us lights of the world, to bring peace where there is 
strife, hope
where there is despair, and grace where there is hate. You won’t be very 
prepared for that if you just stick to the Sunday Sermons. Don’t deny 
yourself
a good, healthy, relationship with God. Read the
Bible,
get involved, and above all, be sure to make him a part of your daily life.

Intersecting Faith and Life: Find ways to get involved with you home church. 
Volunteer for events, or try mentoring some of the younger students. 
Parents,
are your children involved in a youth group? Encourage them to give it a 
try.

Further Reading

Revelation 3:15-17


Give Us Eyes for the Lonely
Reggie Osborne II / April 23, 2016
Give Us Eyes for the Lonely

Can you see them? Do you know who they are?

They sit among us in the congregation, sometimes at the heart of the body, 
sometimes on the fringes. They worship on Sundays and gather for Bible 
studies.
Some come to events and activities, hoping that maybe if they come enough 
and do enough, they will start to belong.

You’re part of the church, we say. They smile and nod. How they desperately 
want to believe that it’s true — true that they belong, true that the local
church feels like home, truly among brothers and sisters in Christ, truly no 
longer invisible as they are every place else they turn.

But if we’re honest, too often this is not true for those among us who are 
widows and widowers, orphans and strangers, parents without children and 
children
without parents. They feel so alone — in life and even in the body of 
Christ.

Look with Eyes of the Lord

As the church gathers this weekend, try to look around with the eyes of 
Christ. You may be amazed at what you see.

For the widow who sits in the same pew each Sunday, the dullest, most 
ordinary order of worship is full of life compared to the home from which 
she came
and will soon return. It sits quiet and empty day after day. Pictures of her 
husband adorn the walls, subtle reminders of what she no longer has. She 
misses
the joy of companionship. The loneliness is a fog she can’t seem to break 
through.

Nearby sit the parents of a child who’s run away. Their home is broken in a 
different way, but it’s no less broken. They call. She doesn’t answer. They
pray. She doesn’t come home. Every time she updates her Facebook they are 
flooded with emotion — joy that she is alive, sadness at what’s been lost, 
anxiety
about what lies ahead. Sunday is their respite as they fight for faith in 
God’s goodness.

Behind them sits the fifteen-year-old boy, the only Christian in his house. 
Every word he hears from the pulpit encourages a life that is vastly 
different
from the one at home. The tension in his family is palpable, and his faith 
is the source. Even to be here on Sunday is against the grain of everything
else in his life. Was being here just a huge mistake?

They come to church where there is no belt, bottle, or pill. No yelling, 
screaming, or fighting. No darkness, no silence, no emptiness. For these 
precious
people, “sanctuary†is not the name of the building. It’s the rest that they 
find here.

They are lonely and wandering, but for a brief time they feel like they 
belong. They sing with us and pray with us. They stand when we stand, and 
they
sit when we sit. Here, amid all the smiles, handshakes, and hugs, they feel 
a closeness that’s missing everywhere else.

This is the only part of their week that feels right.

All of the happy, unbroken, picture-perfect families around them seem 
oblivious to their struggles. Not that the happy people don’t care — they’re 
just
not paying attention. They’re keeping children quiet, focusing on the 
sermon, preparing for lunchtime or game-time or nap-time.

Love the Groom — and the Bride

When the service ends, the happy and the lonely go their separate ways.

For widows, orphans, and outliers, the Sunday afternoon journey back home is 
a portal back to reality. For the lonely, it hardly matters whether their
front door opens to a mansion of fine things or a hovel of poverty. Inside 
is a desolate place.

Are these not Jesus’s people — and our people, too?

Stretching out his hand toward his disciples, [Jesus] said, “Here are my 
mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is 
my
brother and sister and mother.†(Matthew 12:49–50)

O, that we would increasingly love the body of Christ as we grow in our love 
for the Head (Colossians 1:18); that we would love the branches like we love
the Vine (John 15:5), and every living stone that’s joined to the Corner of 
God’s great church (Ephesians 2:19–22).

Loving his church is an opportunity to love Jesus himself. You cannot 
divorce the Groom and his Bride. What God has joined together, let no man 
separate.

If every happy, intact family among us took it upon itself to initiate 
toward and welcome the lonely, making visible those around us who feel 
invisible,
what a joyful place our sanctuaries would be.

Give Your Best Love

Each time we gather, we have a fresh opportunity to be a son to the man 
whose own won’t see him. Every Sunday is a new chance to be a mother to the 
teenager
whose own mother is unbelieving. Each assembly is an avenue to love the 
family of God with the same passion and devotion reserved for our own blood.

Let the birthday cards and phone calls, Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas 
feasts, the outings to movies and basketball games flow from the heart of 
the
strong and happy into the wells of the weak and lonely.

Will we love them with our best love, and not relegate them to second-class 
love on account of their not having the same last name? Will we give them 
the
primary love, the best of yourself, the part that the rest of the world 
holds back?

Thank God that Jesus did not love us with his second best. With nail-pierced 
hands stretched out in agony, he loved us with his best. And if we belong
to him, we have access to the resources to love his people with our best, as 
well
Look around you this weekend and look for the lonely â and reach out and 
love them! Love them with initiative and creativity and energy they would 
never
expect â and never find anywhere else. And when you love them like that, the 
world will see it and glorify our Father, who empowers such unexpected love.

God, give us eyes to see the lonely.
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What Forgiveness Really Is
By Rick Warren

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”
(Luke 23:34a,
NIV).

Forgiveness may be the most misused, misapplied, and misunderstood quality 
in our culture. We think we know what forgiveness is all about, but we 
really
don’t. Before reading further, take a minute to do this little quiz by 
deciding if each statement is true or false.

1. A person should not be forgiven until he asks for it.

2. Forgiving includes minimizing the offense and the pain caused.

3. Forgiveness includes restoring trust and reuniting a relationship.

4. You haven’t really forgiven until you’ve forgotten the offense.

5. When you see somebody hurt, it is your duty to forgive the offender.

When you read the
Bible
and see what God has to say about forgiveness, you discover that all five of 
those statements are false. How did you do?

We’re going to spend the next few days looking at what forgiveness really 
is, because most people don’t understand forgiveness.

First, real forgiveness is unconditional. There’s no attachment to it. You 
don’t earn it. You don’t deserve it. You don’t bargain for it. Forgiveness 
is
not based on a promise to never do it again. You offer it to somebody 
whether they ask for it or not.

When Jesus stretched out his hands on the cross and said, “Father, forgive 
them, for they do not know what they are doing,” nobody had asked for it 
(Luke
23:34a NIV). Nobody had said, “Please forgive me, Jesus, for what we’re 
doing to you.” He just offered it. He took the initiative.

Second, forgiveness isn’t minimizing the seriousness of the offense. When 
somebody asks for your forgiveness and you say, “It’s no big deal. It really
didn’t hurt,” that actually cheapens forgiveness. If it wasn’t a big deal, 
you don’t need forgiveness and you don’t need to offer it.

Forgiveness is only for the big stuff. You don’t use it for slights that are 
just minor issues. If something really requires forgiveness, then you should
not minimize it when somebody asks you for forgiveness. You shouldn’t say it 
wasn’t a big deal. It was a big deal! If it wasn’t a big deal, just say, 
“You
don’t need to ask forgiveness.” But if it is a big deal, then you need to 
admit it.

There are a lot of big deals in life. Have you noticed that? But there is a 
difference in being wounded and being wronged. Being wounded requires 
patience
and acceptance, not forgiveness, because the person did it unintentionally. 
Being wronged requires forgiveness.

Talk It Over

• What are the wounds you’ve been waiting for someone to apologize for that 
you just need to accept?
• Why is it so hard to offer forgiveness to someone who has not asked for 
it? How can you move past this?
• How does your attitude on forgiveness change when you consider how Christ 
forgave you?

For more Daily Hope with Rick Warren, please visit
rickwarren.org
This devotional © 2016 by
Rick Warren.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Welcome to the Nugget

April 21, 2016

Three Steps to Finding the Correct Direction for Your Life
By Answers2Prayer

Devotionals
Contact us

Sometimes it might be tough, but never too late to find the correct 
direction and head in the triumphant path for our lives.

From time to time I ask myself why God chose to bless me with friends who 
don't mind going out with me. What I mean is that heading out with a blind 
friend
cannot be fun. Instead, it might be a chore as I need guidance and 
descriptions of many things.

But even so, God smiles at me with many friends with patience and a sense of 
humor to deal with embarrassing incidents.

We exit the car and before we head toward the restaurant, my friend extends 
her arm for me to hold on to. "Here, let's go."

As we head forward, she tells me when approaching a step, a doorway, change 
of terrain and when we reach the table in a restaurant.

We laugh, chat and have a great time. We do because I know the three things 
I need to do: remain close enough to hold on to her arm, trust she will 
guide
me correctly, and obey when she indicates to turn a certain direction in 
order to avoid smashing into obstacles.

That's what blind people must do. But even if you have eyesight, you might 
be just like me--blind to what tomorrow holds. No one can see into the 
future,
or know what waits at the turn of the next corner. We're all walking blindly 
into our tomorrows.

And more than a tad foolish, we walk boldly on our own, trusting in our 
decisions and suddenly, slam! We hit the wall of disappointment and regret.

Stunned, we wonder what happened. The answer is simple, we failed to follow 
these three steps for the correct direction for our lives.

1. Remain close to God. Close enough to be under His shadow and know His 
Word, to hear His guidance and to listen to His warnings. "Show me favor, 
God,
show me favor; for in you I have taken refuge. Yes, I will find refuge in 
the shadow of your wings until the storms have passed." (Psalm 57:2-3)

2. Trust that He will guide us in the correct path. Rather than our own 
wisdom or insight, we trust that He knows the best way, the safest route and 
the
destination that will bring rewards rather than regrets. "Trust in the LORD 
with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding." (Proverbs 
3:5)

3. Obey His every instruction. Be courageous when afraid. Be bold when 
feeling doubtful. Be certain when unsure. "If you are willing and obedient, 
you
will eat the best from the land..." (Isaiah 1:19)

Father, teach me to stay close to you so I may avoid heartache, sorrow and 
foolish mistakes. Give me eyes to see my need for your direction for every 
stage
of my life. In Jesus' name, amen.

* What direction is your life going?
* Whose instructions are you following?
* How will you find the correct direction for your life?

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

Today's Turning Point with David Jeremiah

Today's
Turning Point
Monday, April 25

Who Holds the Future

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure 
for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5

Recommended Reading
Jeremiah 29:11
Psalm 30:5 is an example of Scripture explaining Scripture. The second half 
of the verse is often quoted during times of trouble: “weeping may endure 
for
a night, but joy comes in the morning.” But weeping can sometimes last for 
many nights—or weeks or months, even years. But the first part of the verse
explains the second: The psalmist is talking about relative periods of 
time—a “moment” compared with a “lifetime.”

Listen to Today's Radio Broadcast
In other words, God’s favor—His love, grace, mercy, comfort, and 
provision—is the dominant and permanent theme in our life with Him. His love 
and grace
are never absent contrary to appearances. Even in times of darkness we have 
every confidence that light will dawn again: “The LORD’s mercies . . . are
new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Even though the present may last 
more than one night, both the present and the future are in God’s hands. 
Knowing
that light always follows darkness, there is nothing in the future to fear.

If you are living in a dark time today, know that the Light of the World is 
lighting your path. Walking toward Christ dispels all fear of the future.

We know not what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future.
Willis J. Ray

Read-Thru-the-Bible 2 Kings 19 – 21
Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah
Copyright © 2016 Turning Point for God. All rights reserved.
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Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax 
collector." (Luke 18:10)

By Answers2Prayer
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More Illustrations
Contact us

The Empty Boasters and the Hearty Greeters. The Helpless Heroes and the 
Vindictive Prideful, Intro

"To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on 
everyone else, Jesus told this parable:" (Luke 18:9, NIV2)

This parable is a revelation for anyone who thinks of himself as better than 
everyone else.

"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax 
collector." (Luke 18:10, NIV2) In the first century, Pharisees were 
considered
to be at the top of the ladder of importance. They were people to be 
honored. No one liked tax collectors, however...And maybe we still don't! At 
first
it seems that this parable must be concerning those vile sinners who make 
everyone miserable!

"The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not 
like other people-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax 
collector.
I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'" (Luke 18:11-12, NIV2)

It seems that this Pharisee has a heart for God. After all, isn't he 
praising God? As we continue to hear his prayer, however, we are left 
dumbfounded.
He is elevating himself above all other people. He isn't praising God, he is 
praising himself! In other words he is boasting about being superior to 
others!

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to 
heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'" 
(Luke
18:13, NIV2)

In contradiction to that Pharisee, the tax collector was humble. He realized 
that he was a sinner. He called upon help from above. He had nothing to 
boast
about. He came for mercy and direction in his life.

Now who do we think will go home justified? The righteous religious or the 
poor sinner?

"I tell you that this man (The tax collector), rather than the other (The 
Pharisee), went home justified before God. For all those who exalt 
themselves
will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." (Luke 
18:14, NIV2)

Case closed!

I have noticed that those who are religious often fall in the category of 
this Pharisee. Let me explain what I mean about being religious: This is 
anyone
who tries to please God through their own works. They believe that their own 
works will save them. In other words, they don't need the sacrifice of 
Jesus.
They can save themselves! And yes, they are to be found in every 
denomination, some more than others. In fact some denominations' theology is 
completely
based on salvation by works! These religious feel superior to others, for in 
their own eyes, they do more for God than the other filthy sinners. They 
think
that there is no way these sinners will ever deserve grace. They are 
prideful, and they put down anyone who is not like them. They simmer in 
their self-glory.
No one below their class is welcome. Why waste time on infidels?

Our experience in North Carolina this summer was quite the opposite of this 
"righteous" mentality. Within an hour of having set up camp at Stone 
Mountain
State Park, we were welcomed by our neighbors. In fact, they would only be 
our neighbors for the next hour, as they were packing up to head home. 
Nonetheless,
they came over to say hello. As soon as they had introduced themselves, they 
offered us firewood so that we could enjoy a nice fire in the evening. 
Surprised,
all we could say was: "Thank you so much!" When they discovered we were from 
Canada and were thus a long way from home, they gave us a map of the State
Park along with great tips for what and when to visit, then these two guys 
grinned as they said in unison, "Welcome to North Carolina!" Wow! I had 
never
ever received such a hearty welcome. It didn't matter for them that I had a 
foreign accent or that I wore scary coke bottles on my nose. They accepted
us for who we were. After all, we are truly all brothers and sisters with no 
one superior, except for our Heavenly Father. This is how it must be!

As the parable above points out, the ones considering themselves superior to 
others are the ones who missed the boat. Jesus didn't come for the 
religious.
He came for the sinners: "For I have not come to call the righteous, but 
sinners." (Matt 9:13b, NIV2) After all, the righteous take care of their own 
affairs,
not realizing they are self-serving, while sinners depend on God. No wonder 
God will save them above any of these hypocrites.

The world is despicable to the religious, as none other can compare to them. 
But not to God. I wish they could realize what the Bible meant with, "For
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever 
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16, NIV2) 
Faith
is what counts, not self-righteous works. After all "its common knowledge 
that 'God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing 
humble.'"
(Jas 4:6b, MSG)

Are we humble or are we prideful? We had better find out before we miss the 
boat completely!

I hope these words will relieve sinners of the need to make accusations. God 
loves you so much that He died solely for you so that you could be rejoicing
in heaven with Him. He loves you. He deeply loves you. Ignore the religious 
and focus solely on the One who loves you deeply. A hearty welcome to our 
neighborhood!

Rob Chaffart

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give."

Christ's Precious Wounds

Revelation 5:6

Why should our exalted Lord appear in glory with His wounds? The wounds of 
Jesus are His glories, His jewels, His sacred ornaments. To the eye of the 
believer,
Jesus is altogether lovely. We see Him as the lily of matchless purity, and 
as the rose crimsoned with His own blood. We behold the beauty of Christ in
all His earthly pilgrimage, but there never was such matchless beauty as 
when He hung upon the cross. There we saw all His beauties in perfection, 
all
His attributes developed, all His love drawn out, all His character 
expressed.

Beloved, the wounds of Jesus are far fairer in our eyes than all the 
splendor and pomp of kings. The thorny crown is more than an imperial 
diadem. It is
true that He no longer bears the scepter of reed, but there was even in that 
ignominy a glory that never flashed from a scepter of gold. Jesus wears the
appearance of a slain Lamb as His royal dress in which He wooed our souls 
and redeemed them by His complete atonement. And these are not only the 
ornaments
of Christ: They are the trophies of His love and of His victory. He has 
divided the spoil with the strong. He has redeemed for Himself a great 
multitude
that no one can count, and these scars are the memorials of the fight. If 
Christ loves to retain the thought of His sufferings for His people, then 
how
precious should his wounds be to us!

Behold how every wound of His
A precious balm distils,
Which heals the scars that sin had made,
And cures all mortal ills.
Those wounds are mouths that preach His grace,
The ensigns of His love;
The seals of our expected bliss
In paradise above.
Author and pastor Kevin DeYoung answers important questions about the Bible 
raised by Christians
and non-Christians alike, helping readers understand what the Bible says 
about itself and the key characteristics that contribute to its lasting 
significance.

Seeing God

Job 19:25-27 (NLT)
25 “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand 
upon the earth at last. 26 And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I 
will see God! 27 I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own 
eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!

Job said that he knew that his Redeemer lives. Who is Job talking about? In 
the dictionary we find the definition of a redeemer as someone who redeems. 
So what does redeem mean? Below is the definition I found in the 
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition:

1 a : to buy back : repurchase
b : to get or win back
2 : to free from what distresses or harms: as
a : to free from captivity by payment of ransom
b : to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental
c : to release from blame or debt : clear
d : to free from the consequences of sin
3 : to change for the better : reform
4 : repair , restore
5 a : to free from a lien by payment of an amount secured thereby
5 b (1) : to remove the obligation of by payment 〈 the U.S. Treasury redeems 
savings bonds on demand 〉
(2) : to exchange for something of value 〈 redeem trading stamps 〉
c : to make good : fulfill
6 a : to atone for : expiate
6 b (1) : to offset the bad effect of
(2) : to make worthwhile : retrieve

There is only one person who can fulfill most if not all of the definitions 
of a redeemer and that person is Jesus Christ. Since Job is considered to be 
the oldest book in the bible then this has to be the oldest prophecy of the 
coming of Jesus Christ.

Job knew and trusted God but he must have felt like Paul who wrote:

1 Corinthians 13:12 (NRSV)
12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now 
I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully 
known.

WE all see things dimly with our spiritual eyes. There is not a way we can 
fathom all that God is but we will one day. That is the day we will see Him 
face to face. What a glorious day that will be.

Some of us physically see things dimly or not at all. I tell people that 
what I see with my eyes is like looking through a piece of opaque or frosted 
glass. I know that Jesus Christ can heal. WE have accounts where he made 
blind eyes to see. Some were blind from birth and some had lost the sight 
that they once had. Jesus does not heal everyone here on earth. We don’t 
know why but one reason might be to be a better witness for Him in the 
condition we are in. I have been blessed to have had sight before and may 
receive my sight again but what I will see when I get to heaven will not 
compare to what I have seen here on earth. So if I may paraphrase Fanny 
Crosby, the great hymn writer who lost her sight at a very young age, “If 
the next thing I see is Jesus Christ I’m okay with that!” Just think what it 
will be like to see Jesus face to face. I, like Job, am overwhelmed!

I have sung the duet “I’ve Just Seen Jesus”. After singing the duet 
something that came to my mind was that we have to see Jesus now to be able 
to see Him later. Wouldn’t this be a fitting song for my funeral?

by Dean W. Masters

Living by Faith in an Uncertain World
by Dr. Ray Pritchard

I received an email from someone who is struggling with some decisions that 
have not worked out the way they expected. The details don't matter except
to say that the person took what seemed to be a step of faith and the result 
has been a great big mess.

"What did I do wrong?"

That's a natural question to ask when life rewards your courage with nothing 
but trouble. The truth is, it's entirely possible that this person did 
nothing
wrong. Or maybe they did, but their current troubles are not proof that they 
were wrong in the first place.

That's a hard truth to accept, especially when you're the one in the middle 
of the mess, after you've done what you thought was the will of God. There
are a lot of things that might be said at this point, but perhaps this one 
needs to be mentioned first.

Join the club.

What club is that? The International Fellowship of Faith-Walkers Who Feel 
Like Failures. The bad new is, we're all a member of that club at one time 
or
another. The good news is the membership includes every major Bible hero. 
Peter is a charter member. And so is David. And Gideon. And Noah. And Sarah.
And Job. And Jacob.

The list goes on and on.
Hebrews 11
offers us a long list of men and women who obeyed God even when things 
didn't always work out they way they expected. The names written there are 
like
a biblical hall of fame: Abel . . . Enoch . . . Noah . . . Abraham . . . 
Sarah . . . Jacob . . . Joseph . . . Moses . . . Joshua . . . David. 
Different
people, different stories, widely separated in time and space. Stories that 
span thousands of years. Stories that encompass murder, natural catastrophe,
family treachery, physical weakness, failed dreams, missed opportunities, 
sibling rivalry, and military conquest. The men and women whose stories are 
told
in this particular chapter differ in every way but one. What they did, they 
did by faith.

All of them had moments when they must have wondered, "What did I do wrong?" 
Yet God considered each of them worthy of mention in this great chapter. Our
focus in this message is on the man we often call "Father Abraham." In the 
Bible he stands as the preeminent example of a man who lived by faith.
Hebrews 11:8-10
tells how he obeyed God's call at great personal sacrifice. It tells us what 
he did; more importantly, it tells us why he did it. And it clearly shows
us that obeying God doesn't always work out the way we think it will.

Let's begin with some brief facts about Abraham. When we meet him in the 
Bible, he is living 4,000 years ago in a far-off place called Ur of the 
Chaldees
- on the banks of the Euphrates River, not far from the mouth of the Persian 
Gulf. No doubt he and his wife Sarah worshiped the moon-god Sin. He is a 
prosperous,
middle-aged man, successful by any human standard. Life has been good to 
Abraham and Sarah. Certainly they have no reason to complain.

It is at precisely this moment that God speaks to him - clearly, definitely, 
unmistakably. What God says will change his life - and ultimately alter the
course of world history.

So what does it mean to live by faith in an uncertain world?

Truth #1: Living by faith means accepting God's call without knowing where 
it will lead.

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was 
to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was 
going"
(Hebrews 11:8).
There is only one way to describe Ur of the Chaldees. It was a world-class 
city. Archaeologists tell us that in Abraham's day perhaps 250,000 people 
lived
there. It was a center of mathematics, astronomy, commerce and philosophy. 
People from outlying areas moved to Ur because they wanted to be part of 
that
great city.

No doubt many of Abraham's friends thought he was crazy. Why would anyone 
want to leave Ur? Obeying God's call meant giving up his friends, his 
career,
his traditions, his home, his position, his influence, and his country. More 
than that, it meant risking his health and his future on a vague promise 
from
an unseen God to lead him to "a land that I will show you" (
Genesis 12:1).

When Abraham left Ur, he burned his bridges behind him. For him there could 
be no turning back. Once he left the walls of Ur, he was on his own, 
following
God's call into the unknown.

You say, "He gave all that up?"
"Yes."
"That's kind of strange, isn't it?"
"Is it?"

Please don't miss the point. When God calls, there are no guarantees about 
tomorrow. Abraham truly didn't know where he was going, didn't know how he 
would
get there, didn't know how long it would take, and didn't even know for sure 
how he would know he was there when he got there. All he knew was that God
had called him. Period. Everything else was up in the air.

You want a long life? So do I.
You want to rise in your profession? So do I.
You want lots of friends? So do I.
You want to grow old and die with your family around you? So do I.

There's nothing wrong with those desires. All of us feel that way. But 
living by faith means no guarantees and no certainty about the future.

I was once approached by a Christian ministry asking if I would consider a 
particular position in their organization. I met the people, liked them very
much, and was very impressed by what they were doing. As I investigated 
further, I found that they take very good care of the people who work for 
them.
I liked everything I learned about the people and their ministry. But when 
the moment came, I decided to say no. This isn't how I put it to them, but 
it's
how I said it to myself.

I couldn't hear the bells ringing.

You either understand that or you don't. If you don't, there isn't much I 
can say that will be helpful. And if you do, there isn't any explanation 
that
is needed. But I will add this much. All of us come to moments in life when 
we say yes or no to certain opportunities simply because it's the right 
thing
to do at the time. Sometimes we take a job because we need to pay bills and 
take care of our family. It's hard to get more basic than that. And young 
people
take jobs in various places as they are building their careers. I just read 
an article that suggests that the average worker in the US may have as many
as 10 jobs by the time he is 40 and will make 3-5 career changes by the time 
he retires. People make moves and change jobs and relocate and start over
again for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes you are forced to make decisions 
for reasons beyond your control. In these tough economic times, people 
scramble
to take whatever jobs they can find. But there are moments in life when you 
have a choice, a decision, and you can stay where you are or you can do 
something
different. I don't know of any failsafe way to know in advance how things 
will work out.

Abraham heard the bells ringing (not literally - that's a symbol for a sense 
of God's calling), and so he left Ur of the Chaldees. If you truly want to
do God's will, sometimes you will find yourself exactly where Abraham was - 
setting out on a new journey that doesn't seem to make sense from the 
world's
point of view. How would he ever explain his decision to leave the comfort 
of Ur for the uncertainty of a long trek across the desert? The only 
certainty
he had was that God had called him and he must obey. The rest was shrouded 
in mystery. That fact makes his obedience all the more impressive. The
NIV
version of Hebrews 11:8 says he "obeyed and went." There was no greater 
miracle in his life than that. Everything else that happened flowed from 
this basic
decision. God called; he obeyed. That truth was the secret of his life. He 
stepped out in faith even though there were no guarantees about his own 
personal
future.

Let me put it another way. Living by faith means stepping out for God and 
leaving the results to him. It's no guarantee of long life and good success.
You may have those blessings. But you may not.

The life of faith means, "I am going to be the man or woman God wants me to 
be, no matter where it leads. I don't know the future, but I'm trusting him
to work out the details. In the meantime, I step out by faith and follow 
where he leads me."

That brings us to the second great truth about living by faith.

Truth #2: Living by faith means waiting on God to keep his promises.

"By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, 
living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise."
(Hebrews 11:9).
There is within all of us a natural desire to settle down. The older I get, 
the less I like to move. I value coming home to the same place and the same
faces every day. Several years ago we moved from Oak Park, Illinois to 
Tupelo, Mississippi. As we were packing, our home was filled with boxes 
waiting
to be loaded on the moving truck. It was unsettling to look at bare walls 
that only a few days before were covered with familiar pictures. Suddenly 
that
home looked less like a home and more like a building where we used to live 
in some distant past. Now run the clock forward 18 months. When we came back
to Oak Park for a visit, we drove past our old home on Wesley Avenue. I had 
a strange sensation, as if I remembered living there in the distant past. It
looked the same but it didn't feel like home to me at all.

There is a certain rootlessness about our life at this point that is 
instructive. Now that our boys are in their twenties, they are going in all 
directions
at once. Four years ago our oldest son left to teach English in China. He 
came back and another son went to China. That son came back and another son 
left
for China. Josh met Leah, they got married and went to China for a year. 
Mark met Vanessa when they served on the same team in China. After they came 
back
to the States, they got married. When Josh and Leah returned to the States 
two weeks ago, it was the first time in four years that we haven't had a son
in China. Two years ago our family was together for a total of three days. 
Last year I think we were all together for about five days. This year we 
will
all be together for three or four days. That's the way life is - and will be 
for the foreseeable future. It has hit me that home is a matter of the 
heart,
a moving target, not so much a place as being with the people you love the 
most. Wherever they are - in the U.S. or in China or anywhere else - is home
in the truest sense.

The rootlessness I spoke about can leave you with a vague sense of 
uneasiness, of trying to figure out where you belong. Multiply that feeling 
by a factor
of 100 and spread it out over fifty years and you approximate Abraham's 
situation as he came to the Promised Land. Our text tells us that he lived 
in tents.
I know lots of people who like to camp on vacation, but I don't know anyone 
who voluntarily lives in a tent as a permanent residence. Tents speak of 
impermanence,
of the possibility of moving on at any moment, of the fact that you live on 
land you do not personally own.

That's Abraham. He didn't own anything in the Promised Land. God had 
promised to give him the land; yet he lived like a stranger in a foreign 
country.
If you don't own the land, you can't build a permanent dwelling there.

In many ways this is even more remarkable than leaving Ur in the first 
place. As long as he was traveling across the desert, he could dream about 
the future.
But when he got to Canaan, all illusions disappeared. Think of what he 
didn't find:

Nobody expected him. Nobody cared that he had come. Nobody gave him 
anything.

God had promised him the land . . . but he had to scratch out an existence 
in tents. Hundreds of years would pass before the promise was completely 
fulfilled.
Abraham never saw it happen. Neither did Isaac or Jacob.

Was Abraham in the will of God? Yes. Was he right to leave Ur? Yes. Was he 
doing what God wanted him to do? Yes. Why, then, was he living in tents? 
Because
God's timetable is not the same as ours. He's not in a big hurry like we 
are. God works across the generations to accomplish his purposes; we're 
worried
about which dress or shirt to buy for the big party this weekend. There is a 
big difference in those two perspectives.

A third principle at work in Abraham's life is the ultimate key to the life 
of faith.

Truth #3: Living by faith means never taking your eyes off heaven.

"For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer 
and builder is God."
(Hebrews 11:10).
As I have mediated on this verse, it hit me that there is a certain amount 
of disappointment built into the life of faith. Sometimes we think, "If I 
follow
God's call, everything will work out and I'll be happy all the time." As Dr. 
Phil likes to say, let me know how that works out for you. By saying that
Abraham was "looking forward" to a city, it really means that he never found 
what he was looking for in this life. This world comes with a huge helping
of frustration built into the core of everything. Just recently I read about 
a certain baseball manager who led his team to a World Series championship.
It was a happy moment, the apex of his career, the proof that he had finally 
arrived, that he was a success and the best in the world at that moment. The
next morning as he went outside to pick up the paper, he thought to himself, 
"Is that all there is?" The answer is yes, that's all there is. It's the 
same
way with everything we do and everything we accomplish.

We live, we die, we buy a house, we sell a house, someone moves in where we 
once lived. We take a job, we leave a job, someone else takes the job we 
used
to have. And if we are fortunate enough to have a corner office with an 
incredible view, we should remember that someone else had it before us and 
someone
else will have it after us. If this moment is golden for you, enjoy it but 
don't grasp it too tightly because it won't last forever.

That's one part of the life of faith. We never reach full satisfaction in 
this life. "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a 
heaven
for?" said Robert Browning. And that brings us to the second part of verse 
10. Abraham looked for a city with foundations—that is, for a "city," not a
lonely spot in the desert. He wanted to live in a place filled with other 
people. He also looked for a city with "foundations," a place with security 
and
permanence that could not be found in a tent. That meant he was looking for 
a city designed and built by God. Why? Because all earthly cities eventually
crumble to dust.

Not long ago I visited the ruins of the ancient city of Jericho. When most 
people think of Jericho, they think of the city whose walls came tumbling 
down
in the days of Joshua. But that's only one Jericho. Archaeologists have 
discovered layers of Jericho, one after another, the city having been built, 
destroyed,
and rebuilt across the centuries. The same is true of Jerusalem. When you 
visit Old Jerusalem, you aren't exactly "walking where Jesus walked." You 
are
actually walking thirty to seventy-five feet above where Jesus walked. 
According to one source, Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt at least 
forty-seven
times in the last 3,500 years.

That's the way it is with all earthly cities. Nothing built by man lasts 
forever. No wonder Abraham was looking for a city built and designed by God.
Revelation 21
describes that city as "the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from 
God" (v. 2). In his vision John saw a city of breathtaking beauty, shining 
with
the glory of God, "its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear 
as crystal" (v. 11). Christians have always looked to the New Jerusalem as
the final abode for the people of God, the place where we will spend 
eternity together in the presence of the Lord. But note this. Heaven is a 
city. It's
a real place filled with real people. That's the city Abraham was looking 
for when he left Ur of the Chaldees.

Following God's will doesn't guarantee worldly success. He had his heart set 
on heaven, and that explains why he could:

Abraham knew he was going to heaven, and that changed his whole perspective 
on life. He knew not just that he was going to die, but that after death he
was going to enter a city God had designed and made.

Let me add one final thought from this passage. If you had been a consultant 
watching Abraham's life, you would probably say that he committed career 
suicide
when he left Ur of the Chaldees. It didn't make sense at the time, and 
frankly, the rest of his life was never a "success" in worldly terms.
Hebrews 11:10
says that Abraham was motivated by a vision of something the people around 
him simply couldn't grasp. He was looking forward to something they couldn't
see at all. Following God will sometimes lead you to make decisions that 
those around you simply will not understand. When that happens, all you can 
do
is to explain things as best you can, and then set off to obey God's call, 
leaving the results in his hands.

"Died at Twenty-five, Buried at Seventy-five"

Let me ask a personal question: How long do you expect to live? To put it 
more pointedly, how many more years do you think you have left before 
someone
holds your funeral service? Ten years? Twenty years? Thirty years? Forty 
years? Fifty years? Sixty years? How much of that time are you sure of? The 
last
question is easy. You're not sure about any of it. The truth is, you could 
die tomorrow - or today - from any of a thousand causes. No one knows how 
long
he or she will live or precisely when they will die. There are no guarantees 
for any of us.

It's not how long you live that matters, but what you do with the years you 
are given. Too many people die at age twenty-five but aren't buried until 
they
are seventy-five. They waste their best years in trivial pursuits, all the 
while missing out on the excitement of living by faith.

Here is the whole message in one sentence. Following God's will doesn't 
guarantee worldly success. The operative word is worldly. God has one view 
of success;
the world has another. Joshua 1:8 reminds us that those who meditate on 
God's Word will be "prosperous and successful." Psalm 1 contrasts the fool 
who
looks to the wicked for advice with the godly who builds his life on the 
Word of God. The latter will be like "a tree planted by streams of waters" 
(v.
3a). God rewards such a man in this way: "In all that he does, he prospers" 
(v. 3b). But let's not confuse that with the false notion that doing God's
will leads to a trouble-free life. Abraham lived in tents all his life. He 
died without receiving all that God had promised to him. In many ways you 
could
say that by leaving Ur, he forfeited any chance at worldly greatness. Never 
again would he know the stability and settled prosperity that he had in Ur.
From the day he left until the day he died, Abraham was a sojourner, a 
tent-dweller, a man living on land he did not own.

If it's safety you want and a guarantee of earthly success, then you'll have 
to look somewhere else. But if you are willing to follow Jesus, I can 
promise
you that you'll never be disappointed in him and your life will not be 
boring.

If you ever decide to make God's will the great priority of your life, you 
will discover that it is indeed an incredible journey. Like Abraham of old,
your search for God's will will lead you out of your comfort zone into the 
exciting arena of living by faith. Along the way, you will discover that you
can indeed survive without absolute certainty about what tomorrow will 
bring. You may even learn to enjoy living on the edge between faith and 
absolute
disaster. In any case, knowing God's will will cease to be an academic 
exercise, like doing your homework before going to bed at night. Instead, it 
will
become the most exciting adventure you've ever known as you set out into the 
unknown to follow God wherever he leads you.

[Content provided by
Keep Believing Ministries.]

You Are His Concern
by Chuck Swindoll

Exodus 4:19-20

Isn't God gracious? We have a Lord who knows our hearts, knows our thoughts, 
and knows our fears. When Moses had left Egypt forty years before there were
those who sought his life. He was probably featured at the top of the 
Egyptian version of The Ten Most Wanted list.

Naturally, Moses had not forgotten. He was a family man now, headin' west 
with the wife and kids, and that potential danger must have been weighing on
his mind. It was part of the reason he had been reluctant to go in the first 
place. But when he finally made the decision to embrace God's will, he 
determined
to make the journey in spite of those concerns. He told the Lord, in effect, 
"Lord, I'm going to trust You with all my heart. I'm not going to lean on
my own understanding. In all my ways I'm going to recognize You and let You 
take care of the obstacles."

So he set his face toward Egypt and began putting one foot in front of 
another, in obedience to God. Before he stepped outside the borders of 
Midian, however,
the Lord did something for His servant. He said to him, "Oh, by the way, 
Moses, you remember all those who sought your life in Egypt? Don't be 
anxious
about them. They're all dead. They can't hurt you now."

What a sight that little family must have been as they headed down the 
desert road. His wife, Zipporah, was on the donkey, the two kids were 
cavorting
on ahead, and a few of the family's belongings were probably tied on the 
donkey's back. They were on their way, leaving a steady job, family, 
security,
and the familiarity of their surroundings. Midian wasn't much, but it had 
been their home for forty years. And now they were on their way to Egypt—on 
their
way to the Exodus. What faith!

Have you stepped out on faith like that recently? Have you made a move, 
followed the nudging of God, into realms you wouldn't have even dreamed of 
five
years ago? He will honor your faith as you trust Him in that kind of walk. 
Those who remain in the false security of Midian never get to experience 
what
Moses experienced on that winding highway to Egypt—the sense of moving in 
the strong current of God's will and plan. Press on!

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

Rules for Running a Rewarding Race

Visit insight.org Copyright © 2016 Insight for Living Ministries. All rights reserved 
worldwide.

Christ's Precious Wounds

Revelation 5:6

Why should our exalted Lord appear in glory with His wounds? The wounds of 
Jesus are His glories, His jewels, His sacred ornaments. To the eye of the 
believer,
Jesus is altogether lovely. We see Him as the lily of matchless purity, and 
as the rose crimsoned with His own blood. We behold the beauty of Christ in
all His earthly pilgrimage, but there never was such matchless beauty as 
when He hung upon the cross. There we saw all His beauties in perfection, 
all
His attributes developed, all His love drawn out, all His character 
expressed.

Beloved, the wounds of Jesus are far fairer in our eyes than all the 
splendor and pomp of kings. The thorny crown is more than an imperial 
diadem. It is
true that He no longer bears the scepter of reed, but there was even in that 
ignominy a glory that never flashed from a scepter of gold. Jesus wears the
appearance of a slain Lamb as His royal dress in which He wooed our souls 
and redeemed them by His complete atonement. And these are not only the 
ornaments
of Christ: They are the trophies of His love and of His victory. He has 
divided the spoil with the strong. He has redeemed for Himself a great 
multitude
that no one can count, and these scars are the memorials of the fight. If 
Christ loves to retain the thought of His sufferings for His people, then 
how
precious should his wounds be to us!

Behold how every wound of His
A precious balm distils,
Which heals the scars that sin had made,
And cures all mortal ills.
Those wounds are mouths that preach His grace,
The ensigns of His love;
The seals of our expected bliss
In paradise above.

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Ecclesiastes 10

verse 2 Titus 2
ESV Daily Devotional New Testament

You Are His Concern
by Chuck Swindoll

Exodus 4:19-20

Isn't God gracious? We have a Lord who knows our hearts, knows our thoughts, 
and knows our fears. When Moses had left Egypt forty years before there were
those who sought his life. He was probably featured at the top of the 
Egyptian version of The Ten Most Wanted list.

Naturally, Moses had not forgotten. He was a family man now, headin' west 
with the wife and kids, and that potential danger must have been weighing on
his mind. It was part of the reason he had been reluctant to go in the first 
place. But when he finally made the decision to embrace God's will, he 
determined
to make the journey in spite of those concerns. He told the Lord, in effect, 
"Lord, I'm going to trust You with all my heart. I'm not going to lean on
my own understanding. In all my ways I'm going to recognize You and let You 
take care of the obstacles."

So he set his face toward Egypt and began putting one foot in front of 
another, in obedience to God. Before he stepped outside the borders of 
Midian, however,
the Lord did something for His servant. He said to him, "Oh, by the way, 
Moses, you remember all those who sought your life in Egypt? Don't be 
anxious
about them. They're all dead. They can't hurt you now."

What a sight that little family must have been as they headed down the 
desert road. His wife, Zipporah, was on the donkey, the two kids were 
cavorting
on ahead, and a few of the family's belongings were probably tied on the 
donkey's back. They were on their way, leaving a steady job, family, 
security,
and the familiarity of their surroundings. Midian wasn't much, but it had 
been their home for forty years. And now they were on their way to Egypt—on 
their
way to the Exodus. What faith!

Have you stepped out on faith like that recently? Have you made a move, 
followed the nudging of God, into realms you wouldn't have even dreamed of 
five
years ago? He will honor your faith as you trust Him in that kind of walk. 
Those who remain in the false security of Midian never get to experience 
what
Moses experienced on that winding highway to Egypt—the sense of moving in 
the strong current of God's will and plan. Press on!

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

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds 
of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your 
reward
is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Matthew 5:11–12)

One of the questions I posed recently, while preaching on loving our enemies 
from
Matthew 5:44,
was, How do you love the people who kidnap you and then kill you?

How can we do this? Where does power to love like this come from? Just think 
how astonishing this is when it appears in the real world! Could anything
show the truth and power and reality of Christ more than this?

I believe Jesus gives us the key to this radical, self-sacrificing love in 
the very same chapter.

In
Matthew 5:11–12,
he again talks about being persecuted. What is remarkable about these verses 
is that Jesus says that you are able not only to endure the mistreatment of
the enemy, but rejoice in it. This seems even more beyond our reach. If I 
could do this — if I could rejoice in being persecuted — then it would be 
possible
to love my persecutors. If the miracle of joy in the midst of the horror of 
injustice and pain and loss could happen, then the miracle of love for the
perpetrators could happen too.

Jesus gives the key to joy in these verses. He says, “Rejoice and be glad, 
for your reward is great in heaven.” The key to joy is faith in God’s future
grace — “your reward is great in heaven.” I believe this joy is the freeing 
power to love our enemies when they persecute us. If that is true, then the
command to love is a command to set our minds on things that are above, not 
on things that are on the earth (
Colossians 3:2).

The command to love our enemy is a command to find our hope and our 
satisfaction in God and his great reward — his future grace. The key to 
radical love
is faith in future grace. We must be persuaded in the midst of our agony 
that the love of God is “better than life” (
Psalm 63:3).
Loving your enemy doesn’t earn you the reward of heaven. Treasuring the 
reward of heaven empowers you to love your enemy.
Copyright Information

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

The Cross of Obedience
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross 
and follow me."

Matthew 16:24, NIV

Are you repulsed by the thought of crucifixion? I am. But I also know that 
when I look into the eyes of Jesus, I see a cross! And He has said to me, 
“Anne,
if you want to be My disciple, if you want to follow Me, you must deny 
yourself, take up your cross and follow Me. Because if you want to save your 
life,
you’re going to lose it in the end. If you choose to lose your life for Me, 
you will find it. For what good will it do you if you gain the whole world,
yet forfeit your soul?” (Matt. 16:24-26, paraphrased).

The cross that Jesus commands you and me to carry is the cross of submissive 
obedience to the will of God, even when His will includes suffering and 
hardship
and things we don’t want to do. It is a willingness to totally, absolutely, 
irrevocably, and finally yield our lives to Him because we want what He 
wants
more than what we want.
Copyright © 2016 AnGeL Ministries, All rights reserved.


The Blessing of Brokenness
MICCA CAMPBELL

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; 
but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24 (NASB)

I clenched my teeth and closed my eyes as I waited for the explosion. My 
favorite lamp had fallen to the floor and smashed to smithereens. Somehow, 
in
the scattered fragments I saw a picture of my own broken life.

As I carefully collected the shattered bits, tears stung my eyes and the 
pain of brokenness surfaced again. It’s a deep hurt. The kind not easily 
healed.
My heart was crushed as if it had been stomped on, broken and discarded. 
Unable to progress in my work or relationships, I became a hostage to my own 
sadness.
I felt weak and desperate for hope.

No one enjoys the pain of brokenness. Normally it calls for a letting go of 
something near and dear to us. At the time, it doesn’t make any sense. Yet,
since the broken lamp, I have learned that brokenness leads to an unexpected 
good.

It’s for this reason that God breaks us. Not to cause us undue pain. Not 
because He doesn’t love us. Instead …

God breaks us to bless us.

He chips away anything that keeps us from finding our true life in Him.

God targets an area of our life that we’re unwilling to submit to Him. 
Perhaps it’s an unhealthy relationship we won’t release. It could be 
laziness that’s
stunting our spiritual growth. Or even a bad habit that’s standing in the 
way of experiencing the fullness of God.

Whatever the cause, our tendency is to hold tightly to these things because 
we believe it’s what we want. We’re convinced they please us by providing 
the
joy, pleasure and fulfillment we seek. But God knows the truth. Only He can 
truly satisfy our deepest longings. All else is counterfeit to His 
provision.

Therefore, God selects the tools it takes to break our self-sufficiency and 
cause us turn to Him. When we give up our independence, we gain a new 
perspective
of God’s plan and purpose for our lives.

A great picture of this process is found in our key verse. “Unless a grain 
of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it
bears much fruit” (John 12:24).

Unless the kernel is buried and dies, it will produce nothing. It will 
remain a lone, solitary stalk of corn. Imagine passing a field that only 
hosted
one blade of corn. You might ask, “Where’s the rest of this farmer’s 
harvest?” However, if the kernel dies, it will produce a great harvest.

Consider the life of Jesus. On earth, He was like a single stalk of corn. 
Yet, through His death, burial and resurrection, His life continually 
produces
a harvest of souls.

In a similar way, as long as I live a selfish life fixed on my own wants and 
desires, I will produce little. On the other hand, if I die to myself and
live according to God’s plan, I will yield a productive life that’s 
beneficial to God and others.

It sounds difficult, I know, but the unexpected good of brokenness is that 
it revives the life of Christ in me. I become less and He becomes more. That’s
a good thing!

The more we become like Him, the more we become like the true selves God 
intended. The more love and patience I have in my heart, the more joyful and 
content
I am with others.

Think of it this way. For the wheat to reproduce itself, it had to die. For 
Christ to reproduce Himself in others, He had to die. If I desire Christ’s
life to be reproduced in me, I, too, must die to the lure of the world and 
my own selfishness. Then, I will experience the fullness of God I desire and
reproduce disciples of the same kind. Jesus put it this way:

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their 
life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25, NIV).

Sometimes God has to break me to bless me. As challenging as that can be, I’m 
thankful. Because honestly, I want the life God wants to give me instead
of settling for the counterfeit.

God, help me die to the desires of this world and my selfishness that I 
might find the life You created for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 12:25, “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who 
care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Is your fear pushing you away from God rather than drawing you closer to 
Him? Uproot fear and anxiety from your mind using the Proverbs 31 Ministries’
30-Day Devotional: Overcoming Fear.
Click here
to get your copy today for a gift of any amount.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What counterfeit junk are you holding onto instead of Jesus?

How is this object keeping you from becoming who God created you to be?

© 2016 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

Anne Graham Lotz - The Cross of Obedience
Anne Graham Lotz - The Cross of Obedience
View this email in your browser

The Cross of Obedience
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross 
and follow me."

Matthew 16:24, NIV

Are you repulsed by the thought of crucifixion? I am. But I also know that 
when I look into the eyes of Jesus, I see a cross! And He has said to me, 
“Anne,
if you want to be My disciple, if you want to follow Me, you must deny 
yourself, take up your cross and follow Me. Because if you want to save your 
life,
you’re going to lose it in the end. If you choose to lose your life for Me, 
you will find it. For what good will it do you if you gain the whole world,
yet forfeit your soul?” (Matt. 16:24-26, paraphrased).

The cross that Jesus commands you and me to carry is the cross of submissive 
obedience to the will of God, even when His will includes suffering and 
hardship
and things we don’t want to do. It is a willingness to totally, absolutely, 
irrevocably, and finally yield our lives to Him because we want what He 
wants
more than what we want.

Blessings,
Copyright © 2016 AnGeL Ministries, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up at 
www.annegrahamlotz.org.
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3 Words Which Absolutely Destroy Worry
by Stephen Altrogge

Worry is the act of imagining a future without God.

When you strip it down to its bones that’s what it really is. I worry when I 
imagine a future devoid of God. I worry when I project my current feelings
and discouragements and struggles into the future. I worry when I take God’s 
love and faithfulness out of the equation. When I imagine a stark and bleak
future, a screaming void in which my faithful and loving Father does not 
exist or act on my behalf. Underneath all the anxiety and fear and confusing 
emotions
worry is actually a form of atheism. It’s acting as if God does not exist.

Psalm 18:46
provides three words which destroy worry and fuel faith: “The Lord lives…”

Don’t pass over those words too quickly. The. Lord. Lives.

My budget is flatlining and we are financially tanking and I don’t see hope 
for the future! But the Lord lives. The same Lord who owns everything and 
provides
for ravens and sustains galaxies and calls us his children is real and alive 
and active in your life. You can’t provide for yourself but your budget is
not too tight for God. The Lord lives.

Worry is the act of imagining a future without God.

My child is not doing well spiritually and I’ve tried everything and I don’t 
have any hope that anything will change! The Lord lives. The same Lord who
has saved murderers and prostitutes and Pharisees and drug addicts and money 
addicts and pastors' kids is real and alive and active in your life. You can’t
save your child, but your kid is not too hard for God. The Lord lives.

My marriage is on the rocks and we’ve tried counseling and we’ve read all 
the books and I don’t see things getting any better! The Lord lives. The 
same
Lord who created a bride for himself out of rebellious, wicked, God-hating 
sinners is real and alive and active in your life. You can’t rescue your 
marriage,
but your marriage is not too hard for God. The Lord lives.

My spiritual life is dry, and I’ve tried a thousand different things to get 
it kickstarted, but nothing seems to work, and honestly, I don’t think 
things
are going to get any better. The Lord lives. The same Lord who caused you to 
become spiritually alive is real and alive and active in your life. You can’t
breathe fresh life into your heart, but your heart is not too dry for God.

Your circumstances may be bleak. You may not see a light at the end of the 
tunnel. You may not see any silver lining. But circumstances and tunnels and
silver linings are not the basis of our hope, God is.

Don’t be a functional atheist today. The Lord lives. Let’s live in light of 
that reality.

Stephen Altrogge serves as a pastor at
Sovereign Grace Church.


Want to Change the World? Get to Know Your Neighbors
Malinda Fuller
“Go into all the world,” is the greatest and final command Jesus gave. We 
have heard it, memorized it, and hung it on our church walls. But while many
Christians are excited about others changing the world and give generously 
to church programs or events, they often settle into daily life without much
thought about what the great commission means for them personally.
The problem is that Jesus didn’t give this command to a select few. He didn’t 
pull Peter aside, along with James and John and tell the three of them to
single-handedly change the world. It wasn’t for the disciples, the early 
church, or for those who “feel called.” His command is for anyone who bears 
His
name. Christian reading these words, that includes you.
Whether you have worked with the youth for ten years, or pass offering 
buckets once a month, or are one of those who slip in late and leave early, 
you
have a mandate to take the Good News into your world. The pastor who 
preaches on Sunday and the occasional attendee are lumped together when 
Jesus said,
“Go.”
But what does that mean for us in our daily living? And why do we struggle 
to do it?
Unfortunately, Jesus didn’t leave us with a five-point plan on how to “go 
into all the world.” What He did was show us how to love people. And that is
what it will take to change the world. Here are three questions to get you 
thinking about who Jesus is calling you love:
1. Where do you spend your time?
Who cuts your hair, teaches your yoga class, or makes your coffee when you 
use Starbucks as your office? Who do you see at school drop-off, or in the 
early
morning for your kid’s swim practice? Who do you sit across from every day 
at work or shares space in the same office building?
2. Where do you spend your money?
Think about the places you frequent weekly: grocery stores and markets, 
specialty and coffee shops, the UPS store, the gym and wherever you frequent 
for
your kids activities. Also, consider where you go regularly, though maybe 
not daily or weekly: the nail salon, the mechanic, a favorite restaurant or 
store.
3. Where do you already have common ground?
Parents of young children, this can include teachers, as well as coaches and 
therapists, instructors and aids, as well as other parents. Students, this
means every other person attending classes. As an employee, this includes 
everyone you work with, and when you come home it includes every person on 
your
block, in your complex, and most definitely those with whom you share fences 
and walls.
Now that you’re thinking about the who, consider how to build relationships 
. It requires that we be intentional about engaging others:
Be aware of patterns and interests. If your neighbors sleep late on 
Saturday, they will probably be more inclined to a late brunch than an offer 
to join
you for early morning antiquing? If they are active, perhaps they would love 
to join you for an evening walk or hike? Is there a family that you tend to
see after soccer practice at the local pizza place; pull two tables 
together.
Learn their name and be interested in their story. It’s amazing what happens 
when you say someone’s name; their whole countenance changes. Don’t wait for
the cashier you see every Wednesday to ask how your week was, ask them. 
Recognize and celebrate things like birthdays, graduations and 
anniversaries. And
when you remember that your barista was having a hard day earlier in the 
week, find a way to brighten their day.
For more inspiration, here’s what Jesus did:
1. Jesus ate with people. In their homes. There’s something about 
conversation around the dinner table that connects people, and yet sadly, 
this has become
a lost tradition. Take it up. Invite someone over and cook. If that isn’t 
your thing, grab take-out. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be sincere.
2. Jesus met people on their level. He went into the home of a crooked tax 
collector; He spoke with the adulterous woman in a public place. He touched
the terminally ill, the forgotten, the outcast, the children. Jesus didn’t 
care what kind of lifestyle they were living and He never asked people to 
“Join
me at the temple.” He went to them and spent time with them.
3. Jesus showed unconditional love. This doesn’t mean that we have to change 
our behavior in an effort to get to know our neighbors. We do, however, need
to get comfortable outside of our church circles, conversations and contexts 
in order to show that we actually care about people who are not “like us.”
Many people feel that “They aren’t ready for church,” because they feel they 
aren’t quite perfect enough to walk in the doors. So, don’t make it about
going to church. Don’t invite them to any services or events. Bring them 
into your home instead. Go out with them to a social event, or play on a 
sports
league together, or go camping with the family next door.
Jesus was genuine. That’s why He was so intoxicating to be with. He cared. 
He looked people in the eyes; He used their name and knew their story. He 
met
their needs and stood next to them when they were judged and ridiculed.
What would happen if Christians did this for people all the time? Imagine 
what our world would look like if we actually started to live this way— 
treating
those outside the church just as well as we treat those inside the church. 
If you want to change your world, it doesn’t take an event, a charismatic 
personality,
or lots of money. It starts by getting to know your neighbors.

Malinda Fuller and her husband Alex have served at several churches and 
para-church organizations in the U.S. and Canada for over a decade. Malinda 
wields
truth and grace through the words on her blog and has also contributed 
content for Relevant, Thrive Moms and The Influence Network. Malinda and 
Alex currently
reside in Southern California, where they are homeschooling their daughters, 
working in ministry and trying to not complain about the continuous 
sunshine.
Publication date: April 18, 2016
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Post  Admin on Fri 06 May 2016, 6:18 pm

4048 cdd Complexity of life
Thursday April 21, 2016
Volume 17 Number 081

Today's Author: Pastor Bill

Scripture: John 1:3
"All things were made through Him (Jesus), and without Him (Jesus) nothing 
was made that was made" NKJV (Emphasis Added)

There are more than 10,000 species of birds and the hummingbird is just one 
of them. An ordinary hummingbird may entertain the casual bird watcher but
what went into making a hummingbird is an incredible complexity of life. It 
is fascinating to watch hummingbirds feed as they are creatively energetic.
The energy and complexity of the hummingbird certainly expresses the dynamic 
imagination of Jesus.

Watching the intricate flight of a hummingbird, with darting speed, and 
incredibly fast wings, is awe inspiring. The tiny hummingbird, with wings 
beating
more than 60 times per second, is burning massive amounts of energy.

Hummingbirds eat more than their weight in food each day, just to survive. 
If a 65-pound boy burned energy at the same rate as a Hummingbird --- he 
would
be eating about 100 pounds of chicken every day. And a little known fact is 
that a Hummingbird will die if it goes for more than two hours without food.

Eating every two hours begs the question --- when does a Hummingbird sleep? 
The fact is, the hummingbird does sleep eight hours every night!

Jesus has given the hummingbird a most remarkable metabolism system. During 
the day, the hummingbird's heart beats a minimum of 10 times every second,
as it maintains its super-fast metabolism. But when the Hummingbird goes to 
sleep, incredibly its heart slows down to less than one beat per second ---
about the same as you and me. That's a 90% reduction!

And to further slow their metabolism for sleep, the hummingbird's normal 
daytime temperature drops in half. It drops from 100 degrees down to a 
comfortable
50 or 60 degrees. This kind of drop in temperature would kill most 
warm-blooded animals. But the hummingbird's complex metabolism, installed by 
Jesus,
enables it to go without food for the entire eight-hour sleep.

How incredible Jesus is as He created all things --- just as stated in 
today's scripture above. How mind blowing to think that each bird species, 
animal
species, insect species --- all have their own special heart beats, eating 
requirements and sleeping patterns.

Jesus cares for the birds --- and yet Jesus cares for you and me out of 8 
billion people. Just blows my mind. What an incredible God, who controls the
complexities of all life, as we know it. To God be all the Glory!

Prayer:
Father thank you for the incredibly complex and creative world Jesus set in 
motion for our enjoyment. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

Giving in support of Pastors Bill and Carol while in Jerusalem.
Click Here
Mail to us at: ccm, PO Box 406, Cambridge, MN 55008
Each gift receives a bottle of Holy Land Anointing Oil
(Please place Jerusalem 2016 in the memo)
Pastor Bill Team Prayer
Father please bring 1............. 2............. 3.............. into your 
kingdom.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Copyright (c) 2016
Pastor Bill Christian Cyber Ministries
All Rights Reserved


KenBible.com

New Post on KenBible.com - Biscuits and Fish
----------------------------------------------------------

Biscuits and Fish

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 09:55 PM PDT

When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is 
desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they 
may go
into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them 
something to eat!”

They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”

And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the 
grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward 
heaven,
He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, 
and the disciples gave them to the crowds. (Matthew 14:15-19, NASB)

Father, You have shown me needy people.
There they are, spread out before me.
I see the need.
I feel the need.
It is very real.

I hold something that I believe could help.
But it is so small,
and I am so small.
I don’t know how to get this to them.
I don’t know how to begin to use it in any meaningful way.

So I bring it to You, Father –
just biscuits and fish.
Use it.
Use me.
I am small,
but You encompass all that is.
I am ignorant,
but Your knowing is perfect.
Your loving is perfect.

Father, I am available.
Show me where to start.


What's the Difference Between Grace and Karma?
Sarah Coleman
I sat at a table of friends as one relayed her experience with road rage. 
She told how she absent-mindedly merged into traffic and almost hit an 
oncoming
car. The driver of said car then lashed out with a tirade of abuse and 
obscenity. Once the traffic cleared the car sped past her, still yelling 
abuse.
Funnily enough, a few minutes later my friend noticed the abusive driver 
pulled over by highway patrol.
Someone at the table piped up and said a word I hate to hear, "Karma,” – the 
insidious, normalised, celebrity-endorsed worldview that what you put out
comes back to you.
You don't have to go far to hear people refer to karma - on reality 
television, the radio, in conversation. Regardless of its Buddhist and Hindu 
origins,
karma has seeped into our Judaeo-Christian society. Like its cool. A new 
standard.
In reality is is neither.
Karma is not Biblical nor is it life according to the New Testament. God's 
kingdom operates by grace.
And grace is very different to karma.
What's so amazing about karma?
Karma refers to intentional actions that impact one's future. It is a key 
concept in many world religions, including Sikhism and Taoism. Our western 
understanding
of karma is the doctrine of inevitable consequence, where whatever you do is 
returned to you.
And there is nothing amazing about it.
Karma teaches you get what you deserve. Worse still, it teaches you get what 
your past deserves, even if it isn't your past.
In modern society people rejoice when the wicked get what they deserve in 
the form of financial hardship, health issues or relationship struggles.
While many people - including those who have no other association with 
Eastern
religion
- live by karma, there is a higher way.
Looking for Grace
The
Bible
does not teach karma. It teaches grace. Grace is where you get what you 
don't deserve.
Grace is unmerited favour. It is love and mercy bestowed upon us by God 
because He desires us to have it. As you can see, very different to karma. 
More
like polar opposites.
It was grace, not karma, that rescued the Baby Moses from death. It was 
grace that allowed Queen Esther to plead for the survival of her people. 
Grace
helped Nehemiah rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Grace appeared face to face 
with Saul on the Damascus road.
Grace reached out to you and me while we were sinners deserving death and 
took our place.
Grace. Amazing grace.

And it disappoints me that we have forgotten. It disappoints me we are more 
inclined to look for karma than we are to look for grace.
In the book, Bono: iIn Conversation with Mishka Assayas, Bono commented, 
“I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge... I'm 
holding
out for grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross...”
If the world knew the magnificence of God’s grace they would be holding out 
for it as well. Because I've got a feeling society doesn't need more karma
but a whole lot more grace.
If there was more grace there would be less road rage.
If there was more grace there would be less divorce.
If there was more grace families would talk to each other.
If there were more grace there would be less racism.
If there were more grace there would be less violence.
If there were more grace there would be more kindness.
More love.
Getting what you deserve is horrible because if we're honest, we all deserve 
a rotten life. Getting what you don't deserve is some kind of wonderful. And
it is all around us. If we opened our eyes we would see grace working on the 
planet each and every day.
It was grace that got my sister-in-law an upgrade to business class on her 
trip from London to Australia. It was grace that caused a stranger to give 
my
children free tickets to the zoo. It was grace that delivered groceries to 
single moms on Christmas Eve. Grace was the parking space at the Mall. Grace
was the out of the blue phone call from a friend. Grace was the smile of a 
child. Grace was the not so random act of kindness you received.
Grace. Pure grace.
Getting what you don't deserve. A gift from God.
Let's look for the incorruptible, glorious gifts of God's grace working 
through and around us in everyday life. No one deserves the consequences of 
karma.
We all need amazing grace.
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The Recipe for Misery
View this email in your browser
BIBLE MEDITATION:
“...remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to 
give than to receive.”
Acts 20:35

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Unhappiness comes from mirrors. Happiness comes from windows.

If you want to be miserable, then think about yourself first...what you 
want, what people are saying about you, what you ought to have done for you, 
how
down you feel, how good you feel. Just focus on yourself.

Feeling good yet? If you are, then something is wrong. Selfishness and 
happiness just don’t go hand in hand. If you are thinking it is better to 
receive
than to give, you’ll never be happy. You’ll never experience the blessing of 
giving that Jesus taught.

ACTION POINT:
Hold out your hand and make a fist for at least one minute. Now, relax. 
Which feels better? Now imagine if your spirit is tight and how that will 
quench
His work in your life.
Discover Jesus

 
Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or 
feel it when it comes to us. Let's not be afraid to receive each day's 
surprise,
whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our 
hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully 
our
shared humanity.

Henri Nouwen

The Jello Lesson

Carla stirred Jello into boiling water, added cold water, and put the bowl 
with the watery mixture in the refrigerator to set. "Didn't Dana ask you to
come over to play this afternoon?" asked Mother after Carla had finished 
washing the dishes.

Carla shrugged. "Yeah," she said, "but I don't feel like playing with her. 
I'm beginning to think she's hopeless. She always wants her own way, and she
says mean things about other kids--stuff like that."

"Hm-m-m-m. That's too bad," said Mother. "Well, maybe it's time to check 
your Jello."

Carla went to the refrigerator. "It's getting there," she said. "It's ready 
for the fruit." She added apples and bananas to the Jello while she 
continued
to complain about Dana.

"Tell me something," said Mother. "Dana became a Christian just recently. 
Has she improved at all since then?"

"Oh, sure." Carla nodded. "She used to be just awful--nobody liked her. Now 
she's not as bad, but she still has a long way to go."

"Like the Jello," said Mother.

"The Jello?" repeated Carla. "What do you mean?"

"The Jello has improved since you started it, but it has a long way to go, 
too," explained Mother. "It isn't hopeless, though. In time it will be set 
and
ready to eat. It reminds me that Christians don't usually 'set' all at once, 
either. It takes time. As Christians grow in the Lord, they improve in 
outward
behavior. We need to be patient with them."

"Maybe we can add some 'fruit' to help them." Carla was enjoying the 
comparison. "Like. . .we can pray for them, and we can be friendly."

"Good," approved Mother, "and let's remember that you and I aren't finished 
yet, either. Let's grow together."

HOW ABOUT YOU? Do you know Christians who need a lot of improvement? Are you 
praying for them? Are you helping them by being friendly and encouraging 
them
to attend church and study God's Word? Do you set a good example for them? 
God finishes what He starts. He'll finish what He has begun in them--and in
you.

"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it 
on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)
Posted at The Children's Bible Hour
Jul 27, 2005

Sunday Changed Everything

Sunday changed everything, but not in the way many people think. From our 
point of view two thousand years later, many people think of Easter as a 
comforting
story that says, “Spring is coming. Flowers are blooming. Life is eternal. 
Everything is going to work out.” But the response to the resurrection on 
the
first Easter in the Gospels consistently includes fear. In fact, people were 
more afraid after the resurrection than they were before. And none of the
gospel accounts have Jesus or the angels saying, “Now you don’t have to 
worry about dying anymore.”

Jesus followers’ believed he was the Messiah, that he would overthrow Rome 
and usher in God’s kingdom. But Jesus died. When this happened, even though
he had predicted it, none of his followers said, “Everything is going 
according to plan now.” All four of the Gospels give us very unflattering 
portraits
of what happened when he died. His disciples were disheartened, dismayed, 
disappointed, disillusioned, and dispirited. And then suddenly they weren’t.

They saw an empty tomb, which told them their sightings of Jesus were not 
hallucinations. They saw a live person, which told them the empty tomb was 
not
a result of body snatching. They remembered what Jesus said not long before 
he died:

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell 
you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only 
a
single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their 
life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep
it for eternal life.”

They began to understand.

My old preaching professor Ian Pitt-Watson used to say there have been only 
two great revolutions in the history of humankind. He said the first 
revolution
began when somebody started to farm. Up until this time, human beings had 
been hunter-gatherers; they lived from day to day. They moved from place to 
place.
There was no such thing as home. Then someone noticed that if they dropped a 
seed in the ground and walked away, something happened. Normally that’s how
we get rid of something. But not here. Something in the dirt calls to 
something in the seed. “Hey seed! Wake up! Send me a little root.” Then 
something
above the earth says to the seed, “Send up a little shoot.” And the seed 
does. The seed becomes a plant or a tree, and it produces fruit. It achieves 
its
destiny. But it could never happen if the seed didn’t die first.

There is a second revolution. This time we know the revolutionary’s name. We 
know where he lived. We know how he lived. We know what he taught. We know
how he died. This is, Jesus said, the way life works. You have to be willing 
to sacrifice something if anything is ever going to be the way it is 
supposed
to be. No sacrifice, no harvest. Only it isn’t seeds this time; this time it’s 
you.

What got released on Sunday was hope. Not hope that life would turn out 
well. Hope that called people to die: die to selfishness and sin and fear 
and greed,
die to the lesser life of a lesser self so that a greater self might be 
born. And many people did. This hope changed things. Because of their belief 
in
the resurrection of the body. Because of Sunday.

Jesus released a new kind of hope. Where are you most aware of a need for 
this kind of hope in your life right now? What lesser thing do you sense God
may be asking you to die to?
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The Lord's Battle

1 Samuel 18:17

The Christian is involved in a continual war, with Jesus Christ as the 
Captain of their salvation. He has said, "Behold, I am with you always, to 
the end
of the age."1 Listen to the battle cries! Now let the people of God stand 
firm in their ranks, and let no man's heart fail him. We may feel in these 
days
that we are losing the battle and unless the Lord Jesus shall lift His sword 
we do not know what may become of the church of God in our time; but let us
be courageous and bold.

Seldom has there been a time like this as biblical Christianity trembles on 
the brink of capitulation to pluralism and empty religious routine. We are
in great need of a bold voice and a strong hand to preach and publish the 
Gospel for which martyrs bled and confessors died. The Savior is, by His 
Spirit,
still on earth; let this encourage us. He is always ever in the middle of 
the fight, and therefore the outcome of the battle is not in doubt. And as 
the
conflict rages, what a deep satisfaction it is to know that the Lord Jesus, 
in His office as our great Intercessor, is prevalently pleading for His 
people!

Turn your anxious gaze from the battle below, where, enshrouded in smoke, 
the faithful fight in garments rolled in blood. And lift your eyes above 
where
the Savior lives and pleads, for while He intercedes, the cause of God is 
safe. Let us fight as if it all depended upon us, but let us look up and 
know
that it all depends upon Him.

On the basis of our Savior's atoning sacrifice and in the strength of the 
Holy Spirit's power, we charge you who love Jesus to fight bravely in this 
holy
war, for truth and righteousness, for the kingdom and the crown. Onward! The 
battle is not yours but God's, and you will yet hear Him say, "Well done,
brave warrior, well done!"

1) Matthew 28:20

Family
Bible
reading plan

verse 1 Ecclesiastes 7

verse 2 2 Timothy 3

ESV Daily Devotional New Testament

Author and pastor Kevin DeYoung answers important questions about the Bible 
raised by Christians and non-Christians alike, helping readers understand what the Bible says 
about itself and the key characteristics that contribute to its lasting  significance.

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

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

By Answers2Prayer
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His Plans for You

There is a shop in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which sells hot sauces.

Now, when this shop, which is known as the Pepper Palace, sells hot sauces, 
they mean hot sauces. One of their premier palate burners is a variety they
have named FLASHBANG. Composed of a blend of Carolina reaper, scorpion, 
ghost, and habanero peppers, FLASHBANG is downright destructive to the taste 
buds.

The stuff is so dangerous the owners of the Pepper Palace make people sign a 
waiver if they want to sample the premier concoction. Illinois resident, 
Randy
Schmitz, signed the paper and tasted.

Almost immediately, Schmitz was on the ground and having a convulsion.

He was taken to the hospital, a scan was run, and the results showed he was 
in the early stages of a malignant brain tumor. Back home in Illinois, 
Schmitz
underwent surgery, had chemotherapy, and finished up his treatment right 
before he got married.

Schmitz believes tasting the sauce triggered the seizure, which ended up 
saving his life. Indeed, he even sent a letter to the Pepper Palace to thank 
them
and apologize for his mother who, when the event was taking place, had 
screamed the store's sauce was "killing her son."

Most of us, looking back on our lives, can remember a time when we were in 
Schmitz's shoes.

By that I don't mean we have tasted a host of hot sauces; nor do I think all 
of us have had brain tumors. On the other hand, most of us have found 
ourselves
in situations where we might think the Lord has it in for us. You remember, 
you were enjoying the good life and then Bam! Something unexpected happened,
and your whole world was turned topsy-turvy.

At such a time it was easy to blame God and question His intentions for your 
life.

If that has ever been the case for you, then I encourage you to pay 
attention to what the Lord tells us through His prophet Jeremiah. He says, 
"I know
the plans I have for you." No matter what you may think, they are plans for 
your welfare and not your destruction. The things I do are not to bring evil
into your life. On the contrary, it is My desire to give you a blessed 
future and hope for today, tomorrow and eternity.

If anyone has any doubt about the sincerity of God's statement, all he needs 
to do is look to Bethlehem's manger, Calvary's cross, and Jerusalem's empty
tomb. In these places they will see the love and grace of God that came to 
us in the Person of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Having seen all that God has done for us through the Redeemer's many 
sacrifices, we ought to be assured that He will always do for us that which 
is right
and good.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive those times when I have questioned Your care 
and compassion. Let me see the Savior and believe that You, my loving 
Father,
will take care of me in every situation and circumstance. This I ask in 
Jesus' Name. Amen.

Pastor Ken Klaus
Lutheran Hour Ministries
All rights reserved; not to be duplicated without permission.

Announcement:

One of the ministries connected with Answers2Prayer provides
inspirational stories.
If you have written inspirational stories and would like to share them with 
others, please feel free to submit them to me. The writer of any story 
published
on our site will receive proper credit. Please
submit your story to us.
Thank you.

Rob Chaffart

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

The black horse of trouble!

(Don Fortner)

"He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of 
habitation." Psalm 107:7

Oh, how merciful, how gracious, how wise, how good our God is to His 
redeemed people! How gracious He has been to our souls in hedging up our 
way, bringing
into our lives disappointments, pains, afflictions, and sorrows--by which He 
has sweetly and irresistibly forced us to return to Him!

No trial endured by God's child would ever cause a murmuring thought to rise 
in his heart--if he knew God's reason for sending it. God's way always leads
His chosen people in this world, through a dark, troubling wilderness--but 
God's way is always "the right way."

Within the rough shell of sorrow, we find a sweet kernel of grace.

Even when His providence brings great pain and sorrow--our heavenly Father's 
eye is ever watching over us to do us good.

Our heavenly Father often sends his tender mercies, on the black horse of 
trouble!

As winter prepares the earth for spring--so our afflictions prepare our 
souls for glory!

~ ~ ~ ~

We have published Archibald Alexander's helpful one page article, "
PRAYER".

~ ~ ~ ~

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

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)
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6 Lies Society Tells Us about Those Struggling with Suicidal Thoughts
Debbie McDaniel
Sometimes the tragedy of suicide seems to take us by surprise. Maybe no one 
saw it coming, or didn’t think they’d ever choose to actually carry out such
a tragic plan. Other times, the journey through dark days has been long and 
difficult. Many who have carried deep burdens often struggle through much 
loneliness,
depression, and the pain of not knowing where, or how, to find freedom.
Those who love them most are often left wondering what to do, how to help, 
and confused over why they can’t seem to just snap out of it all.
According to statistics, more than twice the number of people in America die 
from suicide than homicides each year, and more lives are taken by suicide
than by car accidents.
Suicide is such a tragic, final decision to a temporary problem. It seems to 
affect us all in today’s world, and if we haven’t personally struggled here,
we probably know someone close to us that has. Yet, the truth is, it’s 
preventable.
The struggle, however, is real. And the pain is not easily soothed by a 
simple encouraging word, or by ignoring that a problem even exists.
Not yet two years ago, when much-loved comedian and actor Robin Williams 
tragically took his life by suicide, it once again opened doors of 
conversation.
This dear soul who lived his years with the heart to bring joy and laughter 
to others, had battled many dark days through physical illness, addiction,
and depression. And his life represents countless others, who also have 
battled through, as well as many who still struggle today.
Taking the steps to remove the shame from mental illness, depression, 
substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts is crucial in our society. We can’t 
ever live
truly free if we’re still trying to hide our wounds and scars, ashamed of 
revealing real struggles. We cannot truly help others if we don’t want to 
address
the actual issue and reach out in love, without judgment, offering care and 
support.
Life often doesn’t fit into neat little boxes of explanation. Sometimes it 
doesn’t make sense. Sometimes the biggest battles are internal and the 
giants
we stand against can’t be seen by those around us. But it’s still real—and 
fierce—to those who face it daily.
The first step in helping another soul who is carrying such deep struggle is 
to recognize there’s a problem. And often the biggest hurdles to overcome
are the false misconceptions that we have carried through the years about 
suicide and mental illness.
Common Misconceptions about Suicide and Those Who Struggle with Suicidal 
Thoughts:
“Don’t talk about suicide because it might give someone the idea to do it.” 
False.
There has been no indication over the years that simply talking about 
suicide will plant the idea in someone’s head to do this. Those who struggle 
with
suicidal thoughts are often longing to talk about their struggles. They feel 
alone in the battle and are waiting for someone to recognize or validate 
their
pain. We must not ignore the issue out of our own fear and worry that it may 
cause harm or plant seeds of confusion.
“Suicidal people are only trying to get attention. They’re just being 
selfish and overly dramatic.” False.
Suicidal people are troubled, hurting, and needing someone to reach out and 
help. Every discussion about suicide, plan to carry it out, or attempt, 
should
be taken very seriously, with steps of action to provide safety and get them 
the help they need.
“People with suicidal thoughts are just crazy, or weak. They need to toughen 
up and deal with their problems.” False.
Some of the most educated, gifted, and strong people in this world have 
taken, or attempted to take, their lives through suicide. Athletes, young 
professionals,
famous musicians, actors, artists, writers,
pastors,
leaders, businessmen and women, youth who seem to have bright futures ahead, 
mature adults who have lived full lives, and even characters from the
Bible
; all of these and more, have attempted to end their lives by suicide. To be 
labeled as “crazy,” “weak” or “just need to get a grip in life,” is unfair
and unfounded. Though many who choose suicide have also struggled with 
mental illness, depression, or addictions, most often, these issues are very 
treatable
with medication, care, and counseling.
“There are usually no red flags or warning signs with suicide. You can never 
tell what a person is thinking about something so deep and dark.” False.
Though some suicides and attempts may be impulsive, many times, in looking 
back, there were some red flags along the way. Often just being aware of 
what
those danger signs are, or looking at common factors, such as substance 
abuse, depression, mental illness, loved ones suffering from loss, abuse, or 
bullying;
can help us to recognize ahead of time, those who may be especially at risk.
“Just because they’re talking about it, doesn’t mean they’re really going to 
do it.” False.
If someone is talking about suicide, this is a huge red flag. They are 
crying out for help and statistics reveal that they are the ones who often 
will
attempt it.
“If someone’s determined to attempt suicide, then nothing you do or say is 
ever going to change their minds.” False.
It is known fact that many who have survived suicide attempts, later talk 
about not really wanting to die, they just no longer wanted to suffer with 
the
incredible pain they were facing. Many who survive an attempt are able to 
get help and are thankful for the chance they now have to live on. Suicidal 
thoughts
and struggles may return, but it is never inevitable that a person will 
choose to end their lives. This is why help, action, and treatment are so 
critical.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline lists common warning signs to be 
aware of, for those who may be contemplating suicide:
• Feeling like a burden to others
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Acting anxious or agitated
• Behaving recklessly
• Increase in the use of alcohol or drugs
• Talking about feelings of hopelessness
• Searching for methods online
• Talking about wanting to die
• Withdrawing or feeling isolated
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
Once we’re aware that a problem exists, we must take action on behalf of the 
one struggling. We can’t ignore it, hoping the issue will just go away, or
assume they’re only wanting attention.
If we know someone who might be in danger, here’s a few ways to help:
1. Recognize there’s a problem. Learn what the red flags are and choose not 
to ignore.
2. Open the door for conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they have 
a plan in place or are contemplating suicide. Be aware to not react with 
complete
surprise or personal judgments – this may shut the door for more discussions 
and help.
3. Be there. Just our presence and support alone may help the one feeling 
isolated and confused more than we could ever know.
4. Take action, ensure safety, reach out, and assist them in finding help. 
Remove any dangerous items or weapons that could aid them in carrying out a
suicidal plan.
5. Know that you’re not alone; there are many others equipped to stand with 
you, and to help your loved one who is struggling. Don’t feel the need to 
keep
everything secret, or to be their only means of help. Call the Suicide 
Hotline, or 911 if you need to. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and 
treatment.
6. Pray and believe that God can work on behalf of those who battle suicidal 
thoughts and tendencies. Nothing is beyond His power; He can do amazing 
things
to change their future, bringing hope and healing.
God gives us opportunities every day to reach out and help those around us. 
He’s equipped us with His wisdom, discernment, and compassion, so we never
have to turn and look the other way. We may be the only lifeline some have. 
And we can point them to the One who has the power to heal and set free.
As dark as the times may sometimes seem, with proper help, treatment, and 
support, there’s still hope ahead. No matter the struggles we journey 
through
today, God still has more in store.
And He is able to bring us through to other side, by His healing and 
strength.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in 
spirit”
(Psalm 34:18).
Note - If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts and 
tendencies, please get help. Don’t try to face this on your own. There is 
hope and
healing, and there are many who will journey through this trial with you. 
Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) at any
time day or night 24/7, to talk to someone who understands. Or go online at
www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
for more information and help.

Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a 
lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's facebook page,
https://www.facebook.com/DebbieWebbMcDaniel,


KenBible.com

New Post on KenBible.com - Needing God
----------------------------------------------------------

Needing God

Posted: 18 Apr 2016 05:15 AM PDT

Sometimes we just need God. Yes, in a sense we need His gifts as well – His 
wisdom, His strength, His guidance, His love. But really, we just need Him.

At such times, words are just words. “Truth” is abstract, cumbersome, and 
irrelevant. Even Scripture seems a wearisome and indirect way of meeting our
need for that moment, which is for God to just be there. Exhaustion has left 
us incapable of doing anything but crying out for His nearness.

Such experiences can result from a particular problem that has troubled and 
drained us. But often they come from vague accumulations of fatigue, 
uncertainty,
and stress.

During these times, we learn to appreciate God’s greatest gift. This gift is 
not one of His blessings. It’s not a “something” He sends to us, no matter
how precious. His greatest gift is Himself, given to us personally. His most 
profound comfort is the assurance that He is, and He is here for us, and He
is purely love.

Through the sacrament of Communion, we physically remember that “redemption” 
and “forgiveness” are not the ultimate gifts of His plan of salvation. He
Himself is the Gift. The wine is His blood. The bread is His body. The 
celebration, a remembrance of Him. We feed on Him, the One who gave 
everything –
His blood, His sweat, His pain, agony, humiliation, death, and life. The 
Heir of all things gave all He had and all He was, not only for us, but to 
us
as well. We feed on Him, and His very being becomes the substance and 
strength of our lives.

As we reach to Him from these lowest and blackest regions, we can do so with 
the solid confidence that He is ours and He is present. We can know that 
when
we are incapable of doing anything else, just needing Him pleases Him. 
Trusting Him is the highest praise He asks. And even in the depths, we can 
taste
the greatest joy that life here or hereafter will ever offer: the joy of 
loving Him, simply and personally.
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Post  Admin on Mon 02 May 2016, 10:41 pm

On the Trail

" Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. " (Psalm 119:105, 
HCSB)

"Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is 
the way you should go,†whether to the right or to the left." (Isaiah 30:21, 
NLT)

Our town is a mail stop on the Appalachian Trail. I have gotten to talk to 
some of the hikers. I have learned that every now and then a tree will be 
marked to let you know you are on the right trail. There are many other 
trails that intersect the Appalachian Trail. Sometimes a hiker will come to 
a fork and guess which trail to hike. Then after a while they realize they 
were not on the right trail.

Our life is a trail. We do have a road map for our life called the bible. In 
it we can read the trail Jesus Christ expects us to follow.

At times in our lives there are situations that come up where we cannot find 
exact verses that tell us what to do in those situations. In these cases we 
can rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is the way God leads us in 
our lives. We will hear him say, “This is the way.â€

So on this trail called life let us daily read our Bible to know what God 
expects. Let us also spend time in prayer daily and be open to the leading 
of the Holy Spirit so we will know the way to go.

Prayer: Father, forgive us when we don’t follow the trail you would have us 
travel on. Help us to commune with You so that we will know Your voice and 
then be willing to follow Your leading. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thought: Let us keep our map, the Bible, open and keep attentive to God’s 
voice so we may stay on the narrow trail.

by Dean W. Masters

7 Ways Jesus Shepherds in the Upper Room

The Apostle John’s record of Jesus’ farewell discourse on the eve of his 
crucifixion and of his high priestly prayer opens a window into the heart of 
the
Savior for his disciples. Earlier in his ministry Jesus announced that he 
was the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14). Jesus is the good shepherd because: 
1)
he lays down his life for his sheep, and 2) he does not flee his sheep when 
the wolf is coming. Nowhere were these two reasons truer than when Jesus 
gathered
his disciples before him on the night before he laid down his life for the 
sheep. Jesus knew the great wolf was preying close at hand seeking to sift 
the
disciples, and he knew that his Father had given all things into his hands. 
Knowing all these things Jesus loved his own to the end (John 13:1-3).

Jesus loved his disciples to the end not only by laying down his life for 
them, but also by shepherding them in those most tense and confusing hours 
before
the events for which he came into the world unfolded. There are many ways 
that Jesus cares for and shepherds his disciples, but I will draw attention 
to
just seven.

1. Christ shepherds his disciples by instructing them in humility (13:3-17). 
The disciples entered that upper room tense and contentious. They disputed
among themselves who was to be the greatest among them (Luke 22). In the 
midst of the meal Jesus arose and washed the disciples’ feet. Such as task 
was
typically left to the lowliest of servants and this was not lost on the 
disciples. The servant is not greater than the master, nor the messenger 
greater
than the one who sent them (13:16). Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of 
lords, not only washed the disciples’ feet, he gave himself for them. 
Consider
the similarities between John’s record of this event and Paul’s theological 
description of the humility of Christ in Philippians 2:6-8. The application
of both is the same. In humility count others more significant than 
yourself.

2. Christ shepherds his disciples’ faith by warning them of his betrayer 
(13:18-30).

I remember in the past reading this portion and thinking that this 
announcement was some final statement by Jesus to let Judas know that he was 
aware of
his impending act of treason. However, Jesus says there is one who will 
betray him and that Scripture will be fulfilled. He then says, “I am telling 
you
this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may 
believe that I am he†(13:19). This is remarkable. Jesus’ comment about the 
betrayer
was for their benefit. Certainly, when a leader or alleged trusted disciple 
of Christ sins it can often be used by the accuser to shake the faith of 
other
Christians. Reading on in the account we learn that even at this time the 
other eleven did not suspect Judas. What a shock and devastation it must 
have
been. And Jesus Christ knew that would be the case. So Jesus shepherds and 
guides their faith so they would remain committed to the belief that he was
indeed the long awaited and promised Messiah. Jesus is who the Bible says he 
is, and the failures of followers cannot change that.

3. Christ shepherds his disciples by comforting them in their confusion and 
in their loss (14:1-14).

John 13 ends and chapter 14 begins with palpable emotions. Anxiety, 
confusion, and sadness fill the room. Judas has left and the remaining 
eleven have
just been informed that one would betray the Savior, their spokesman would 
deny the Savior, the rest would flee, and Jesus would go to a place they 
could
not come, at least in the moment. In the midst of such emotions Jesus 
shepherds them by comforting them. “Let not your hearts be troubled.†
Humanly speaking
they had every reason to be troubled. Yet, Christ directed their attention 
above their present circumstances and even beyond their present limited 
understanding
of the occurring events to fix their trust in him. He was going to prepare a 
place for them with the Father by giving himself as a sacrifice for them.
Jesus announced that he is the only way to the Father. What great comfort it 
is that Jesus took our sins on himself and returned to the Father by dying
on the cross. In doing so, Jesus is our way to the Father. He is the truth 
and he is the life for all those who believe in him.

4. Christ shepherds his disciples by giving to them gifts upon his departure 
(14:15-31).

The few times I am away from home I enjoy purchasing some small gift for my 
son and daughter to let them know that I think about them when I am gone. 
Christ,
on the other hand, promised the gifts of presence, remembrance, and peace to 
his disciples prior to his departure so that they would be assured of his
thoughts while he was away. First, he promises them that he will not leave 
them as orphans. His departure is not abandonment. The Holy Spirit will be 
given
to the disciples and through him they will know the presence of Christ. For 
any disciple of Christ the greatest fear is absence of presence. Therefore,
Jesus promises them his Holy Spirit so they will be able to enjoy communion 
with him. Second, he promises them remembrance. The disciples were never far
from Christ during his public ministry. They relied heavily on his teaching 
and his guidance. But Jesus assures them that though he is departing, he 
will
grant them remembrance. This would come also through the ministry of the 
Holy Spirit. There is an immediate application here for the disciples and a 
broader
application for us today. They enjoyed an immediate recollection of Christ’s 
teaching in their ministries. We, today, enjoy this promise by having God’s
written word in the Old and New Testaments. Finally, Christ gives them his 
peace. Believers enjoy a peace with God the Father through the life, death,
and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Believers also enjoy a peace that is 
stable and true in the midst of this world’s troubles.

5. Christ shepherds his disciples by empowering them to bear fruit 
(15:1-17).

Jesus instructs his disciples of the glorious truth of union with him. He is 
the vine and we are the branches. Our acceptance with the Father is as we
are united to the Son. The life of a Christian is also dependent on union 
with Christ. Apart from him we cannot do anything. Positively, in union with
him we can. Jesus is both our acceptance and our transformation. Being 
united to Christ enables and empowers us to keep God’s commandments and to 
enjoy
all the benefits of the love of God. Christians were appointed to bear fruit 
(15:16). It is God’s will to be holy, and union with Christ is the vital 
empowerment
that we have to obey God joyfully.

6. Christ shepherds his disciples by promising them both trouble and victory 
(15:18-16:33).

It is not always easy to tell other people hard truths. Yet, we must do so 
in love. Jesus shepherds his disciples by giving to them an honest and 
upfront
assessment of what they will be facing after he ascends to his Father. The 
world will hate them (15:18-4). In the Parable of the Sower Jesus describes
some hearers that appear to embrace the gospel but when the heat comes, they 
wither. Persecution has the sifting effect. Jesus, however, promises his 
disciples
that there will be persecution and he promises this in order to keep them 
from falling away (16:1). It is too easy to think that God has abandoned us 
or
let us down when trouble comes. But Jesus promised trouble in this world. 
Instead of abandoning us he returns to the gift of the Holy Spirit again to 
bring
comfort in the midst of a hard promise (16:5-15). But trouble is not the 
only promise Jesus made to his disciples. He also promised them victory. “In 
the
world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world†
(16:31). There will be trouble in this life. But fear not, Jesus has 
overcome
the world.

7. Christ shepherds his disciples by interceding for them (ch. 17).

Christ’s High Priestly prayer is holy ground. Here we are granted permission 
to eavesdrop upon the prayer of the Son to his Father. Christ prayer falls
into three sections: 1) he prays for himself and his work (17:1-5), 2) he 
prays for his disciples with him (17:6-19), and 3) he prays for all those 
given
to him (17:20-26). As with the entire Farewell Discourse there is much to 
ponder and to consider in this prayer. Let it suffice for now to relish and 
rejoice
in the reality that moments before his crucifixion the mind and heart of 
Christ was not only on his disciples that were present with him, but also 
upon
you. Before you were ever born Jesus lifted you up before his Father and 
prayed that all that had been given to him would indeed come to him in time. 
And
not only did Jesus pray for you then, according to Hebrews 7 Jesus ever 
lives to make intercession for you even now. Christ continues his ministry 
of shepherding
by praying for all those that the Father had given him that we might know 
the love with which the Father has loved Christ may be in us.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Nowhere is this truth more evident than on the 
night in which he was betrayed. As he stood with the cross close at hand he
shepherded his people and loved them to the end.

Charles M. Barrett serves as Associate Minister at Wayside Presbyterian 
Church (PCA) in Signal Mountain, Tennessee.
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Today's Turning Point with David Jeremiah
 Today's Devotional: April 30

Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy 
inexpressible and full of glory.1 Peter 1:8

Recommended Reading:
1 Peter 4:7-11

It’s that time of year when we begin to put away the accumulation of things 
we have had in our homes during the winter—the space heaters and extra 
blankets,
and even our sweaters and heavy coats can be moved out of sight as we 
prepare for spring. Whether it is dusting off our shutters and blinds, 
washing
our windows, or just taking a walk to enjoy the fresh air, the change in 
season seems to call for a change in us as well. For seasons occur not only
on the calendar but also in our lives.

With the springtime comes the reminder to begin anew and to look for fresh 
opportunities to serve the Lord. There isn’t an abundance of encouragement
in our world today, so if you can find a place where you can bless those 
around you, take that opportunity to make a difference. There is joy in 
serving
the Lord!

I have found the joy no tongue can tell, how its waves of glory roll! It is 
like a great o’erflowing well springing up within my soul. It is joy 
unspeakable
and full of glory!Barney E. Warren

Read-Thru-the-Bible:
1 Chronicles 5 – 6
TURNING POINT WITH
DR. DAVID JEREMIAH
PO Box 3838
San Diego, CA 92163
1-877-998-0222
David Jeremiah's Website
Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah
Copyright 2016


Altar-Call Christians?
by Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk.com Contributor

Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will 
love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does
not love me will not obey my teaching”
(John 14:23-24).

I’ve watched a lot of altar-calls in my day. The church in which I grew up 
routinely had altar-calls at the end of Sunday morning services. “If you’ve
never asked Jesus into your heart, and you want to now, raise your hand. 
Come to the front. Pray this
prayer
…” Granted, not every church and every denomination does the whole 
altar-call thing. But it’s a pretty recognizable event in the land of 
“Christianese.”

And it’s not baseless. After all, Paul wrote to the Romans:

"If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart 
that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).

And,

"For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is 
with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, 
‘Anyone
who trusts in him will never be put to shame’" (Romans 10-11).

But I wonder sometimes if we grasp those verses a little too tightly, and 
forget about the kind of life that Jesus was calling us to live. Are we 
living
like Christians – like those “belonging to Christ” or “members of Christ’s 
household” – or are we simply living like people who prayed the Sinner’s 
Prayer
that one time?

Take a look at a few of these verses:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I 
tell you, Do not resist an evil person” (Matthew 5:38-39).

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross 
daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat 
or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on” (Matthew
6:25).

“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light 
for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth 
comes
into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has 
been done through God" (John 3:20-21).

Jesus said those things. Jesus said to follow him. To give, make peace, feed 
the poor, and endlessly love.

Intersecting
Faith
and Life: Ask yourself… Are you walking in the footsteps of Jesus? Are you 
walking in the light? Or are you just someone who said the Sinner’s Prayer
one time, long ago?

Further Reading

John 14

7 Things Christians Can Learn from Misfortune
Crystal Flanagan

Every now and again in our lives we stumble across times when things do not 
go exactly as planned. We live in a day and age where everyone wants to have
a constant resurgence of peak moments but no one is ever really ready or 
openly welcomes the low lying valley moments. One day you can be gainfully 
employed
and the next day you can be laid off your job with no fair warning. Better 
yet, you can be as healthy as an Ox and within a moment’s notice you could 
be
stricken with an illness that completely blindsides you. However, it never 
seems to fail that when one finds themselves in these awful dilemmas of 
misfortune
that they never occur as an isolated situation but rather everything all 
happening at the same time. As a Christian you tithe in church, and give to 
the
less fortunate and still can’t figure out how you’ve ended up with a string 
of bad luck or misfortune. When these things happen it is normal for 
Christians
to question these sort of events. However, the bigger question is, what can 
Christians learn from misfortune to hopefully embrace it for the better?

In the Old Testament we are introduced to Job, who is one of God’s most 
favored servants who experienced a string of horrible events leading to his 
misfortune
(
Job 1:1-22).
Throughout the entire book of Job we learn of his groaning and suffering and 
complaints to God but it isn’t until the end of the chapter that God sets
Job straight and confronts his foolish speech to reaffirm his authority (
Job 38:1-41)
and restored blessings to Job (
Job 42:12-17).
What we can learn from Job is that God does not exclude us from misfortune 
but rather he enables us to endure the struggle to strengthen our 
relationship
with him and to prove our devotion to him in these vital moments.

We all know that nothing in life ever happens by chance or coincidence under 
the mighty hand and wisdom of God (
Ecclesiastes 3:1).
However, despite the downside of experiencing misfortune there are ways for 
Christians to embrace the experience for the better. Here are 7 things 
Christians
can learn from misfortune and embrace for the better.

1. Be Humble

Humility is something that we all can learn to embrace as Christians whether 
we’re going through a misfortunate or living the good life. 1 Peter 5:6, 
tells
us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand so that he will lift us up in 
his own timing. Humility keeps us grounded and aware of God’s sovereign 
control.

2. Be Faithful to God

Do not resist the chance to remain faithful to God. If there was ever a time 
to enact faith it would be in moments of misfortune. No matter how big or
small the dilemma is we should be faithful to God.
Luke 16:10
says, whoever is faithful in small matters will be faithful in large ones; 
whoever is dishonest in small matters will be dishonest in large ones. There
is no other time to prove your faithfulness to God than, now.

3. Be Grateful for the Good Things

Job didn’t realize how blessed he was in the midst of his tribulation 
because he had allowed the Enemy’s attacks to overcome him physically, 
spiritually
and emotionally. Here’s my point. Despite Job’s misfortune God was still 
good to him throughout the entire book by sparing his life from the 
beginning
of his tribulation (
Job 1:12).
God did not allow Satan to harm him. This was the perfect opportunity for 
Job to show how grateful he was for God sparing his life. We can use this 
very
scenario in our lives during our moments of misfortunate to bless God and 
show how grateful we are for the things that are still intact despite our 
losses.

4. Build Endurance

The
bible
tells us in
James 1:4,
to make sure that our endurance carriers us all the way without failing so 
that we may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Simply put, God wants
us to have a strong endurance to withstand the trials of this world.

5. Gain Better Perspective

Sometimes God will bring misfortune in our lives to change us for the 
better. It is in these moments of life’s changes when we are prompted to 
gain a better
perspective on our lives in totality.
Proverbs 20:30,
explains that sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our 
ways. Seeing things from the aspect of God changing us could make a world of
difference in our perspective of the situation.

6. Grow Empathy

We serve a loving and caring God who wants us to be just as loving and 
caring as he is. In
Colossians 3:12,
we learn that we are the people of God, who loved and chose us as his own to 
be clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 
When
we gain these attributes we then learn to embrace them and show empathy 
towards one another when someone else other than ourselves experiences a 
misfortune.

7. Gain Wisdom

One of God’s most precious gifts to us is wisdom (
Proverbs 2:6).
Proverbs 4:7, tells us that getting wisdom and insight is the most important 
thing we can do. God can often times use misfortune as a gateway for us to
ask for wisdom during our difficult time to help us gain better insight and 
understanding of the misfortune.

Although nothing in life is easy, we can use Job’s experience and these 7 
key points to learn how to embrace misfortune for the better. As Christians 
we
understand and know that our lives will be one that is filled with many 
peaks and valleys. Yet, we should strive to seek ways to embrace all aspects 
as
we continue to grow stronger and nurture our relationship with the Lord.

Be amazingly fruitful,

Crystal

First published by Fruitful Concept.
Used with permission.

Fruitful Concept
is an online Christian Inspirational Blog dedicated to providing daily 
spiritual and uplifting content to its audience. The goal is to challenge 
each
reader to recognize and acknowledge the
fruit of the Spirit
daily through individual interactions by allowing Christ's love to manifest 
through us byway of the Holy Spirit. Fruitful Concept was created by author,
Crystal Flanagan and her book titled, 10 Seconds from Glory, which is a 
novel entailing a story about the human journey of experiencing the fruit of 
the
Holy Spirit.

Publication date: April 14, 2016
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If we set out to serve God and do His work but get out of touch with Him, 
the sense of responsibility we feel will be overwhelming and defeating. But 
if
we will only roll back on God the burdens He has placed on us, He will take 
away that immense feeling of responsibility, replacing it with an awareness
and understanding of Himself and His presence.

Many servants set out to serve God with great courage and with the right 
motives. But with no intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ, they are soon 
defeated.
They do not know what to do with their burden, and it produces weariness in 
their lives.

Oswald Chambers

Center Our Desires

John 12:21

The constant cry of the world is, "Who will show us any good?" They seek 
satisfaction in earthly comforts, enjoyments, and riches. But the quickened 
sinner
knows of only one good. "I wish I knew where I might find Him!" When he is 
truly awakened to feel his guilt, if you could lay a fortune before him he 
would
say, "Take it away: I want to find Him."

It is a blessed thing for a man when he has brought his desires into focus, 
so that they all center in one object. When he has fifty different desires,
his heart resembles a stagnant pool spreading out into a marsh, breeding 
disease; but when all his desires are channeled in one direction, his heart 
becomes
like a river of pure water, running swiftly to fertilize the fields.

Happy is he who has one desire, if that one desire is set on Christ, though 
it may not yet have been realized. When a soul desires Jesus, it is a sure
indication of divine work within. Such a man will never be content with mere 
externals. He will say, "I want Christ; I must have Him—mere ordinances are
of no use to me. I want Himself; do not offer me these; you offer me the 
empty pitcher, while I am dying of thirst; give me water or I die. Jesus is 
my
soul's desire. I wish to see Jesus!"

Is this your condition, my reader, at this moment? Have you only one desire, 
and is that for Christ? Then you are not far from the kingdom of heaven. 
Have
you only one wish in your heart, and is it that you may be washed from all 
your sins in Jesus' blood? Can you really say, "I would give all I have to 
be
a Christian. I would give up everything I have and hope for, in order to 
know that I have an interest in Christ"? Then, despite all your fears, be 
encouraged—the
Lord loves you, and you will come out into daylight soon and rejoice in the 
liberty with which Christ makes you free.

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Ecclesiastes 4

verse 2 1 Timothy 6

ESV Daily Devotional New Testament
Author and pastor Kevin DeYoung answers important questions about the Bible 
raised by Christians
and non-Christians alike, helping readers understand what the Bible says 
about itself and the key characteristics that contribute to its lasting significance.



You Supply the Will, God Supplies the Power

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is 
sin.”
James 4:17

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Are you one of those people who believes “Put off until tomorrow what you 
could be doing today”? This is one of those times when the fingers pointing 
back
at me outnumber the one that’s pointing to you! What am I talking about? 
Procrastination.

Did you know that procrastination is a sin? I say that because sin is not 
merely doing wrong, it is failing to do what you ought to do. 
Procrastination
and disobedience are just different shades of the same sin. I heard a quote 
once that said it well:
“When you have a job to do,
Begin this very hour.
You supply the will,
God supplies the power.”

That is the will power we need to instantly obey!

ACTION POINT:
Has a certain task been hounding you? Confess your procrastination as sin. 
And act now. Don’t hesitate. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow may never come. 
Today is the day! Discover Jesus
Copyright © 2016 Love Worth Finding Ministries, All rights reserved.

You find out who your friends are
Somebody's gonna drop everything
Run out and crank up their car
Hit the gas, get there fast
Never stop to think
"What's in it for me?"
Or "It's way too far"
They just show on up
With their big ol' heart
You find out who your friends are

Does anyone know that Tracy Lawrence song? It’s about those situations that 
we sometimes find ourselves in when we just need help.

We sometimes get stuck in unforeseen circumstances. Unpredictability is a 
part of life, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

This morning was one of those days for me.

My husband and I are the proud mom and dad of two rescued dogs, a pomeranian 
and a pomeranian-chihuahua, or as we call her, a pomhuahua. Today the dogs
were scheduled to have their hair cut at the groomer so they will be more 
comfortable with warm weather approaching. The groomer would keep them for 
the
rest of the day in the kennel until we could pick them up after work.

No problem, right?

Wrong.

I had barely sat down at my desk when I got a call from the groomer. She 
said that my dog suddenly got sick and they couldn’t keep her for the rest 
of
the day as planned; I needed to pick her up right away.

Remember those unforeseen circumstances I was talking about?

I did what I had to do. My manager was extremely gracious in the situation, 
and let me go pick up my sick puppy. He even went as far as to offer that I
could take her to the vet if necessary.

But this story isn't really about the actual circumstance that interrupted 
my day. It's about what happened afterward.

First, there was the friend that allowed my dog to stay at his apartment for 
the day. I called him, and asked if he would take her in (it saved me a long
trip home). There was no hesitation at all. Of course he would keep her. You 
find out who your friends are.

Then I got back to the office, thinking that I would have a lot of catching 
up to do after a morning "off." Not so. The other editors had finished 
almost
all of my work for me upon my arrival. They certainly did not have to help 
me; they all have to pull plenty of weight at the company without the 
additional
load. But they did. You find out who your friends are.

These generous people led me to think of the kind of friend that Jesus was. 
He was a friend to the lowest of the low, those that would be considered the
societal outsiders of today. Jesus visited the house of Zacchaeus the tax 
collector
Luke 19:1-10
and touched a man with leprosy
Matthew 8:1-4.

God intended that we have relationships including families, spouses, and 
friends. We form bonds with one another because as it says in
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12,

Two are better than one, because they have good return for their work. If 
one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and 
has
no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. 
But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can 
defend
themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

It is interesting that the scripture says a cord of three strands. I take 
that to mean we should not only have friends physically on this earth, but a
friend in our hearts as well. That friend is Jesus, the third strand, the 
strand that keeps the cord from unraveling.

In situations when we need a helping hand, you do truly find out who your 
friends are. So nurture your relationships. Give friends the love and 
attention
they deserve, and they will reciprocate.

Your friendships need nourishment just as the farmer's crops did in the 
parable Jesus tells in
Matthew 13:3-8.
Plant your friendships in the good soil of consideration, thoughtfulness, 
and generosity. Those friendships will blossom into the best of all, the 
friends
who you can call on in difficult times, the friends who genuinely care about 
you.

Intersecting
Faith
and Life: You can probably think of a friend that you have not spoken to in 
some time. Reach out to that person with a simple call or e-mail to catch
up. Let that person know that you care about him or her.

Further Reading
John 13:34
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Lord, Teach Me to Pray

My hunch is that of all spiritual disciplines, prayer is the one that people 
feel most guilty about. Somehow it seems that if we really love God prayer
should flow out of us without effort or discipline. In fact, this was not 
the case even with Jesus’ first followers.

They had a front row seat to watch the greatest pray-er who ever prayed. And 
they noticed that things happened when he prayed. And they asked: “Lord, 
teach
us to pray.”

This is a startling request because as Jews the disciples would have known 
all about prayers. They would have grown up with prayers offered through the
day, before meals, at the beginning of Sabbath, and when they went to 
synagogue. They weren’t just asking what words to say. The disciples noticed 
Jesus
looked forward to prayer and actually hungered for it. They saw that somehow 
prayer fed Jesus’ soul the way food fed their stomachs. They observed a 
richly
interactive life between Jesus and his Father. They noticed that at crisis 
points—when Jesus was grieving over the death of John the Baptist, when he 
experienced
need, when he was tired from ministry—his consistent response was to pray. 
They wanted to be nourished by prayer the way that Jesus was. So they asked
him to teach them.

Here’s the lesson: Prayer is learned behavior. Nobody is born an expert at 
it. No one ever masters prayer.

Simple prayer is the most common type of prayer in Scripture. Jesus himself 
teaches it when he tells us to pray for our daily bread. Sometimes it looks
amazingly non-spiritual, as when Gideon asks God to give a few more reasons 
why he should trust Him.

I have had to learn to be fully present when praying. I have had to learn to 
become aware of and speak with God about what is actually happening within
me during prayer. Talking to God directly about what is happening has made 
prayer become a much more lively experience in my life.

Jesus often taught about intercessory prayer, and if his teachings could be 
summarized by a single word it would probably be “persistence.” He told 
parables
about people who would not stop requesting—if persistence pays off even on 
the human level where we have to overcome resistance and apathy on the part
of those we approach, how much more should we continue to persist when we 
approach a heavenly Father whose love and wisdom exceed our wildest 
imaginings?

Prayer, perhaps more than any other activity, is the concrete expression of 
the fact that we are invited into a relationship with God. In addition to 
all
the other work that gets done through prayer, perhaps the greatest work of 
all is the knitting of the human heart together with the heart of God.

Sometimes people fail to learn more about prayer because they don’t reflect 
on what actually happens when they pray. Take time to reflect. Think of this
as what we might do after a visit with a good friend. We spend a few moments 
alone and think about our time together.


Copyright Information
Excerpted from John Ortberg's When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the 
Box.


KenBible.com

New Post on KenBible.com - The Shepherd’s Compassion
----------------------------------------------------------

The Shepherd’s Compassion

Posted: 15 Apr 2016 05:15 AM PDT

from the devotional book,
PICTURES OF GOD

Read Matthew 9:35 – 10:8

Jesus was traveling all around Galilee, in the northern portion of Israel, 
teaching and healing. Huge crowds followed Him. How utterly exhausting that
must have been for Him! He could have easily begun seeing the crowds as an 
inescapable burden. But how did Jesus see them?

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed 
and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36, NASB)

He saw them with the eyes and heart of a caring shepherd. He saw their great 
need, and He longed to gather them all to His Father. He told His disciples:

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the 
Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. (Matthew 9:37-38, 
NASB)

Jesus did more than feel sorry for them. He took action, using what He had 
at hand. He sent His disciples out to all the surrounding villages with 
these
instructions:

“As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the 
sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you 
received,
freely give.” (Matthew 10:7-8, NASB)

Elsewhere, Jesus reveals His Shepherd’s heart with these words:

“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, 
does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one 
which
is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his 
shoulders, rejoicing. and when he comes home, he calls together his friends 
and his
neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which 
was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven
over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need 
no repentance.” (Luke 15:4-7, NASB)

Jesus saw sinners, not as enemies, but as lost sheep needing a shepherd. He 
looked at them, not with anger or disgust, but with compassion. To the 
shepherd,
each sheep is precious.

Never forget that God has sent you out into this evil world to gather His 
lost sheep. His heart longs for them, so He has sent you. Go with His deep 
love
and compassion for the lost sheep. Don’t condemn them. Gather them to the 
Shepherd.

You Can Still Honor God in the Clutter
Liz Kanoy

With spring cleaning comes the motivation to declutter, to go through items 
and clothing and decide what to donate or get rid of. Some of us may feel 
like
no matter how many things we go through and get rid of there is still 
clutter. And some of us may feel that we can’t get rid of anything because 
we don’t
have enough. Caryn Rivadeneira and Marlena Graves have co-written an article 
for
Christianity Today
titled
In Defense of Clutter.

Rivadeneira explains,

“We get so wrapped up in the mess of spring cleaning and junk-hauling, or 
the delicate ‘Kondo-ing’ of the decluttering movement, that we can overlook 
the
wealth that allowed us to accumulate so much in the first place. As Arielle 
Bernstein
writes
in The Atlantic, ‘To feel comfortable throwing out all your old socks and 
handbags, you have to feel pretty confident that you can easily get new 
ones.
Embracing a minimalist lifestyle is an act of trust.’”

Sometimes we hold on to more than we should, whether for sentimental or 
practical reasons. And even after we donate items it can still seem that we 
have
too much. On the other side is minimalism, which is dominated by two main 
groups. People that have enough, but want to live a clutter-free minimalist
lifestyle—and those who are minimalist not by choice but because their 
finances don’t allow them to live any other way.

Rivadeneira writes,

“We’re to trust God with junk-filled closets and empty bank accounts and 
everything in between. Our theology of trust cannot depend on how much we 
have
to give away, since so often our material lives are prone to circumstance.”

For some minimalism is not a choice, it’s all they have. They cherish every 
item they have and many times do not have simple things that they need. For
people who grew up with very little, the idea of minimalism by choice may be 
strange.

Graves points out,

“Poverty shapes our relationship with possessions. Americans who lived 
during the Great Depression or remember rationing during World War II may
hold onto things
“just in case” they need them in the future, trying to be prepared. With 
lives marked by instability and fear, the homeless tend to
have special attachments
to their stuff, regardless of value or practical use. I’m no hoarder, but I 
understand the mentality.”

She continues,

“We’ve held onto clothes until they are threadbare, shoes until they are 
worn out. We drive our cars until they won’t go and gladly take old 
computers
when friends get an upgrade. Even after graduate school, it seems like we’re 
still tiptoeing away from the financial abyss. I know I have some clothes
and other material goods that I can get rid of, and like many others I enjoy 
the feeling of having a clutter-free environment. Yet when it comes time to
discard basic things, deep down I still wonder if I’ll regret getting rid of 
them and if I’ll really be able to replace them. That’s how childhood 
poverty
stalks me.”

To read Rivadeneira and Graves’ full article please visit
ChristianityToday.com.

I love hand-me-downs, and part of the reason I fight with clutter is because 
of the hand-me-downs I have accepted whether furniture or clothing and shoes
etc. I am grateful for what I have received, but when I can’t find space for 
something and I’m not using it I know it’s time to reevaluate.

I always ask myself these questions: If the item is sentimental I ask, do I 
take it out and look at it regularly or at least a few times a year, or do
I foresee a use for it in the future and have space for it? If it’s 
practical I ask, is it something I use frequently or at least occasionally, 
or again
is it something I foresee using in the future and have space for it? If it’s 
taking up space and it’s an item that’s not looked at or used and I can’t
foresee using in the future, then I know it’s time to give it to a friend or 
donate it to a local thrift store. You can even take some clothes and 
furniture
to consignment stores.

The key thing to remember is not to let clutter or minimalism take over your 
life and prevent you from trusting God and looking to Him first. We can 
become
obsessed with decluttering and the perfect minimal lifestyle, and we can 
also become obsessed with clutter and holding on to things that we may not 
have
space for or be using. Or maybe you’re living a minimalist lifestyle due to 
finances, and you hate it. Whichever side you fall on—whatever your feelings
are toward clutter or minimalism—ask yourself am I trusting God with my 
possessions and am I using them for His glory?

Related articles:
Spring Cleaning Can Build Your Faith in 3 Important Ways
Is a Clean Home an Expression of Faith?
3 Things a Clean Home Does for Your Spirit
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A Spiritual Spring

Song of Songs 2:12

The season of spring is welcome in its freshness. The long and dreary winter 
helps us to appreciate spring's genial warmth, and its promise of summer 
enhances
its present delights. After periods of spiritual depression, it is 
delightful to see again the light of the Sun of Righteousness. Our 
slumbering graces
rise from their lethargy, like the crocus and the daffodil from their beds 
of earth; and our heart is made glad with delicious notes of gratitude, far
more tuneful than the warbling of birds. The comforting assurance of peace, 
which is infinitely more delightful than the turtledove's cooing, is heard
within the soul.

This is the time for the soul to seek communion with her Beloved; now she 
must rise from her natural sordidness and come away from her old 
associations.
If we do not hoist the sail when the breeze is favorable, we make a grave 
mistake: Times of refreshing should never be allowed to pass us by. When 
Jesus
Himself visits us in tenderness and entreats us to arise, can we be so 
ungrateful as to refuse His request? He has risen so that He may draw us 
after Him.
He, by His Holy Spirit, has revived us so that we may in newness of life 
ascend to the heavenlies and enjoy fellowship with Him. We bid farewell to 
the
coldness and indifference of a spiritual winter when the Lord creates a 
spring within. Then our sap flows with vigor, and our branches blossom with 
high
resolve.

O Lord, if it is not springtime in my chilly heart, I pray You make it so, 
for I am tired of living at a distance from You. When will You bring this 
long
and dreary winter to an end? Come, Holy Spirit, and renew my soul! Quicken 
me, restore me, and have mercy on me! This very night I earnestly implore 
you,
Lord, to take pity upon Your servant and send me a happy revival of 
spiritual life!

Family
Bible
reading plan

verse 1 Ecclesiastes 11
verse 2 Titus 3
From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 20

A Chain of Courage
LYNN COWELL

“The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had 
told them to do; they let the boys live.â€
Exodus 1:17
(NIV)

Each day I started my workday by telling myself, You can do this! It’s not a 
big deal. For many people the task I needed to complete was simple — 
something
they could accomplish in a few short minutes. But it wasn’t for me.

Even though this simple act would help others in their walk with Jesus, that 
motivation wasn’t enough to push me through. The fear of failure crippled
me. I finally found the courage I needed to push past my phobia when a story 
leapt off the page and into my heart.

The first two chapters of the book of Exodus tell the tale of a chain of 
courage — one act of fearlessness prompting another until the whole of these 
women’s
actions changed history.

Act 1: Shiphrah and Puah, midwives in Egypt, are commanded by Pharaoh to 
kill all males as soon as they are born.
Exodus 1:17
tells us, "The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of 
Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live."

What bravery these women showed in obeying God rather than Pharaoh!

Act 2: Jochebed, the mother of Moses, courageously decides she will not obey 
Pharaoh, either. Rather than kill her son, she hides him at home. When she
can no longer keep his existence a secret, she puts this one she loves in a 
basket, hiding him in the Nile River.

Jochebed’s faith to take the risk of hiding a baby and putting him in a 
river is compelling!

Act 3: Miriam, Moses’ sister, stands by, watching the basket boat. But she 
isn't just observing. When Pharaoh's daughter calls for the basket to be 
brought
to her, this grit of a girl steps up and addresses the princess, giving 
royalty advice on how the child can be taken care of.

Do you see the chain effect one woman's courage had on another's?

Shiphrah and Puah decided to go against Pharaoh together.

Jochebed, in the same steps of the midwives, chose courage instead of 
compromise.

I have no doubt that Jochebed inspired her daughter to show her prowess to 
the princess.

I want to be a part of a chain effect of courageousness, too!

As a young mother, my mom stepped out of her social norm, embraced Jesus as 
her Savior and became a prayer warrior for her eight children. Even though
several were already adults when she came to know Christ, through her 
prayers and life testimony, all of us serve Him today.

Seeing my mother’s fearless faith gives me courage to make a difference in 
my world. Seeing God answer her prayers for her children empowers me to pray
for my children’s salvation, asking God that they will follow the steps of 
Miriam — on the lookout for where God can use them — and when the time is 
right,
boldly step up with the wisdom God gives them.

Friend, where are you in a chain of courage?

Is God calling you to be the first in your family to break out? To step up 
and bravely make decisions to bring God’s redemption to your family line? To
redefine “normal†in your family's legacy?

Maybe like me, you are blessed to have witnessed the courage of another, and 
it's empowered you to be brave. We have to be careful not to grow 
comfortable
or complacent when we're in the middle of the chain but instead be empowered 
by the Holy Spirit to keep courage going.

We can start by:

1. Praying for courage.
2. Surrounding ourselves with others who are courageous.
3. Reading stories of others who've been courageous in the Bible or in 
books.
Let's be brave. Let's display daring boldness and in turn, teach others to 
be courageous.

Lord, help us to choose courage over fear. We need the Holy Spirit to 
empower us to lean on You and take the steps You call us to take. In Jesus’ 
Name,
Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Deuteronomy 31:6,
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, 
for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake 
you
(NIV)
2 Timothy 1:7,
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of 
a sound mind.(NKJV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Is your fear pushing you away from God rather than drawing you closer to 
Him? Uproot fear and anxiety from your mind using the Proverbs 31 Ministries

I'm Here
by Chuck Swindoll

Exodus 3:4

I think one of the most important words in this verse is the very first one. 
When. The Hebrew word means "at the same time." That goes back to verse 3,
where Moses said, "I must turn aside."

When did God speak to Moses? At the same moment when Moses turned aside. Now 
that's simple, isn't it? Moses stopped his forward motion, stepped aside 
from
his responsibilities for only a few brief seconds, and headed in another 
direction. He moved toward the event that had captured his attention.

And God says, "What's it going to take? What will finally persuade you to 
stop in your tracks for a minute, turn aside, and consider this event in 
your
life?" What's it going to take before you say, "I'm going to check this out. 
I'm going to find out what all of this might be saying to me."

Moses did just that, and when he did, he came face to face with his destiny. 
It was not until Moses turned aside that God spoke. Yet even at that moment,
I do not believe it had dawned on the man that God was speaking. As far as 
Moses was concerned, a bush was speaking. God hadn't introduced Himself yet.
Moses had simply heard his name coming out of a flaming shrub and answered 
back.

"Moses! Moses!" the voice said.

And do you know what Moses answered? The original Hebrew reveals that he 
spoke only one word: hinaynee, which could be rendered, "I'm here," or, in 
our
terms, "It's me."

Believe it or not, that's all God wanted to hear. It's still true today. 
That's all He wants to hear from you when He speaks. Don't kid yourself; 
He's
not impressed with you; He's checking out your humility, your sensitivity, 
your availability. He's looking for someone who will slow down long enough 
to
check out a burning bush. And when He calls, all He asks for is a simple 
acknowledgement. I'm here, Lord. All present and accounted for.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll,
Great Days with the Great Lives
(Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. 
Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Seven Habits of Truly Effective Living
by Alex Crain, Crosswalk.com Contributor

The phrase, "begin with the end in mind" will be familiar to anyone who has 
read the life management book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, 
by
Stephen R. Covey. But if you aren't familiar with the phrase or the book, 
the general idea of "begin with the end in mind" is fairly straightforward.

Simply stated, before beginning any project, you should always ask the 
question "How do I want this to turn out?" Otherwise, you may end up 
climbing a
ladder, but not find success because your ladder is leaning on the wrong 
wall.

While the advice in Covey's book can help sharpen focus and cultivate good 
work habits, something that's missing from the book is the God-sized 
perspective
on life that we see in
Psalm 92.

Stephen Covey invites his readers to the pathway of success by beginning 
with their own desires. In other words, "Imagine life as you want it to be." 
Naturally,
the ideal life for most people is one surrounded by beauty, expensive 
things, favorite people, etc. We want plenty of leisure time and the health 
to enjoy
these things. But without God, such a life is depicted in Scripture as empty 
and deceptive. It is a dream that springs from a heart tainted by sin. 
Frustration
and disappointment results when our primary source of motivation is the 
self.

If we are to be truly effective at living, we must humbly begin with God's 
end in mind.

Psalm 92 paints a picture of the ideal life as that of a righteous person 
who bears good fruit, even to old age. He is "full of sap and very green." 
In
other words, he is filled with spiritual vitality at the end of life when 
the temptation to grumble and express radical selfishness is often the 
strongest.

The roots for a strong, 'sap-filled' soul are found in Psalm 92. Here, the 
seven habits of truly effective living are unfolded for us:

#1 Seeing thankfulness and praise to God as something desirable, not as a 
duty (
Psalms 92:1).
Far from complaining, his lips are filled with praise—declaring that there 
is no unrighteousness in God, his Rock (
Psalms 92:1).

#2 Focusing on God's lovingkindness in the morning and His faithfulness at 
night
(Psalms 92:1).
For the righteous man, each day begins and ends with God. God is central in 
his thoughts throughout the entire day. 'Lovingkindness' refers to God's 
covenant
loyal love, which assures salvation for His people.

The righteous person is
not self-righteous.
Rather, he looks to God's promises as the basis for his right standing 
before his Creator-Judge. Christ fulfilled these promises and delivers from 
a life
of vain pursuits all who trust Him.

#3 Enjoying resounding music and singing for joy at God's great works (
Psalms 92:1).

"You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy 
at the works of Your hands."

#4 Pondering the deep thoughts of God (
Psalms 92:1
)—not being characterized by a shallow, pragmatic view of God that sees Him 
merely as a means to get other things.

#5 Praising the transcendence of God—declaring that God is the "Most High" 
who is above all His creatures. The righteous one realizes that man is in no
way equal to God. Thus, he can never legitimately view God with suspicion or 
call Him into judgment (
Psalms 92:1).

#6 Resting securely in the fact that, in the end, God will have the final 
say on all matters. He will deal justice to the enemies of righteousness (
Psalms 92:1).

#7 Depending continuously upon God for strength—for "fresh oil" (
Psalms 92:1),
knowing that yesterday's supply never carries over to today.

Perhaps you know an older believer who embodies these seven habits. My own 
'eighty-something' grandmother is one such saint. We affectionately call her
"Meme." Not long ago, Meme lay in a hospital bed with a serious health 
situation. I called her on the phone expecting to cheer her up, but she was 
the
one who brought cheer to me.

Instead of complaining about her pain, she spoke with delight about truths 
she had just read that morning in her well-worn
Bible.
She told me of the various hymns and spiritual songs had been going through 
her mind throughout the day. She took time to ask me about my family and how
things were going in ministry at our local church.

Her prayer at the close of our conversation was full of gratitude and praise 
to the Lord. The tone of her voice showed a deep awareness of God's presence
right there with her. While I listened, I thought: This is Psalm 92 in 
action—here is someone who, throughout her life by God's grace, has learned 
and
is still practicing the seven habits of truly effective living.

Intersecting
Faith
& Life: If these seven habits aren't part of your daily life, why not pause 
right now and ask God to make them so?

Further Reading:

Philippians 2:12
Numbers 14

Blood on His Hands

Hebrews 10:19–39

Recommended Reading:
Leviticus 16:1–34; Matthew 6:19–21; Romans 8:28–39; 1 John 1:1–4

The sacrifice of atonement involved lots of blood—that should be a clue for 
us as to its importance to God. Once a year the high priest entered the most
sacred place on Earth to offer up to God the blood of an animal. As a 
result, according to the law, the people of Israel temporarily stood in 
right relationship
before their Creator Father.

Those of us who grew up attending Sunday school sometimes have a 
misperception that the temple was a place like the church in which we grew 
up—typically
clean, orderly and with a planned program for worship. Most people, dressed 
in their “Sunday best,” sat quietly during the service and then enjoyed 
refreshments
afterward. But that’s not what the Israelites experienced. The temple was 
for them a place of slaughter, bloodletting and sacrifice.

To be sure, the sacrifice was a messy business—hearing the cries of the 
resistant animal; watching the priest execute the slaughter and spread the 
sacrificed
animal’s blood on the altar; and then watching the carcasses being sliced, 
cut and burned in sacrifice to God. Yes, this was a visceral experience 
quite
opposite of what we experience in worship today. Yet this brutal ritual 
represented God’s provision for Israel to become once again right with him.

We shouldn’t be surprised that God’s new, permanent arrangement for people 
to come to him also required blood on someone’s hands. Jesus’ blood stained
many hands: those of Judas, the Jewish Pharisees, the Roman government—even 
Pilate, who tried in advance to wash the symbolic stains from his hands. But
Jesus’ blood fell mostly on the hands of his own Father, the God who “did 
not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all” (
Romans 8:32).

Our sin separates us from God, makes us wrong before him. In turn, God’s 
sacrifice of his own son cancels our separation from God. The blood of his 
Son
sets us right before the Father.

That’s the far-reaching extent of our Father’s love for us. He reaches out 
to us today with those same bloodstained hands. The permanent, atoning 
sacrifice
of the unblemished Lamb, Jesus, permits us to “draw near to God” (
Hebrews 10:22),
to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess” (verse 23), to “spur one 
another on” (verse 24), to “not [give] up” and to “[encourage] one another” 
(verse
25).

To Take Away
• Take a few minutes to read Leviticus 16. Why do you think God required 
such elaborate ritual and detail for the sacrifice of atonement?
• According to Old Testament law, Israel needed to offer sacrifices to 
become right before God. In the New Testament Jesus becomes the final 
sacrifice
for all. Why did God require a sacrifice at all?
• How does the thought that the Father “gave [Jesus] up for us all” (
Romans 8:32)
make you feel about God? Why? What effect does this have on your life?
Bible Gateway Recommendations

Buy Now
NIV Men's Devotional Bible Zondervan

Seeing Him Who is Invisible
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BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
Matthew 5:8

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Let me tell you how to experience God: Get your heart pure, and you will see 
God with the eyes of faith.

You see, Jesus is not talking about your physical body. You get your 
spiritual heart right and your spiritual eyes will see.

Hebrews 11:27 says that Moses “endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” You 
get your heart right and you’ll see the invisible God…
...in circumstances
...in nature
...in the face of your spouse, your child, your grandchild.

You’ll see Him in the Scriptures. God will become a bright, living reality 
to you.

ACTION POINT:
Put on the eyes of faith today and find God creating and sustaining life. 
Maybe there is a garden newly abloom with spring flowers. Do you see the 
hand of God? Discover Jesus
Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
Copyright © 2016 Love Worth Finding Ministries, All rights reserved.
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Post  Admin on Mon 25 Apr 2016, 6:53 pm

Hit the Trail

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for 
correction, and for training in righteousness,"
(2 Timothy 3:16, ISV)

"And let us continue to consider how to stimulate one another to love and 
good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but 
encouraging one another even more as you see the day coming nearer." 
(Hebrews 10:24-25, ISV)

Our small town in Northeast Tennessee is a mail stop along the Appalachian 
Trail. Sometimes a hiker will come to our church. One came early one Sunday 
so some of us got to talk with him. He had started at the beginning of the 
trail in Georgia and was planning on hiking the whole trail all the way to 
Maine. He had not studied about hiking and did not know just what he needed 
to know. After he was on the trail a short time he realized he had brought 
the wrong equipment and clothing. He found out what he needed from some of 
the others who were on the trail.

This is a metaphor for someone who is starting out their Christian walk. 
They may have read the Bible or heard it read but not understood what it 
said. They did not realize the Bible was their manual for their daily walk. 
Some may not realize that they need to meet with other Christians to learn 
how to apply some of the things they read to their lives.

We who are in this Christian walk need to read our manual, the Bible. We 
also need to meet with other Christians in our daily walk as well as in 
church to learn how to live out our faith.

by Dean W. Masters


10 Questions to Get “Unstuck” Spiritually
by Chris Russell

During this past year, I bought a vehicle that I have wanted for just about 
all my life: a Jeep Wrangler. I’ve always liked seeing them, but I was just
recently able to get one for myself. There’s nothing quite like zipping 
around town with the top off and doors off. It’s basically like riding a 
roller
coaster… EVERYWHERE.

After buying my Jeep, I got on Youtube to check out what others do with 
their Jeeps. I was stunned. What do you do with a brand new vehicle? You 
bury it
in mud! Here’s one
video
of what others have done with their Wrangler.

When I watched that video of that Jeep that was stuck, I realized that that 
is exactly what people do with their lives. They often run their lives into
the muck and mire of this world, and they often get stuck with seemingly no 
way out. Well, my hope is that, if you are spiritually stuck in your life 
right
now, this blog post will help to pull you out of the pit.

If you feel like you are stuck spiritually and are just spinning your 
wheels, then I would like to suggest that you take a few moments to ask 
yourself
some self-examining questions. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not 
worth living.” King David said it like this:

Psalm 139:23–24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of 
everlasting
life. (NLT)

Many people I have worked with over the years have been able to get unstuck 
by prayerfully asking these following questions and allowing God to help 
them
find areas that need to be fixed.

1. Is there some unconfessed sin in my life that I need to deal with?

1 John 1:8–10
If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in 
the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to 
forgive
us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not 
sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in
our hearts. (NLT)

2. Is there some person I have offended or hurt, but I have not apologized 
to or sought forgiveness or restoration?

Matthew 5:23–24
So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you 
suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your 
sacrifice
there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer 
your sacrifice to God. (NLT)

3. Is there some person in my life whom I have not forgiven?

Ephesians 4:31–32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with 
every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving 
each
other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV)

4. Is there any idol that I have adopted into my life in the place of God?

1 John 2:15–16
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, 
the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust
of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the 
Father but is of the world. (NKJV)

5. Am I believing lies about God, myself, others, or my situation?

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, 
whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are 
lovely,
whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is 
anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (NKJV)

6. Am I being disciplined and consistent in my pursuit of God?

Psalm 63:1–8
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my 
body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have 
seen
you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love 
is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as
I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied 
as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On
my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. 
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings 
to
you; your right hand upholds me. (NKJV)

7. Are there any areas of my life that are out of balance?

Ecclesiastes 3
1 To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck 
what is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to 
build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to 
embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw 
away;
7 A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to 
speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; time of war, and a time of peace. 
(NKJV)

8. Are there any areas of my life that are requiring inappropriate amounts 
of my time?

Ephesians 5:15–17
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming 
the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but 
understand
what the will of the Lord is. (NKJV)

9. Is there some ministry that God wants me to pursue, but I have held out?

1 Timothy 4:14
Do not neglect the gift that is in you…. (NKJV)

10. Have I been 100% honest before God on each of the above questions?

John 8:32
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (NKJV)

For more, visit
Sensible Faith.
Battle Armor
Dr. Ed Young
The Winning Walk
More ministry video at LightSource.com
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KenBible.com

New Post on KenBible.com - Make Me Gentle
----------------------------------------------------------

Make Me Gentle

Posted: 12 Apr 2016 09:55 PM PDT

Pursue…gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:11, NASB)

I can be so insensitive to other people.
I am like a man with big feet
stumbling into a tight row of seats,
clumsily stepping on toes as I go.

My Lord, as I bumble and blunder through life,
I lift my family and friends to You.
Be gentle with those around me
by making me gentle.
Be kind to my spouse
by making me tender and kind.
Be patient with my children
by making me as patient with them
as You are with me.
Be merciful to all who cross my path
by making me forgiving.

Let me be a joyful and lavish distributor of Your grace.


Being Salty
by Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk.com Contributor

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can 
it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be 
thrown
out and trampled by men (
Matthew 5:13).

I think sometimes we get so used to our familiar metaphors, we fail to let 
their significance really sink in. What Christian hasn’t proclaimed 
brightly:
"We're salt and light!"? And yet, do we really think about the significance 
of that imagery? In a
faith
tradition where we have so many great metaphors and allegories, let's 
remember to ponder this one that Jesus coined.

What does it mean to be "the salt of the earth"?

Salt Enhances

As we know too-well in our sodium-filled modern world, salt makes things 
taste better. But condiment connoisseurs will make sure to explain that 
salt,
when used properly, brings out the flavor already present in the food 
itself. Unlike pepper, which was used in ancient times to mask distasteful 
rotting
and souring in foods such as meat, salt only enhances what’s there.

As Christians, we aren’t here to blot out the colors and flavors around us. 
We're not here to ignore or destroy what we see and replace it with 
something
else. Rather, we are to be (tasty) ambassadors of Christ on a mission to 
draw out and display goodness. God made a good world, and, though fallen, 
it's
still good! We still have the breath of life from God inside us. So let's 
remember to point to the truth and be the people who enhance and brighten 
wherever
we go, not overpower our surroundings like too much pepper.

Salt Preserves

Before the age of refrigeration, how did people preserve perishable food? 
That's right: salt. Something about packing meat with salt slows down the 
process
of decay, making it easier to store, transport, and save meat without it 
going rancid right away.

Likewise, let us as the salt of the earth remember to preserve what is good. 
In matters of justice and stewardship, Christians should be front and center
to fight for what is right, what is safe, and what brings life to the world 
around us. Our homes, families, and communities should be solid and fresh,
not rotting and fetid.

If we fail to protect and preserve, what good are we? If we fail to enhance 
the flavor of what’s around us, there's nothing left for us "except to be 
thrown
out" (so to speak).

Intersecting Faith and Life: Be a sweet taste and a force for good, and 
those around you will "praise your Father in Heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

Further Reading

Matthew 5

Colossians 4:6

Mark 9:50

Can Someone be Too Christian?
Sarah Coleman
Amen, Sister. God is good. Hallelujah! Let me pray for you. If God brings 
you to it, He will bring you through it. Praise God!
You know the type - Jesus t-shirt, huge
Bible
in one hand, false grin from ear to ear, "Bless God" on high rotation.
And if you're like me the thought that pops into your head is, "Too 
Christian. He's just too Christian."
And if you're like me, when you encounter said individual you feel like 
vomiting.
Because cliche-ridden, hyper-spiritual, fake Christianity is like that. I 
want to spew the pseudo-Christ-glorifying (really self-glorifying) attitude 
out
of my mouth.
When I read the Bible I don't find anyone who was "too Christian." Instead, 
I discover weak and often hugely flawed individuals dealing with real 
issues.
Their problems weren't solved with a few quick hallelujahs, but giant
faith
and raw courage. They made mistakes yet God used them for His glory.
God requires more than self-gratifying words. He is not impressed by 
appearances. We all know He looks at the heart, but what kind of heart is He 
pleased
with?
During a recent mass in the Vatican, Pope Francis explained, “This is the 
Christian life: mere talk leads to vanity, to that empty pretense of being 
Christian
– but no, that way one is not a Christian at all.”
In other words, don't just say you're a Christian, live it.
“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he 
requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with 
your
God”
(Micah 6:8).
Do what is right.
There are many paths that seem right these days, but when it comes to what 
is right, the Bible is explicit. The Pharisees of Jesus' time manipulated 
the
Torah and Talmud to suit their needs and He was none too impressed. Take His 
Word at face value and live out its precepts.
Read the Bible. Do what it says. That's what's right. It isn't more 
complicated than that.
Love mercy.
Don't just like it. Don't just dish it out from time to time. But love it. 
Like you can't get enough.
To love mercy is to be genuine. The saying, "Christians aren't perfect, just 
forgiven," isn't an excuse to live any way you please, but a reminder we all
need mercy. A holier-than-thou attitude leaves others guilt ridden and 
without hope.
Genuine Christianity does not deny problems exist, but rather than wallow in 
pity, it perseveres till mercy comes. When you love mercy, you'll hold out
for it.
The Good Samaritan loved mercy. He loved mercy more than money, more than 
appearances, more than popular opinion. He wasn't perfect. He didn't worship
God the way Jews did. Yet his faith was genuine. He offered mercy when 
others feigned ignorance.
Talk the talk as much as you like but God requires we practice mercy.
Walk humbly.
King David loved God evidenced through the psalms he wrote. Yet he also had 
some pretty major weaknesses - such as adultery and murder. Now God knew all
this about David. God knew he would miss it, yet He still chose David as 
King of Israel. His brothers looked more kingly but God chose the one with 
the
right heart. God knew David had the heart to be His kind of King.
A heart that would not drink a glass of water because of the sacrifice of 
others (
2 Samuel 23:14-17).
A heart that would cry out to be clean again (
Psalm 51).
He saw a heart for his generation (
Acts 13:36).
A heart that would glorify God in all situations (
Psalm 29:1-2).
A heart that would walk humbly before Him.
There are only two people who know the condition of your heart - you and 
God. Proper behaviour and the right conversation may fool some, but it never 
fools
God.
In all truth, no one can be too-Christian, but it's not the sort of person 
God is looking for anyway.
“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken 
and repentant heart, O God”
(Psalm 51:17).

Connect with me.
I'm Sarah Coleman, an Australian author and pastor. If your heart resonated 
with my thoughts,
sign up for my weekly blog,
plus receive my free e-Book
Be Amazing: You Know You Want To
(in pdf and MP3).
Publication date: April 11, 2016
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Post  Admin on Sat 23 Apr 2016, 9:50 pm

Talk to Your Tears

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out 
weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, 
bringing
his sheaves with him.
(Psalm 126:5–6)

There is nothing sad about sowing seed. It takes no more work than reaping. 
The days can be beautiful. There can be great hope of harvest.

Yet the psalm speaks of “sowing in tears.” It says that someone “goes forth 
weeping, bearing the seed for sowing.” So why are they weeping?

I think the reason is not that sowing is sad, or that sowing is hard. I 
think the reason has nothing to do with sowing. Sowing is simply the work 
that
has to be done even when there are things in life that make us cry.

The crops won’t wait while we finish our grief or solve all our problems. If 
we are going to eat next winter, we must get out in the field and sow the
seed whether we are crying or not. If you do that, the promise of the psalm 
is that “you will reap with shouts of joy.” You will “come home with shouts
of joy, bringing your sheaves with you.” Not because the tears of sowing 
produce the joy of reaping, but because the sheer sowing produces the 
reaping,
and you need to remember this even when your tears tempt you to give up 
sowing.

So here’s the lesson: When there are simple, straightforward jobs to be 
done, and you are full of sadness, and tears are flowing easily, go ahead 
and do
the jobs with tears. Be realistic. Say to your tears: “Tears, I feel you. 
You make me want to quit life. But there is a field to be sown (dishes to be
washed, car to be fixed, sermon to be written).”

Then say, on the basis of God’s word, “Tears, I know that you will not stay 
forever. The very fact that I just do my work (tears and all) will in the 
end
bring a harvest of blessing. So go ahead and flow if you must. But I believe 
(I do not yet see it or feel it fully) — I believe that the simple work of
my sowing will bring sheaves of harvest. And your tears will be turned to 
joy.”
Copyright Information

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

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
The Cats That Never Pounced - #7634

I was out of the country, and my wife was visiting her father, along with 
our daughter and son-in-law. My wife convinced her Dad to hike with them 
back
into the woods to see the spring where they used to go to get water when she 
was a little girl. Eventually, they came upon a scene that was imprinted on
her memory like a photograph - that spring gushing from the rocks, just 
beneath a cave above it.

They spent a few minutes exploring and then they headed back. That night our 
son-in-law pulled out the video that he'd shot of their little expedition.
As the picture panned past that darkened cave, he stopped the video and 
rewound it to get a closer look. And there, gleaming in the darkness, were 
the
two eyes of a big cat - as in panther or cougar. They had not seen that 
cat - they had been exploring right beneath that cat - and they never knew 
the
danger they were in.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Cats 
That Never Pounced."

I wonder how many of those you and I have had in our lives; the things that 
could have hurt us or destroyed us that we never knew about - the cats that
never pounced. In an increasingly dangerous world, isn't it great to know 
that you are under that kind of protection?

Paul wrote about that security in our word for today from the Word of God in 
2 Timothy 4:17-18. He said, "I was delivered from the lion's mouth. The Lord
will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His 
heavenly kingdom." Now there is a pretty powerful antidote to fear! The Lord 
is going
to rescue me from every threat, except one - the one that's designed to take 
me home, right on time. That's right on time according to the life plan He
made for me before there was a me.

That doesn't mean we don't take precautions, the ones that God directs us 
to. Paul often continued to preach boldly, even when he knew there were 
forces
who wanted to kill him in the city. But other times he left town quickly or 
sneaked out of the city in a basket. When Nehemiah and his workers were 
threatened,
he said, "We prayed to our God and we posted a guard day and night" 
(Nehemiah 4:9). Now, look! Our faith is not in that guard but in our God. 
But sometimes
God chooses to protect us through practical steps that He asks us to take.

But ultimately we're safe because Almighty God is watching over us. In just 
six verses in Psalm 121, it says "The Lord watches over you" five times! It
concludes by saying, "The Lord will keep you from all harm - He will watch 
over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and
forevermore."

So, when is the last time you praised the Lord for all those cats that never 
pounced? For all those times you've been delivered from danger and never 
even
knew it! Wait 'till we watch the video in heaven. I think we're going to be 
amazed at what could have happened that didn't!

By the way, something amazing happens when we finally come to the end of 
trying to make it to God our own way, and understand that God had to come 
for
us in the person of His Son, Jesus. And the only way that the sin that keeps 
me out of heaven could be paid for was by His Son dying for me. See, we're
totally not safe. We will never be safe forever. We will pay the price for 
the sin against the God that put us here unless that sin is forgiven by the
only One who can, and that's the One who died to pay its' penalty. That's 
God's Son, Jesus.

What happens when we put our life in His hands is for the first time in your 
life and finally and forever you are safe in the arms of the Savior. Have
you ever given yourself to Him? Let this be the day. You are in great 
danger. He came to make us safe forever. Open your heart to Him. Go to our 
website
and find out how - ANewStory.com.

You know, when our kids were little, we used to put them to sleep every 
night singing a little chorus "Safe am I, safe am I, in the hollow of His 
hand.
Sheltered o'er, sheltered o'er, with His love forevermore. No ill can harm 
me, no foe alarm me, for He keeps both day and night. Safe am I, in the 
hollow
of His hand." If you're in the hollow of His hand, you're really safe 
forever. If you've never put your life in Jesus' hands, do it today.
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. 

A Major in Discomfort
by Chuck Swindoll

Exodus 3:1
;
Acts 7:29-30

Notice carefully how the process took place through those years of desert 
learning, because it is the same with you and me. God must break through 
several
hard, exterior barriers in our lives before He can renovate our souls. His 
persistent goal is to break through to the inner person. As David 
acknowledged,
"Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You 
will make me know wisdom" (Psalm 51:6).

What are those resistant layers in our hearts, and how does He break through 
to that hidden part? First, He finds pride. And He uses the sandpaper of 
obscurity
to remove it ever so gradually.

Then He finds us gripped by fear—dread of our past, anxiety over our 
present, and terror over what may lie ahead—and He uses the passing of time 
to remove
that fear. We learn that things aren't out of hand at all; they're in His 
hand.

He next encounters the barrier of resentment—the tyranny of bitterness. He 
breaks down that layer with solitude. In the silence of His presence, we 
gain
a fresh perspective, gradually release our cherished rights, and let go of 
the expectations that held us hostage.

Finally, He gets down to the basic habits of living, he penetrates our inner 
person, and there He brings discomfort and hardship to buff away that last
layer of resistance. Why? So that He might renovate us at the very core of 
our being.

Reach for the hand of your Guide! He is Lord of the desert. Make that your 
desert. The most precious object of God's love is His child in the desert. 
If
it were possible, you mean more to Him during this time than at any other 
time. You are as the pupil of His eye. You are His beloved student taking 
his
toughest courses. While testing you, He loves you with an infinite amount of 
love.

Jesus walked through the desert first. He felt its heat. He endured its 
loneliness. He accepted its obscurity. He faced down Satan himself while the 
desert
winds howled. And you can be sure He will never, ever forget or forsake the 
one who follows Him across the sand.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll,
Great Days with the Great Lives
(Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. 
Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Visit insight.org
Copyright © 2016 Insight for Living Ministries. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Post  Admin on Fri 22 Apr 2016, 5:03 pm

Light
. Posted by: "Dean Masters"
Read
John 12:44–46

Jesus came to bring light to the world. It’s no longer necessary for anyone 
to walk in darkness.

Carry the Light

We have a responsibility to shine Christ’s light wherever we are. As with 
salt, light is an agent of transformation. Light and darkness cannot 
coexist.
Whenever light encounters darkness, darkness is dispelled. In a world full 
of darkness, hopelessness, pain, and anguish, people are looking for 
direction,
answers to their confusion, and some semblance of hope for their future. The 
light in our lives helps those around us find a way through the darkness and
points them toward the life God has waiting for them.

It is as we shine light in the midst of this darkness that people will be 
attracted to God, his love, his grace, and his mercy. The prophet Isaiah 
declares,
“Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen 
upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness 
the
people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon 
you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of 
your
rising” (
Isa. 60:1–3).
Isaiah tells us that the light of Christ is attractive, magnetic, and 
transformational. The key is to ensure that we actually let our light shine 
in our
everyday lives.

As sharers of God’s light, we choose the intensity of the light that we 
shine into our world. The strength of our spiritual core actually determines 
whether
we are a faint flickering candle, a 75-watt light bulb, or a stadium 
spotlight. If our core is weak, broken and fragmented, then our light is 
dimmed, impeding
our effectiveness in sharing Christ’s light. The degree to which we allow 
the light of Christ to transform our own lives determines how far our light 
shines
in a dark world.

It will take each and every one of us to personally rise up and take our 
light into the darkness around us. Instead of hiding from the world or being 
overwhelmed
by the evil of it, we need to strengthen our spiritual cores and trust in 
the power of God’s Spirit at work in us.

Point to Ponder

You might never know how much the light you carry means to someone walking 
in darkness. Are you ready to rise up and carry your light to those who are
suffering? Are you willing to turn up the intensity and let your life for 
Christ make a difference?
Copyright Information
Devotions by Christine Caine, Copyright © 2012 by Christine Caine and Equip 
& Empower Ministries.

Mourning with Purpose
View this email in your browser
BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
We’ve done all we can do to keep ourselves from feeling any pain. We have 
psychologists who numb our neurosis. Counselors who absolve us of guilt. 
Doctors
to sedate our pain. Insurance agents to take away our worries. And even at 
death we have the mortuary to try to beautify death for us.

But Jesus was a man of sorrows. He saw the sin around Him and it broke His 
heart. In Matthew 23:34-39, we read how Jesus’ heart ached for Jerusalem and
the destruction sin had wrought in the hearts of men.

ACTION POINT:
Do the things that break the heart of Jesus, break yours? Do you have a dry 
eye in a hell-bent world? It’s time to be like Jesus.
Discover Jesus
Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers
Copyright © 2016 Love Worth Finding Ministries, All rights reserved.
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Post  Admin on Fri 22 Apr 2016, 4:51 pm

Why You Should Stop Being Private about Your Pain
Vaneetha Rendall Risner

Lament: Beauty Out of Bitterness

When pain almost strangles us and darkness is our closest friend, what 
should we do?

For years, I thought the best response was cheerful acceptance. Since God 
uses everything for our good and His glory, I felt the most God-honoring 
attitude
was to appear joyful all the time. Even when I was confused and angry. Even 
when my heart was breaking. And especially when I was around people who didn’t
know Christ.

But I have since learned the beauty of lamenting in my suffering. Lament 
highlights the Gospel more than stoicism ever could. Hearing our authentic 
lament
can draw others to God in unexpected ways. I first noticed the power of 
lament in the book of Ruth.

I had long seen Ruth as the undisputed hero of the book that bears her name, 
and Naomi as the grumbling character with weak
faith
and a negative attitude. But having walked in similar shoes for a fraction 
of her journey, I have a new respect for the depth of Naomi’s trust in God.

Ruth was an eyewitness to Naomi’s faith. She saw that faith hold fast, even 
in horrific circumstances. And behind Naomi’s faith, she saw the God who 
heard
Naomi’s lament and didn’t condemn her for it, even as Naomi spoke frankly 
about her disappointment with God.

Lamenting to a god would have been foreign to Ruth. Ruth’s first god, the 
god of Moab, was Chemosh. No one would have dared lament or complain to him.
Pagan gods were appeased; there was no personal relationship with any of 
them, especially not with Chemosh who demanded child sacrifices.

But Ruth sees a completely different God as she watches Naomi. Naomi trusts 
God enough to tell Him how she feels. Though she says that His hand has gone
out against her, Naomi doesn’t walk away from God in anger. She stays close 
to Him and continues to use God’s covenant name, Yahweh, asking Him to bless
her daughters-in-law. Naomi doesn’t stop praying; she believes God hears her 
prayers.

Naomi’s trust is further evidenced by her determination to travel to 
Bethlehem alone. If Naomi felt that God had truly abandoned her, she would 
never have
begun that journey. She would have stayed in bed, pulled the covers over her 
head, and died in Moab, bitter and angry at God. But she doesn’t do that.
She acts in faith, trusting that God will provide for her.

Naomi’s trust is extraordinary given the tragedies she has endured. She and 
her husband had left Israel for Moab with their two sons in search of food.
While they were there, her sons and husband died and she was left alone. A 
widow. A grieving mother. A foreigner. With no means to support herself. I 
understand
why she felt that the Lord’s hand had gone out against her. In my own pain 
I have cried out to God, “Why do you hate me?” I have retraced my life, 
wondering
why God had turned against me.

But to my regret, I’ve always been very private about my pain. I have 
hesitated to voice my anger and fears, concerned about what others might 
think. Lament
can be messy and I want my life to look neat. And I foolishly think my 
bleached prayers somehow make God look better.

Yet Naomi is achingly honest. When she goes back to her hometown, she doesn’t 
pretend that everything is fine. She doesn’t cram her pain into a closet
and shut the door. Rather, she invites others to peer into the dark corners 
of her bitterness and frustration. She asserts that God has dealt bitterly
with her and has brought calamity upon her. She admits that she is empty.

Her words may have made the townspeople uncomfortable. Laments often do. But 
her humility and utter honesty would have also drawn people to her. They 
could
grieve with her. And they could grieve their own losses too, without fearing 
God’s disapproval or others’ judgment.

Though Naomi’s words are raw, she speaks truthfully about God. She 
acknowledges that He is in control of all things and everything is 
ultimately from Him.
Her theology is profoundly God-centered.

Underlying Naomi’s lament is a deep trust and understanding of God. She is 
not resentful of God and has not turned away from Him. Quite the opposite, 
Naomi
is moving towards God with honesty. She has returned to Bethlehem, to the 
people of God, and is realistically presenting what happened to her.

And it is in the midst of Naomi’s pain and lament that Ruth comes to know 
God. Ruth gives up everything to follow Naomi and her God, whom she has come
to know personally as Yahweh. She sees His faithfulness through Naomi, a 
woman who has seen unspeakable tragedy yet continues to follow God, talking 
to
Him honestly and authentically. This is a God worthy of worship.

Our authenticity draws others to God as it allows them to be honest too. God 
welcomes our lament to help us hold on to Him. He knows our tendency to 
either
pretend everything is okay while we suffocate on the inside, or walk away 
from God believing that He doesn’t care.

Lamenting keeps us engaged with God. When we lament, we invite God into our 
pain, so that we can know His comfort and others can see that our faith is
real. Our faith is not a façade we erect to convince ourselves and others 
that pain doesn’t hurt, but it is rather an oak tree that can withstand the 
storms
of doubt and pain in our lives and grow stronger through them.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Godly lament does not repel people from the gospel, but rather draws them to 
the Lord; it strengthens rather than destroys the faith of others. When we
live authentically, we naturally draw others to God’s grace. Naomi’s pain 
and bitterness could have pushed Ruth away from God as Ruth saw Naomi 
struggle
with God’s goodness. But instead Ruth saw that Naomi’s hope, even through 
catastrophic loss, was in a sovereign God who was loving enough to hear and 
respond
to her lament.

And we can see that God did hear Naomi’s lament and respond to it. He gave 
her Ruth. He gave her Boaz. He gave her a grandson, Obed, who was in the
line of Christ. And He gave her Himself, for that is what her heart needed 
most.

Originally published on
danceintherain.com.
Used with permission.

Vaneetha Rendall Risner is passionate about helping others find hope and joy 
in the midst of suffering. Her story includes contracting polio as a child,
losing an infant son unexpectedly, developing post-polio syndrome, and going 
through an unwanted divorce, all of which have forced her to deal with 
issues
of loss. She and her husband, Joel, live in North Carolina and have four 
daughters between them. Vaneetha is a regular contributor to Desiring God 
and Today’s
Christian Woman. She blogs at
Dance in the Rain
although she doesn’t like rain and has no sense of rhythm.

Publication date: April 12, 2016
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The Great King's Wine

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our 
weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet 
without sin.
(Hebrews 4:15)

I have never heard anyone say, The really deep lessons of my life have come 
through times of ease and comfort.But I have heard strong saints say, 
Every significant advance I have ever made in grasping the depths of Gods love 
and growing deep with him, has come through suffering.

This is a sobering biblical truth. For example: For Christ's sake I have 
suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I 
may
gain Christ†(Philippians 3:8).Paraphrase: No pain, no gain. Or:

Now let it all be sacrificed, if it will get me more of Christ.

Heres another example: Although he was a Son, Jesus learned obedience 
through what he suffered
(Hebrews 5:8).
The same book said he never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).

So learning obedience does not mean switching from disobedience to 
obedience. It means growing deeper and deeper with God in the experience of 
obedience.
It means experiencing depths of yieldedness to God that would not have been 
otherwise demanded. This is what came through suffering. No pain, no gain.

Samuel Rutherford said that when he was cast into the cellars of affliction, 
he remembered that the great King always kept his wine there. Charles 
Spurgeon
said, They who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.

Do you not love your beloved more when you feel some strange pain that makes 
you think you have cancer? We are strange creatures indeed. If we have 
health and peace and time to love, it is a thin and hasty thing. But if we are 
dying, love is a deep, slow river of inexpressible joy, and we can scarcely 
endure to give it up.

Therefore brothers and sisters, Count it all joy when you meet various 
trials (James 1:2).
John Piper
Copyright Information
This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper's 
ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.


Bread and Stones
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Culture Editor

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this 
world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. 
John 16:33

I have always had trouble with the following verses in Matthew 7,

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door 
will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; 
and
to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Which of you, if his son asks 
for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a
snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to 
your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to 
those
who ask him!
Matthew 7:7-11

I first heard this verse when I was a little kid, and like most children, I 
tried to take full advantage of it. I prayed for toys, for snow days in 
winter,
or that Id get to watch an extra hour of TV that day. As you might expect, 
these prayers didn’t always get positive results. As I got older, my prayers
became a little more mature, only they still didnt always get answered. 
These weren't selfish prayers either.

I would pray that my friends dad would find a job, or that sick members of 
our congregation would be healed. So why did my prayers go unanswered? Some
groups would say that if you just have enough
faith
God will make your life perfect, and nothing bad will ever happen to you 
again. Well, if you look at the lives of the apostles, youll see that 
philosophy
doesnt hold water. They were Jesus' first disciples, and they spent their 
lives in prison, beaten by mobs, or facing execution under the Roman Empire.

So what does this mean for us? I think it means we live in a world full of 
Sin, and bad things are going to happen. It means that sometimes when God 
answers
our prayers, what is needed turns out to be much different than what we 
wanted. Maybe you prayed that someone would find a job, but instead God asks 
you
to be a friend in a tough time. Maybe you asked for an opportunity to serve 
abroad, but instead God tells you to serve the people next door. Sometimes
we pray for healing, but what God gives us is a shoulder to cry on.

Life will always be hard. At times, we will be tempted to believe that God 
either doesnt exist or doesnt care. But though our ability to understand 
Gods
purposes is limited, we can take comfort in the knowledge that his love is 
limitless. God never abandon us, he is there for us in our times of joy and
to help us in our times of pain, if we only let him.

Intersecting Faith and Life: Are there unanswered prayers weighing on your 
heart? Take a moment to reflect on Christ and know that he loves you.

Further Reading

Psalm 23


Im Really Afraid
LYSA TERKEURST

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers 
them.
Psalm 34:7
(NIV)

A few years ago, one of my back teeth started hurting. It wasnt the first 
time that tooth had given me trouble, and quite honestly, I just didnt want
to deal with it. That tooth had been a complete pain. Literally.

Id had not one, not two, but three crowns done on the same tooth. The first 
one broke. The second one broke. And though the third one seemed like it 
would
finally work, the tooth started aching again. Ugh!

The dentist informed me the only thing to do was to have a root canal.

Iâm okay with the word root. And Im okay with the word canal.But when 
he put those two words together a wild fear whipped its tentacles around my
heart and squeezed the life out of me. I couldnt do it. I just couldnt 
bring myself to schedule the appointment.

So I dealt with the throbbing pain.

For a year, I didnt chew on that side of my mouth. I didnt let cold drinks 
leak over to that side. And I took ibuprofen when the throbbing got the best
of me.

A year!

Finally Id had enough. The pain overrode the fear, and I made an 
appointment for the dreaded root canal.

And you know what? I survived! Not only did I survive, but I honestly found 
the whole root canal ordeal to be no big deal. The fear of it was so much 
worse
than actually having the procedure done.

I think fear often plays out that way. Sometimes living in fear of what 
might be causes more stress and anxiety than actually facing what we fear. 
Is there
something youre avoiding because youre afraid?

Psalm 34:7
reminds me, The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he 
delivers them. To fear the Lord means to honor Him and magnify Him in my
heart most of all. When I focus on or magnify my fears, they become all I 
can think about. So instead Ive learned to focus on God by doing three 
things:

 I cry out to Him with honest prayers. I verbalize to God what Im afraid 
of and how paralyzing my fear is. I ask Him to help me see if this fear is a
warning or an unnecessary worry. And then I ask Him to help me know the next 
step to take.
 I open my Bible and look for verses that show me what He wants me to do in 
that moment of fear. I write down truths from the Bible about fear and then
align my next thoughts and actions with His truth.
 I then walk in the assurance that I am fearing (honoring) the Lord as
Psalm 34:7
tells me to, therefore I know with certainty an angel of the Lord is 
encamped around me, and God will deliver me.
I like this promise so much. It comforts me. It reassures me. And it 
challenges me to really live like I know it is true.

Whats a fear you can face today? Think of an everyday fear holding you 
back. Is there a fear of confronting an issue with a friend? Is there a fear 
of
stepping out in obedience to something God is calling you to do? Is there a 
fear of a medical diagnosis you just received?

Oh, if I were there, I would totally hold your hand. Better yet, God is with 
you. And when you know He is with you and His angels are encamped around 
you,
you can face your fears.

Dear Lord, if a feeling of fear is a legitimate warning from You, help me to 
know that. But if this feeling of fear is more of a distracting detriment,
help me be courageous and walk assured in Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, 
Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 41:10,
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)

2 Timothy 1:7,
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, 
and self-discipline.(NLT)RELATED RESOURCES:
Are you struggling to completely uproot fear from your life? Find the 
Biblical encouragement you need to stop those toxic thoughts from consuming 
you with
the Proverbs 31 Ministries’ 30-Day Devotional: Overcoming Fear.
Click here
to get your copy today for a gift of any amount.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What fear currently has you feeling paralyzed? Take that fear today and walk 
through the 3 steps Lysa shared in her devotion  taking it to God honestly
in prayer, searching for verses about fear and then moving forward clinging 
to the hope and truth ofPsalm 34:7.

Do you have a friend whos battling fear? Take some time today to pray for 
her and actively encourage her.

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org
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