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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 21 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 12 Oct 2015, 10:30 pm

One Bad Apple

In the late 1970’s my hometown, Erwin, Tennessee, started a festival which 
is now our annual Apple Festival which occurs the first weekend of October. 
That gets me to thinking about apples around this time of year. You may have 
heard the phrase, “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” That is what 
happened after the walls of Jericho come a tumblin’ down. God had told the 
Israelites just what to do. That included just taking the items He had told 
them to take to be used for God’s service. What happened?

Joshua 7:1 (NLT)
1 But Israel was unfaithful concerning the things set apart for the Lord. A 
man named Achan had stolen some of these things, so the Lord was very angry 
with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, of the family of Zimri, of 
the clan of Zerah, and of the tribe of Judah.

No one was to take anything for himself. Achan did not obey. God didn’t say 
that Achan was the only one responsible, God was blaming all the Israelites. 
They next went up against the small city of Ai. They said there would be no 
problem with this city but because of the sin of Achan they were defeated. 
Not only this but because of what Achan did, God commanded for all his 
family and animals to be stoned and burnt. What a terrible price to pay for 
one man’s sin.

Achan hid the things he had stolen. He was pretending to be a good 
Israelite. He probably thought that what he did didn’t matter. One can fool 
others but cannot fool God. God does not take sin lightly. Innocent people 
suffered because of what Achan did.

Achan excused his sin but we need to examine ourselves daily to see if we 
might be the bad apple in the barrel. Then we should not excuse what we have 
done wrong but should deal with it.

Is there someone in your local congregation that looks like a Christian and 
comes all the time but is continuing in something that is not pleasing to 
God? They may not think what they are doing is detrimental and they may make 
excuses for what they do but God doesn’t like it. That one person can stunt 
your church. Innocent people will be affected. You will be affected by their 
living in sin. Achan’s relatives didn’t know what was going on until they 
were stoned to death. The effect on the church may not be as drastic but 
there will be an effect.

It is not popular to preach against sin today. Most preachers you hear on 
radio and television try to build people up instead of coming against sin.

1 Peter 4:17 (NCV)
17 It is time for judgment to begin with God’s family. And if that judging 
begins with us, what will happen to those people who do not obey the Good 
News of God?

WE do not condemn anyone but we can judge by their fruits as to where they 
stand. One place Paul says not to have anything to do with these people that 
they might turn from their sins. Paul did recommend that the Corinthians 
throw one person out of their church but then asked that same church in his 
second book to the Corinthians to let that person in since he had repented 
of his sin.

One bad apple does spoil the bunch in some way. Ask God to lead you by his 
Holy Spirit in what to do with the bad apples in your midst.

by Dean W. Masters

7 Things Not to Say to a Grieving Person
Katherine Britton

“I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether 
they'll 'say something about it' or not. I hate if they do, and if they 
don't.”
- A Grief Observed

Grief will flummox the most eloquent. When our friends hurt, all we want is 
to stand beside them and show them they’re not alone, and somehow words 
always
seem to tumble out. But how can you possibly find the “right words” when the 
reality of death and suffering is so very wrong? The attempt is bound to 
result
in some flubs, yet silence is hard to manage.

After my mom passed away recently, just a couple weeks before her 53rd 
birthday, I’ve suddenly found myself on the receiving end of sympathy. 
People have
approached me with amazing love and kindness, so very well-intentioned and 
wanting so badly to help. I appreciate the sentiment so much—the simple 
acknowledgement
that life is irreversibly different is more helpful than you can imagine. 
And yet, the expression has sometimes made me shake my head. There’s 
sometimes
a hilariously wide difference between the intention and the bizarre 
outpouring.

I’m sure many people are simply clueless, as I was before this paradigm 
shift. So I’m cataloguing a few of the well-intentioned-but-not-so-helpful 
things
people have said for the sake of building empathy. If this helps floundering 
friends speak comfort a little more readily, then sharing is worth it.

With that in mind, here's a short catalog of some common, very 
well-intentioned comments I've received... and why I've cocked my head at 
the people who
utter them.

Well-intentioned: "If there's anything I can do to help" and "Let me know 
what I can do."

Why it doesn't work: A couple reasons, actually. First, I appreciate your 
assumption that my brain is still functioning on all cylinders, but... it's 
not.
Right now, I have the mental energy to answer yes/no questions, but 
open-ended questions that require more processing from me? Not so much. 
Secondly, I
didn't realize until now how much grief consumes the immediate and hampers 
future planning skills. For instance, I probably do need something from the
grocery store. But I won't realize it until the exact instant that I need it 
(e.g. milk for tomorrow's breakfast) and the only thing to do is run out at
11p.m. at night. Oops.

Better: "Hey, I'm going to the grocery store right now, can I pick up some 
staples for you? Milk? Eggs? Bread? Do you have a list?" or "Hey, can I come
over and clean your bathrooms? Does Tuesday work?"

My brain has much less pressure in this scenario--the onus isn't on me to 
call you and hope you're still willing to do a nebulous "anything," and I 
can
latch onto something concrete with easy answers. I'm eternally grateful for 
the people who really did clean my bathrooms and bring my
family
groceries--that was huge.

Well-intentioned: "Hey, you look sad."

Why it doesn't work: Yes, I probably do. I know you're trying to tell me 
that you notice my hurt and carry it with me. But... um, trying to live my 
life
and get through the day’s responsibilities. The place to bring this up is 
over coffee, not at random (or at work or in the middle of church). I'm 
pretty
sure I'm only at half-mast but bringing it up doesn't help me focus on 
what's at hand. And now I’m self-conscious to boot.

Better: "Do you need a hand with that project? I'm happy to help." Or send 
me a note that I can read in my own time.

Well-intentioned: "I'm a safe person. You can talk to me anytime if you need 
to vent or scream or cry."

Why it doesn't work: I have to preface this by saying why this sentiment 
doesn't work for me personally, as maybe others do need it. I'm incredibly 
blessed
to have strong friends and a strong community, and I'm also a relatively 
private person. I know that when people say this, they really just mean they 
want
to help. But if I didn't have a strong relationship with you before this, 
why would I pour out my soul to you now? When someone I barely know says 
this
phrase, it can sound downright opportunist.

There is a special exception: if you’ve been through a hurt similar to mine, 
you may have special wisdom to give. You can be a lifeline when you say, 
“Here’s
what you can expect. And I promise you will make it through. I’m right here 
with you.”

Better: "I've been thinking about you guys a lot, and I love you." You're 
honoring my boundaries while telling me you care. This means the world. If 
you
really want to help, offer something concrete, like a meal or a notecard 
with encouragement/
prayer.

Well-intentioned: In this scenario, you've just seen the person for the 
first time since the death/the big news, and you're both in the middle of a 
larger
event. You go up to your friend and say, "I'm so sorry about [blank]. How 
are you holding up? How was the funeral?"

Why it doesn't work: I can't stress enough how important it is to choose the 
timing of your condolences. I understand that you want to know, but I'm in
the middle of a party, a Christmas celebration, a happy hour after work, and 
you want me to conjure up my grief in a completely incongruous situation,
on the spot, for you? Sometimes, it's just nice to enjoy a kind of normalcy 
for a little while. Of course I haven't forgotten the pain - rather, I'm 
choosing
to focus on something else for a little while, because that's healing too. 
Let me.

Better: "I've missed you over the last few months. It's really good to see 
you again. Hey, would you want to get coffee soon?" This lets the person 
know
that you've noticed their absence, and you care. Plus, it offers a gateway 
to a private conversation, without the stress of answering pointed 
questions.

Well-intentioned: "I know how you feel. My mom died when she was 80."

Why it doesn't work: No two griefs are the same. Assuming you know how 
another person is feeling/processing is just that--an assumption. We all 
know death,
but not in the same way. For example, my own mom died at 52, leaving behind 
four kids still at home and three in highschool. I'm sorry your mom died at
age 80, but please understand that I'm grieving decades of lost time and 
unmade memories, as well as trying to step up to help meet my younger 
siblings'
practical needs. No, you don't know how I feel, and I'm trying hard not to 
feel insulted by your comparison.

Better: "I'm sorry for your loss" and "Hang in there. I promise someday it 
gets better." If you're not so close, the tried-and-true line is a good one.
If you've been through strong, close grief, then maybe an encouragement that 
someday the weight lifts a little is appropriate. It doesn't assume the 
griefs
are the same, but it does offer some hope.

Well-intentioned: "God is in control."

Why it doesn't work: Closely aligned with "God will use this for good 
somehow," statements like this fall into the really-bad-timing category. 
Maybe they
are true. But in grief, we want a God who is close and immanent and feels 
our hurts. A big God in control of the whole universe (yet a loved one died)
working out some distant good (my hurt is now) is quite frankly irrelevant 
at the moment. I need a Jesus that weeps with me, who knows my sorrow 
because
he carried his own.

Better: "God himself mourns with those who mourns. Death is still the enemy, 
and I'm so sorry you met it now." Remind me that God's heart breaks with 
mine.
Remind me that even in God's grand plan, death is still an inherent wrong 
that needs to be righted.

Well-intentioned: "[Blank] lived a full life, and is with Jesus now."

Why it doesn't work: This one isn't so bad, actually, but it's pretty 
incomplete. First, you don't know if a person lived his own definition of a 
full
life. And we miss them here, with us. I fully believe that my mom lived 
every moment of her almost-53 years to the brim, but the days are empty now. 
What
you're saying has a cognitive dissonance with my new reality.

Better: "[Blank] was always so full of life. I remember that time..." Share 
a memory you hold dear with me. I don't get to make new memories now, so the
shared ones are much dearer. I love hearing them.

There are no perfect responses to loss. But thanks for listening and trying 
to say the less-bad things, all the same. And above all? Never, ever be 
afraid
to simply stand with the hurting and say, “I love you. You’re not alone.” 
That’s always a good thing to say.

Article originally posted at
Who Are the Brittons.
Used with permission.

Katherine Britton is a commercial and hired-gun writer and editor who still 
wears her green newspaper visor when she thinks no one is looking. You can
read more of her work on her
personal blog.
Admin
Admin
Admin

Posts : 66368
Join date : 2008-10-25
Age : 75
Location : Wales UK

https://worldwidechristians.forumotion.com

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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 21 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 11 Oct 2015, 2:41 pm

And God Said, "Ta-da!"
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

"For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted 
ones with salvation."
Psalm 149:4
(NASB)

Feeling less than likeable? A far cry from beautiful? Today’s encouragement 
from God’s Word might be just what you need to change your view.

First, the Lord takes pleasure in you. He doesn’t simply accept you, forgive 
you or put up with you. He delights in your company. He celebrates your 
place
in His kingdom. "As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God 
rejoice over you"
(Isaiah 62:5b,
NIV).

What about your family history, your personality, your popularity? People 
worry about those things, but not the Lord.

So, your education, your resume, your bank balance? Impressive or not, none 
of that changes how God values you.

Even your behavior doesn’t alter His kind affection for you. His love is 
unconditional and irrevocable. God doesn’t love you because you’re wealthy 
or
clever or good. He loves you because you’re His. "See what great love the 
Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"
(1 John 3:1a,
NIV).

Even more good news? The Lord says you are beautiful. Not just slightly 
attractive or marginally appealing. Beautiful. You are lovely to look at 
because
"God created mankind in his own image"
(Genesis 1:27a,
NIV). And that includes you.

As today’s verse,
Psalm 149:4b,
tells us, "He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation." You are 
beautiful beyond description when you’re covered in His grace.

We are endlessly obsessed with our earthly appearance, doing everything 
possible to look our best, to measure up, to please others. Yet invariably, 
we
look in the mirror and are disappointed with the results.

But not God. He knew exactly what He was doing the day He knit you together 
in your mother’s womb (
Psalm 139:13).

Some women are quick to say, "Maybe God was pleased when He made me, but I’m 
not sure He’s happy with how I turned out …"

Listen. God knows your first breath and your last (
Psalm 139:16),
He counts every hair on your head (
Matthew 10:30),
and He stores all your tears in a bottle (
Psalm 56:8).
Our God? He is not surprised or disappointed with how you turned out. He 
loved you then, He loves you still and He will love you forever.

We get in trouble when we compare ourselves to others, always finding 
someone who is younger, taller, thinner, more athletic, more graceful … the 
list goes on.

But God does not compare. God does not clone. Each of us is a unique work of 
His creation. You are God’s definition of beautiful for you, beloved. Are
you ready to see yourself as God sees you?

Here’s a simple exercise I’ve been teaching women for ages. Every morning, 
stand in front of a mirror (fully dressed, of course), stretch up your arms
with joy, and say it like you mean it: "Ta-da!"

Feels good, yes? Looks good, too. You can’t say it without smiling, which 
always improves things. "Ta-da!" is the LRV (the Lizzie Revised Version) of 
"God
saw all that he had made, and it was very good"
(Genesis 1:31a,
NIV).

We’ve all known beautiful women who, when they opened their mouths, quickly 
lost their appeal. And we’ve also known average-looking women who love the
Lord with all their hearts, and it shows on their radiant faces. Gorgeous.

When the light of Christ shines through us, we are utterly transformed. That’s 
the real story, the hope of glory, the ultimate "Ta-da!"

Father God, many of us have struggled with our appearance or sense of worth 
all of our lives. Let this be the day we turn away from the world’s lies and
embrace the truth of Your Word and the beauty of Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, 
Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 139:14,
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are 
wonderful, I know that full well." (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 3:11a,
"He has made everything beautiful in its time." (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Liz Curtis Higgs’ newest book,
It’s Good to Be Queen,
explores how you can become as bold, gracious and wise as the queen of 
Sheba, as it addresses thorny life questions and considers which qualities 
best
serve a godly queen of any realm.

Stop by this week, as Liz explores why "He Is Worthy of Our Praise,"
on her blog.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Since God’s opinion of us is the one that truly matters, we need to remind 
ourselves daily that we give Him pleasure and He considers us beautiful.

Is there a verse in today’s post you want to memorize? Or an idea you want 
to study further? To help you see yourself the way God does, Liz Curtis 
Higgs
has created laminated cards with some of today’s encouraging message plus 
vinyl "Ta-da!" stickers to pop on your mirror. Ten winners will receive a 
"Ta-da!"
card from Liz, chosen at random from all who
comment on today’s post.

© 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries

Servant-Hearted
by Charles R. Swindoll

2 Corinthians 4:1-7

In his fine little volume In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen mentions three 
very real, albeit subtle temptations any servant of Christ faces. They 
correspond
with the three temptations our Lord faced before He began His earthly 
ministry. They also fit with three observations the apostle Paul mentions in 
his
letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 4:1-7).

First Temptation: To be self-sufficient and self-reliant. Instead of being 
so self-assured, we need to be open, unguarded, and vulnerable.

Second Temptation: To be spectacular . . . a celebrity mentality. In 
Nouwen's words, "Jesus refused to be a stunt man. . . . He did not come to 
walk on
hot coals, swallow fire or put His hand in a lion's mouth to demonstrate He 
had something worthwhile to say."

Third Temptation: To be powerful . . . in charge. To lead is appropriate, 
necessary, and good. But to push, to manipulate, to be in full control . . .
never! To say it simply, one God is sufficient.

Servanthood implies diligence, faithfulness, loyalty, and humility. Servants 
don't compete . . . or grandstand . . . or polish their image . . . or grab
the limelight. They know their job, they admit their limitations, they do 
what they do quietly and consistently.

• Servants cannot control anyone or everything, and they shouldn't try.
• Servants cannot change or "fix" people.
• Servants cannot meet most folks' expectations.
• Servants cannot concern themselves with who gets the credit.
• Servants cannot minister in the flesh or all alone.

Let me suggest five practical guidelines for cultivating the right kind of 
servant habits.

1. Whatever we do, let's do more with others. Ministry is not a solo, it's a 
chorus.
2. Whenever we do it, let's place the emphasis on quality, not quantity. 
Excellence, not expansion, is our goal.
3. Whenever we go to do it, let's do it the same as if we were doing it 
among those who know us the best. Not only will this keep us accountable, 
it'll
guard us from exaggeration.
4. Whoever may respond, let's keep a level head. If someone criticizes, 
don't allow it to get you down. If someone idolizes, don't tolerate or 
fantasize
such foolishness.
5. However long we minister, let's model the Master . . . a servant-hearted 
and a grace-oriented style.

Let's serve . . . in the name of Jesus.

A servant-hearted attitude keeps us from self-minded attitude.

Excerpted from
Day by Day with Charles Swindoll,
Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). 
All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

Helping Kids See the Gospel
by John UpChurch, Senior Editor, BibleStudyTools.com

“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these 
things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4:9

First, I want to blow up a common misconception. You’ve probably heard that 
Francis of Assisi, that saint of old, said something along the lines of: 
"Share
the gospel. If necessary, use words." He did, but his story and evangelistic 
career don't end so abruptly in a manner that suggests we never speak our

faith.
When you study Francis's life, you find that he spoke the gospel… a lot. He 
preached on haystacks and street corners and pretty much anywhere people 
were.
He preached to peasants and nobles, lepers and prisoners. So, it's safe to 
say that he believed in the concept that "faith comes by hearing."

But Francis did back up his preaching with some pretty amazing examples of 
the gospel. He demonstrated the sacrifice of Christ in ways that the people
around him could see and touch. You could say that his life of poverty 
served as a parable for Christ giving up the riches of heaven (
Philippians 2).
Given the culture (which wasn’t too different), a rich man’s son choosing 
rags over raging parties does send a pretty potent message (it’d be like 
Paris
Hilton choosing a monastery over Malibu Beach houses).

So, Francis and his famous quip and his demonstrations of the gospel have 
given me something to think about. Namely, as a father, how do I make what 
Christ
did real to my girls? How can I show them what I teach with my words and 
through the Bible? Since I can’t exactly forsake all my possessions and 
provide
for them at the same time, I’ve learned to think on a bit smaller scale.

The Exchange: I admit it. This seems kind of hokey. But I’ve found that 
simply exchanging something dirty for something clean (with a gospel 
explanation)
has made quite the impact. For example, my oldest daughter hates for any two 
items on her plate to touch. Even a microscopic amount of mashed potatoes
befouling her green beans is enough to make her queasy. So, instead of 
fighting about the silliness of it, I recently just traded one of my 
un-besmirched
beans for hers. When I did so, I pointed out that this is similar to what 
Jesus did for us. He took our dirtiness of sin and gave us His cleanness (
2 Corinthians 5:21).
She studied the bean with squinty eyes and then ate it.

The Takeaway: This isn’t something I do often—just so we’re clear. But every 
once in a while, when my girls do something that deserves some “reflection
time” in the “reflection chair,” I take away the punishment completely. That 
only works if I know they’re truly repentant about what they’ve done (and
if they know it’s uncommon). I point out that they deserved 
punishment—according to our if/then Scripture chart—but they aren’t getting 
what they deserve
(
1 Thessalonians 5:9).

The Substitute: This isn’t one I’ve used just yet because I want them to be 
a little older. But my wife and I have planned something we hope will really
drive home the point. When they mess up, I'm going to take the punishment 
they deserved. I'm going to lose the privilege they should have lost, to 
suffer
the consequences of their failures. I want them to see that Jesus did just 
that for us (
Isaiah 53).

Intersecting Faith & Life: No earthly example can truly capture what Jesus 
did—not Francis, not my dinner table exchanges. His sacrifice is just too 
ridiculously
huge. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try. Be intentional with your teachable 
moments. A tangible example of what you preach with your lips can reach 
people
in ways that words alone cannot.

For Further Reading

Saint Francis by Robert West


Will The Sun Ever Shine On You Again
by Dean Masters

Lamentations 3:22-24
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his 
compassions fail not. They are new every morning: Great is they 
faithfulness. The Lord
is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.

Oh I just love it when I get up in the morning and it turns out to be a 
beautiful, sunny day, everything seems so fresh and new and it just sort of 
fills
you with a new hope for the day. I wish I could wake up every day and feel 
that way but that just isn’t reality! Life is the same way in a sense; every
day isn’t going to be sunny, there are rainy days, snowy days and stormy 
days and sometimes you just begin to wonder if you will ever see the sun 
again!
Have you ever heard someone talk about surviving a tornado? They always say 
that it seemed like it took forever for the tornado to pass over even though
it was only seconds! Life's storms are the same way, it seems as though 
they will never come to an end, but they truly came to pass!

Where are you today? Are you facing such overwhelming struggles that you 
feel as though this storm will never pass? Do you feel so weighed down by 
the
burdens you are carrying that you can’t even find the strength to look up 
any more? God wants you to know that His compassions will not fail, they are
new every single morning so hold on to your hope in Him! Don’t allow Satan 
to lie to you trying to get you to believe that somehow God doesn’t care, He
does care, He loves you and He is faithful to deliver you and to bring you 
through all that you are facing to the other side!

Do you need God’s mercies today because of things you have done? You know 
God still has a plan for you, right? He still believes in you and knows all 
of
the strengths and gifts He put within you to do great things, He won’t let 
that go to waste if you will just allow His mercies and grace cover you 
today
and leave the past behind so you can start fresh today! Today is a new day, 
fresh with no mistakes in it! Rise up, get excited, this can be your new 
beginning!
Allow God to do a fresh work in you today! He delights in you!

If you are needing strength for your day I would like to encourage you to 
remember, 2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said unto me, “My grace is sufficient 
for
thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” God will show Himself 
mighty in your situation and in your life if you will just seek Him and 
glorify
Him in all you do! Hold on to the words in this verse and know that He has 
promised to come through for you! God is faithful, so if you have been 
feeling
as though everything is hopeless lately know that you can put all of your 
hope and faith in Him. The best is yet to come!

Quote:
“Hope never dies where faith is strong, and faith grows strong in the 
presence of hope.” Chad Witmeyer

What the Resurrection Means

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

The meaning of the resurrection is that God is for us. He aims to close 
ranks with us. He aims to overcome all our sense of abandonment and 
alienation.

The resurrection of Jesus is God’s declaration to Israel and to the world 
that we cannot work our way to glory but that he intends to do the 
impossible
to get us there.

The resurrection is the promise of God that all who trust Jesus will be the 
beneficiaries of God’s power to lead us in paths of righteousness and 
through
the valley of death.

Therefore, believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead is 
much more than accepting a fact. It means being confident that God is for 
you,
that he has closed ranks with you, that he is transforming your life, and 
that he will save you for eternal joy.

Believing in the resurrection means trusting in all the promises of life and 
hope and righteousness for which it stands.

It means being so confident of God’s power and love that no fear of worldly 
loss or greed for worldly gain will lure us to disobey his will.

That’s the difference between Satan and the saints. O, might God circumcise 
our hearts to love him and to rest in the resurrection of his Son.

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

3 Ways to Follow God When the Path Isn’t Clear
Jennifer Heeren

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and 
your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you”
(Genesis 12:1).

God didn’t give Abram (later to be called Abraham) a detailed map or even 
show him the exact final destination. He basically said, “Abram, leave your 
comfort
zone and go where I will show you.” However, God also added that he would 
bless Abram and his descendants if Abram obeyed him. Abram didn’t know where
he would end up, but he knew and trusted God’s character, so he obeyed 
anyway. Abram’s obedience happened one step at a time. With each step, Abram 
heard
a little more from God.

I feel that this is what God requires of me as well. In November, I lost my 
job. I don’t know exactly where God is taking me next but I am trusting that
it will be a good place—a place of blessing. Each day since, I have been 
doing what I know to do within each day. I’ve been looking, applying, and 
networking.
I’ve also been taking advantage of the time and learning some new skills. 
All the while remembering that God is a good God who loves to give good 
gifts
to his children. Each day I feel like I’m a little closer to knowing where 
he is taking me next and this brings me peace even in the not knowing.

Like Abram, I am learning lessons as I walk through my journey. Three 
lessons that God is teaching me are:

1. Step Out of My Comfort Zone

God wants me to continually step out of my comfort zone and trust him with 
the unknowns. I have to leave room for God to guide me. If God were to come
show me step-by-step his exact will for my life, it wouldn’t require
faith
for me to follow him. Moreover, if I know exactly where I’m going 
beforehand, the idea probably isn’t from God. It probably came out of my own 
head and
ideals. God likes me to follow him in faith and trust—not in knowing. This 
frees me from getting stuck in my own ideas, which often can take me away 
from
God’s will, because let’s face it, my own ideas can be very flawed as well 
as limited. God sees everything—past, present and future. He is not limited.

When I think back to times when I actually did step out of my comfort zone, 
it can give me confidence to do it again. A few years ago, I got married and
moved many, many miles away from the state that I’d lived in my entire life. 
I knew it was for a good reason but I didn’t know a lot of the details that
I would encounter after the move. But I did it anyway.

2. Take One Step at a Time

There’s also another reason God doesn’t want me to know too much too soon. 
If I know too quickly, I might get overwhelmed and give up because it seems
too hard. I might know where I’ll end up but I won’t necessarily know how. 
And, this not knowing how would cause me to have all kinds of anxious and 
worried
thoughts. Nobody can do their best work under stress. God doesn’t ask me to 
take a step that is five miles up the road. Each step of this step-by-step
approach is made under the daylight of the present moment. Everyone can take 
one step at a time.

I once tried a ropes course that was over twenty feet above the ground. My 
initial thought was that there was no way I could balance myself and walk 
across
those ropes. I wore a safety harness but my jitters didn’t seem to 
understand that I was completely safe. It was still scary. But…as I took one 
step at
a time, I reached my destination.

3. Action Lessens Worry

I tend to overanalyze everything and overanalyzing causes me to worry and 
even become paralyzed. Taking action erases a lot of these worries because 
the
act of doing something takes on a life of its own. I concentrate on the task 
at hand, not the results that will come later. Worry about future results
usually happens before I ever take an action to complete something. Taking 
actions regularly is a way of living in the moment and often deletes some of
the fears of the future and regrets of the past.

Also in that ropes course, I realized that most of my worries came before I 
started each section. Thinking about the possibility of falling happened 
before
my first step. But…when I took the action necessary and started moving, my 
action really did erase a few fears because I wasn’t thinking about them.

Bonus Lesson: God is With Me as I Go

Abram was able to trust God in the not knowing because he believed that God 
was with him. I also have this assurance because Jesus said, “…be sure of 
this:
I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Even to the end of the 
age means in every moment of my life.

Is God speaking to you about leaving your comfort zone and going without 
knowing? If he is, spend some time in the Bible and in reflective thought 
and
wait for him to give you your first step, not the whole plan, just the first 
step.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go 
to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without
knowing where he was going
(Hebrews 11:8).

Jennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people 
are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write things 
that
bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, 
even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to 
Crosswalk.com.
She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at
www.jenniferheeren.com.
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God as Creator: In the Beginning

What if a book exists that endured hundreds of years, even thousands? 
Countless are the books written by men and women, but what if we had a book 
authored
by God Himself? What would be the beginning line of this book?

“In the beginning, God …”

With four simple words, the Bible opens dramatically as we are introduced to 
the greatest reality ever to exist—God. In Genesis 1:1, we meet a God who
is simply there. He is not dependent on anything or anyone else. And the 
rest of Genesis 1 describes this God creating everything else, showing the 
nature
of His holiness, His set-apartness.

Pull quote

God does not describe Himself in relation to some other person or thing. He 
exists in His own right. When Moses asked for His name, He answered, “I AM
WHO I AM.” While everything else in creation has to be described in relation 
to something else, only God can simply be.

If we dive into God’s story revealed through Scripture, we must recognize 
that the beginning of the story does what beginnings should—it sets the 
stage
for all that follows. In the beginning, God created everything, and He 
created everything good. And vitally important for grasping the scope of the 
gospel,
we will see that God created everything through His Son, Jesus Christ.

From the beginning, everything was good because God is good. Think about it. 
This entire universe is an extension of God’s goodness. He did not just 
create
something and label it “good.” God described it so because He is good—His 
purposes, His plan. It’s all there! The inherent goodness of God is on 
display
showing through His creation.

Pull quote

God created everything, so don’t worry about anything. It’s in His hands. 
God created everything good. Everything surrounding you—the sun, moon, 
stars,
and everything else in creation—is God’s way of saying He wants to know you 
and be known by you. And God created everything through His Son. Because God
has revealed all that He is to us through His Son, we now live to reveal 
Jesus to the world.

If we have been created by God and He has commanded the light of Jesus to 
shine in our hearts, then we are doubly His. Therefore, we must now seek to 
discover
our role in the overarching plan and purpose of God to manifest His glory 
and love to the world. We have to be a light to this world, and by nature, 
we
are a light to this world.

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

Excerpted from I Will by Thom Rainer
Excerpted from
The Gospel Project: God the Creator
Affect Our Experience With God.
by Matt Carter and Halim Suh
  

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Daily Devotional
What no Religion Can Do For You - #7462

Jennifer and Courtney were three-year-old twins. And they were excited about 
preschool. In fact, they were so excited they got up in the middle of the
night in their Omaha, Nebraska home and walked out of the house to make the 
six-block walk to school. Well all this while, their parents were sound 
asleep.
You say, "Oh, isn't that cute?" No! See, snow was everywhere that night and 
the temperature was nine below zero. The girls were reported missing at 4:04
a.m. after family members awoke to find this light on and the door open.

Two police officers started driving the route to school, hoping that they'd 
find the girls before it was too late. At one point, their squad car was 
stopped
by the ice on a steep hill. They were stopped right in front of this alley, 
which they decided to investigate. And there they found these little foot 
prints,
then three tan boots no bigger than the palm of the officer's hand. And 
finally they found barefoot Courtney wearing an open coat and kneeling 
beside her
sister Jennifer, who was face down in the snow wearing socks but no coat. 
Even though Jennifer was near death when they found her, both the girls 
miraculously
survived. If someone hadn't come looking for them though, they would have 
died.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "What No 
Religion Can Do For You."

Two little girls were lost and dying, and they wouldn't have made it back 
home themselves. Their only hope was for someone to look for them and find 
them.
It's always that way for someone who's lost, including you and me. See, lost 
is actually a word in the Bible that's used to describe our spiritual 
condition.
It's because, as the Bible says, "Each of us has wandered away from God like 
sheep."

We're created to have our life revolve around our Creator. But we've all 
decided to have it revolve around ourselves instead. And that wandering has 
taken
us away from the home we were made for; a personal love relationship with 
the One who made us. We're lost. We're away and ultimately dying. If you're 
honest
with yourself right now, maybe the word lost pretty much describes how 
you're feeling.

Our word for today from the Word of God, Luke 19:10, is awfully good news. 
Speaking of Jesus it says, "The Son of Man came to seek and to save that 
which
was lost." Jesus is

God come looking for you; a lost child that He loves very much. Notice He 
did exactly what those police officers did for those lost little girls - 
seeking/saving.
Those girls had nothing to do with their own rescue. Their only hope was a 
rescuer coming for them and saving them, like you and me.

Here's the simple fact: you cannot find God. God has to find you, and that's 
pretty radical. It means that all our religious efforts to get to God, 
whatever
your religion, all our self-improvement will not get us home to a God whose 
standard is perfection. A lost child doesn't find himself. He or she gets 
found
by the rescuer. All our spirituality, all our ceremonies, all our services, 
all our attempts to complete ourselves by finding God through spiritual 
searching
or exercises still leave us lost.

According to the Bible, we are that little girl, hopelessly lost, face down 
in the snow about to die spiritually. And Jesus is that policeman coming to
where we are to rescue us. But this rescue involves eternal death, the price 
tag for our sin. This rescue cost the Rescuer his life, as Jesus died on 
that
cross, taking all the punishment and the hell that you and I deserve. And 
the Rescuer comes right now to where you are to bring you home from your 
"lostness."

Your role is to put yourself totally in the hands of Jesus, the only one who 
paid the price to bring you back. You're finally home when you tell Jesus
you're putting your total trust in Him to be your personal Rescuer from your 
personal sin.

If you're ready to trust Jesus Christ to be your Savior, go to our website 
and check out there how to be sure you've begun your relationship with Him.
It's ANewStory.com. Or you can talk with us. Text us at 442-244-WORD.

You'll never find your Creator. You're lost, but He has found you at the 
cost of His life. Now, let Him bring you home before it's too late.
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HOW THE DOWN CAN GET OUT

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks 
to Him; bless His name. For the LORD is good; His loving kindness is 
everlasting,
and His faithfulness
to all generations."
Psalm 100:4-5

Down and out. Feeling the blues. Lonely. Depressed. Discouraged. 
Disillusioned. A case of the blahs.

What do you do if these words seem to characterize your life right now? How 
can you get out of the dark pit you are in when you feel down and defeated?

God has the answer in His word, and it is a sure fire way to change your 
outlook on life. What is this silver bullet of an answer? Well, it is very 
simple,
but very profound. The answer is ... thanksgiving and praise. There is 
great power in a thankful, praising heart.

DISCOURAGED PEOPLE

I have found that when people get down and discouraged, thanksgiving and 
praise tend to be the last things on their list. To the natural mind, it 
seems
ludicrous to thank and praise God when everything is going wrong. But the 
truth is, God inhabits the praises of His people (Ps. 22:3), and the giving
of thanks, regardless of the adverse circumstances, is a great declaration 
of faith. And faith pleases God!

You see, thanksgiving and praise say to God, "Father, I know You are the 
King and in complete control of all things. I know You are good and 
merciful.
I know that You love me. So as an act of faith, I thank You and praise You, 
even in this great trial that I am experiencing, for I believe You are 
going
to work all of this together for my good, just like You promised."

TRY IT AND SEE

I encourage you to take the challenge and put God's Word into practice in 
your life. Every morning,noon, and night, "enter His gates with 
thanksgiving
and His courts with praise." As you do, you will experience a change 
within, a significant attitude adjustment regarding your circumstances. For 
God
will help you get your eyes off your pitiful situation and onto your 
powerful Savior who can move mountains and part seas. There is nothing too 
difficult
for Him. So praise Him, thank Him, and bless His name. You'll be so glad 
that you did!

Love,
Pastor Jeff Schreve
From His Heart Ministries
www.fromhisheart.org

Some of Your Greatest Service Will Come Out of Your Pain & Struggles
by Dean Masters

John 11:38-40
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone 
lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the
dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has 
been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you 
believed
you would see the glory of God?”

Mary and Martha had called for Jesus to come while Lazarus was ill and Jesus 
chose to wait a couple days so they would fully see the glory of God. It is
clear that was not an easy decision for Jesus because He was deeply moved by 
their grief, but He knew that it would help their faith and belief in God
to deepen.

Some of your greatest service for God will come out of your pain and 
struggles. That can be difficult to think about at times but on the other 
side of
that if you really look at the times we naturally draw closer to God and 
seek Him and His direction it is often in our darkest hours. How can you 
help
others who are going through something if you have never experienced their 
pain? If we allow God to use the things we have had to face in our lifetime
for His good, it makes us stronger. Life is a struggle more often than not, 
and when we go through our struggles in life, we have a choice to either let
God use it in our own life as well as the lives of others, or to make us 
bitter and feel sorry for ourselves.

Take a look at David, he went through some crazy things as Saul chased him 
around the country trying to kill him for no reason and yet he allowed that
time to strengthen His faith in God. David didn’t just sit in a cave 
somewhere feeling sorry for himself, he strengthened himself in the Lord and 
with
all the resources he had available to him. Take this time to do what you can 
and then allow God to work in and through you to strengthen you.

I hate going through tough times and times of great sorrow and yet I can 
also look back over my life and see how God has used those times to “grow me 
up”
in Him. He hates to see us face these things too, John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” 
He was moved by their grief and yet He was also moved by the fact that they
didn’t fully realize His power for the situation. Trust that whatever you 
are facing or have faced that God can and will give you strength, peace and 
joy
again and He will use this to not only make you better but to help you to 
better serve Him down the road. Don’t allow these times to get you down, 
strengthen
yourself in the Lord and with the resources you have! The best is yet to 
come if you will just give it all to Him! Allow Him to show His glory in and 
through
you!

Quote:
“Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit 
there!” Will Rogers

The Master Coal Heaver!

(Frank Hall)

"If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give 
him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the
LORD will reward you." Proverbs 25:21-22

What a strange and exotic principle! Feed our enemies? Give water to those 
who hate us? Certainly this teaching is not from below, but from above! This
is the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of free grace--the formula that 
transforms inveterate enemies into faithful friends.

These coals of fire are not coals of judgment, but coals of grace by which 
the hearts of our enemies our melted and won. Our Savior preached this 
doctrine
with great clarity in his Sermon on the Mount when He said, "You have heard 
that it was said: You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I 
tell
you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 
5:43-44.

Nothing is more contrary to the flesh than exercising kindness and love 
toward those who hate us, but if we would honor our Savior and subdue our 
enemies--we
dare not resort to the sinful practice of revenge. We must conquer the 
hearts of our enemy's the same way that Christ conquered our hearts--by 
relentlessly
heaving the coals of unmerited grace upon their heads.

Coals of Grace
A mighty king may very well use angry force to subjugate his enemies, but 
they will never love him or serve him willingly. Willing service, heart 
commitment,
and life-loyalty--can only be accomplished by grace, mercy, and love. The 
Lord Jesus Christ does not win sinners to Himself with threats of punishment
or promises of reward. He wins sinners to Himself by His free grace! He 
turns enemies into friends, by His grace! He converts hard-hearted 
adversaries
into faithful disciples, by His grace! He causes rebels to surrender their 
hearts to him, not with brute force and overwhelming power--but with tender,
irresistible love and grace!

He is the only Master of the universe, the sovereign Master of hearts, and 
the Master Coal Heaver as well. With the gospel shovel in his hand, He 
sovereignly
heaves the covenant coals of free grace onto the heads of His enemies, and 
in so doing He melts their hearts of stone into soft, pliable, elastic 
masses
of wax--putty in the hands of the Master!

Calvary's Coals
No chosen sinner can successfully withstand the melting effects of Calvary's 
coals! When the coals of effectual blood redemption, free forgiveness, and
perfect righteousness begin to stack up, coal upon coal, on the sinner's 
heart, and the heat of Christ's indescribable love grows warmer and 
warmer--that
unbreakable, adamantine heart of stone is eventually smitten, smelted, and 
liquefied into a puddle of love for the crucified Coal Heaver!

~ ~ ~ ~

We have published Archibald Brown's outstanding sermon on spiritual 
depression, "
David's Malady and Medicine!"

Compassion
by Charles R. Swindoll

Colossians 3:12-14; James 5:11

It was one of those backhanded compliments. The guy had listened to me talk 
during several sessions at a pastors' conference. All he knew about me was
what he'd heard in the past few days: ex-marine . . . schooled in an 
independent seminary . . . committed to biblical exposition . . . 
noncharismatic .
. . premil . . . pretrib . . . pro this . . . anti that.

Toward the end of the week, he decided to drink a cup of coffee with me and 
risk saying it straight. It went something like this: "You don't fit. You've
got the roots of a fundamentalist, but you don't sound like it. Your 
theology is narrow, but you're not rigid. You take God seriously, but you 
laugh like
there's no tomorrow. You have definite convictions, but you aren't 
legalistic and demanding." Then he added: "Even though you're a firm 
believer in the
Bible, you're still having fun, still enjoying life. You've even got some 
compassion!"

"You've even got some compassion!" Like, if you're committed to the truth of 
Scripture, you shouldn't get that concerned about people stuff---heartaches,
hunger, illness, fractured lives, insecurities, failures, and 
grief---because those are only temporal problems. Mere horizontal hassles. 
Leave that to
others. Our main job is to give 'em the gospel. Get 'em saved!

Be honest now. Isn't that the way it usually is? Isn't it a fact that the 
more conservative one becomes, the less compassionate? I want to know why. 
Why
either-or? Why not both-and? I'd also like to know when we departed from the 
biblical model. When did we begin to ignore Christ's care for the needy?

Maybe when we realized that one is much easier than the other. It's also 
faster. When you don't concern yourself with being your brother's keeper, 
you
don't have to get dirty or take risks or lose your objectivity or run up 
against the thorny side of an issue that lacks easy answers.

And what will happen when we traffic in such compassion? The Living Bible 
says, "Then the Lord will be your delight, and I will see to it that you 
ride
high, and get your full share of the blessings I promised to Jacob, your 
father" (Isa. 58:14).

If you really want to "ride high, and get your full share of the blessings," 
prefer compassion to information. We need both, but in the right order.

Come on, let's break the mold and surprise 'em. That's exactly what Jesus 
did with you and me and a whole bunch of other sinners who deserved and 
expected
a full dose of condemnation, but got compassion instead.

Others won't care how much we know until they know how much we care.

Excerpted from
Day by Day with Charles Swindoll,
Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). 
All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

Prosperity Preaching: Deceitful and Deadly
by John Piper

When I read about prosperity-preaching churches, my response is: "If I were 
not on the inside of
Christianity,
I wouldn't want in." In other words, if this is the message of Jesus, no 
thank you.

Luring people to Christ to get rich is both deceitful and deadly. It's 
deceitful because when Jesus himself called us, he said things like: "Any 
one of
you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple" (
Luke 14:33).
And it's deadly because the desire to be rich plunges "people into ruin and 
destruction" (
1 Timothy 6:9).
So here is my plea to preachers of the gospel.

1. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that makes it harder for people to 
get into heaven.

Jesus said, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the 
kingdom of God!" His disciples were astonished, as many in the "prosperity"
movement should be. So Jesus went on to raise their astonishment even higher 
by saying, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than
for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." They respond in disbelief: 
"Then who can be saved?" Jesus says, "With man it is impossible, but not 
with
God. For all things are possible with God" (
Mark 10:23-27).

My question for prosperity preachers is: Why would you want to develop a 
ministry focus that makes it harder for people to enter heaven?

2. Do not develop a philosophy of ministry that kindles suicidal desires in 
people.

Paul said, "There is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we 
brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the 
world. But
if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content." But then he 
warned against the desire to be rich. And by implication, he warned against 
preachers
who stir up the desire to be rich instead of helping people get rid of it. 
He warned, "Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare,
into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and 
destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is 
through
this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced 
themselves with many pangs" (
1 Timothy 6:6-10).

So my question for prosperity preachers is: Why would you want to develop a 
ministry that encourages people to pierce themselves with many pangs and 
plunge
themselves into ruin and destruction?

3. Do not develop a philosophy of ministry that encourages vulnerability to 
moth and rust.

Jesus warns against the effort to lay up treasures on earth. That is, he 
tells us to be givers, not keepers. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures 
on
earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but 
lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust 
destroys
and where thieves do not break in and steal" (
Matthew 6:19).

Yes, we all keep something. But given the built-in tendency toward greed in 
all of us, why would we take the focus off Jesus and turn it upside down?

4. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that makes hard work a means of 
amassing wealth.

Paul said we should not steal. The alternative was hard work with our own 
hands. But the main purpose was not merely to hoard or even to have. The 
purpose
was "to have to give." "Let him labor, working with his hands, that he may 
have to give to him who is in need" (
Ephesians 4:28).
This is not a justification for being rich in order to give more. It is a 
call to make more and keep less so you can give more. There is no reason why
a person who makes $200,000 should live any differently from the way a 
person who makes $80,000 lives. Find a wartime lifestyle; cap your 
expenditures;
then give the rest away.

Why would you want to encourage people to think that they should possess 
wealth in order to be a lavish giver? Why not encourage them to keep their 
lives
more simple and be an even more lavish giver? Would that not add to their 
generosity a strong testimony that Christ, and not possessions, is their 
treasure?

5. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that promotes less faith in the 
promises of God to be for us what money can't be.

The reason the writer to the Hebrews tells us to be content with what we 
have is that the opposite implies less faith in the promises of God. He 
says,
"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, 
for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we can 
confidently
say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'" (
Hebrews 13:5-6).

If the Bible tells us that being content with what we have honors the 
promise of God never to forsake us, why would we want to teach people to 
want to
be rich?

6. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that contributes to your people 
being choked to death.

Jesus warns that the word of God, which is meant to give us life, can be 
choked off from any effectiveness by riches. He says it is like a seed that 
grows
up among thorns that choke it to death: "They are those who hear, but as 
they go on their way they are choked by the . . . riches . . . of life, and 
their
fruit does not mature" (
Luke 8:14).

Why would we want to encourage people to pursue the very thing that Jesus 
warns will choke us to death?

7. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that takes the seasoning out of 
the salt and puts the light under a basket.

What is it about
Christians
that makes them the salt of the earth and the light of the world? It is not 
wealth. The desire for wealth and the pursuit of wealth tastes and looks 
just
like the world. It does not offer the world anything different from what it 
already believes in. The great tragedy of prosperity-preaching is that a 
person
does not have to be spiritually awakened in order to embrace it; one needs 
only to be greedy. Getting rich in the name of Jesus is not the salt of the
earth or the light of the world. In this, the world simply sees a reflection 
of itself. And if it works, they will buy it.

The context of Jesus' saying shows us what the salt and light are. They are 
the joyful willingness to suffering for Christ. Here is what Jesus said, 
"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. 
You are the salt of the earth. . . . You are the light of the world" (
Matthew 5:11-14).

What will make the world taste (the salt) and see (the light) of Christ in 
us is not that we love wealth the same way they do. Rather, it will be the 
willingness
and the ability of Christians to love others through suffering, all the 
while rejoicing because their reward is in heaven with Jesus. This is 
inexplicable
on human terms. This is supernatural. But to attract people with promises of 
prosperity is simply natural. It is not the message of Jesus. It is not what
he died to achieve.

Pastor John

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:
www.desiringGod.org.

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Today's Devotional

Fruit

Luke 13:7-9 – And he said to the vinedresser, "Look, for three years now I 
have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why
should it use up the ground?" And he answered him, "Sir, let it alone this 
year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear 
fruit
next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down." (ESV)

We have two apple trees planted at the end of our small lawn in the partial 
shade of a large fir situated in the adjacent garden. The soil is clay, and
the trees have struggled with my pruning and their situation.

This is the fifth year that they have flowered and the first in which there 
has been an over-abundance of fruit — so abundant that I thought it 
exceptional.
In my little world, it seemed as if God were giving me a living example of 
how trees grow underground, gaining roots and strength, so that they may 
grow
and bear fruit, even in a hostile environment.

I have tended the fruit, removed aphids, and trimmed the new growth to give 
the trees every chance of maturing the fruit to ripe apples. I wanted the 
best
possible outcome of fruit. Despite my best efforts of watering and rainfall, 
quite a number of the fruit have fallen off, and the guinea pigs have taken
advantage of their windfalls.

It made me ponder.

As time has passed, I have dropped some of the blessings of my youth — 
fruits, if you will. Nevertheless, through this time of maturing, my roots 
have
still been growing in Him. Now, what remains in me by grace is nurtured by 
the Holy Spirit to become more substantial.

I am mindful that still there are pests and dangers that can ruin and devour 
the fruit. By His touch and being rooted in His Word, I want to allow Him
in to keep them clean and well watered.

We know that where we have been planted is where He wants us to bear fruit, 
because He is the Good Gardener, and we can trust Him. Sometimes, we are 
planted
to bloom in a place only for a season or for a specific purpose, and when 
that has passed, it is time to move on.

So if you are troubled and hard-pressed by life today, remember that the 
Good Gardener wishes you to bear fruit in the right place, at the right 
time,
and He will do everything necessary for us to make it possible.

Prayer: Lord, You are the Great Sustainer, provider of all that is needed to 
gain eternal life and bring forth good fruit. Please tend and refresh us 
today,
that we may be pleasing to Your eye and Your purposes for us, in and through 
the name of Jesus. Amen.

Rod Marshall 
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
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The Apple of Your Eye
by Dean W. Masters
"My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my 
commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them 
on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart." (Proverbs 7:1-3, 
ESV)

I have heard of boys who wanted a BB gun for their birthday or Christmas. 
Their parents would say they were not getting one because they might put one 
of their eyes out. Most of the time people are very careful about protecting 
their eyes. There are all kinds of goggles, masks and protective glasses 
that people wear for different jobs and leisure activities. In the above 
Scripture, the apple of the eye refers to the pupil of the eye.

If we are so protective of our eyes, why aren’t we as protective of God’s 
Word? WE take it for granted too often. Most of us have a number of Bibles 
around the house available for us to pick up and read but how many of us 
read them as much as we should? For the Word to be written on our heart we 
need to read it more and even memorize it.

What would you do if someone came and took all your Bibles away? You might 
say that you can read the Bible on the internet but what if that was also 
taken away? What if there was no access anywhere to God’s Word? WE would all 
wish we had taken it more seriously.

WE need to read the Word not just for information or to memorize it but so 
that it will affect our lives. AS the Psalmist wrote:

"I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You. "
(Psalm 119:11, HCSB)

And If you really know your Bible you might be able to solve a crime:

A Haifa policeman, who knew his Bible, got on the trail of a gang of 
smugglers. They used an ass-drawn caravan to escape. The policemen managed 
to capture some of the asses, though the smugglers got away. The clever 
officer let the beasts of burden go without food for several days and then 
he turned them loose. And just as he predicted from Isaiah 1:3, “the ox 
knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib,” the starving animals led 
the police directly to the smuggler’s hide-out!
—World Christian Digest

5 Ways to Use Music to Praise God on the Go
Whitney Hopler
If you ever pull up next to me at a traffic light and look into my car, you 
might see me singing worship songs along with the radio. If I were to roll
my car windows down so you could hear me, you might wonder why someone would 
sing so loudly and passionately while driving. You might even laugh at me.
Even though I probably look strange (and maybe I sound strange, too), I’m 
not bothered by that, because I feel connected to God when I turn up the 
radio
to sing praises to him on the go.
God craves our praise wherever we go – not just in our church worship 
services – and music is the universal language of praise. The Bible often 
describes
people using music as a tool to praise God. Psalm 150 describes a wide 
variety of different musical forms of praise: “Praise the Lord. ... Praise 
him with
the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him 
with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him 
with
the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything 
that has breath praise the Lord…”
Music is a powerful form of expressing the creativity God has given us as 
people made in his image. It transcends language barriers and communicates 
deep
feelings from our souls. When we use music to express our changing emotions 
to God as we go through each day, we connect with God’s unchanging truth 
that
gives us an accurate perspective on what’s going on in our lives.
The
EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum
in Seattle, Washington, which focuses on how people use music in their daily 
lives, emphasizes that music helps people connect their own experiences with
something greater than themselves. The museum’s musical performance space, 
while secular, is called Sky Church because it’s a based on a phrase 
musician
Jimi Hendrix used to describe “a place where people of all ages and cultures 
could come to collectively celebrate musical experiences.”
The Bible describes just such a place in heaven, which the Apostle John saw 
in a vision and described in Revelation 7:9-10: “I looked, and there before
me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, 
people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. … And
they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on 
the throne, and to the Lamb.’” Angels then join the myriad of people in 
heaven
praising God with the music of voices crying out in unison. Our experiences 
praising God right now through music are like soundbites that inspire us to
look forward to the ultimate praise experience: celebrating God together in 
heaven.
Here are 5 ways to use music as a tool for praising God on the go:
1. Thank God during the good times.
God is constantly pouring blessings into your life (from simple gifts like 
the ability to breathe fresh air or enjoy a delicious meal, to dramatic 
blessings
like getting a new child or a new job), and when you’re experiencing good 
circumstances you’re especially able to notice those blessings. When you 
feel
like celebrating something in your life, celebrate by praising God for 
giving you that blessing. Use uplifting music to express your praise 
creatively
to God, such as by praying with music in the background or singing your 
prayers to God. Choose from a variety of different musical genres to match 
your
mood: not just rock and pop, but also jazz, reggae, country, classical, 
electronica, tribal, epic, hip hop, etc. Have fun finding new types of music 
to
express your gratitude to God for what he has done for you – and most 
importantly, for who he is: a perfect God with many wonderful qualities.
2. Give God a “sacrifice of praise” during the bad times.
Remember that God is always worthy of praise, because his wonderful 
qualities never change, even though the circumstances of your life change 
often. Jesus
warned that everyone will experience trouble in this fallen world, so you 
can expect to go through bad times. But you can still praise God when you’re
suffering – and God wants you to, because doing so will strengthen your
faith.
The Bible urges in Hebrews 13:15: “Through Jesus … let us continually offer 
to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his 
name.”
Praising God when your life is not going the way you want costs you 
something; you must sacrifice your will for God’s will, even when you don’t 
understand
it or don’t like it. But when you give God a sacrifice of praise, you’re 
declaring that you still believe that God himself is good even when your 
circumstances
are bad, and that you trust God no matter what. That shows God your true 
faith, which pleases him and strengthens your connection to him. You’ll go 
through
difficult emotions whenever you make a sacrifice of praise, and music can 
help you express and work through those emotions. Find music that matches 
the
mood of the emotions you’re feeling – such as disappointment, sadness, 
frustration, anxiety, or anger – and play that music while you pray honestly 
about
your feelings. Then surrender your feelings to God with the faith that he 
will do what’s best in whatever tough situations you’re facing.
3. Start each day well with morning praise.
Incorporate musical praise into your mornings during each new day. This will 
refresh your connection to God and remind you to make daily decisions based
on your relationship with God as your top priority. You can: set your alarm 
to wake you up with music; sing to God in the shower; chant your prayers 
during
morning
devotions
; and listen to worship music while you’re eating breakfast, doing household 
chores, or as you commute to work or school. If you play a musical 
instrument
of some kind (such as guitar or piano), establish a habit of playing for God 
during your morning devotions, even if it’s just for a few minutes each 
time.
4. Stay connected to God with afternoon praise.
When you’re busy in the midst of your afternoon activities, you can do with 
them with the right perspective by staying connected to God through musical
praise. The Holy Spirit will hear you whenever you take a quick break to 
sing a praise prayer or play a song on a mobile device while praying a 
silent
prayer of praise along with it. If you can, stream music online or listen to 
some favorites with headphones while you work. Let the constant background
music remind you that God is always working behind the scenes of your life.
5. End your each day well with evening praise.
Praising God with music in the evening will help you reflect on how you’ve 
noticed him at work in your life that day, and prepare you to sleep 
peacefully
– with the confidence that God is caring for you – at night. If you can, 
take an evening prayer walk with headphones and a mobile device, listening 
to
music that evokes the mood of the thoughts and feelings you want to express 
to God. When you enjoy music for entertainment at night (such on a TV show
or at a concert), praise God for that gift. Wind down each day with some 
relaxing music before bedtime, and as you do, entrust your concerns to God’s 
care
with the faith that God will still be working even while you’re sleeping.
Praising God through music is something you can incorporate into your life 
regularly. Whenever you do, God will hear the song in your soul!

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for 
many years, produces the About.com site on angels and miracles at:
angels.about.com.
She is author of the Christian young adult novel
Dream Factory,
which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Learn more by visiting her 
website at:
whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.
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The Point of Creation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Experiencing LIFE Today

"Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has been made, like bread; 
remade all the time, made new." – Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

Once we admit we’re messy, what will Jesus do with our mess?

In
Luke 5:36-37,
Jesus shares a parable with the Pharisees – the tidy-makers.

“No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, 
they will have torn the new garment … And no one pours new wine into old 
wineskins
… the new wine will burst the skins ….”

Jesus was saying, “Don’t mix old and new.”

He knows there are holes in our character, but Jesus says to us, “I’m not 
going to try to patch you up. I’m not going to try to fix you. That’s not 
why
I came.”

Well, Jesus, why did You come?

Seven times in this short parable, Jesus uses the word new. When we come to 
Jesus and set our old lives – our messiness – before Him, His goal isn’t to
make us tidy. His goal is to make us new.

Jesus makes messy people into new people. He will make us new and pour new 
life into us.

Sounds awesome, but it isn’t always easy. In fact, Jesus closes this parable 
with an astute social observation, “And no one after drinking old wine wants
the new, for they say, ‘The old is better’” (
Luke 5:39).

Friends, Jesus knows the newness can be scary. He knows we are comfortable 
in the old. But still He asks us to leave familiarity and follow Him. He 
asks
us to dismiss comfort and embrace this new life He has for us.

Did you notice how often Jesus sought out messy people? He sought out messy 
people then, and He still seeks out messy people now. Through His Spirit 
living
in us as believers, Jesus invites messy people to Him, makes them new, and 
pours new life into them. And, after we are made new, we get to be part of 
the
inviting.

Jesus, give me eyes and ears for all the messy people around me. Give me 
love for them and patience with their untidiness. I release the need to fix 
people
and will leave the “making new” to You. Holy Spirit, I can’t wait to see 
whom You invite through me! Amen.

Listen to Pete, Jill & Stuart Briscoe on the
Telling the Truth broadcast
at OnePlace.com
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Can You See It?
by Dean Masters

Luke 18: 41
“What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my 
sight.”

This blind man kept calling out to Jesus when he had been told that Jesus 
was walking by even though everyone around him kept telling him to be quiet.
He was determined to not allow the opportunity to pass him by!

As I was reading this scripture this morning I wondered what areas of my 
life I am blind in. Are there things I am not seeing either because I have 
chosen
to block it out or maybe because I am too consumed with other things. A lot 
of times when we claim to be blindsided by something it is simply that we 
chose
not to see what was going on. What struck me this morning though is that I 
don’t want to miss something in the plans that God has for my life. I want 
my
eyes to be opened to all that He has in His word and for my life!

It could often be that when you are consumed with the issues at hand you are 
unable to see all that God is trying to show you! It’s like that idea that
you “can’t see the forest for the trees”. Maybe the answer to what you need 
is there but you just aren’t seeing it because the struggle is overwhelming
or too time consuming! Maybe you need some down time so you can hear what 
God is trying to tell you and see what He is trying to show you!

Are you looking today for answers to what you need to do? Jeremiah 33:3, 
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, 
which
you do not know.” If you ask Him, He will show you! Have the faith this 
blind man had, knowing that if you ask, He will answer! Luke 18:42, Then 
Jesus
said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And 
immediately he received his sight and followed Him, glorifying God. And all 
the people,
when they saw it, gave praise to God.

My prayer today for each of us is that God will open our eyes to the things 
He would like to show us both in our lives and in His word! You must be open
to it and have faith to believe He will answer! The best is yet to come!

Quote:
“I learned a great many new words that day. I do not remember what they all 
were, but I do know that mother, father, sister, teacher were among them ~
words that were to make the world blossom for me “like Aaron’s rod, with 
flowers.” It would have been difficult to find a happier child than I was as 
I
lay in my bed at the close of that eventful day and lived over the joys it 
had brought me, and for the first time longed for a new day to come.” 
Helen Keller

It Is Well
Marshall Segal / August 8, 2015
It Is Well

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help 
of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it 
is
my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that 
with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether 
by
life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 
(Philippians 1:18–21)

In 1873, a man received a message from his wife, who had sailed with their 
four daughters to Europe, where he had planned to meet them soon. The note 
read,
“Saved alone . . . .” She and the girls had been in a terrible collision at 
sea and their ship had gone down. All four daughters died. It was just the
latest awful news in three horrifying years for the family. They had lost 
their son in 1870, then a massive fire ruined them financially the next 
year,
all before the horrors of the accident at sea.

The man was Horatio Spafford, and as he crossed the sea to meet his grieving 
wife, he penned the words,

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul.

It is well? What could anchor the mind and heart of a man in tragedies like 
these and free him to sing, “well,” when everything he had was lost?

The Hope in Spafford’s Hymn

The key to suffering well, at least for Horatio Spafford, was Christ. This 
father had met, and loved, and enjoyed, and worshiped the man, his Savior, 
Jesus
Christ. And that love was able to carry him across the most violent waves of 
life. He knew the heart of Philippians 1:21, where Paul — a man who suffered
more than most — wrote, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

This Christ, the Son of God, humbled himself to become a flesh-and-bones 
man, like you or me (Philippians 2:7). And being a man — an innocent, 
sinless
man — he humbled himself further to die a sinner’s death in our place on a 
cross (Philippians 2:8). He shed his own blood for my soul. His broken body
and poured out blood paid the debt for my crimes. In the sacrifice of Jesus, 
my sin — not in part, but the whole — is nailed to the cross, and I bear it
no more.

Now, the last note in every loss is joy, because nothing — no news, no one, 
no event, no loss — can take Christ and his love from me. Not even death. 
When
I close these eyes for the very last time, that moment of greatest, deepest 
loss will be, “Gain.” And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight.
We can have peace, and faith, and even joy when we lose everything, because 
we never lose everything. Regardless of what happens here on this earth, we’ll
spend eternity enjoying the God who became like us, gave his life for us, 
rescued us from our sin, and delivers us to a full and never-ending life.

Is It Well?

God has given us a merciful gift in music authored in the midst of great 
tragedy. A song often has the power to express and comfort pain when words 
alone
feel empty. Again and again, “It Is Well” has met and carried saints through 
the worst kinds of suffering, reminding us of the deep, abiding, sovereign
“Well” at the bottom of our joy and life.

Have you known that kind of peace in the midst of chaos in your life? Have 
you felt God’s love when you’ve walked through a tragedy? Is there something
big and strong and comforting at the bottom of your responses to 
discouragement, disappointment, and loss?

In Christ, it can be well for you whatever the circumstance. He died for 
you. He sympathizes with your pain. He stays with you. And he promises to 
deliver
you to himself, where he will forever guard you perfectly from sin, death, 
suffering, and grief.

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

Desiring God partnered with Shane & Shane’s The Worship Initiative
to write short meditations for more than one hundred popular worship songs 
and hymns. The Worship Initiative is an online platform devoted to training
musicians for songwriting and worship leading.

This meditation was written to accompany the song “It Is Well” which is 
included in
The Worship Initiative, 

Have You Discovered the Best Stress Reliever?
“But Jesus would often go to some place where he could be alone and 
pray”—Luke 5:16 (CEV).
When I arrived at a neighbor’s house recently, she was on hold with a 
company, trying to get help with a refrigerator problem. Hanging up after a 
bit,
she asked me to take a look at the temperature gauge in the freezer section. 
Since her refrigerator is a newer model, the gauge is digital. I tried my
best to figure it out but was unable to help.

Concerned about the frozen foods thawing out, my friend redialed the company’s 
number. As her phone was on speaker, I could hear the “mechanical” voice
repeat a list of options. One of the final choices was to call a different 
number. My friend had to replay the final message three times before we got
the correct number written down. Eventually, she made contact with a live 
person who was able to solve the problem with her freezer. While the 
solution
was simple, the process she went through to get there was complicated.

Our lives have become more complicated in the 21st century. While technology 
has, in some instances, made things easier, in other ways it has contributed
to modern society’s stress levels. With cell phones, computers and 24/7 
cable television, we are kept in a perpetual state of “on” with information 
overload.
Constant stress can lead to severe health issues, including physical, 
mental, emotional and behavioral problems. What if we learned to deal with 
stress
in a biblical way?

Instead of turning to unhealthy habits like overeating and substance abuse, 
including alcohol and drugs, what if we chose the path Jesus took when He 
needed
to escape the pressures of His ministry? Seeking God in solitude was Jesus’ 
habit when the going got rough.

Solitude is a time for being alone with God in complete silence. It means 
doing nothing, not even reading your Bible. Solitude and silence offers an 
opportunity
to focus on your intimacy with Jesus by getting away from all distractions, 
including daily responsibilities, people and especially technology. The 
purpose
of solitude is to privately commune with God — to simply be with your Abba 
Father.

Atlanta pastor Charles Stanley suggests going to the darkest place in your 
house, even a closet, to get rid of all distractions. “God deserves your 
undivided
attention,” Stanley says.

How does solitude help? Stanley offers these benefits of being alone with 
God:
• Makes our days more fruitful.
• Repairs the damage after a stressful day and refuels us emotionally.
• Equips us to face tough times.
• Sometimes creates surprising moments when He unexpectedly answers our 
prayers.
• Strips us of pride; in His presence, we recognize His holiness.
• Protects our health; spending time with Him releases anxiety.
• Gives us a sense of joy, peace and confidence.
• Gives us a greater strength to handle challenges.
• Produces greater trust in God
• Develops a deeper relationship with Him.
Do you want more peace in your life? Solitude with our Heavenly Father is 
the best antidote to stress.

I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to email me with 
your thoughts about this post.
For more inspiration, visit my blog at
carolaround.com
Copyright © 2015 Carol Round, All rights reserved.
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How to Love Others No Matter What
Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of 
Danny Silk’s book
Keep Your Love On: Connection, Communication and Boundaries
(Red Arrow Media, 2013).

In this fallen world where people can be difficult and situations stressful, 
it’s often challenging to love others. Good intentions often give way to 
frustrations
as we face those challenges, preventing us from achieving the loving 
relationships we hope to enjoy.

But God chooses to love all people in all circumstances, and his 
unconditional love can inspire and empower us to choose love in our 
relationships – no
matter what. Loving others even when it’s hard to do so is the most powerful 
choice you can make as a Christian, because it shows people that God – the
source of all love – is really active in the world.

Here’s how you can love others no matter what:

Recognize that you have the power to choose. God will always give you the 
power you need to choose to love others, no matter what they may say or do. 
So
don’t blame others when you fail to put love in action; realize that you’re 
not a victim of other people’s choices. Your love is not dependent on 
whether
or not others love you in return. Instead, your love will prevail no matter 
what when you rely on God to help you act toward others with love.

Commit to the goal of connection in all of your relationships. You’re 
constantly moving either toward or away from other people as you communicate 
with
them. Even when you don’t intend to move away, your relationships will 
naturally become more distant if you neglect intentionally moving toward 
people
by communicating loving messages that will draw you closer together. Study 
the people who are in your life regularly to get to know which of the five 
love
languages (touch, gifts, quality time, acts of service, and words of 
affirmation) best communicates love to them. Then communicate with them as 
often as
you can in ways that make them feel loved, which will also make them feel 
connected to you.

Cast fear out of your relationships to welcome love into them. Fear and love 
have opposite agendas: Fear distances people from each other, while love 
brings
them closer together. Keep in mind that fear comes from the evil side of the 
spiritual realm, while love comes from God himself. The more fear that you
allow to come into your relationships with others, the less love can flow 
freely in those relationships. God wants you to welcome his love into your 
relationships
fully by casting fear out. You can do so by: responding thoughtfully rather 
than reacting thoughtlessly to whatever makes you feel afraid when 
communicating
with others, giving up attempts to control other people and focusing instead 
on controlling your own words and actions, and listening to the Holy Spirit’s
guidance about how best to show love to the people you interact with every 
day. When people hurt you, turn to God for the confidence you need to know 
that
you’ll be okay no matter what, set healthy boundaries with hurtful people, 
but refuse to stop loving them.

Build healthy relationships using the right foundation and pillars. Develop 
healthy relationships with others by building them on the foundation of 
unconditional
acceptance and love, and the pillars of love, honor, self-control, 
responsibility, truth,
faith,
and God’s vision for each relationship.

Communicate honestly to build trust. Aim for the goal of truth in all the 
ways you communicate with people. Ask God to help you understand yourself 
and
tell yourself the truth, so you’ll be able to understand others and be 
honest with them. Set boundaries around your conversations to help them stay 
respectful,
seek to understand people’s needs, and then act in love to meet those needs 
whenever God leads you to do so. You can create a safe place for intimacy 
when
you and others in relationships with you express needs honestly and respond 
to those needs by meet them in appropriate ways.

Use conflict to strengthen your connections in relationships. Conflict is 
inevitable in any relationship, so you can’t avoid it, but you do have the 
power
to respond to it in ways that will strengthen your connections with other 
people. Whenever you experience conflict in a relationship: get your fear 
under
control by refusing to discuss the issues until both of you are able to 
respond to each other calmly, rationally, respectfully, and productively; 
listening
carefully; discovering what the other person needs; telling him or her how 
you’ll try to meet that need; and choosing to believe the best about the 
other
person. You both can then emerge from conflict as more powerful and free 
people who are more confident in your love for each other and more hopeful 
about
your abilities to meet each other’s needs.

Set boundaries around your relationships to honor yourself and others. 
Consider the level of intimacy you have with specific people in your life 
whenever
they ask you to invest time and energy into your relationships with them. 
Keep in mind that the people you’re closest to (such as your spouse, 
children,
and best friends) deserve more of your time and energy than others do. Set 
boundaries with needy people – just as Jesus did during his time on Earth –
in order to prioritize the time and energy God has given you each day 
according to what would best help you fulfill his purposes for your life. 
Learn how
to say “no” to some people at some times so you’ll be free to say “yes” to 
the most important pursuits in your relationships. Require respect in all of
your relationships. When setting boundaries on behaviors, tell others what 
you’re going to do instead of telling them what they have to do. Remember 
that
people believe your actions more than they believe your words. Make sure 
that your choices are defined by the priorities that you have committed 
yourself
to, rather than other people’s choices. The more you set healthy boundaries 
in your relationships, the more you’ll invite respect, honor, trust, and 
love
into those relationships.

Adapted from
Keep Your Love On: Connection, Communication and Boundaries,
copyright 2013 by Danny Silk. Published by Red Arrow Media, Redding, Ca.,
www.redarrowmedia.com.

10 Things “Yahweh” Means

God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the 
God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of 
Jacob,
has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered 
throughout all generations.”
(Exodus 3:15)

God’s name is almost always translated LORD (all caps) in the English Bible. 
But the Hebrew would be pronounced something like "Yahweh," and is built on
the word for "I am."

So every time we hear the word Yahweh, or every time you see LORD in the 
English Bible, you should think: this is a proper name (like Peter or John) 
built
out of the word for “I am” and reminding us each time that God absolutely 
is.

There are at least 10 things the name Yahweh, “I AM,” says about God:

1. He never had a beginning. Every child asks, “Who made God?” And every 
wise parent says, “Nobody made God. God simply is. And always was. No 
beginning.”

2. God will never end. If he did not come into being he cannot go out of 
being, because he is being.

3. God is absolute reality. There is no reality before him. There is no 
reality outside of him unless he wills it and makes it. He is all that was 
eternally.
No space, no universe, no emptiness. Only God.

4. God is utterly independent. He depends on nothing to bring him into being 
or support him or counsel him or make him what he is.

5. Everything that is not God depends totally on God. The entire universe is 
utterly secondary. It came into being by God and stays in being moment by
moment on God's decision to keep it in being.

6. All the universe is by comparison to God as nothing. Contingent, 
dependent reality is to absolute, independent reality as a shadow to 
substance. As
an echo to a thunderclap. All that we are amazed by in the world and in the 
galaxies, is, compared to God, as nothing.

7. God is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He cannot 
be improved. He is not becoming anything. He is who he is.

8. God is the absolute standard of truth and goodness and beauty. There is 
no law-book to which he looks to know what is right. No almanac to establish
facts. No guild to determine what is excellent or beautiful. He himself is 
the standard of what is right, what is true, what is beautiful.

9. God does whatever he pleases and it is always right and always beautiful 
and always in accord with truth. All reality that is outside of him he 
created
and designed and governs as the absolute reality. So he is utterly free from 
any constraints that don't originate from the counsel of his own will.

10. God is the most important and most valuable reality and person in the 
universe. He is more worthy of interest and attention and admiration and 
enjoyment
than all other realities, including the entire universe.

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Today's Devotional

Green Pastures, Quiet Waters

Psalm 23:2-3a – He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside 
quiet waters, he restores my soul. (NIV)

Living in a tiny, remote, northern community requires that we travel a 
minimum of two hours each way to the closest city in order to access many 
vital
services that our small town is unable to provide. We normally make this 
trip twice a month regardless of the weather. For some, it is a trip that 
they
dread. For me, however, it is one which I usually look forward to, as it is 
my green pastures and quiet waters.

Driving along for miles on end, seldom meeting another vehicle, as the road 
loops through the mountains and valleys, beside vast lakes and flowing 
streams,
gives me a sense of treasured, peaceful solitude. And when traversed on a 
dark and starry winter's eve — the empty road nothing more than a silent 
ribbon
amidst a sea of sparkling white, and silver-laden pines — my soul finds its 
healing and restoration as the distance between heaven and earth seems to 
disappear
amidst the glory of God's creation and presence.

Yes, that two-hour trip is my green pastures and quiet waters, but what 
about you? Have you discovered where your green pastures and quiet waters 
are,
and if so, do you treasure them within your heart and visit them often 
enough so that your soul finds its healing and restoration on a regular 
basis amidst
this world's frantic busyness? Or have you let them slip away, and in turn, 
find yourself harassed, discouraged, and depressed? If this is the case, 
then
perhaps, today is the day to renew those precious visits.

If for some reason you have not yet discovered your green pastures and quiet 
waters, maybe today is the day that you will. For God has said:

Matthew 7:7-8 – 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. (NIV)

Prayer: Father God, thank You that with You as our shepherd, we shall lack 
nothing. Thank You that it is You Who makes us to lie down in green 
pastures,
Who leads us beside quiet waters, and Who restores our souls. May we as Your 
children listen and heed Your voice that we might know and find and treasure
the green pastures and still waters that You seek to bless us with amidst 
the busyness of this frantic world. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.

Lynne Phipps <
lynnephipps@hotmail.com>
Atlin, British Columbia, Canada
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Will They Know Us By Our Love?
by Debbie Holloway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

1 John 1:5
Romans 13:8

Choosing What to Keep

Standing beside the van outside the amusement park, Audrey punched the 
digits of her home number. In front of her, the Ferris wheel lights flashed 
colorful
patterns against the night sky.

“Hi, Mom. We’re leaving. Cami’s dad said I’d better call you on his cell 
phone, since it’s late.” Climbing in the van, she buckled up next to Cami. 
“What?
Yeah, we had fun! The new water ride is excellent. And there’s a roller 
coaster now with three loops. We went on bumper cars and go-karts and 
everything!”
Audrey listened for a moment, then said, “Okay. See you soon.” Touching the 
screen, she ended the call.

Cami said, “You didn’t tell her that your favorite ride was broken. Or that 
you lost your arcade money. Or that you got sunburned.”

Audrey laughed. “Well, my mom always says to only remember the good stuff!”

What are you storing up in your heart as you go through each day? Is it 
thankfulness for God’s blessings or bitterness over things that go wrong?

Choose carefully what to keep in your heart. The things you pack in there 
determine the kind of words you say and the kind of person you are.

Bible Verse: The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. –
Matthew 12:34

People in Bible Times: Believers’ hearts should be filled with truth, not 
lies. Peace, not fear. Love, not hatred. Forgiveness, not anger. 
Contentment, not
envy. Joy, not sorrow. Hope, not despair. Faith, not doubt.
Copyright Information
NIV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions: 365 Days of Adventure (Zondervan). © 
2013 by Zondervan. Used with permission. All rights reserved. The book's 
title
must be included when sharing the above content on social media. Visit the
Adventure Bible website


Shelf Life
By Skip Heitzig

Remember the very first cell phones? I'm talking about the ones that were 
the size of a small child—the kind you had to carry around in a wagon. They 
were
pretty cool, weren't they? But over the years, cell phones have become 
smaller and more powerful, and now they can take pictures, access the 
Internet almost
anywhere, and download music and apps. They can call people, too.

But your phone was designed to become obsolete. It's cool today, but the 
company that made it has already anticipated what the next several models 
are
going to be. Your gadget was planned to become outdated so that you'll 
hunger for the next one. It's all part of their scheme, and it works 
incredibly
well. In the same way, the Law was designed by God to have a shelf life. It 
was designed to be temporary. It was designed to become obsolete.

In ancient times, the Jewish people began their study of the Bible in 
Leviticus, a book of the Law, because they wanted to teach their children 
early on
that the way to God is through sacrifice. Every Israelite was required to 
bring a sacrifice of some kind during their life, including the mandatory 
sin
and trespass offerings. It was the business of the priest—the representative 
of the people before God—to offer these sacrifices to God.

But, Hebrews says, "The law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and 
not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, 
which
they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For 
then would they not have ceased to be offered?" (Hebrews 10:1-2).

That's why there was a need for a new covenant. That's why Jesus Christ 
came. Under the new covenant, the sacrifices and the role of the high priest 
were
fulfilled in Him. He made the ultimate sacrifice on the cross, and He is the 
High Priest who presented His blood before the throne of His Father and is
now seated at the right hand of God. Under the new covenant, you can come 
boldly before the throne of God; you don't need a human priest on the earth 
anymore,
because Jesus Christ is the great High Priest.

In other words, the book of Leviticus has lost its punch because Jesus came 
and fulfilled it all. That's the point the writer of Hebrews was making: 
"For
it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins…. 
And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same
sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had 
offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God" 
(Hebrews
10:4, 11-12).

Do you know how significant this is? Priests didn't sit down. They were 
constantly on their feet, standing to minister. They would only sit down 
when they
were off duty and their work was finished. Then they would get back up and 
do the same thing day after day, week after week, month after month, and 
year
after year.

But Jesus made an offering once for all, and He sat down because there were 
no more sacrifices to offer. When He said, "It is finished" (John 19:30), He
meant all of Leviticus, all of the Law. It's over. We don't offer animal 
sacrifices anymore. Our High Priest's offering was so complete that He could 
sit
down at the right hand of His Father.

As believers, we have a joy that's very different from the kind that goes on 
in the world: we celebrate our hero's bloody sacrifice, because that was 
enough
to end the need for any further sacrifices. By accepting Jesus Christ's 
finished work on the cross, we can say, "It was good enough for Him; it's 
good
enough for me." And we can sit down and rest in that once-for-all finished 
work of our great High Priest.

Copyright © 2015 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.
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What Did Your Hands Do Today?
“Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for 
people”—Colossians 3:23 (CEB).

Have you ever closely examined your hands or the hands of another? While 
that might seem like a strange question, a recent devotional made me 
contemplate
my own hands. In a little more than three months, I will celebrate my 62nd 
birthday. When I compare my hands to the smooth unblemished hands of my 
grandchildren,
I try to recall what mine looked like before they became permanently marked 
with the telltale signs of aging.

More important than the appearance of our hands is what they have 
accomplished for God. We can choose to use our hands in worthless pursuits 
designed for
personal gain or we can follow Jesus’ example to serve others.

In June, I was blessed to have my two oldest grandchildren participate in a 
week-long mission through our church’s VBS. Each day, the fifth and 
sixth-graders
took part in a different project to teach them about the importance of 
serving others. One of our day’s activities involved helping at the local 
Meals
on Wheels, a nonprofit dedicated to delivering hot food to shut-ins in 
Claremore. Most of those receiving assistance are the elderly.

My grandson enjoyed that day’s service project so much he volunteered to 
return in July and serve again. Last week, he spent the night with me. After 
breakfast,
we drove to the Meals on Wheels headquarters where Brennan, who had just 
celebrated his 10th birthday the week before, assisted Jack Weyler, 
president
of the nonprofit, to pack the eight meals we would be delivering. Mr. 
Weyler, who is in his mid-80s, is not the oldest volunteer who shows up 
faithfully
to either cook, pack or delivers meals. One volunteer is 92-years-old.

The author of the devotional I mentioned above said, “When I paused to 
ponder my answer (to what did your hands do today?), I realized that what I 
was
doing with my hands was small but worthwhile. On Mondays, I go to the church 
and take apart the large church flower arrangement from the Sunday services
to make small bouquets for the sick, elderly, or lonely members. I spend a 
few hours sorting the flowers and rearranging them. Then someone else 
distributes
them.”

The devotional writer added, “Although my work is a small effort, I know it 
spreads joy and love to people who often feel forgotten.”

Jesus reminds us in Matthew 25:33-40 that what we do for the hungry and 
thirsty, for the strangers and the unclothed as well as those who are ill or 
in
prison, we have done it for one of the least of His brothers and sisters and 
“you have done it for me.”

We can waste our time and money or we can invest it in God’s kingdom. At the 
end, God is not going to ask us what kind of car we drove, how large our 
house
was or how many clothes hung in our closet. His concern is for those we’re 
helping along the way.

What are your hands doing today?

I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to email me with 
your thoughts about this post.
For more inspiration, visit my blog at
carolaround.com
Copyright © 2015 Carol Round, All rights reserved.

Releasing Impossibilities
by Charles R. Swindoll

Matthew 6:25-34

When you face an impossibility, leave it in the hands of the Specialist! 
Refuse to calculate. Refuse to doubt. Refuse to work it out by yourself. 
Refuse
to worry or encourage others to worry. Stand against that.

Instead, say, "Lord, I'm carrying around something I cannot handle. Because 
You are not only able but also willing, take this off my hands. It's 
impossible
to me, but is as nothing with You." Persevering through the pressures of 
impossibilities calls for that kind of confidence.

Now, our problem is that we hold on to our problems. If your Swiss watch 
stops working, you don't sit down at home with a screwdriver and start 
working
on it yourself. You take it to a specialist.

The problem is that the Lord gets all the leftovers after we try to fix 
things ourselves. We make all the mistakes and get things tied into granny 
knots,
then dump it in His lap and say, "Here, Lord."

No! Right at first, say, "It's impossible; I can't handle it, Lord. Before I 
foul it up, it's Yours." He is able to handle it. But we don't usually give
God those chances to "fix" it. We are so totally (and sinfully) confident in 
ourselves that we don't give God the chance to do what He is a real 
Specialist at doing.

If something is humanly impossible, then what in the world are we doing 
trying to pull it off?

Excerpted from
Day by Day with Charles Swindoll,
Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). 
All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

How to Find Your Lifelong Companion
Fear

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope 
in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
(Psalm 42:11)

We must learn to fight despondency. The fight is a fight of faith in future 
grace. It is fought by preaching truth to ourselves about God and his 
promised
future.

This is what the psalmist does in
Psalm 42.
The psalmist preaches to his troubled soul. He scolds himself and argues 
with himself. And his main argument is future grace: “Hope in God! — Trust 
in
what God will be for you in the future. A day of praise is coming. The 
presence of the Lord will be all the help you need. And he has promised to 
be with
us forever.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones believes this issue of preaching truth to ourselves about 
God’s future grace is all-important in overcoming spiritual depression.

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact 
that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take 
those
thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have 
not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the 
problems
of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking . . . yourself is talking to you!

The battle against despondency is a battle to believe the promises of God. 
And that belief in God’s future grace comes by hearing the Word. And so 
preaching to ourselves is at the heart of the battle.
Copyright Information

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


Why It’s Good to Be Bold
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

"Since we have such a hope, we are very bold."
2 Corinthians 3:12
(ESV)

I’m a take-charge chick, so I always thought boldness was a good thing. 
Fearless, confident, adventurous? Yes, please. But when I asked a roomful of 
sisters
in Christ, "Who wants to be bold?" only a few hands shot up.

Uh-oh.

Later, I chatted with some women in the audience, hoping to find out why 
boldness held little appeal to them. One told me, "I don’t want to seem 
pushy."
Another said, "I’m too shy for that." And a third added, "I’m afraid I’ll 
come off as arrogant."

Ah. Now I get it. When we go bold on our own, it can look pretty ugly. 
Demanding, controlling, my-way-or-the-highway. That’s not what we’re 
shooting for.
A steamroller approach doesn’t honor God and seldom gets the job done. We 
don’t want to flatten people; we want to lift them up.

It’s time for boldness to get a makeover, because His Word shows us it’s 
good to be bold.

When the queen of Sheba challenged King Solomon to a battle of wits, she was 
decidedly bold. No other monarch in Scripture dared question the wisest man
on earth. Others came simply to hear Solomon’s wisdom; Sheba came totest it.

After Solomon answered every one of her difficult questions, Sheba 
confessed, "But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my 
own eyes,"
(1 Kings 10:7a,NIV). She came, she saw, she conquered her doubts, and in the end found what 
she was searching for: a God infinitely bolder than she was.

Queen Esther demonstrated great boldness when she approached the throne of 
King Xerxes, saying, "I will go to the king, even though it is against the 
law.
And if I perish, I perish,"
(Esther 4:16b,
NIV). What a role model for women in every century! Before she put her life 
on the line to save her people, she wisely asked them to fast and pray, that
she might be given favor by the king.

Boldness can be a risky business, but only if we do it on our own. When the 
Lord leads the way, we can follow Him without fear, knowing the outcome is
always in His capable hands.

Queens aren’t the only bold souls in Scripture.

When the disciples prepared to share the gospel, they prayed, "Enable your 
servants to speak your word with great boldness,"
(Acts 4:29b,
NIV). They knew they couldn’t drum up boldness on their own, so they called 
on God to help them be unafraid and unapologetic.

The Lord quickly answered the disciples’ prayer: "And they were all filled 
with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly,"
(Acts 4:31b,
NIV). Boldness is really about God, then, and not about us. Rather than a 
personality trait, it’s an attribute of the Holy Spirit.

Even if we don’t have a leadership role like Sheba or Esther, we can be bold 
because of the One who empowers us. When God resides in us and works through
us, His strength sustains us. As our key verse today says, "Therefore, since 
we have such a hope, we are very bold."

What might boldness look like in our day-to-day lives?

Starting a home Bible study and inviting neighbors who don’t know God. 
Praying with a stranger who has just shared her struggles with you. Visiting 
a women’s
prison with a group from your church and sharing God’s love.

When we let His boldness pour through us, we’ll discover, "He crowns the 
humble with victory,"
(Psalm 149:4b,
NIV). God gives us a different sort of crown from the queen of Sheba’s gold 
one, but it shines far brighter. And it shines forever.

Heavenly Father, I want to do bold things for You, but fear of others often 
gets in the way. Help me care more about serving You than pleasing people.
When I hold back, nudge me forward. When I get scared, banish my fears with 
the assurance of Your love. Strengthen my heart and mind so I can boldly 
share
Your truth with those who are hurting. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 28:1,
"The righteous are as bold as a lion." (NIV)

1 Corinthians 16:13,
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." (NIV)
1 Corinthians 12:4–11

The apostle Paul talks about the gifts and callings of God.

Qualified by God

God not only chooses us for himself—he also chooses us to do his good works 
on earth. The amazing thing is that throughout Scripture and history it 
seems
God has chosen the most seemingly unlikely and unqualified people to fulfill 
his plan and purpose on the earth. Most often, the response of those people
has been to insist on their own unworthiness. And if they don’t—the people 
around them may do so, loudly and shrilly. And therein lies a danger: If we
allow other people to tell us what we are and are not qualified to do, we 
will limit what God wants to do with us. We may never get to those who need 
our help.

What is impossible with people is possible with God. We just have to believe 
that God has called us to go into the world in his name, and not listen to
the crippling or even paralyzing labels and limitations imposed on us by 
others. Whom God calls, he qualifies—and he chooses everybody to do 
something
specific, something that is part of his design. In fact, the Bible shows us 
that since the beginning of time, God has chosen the unlikely to do the 
unimaginable:

• God called Moses, who was nearly eighty years old at the time, to tell 
Pharaoh to free God’s people (Exodus 3–4).
But Moses insisted that he was not eloquent and no one would listen to him.
• God called Gideon “a mighty warrior,” and told him to save his people, who 
were being relentlessly ransacked by their enemies (
Judges 6–8).
But Gideon, who at the time God called him was working in a hidden place 
because he feared the enemy, couldn’t imagine how God could use a coward to 
fight for his people.
• God called Jeremiah, a teenager, to deliver news to the Jewish people, but 
Jeremiah feared that, as young as he was, he wouldn’t be taken seriously.

Moses, Gideon, and Jeremiah would have missed out on their moment in history 
if they’d been allowed to get by with those excuses. We wouldn’t even know
their names. We know who they were because God refused to accept their 
excuses and insisted they accept his assignment—and then provided them 
everything they needed to succeed in it.

Point to Ponder

Are you declining God’s mission for your life because you claim you’re not 
up to it? Don’t sell yourself short. God qualifies those he calls. Will you
prepare your heart to accept your appointment with destiny?
Copyright Information
Devotions by Christine Caine, Copyright © 2012 by Christine Caine and Equip 
& Empower Ministries.

The Fruits of Worship

Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit 
of our lips giving thanks to His name. - Hebrews 13:15

Did you know that there will be many times that you will not "feel" like 
worshiping? Perhaps you have had so many disappointing experiences in the 
past
that you think it is hardly worth it because there is such a low sense of 
the power of God. Even so, you still need to offer the sacrifice of worship 
to
God.

The sacrifice of worship gets offered to God himself. It is vital that you 
join other saints to amplify your worship. When we are gathered for genuine
worship, we are like a heap of burning coals encouraging one another to 
warmth of love and devotion. One log by itself cannot burn for very long, 
but when
many logs are put together, even if they are poor logs, they can make quite 
a fire. Remember the counsel of
Proverbs 27:17
that iron sharpens iron. Even rather dull lives can help each other if they 
are willing to try.

Go to church-even if you do not feel like it.
Go to church-even if worship has been discouraging and dry before.
Go to church-praying.
Go to church-expecting.
Go to church-looking for God to do a new and living work among you as His 
family.

The sacrifice of worship deepens repentance. Resentments cannot be held with 
the same tenacity when we enter His gracious light. As Jesus says, if we 
have
broken fellowship with another person, we need to leave our gift at the 
altar and go set the matter straight. Christ is very explicit about this: 
"If you
bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has 
something against you, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and 
offer your
gift"
(Matthew 5:23-24).
In worship, an increased power steals its way into the heart sanctuary and 
an increased compassion grows in the soul.

The sacrifice of worship bears the fruit of obedience. Just as worship 
begins in holy expectancy, it ends in holy obedience. If worship does not 
propel
us into greater obedience, it has not been worship. To stand before the Holy 
One of eternity is to change: Rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no 
confidence
in the flesh
(Philippians 3:3).

The sacrifice of worship widens our ministry. Holy Spirit-prompted ministry 
saves worship from becoming an escape from the pressing needs of the real 
people
around us. Worship enables us to hear the call to service clearly so that we 
respond like Isaiah. When Isaiah had the vision of our majestic, holy, and
righteous God sitting on His throne, full of all His glory, he was instantly 
brought to his knees with a sense of his total unworthiness (see
Isaiah 6:1-8).
He was humbled; there was no more room for pride. His worship of the Most 
High God produced repentance, obedience, and finally, ministry, as he cried 
out,
"Here I am, Lord! Send me!" Though still very conscious of his sin, he had 
been prepared to serve anywhere, anytime, anyhow, or anyway God directed 
because
he was completely submitted to God's will.

How would you evaluate your worship? Are you sensing that God is preparing 
you to serve anywhere, anytime, anyhow, or anyway as He directs? Are you 
willing
to submit to that will?

To continue reading this message, please
click here. http://www.crosswalkmail.com/dthdpstmdgdftjmnfrkwlfzltsfjhkkjgctlppnrsttrtdt_ozwwzkrzkjkm.html
For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit
discoverthebook.org.

July 31, 2015
Judging

By Skip Heitzig

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you 
will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to 
you"
(Matthew 7:1-2).

I frequently hear people abuse that Scripture, and I find I need to point 
this out whenever we talk about judgment. "Judge not, that you be not 
judged"
doesn't mean you can't be discerning or that you can't offer a critique. But 
there are some circles where if you voice a strong opinion, disagree, 
dissent,
or evaluate for any reason at all, that's what you hear: "Judge not…."

That verse is not referring to discernment; it's speaking of condemnation. 
Jesus says "Judge not," and only a little later He says, "Beware of false 
prophets"
(v. 15). How can you watch out for false prophets unless you identify 
them—and that's a judgment? You have to make some discerning, discriminatory 
judgment.

Elijah passed that kind of critique on the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel 
in 1 Kings 18. Paul the apostle did it to the Judaizers (see Galatians 
2:11-21).
So, Matthew 7:1 is speaking of a contemptuous condemnation, not a passing of 
righteous judgment. And, by the way, Jesus commanded, "Do not judge 
according
to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24).

Unfortunately, however, one of the easiest habits to acquire is criticizing. 
And it's hard to stop! Once you start going down that path, it's kind of 
fun—your
flesh loves it. It's true that there's a lot wrong in this world and in the 
church, but being critical is one path you don't want to go down, because 
you
will become trapped.

We can make snap judgments because we don't have all the information. Let's 
say you're at a restaurant and you see a young couple enjoying a big meal.
You know they're struggling, and you think, What are they doing here? They 
can't afford this. Well, maybe somebody gave them a gift certificate; it's 
none
of your business.

Or you visit someone and notice a lot of clutter. "Boy, she keeps a really 
messy house!" you say. Could it be she's sacrificing the time to clean it to
spend time with her family? You don't know. Or maybe you call someone at 11 
am and he's still in bed. You decide, "This guy's a lazy bum!" But maybe he
works a job that requires him to sleep during the day.

The Bible tells us, "He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly 
and shame to him" (Proverbs 18:13). It's foolish to respond without all the
information.

John Stott offers these words: "What we are often doing is seeing our own 
faults in others and judging them vicariously. That way, we experience the 
pleasure
of self-righteousness without the pain of penitence." The Bible has a word 
for that: hypocrisy. So be very careful in your judgments. Oftentimes, what
seems like a righteous judgment is anything but!

Copyright © 2015 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Daily Devotional
Riding to Glory - #7454

I met a man from St. Joseph, Missouri, and I surprised him with my trivia 
knowledge when I said, "Oh, Pony Express country, right?" He confirmed my 
recollection
that his town was the beginning of the famous Pony Express. What guys those 
were! Man, they rode their way right into the history books. They're 
practically
legends of the Old West. I mean, they rode endless hours through hostile 
territory, risked their lives to deliver the mail to the West Coast. You 
knew
that part. What you may not know is how many guys we're talking about here 
in this legendary operation-just 80 riders, and only one mail delivery was 
ever
lost. How long did the Pony Express run? Only 18 months! It only took a few 
people a short time to make a great impact!

Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about 
"Riding to Glory."

For most of us, our ride through this life will last, what do they say on 
average, 70 years or so? Some will get more, some a lot less. The question 
is
how much of a mark will you leave in the years you have left? I think inside 
all of us is this deep desire to make our life count, to do something 
significant
while we're here.

Maybe you know that restlessness that says, "I want to make a much greater 
difference with the rest of my life than I have made up until now." Then you
need to hear our word for today from the Word of God in Daniel 12:3. It's 
God's roadmap to making the greatest possible mark you can make with the one
life you have. Here's what it says. "Those who lead many to righteousness 
will shine like the stars forever and ever." Wow!

God says the way to have a life that matters forever is to "lead many to 
righteousness." And this side of Jesus' cross, we know that means leading 
many
people to Jesus. Now what immortalized those young men of the Pony Express? 
They were people with a message willing to risk whatever necessary to 
deliver
that message. And they made a huge mark in a very short time.

If you belong to Jesus, you've got to see your life-assignment like God 
does. You're a person with a message to deliver. The significance of your 
life
depends on how faithful you are in delivering it. In 2 Corinthians 5:19, the 
Bible says, "God has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are
therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through 
us." The message: "Come to Jesus and get the relationship with God you were
made for." The assignment: "ambassador"-Jesus' personal representative to 
the people where you work, or live, or go to school, or shop, or recreate. 
You're
there by assignment from God to help some of those people be in heaven with 
you.

How are you doing? Maybe you say, "Well, I'm afraid to tell them about what 
Jesus did on the cross for them. I might mess it up." God doesn't need your
perfect presentation to reach the heart of the person you care about. He 
does need for you to tell them about your Jesus. The only way you can fail 
in
your mission is to remain silent.

Maybe you're not delivering your message because you fear the risks-the risk 
of building a relationship with someone who's lost, or getting started, of
being rejected. But the Bible says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear." 
Please let God show you that the greatest risk of all is that you will lose
this person forever because they never got the message about Jesus. Isn't 
that a greater fear what might happen to them than what could happen to you 
if
you do tell them?

Like those heroic Pony Express riders, if you'll dedicate your life to 
delivering your life-giving message, if you'll risk whatever it takes to get 
that
message through, then your heart-cry for a life that counts is going to be 
answered big-time. As you lead people to Jesus, you are riding to 
glory-eternal glory.
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nourish

What Would Jesus Do?

A quick reading of the New Testament will give you an easy answer to that 
question. The scene is Jesus with His disciples. The mother of James and 
John,
identified in the text as “the mother of Zebedee’s sons,” addresses Jesus. 
She speaks boldly to Him: “Promise that these two sons of mine may sit, one
on Your right and the other on Your left, in Your kingdom” (Matt. 20:21).

Jesus quickly tells her that she has no idea what she’s talking about. Then 
the other ten disciples become indignant at James and John. It’s a fight 
ready
to happen.

But Jesus calls a time-out. The text literally says, “He called them over” 
(Matt. 20:25).


Now read carefully Jesus’ response to all twelve disciples. It is powerful.

He began, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the 
men of high position exercise power over them. It must not be like that 
among
you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your 
slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and 
to
give His life—a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:25–28).

Did you get that? Did you understand the full import of Jesus’ words?

May I put the essence of these words in a modern vernacular for church 
members today? I hope you won’t be too offended.

“Hey, church members: I know that the world says put yourself first. Look 
after number one. But that’s not the way you are supposed to do it. Stop 
complaining
about the music style and what you want. Stop demanding church leaders to do 
things the way you would like them to be. Stop trying to get your way in 
church
business meetings. Instead, put others first. Put your desires last. Become 
a servant instead of a whiner and complainer.”

Jesus then offers Himself as an example for serving. Instead of coming to 
Earth as a political king, Jesus came to serve. Indeed His service would go 
all
the way to the cross. He became sin. He took on our sin. He was crucified on 
that bloody cross of His own volition. He served you and me by dying for us.

We church members must cease and desist becoming “I want” members and become 
“I will” members.

We must serve instead of demanding our way.

That’s what Jesus said. And that’s what Jesus would do.

Paul specialized in selflessness. I would love for him to come to one of our 
rancorous church meetings and have a few words. I don’t think he would be
shy about addressing self-serving motives and actions.

Philippians is my favorite letter he wrote to a church. Note that some form 
of the word joy appears in the brief letter fourteen times. It is indeed the
letter of joy.

And what was Paul doing to experience such joy? He was in prison. He was 
facing death. He was concerned about the churches. And, in the midst of it 
all,he was joyous.

The apostle explains the basis for his joy. Indeed in Philippians 2:5–11, he 
tells us that true joy comes from having an attitude like Jesus. And lest
we doubt the meaning of Jesus’ attitude, Paul says that the attitude took 
Him to “becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross” 
(Phil.2:8).

It is with that context that Paul explains how we are to respond to one 
another in our churches: “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in 
humility
consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out 
not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil.
2:3–4).

Paul made it clear.

Jesus made it clear.

We are to serve. That is the basis for joy. And that is what church members 
should do.
----------------------------------------------------------
Excerpted from I Will by Thom Rainer
Excerpted from I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian by Thom S. Rainer
© 2015 LifeWay Christian Resources,

Wings
by Charles R. Swindoll

Mark 6

"Grab here, amigo." I grabbed. "Hold on tight, por favor." I held on. "When 
you come back toward the shore and I blow whistle, you pull cord pronto!" 
Within
seconds I was airborne. A loud "whoosh," a long strong jerk, and I was three 
hundred feet or so above the picturesque beach at Puerto Vallarta.

You guessed it . . . my first try at parasailing. Four-and-a-half minutes of 
indescribable ecstasy sandwiched between a few seconds of sheer panic. Talk
about fun!

Above me was the bluest, clearest sky you could imagine. Behind me was a 
full-blown dazzling red-and-white parachute. Down in front, attached to my 
harness
and a long yellow rope, was a speedboat at full throttle. Below, the 
turquoise sea, various sailing vessels, a long row of hotels, sun bathers 
the size
of ants, and one beautiful lady wondering if she would soon be a widow.

I must confess, for those few minutes I forgot everything else. Never, since 
childhood, have I felt quite so free, so unencumbered, so completely removed
from others' expectations and my own responsibilities.

I like to think that might be the true, authentic, carefree kind of leisure 
and relaxation Jesus had in mind when He encouraged His twelve to come apart
and rest awhile.

How easily we forget the necessity of recreation; how quickly we discount 
its value! In our neurotic drive for more, more, more, we become all roots 
and
no wings.

Life closes in and takes the shape of a chore instead of a challenge. Fun 
and laughter, originally designed by God to remove the friction of monotony 
from
the machinery of existence, begin to be viewed as enemies instead of 
friends. Intensity, that ugly yet persuasive twin of hurry, convinces us we 
haven't
the right to relax . . . we must not take time for leisure . . . we can't 
afford such rootless, risky luxury. Its message is loud, logical, sensible, 
strong,
and wrong.

We all need roots and wings. But most of us are long on the former and short 
on the latter.

Expand your world, free your mind, and calm your nerves. Don't wait! Quit 
worrying about the risk or complaining about the cost.

Take time to soar!

Sometimes say out loud to yourself: "This is for my good and for God's 
glory, even though I cannot begin to explain it."

Excerpted from
Day by Day with Charles Swindoll,
Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). 
All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

How to Find Your Lifelong Companion
Fear
© 2015 Insight for Living. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Seven Subtle Symptoms of Pride
Fabienne Harford / July 14, 2015
Seven Subtle Symptoms of Pride

Pride will kill you. Forever. Pride is the sin most likely to keep you from 
crying out for a Savior. Those who think they are well will not look for a
doctor.

As seriously dangerous as pride is, it’s equally hard to spot. When it comes 
to diagnosing our heart, those of us have the disease of pride have a 
challenging
time identifying our sickness. Pride infects our eyesight, causing us to 
view ourselves through a lens that colors and distorts reality. Pride will 
paint
even our ugliness in sin as beautiful and commendable.

We can’t conclude that we don’t struggle with pride because we don’t see 
pride in our hearts. The comfortable moments that I find myself on the back 
for
how well I am doing are the moments that should alarm me the most. I need to 
reach for the glasses of Christ-like humility, remembering that nothing good
dwells in my flesh, and search my heart for secret pride and its symptoms.

In his essay on [undetected 
pride][(http://www.grace-abounding.com/Articles/Sin/Pride_Edwards.htm), 
Jonathan Edwards points out seven sneaky symptoms of
the infection of pride.

1. Fault-Finding

While pride causes us to filter out the evil we see in ourselves, it also 
causes us to filter out God’s goodness in others. We sift them, letting only
their faults live in our perception of them.

When I’m sitting in a sermon or studying a passage, it’s pride that prompts 
the terrible temptation to skip the Spirit’s surgery on my own heart and 
instead
draft a mental blog post or plan a potential conversation for the people who 
“really need to hear this.”

Edwards, writes,

The spiritually proud person shows it in his finding fault with other saints 
. . . . The eminently humble Christian has so much to do at home and sees
so much evil in his own that he is not apt to be very busy with other 
hearts.

2. A Harsh Spirit

Those who have the sickness of pride in their hearts speak of others’ sins 
with contempt, irritation, frustration, or judgment. Pride is crouching 
inside
our belittling of the struggles of others. It’s cowering in our jokes about 
the ‘craziness’ of our spouse. It may even be lurking in the prayers we 
throw
upward for our friends that are — subtly or not — tainted with exasperated 
irritation.

Again Edwards, “Christians who are but fellow-worms ought at least to treat 
one another with as much humility and gentleness as Christ treats them.”

3. Superficiality

When pride lives in our hearts, we’re far more concerned with others’ 
perception of us than the reality of our hearts. We fight the sins that have 
an impact
on how others view us, and make peace with the ones that no one sees. We 
have great success in the areas of holiness that have highly visible 
accountability,
but little concern for the disciplines that happen in secret.

4. Defensiveness

Those who stand in strength of Christ’s righteousness alone find a confident 
hiding place from the attacks of men and Satan alike. True humility is not
knocked off balance and thrown into a defensive posture by challenge or 
rebuke, but instead continues in doing good, entrusting the soul to our 
faithful
creator.

Edwards says, “For the humble Christian, the more the world is against him, 
the more silent and still he will be, unless it is in his prayer closet, and
there he will not be still.”

5. Presumption Before God

Humility approaches God with humble assurance in Christ Jesus. If either the 
“humble” or the “assurance” are missing in that equation, our hearts very
well might be infected with pride. Some of us have no shortage of boldness 
before God, but if we’re not careful we can forget that he is God.

Edwards writes, “Some, in their great rejoicing before God, have not paid 
sufficient regard to that rule in Psalm 2:11 — ‘Worship the Lord with 
reverence,
and rejoice with trembling.’”

Others of us feel no confidence before God. Which sounds like humility, but 
in reality it’s another symptom of pride. In those moments, we’re testifying
that we believe our sins are greater than his grace. We doubt the power of 
Christ’s blood and we’re stuck staring at ourselves instead of Christ.

6. Desperation for Attention

Pride is hungry for attention, respect, and worship in all its forms.

Maybe it sounds like shameless boasting about ourselves. Maybe it’s being 
unable to say ‘no’ to anyone because we need to be needed. Maybe it looks 
like
obsessively thirsting for marriage — or fantasizing about a better 
marriage — because you’re hungry to be adored. Maybe it looks like being 
haunted by
your desire for the right car or the right house or the right title at work: 
all because you seek the glory that comes from men, not God.

7. Neglecting Others

Pride prefers some people over others. It honors those who the world deems 
worthy of honor, giving more weight to their words, their wants, and their 
needs.
There’s a thrill that goes through me when people with ‘power’ acknowledge 
me. We consciously or unconsciously pass over the weak, the inconvenient, 
and
the unattractive, because they don’t seem to offer us much.

Maybe more of us struggle with pride than we thought.

There’s good news for the prideful. Confession of pride signals the 
beginning of the end for pride. It indicates the war is already being waged. 
For only
when the Spirit of God is moving, already humbling us, can we remove the 
lenses of pride from our eyes and see ourselves clearly, identifying the 
sickness
and seeking the cure.

By God’s grace, we can turn once again to the glorious gospel in which we 
stand and make much of him even through identifying our pride in all its 
hiding
places inside of us. Just as my concealed pride once moved me toward death, 
so the acknowledgement of my own pride moves me toward life by causing me to
cling more fiercely to the righteousness of Christ.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if 
there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm
139:23–24)

Planned Parenthood: How Much Longer?
Jonathan Parnell / July 14, 2015
Planned Parenthood: How Much Longer?

In one sense, there are really just two types of people when it comes to the 
topic of abortion: those who think it is okay to kill unborn babies, and 
those
who think it’s wrong. If you don’t think you’re in one of these categories, 
you still are; you’re just confused.

Confusion, though, isn’t the most terrible thing. It means there is still 
hope, and in fact, this hopeful condition likely characterizes the general 
public
of the United States. Most people don’t have a deep conviction about unborn 
babies. Most people don’t even think about unborn babies unless it’s an 
election
year or the news runs a story. Even most who support abortion could only 
repeat the rhetoric they’ve heard from devotees.

And therefore, if confusion is what’s really popular, the question becomes:

What will it take for abortion activists to convince the general public that 
their position is a psychotic threat to humanity?

When will the rhetoric about women’s health and women’s rights be exposed 
for what it truly is (since, of course, by women’s “health” and women’s 
“rights”
they must not mean the near 28 million girls aborted since 1973)? What will 
it take? Where is the tipping point when the truth of Planned Parenthood can
no longer be ignored by the popular conscience?

Abortion’s Self-Destruction

Mind-changing momentum is beginning to build, and to our surprise, it’s not 
so much from the direct work of pro-life advocates, but from the unmasked 
mishaps
of abortion activists themselves. Yes, that’s right. They’ve ironically 
stumbled into a suicide mission.

What if, counter-conventional as it might seem, the greatest felt gains for 
unborn humans will come by the abortion industry’s self-destruction?

Last year there was the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains reportedly 
awarded for exceeding their abortion quota. That is to say, in addition to
other reports of such quotas, there was a certain number of abortions that 
the clinic was prescribed to perform and when they surpassed that number 
they
were honored, all of which backfires against the language of abortions as 
safe, legal, and rare.

But that is really nothing compared to the recent video that exposes Planned 
Parenthood for selling the body parts of infant corpses. If the thought of
abortionists high-fiving each other over surpassing their abortion quotas 
doesn’t unsettle you, just watch
the video of Deborah Nucatola chomp her food and sip her wine as she talks 
about selling aborted baby heads.
You can watch
the full two hours and forty minutes of conversation.

Apparently, according to Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of 
Medical Services, not only is abortion “safe, legal, and rare,” but it’s a 
pretty
big money-maker if you can keep those heads and livers in tact as you 
extract the baby feet first.

How Much Longer, America?

Once again, we’re not supposed to know about this industry. Planned 
Parenthood doesn’t want us to know, especially since it’s illegal.
But we do know.
And if we open our eyes, we’ll never think the same way again about their 
organization and their little tagline, “Care. No matter what.” Care? They 
receive
millions of taxpayer dollars, and our president tells them to keep up “the 
good work” — to butcher babies and sell their body parts? Care?

Sooner or later, Planned Parenthood, the conviction-less masses are going to 
start scratching their heads. Please, just keep talking. Just keep doing 
what
you do. The lights are coming on, and you’ve got nowhere to hide.

The question for the rest of us is how long it is before we feel the 
cumulative effect. How much time will we give the abortion industry before 
they self-destruct?
How much longer, America? How long are we going to let this go on? How many 
more conversations need to leak? How much more blood must be spilt? How many
more body parts must be dismembered, packaged, and sold before we realize 
this whole thing is a nightmare? God, may it end soon.


Too Depressed to Believe What We Know
Marshall Segal / July 14, 2015
Too Depressed to Believe What We Know

Depression of some kind darkens the door of most Christians.

It’s a spiritual or emotional fog that stubbornly clouds our hope and 
happiness. It might last for a couple hours, or for years. It might be 
brought on
by a specific traumatic experience or a broken relationship, or it might be 
less traceable, more difficult to explain. Some cases are clinical and 
require
special attention, but lots of others are just part of everyday life in a 
broken and failing world.

While many are lost to their depression — helplessly wandering in their own 
darkness — Christians have somewhere to turn, truths to rehearse until our
hearts catch up with the faith in our minds. Not only did Christ save and 
deliver the broken-hearted, but he experiences all the pains and temptations
we face and more. At the cross, he dove headfirst into the darkness, so that 
we might have eternal, unfading, always-increasing hope and happiness.

We’ve collected some of our best resources on the topic of depression, as 
well as a few others from around the web. We pray they will be God’s means 
of
bringing his light into your darkness, his hope into your despair.

1.
When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God — 
and Joy
(Book)

Even the most faithful, focused Christians can encounter periods of 
depression and spiritual darkness when joy seems to stay just out of reach. 
It can
happen because of sin, satanic assault, distressing circumstances, or 
hereditary and other physical causes. In
When the Darkness Will Not Lift,
John Piper aims to give some comfort and guidance to those experiencing 
spiritual darkness.

Readers will gain insight into the physical side of depression and spiritual 
darkness, what it means to wait on the Lord in a time of darkness, how 
unconfessed
sin can clog our joy, and how to minister to others who are living without 
light. Piper uses real-life examples and sensitive narrative to show readers
abundant reason to hope that God will pull them out of the pit of despair 
and into the light once again.

2.
Battling the Unbelief of Despondency
(Sermon)

The Psalms speak again and again to those walking through darkness. In this 
sermon,
Pastor John unfolds hope, security, and satisfaction in Psalm 73.
What do we do when we come to an end of ourselves — exhausted, depleted of 
resources to handle life’s problems? We remind ourselves of our Treasure in
heaven.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

3.
God Is with You in Depression
(10-Minute Interview)

Author Randy Alcorn is no foreigner to depression. He has journeyed through 
dark seasons — once for four months on end — and offers this word of hope to
the Christian:
“God is there with you in the depression.”
Don’t wait till the depression passes to seek God, advises Alcorn. He’s not 
waiting for you to come out of it before walking with you, but he’s eager
to walk with you in the midst of it.

4.
What Does Christian Hedonism Offer the Depressed?
(Ask Pastor John Podcast)

In four minutes,
Pastor John reads from and explains Psalm 139
to try and offer comfort and hope for those in the midst of depression. 
David writes, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light 
about
me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as 
the day, for darkness is as light with you” (Psalm 139:11–12). He ends with
a powerful example from his pastoral ministry.

5.
The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John 
Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd
(Book)

John Bunyan suffered long-term imprisonment and was moved to rely on God 
even more. Despite month after month of debilitating depression, William 
Cowper’s
poetry reflected the sustaining character of God and led him to worship more 
deeply. David Brainerd so desired to honor God that through the loneliness
of wilderness ministry and the agony of tuberculosis, he pressed on, 
transforming world missions forever.
Their stories and witness in this book
will inspire in you a similar passion for the supremacy of God in your life, 
even in dark and depressing times.

6.
Spiritual Depression in the Psalms
(Sermon)

In this sermon,
Pastor John preaches a series of six steps
for walking through seasons of darkness in our lives, following David’s 
example in Psalm 42. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in 
turmoil
within me? Hope in God” (Psalm 42:5).

Piper says,

It’s not wrong to want relief from the darkness and to pray for it. It is 
sometimes right to pray for the defeat of enemies. But more important than 
any
of that is God himself. When we think and feel with God in the Psalms, this 
is the main result: We come to love God, and we want to see God and be with
God and be satisfied in admiring and exulting in God.

The sermon also draws on Martin Lloyd-Jones’s classic book by the same 
title,
Spiritual Depression.
Lloyd-Jones exhorts us to preach to ourselves: “Have you realized that most 
of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to 
yourself
instead of talking to yourself?” (20).

7.
Hope for the Despairing Heart
(Article)

Christina Fox has battled depression on and off since adolescence, beginning 
with one difficult year when her grandmother passed away, she switched 
schools,
and lost several close friendships. Now a trained counselor,
she shares the seed of hope
that put her on a trajectory of healing. There are promises deeper and more 
powerful than your pain and depression.

8.
God’s Beauty for the Bored, Busy, and Depressed
(Article)

This article/interview with Dane Ortlund addresses several broken conditions 
of the human heart by highlighting how God’s beauty brings freedom and 
healing
in our busyness, temptations, boredom, and depression. In the last section 
of the article (“Beauty and Depression”),
Ortlund offers six pieces of pastoral counsel to the depressed.
And it’s all presented through the lens of Jonathan Edwards’s preaching and 
ministry.

9.
Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness
(Book by Ed Welch)

Where is God in the struggle? Looking away from despair towards hope can 
feel risky. What if God doesn’t come through for you? What if you don’t feel 
instantly
better? Instead of offering simple platitudes or unrealistic “cure-all” 
formulas, Edward T. Welch, a biblical counselor at
CCEF
(the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation) who specializes in 
these matters,
addresses the complex nature of depression
with compassion and insight, applying the rich treasures of the gospel, and 
giving fresh hope to those who struggle.

10.
Battling Depression . . . Redemption, Medication, and Christ
(4-Minute Video)

We asked Ed Welch
what role antidepressant medications can and should play in people’s lives 
who are battling with depression. He answers and concludes with a challenge
to pastors — and to everyone who seeks to care for those suffering from 
depression — to magnify Christ and to maintain focus on the life and hope we 
have
in him.

11.
The Darkness of Depression
(40-Minute Audio Interview)

What is a biblical understanding of depression?
Is it simply a biochemical malfunction? In this podcast, Russell Moore is 
joined by the CCEF’s David Powlison for a helpful conversation on the 
subject.

Apple Cider
by Dean W. Masters

Isaiah 55:1 - Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who 
have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and 
without cost. (NASB)

On a hot, fall day our high school marching band took part in the Apple 
Festival in Chilhowie, Virginia, USA. We marched in a parade, then waited 
around for our time to compete in the field competition. After that parade, 
I was hot and thirsty. I went to a vendor who had cans of soft drinks. The 
one I bought was good and cold, but it did not quench my thirst. Then I saw 
a vendor who had bottles of ice cold apple cider. I bought one of those, and 
that hit the spot.

We are created with a spiritual thirst, but most people don't know what will 
quench that thirst. We may try different things, activities, or 
relationships, but they don't quench it completely. Disappointed, we go on 
to something else which we think might fill that need in us. But Jesus 
Christ is the only one who can really quench our spiritual thirst.

There is a cost to what we *think* will quench our thirst: possessions, 
adventures, relationships. But what *will* quench our spiritual thirst is 
free: the cost is not ours to pay. But to quench this thirst it cost Jesus 
Christ His life. He gave His life so we could be filled without cost.

Matthew 5:6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for 
they shall be satisfied. (NASB)

Let us all partake of Jesus Christ to quench our spiritual thirst. And let 
us share Him with others so they may know what will truly quench their 
thirst.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, we thank You for giving Your life for us. Thank 
You for offering Yourself to quench our thirst. Help us to continually drink 
from Your supply. Help us to let others know that You are the only One who 
can quench their thirst. Amen.
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nourish

Time to Move from "I Am" to "I Will"

Your attitude determines who you are: I am joyous. I am angry. I am 
grateful. I am jealous.

You get the picture. Our attitudes are the foundations of our actions. If I 
am joyous, I will tend to be an encouraging person. If I am angry, I will 
tend
to be a critical person.


To help illustrate this point, let me talk about my marriage to Nellie Jo 
from my own perspective.

Let’s presume I have all the healthy attitudes in place. I love her 
unconditionally. I focus on her strengths more than her weaknesses. I am 
grateful for
her, for the gift from God that she is to me.

And that’s it.

I never serve her. I never ask her out for a date. I never offer her words 
of encouragement. I rarely spend time with her.

So what would Nellie Jo think of my good attitudes? She would rightly think 
they are contrived and insincere. She would doubt my commitment. She would
wonder if I am truly committed to our marriage.

Maybe many of you reading this have a good attitude about your church. Maybe 
you are not in the group that whines, complains, nags, and pouts. Maybe your
heart is really in the right place.

So here is my simple question. Is your attitude reflected in your actions? 
In case you are wondering where I am headed with this question, let me offer
you an example.

Several years ago, we considered the most active church members who attended 
church around three times a week. They might attend a Sunday morning Bible
study or a Sunday morning worship service. Others might return for Sunday 
evening events or Wednesday activities.

Do you know how much that perspective has changed in just a few years? 
Today, many pundits define an active church member as someone who attends 
church
events or services at least three times a month.

Did you get that? An active church member has now been re-defined from three 
times a week to three times a month!

I can anticipate potential objections, “Don’t make this matter a legalistic 
obligation! We don’t need an activity checklist to be close to God!”
I understand. But let me ask you this question. Would your spouse think you 
are still devoted to him or her if you decided to reduce your time with him
or her by 75 percent? That’s what is happening with even some of our most 
committed church members.

It’s time.

It’s time for a decision.

It’s time for a church membership revolution.

Not because we are legalistically obligated. Not because we equate 
activities to commitment. But because a great attitude toward your church, 
the bride
of Christ, will result in great actions for her.

Will you join me in this revolution? Will you prayerfully consider giving 
your life’s all to commitment to Christ through His church? Will you be a 
part
of a movement that will change the world as the body of Christ unites in 
force with renewed effort and renewed zeal?

It’s time.

Christ is calling all church members to forsake self and to serve others for 
His sake. In doing so, our church becomes our priority and our focus as it
was in the New Testament.

Listen carefully to this call of God. Listen to how you can discern your 
commitment in His church. And when you begin to understand the action plans 
He
has set before you, be prepared to respond with two simple words.

I will.
--------------------------------------
Excerpted from I Will by Thom Rainer
Excerpted from
I Will: Nine Traits of the
Outwardly Focused Christian
by Thom S. Rainer

©2015 by Doulos.

Welcome to the Nugget

August 21, 2015

My Murphy's Law Vacation
By Answers2Prayer
Murphy's law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Not exactly the descriptor most people would like to attach to their 
vacation notes, but I couldn't help calling our recent trip to Scotland by 
this name.
It all started out with a 15 minute thunderstorm in London's Heathrow 
airport that prohibited thousands of flights from landing and taking off. As 
a result,
we finally arrived at Heathrow well after our connecting flight to Scotland 
was scheduled to leave. This affected thousands of travelers, and it was 
well
into the next day before we were able to rebook our flight to Scotland. By 
this time, we had already missed our connector flight to the Orkneys, and 
the
only way for us to catch up to our itinerary was to cancel the entire 
eastern part of our Scotland visit. Naturally, this resulted in hundreds of 
lost
dollars for flights, hotels, and rental cars. Then, when we finally did 
arrive in Scotland, our bag did not, and it took it four days to catch up to 
us.
Of course, this was the bag containing all our toiletries, our electronic 
chargers, and naturally, my medication...

I could go on and tell you about the narrow Scottish roads, the accident 
that blocked the only road to our destination for over 6 hours, the midges, 
and
naturally, the incessant rain, but you would likely get bored by the end of 
the saga.

I had been feeling kind of cheated out of our wonderful vacation when I read 
the story of someone whose vacation turned out even worse than mine. This
gentleman's vehicle was caught up in a horrible storm for over two weeks, 
only to be wrecked on an uncivilized island, causing over 3 months of delay.
He lost his bags too, and they never did catch up to him. During his first 
24 hours on the island, he was accused of being cursed, he was bitten by a 
deadly
snake, and it took him nearly a year to end up at his final destination, 
which was, by the way, Rome. And did I mention that he was in chains for the 
entire
trip?

In case you haven't recognized this man's story, you can read it in
Acts 27 and 28.
His name was...Paul.

Don't these stories sound a bit like our own? We find our lives have come to 
a sudden standstill, shipwrecked on a desert island called "illness," or 
"job
loss" or "divorce" or "abuse" or "victimization," and we find ourselves 
stranded with no way to ever again catch up to our itineraries. We feel 
cheated,
frustrated, tempted to ask, "Why God? Why did You let this happen?"

If you read the story of Paul carefully, however, you will not find any 
record of complaint. He doesn't get upset, there's no bitterness, no cursing 
God,
no "Why God, why me?" In fact, we see Paul encouraging the men in the storm, 
shaking off the deadly viper, healing the governor's father as well as many
other sick people on the island, and we can be sure that when Paul left, the 
entire population of this island knew about Jesus.

Maybe we could learn some important lessons from Paul about using our 
less-than-ideal circumstances as jumping boards for blessing others, for 
demonstrating
the love and power of God for all people...What do you think?

"...who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort 
those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are 
comforted
by God." (2Cor 1:4, NKJV)

Maybe I should rename my "Murphy's Law" vacation to Scotland as my "God's 
blessing" vacation...Oh, and the travel insurance my husband insists on 
taking
out before each trip is actually worthwhile...

In His love,
Lyn

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

Announcement:

Feeling like you're going through a wilderness experience? Join us on 
Thursdays for "Streams in the Desert", a Mini-Series by Suresh Manoharan.

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

A God Worth Repeating in Worship
Nick Roen / July 18, 2015
A God Worth Repeating in Worship

Today, I read the most repetitive praise song I’ve ever encountered in my 
life. It repeats the same line twenty-five times. In fact, that line makes 
up
half of all the lyrics!

As a worship pastor, part of my job is to read and evaluate the lyrics of 
the songs we sing in worship. I’m looking for theologically rich words that 
we
can easily sing together as a church — rich and simple, deep and memorable. 
Often, a bit of repetition can help a congregation learn and remember a 
song.
But let’s not go overboard, right? We don’t want to sing a song that just 
repeats the same thing ad nauseam. We want depth.

So what repetitive song was I reading this morning?

Psalm 136.

We Repeat to Remember

I found this song in the hymnbook of God’s people, the book of Psalms. What’s 
the ad nauseum line?

“For his steadfast love endures forever.”

Twenty-five times we’re reminded of God’s unending love, each time seeing 
his love in light of his righteous character and mighty deeds. There’s no 
confusion
about which God loves us fully and forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever. 
(Psalm 136:3)

(Give thanks) to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his 
steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:5)

(Give thanks) to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, for his 
steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:10)

(Give thanks) to him who led his people through the wilderness, for his 
steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:16)

(Give thanks) to him who struck down great kings, for his steadfast love 
endures forever. (Psalm 136:17)

Apparently, the psalmist thinks it important for God’s people to repeat the 
love of the Lord. Why is that? What’s the benefit of singing this glorious
truth over and over almost to the point of exhaustion? It is totally 
appropriate to endlessly repeat the endless love of God. God is love in all 
he does
and all he is (1 John 4:8). No matter how many times we have heard it or 
rehearsed it, the love of God is the best news we could receive or share 
again
today.

The main reason we need to rehearse the love of God again and again is 
because we don’t believe it; at least, not naturally. We aren’t naturally 
prone
to believe that God — the God who has always existed in eternal Trinitarian 
fullness, who created the universe out of nothing, who governs the affairs
of Kings, who controls the path of every speck of dust and particle of 
water — that God delights in his people with gladness and rejoices over them 
with
songs of joy (Zephaniah 3:17). It doesn’t naturally make sense that this 
big, sovereign, infinite God would love us, that he would love the world so 
much
that he would send his only Son to die for his people’s eternal joy (John 
3:16).

So we need to repeat it. We need to remind ourselves, to remind each other, 
to sing it to one another, over and over, until we just begin to grasp again
God’s steadfast, eternal, death-conquering love.

A Song Worth Repeating

We often bristle at repetition in our corporate worship. We think it breeds 
superficiality, or creates a false emotional frenzy, or is just plain 
boring.
We have to remember, though, that our hearts are slow to feel. We need to 
remember that, even in our believing, we suffer from unbelief (Mark 9:24). 
We
need to remember to remember. Dwelling on a simple and weighty truth for an 
extended period of time will, at times, be the only way to break through 
spiritual
forgetfulness.

This reality is why we come together for corporate worship. Every week, we 
rehearse the same realities to one another over and over so that our rhythms
of forgetfulness fade (again and again), while our faith rises. We remind 
each other of the familiar old story through song and through preaching, so 
that
we might begin to remember. We continue to admonish, encourage, and 
strengthen each other, not with novelty, but with repeated refrains, “God is 
holy,
we are sinful, Jesus saves!” Or, “his steadfast love endures forever.”

How could we ever sing that too many times?

The Never-Ending Chorus

In Revelation 4, we’re given a glimpse into the heavenly throne room. There, 
we see the four living creatures, in all their terrible beauty, falling 
before
God and singing over and over one single song: “Holy, holy, holy, is the 
Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8). It’s 
not
vain repetition. It’s not empty emotionalism. This is the never-ending, 
increasingly satisfying worship of a God who is worthy of the infinite 
reprise
of his attributes.

Maybe when we’ve joined the choir and repeated the chorus for a million 
years, we will finally begin to grasp the breadth and length and height and 
depth
of the love of our perfectly holy God (Ephesians 3:18).
Copyright © 2015 Desiring God, all rights reserved

Volume 16 Number 144

Today's Author: Pastor Bill

Scripture: Psalm 34:17
"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all 
their troubles" NKJV

The story is told of a young lady who went to play softball for her favorite 
college. She had been an exceptional player in high school and the college
coach was elated to have her join the team. During the season the young lady 
became an accomplished college division player that the rest of the team 
looked
up to for motivation.

This day motivation took on a whole new meaning. She hit a home run over the 
fence and almost was unable to receive credit for it. The score doesn't 
matter
and few remember who won that day. As the young lady was running to first 
base she started to celebrate and actually jumped over the first base bag. 
When
her teammates got her attention they motioned her back to touch first base. 
She turned, stumbled and injured her leg.

There she was between first and second base grimacing on the ground, unable 
to move. The rules state she must touch every bag on her way around the 
diamond
or forfeit the home run. Her teammates are not allowed on the field to help.

The crowd was silent --- what could the young lady possibly do. There she 
sat in agony. An opposing infield player motioned to her teammates --- they 
huddled
around the young lady determining she needed a lift. In an instant they 
lifted her up. As they lifted her they walked over to first base and allowed 
her
to touch the base with her good leg. Then on to second, third and home.

A wonderful lesson for all of us in the kingdom. When someone falls and is 
unable to get up it is our responsibility to pick them up and carry them 
through.

Prayer: Father thank you for those reading this that need a lift --- I pray 
You send someone right now to give the lift that is needed to resolve the 
situation.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!


Pastor Bill Team Prayer:

Father please bring 1............. 2............. 3.............. into your 
kingdom.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

Copyright (c) 2015

Pastor Bill Christian Cyber Ministries
All Rights Reserved

What Moves You to Minister?

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, 
but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
(Galatians 6:8)

Faith has an insatiable appetite for experiencing as much of God’s grace as 
possible. Therefore, faith presses toward the river where God’s grace flows
most freely, namely, the river of love.

What other force will move us out of our contented living rooms to take upon 
ourselves the inconveniences and suffering that love requires?

What will propel us . . .

• to greet strangers when we feel shy?
• to go to an enemy and plead for reconciliation when we feel indignant?
• to tithe when we’ve never tried it?
• to speak to our colleagues about Christ?
• to invite new neighbors to a Bible study?
• to cross cultures with the gospel?
• to create a new ministry for alcoholics?
• to spend an evening driving a van?
• to invest a morning praying for renewal?

None of these costly acts of love just happens. They are impelled by a new 
appetite — the appetite of faith for the fullest experience of God’s grace.

Faith loves to rely on God and see him work miracles in us. Therefore, faith 
pushes us into the current where the power of God’s future grace flows most
freely — the current of love.

I think this is what Paul meant when he said that we should “sow to the 
Spirit” (Galatians 6:8).
By faith, we should put the seeds of our energy in the furrows where we know 
the Spirit is at work to bear fruit — the furrows of love.
Copyright Information

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

The Best Part of Heaven

"I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may 
be also."

-John 14:3, emphasis added

Although I can't wait to see the gates made of pearl, the precious stones of 
heaven, and the city's numerous other glories, that is not what I am looking
forward to most. I can't wait to see Christ face to face! Jesus is the best 
part of heaven!

The Seven Perfections of Jesus: The subject of heaven is often spoken of as 
"the sweet by and by," and images of harps, clouds, angel wings, and a 
seemingly
ethereal world of misty spirit form in the mind. But, in reality, heaven is 
a glorious place of wonder and beauty. Of all its indescribable beauties and
unending glories, there is, above all else, Jesus, who is the most beautiful 
aspect of heaven. And there are seven wonderful facets of the love of Jesus
for all the saints, His bride.

Facet 1-Jesus will be with us: "God Himself will be with them and be their 
God" (Revelation 21:3, NAS). First, there will be the unbroken presence of 
Emmanuel,
"God with us." Secondly, there will be the fulfillment of all that He has 
promised. The Bible contains all the promises of God, but one day we will 
get
to experience the Person behind the promises.

Facet 2-Jesus will comfort us: "God will wipe away every tear from their 
eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying . . . nor pain" 
(Revelation
21:4. NAS). Even though we know Jesus and His promises are with us, this 
present life is hard. However, the sadness of current disappointments will 
end
with the security of divine appointment; the dread of death will end with 
the Lord of Life; the frailties of the flesh will end when entering our 
heavenly
habitation. The future, like the past, is kept securely by Him with whom our 
anchor is cast.

Facet 3-Jesus will refresh us: "I will give of the fountain of the water of 
life freely to him who thirsts" (Revelation 21:6, NAS). A life of dryness 
will
be gone; the refreshing Spring of Life will be ever with us. Although He can 
comfort and be with us in this present life, heaven is the ultimate comfort:
"He who believes in Me, . . . out of his heart will flow rivers of living 
water" (John 7:38). This is an endless supply, for He within us shall be 
that
Fountain.

Facet 4-Jesus will captivate us: "I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, 
the Almighty, and the Lamb are its temple" (21:22, NAS). This is the 
culmination
of all the types from which they were fashioned: the True One showing facets 
of His image by His holiness, His character, and His redemption. We are to
not make images of Him, but we are to see Him through the types of the 
tabernacle and the temple. Which satisfies you most-the picture or the 
Person? The
figures have been there for time, but the fullness will be for all eternity. 
Worship will be unbounded by location or proximity; it will be unending and
all-present because our worship will be focused on Him as He captivates us.

Facet 5-Jesus will keep us secure: "And nothing unclean . . . shall ever 
come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of 
Life"
(21:27, NAS). The wonder of heaven is that He will keep us secure, just as 
He has here on earth. There will now be an exclusion of all evil forever. At
last, our freedom will be completed! At Calvary, we were freed from both the 
penalty and power of sin; at the Celestial City, we will forever be removed
from the presence of sin. All the washed ones, those washed in the Lamb's 
blood and written in the Lamb's Book of Life, will be welcomed there.

Facet 6-Jesus will lead us: "The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in 
it, and His bondservants shall serve Him" (22:3, NAS). He is the Master; we
are the servants who will follow Him. The return of Christ's rule as King of 
the kingdom will be unhindered-and He wants complete dedication, not mere
compliments. He never simply said, "Accept Me!" Rather, He declared: "Leave 
all and follow Me, or you can't be My disciple." Jesus wants glad and 
unhindered
service forever. After the complete destruction of the curse's doom, we will 
no longer struggle with the weeds of sin so that we can fully follow the 
Lamb's
wishes.

Facet 7-Jesus will light us: "There shall be no night there: . . . for the 
Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever" 
(Revelation
22:5, NAS). The Source of light in the new heaven will be the Savior, the 
Lamb, who is the Light. And in that glow we shall walk in unbroken 
communion.
The denial of dark deeds will be consigned to the blackness of darkness 
forever, but we shall rule by submission to Him forever. The despair of 
darkness
will be ended; there will be no more unfinished plans, for He is the 
completion of all. This is the fulfillment of Christ's First Coming: "The 
Dayspring
from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and 
the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 
1:78-79).
For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit
discoverthebook.org.
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What's Your Nineveh?
by Laura MacCorkle

Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God's mercies. But I 
will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my
vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.
Jonah 2:8-9,
NLT

Have you ever run away from something that God wanted you to do? If so, then 
you’ve got a lot in common with Jonah. You know the story...

Guy in a tunic hears from God.

Guy doesn’t like what God wants him to do.

Guy runs in the other direction. Literally.

Guy gets on a boat.

Guy get tossed overboard during a storm.

Guy gets swallowed by a big fish.

Guy repents.

Guy goes and does what God tells him (a second time) to do.

Guy gets angry when God is compassionate to others (who guy doesn’t think 
are deserving).

Guy gets rebuked, and God has the last word.

Jonah was running from Nineveh—a city with an idolatrous people so wicked 
that they would cut off the feet and hands of their captives just to 
intimidate
others. Yikes!

So it’s probably safe to say that all of us might have felt like Jonah did 
when thinking about ministering to the Ninehvites: scared for himself and 
disbelieving
that these people could ever be saved. Why even try, right?

But God wanted Jonah to preach and to reach out to others, because God has 
reached out to all of us. We are all undeserving of his love and his 
unmerited
favor, but mercifully God forgives. Jonah didn’t want to see this, and so he 
ran.

Perhaps you are running as well. You’re trying to get as far away from your 
Nineveh—the thing that truly scares you, the thing that you know God is 
leading
you toward, the thing you don’t really want to do.

I have run away from so many things in my life. But one of these days, maybe 
I will have grown enough in my
faith
that I will immediately say “Yes, Lord” when he gives me instruction.

Until that point in my maturity, there’s a current Nineveh that has been 
occupying a lot of my thoughts lately. It’s my fall group Bible study. Now, 
that’s
not so scary in and of itself. But you know what is? What we’ll be studying 
come September: the book of Revelation.

I confess that I’ve thought about dropping out a few times already, as I’ve 
had too much time to anticipate and be afraid. To me, this is the most 
intimidating
book of Scripture. I have a fear that I’ll never understand the symbolism, 
that I’ll look dumb trying to answer the questions in front of my group and
that I’ll spend the entire eight months of study in a fog of frustration.

But I think I’m missing the most important point. What seems impossible to 
me is exactly what God wants me to do. So that I will learn. And grow. And 
draw
closer to him as I work on understanding his Word.

Jonah is one of the shortest books of the Bible, so I invite you to read 
through it today when you have a half hour to spare. See if you don’t see 
yourself
in Jonah’s thoughts and fears, in his actions and in his initial response to 
God’s call in his life.

And then ask yourself, “What is my Nineveh?” and pray. Ask the Lord to help 
you work through your fear, your anger, your rebellion.

Instead of running this time, and from our own Ninevehs, may God help us all 
to run toward what he has purposed for our good.

Intersecting Faith & Life: Stop running in the wrong direction! Repent and 
start moving obediently toward whatever God is calling you to do today. 
Despite
our proclivity toward unfaithfulness, he is always faithful.

Further Reading:

2 Samuel 22:1-4,
NIV
2 Corinthians 10:5,
NIV
Philippians 1:6,
NIV

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Monday, July 20, 2015

Today's Devotional

God's Perfect Timing

Philippians 4:19 – And my God shall supply all your need according to His 
riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (NKJV)

Some time back, Jackie and I decided to start checking out various auto 
dealers for a used SUV-type vehicle for Jackie's home-care work. Some of the 
roads
she navigates are remote and pretty rough, so we needed something higher off 
the ground than a car.

After praying about this, we checked out our local places, then took a trip 
to Kamloops. We spent pretty much the whole day looking at and test-driving
various vehicles, none of which had the right combination of price, 
visibility, and comfort for Jackie's back.

As dusk was settling in and we were thinking we weren't going to find 
anything that day after all, we drove to the opposite end of town and 
happened to
notice another dealership.

As we strolled onto their lot, a salesman mentioned that they had just 
received delivery of a used vehicle that had been driven in from Alberta, 
which
had actually arrived ahead of time. The asking price was in our ballpark, so 
we decided to take it out for a test drive with this fellow.

As we were driving around, Jackie knew that this was definitely going to be 
our best bet. The salesman asked us where we were from and what we did, and
when we mentioned that I was a Christian pastor, he surprised us by saying 
that he himself was a new Christian, and that his brother had just recently
led him to receive Jesus into his life as Lord and Saviour.

We then had a really good chat together with this new brother in Christ, 
getting to know him a little better in sharing things from the Lord in our 
lives.
By the time we got back and made the deal for the vehicle, it was past 
closing time at the dealership. After we had signed all the paperwork, our 
new friend,
Murray, told us that he had been praying for a desperately-needed financial 
boost, as he and his family had really been hit hard. He then thanked and 
praised
God (and us), because it was the last day of the month, and this sale was 
just enough to qualify him for their monthly sales bonus.

Talk about God's perfect timing in answering prayer! A place we had no 
intention of bothering with, a vehicle arriving ahead of time, a Christian 
in need,
the right thing for us at the right price, and desperately-needed bonus 
money for Murray and his family for which he qualified on the last day of 
the month
and after business hours. Just before we left, he phoned his wife with this 
great news as to why he was late getting home. Murray thought that he had 
run
out of time for this to happen, but for God, it was just another display of 
His perfect timing in all things.

Not all of our prayers are answered in such dramatic ways, but it is 
encouraging to know that our God is a God of love and power, and that He 
does have
miraculous ways of providing for our needs. We just need to trust Him.

Prayer: Lord, help us never to forget that You are in control and that You 
love us. Help us to trust Your timing in the working out of Your will in our
lives and in all things. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Bruce Wilcox <
bwilcox2@live.ca>

Optimism hopes for the best without any guarantee of its arriving and is 
often no more than whistling in the dark. Christian hope, by contrast, is 
faith
looking ahead to the fulfillment of the promises of God, as when the 
Anglican burial service inters the corpse 'in sure and certain hope of the 
Resurrection
to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ.' Optimism is a wish without 
warrant; Christian hope is a certainty, guaranteed by God himself. Optimism
reflects ignorance as to whether good things will ever actually come. 
Christian hope expresses knowledge that every day of his life, and every 
moment beyond
it, the believer can say with truth, on the basis of God's own commitment, 
that the best is yet to come.

James I (J. I.) Packer

A poor, weak, and trembling creature

(John Angell James, "
Christian Progress"
1853)

"He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His 
arms, holding them close to His heart." Isaiah 40:11

Dwell upon the love and tenderness of our Lord Jesus!

Notice who are the objects of His care--"the lambs," which means not only 
those of tender age--but also those who have been newly converted; those who
are young in Christian experience; and also those whose temperament is 
naturally timid, whose strength is feeble, and whose danger is great.

Yes, you are the objects of Christ's special attention, care, and 
solicitude! You are those whom He takes up in the arms of His power--and 
lays on the
bosom of His love! He knows . . .
your weakness,
your timidity,
your dangers!

He will exert for you . . .
His tenderest sympathy,
His greatest vigilance,
His mightiest power.

This expression however not only conveys the idea of great care of the 
weak--but the exercise of that care with a view to their preservation and 
growth.
It means not only that He will . . .
cordially receive them,
provide for their safety,
be concerned for their comfort, and
accommodate His conduct to their needs
--but He will also nourish them through their infant existence, and raise 
them up to maturity and strength.

Let every lamb of the flock of Christ, therefore, go to Him by faith and 
prayer, and say: "Blessed Jesus, I come to you as a poor, weak, and 
trembling
creature, doubtful of my own continuance, and alarmed at my numerous 
difficulties and enemies. I am but a lamb, and often fear I shall never be 
anything
better. But was it not in regard to such weakness that You have been pleased 
to utter these gracious and tender words? I flee to You as the helpless lamb
to its shepherd--when hungry, to feed it--or when pursued by wild beasts, 
that he may defend it. Lord, take me in the arms of Your power and lay me on
the bosom of Your love--though I am so poor and helpless a creature. I will 
hope in Your nurturing power and love, that I shall continue to grow, and 
that
You will one day rejoice in me, as one of the flock which You have purchased 
with Your own blood!"
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Faith Expels Guilt, Greed and Fear

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good 
conscience and a sincere faith.
(1 Timothy 1:5)

Faith in God’s grace expels from the heart the sinful powers that hinder 
love.

If we feel guilty, we tend to wallow in self-centered depression and 
self-pity, unable to see, let alone care, about anyone else’s need. Or we 
play the
hypocrite to cover our guilt, and so destroy all sincerity in relationships. 
Or we talk about other people’s faults to minimize the guilt of our own.

It’s the same with fear. If we feel fearful, we tend not to approach a 
stranger at church who might need a word of welcome and encouragement. Or we 
may
reject frontier missions for our lives, because it sounds too dangerous. Or 
we may waste money on excessive insurance, or get swallowed up in all manner
of little phobias that make us preoccupied with ourselves and blind us to 
the needs of others.

If we are greedy, we may spend money on luxuries — money that ought to go to 
the spread of the gospel. We don’t undertake anything risky, lest our 
precious
possessions and our financial future be jeopardized. We focus on things 
instead of people, or see people as resources for our material advantage.

Faith in future grace produces love by pushing guilt and fear and greed out 
of the heart.

It pushes out guilt because it holds fast to the hope that the death of 
Christ is sufficient to secure acquittal and righteousness now and forever (
Hebrews 10:14).

It pushes out fear because it banks on the promise, “Fear not, for I am with 
you. . . . I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with
my righteous right hand” (
Isaiah 41:10).

And it pushes out greed because it is confident that Christ is greater 
wealth than all the world can offer (
Matthew 13:44).

In every case the glory of Christ is magnified when we are more satisfied 
with his future grace than we are with the promises of sin.
This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper's 
ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.

Face What You Fear to Live a Significant Life
Bonnie Gray

What does it mean to have
faith?
God values faith in ways we least expect.

I never used to be afraid.

I was all faith.

Or so I thought.

I had enough faith for everyone around me and seconds to go around too.

Everything would always work out fine because I was with Jesus. And Jesus 
was with me.

I loved people. Prayed, studied my Bible, and recycled regularly.

But, as time passed by and the number of things that went wrong started 
adding up, I unconsciously started keeping a tally.

I would've never admitted that I was keeping such a list. Not even to 
myself, much less God.

But, I did.

Deep in my heart, where I did not dare to go, I had a running list of 
questions about where God was leading me. And why it was taking so long.

Of course, I knew that He is all good, all knowing, and all powerful. So, I 
didn't allow myself to doubt God's plan for me.

Or so I thought.

I masked my insecurities with God by doubting myself.

What I feared most was being forgotten. I was afraid to live an 
insignificant life.
During
one weekend away
spent in
whitespace,
I decided to share my list of disappointments with God. After writing pages 
and pages of unanswerable dilemmas, God gently and lovingly brought two 
pictures
to my mind.

* In the beginning, there was nothing.

It was in nothing, the Holy Spirit hovered, where God created something.

* Mary's empty womb. How can this be? she asked.

It was in nothing, the Holy Spirit hovered again, where Jesus became flesh.

The place inside me where faith was near death became alive.

Nothingness. That's me!

I had never been so happy to discover I had become the perfect place for 
Jesus to rest in.

That song I sang as a gullible teenager long ago suddenly took on a 
completely different meaning --

Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true and with 
thanksgiving, I'll be a living, sanctuary, oh for you.

It was as if a bolt of lightning struck my heart and resuscitated my story.

It irrevocably changed my direction. I decided to stop setting my sights on 
where I was going or what I would end up doing in the future.

I set my sights on who I was walking with -- Jesus.

I surrendered my ideas of what life ought to look like, so I could have the 
courage to make choices facing me today.

In the everyday. That is where I will find Him.

In the everyday. This is where He would lead me.

I realized the best life -- the most significant life I can live -- is the 
one I grow in my faith.

Something Better

In the Old Testament, the patriarchs of faith recognized God's blessings by 
taking possession of a physical Promised Land. God's presence was 
symbolized
by physical blessings of harvest and goods.

This all changed after Jesus arrived in the New Testament. The author of 
Hebrews tells God prepared a spiritual blessing -- something better.

"And all these [patriarches of faith listed earlier], having gained approval 
through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had 
provided
something better for us...

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith" Hebrews 
11:39-12:2

Our something better isn't a plan. Our something better is a Person.

Our spiritual Promised Land is life with Jesus.

Next Time You Think

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the areas in life that appear dark and 
formless -- or empty and barren -- remember Jesus is faithful -- 

to create something beautiful in you.

bring life to others through you.

to carry you to safety.

to make a way you cannot see.

to put you back together again.

to return laughter where you taste sorrow.

to give you courage to start over (again and again).

to use every loss and every triumph for His glory.

Next time you think nothing is happening in your life -- or you find 
yourself asking "How can this be?" -- remember things aren't as they appear.

Jesus sees you.

And He will never forget why He put you here.


You Can Do It!
by Dean Masters

Colossians 2:9-10
“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been 
filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”

Are you worried about that thing God has told you to do? Are you thinking 
that all that you are facing is more than you can handle? Read those verses 
again
and let it sink in a minute…….. The fullness of God dwells in Jesus bodily 
and you have been filled with Him and He is the head of everything! If He 
has
called you to something you already have everything you need to fulfill all 
that He has called you to.

Often we wonder why God allows things and certain people in our lives but it 
is to exercise the areas we need to grow in. If you have accepted Christ as
your Savior then you know that The Holy Spirit of God lives within you and 
you have all the fruits of the Holy Spirit right there, sometimes though 
they
need to be exercised in order for us to let go of those areas in our lives 
where we are not allowing the Holy Spirit to rule and reign.

When you need more faith for the task at hand, remember these verses. God 
gives you a passion to do what He has and is equipping you to do. We often 
think
it is the other way around. God will never ask you to do something that He 
hasn’t already been preparing you for. If you are working in that 
preparation
stage, hold on and know that this is just a stepping stone for all that He 
has for you. I have worked jobs before and have wondered why on earth and 
how
on earth I ended up there, but then when I reached the next position I could 
see how God had used that job to prepare me for the next one. I have also
had people in my life that I have wondered why they were there and yet my 
experiences with them often helped me to help someone else.

We are so fortunate to have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us and guiding 
us in all that we do. The problem is that often we pick and choose what 
areas
we will allow Him to guide us in, if something is uncomfortable we often 
choose to “go it alone” instead of allowing Him to work in us and guide us 
through
so we can grow in Him. When we choose to stifle the Holy Spirit’s leading we 
often face the same situations over and over and over until we learn what
it is we need to learn. God isn’t going to just give up on teaching you 
something that you need to learn so you can be all you can be ~ He loves you 
too
much!

Let me encourage you today to hold on to those verses above and when you 
feel frustrated, inadequate or overwhelmed pull them out and read them 
again.
Remind yourself that God lives within and He will help you and guide you if 
you will just allow Him to. The best is yet to come!

Quote:
“It’s not where you start ~ it’s where you finish that counts.” Zig Ziglar

Dean Masters
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Post  Admin on Tue 15 Sep 2015, 9:39 pm

Private Worship

Leviticus 6:13

Keep the altar of private prayer burning. This is the very life of all 
piety. The sanctuary and family altars borrow their fires here; therefore 
let this
burn well. Secret devotion is the very essence, evidence, and barometer of 
vital and experimental [experiential]
religion.

Burn here the fat of your sacrifices. Let your closet seasons be, if 
possible, regular, frequent, and undisturbed. Effectual prayer avails much. 
Have you
nothing to pray for? Let us suggest the church, the ministry, your own soul, 
your children, your relations, your neighbors, your country, and the cause
of God and truth throughout the world.

Let us examine ourselves on this important matter. Do we engage with 
lukewarmness in private devotion? Is the fire of devotion burning dimly in 
our hearts?
Do the chariot wheels drag heavily? If so, let us be alarmed at this sign of 
decay. Let us go with weeping, and ask for the Spirit of grace and of 
supplications.
Let us set apart special seasons for extraordinary prayer. For if this fire 
should be smothered beneath the ashes of a worldly conformity, it will dim
the fire on the family altar and lessen our influence both in the church and 
in the world.

The text will also apply to the altar of the heart. This is a golden altar 
indeed. God loves to see the hearts of His people glowing toward Himself. 
Let
us give to God our hearts, all blazing with love, and seek His grace, that 
the fire may never be quenched, for it will not burn if the Lord does not 
keep
it burning. Many foes will attempt to extinguish it; but if the unseen hand 
behind the wall pours on the sacred oil, it will blaze higher and higher. 
Let
us use texts of Scripture as fuel for our heart's fire; they are live coals. 
Let us attend to sermons, but above all, let us be much alone with Jesus.

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Joshua 22

verse 2 Acts 2


Love Worth Finding Ministrie

Did someone forward you this devotion?
Register with LWF
for more resources.

How to Understand the Bible

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Thy precepts.â€
Psalm 119:100

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
People sometimes can’t understand why they don’t understand the Bible. Well, 
the way to understand the Bible is to obey the Bible. And the way to 
understand
the verses you don't understand is to obey the verses you do understand.

“More than the ancients†is a way of saying the accumulative wisdom of the 
ages. David is saying, “ I haven't been off to the university perhaps, or I
haven't studied abroad, but I keep God's Word and therefore God reveals to 
me His truth.â€

The only way you can really understand the Bible is for God to reveal it to 
you, and God doesn't reveal it to rebels.

ACTION POINT:
Keep God's Word, and through it God will reveal His truth. Some of you know 
what God wants you to do, but you're not doing it. And you wonder why you've
come up against a roadblock when you try to read the Bible.

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.

© 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300

How We Answer Our Own Prayers
KAREN EHMAN

"Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his 
disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his 
disciples.’"

Luke 11:1
(ESV)

A group of teenagers and I sat cross-legged on the church lawn, soaking in 
the warm summer sunshine. We’d just taken a break from a group game to sip 
something
cold and visit. One of the girls had just returned from a mission trip in a 
developing nation and I couldn’t wait to hear about her experience.

"So, Renee, tell us about your trip." I inquired. "What is the one thing you 
think you will remember the most?"

I imagined her answer would have something to do with a child who captured 
her heart with a sweet smile. Or a church service she attended that was so 
very
different from ours. Neither of these guesses were right.

"Oh, that’s easy. I will always remember it was on this trip when I learned 
how easy it is in our culture to answer our own prayers."

Her statement stunned me for a moment. I wondered, What in the world did she 
mean by that? Answer our own prayers? Only God answers prayer, right? But
before I could pipe up and ask her to explain further, she continued.

"You see, here in America, we bow our heads and say grace and ask God to 
‘give us this day our daily bread.’ And then? We hop in our cars, run down 
to
the grocery store and buy a loaf or two. We ask Him to keep us safe and 
warm. Then parents buy their kids the best car seats available, and we crank 
up
the furnace whenever we feel chilly. It is so easy in our culture to provide 
the answer to our own prayers. But the people I met on the trip? They pray
God will give them their daily bread, not knowing if they will have enough 
food to feed their families that night. Their prayers are bold. They ask God
for things they can’t always provide for themselves."

I had never thought of this concept before and it caused me to think about 
two things.

First, I want to use my abundance to help answer someone else’s prayers. To 
share the privilege I have been given with others.

Second, I need to learn to pray bold prayers, asking God for the things that 
only He can bring about. That is if they are in accordance with His will.
To pray for requests in my life beyond the, "Lord, keep us safe and warm and 
well-fed. Amen." routine we can often fall into.

Today’s key verse from Luke 11 gives me hope that I’m not alone in thinking 
my prayer life could use a makeover.
Luke 11:1
reminds us that even the disciples wanted help learning how to pray. They 
saw Jesus praying and desired to follow His example.

Ephesians 3:20-21
tells us God can do things we can’t even dream of. Even provide answers to 
questions that we often hesitate to even ask. This suggests we can be daring
when we pray, asking God for great things done only in His great strength.

My little chat with this spiritually sensitive teen changed me. I began to 
work into my prayers not only requests that God would help me be attentive 
to
those who need my help, but also that He would help me make bold requests I 
can’t possibly answer myself. And then, that I would stand back and — in 
faith
— watch Him work.

How about you? Is your prayer list full of items you can cross off yourself? 
Perhaps it’s time you, too, began to ask, "Lord, teach me to pray."

Father, teach me to pray more boldly. May I be both generous in giving and 
faith-filled in my prayers. Help me pray more confident prayers that can’t 
be
answered on my own and can only happen through Your power. In Jesus’ Name, 
Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 138:3,
"In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with 
strength in my soul." (NKJV)

Luke 11: 9-10, "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what 
you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the
door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who 
seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:
For more on prayer, including a place to post your "I Can’t Answer it 
Myself" prayer request, visit
Karen Ehman’s blog.
© 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
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God Cares

Zephaniah 1:12 (NKJV)
12 “And it shall come to pass at that time
That I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
And punish the men
Who are settled in complacency,
Who say in their heart,
‘The Lord will not do good,
Nor will He do evil.’

The people who lived in the southern kingdom of Judah had not heard from God 
or seen any sign from Him in a long time. So according to the above verse 
they said that God did not care about them. They were supposed to be God’s 
people and the temple was in Jerusalem which was in their country but if God 
was there He did not care about them.

God sent the prophet Zephaniah to give them the following message:

Zephaniah 3:5 (NKJV)
5 The Lord is righteous in her midst,
He will do no unrighteousness.
Every morning He brings His justice to light;
He never fails,
But the unjust knows no shame.

Zephaniah was telling them that God does care about them. He is there and 
sees all that they do.

Some today may think that God does not care for them. God does care for 
everyone. He cares so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for all 
people.

If you need salvation, go to Jesus.
If you are like a boat on an angry sea, cry out to Jesus.
If things are going great then give thanks and praise to Jesus.

One of my most favorite verses in the Bible is the following:

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)
17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah was prophesying what would come at the end of the age. At first 
what touched me in this passage is the thought of me hearing Jesus sing to 
me in the future. Later on the phrase before that one touched me. This is 
something that Jesus can do right now. He can quiet you with His love.

If anyone doesn’t know this love all they have to do is ask Jesus to be 
their Savior and continue to make Him more and more the Lord of their life. 
Then when a person needs to be quieted he or she will have Someone to 
minister to them.

Know that God knows what is going on at all times and cares for everyone. 
Call upon him for all your needs.

by Dean W. Masters


World Challenge Pulpit Series
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jesus Transforms

by Gary Wilkerson | June 29, 2015

It was the Passover season and Christ was teaching in the
temple. A large crowd gathered because Jesus had a
reputation for speaking profound words of love and
performing powerful works of God. Yet no sooner had this
crowd of commoners gathered than the religious leaders
showed up.

"As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the
Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of
adultery" (John 8:3, NLT). These leaders saw Jesus as a
threat to their authority. He represented a new phenomenon
whose teachings exposed their rigid, self-justifying
practices. Now "they were trying to trap him into saying
something they could use against him" (8:6). They asked him
whether the woman should be stoned according to the law.

The scene unfolds dramatically: "Jesus stooped down and
wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an
answer, so he stood up again and said, 'All right, but let
the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!' Then he
stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers
heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the
oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd
with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the
woman, 'Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them
condemn you?' 'No, Lord,' she said. And Jesus said, 'Neither
do I. Go and sin no more'" (8:6-11).

What a powerful moment. Not only had Jesus defused a highly
charged situation, literally saving a person's life.
Everyone on the scene was transformed by what happened - not
just the accused, but also the accusers and even the
audience.

Jesus used the moment to deliver one of his most famous
teachings: "I am the light of the world. If you follow me,
you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have
the light that leads to life" (8:12). God's light in that
moment transformed everything.

Jesus transformed more than a lethal situation; he
transformed every heart present.

The first group transformed in this scene was the audience.
This crowd was made up of the community believers in Israel
who had traveled to the temple in Jerusalem for Passover.
What role did they play in the scene? Judging by their
passivity, they remained spectators. They didn't condemn the
woman the way the religious leaders did. But they didn't
advocate for her, either. They were content to sit silently
on the sidelines while something very important – a person's
life! – was at stake. I would identify this crowd as "the
comfortable middle."

As the family of God, we gather in church to worship, sing,
listen and give. But if we're not careful, we can end up
being spectators when it comes to living as Jesus would have
us live. Often when we see people in sin, rather than
helping them out of it, we harbor a secret hope they'll be
caught. And when they are, we feel justified, thinking, "I
knew it. That person's life always seemed a little off."

Why do we do this? It could be because we feel guilty about
our own sin. We all have something in our lives that others
could throw a stone at. The truth is, those Pharisees in the
scene could have dragged anyone out of the crowd and stoned
them. Nowadays, accusing people do that very thing, through
social media. I know a hardworking young pastor who took a
vacation and Instagrammed a picture of himself relaxing on
the beach. Immediately his post was deluged with hateful
comments like, "It's awful when preachers take their
congregations' money and spend it on luxurious living."

Jesus' way is different. "Then Jesus stood up again and said
to the woman, 'Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of
them condemn you?' 'No, Lord,' she said. And Jesus said,
'Neither do I. Go and sin no more'" (John 8:10-11).

As a preacher of the gospel, I love those three words:
"Neither do I." Jesus didn't condemn her. And that was a
radical thing for him to do. It still is today, when he
tells each of us who repent, "Neither do I condemn you." Yet
Jesus got even more radical when he told the religious
leaders, "I have much to say about you and much to condemn,
but I won't" (8:26). Wow! That sounds like an insult, but in
fact Jesus had a whole laundry list of things he could
condemn them for. He has a similar list about our lives
today. But instead of condemning, he says, "Neither do I
condemn you."

What an amazing moment. It revealed the powerful love behind
God's grace — that - "while we were yet sinners, Christ died
for us"

(Romans 5:8, KJV)

. In the crowd's eyes, this was a miracle. Nobody had ever
considered this. And it immediately transformed them. They
began to see what Jesus' ministry was all about –
overwhelming grace – and that changed the way they saw God.
It also changed the way they saw their own sin – as
mercifully forgiven by a loving, gracious God!

Jesus used that stunning moment to teach about the cross:
"So Jesus said, 'When you have lifted up the Son of Man on
the cross, then you will understand that I am he. I do
nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me.
And the one who sent me is with me - he has not deserted me.
For I always do what pleases him.' Then many who heard him
say these things believed in him" (John 8:28-30, my
emphasis). Suddenly, Jesus had an army ready to follow him -
soldiers of the cross of grace!

Here is the contagious love contained in the gospel we
preach. It moves a complacent congregation from audience to
activists. People everywhere are tired of dead religion. And
when they see Christ's radical grace in action, they say,
"I'm all in! I want to be part of a movement like this one.
Not only will I give myself to it fully, I'll invite
everybody I meet. Where do I sign up?"

The second party transformed in this scene was the accused.

Jesus turned the accused into the accepted. Instead of
rejecting the adulterous woman, whose life hung in the
balance, he accepted her. And he does the same for us today.
He takes everyone pushed to the margins by their own sin and
tells them, "You are mine. You're right in the center of the
Father's love."

This gesture by Jesus was crucial for the adulterous woman.
Why? She still had to live in her community with the reality
of what she'd done. You see, while it's true there is no
longer any condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,
there are still real- life consequences to sin. Ask any
addict who's gone through a recovery program. There are
broken bonds to mend with family, friends, children,
coworkers. In the case of adultery, there can be unwanted
pregnancies, broken love with a spouse, strained
relationships with children, betrayals of trust within a
community - matters that can take years to be repaired.

That's why there is very real mercy in Jesus' two distinct
statements to the adulterous woman: "Neither do I [condemn
you]. Go and sin no more" (John 8:11). I would not be a
faithful minister of God if I didn't say that while, yes,
Jesus loves you, accepts you and forgives you, there is very
real fallout to sin. As a pastor I see it all the time.
That's why our sin is of great concern to God beyond moral
reasons of law-breaking. Paul says, "Run from sexual sin! No
other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For
sexual immorality is a sin against your own body" (1
Corinthians 6:18). This is all the more reason to bring any
and every sin to Jesus. Only his powerful, redeeming grace
can fully heal and restore.

There is a third group transformed by God's grace: the
accusers. The Pharisees' heartless, accusing plan backfired
on them. Ultimately, the sinful woman wasn't condemned but
instead was rescued and healed. And when that kind of
radical grace manifests, evil is forced to slink away in
shame. "They slipped away one by one, beginning with the
oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd
with the woman" (John 8:9).

Which of these transformations describes your faith
community?

Is your church the kind that stands by impassively as
sinners lead self-destructive lives? Or maybe it's the kind
that points out sinners to expose their bad behavior.
Hopefully it's the kind that rescues, delivers and redeems
people from their sin.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus was asked two kinds of
questions by the people he encountered, questions that
revealed everything about the hearts of those asking. The
first type of question was accusatory. Time after time,
religious leaders asked Christ, "Why do you eat and drink
with sinners? How could you be sent by God with a reputation
like that?"

The second kind of question came from people bearing the
problems of life: "Would you heal my sick daughter?" "Would
you deliver my son, who's thrown into the fire by demons?"
"Would you heal my bleeding issue, which has plagued me my
whole life?" "Jesus, would you help me?"
Do you see the difference between the two kinds of
questions? Both kinds seek an answer about the nature of
God. The first asks, "Do sinners deserve God's love?" while
the second asks, "Does God want to help me?"

Jesus answered both questions with his actions. First, he
transformed the outcasts, bringing them from the farthest
margins of society to the very center of God's love. He told
them, "You're on center stage now. You're at the very heart
of my Father's kingdom." Second, Christ revealed that the
accusers were not at the center of God's kingdom. He told
them very clearly, "You have no say in my Father's kingdom."

Do you want a meaningful, significant role in God's kingdom?
Then be willing to lay down your stones and pick up the
cross of his grace. Every time you act as Jesus did,
extending grace to those marginalized by sin, you take part
in a great transformation. You will be changed by your
actions, the accused will be changed, and those accusing
will be changed. Meanwhile, passive believers will be
stirred by the manifestation of God's grace.

May we all become his army of grace - drawing to his kingdom
both the addicted and the clean-living, the grieving and the
carefree, the damaged and the blessed, the poor and the
wealthy, the lonely and the lively, the pretentious and the
guileless, the tattooed and the preppy. Let every soul be
loved and belong. And may we all be transformed by the
amazing grace of our Savior.

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P.O. Box 260, Lindale, Texas 75771, USA

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Post  Admin on Sun 13 Sep 2015, 9:41 pm

A Surprising Answer to Prayer
by Charles R. Swindoll

Psalm 91

Many years ago one of my mentors told me a story I have never forgotten. A 
missionary was home on furlough, traveling by car from church to church. 
Late
one rainy evening, facing a long and lonely all-night journey, he asked the 
Lord to help him stay awake and make it safely to the next place he would 
minister.

A few minutes later he came upon a man off to the side, thumbing a ride. 
Although he rarely picked up hitchhikers, he felt sorry for the man out in 
the
rain and offered him a lift. As the two of them began to visit, the 
missionary was thrilled to discover that the stranger was a believer and 
that they
also had many mutual friends engaged in the Lord's work.

Time passed rapidly as the two of them laughed and shared stories. The 
fellowship was so rich that the missionary hated to see the early light of 
dawn
and hear his new-found friend say, "Well, here's where I get off." Before 
saying good-bye, the missionary invited him to have a cup of coffee at a 
roadside
cafe. As they parted, they promised to pray for each other.

The rain had stopped by now, and a bright sun-drenched sky warmed the 
missionary's soul. Then, a couple of minutes down the road, he realized that 
he had
failed to get the man's address and phone number, so he quickly returned to 
the cafe. There was no sign of the man. When he asked the cook if he'd seen
which way the other fella had gone, he was shocked to hear him respond, 
"What other fella? You came in here alone . . . I wondered why you ordered 
two
cups of coffee."

The missionary glanced at the table where the two had sat and noticed that 
the other cup was still full to the brim . . . and the coffee was cold.

As he returned to his car, another surprising realization came to his mind. 
He remembered that when he had picked up the hitchhiker in the rain the 
night
before, the man had gotten in the car but he wasn't wet!

Excerpted from
Day by Day with Charles Swindoll,
Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). 
All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

Are You Hungry?
by
Dean Masters

Matthew 4:4
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread 
alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

What do you need today? Seriously, we all need something, whether it is more 
faith, help with our finances, help in our marriage, help with our children,
more peace and rest in our lives, healing and the list goes on and on. What 
do you need?

It is not meant to sound cliche’ that all of your answers are found in Him 
and His word! Are you going to church? Has the “church” hurt you somewhere 
along
the line so you stopped going? If you do go is it with the hopes that the 
message will speak to your spouse or children’s hearts so they will make the
changes they need to make? If you have been hurt by someone in a church 
somewhere along the line I would encourage you to try a different church, 
just
like grocery stores; they are not all the same and the ‘employees’ are all 
different wherever you go. God has a message for you! Yup, you, not just 
everyone
around you. He knows what it is you need to encourage you or give you the 
answers for what it is you are overwhelmed with so don’t miss out on any 
opportunity
you may have to receive it!

I so appreciate that God has given us His Word. We are so blessed that He 
has put so much in writing for us and yet so many Christians never pick up 
their
Bibles other than to dust under it or take it to church. Don’t miss out on 
what is inside! I cannot imagine the horror if someone took my Bible and I 
wasn’t
allowed to have one and yet there are people all over the world where that 
is the way it is!

If you were hungry you would find something to eat and typically we know 
where to find the food. When you need answers stop looking everywhere else 
and
look to God for the answers! He truly does have them all and He loves you 
and promises to show you if you just ask. Jeremiah 33:3 says, ‘Call to Me, 
and
I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not 
know.’ The answers are there! Get excited about it and start looking for all
that He is trying to show you today!

Quote:
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to 
what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
Rebecca Barlow Jordan

A Lesson from the Garden

My neighbor recently gave me a thoughtful gift for my garden. She knew how 
much I loved “yard art.” And it was even lime green and pink–colors I’ve 
splashed
throughout my back yard. But when I planted it in the ground beside my real 
flowers, God nudged my spirit. This would be more than just a metal 
decoration.
That painted flower decor would remind me of another spiritual lesson–like 
so much of my garden does.

A yard art reminder from the garden to keep growing

I love that God can speak to us anywhere, anytime He wants. Don’t you? Here 
are three reminders He gave me:

Three Ways to Grow Spiritually

1. Grow Up

Just like plants, we are to grow up: Grow to maturity (
2 Corinthians
13:11). 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT) says, When I was a child, I spoke and 
thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish 
things.
In the message translation of Matthew 5:48, Jesus says, “In a word, what I’m 
saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your
God-created identity.”

Tiny seedlings are cute, but they need the gardener’s touch with ample 
nutrients, sunshine, and water, or they’ll wither.
Ephesians
4:14 (MSG) adds: God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell 
it in love—like Christ in everything. If we remain as babies, both in our 
childish
actions and thoughts, and in our inability to feed ourselves with all God 
offers: the Water of Life, nutrients from His Word, and plenty of Son-shine,
we’ll wither as well.

2. Grow Down

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your 
roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong (Ephesians 3:17). 
If the
plants in my garden don’t develop strong roots, they’ll soon become weak and 
limp–especially in this Texas summer heat!

God reminds me that my roots must grow deeper in Him: deeper in faith (2 
Corinthians 10:15, NLT), stronger in wisdom and understanding (
Psalm
90:12; Proverbs 15:32; Psalm 92:12). I love what Colossians 2:7 adds: Let 
your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your
faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow 
with thankfulness.

3. Grow Out

Philippians 1:9 (NLT) offers a prayer that growing down will result in 
something more: I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that 
you
will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. That little painted 
flower can remind me that my garden is not entirely for my enjoyment. It can 
bring
others pleasure, too, especially as we share with others from the vegetable 
portion.

My faith, my love for Jesus, is not just to bring me joy, but it is for 
sharing with others. And may the Lord make your love for one another and for 
all
people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows
(1 Thessalonians
3:12, NLT).

Ultimate Reminder

So every time I walk out to my garden and see that lime green and pink 
flower and the word GROW, I’ll remember it’s more than just a piece of yard 
art–and
more than a special gift from a thoughtful neighbor. It will be a reminder 
for me to grow up, to grow down, and to grow out–with a prayer that 1 John 
4:17
(NLT) will become more of a reality:

And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.

I want that, don’t you?
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When Another Christian Hurts You

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 8:1)

What is the basis of our not holding grudges against Christian brothers and 
sisters who repent?

Our moral indignation at a terrible offense does not evaporate just because 
the offender is a Christian. In fact, we may feel even more betrayed. And a
simple, “I’m sorry” will often seem utterly disproportionate to the 
painfulness and ugliness of the offense.

But in this case we are dealing with fellow Christians and the promise of 
God’s wrath does not apply because there is “no condemnation for those who 
are
in Christ Jesus” (
Romans 8:1).
“God has not destined [Christians] for wrath, but to obtain salvation 
through our Lord Jesus Christ” (
1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Where shall we turn to assure ourselves that justice will be done — that 
Christianity is not a mockery of the seriousness of sin?

The answer is that we look to the cross of Christ. All the wrongs that have 
been done against us by believers were avenged in the death of Jesus. This
is implied in the simple but staggering fact that all the sins of all God’s 
people were laid on Jesus (
Isaiah 53:6
;
1 Corinthians 15:3,
etc.).

The suffering of Christ was the recompense of God on every hurt I have ever 
received from a fellow Christian. Therefore, Christianity does not make 
light
of sin. It does not add insult to our injury.

On the contrary, it takes the sins against us so seriously that, to make 
them right, God gave his own Son to suffer more than we could ever make 
anyone
suffer for what they have done to us.
Copyright Information

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


When You're Angry at God
Micca Campbell

"LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me."
Psalms 30:2
(NIV)

As I waited for my husband to return from surgery, I began to worry. It was 
taking longer than the doctor had said it would. Since over 80% of my 
husband's
body had been burned during the house fire, I feared the surgery would be 
too much for him.

My worst fears were confirmed when the doctor walked into the waiting room, 
still in his surgical clothes, and knelt down beside my chair. My heart 
began
to pound as he explained that my husband had gone into cardiac arrest and 
though they were trying everything they could to resuscitate, they feared 
they
had lost him. Immediately, I cried out for God to save him.

I still remember my desperate plea: God, I realize if my husband lives he 
most likely won't keep his arms. I understand what that means. He'll never 
hold
me again or play ball with our son. But I don't care, God. Please let him 
live!

As the clock ticked down, there was no response. After some time, it finally 
hit me: he had already left me.

After the funeral was over and the people were gone, I realized I was alone, 
a new mother, and a 21-year-old widow. I was very angry God had allowed for
things to turn out this way.

One desperate night, when the pain was more than I could stand, I cried out, 
Why, God? Why did You take him away from me? Oh, God. I need to know, why!

Have you ever been angry with God?

We've all made requests to God that didn't turn out like we had hoped. When 
that happens, it's easy to become confused about Him. We start to wonder if
He heard us or just said "No" to our prayer. What we are certain of is the 
anger we feel toward the Lord's ways.

It's important to express our upset emotions to the Lord. But we have to 
view our circumstances through the lens of God's grace: everything He does 
is
without fault and is always right. Look at Psalm 30:2, "LORD my God, I 
called to you for help, and you healed me." Rather than ignoring our pain or 
not
sharing our anger with God (which is silly because He already knows), we 
should confess our anger and seek His healing.

When I was completely honest with God that night, what happened next took me 
by surprise: God showed up!

I can only explain it like this. Just as a mother runs to her screaming 
child, God, the Father, ran to me—His child. I didn't see Him with my eyes 
or touch
Him with my hands, but I knew He was with me. It comforted me. This 
encounter with God became a turning point in my healing. I realized God 
understood
my frailties and feelings ... and He was big enough to handle them.

If you're angry with God, tell Him. Lay your heart open before God. 
Acknowledge that even while you don't understand what's happened, you trust 
He can
make everything work out.

It took me a while to see how my circumstances could be used for God's glory 
and my good. I didn't get my husband back, but I did get a closer 
relationship
with God. A few years later, I re-married, had two more beautiful children, 
and began a ministry of comfort. God also healed my heart from the pain of
loss and the scars anger left.

I'm glad I was honest with God when I cried out in anger to Him. You will be 
too.

Dear Lord, there is so much hurt and anger inside of me. I'm tired of living 
this way. I'm giving it to You to heal my hurt. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit
Micca's blog Proverbs 31 Ministries,

6 Ways Jesus Fought Depression

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

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

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

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

Jesus shows us another way. Not painless, and not passive. Follow him. Find 
your trusted spiritual friends. Open your soul to them. Ask them to watch 
with
you and pray. Pour out your soul to the Father. Rest in the sovereign wisdom 
of God. And fix your eyes on the joy set before you in the precious and 
magnificent
promises of God.
John Piper DesiringGod.org.

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Daily Devotional
Hurt and Hiding - #7437

Gal! That's the name of the dog that belongs to our missionary friend. She, 
and they, have lived on a Native American reservation. Most reservation dogs
- they call them rez dogs - are pretty aggressive to say the least. They'll 
meet you whether you want to meet them or not. Not Gal. As soon as she sees
anyone approaching, she runs for cover. You try to befriend her; she just 
cowers in a corner and trembles. It's pitiful! We asked our friends why Gal 
was
so withdrawn, and it's a sad story. She'd been abused as a puppy by her 
former owner, and any time anyone got close, she was afraid. Yeah, that they 
would
hurt her like those other people had.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hurt and 
Hiding."

Too hurt to trust anyone. That's not just something that happens to a pet. 
It happens to people a lot. Maybe it's happened to you. Somewhere along the
way you've been hurt, you've been abandoned, betrayed, abused, mistreated. 
And like that little dog, you're afraid to let anyone get close. In fact, 
you
may have built up some pretty elaborate defenses to make sure no one does. 
But really, you're just afraid they're going to hurt you like somebody else
did.

I saw one of our team on that reservation get very close to Gal - that dog. 
In fact, Gal would seek her out and give and receive a lot of affection. But
it was because that person took time to win that dog's trust. She proved 
that she only wanted to love her and help her, and that love actually broke 
through
the fear and the hurt. That's what I pray will happen for you. See, there's 
someone who is leaning your direction this very day, someone with 
outstretched
arms, not to hurt you but to hold you and to heal you. It's Jesus! He knows 
a lot about being hurt.

Listen to these words that describe Him. They are our word for today from 
the Word of God, Isaiah 61:1-2. "The Lord has anointed me to preach good 
news
to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim 
freedom to the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners."

See, Jesus is the healer of broken hearts and broken lives. He's the 
liberator from the darkness. But can He be trusted? God's answer - Romans 
8:32, "He
who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, will He not also 
graciously give us all things."

And then later in that chapter it says, "Nothing can ever separate us from 
His love." Can Jesus be trusted? Just walk up to that garbage dump hill 
called
Skull Hill. Stand there in the pouring rain at the foot of Jesus' cross and 
see the agony Jesus is suffering there; the nails in His hands and feet, the
thorns pressed on His brow, the spear wound in His side. Most of all, the 
total separation from God. And realize that's for you. That's your sin He's 
dying
to pay for.

Oh you can trust Him. He loves you enough to die for you. And He's been 
waiting for you to turn your life over to Him so He can start the healing 
process
that only He can bring. But first you have to tell Him that you're putting 
your total trust in Him to be your Savior. I know that word trust is a hard
one after what you've been through. But you can't just go on hurting, and 
hiding and alone. And this One who loved you so much that He gave everything
for you, He's the one person you can finally totally trust. You've been 
looking for Him. You've been longing for this person for a long time.

I hope you'll reach out to Him today and say, "Jesus, you loved me enough to 
die for me. I'm yours." Listen, you want to know how to get that 
relationship
started? You want to be sure you've now experienced that love for yourself - 
you belong to Him? Would you go to our website? It's ANewStory.com. Or if
you want to talk with someone about what it means to belong to Jesus, you 
can text us at 442-244-WORD.

I don't know what you've been through, but Jesus does. And as He approaches 
you today, don't run from His open arms. As He reaches to you, you will see
in His hands nail prints from the suffering He went through for you. He is 
the Healer that your heart has always wanted.

The Victor

I don't think I've ever wanted to murder anyone. I've never worshiped an 
idol. Adultery hasn't been a stumbling block for me. Why would I want to 
steal
from someone? Such big sins don't bother me.

Most of us who seek to follow the leadership of Jesus Christ discover that 
the big lures tend to disappear. It's the little traps that we stumble into.

One of my little struggles is that I tend to ignore the warning signs of 
past experiences, cautions in the Bible, or the restraining hand of God. I'm 
amazed
(in retrospect) how easily I convince myself to say a certain thing or act a 
certain way as a means of standing up for myself or being honest, or being
faithful to point out another's shortcomings. Once in a while, I've quoted 
Bible verses to show my righteousness and purity of heart.

And yet ... I still give in to temptations.

No one has to tell me that I sin with my tongue. It's too quick to speak, 
and too slow to pause. Then why haven't I corrected it?

First, of course, is the old standby excuse of innate sin. I'm a sinner by 
nature, and I'll always be a sinner. I may get better, and by God's grace, 
I'll
grow, but committing sin will always be part of me. Although true, it's no 
excuse for irresponsibility.

A far stronger reason is that I get confused between what I need and what I 
think I need. For instance, when King Ahab wanted to buy a certain vineyard
and the owner refused to sell, he fell into deep depression. As king he 
probably had hundreds of vineyards, but he had to have that particular one. 
Its
importance grew until he convinced himself he couldn't be happy without 
owning that piece of land.

"Hey, man, you're the king," his wife told him. "You can do what you want." 
She arranged for a couple of thugs to accuse the owner of a crime, she had
him stoned, and the crown took over the property.

What about David and his sin with Bathsheba? If any man in the Bible knew 
the way of God, it was David, but even he allowed his desires to do his 
thinking
for him. He may have had some unmet needs. Probably all of us think we do. 
Those are the things that get us into trouble, and sometimes we surrender to
temptation. Yet as the Victor Over Temptation shows us our particular areas 
of weakness, we can resist the subtle lures around us.

As I have discussed this matter with the Victor, he has given me some 
insight about myself. It's more truthful to say, he's forced me to admit 
things about
myself in recent days. Here's what I've learned. I know I'm a helper. People 
depend on me, talk to me, and open up to me. Sounds good and noble, doesn't
it?

The Victor Over Temptation has been enabling me see my underside, and I've 
finally begun to admit I feel pride in being needed and being indispensable.
To please others, I've adapted to their demands and wishes. Especially in 
the past, I found it difficult to recognize my own lack because I spent so 
much
energy in being needed. Unconsciously, I change my perspective to become 
empathetic and make emotional connections. Sometimes I adapt to the wishes 
of
others as a way to gain or retain their love.

Until a few months ago, I lived in ignorance of those facts. As I continue 
to ask the Victor Over Temptation for help, however, I see myself more 
clearly.
With God's help, I can find freedom from such traps.

The more I know about myself, and the more I'm in touch with the Victor, the 
more assured I become that I have the best weapons for defense. Those 
weapons
are simple, yet they're effective only when we learn to use them.

First, I pray. More and more, I realize the importance of the words: "Keep 
us from being tempted and protect us from evil" (Mt 6:13, CEV). I keep that
petition before me because I want God to show me the areas where I'm 
susceptible. As the Victor Over Temptation shows me my inner self, I often 
resist
the truth. Yet as I ask him to enable me to be open and I listen, I also 
fortify myself to win the next battle.

Second, I'm reading more in my Bible. That's the most powerful way God 
speaks to me. I'll read along and a verse takes on power as if I'd never 
read it before.

Here's one example. I was involved in a controversy in a writers' 
organization. One day when I was reading in Romans, my eyes stopped at this 
verse: "If
it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" 
(12:18, MKJV). The verse shouted inside my head. I read it two or three 
times.
By then, I knew I had to do something to bring peace. I reexamined my 
position and realized my hidden needs had subverted my zeal for integrity. 
Once I
backed up two steps, those on the other side did the same. We came to a 
place of peace.

That's the practical working of the Victor Over Temptation in my life. He 
helps me see not just the wrong and stupid things I've done; he's also 
helping
me look below my actions and attitudes to figure out why I failed.

As I thought of this, I recalled a prominent pastor involved in an 
adulterous situation. He had sinned. At the same time, as I understand my 
proclivity
to temptation, I'm learning to understand others. I wondered what kind of 
unfulfilled needs he had. If he had been able to talk to the Victor about 
those
deep inner needs, he might have overcome the temptation.

No single temptation strikes all of us. As we open ourselves to the Victor 
over Temptation, we can begin to understand our own inner driving forces 
that
might ensnare us. Then comes victory.

As I become aware of my personal temptations, and as I call on the Victor 
Over Temptation, I know that I'm going to sin.

Even if you think you can stand up to temptations, be careful not to fall. 
You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can 
be
trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to 
escape from your temptations. --
1 Corinthians 10:12-16,
CEV

Victor Over Temptation,
with your help I can win.
With your help
I can find answers and satisfy those hurting,
needy parts of my life.
With your help
I can win time after time against temptations.
Thanks for providing the way of escape. Amen.

For more from Cec, please visit
www.cecilmurphey.com.

He Has Promised to Give The Wisdom And Answers You Need
by Dean Masters

Jeremiah 33:3
“Call to me and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things 
that you have not known.â€

Do you need wisdom, guidance, knowledge and direction? If you seek God’s 
face and you spend time in the Word ask Him and He promises He will show you 
things
you could never know without Him!

God’s goal for you is not for you to wander aimlessly wondering, His goal is 
to fill you with His wisdom and knowledge for life so you can be successful
in all He has called you to! When you get frustrated because you don’t have 
answers are you spending time reading your Bible and seeking God on every 
level
available to you or are you expecting Him to “write it on the wallâ€? 
Remember the writing on the wall wasn’t a “good†thing, it was a curse!

Seeking God should not be some sort of overwhelming task, it should be a 
deep seated desire as a Christian to always be attempting to know Him 
better!
We should love to learn new and amazing things about HIm on a regular basis, 
it should be exciting to have Him reveal a little more of Himself to us!

What do you need answers for today? Have you asked God for His wisdom and 
guidance? Sometimes the answer is right in front of us, we just need to ask 
to
be able to see it. Don’t hesitate and certainly don’t put off asking God to 
show you all you need to know day by day and to reveal the hidden things you
don’t understand or know yet. He is waiting. The best is yet to come but you 
have to ask for it!

Quote:
“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.†Tuli Kupferberg
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Thankful for Angels
by Charles R. Swindoll

Psalm 91

Have you counted your blessings lately? Let me suggest one you might have 
overlooked. Let's be thankful for angels---those unseen guardians who work 
overtime,
who never slumber or sleep.

Angels exist as supernatural creatures in and about heaven, and they are 
frequently dispatched to earth in human form to bring encouragement and 
assistance.
If you have ever encountered the sudden appearance and/or departure of an 
angel after receiving one's help, you are never quite the same.

Several years ago some high school fellas from the church I pastored in 
Southern California went on a mountain-climbing excursion, along with their 
youth
leader. While taking in the breathtaking sights, however, the leader 
realized he had lost the trail. A heavy snowfall had completely covered the 
path,
and he didn't have a clue where they were or how they could get back to the 
main camp. Sundown was not far away, and they were not equipped to spend the
night on the craggy, windblown slopes where the temperature would soon drop 
even lower.

While trudging through the snow, entertaining thoughts just this side of 
panic, they suddenly heard someone on the slopes above them yell down: 
"Hey---the
trail is up here!" They glanced up and to their relief saw another climber 
in the distance. Without hesitation, they began to make their way up to the
large boulder where the man was sitting. The climb was exhausting, but their 
relief in finding the way gave their adrenaline a rush.

Finally, they arrived . . . but to their surprise the man who had yelled at 
them was nowhere to be found. Furthermore, there were no traces in the snow
that anyone had been sitting on the boulder, nor were there footprints 
around the rock. The trail, however, stretched out before them, leading them 
to
safety. The boys not only learned a valuable lesson about the wilderness but 
also firmed up their belief in encountering "angels without knowing it."

God's special messengers are often invisible but never impotent. As the 
psalmist has written: "He will give His angels charge concerning you, To 
guard
you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not 
strike your foot against a stone" (Ps. 91:11-12).

Can you think of occasions in your own life when you had what you would 
consider "a close call"? How about one of your kids or friends? Can you 
remember
a time or two when, through some incredible manner, they were shielded from 
harm or delivered from danger?

Excerpted from
Day by Day with Charles Swindoll,
Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). 
All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

How to Find Your Lifelong Companion
Fear
© 2015 Insight for Living. All rights reserved worldwide.

Waiting on God

To get out of a pit, it's really not complicated.
Psalm 40:1-2
tells us the first step,

I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. 
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set 
my
feet upon a rock, and established my steps.

The first step in getting out of the pit of despair is to cry out to God. He 
will hear your cry, and He will bring you up and out.

But His answer is not always instant. Notice David said, I waited patiently 
for the Lord. The answer to his cry wasn't apparent for a while. If you've
spent a long time getting yourself into a mess, it may take some time for 
your deliverance.

A number of years back I went hunting with a friend. I was to fly on a 
little plane into a meadow about 20 miles into the wilderness where he was 
going
to meet me.

For a variety of reasons, I ended up being six hours late to the drop-off 
point. My friend wasn't there, so for 20 minutes the pilot of that little 
plane
tried to convince me not to stay. He said there were mountain lions, grizzly 
bears, packs of wolves… I would get eaten alive!

He finally left, and at about two in the morning I heard a noise. It wasn't 
a grizzly bear; it was my friend with the horses!

I think the devil is like that airplane pilot. He is always trying to talk 
us into quitting and giving up. But we can miss the greatest blessings in 
our
lives when we are not patient.

Visit the Answers with
Bayless Conley
website for more ways to Connect with God
Bayless Conley
broadcast at LightSource.com.

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You

A Word With You
Daily Devotional
How to Open Hearts to Jesus - #7434

I had the great privilege of being a part of Billy Graham's Congress on 
Evangelism in Amsterdam. After several days packed with challenging 
sessions, the
10,000 evangelists that were attending spent one entire afternoon in what 
was called a "Day of Witness." We were given box lunches to eat on the bus 
and
then sent across Holland that day to do evangelism in scores of places.

I was asked to be the bus captain for the 40 or so people on my bus. When I 
men¬tioned those lunches to Richard, the bus driver, he was not a happy 
camper.
He didn't seem par-ticularly sympathetic about what we were going to do. He 
sure wasn't going to have all those lunches on his bus. He said, "I always
end up cleaning a bus full of garbage." The only way we ever got out of the 
parking lot that day was because I pledged to Richard I would clean the bus
myself.

After we arrived at our venue and all the other delegates walked over to the 
plaza for the outreach, I stayed behind. I filled those trash bags as fast
as I could so I could get to where the spiritual action was. It turned out 
the action was on the bus. Our driver, Richard, inspected the bus and he 
said
in amazement, "It's clean. I can't believe it." Then he wanted to know in 
depth why we were there.

Suddenly this young man, who had greeted us with a lot of skepticism, wanted 
to know what made us tick. As I explained the difference between a religion
and a relationship with Jesus, it seemed like his heart was opening up to 
that relationship. While everyone else was presenting the Gospel to crowds 
of
shoppers, that bus became holy ground as our driver invited Jesus Christ to 
be his Savior. In a sense, that opportunity presented itself because of a 
guy
who picked up his garbage!

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to 
Open Hearts to Jesus."

Somewhere in your world there are people who need to hear about your Jesus 
and you know that. You've thought about trying to tell them what Jesus did 
for
them on the cross. But they don't seem to be interested, or they're off on 
another spiritual road that it's going to be hard to get them off of. How 
can
you get them to care about Jesus? What can you do to help open the closed 
door on their heart?

Remember the bus driver and the garbage bags. Or, better yet, remember our 
word for today from the Word of God, 1 Corinthians 9:19. Paul said, "Though
I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as 
many as possible." Wow! What a revolutionary strategy for getting people to
heaven! If there's someone you want to win to Jesus, become their servant.

As you look at your lost neighbor or coworker, teammate, family member, 
fellow student, maybe a friend, ask yourself, "What needs does that person 
have
where I could come alongside them and really be of service?" Maybe they 
could use your help on a project. Maybe they need practical help like taking 
care
of their kids, helping with transportation, lending them some equipment, 
listening to them, being at the hospital or the funeral, or picking up the 
garbage.
Our Dutch bus driver's heart wasn't opened by some clever approach I had to 
talking about Jesus. It was opened by love that did something about a need
he cared about.

If you want to reach someone, find a way to serve them. You'll be 
demonstrating your message before you present your message. Their heart will 
be soft
to the messenger, and hopefully to the message. You'll get close to them by 
getting down where they are to serve them.

Now, whether it's a bus driver with a messy bus or a neighbor with their own 
kind of mess, the way to their heart is to be the one with the garbage bag
or whatever will serve their particular need. It's life-or-death business 
that those people hear about your Jesus. Their eternity depends on it. You 
need
to serve them, as Jesus became the servant, when He gave up His life to meet 
our need.

Before you tell them about Jesus, why don't you show them how Jesus treats 
people.
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. · P.O. Box 400 · Harrison, Arkansas 72602 · 
USA
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Labor Day

This is Labor Day weekend in the United States and Canada. Some people treat 
this as the last weekend to take off and take a short vacation while others 
treat it as a day to labor around the house. I heard a woman call in to a 
radio station the other day saying she was going to labor around the house 
including taking down her Christmas decorations. Whatever way the day is 
celebrated it should remind each of us who know Jesus Christ what He wants 
us to do:

Luke 10:2 (KJV)
2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers 
are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth 
labourers into his harvest.

When Martin Luther set out on the work which shook the world, his friend 
Myconius expressed sympathy. “But,” he said, “I can best help where I am. I 
will remain and pray while you toil.” Myconius prayed day by day, but as he 
prayed he began to feel uncomfortable.
One night he had a dream. He thought the Saviour himself approached and 
showed him his hands and feet. He saw the fountain in which he had been 
cleansed from sin. Then looking earnestly into his eyes the Saviour said, 
“Follow me.” The Lord took him to a lofty mountain and pointed eastward. 
Looking in that direction Myconius saw a plain stretching away to the 
horizon. It was dotted with white sheep—thousands and thousands of them. One 
man was trying to shepherd them all. The man was Luther. The Saviour pointed 
westward. Myconius saw a great field of standing corn. One reaper was trying 
to harvest it all. The lonely laborer was spent and exhausted, but still he 
persisted in his task. Myconius recognized in the solitary reaper his old 
friend Luther.
“It is not enough,” said Myconius when he awakened, “that I should pray. The 
sheep must be shepherded; the fields must be reaped. Here am I; send me.” 
And he went out and shared his old friend’s labors.
—Fiery Crags, by Boreham

I heard of one woman who was bedridden but asked for prayer requests wich 
were put on a bulletin board by her bed so she could pray for them. She 
probably did minister to those who were there to help her also. We could do 
the same if we were in the same position. We could spend our time in prayer 
but also minister to those we came in contact with.

May we pray that laborers will go into the harvest field. Let us be open to 
the leading of the Holy Spirit that we may become the laborers the Lord is 
calling.

by Dean W. Masters

Evangelism Weekly

The Power of Listening in Evangelism
Randy Newman

Early on in the designing of my research about evangelism, I had to choose 
between qualitative research (extended interviews) and quantitative research
(computerized surveys). In a moment of temporary insanity, I considered 
doing both. My dissertation advisor said, “Well… you could do both—if you 
wanted
to pursue two doctorates!” I opted for the face-to-face, 
structured-yet-flexible, 45-minutes-to-an-hour, qualitative interview. And I’m 
glad I did.

I had my standardized list of 15 questions that I wanted answered by all of 
the 40 interviewees. But I also wanted to allow myself the option to explore
certain things they said with “could you tell me more about that?” or “what 
makes you say that?” or “It looks like you’re having trouble answering that
question. Are you?”

I began each interview by asking them how they became a Christian. I told 
them they could take as long as they wanted to tell their story. I found 
that
most of them actually answered 5 or more of my 15 questions without my 
needing to ask them. The rest of the interview pursued the questions they 
had not
yet answered and other aspects of their story that I wanted to hear more 
about.

A few recurring patterns emerged:

• Some things didn’t come to the surface until after 30 minutes. I started 
noticing things around the 35th or 40th minute when people would say things
like, “I just realized something,” or, “I never thought of this,” or, 
“Hmmmm. I need to think about that a little.”
• I saw some patterns they didn’t see. For example, I would ask if it was 
the same person who told them two important pieces of information or 
something
like that and several of them said, “Yeah. I didn’t see that before but you’re 
right.” One young woman didn’t think of something important until we were
all finished, standing up, shaking hands, and saying goodbye. At that point, 
my notebook was closed and my recorder was off, but she said, “Hey, I just
thought of something. For me, it had to be anonymous. It had to be a total 
stranger who talked to me about Jesus because I had alienated all the
Christians
I knew.” I sat down, took out my notebook, and added more to her story.
• When people had to find words to express their inner thoughts, the 
experience clarified their thinking. I wonder if some people actually become 
Christians
while they’re talking about something they think has already happened.
• It’s amazing how many things surprise you (the interviewer) and them (the 
interviewee).

So, my point is:

Lesson 11 – We need to listen to people’s stories to find out how God has 
worked and is working. We dare not presume that he needs to fit into our 
plans
or strategies.

This may seem obvious but you’d be amazed how rare it is. There is a lot of 
research done through technology that has people check boxes and rate 
experiences
on scales of 1 (totally disagree) to 9 (totally agree). I do think there’s 
great value in what we learn through such polls and surveys. I read a lot of
what Barna and Gallup and Pew and others find.

But there are limits. One extensive quantitative research project sought to 
learn why newcomers visited, stayed, and eventually joined churches. But, 
oddly,
they never asked the newcomers! They asked the pastoral staff of the 
churches. I remember laughing out loud when I read that many pastors said 
the “number
one reason” people came to their church was “the preaching.” That may be so. 
But I can think of more accurate, less biased sources for such information.

There are things we need to learn that won’t surface through the help of 
Survey Monkey and the like. Pastors would do well to interview people new to 
their
churches to find out why they came or what they’ve learned or where they are 
on their spiritual journey. Such interviews may turn out to be the most 
fruitful
evangelism we ever do!
----------------------------------------------------------
Randy Newman has been with the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ since 1980 
and currently serves with Faculty Commons, their ministry to university 
professors.
Randy is a Jewish Believer in Jesus and is the former editor of The 
Messiah-On-Campus Bulletin. He is the author of numerous articles and books 
including
Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did
and
Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and 
Others Who Know You Well.

LightSource.com Featured Ministry

Global Prayer Digest People of the Day
JESUS Film Project
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JESUS Film Project
Jul 08, 2015 01:00 am

Today's Devotional

Luke 6:19, NET "The whole crowd was trying to touch Him, because power was 
coming out from Him and healing them all."

Imagine how hard it must have been for needy, sick people to want to listen 
to Jesus rather than just use Him for healing. The same temptation is with
us today. Those who need God’s healing touch can often want it no matter 
where it comes from, without seeking the Holy One who came to teach about 
the
Kingdom of God.

Pray for the needy people in China to not just look to the Lord for healing, 
but to embrace the ways of the Divine Healer.—KC

Today's People Group

At a humanitarian center in a Middle Eastern refugee camp, a church-planting 
team was showing the JESUS Film. Kwala, a 21-year old woman, sat with 
inquisitive
eyes and commented, “I have never heard of such miracles!” She asked for a 
Bible to read more. The next week she returned and said, “Do I need to 
declare
that I’m a Christian to all my family and neighbors? Should I take off my 
veil?” The staff members responded, “It is enough to pray to Jesus and ask 
Him
into your life.”
The motto of the JESUS Film project is, “Because seeing is believing.” The 
goal of the JESUS Film Project is to help share Jesus with everyone in his 
or
her own heart language using media tools and movement building strategies. 
The film is a two-hour docudrama about the life of Christ based on the 
Gospel
of Luke. Many mission experts have acclaimed the JESUS Film as one of the 
greatest evangelistic success stories of all time.
The ultimate success of this project won’t be measured by how many people 
have seen it, but by how many will follow Him after seeing the film. It is 
available
in 1308 languages, 429 audio dramas, and 157 children’s versions.

Pray that the JESUS Film will be shown in places where the gospel is 
hindered by a lack of education. Pray for refugees seeing the film to ask 
Jesus into
their lives. Pray for the project’s success in recording the film in even 
more languages, especially in China.

Learn more at
Joshua Project.

God's Hand in Your Life

Psalms 103:2

It is a delightful and profitable occupation to mark the hand of God in the 
lives of ancient saints and to observe His goodness in delivering them, His
mercy in pardoning them, and His faithfulness in keeping His covenant with 
them. But would it not be even more interesting and profitable for us to 
observe
the hand of God in our own lives? Should we not look upon our own history as 
being at least as full of God, as full of His goodness and of His truth, as
much a proof of His faithfulness and veracity as the lives of any of the 
saints who have gone before?

We do our Lord an injustice when we suppose that He performed all His mighty 
acts and showed Himself strong for those in the early time but does not 
perform
wonders or lay bare His arm for the saints who are now upon the earth. Let 
us review our own lives. Surely in these we may discover some happy 
incidents,
refreshing to ourselves and glorifying to our God. Have you had no 
deliverances? Have you passed through no rivers, supported by the divine 
presence? Have
you walked through no fires unharmed? Have you had no manifestations? Have 
you had no choice favors? The God who gave Solomon the desire of his heart,
has He never listened to you and answered your requests? That God of lavish 
bounty of whom David sang, "who satisfies you with good,"1 has He never 
filled
you up to overflowing? Have you never been made to lie down in green 
pastures? Have you never been led by the still waters?

Surely the goodness of God has been the same to us as to the saints of old. 
Let us, then, weave His mercies into a song. Let us take the pure gold of 
thankfulness
and the jewels of praise and make them into another crown for the head of 
Jesus. Let our souls produce music as sweet and as exhilarating as came from
David's harp while we praise the Lord whose mercy endures forever.

1 Psalm 103:5

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Joshua 11

verse 2 Psalms 144

The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship

Broader and deeper than simple fellowship, biblical friendship is first and 
foremost about a relationship with Jesus Christ. As you are brought into 
friendship
and relationship with the Father, Jesus Christ calls you a friend! It is out 
of this friendship that our human friendships find their beginning and their
purpose. Biblical friendship is deep, honest, pure, transparent, and 
liberating. It is also attainable. Dig into this book, and learn how your 
friendships
can embody this amazing and wonderful reality.


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

Retaliation has its appeal. But Jesus has a better idea.

John 13 records the events of the final night before Jesus' death. He and 
his followers had gathered in the Upper Room for Passover. John begins his 
narrative
with a lofty statement: "Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority 
over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God" (
John 13:3
NLT).

Jesus knew the who and why of his life. Who was he? God's Son. Why was he on 
earth? To serve the Father. Jesus knew his identity and authority, "so he
got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 
and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples' feet and
to wipe them with the towel he had around him" (
John 13:4–5
NLT).

Jesus -- CEO, head coach, king of the world, sovereign of the seas -- washed 
feet.

Even Judas. The lying, conniving, greedy rat who sold Jesus down the river 
for a pocket of cash. Jesus won't wash his feet, will he? Sure hope not. If
he washes the feet of his Judas, you will have to wash the feet of yours. 
Your betrayer. That ne'er-do-well, that good-for-nothing villain. Jesus' 
Judas
walked away with thirty pieces of silver. Your Judas walked away with your 
virginity, security, spouse, job, child-hood, retirement, investments.

You expect me to wash his feet and let him go?

Most people don't want to. They use the villain’s photo as a dart target. 
Their Vesuvius blows up every now and again, sending hate airborne, 
polluting
and stinking the world. Most people keep a pot of anger on low boil.

But you aren't "most people." Grace has happened to you. Look at your feet. 
They are wet, grace soaked. Your toes and arches and heels have felt the 
cool
basin of God's grace. Jesus has washed the grimiest parts of your life. He 
didn't bypass you and carry the basin toward someone else. If grace were a 
wheat
field, he's bequeathed you the state of Kansas. Can't you share your grace 
with others?

"Since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash 
each other's feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done 
to
you" (
John 13:14–15
NLT).

To accept grace is to accept the vow to give it.
Copyright Information
Today's devotional is drawn from Max Lucado's
Facing Your Giants.


When 'Good Morning' is a Bad Word
by Katherine Britton

If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken 
as a curse. -
Proverbs 27:14
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for 
building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
-
Ephesians 4:29

I am not a morning person.

My college friends and I still joke about the semester our intrepid Bible 
study (we were studying Romans with just about every denominational 
background
represented) decided it was a good idea to change our meeting time to 
Saturday mornings. My nocturnal habits often made me the least inclined to 
drag myself
from repose, and I confess that I used the "I think I'm coming down with a 
cold" excuse more than once. On one such morning, another member of the 
group
decided she would jumpstart my lethargic spirituality. While I was groggily 
ignoring my roommate's gentle encouragement to come to Bible study, she 
walked
the dorm room, threw open the curtains to the sunshine, and loudly 
proclaimed, "GOOD MORNING, KATHERINE!"

I have no idea what I said in response, but I'm sure it wasn't Christian.

I respect my friend's abiding
faith
in early bird philosophy, but I was delighted a few months later when I 
discovered Proverbs 27:14. The Message clarifies the verse by putting it 
this
way: "If you wake your friend in the early morning by shouting ‘Rise and 
shine!' It will sound to him more like a curse than a blessing."

I immediately told my friends that my discovery. I had found concrete 
evidence that God was not a morning person.

Of course, the verse's real point deals less with God's waking hours and 
more with speaking wisely. Proverbs once again brings the focus back to the 
power
and timing of our words when we relate to other. The funny illustration 
demonstrates that wisdom is more than a wholesome word or truth. Wisdom is 
also
a truth aptly spoken.

Sunday School has drilled the catchphrase "Speak the truth in love" 
(Ephesians 4:15) into our heads, but even this approach can lack grace. Paul 
himself
encouraged his readers to consider that not every word is fit for every 
occasion. Even the comforting promise of Romans 8:28 - that God works all 
things
for good of those who
love
him - should sometimes give way to grieving when the cancer diagnosis is 
first announced or a loved one dies. Those are obvious examples, and the 
more
subtle situations are myriad. But here's the lesson I take away from this 
verse: We're supposed to consider the impact on our hearers. Wise words do 
more
than offer the right word and expect our friends to recognize its truth even 
if we choose an inopportune moment. Instead, I have to recognize that the
right word offered at the wrong time might as well be a curse instead of a 
blessing.

I take comfort in knowing that I don't have to spew every nugget of 
knowledge at every pertinent encounter. We're not supposed to be somebody 
else's
Holy Spirit,
convicting them of every errant or off-color word. Nor are we supposed to be 
perpetually perky saints, walking around singing hallelujahs all the time.
There's a place for bold ministry, but too often I confuse boldness with my 
very human need to "say something" - and the results are rarely "good for 
building
up" or "as fits the occasion."

Intersecting Faith & Life: Don't be the neighbor who yells, "Good morning" 
too loudly. Let's encourage each other with words that "will give grace to 
those
who hear" this week. Our goal is not to make others see our point of view or 
our wisdom, but to build each other up with the love of Christ.

Further Reading

Ecclesiastes 3
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5 Life-Changing Lessons from the Story of Shadrach Meshach and Abednego
Sarah Coleman
Prevention is better than a cure. So you eat your vegetables, drink eight 
glasses of water each day, stay away form illicit substances, exercise 
regularly,
drive within the speed limit, pray, and believe the Bible.
Despite all the effort, sometimes stuff still goes wrong: you have a heart 
attack; your mother gets cancer; your
marriage
falls apart; your children rebel; you lose your job; the list goes on.
Long ago there were three Hebrews who lived righteous lives, yet things 
didn't go so well for them. They encountered evil, but rather than succumb 
like
everyone else around them, they challenged their situation. At first matters 
only became worse, but in the end they came through smelling like roses.
Life isn't easy, and sometimes it deals you a rotten hand. Don't succumb to 
the weight of it all; find hope in the story of Shadrach, Meshach and 
Abednego.
Because what you need is a miracle in the fire.
Persuaded
Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his
faith
grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced 
that God is able to do whatever he promises (
Romans 4:20-21).
When you read the account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3, one 
thing is apparent: they were fully persuaded. Nothing could make them bow
to Nebuchadnezzar's statue - no threats, no consequence, no punishment. They 
were fully persuaded of the promises of God and in their obedience to him
(
Daniel 3:16-18).
If life has pushed you too far, it is time to rise up with the attitude of 
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - an attitude where you are fully persuaded.
God can rescue me from cancer... Even if he doesn't, I will not bow down.
God can restore my marriage... Even if he doesn't, I will not bow down.
God will cause me to prosper... Even if he doesn't, I will not bow down.
Pressure
You might expect a fully persuaded attitude would cause breakthrough. Not 
necessarily. When Nebuchadnezzar heard Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego's 
words
of defiance, he did not back down either. He turned up the pressure. Things 
got even hotter (
Daniel 3:19).
Things may be heating up in your life - divorce, custody battles, sickness, 
mental illness. You took a stand for God but things just got worse. You 
found
yourself staring down a fire. A fire like none you've seen. You thought God 
would save you from the fire. You prayed God would save you from the fire.
But it remains.
Don't despair. Because when the devil turns up the heat, God does too.
Promise
But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And he who formed 
you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your 
name;
You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And 
through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the 
fire,
you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you”
(Isaiah 43:1-2).
God isn't going to save you from the fire. He will bring you through it. 
When you walk through the fire of cancer, sickness, divorce, financial 
ruin -
you shall not be burned.
Nebuchadnezzar made the fire so hot it killed some of his strongest soldiers 
(
Daniel 3:22).
Fire is deadly - for some. But you will not be truly burned. If you are 
fully persuaded of the promises of God, you will not be destroyed.
You expected the miracle outside the fire. You thought God would save you 
before things went that far. But for you, the miracle is in the fire.
Like it was for three Hebrews.
Protection
When Nebuchadnezzar threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the fire, 
their chains broke, Jesus walked with them, and they did not smell of smoke 
(
Daniel 3:24-27).
When you walk through the fire, chains will break. Satan has used your 
situation to keep you living a small and contained life. No longer! Chains 
break
in the fire.
According to the promise of
Isaiah 43,
Jesus will walk with you in the fire. Whatever the trouble or trial may be, 
you will have a tangible sense of his presence. Jesus reveals himself in the
fire. Watch for deeper revelation and worship experiences in your life.
Promotion
When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego exited the fire, they received a 
promotion. King Nebuchadnezzar saw the goodness and favour of God on their 
lives and
promoted them in his worldly kingdom (
Daniel 3:30).
The fire may have been your greatest test, but on the other side you will 
see promotion. You will experience spiritual promotion, for fire always 
refines.
You may also encounter physical promotion in your job and experience greater 
favor with those you know. Others will recognize the goodness of God through
your faith.
If the fires of life are threatening, take heart. The miracle of Shadrach, 
Meshach and Abednego is a miracle for you too. Be fully persuaded. Believe 
the
promise, so when the pressure increases, you receive protection and 
ultimately promotion.
Don't give up. Your miracle is in the fire.
I'm Sarah Coleman, an Aussie passionate about Jesus & family. Through blogs 
and books I minister life and encouragement. Download my FREE eBook,
Be Amazing: You Know You Want To.
Find more of my thoughts at
sarahcoleman.com.au.


Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion
Your Burdens
Tuesday, July 7, 2015

“I shall call upon God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and 
at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice . . . Cast 
your
burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the 
righteous to be shaken.”
- Psalm 55:16-22 NASB

The son of slaves, Charles Tindley consistently demonstrated initiative. 
Born in Maryland on this day in 1851, he became determined to secure an 
education,
in spite of the obstacles. He taught himself to read and write, and worked 
as a janitor while attending night school. He earned his divinity degree 
through
a correspondence course, and even taught himself Greek and Hebrew. Then, in 
1902, he became pastor of the Philadelphia church where he had served as 
janitor.

One day, Tindley was visited by a man who was overwhelmed with worries. 
Tindley responded, “My advice to you is put all your troubles in a sack, 
take ’em
to the Lord, and leave ’em there.”

As he did so often (as the “father of Gospel music”), Tindley turned this 
conviction into a song. He wrote, “If the world from you withhold of its 
silver
and its gold, and you have to get along with meager fare, just remember, in 
His Word, how He feeds the little bird; take your burden to the Lord and 
leave
it there.” The message was repeated: “If you trust and never doubt, He will 
surely bring you out.”

Tindley knew that this truth applied in every situation. “If your body 
suffers pain and your health you can’t regain, and your Soul is almost 
sinking in
despair, Jesus knows the pain you feel, He can save and He can heal.”

Do you have burdens that seem overwhelming? It can be easy to go through the 
motions and still carry burdens. Don’t let this happen to you. Obey God’s
Word! Cast your burdens on Him! And leave them with Him.

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Father, I commit these burdens to You: __________. I cast them on You. 
Thank You for taking them away. Thank You for Your peace and freedom. In 
Jesus’
name. Amen.

Further Reading: Psalm 55
© 2015 Inspiration Ministries, All rights reserved

Today's Turning Point with David Jeremiah

Today's

Turning Point
Tuesday, July 7

A Dark and Dirty World

Let all that you do be done with love.
1 Corinthians 16:14

Recommended Reading
Luke 4:16-20
In Born to Battle, Sallie Chesham described the “Slum Sisters”—a group of 
nineteenth century American Salvation Army women who went into the darkest 
neighborhoods
with the compassion of Christ. “They spent their days in house-to-house 
visitation,” wrote Chesham, “doing whatever needed to be done, ready to 
scrub,
drive out rats, tend a jaundiced woman, bathe a dead baby and arrange for 
the funeral, deal with a drunken father, chat with distressed boys and 
girls.
The Bible was in their pocket and a prayer on their tongue.”

Listen to Today's Radio Broadcast
Too often we shy away from the darker, dirtier places where God’s love is 
most needed. Jesus went everywhere. He touched the lepers, entered 
graveyards
in search of demoniacs, talked to despised Samaritans, and wept by the tombs 
of the dead. His grace can reach the darkest places with the light of His
message.

Wherever the Lord sends you, He will go with you. He will use you.

They grew accustomed to the worst aspects of life and quickly discovered 
that God’s love, as shown by a helpful dust cloth or a scrub brush or a bar 
of
soap, or more simply, a cup of hot tea, was usually more welcome than when 
expounded from a pulpit.
Sallie Chesham

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Proverbs 24-26
David Jeremiah's Website


Love Will Lift You

Love lifts a broken heart—not just any love, but the love of God. Most of us 
have sung James Rowe's hymn, "Love Lifted Me." The first verse contains 
these
words:

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more.
But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me—now safe am I.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help, love lifted me!

Sometimes nothing can lift our hearts like the love of God. Friends abandon 
us. Colleagues try to bypass us. Even our families may fail to understand 
us.
But God's love for us never changes.

Even when we act unlovable, God continues to love us. When we are 
undesirable, He embraces us. When it seems that the world has turned against 
us, God's
love remains. He has promised never to leave us hopeless.

Difficulties in life can certainly leave us feeling broken and confused. 
Many times, disappointments come in order to teach us more about the depths 
of
God's love. In desperation, we turn to God. This is when we discover that 
only His love can truly lift us up and restore our sense of hope.

We may struggle to find another way around our problems, hoping that someone 
or something will bring relief, but nothing can help us outside the love of
God. Only His love has the ability to satisfy our every need.

Maybe you are wondering if God really loves you. Have you yielded to sin? Or 
have you allowed the world and its trappings to come between you and your
Savior? Cry out to Him and He will restore the joy of your
salvation.
When nothing else can help, love will lift you.

****

Enjoy 365 Biblical daily devotional emails from Michael Youssef by
registering for My Devotional today.

You Don’t Have to Plan Everything
Jon Bloom / July 7, 2015
You Don’t Have to Plan Everything

God doesn’t want you to plan everything.

Don’t get me wrong. Planning is a beautiful thing. God is a magnificent 
planner — in the bigness of the universe and the smallest molecules. Many 
things
in life simply do not happen without planning. Stadiums aren’t built, sewer 
systems aren’t installed, power grids aren’t maintained, children aren’t 
educated,
books aren’t written, churches aren’t planted, weight isn’t lost, and often 
prayer doesn’t happen without a plan.

Jesus’s Largely Unprogrammed Ministry

And yet the most powerful ministry encounters recorded from Jesus’s life 
seemed to take place during unexpected, informal, unprogrammed moments. If 
you
skim through the Gospel of John, you’ll see what I mean. Most of what John 
recorded of Jesus’s ministry — from his baptism to his post-resurrection 
appearances
— were experienced by his followers and observers as unplanned, spontaneous 
events.

In other words, the picture we get of Jesus’s earthly ministry strategy is 
not a highly structured three-year plan with a detailed, efficiently 
executed
travel schedule and preaching itinerary. Rather, what we see is Jesus 
remaining in a state of constant prayer, confident in the Father’s plan, 
watching
for his Father’s initiative (John 5:19), and, in response to that 
initiative, making decisions to stay or move or preach or heal — decisions 
that from
a human perspective seemed spontaneous.

Not By Might, Nor By Power, But By the Spirit

So what, if anything, does this mean for twenty-first-century Western 
Christians who live in a very complex technological culture that highly 
values strategic
planning in just about every area in life — from exercise to school to 
parenting to yard work to our 9-to-5? We must remain aware of and critically 
evaluate
our cultural values. We learn from our culture that success is owing to 
effective planning and execution. We absorb this value just living in our 
world.

But the examples in the Gospels and Acts tell us that the kingdom of God is 
being built according to God’s “definite plan and foreknowledge” (Acts 
2:23),
not ours (Isaiah 58:8–9). We cannot build the kingdom of God like the new, 
billion-dollar stadium is being built in Minneapolis. Success for us is not
merely a combination of the right goals, the right blueprint, the right 
budget, the right resources, the right timeline, the right talent, and the 
right
materials. The reason is that we often don’t even know what the key factors 
are in ministry — what faithfulness and fruitfulness look like in a 
particular
situation or relationship.

God purposely plans to build his kingdom through works of his sovereign 
Spirit rather than sheer human might and power (Zechariah 4:6). God 
purposely chooses
to build his kingdom using means and people that from a worldly standpoint 
are weak and foolish (1 Corinthians 1:22–29). God purposes to build his 
kingdom
in ways that are different from the ways the world generally works because 
the kingdom is a new creation, not part of the old one (2 Corinthians 5:17).
It’s a new world order (Isaiah 65:17). And therefore it is very important to 
God that we, as citizens of his better, heavenly country (Hebrews 11:16),
do not rest our faith “in the wisdom of man but in the power of God” (1 
Corinthians 2:5).

Some Diagnostic Questions

This is a significant reason why God chose to move like he did in the 
Gospels and Acts. He wanted to show the world that he exists and rewards 
those who
seek him (Hebrews 11:6), and he wanted his people to not depend on their own 
wisdom, but to be prayerful, watchful, and responsive in faith when he works
in unexpected ways.

And this reason hasn’t changed.

Given our cultural assumptions, we must ask ourselves, how prayerful are we 
in our plans and programs? I mean, really prayerful.

Are we really asking God for specific things?
Are we really listening? Are we really watching?
Are we flexible and available to respond to an unexpected, unprogrammed move 
of God?
Do the structures we’ve constructed in our lives and ministries even allow 
for this?
Do we even want God to move in such ways?

These are just questions. I’m asking them freshly of myself, and so I’ll 
pass them along to you. This is a diagnostic exercise. We who are often 
enamored
with plans and programs must question our cultural assumptions. We must hold 
up our lives next to Jesus’s and to the early church, and let them speak 
into
us and our strategies.

God isn’t against ministry plans and programs. The highly structured temple 
worship described in Leviticus, the complex, multi-dimensional 
administration
required to govern Israel, and the normative rhythm of corporate worship and 
life together found in the New Testament show us this. God is glorified in
good planning.

But God doesn’t want or intend us to plan everything. He is working a highly 
detailed plan and he wants us to follow his lead — perhaps more than we are
today. Let us ask ourselves if and where we may be leaning too much on our 
own understanding in pursuing God’s kingdom advance.
Are You a Friend of Jesus?
John Piper / July 7, 2015
Are You a Friend of Jesus?

Are you a friend of Jesus? How do you know? In this lab, John Piper looks 
again at John 15 to see what kind of confidence we can have that Jesus loves
us and died for our sins. He looks closely at one two-letter word that makes 
all the difference.
Copyright © 2015 Desiring God, all rights reserved
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Today's Daily Encounter

Creative Boredom

"We want to avoid any criticism of the way we
administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains
to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord
but also in the eyes of men."1

"A young boy complained to his father that most of the
church hymns were boring to him--too far behind the
times, tiresome tunes and meaningless words. His father
put an end to the discussion by saying, 'If you think
you can write better hymns, then why don't you?' The
boy went to his room and wrote his first hymn. The year
was 1690. The teenager was Isaac Watts. 'When I Survey
the Wondrous Cross' and 'Joy to the World' are among
almost 350 hymns written by him. Feeling Bored? Let the
world remember you for 300+ years!"2

I recall reading about a lady who said to Evangelist
Dwight L. Moody, "I don't like the way you preach," to
which Mr. Moody replied, "I don't either. How do you do
it?" I recalled Moody's response when the president of
a denominational college (seminary) in Australia was
questioning the value of our outreach work and asked,
"And how do you handle your follow-up?" So I asked him
how he handled his. He replied, "I don't. I teach." A
businessman once asked me the same question so I said
to him, "If you give us the needed financial support
we'll develop the best follow-up program." He walked
out without saying a word.

Constructive criticism is fine--providing we are
prepared to do something about what we are being
critical about--rather than just being negative and
becoming a part of the problem.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please deliver me from
having a negative critical attitude always looking for
the faults and weaknesses in what others do. However,
when I see a need for improvement in any area, please
help me so that any criticism I give will be
constructive--and help me to be willing to do what I
can to help fix what needs to be fixed. Thank You for
hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's
name, amen."

1. 2 Corinthians 8:20-21 (NIV).
2. Richard Jones, Parish Bulletin, Good Shepherds
Wailuku, Diocese of Hawaii. ©️ The Anglican Digest.
Cited in Encounter magazine (Australia) Vol. 38, No. 1,
2007.

<Smile)))><

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

* * * * * * *
Copyright (c) 2015 by ACTS International
When copying or forwarding include the following:
"Daily Encounter by Richard (Dick) Innes (c) 2015
ACTS International.

Global Prayer Digest People of the Day
SonSet Solutions
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SonSet Solutions
Jul 06, 2015 01:00 am

Today's Devotional

Luke 12:51, NET "Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I 
tell you, but rather division."

People have wanted to have their own way since Adam and Eve lived in God’s 
perfect garden. Man can choose to use his privilege of choice for salvation
and blessing or to destroy peace. God allows division between people groups 
to show them their ways are not His ways. Conflict can show us what we need
to think or do differently to align ourselves with our Creator’s will.

Pray that warring people groups will begin to ask questions about why life 
is so dangerous and difficult, and that they will seek the One Who loves 
them
perfectly.—KH

Today's People Group

In North America people may assume that everyone has access to the 
Internet—if not at home, then at a local library or a wireless hot spot. We 
talk about
the worldwide web as if it is actually worldwide; but it’s not. According to 
the World Bank, about 20 percent of the world’s population has no access to
electricity and may be pre-literate. Many of those areas are closed to 
missionaries, so people have no choice but to live in physical and spiritual 
darkness.

But SonSet Solutions is working to reach lost people in remote areas of the 
world through solar-powered radios. Perhaps very soon, maybe in this 
generation,
everyone in the world will have an opportunity to hear the good news of 
Jesus Christ and to receive His free gift of salvation!
SonSet Solutions (sonsetsolutions.org) distributes the MB-1 portable, 
solar-powered radio that can have up to nine frequencies (AM, FM or SW) 
programmed
into its memory. It can be worn around the neck like a necklace that serves 
as its antenna. The radios are already in use in Haiti, Africa, and 
Indonesia.
One Muslim woman received Christ and has introduced 12 of her friends to 
Jesus through the radio broadcasts.

Pray for thousands more of the radios to be distributed throughout the world 
and for the Holy Spirit to use this ministry to draw people unto Jesus.

Learn more at
Joshua Project.

Can You Hear Me Now?
LEAH DIPASCAL

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."
John 10:27
(ESV)

Maybe you’ve heard someone say, "The Lord told me _____" or "I’ve sensed the 
Lord saying _____ to my heart." Did it make you wonder if you could discern
God’s voice too?

Maybe like me, you’ve wondered: Is it really possible to hear God’s voice? 
Can I know when He is speaking to me? Maybe that was just a random thought?
What if I make a decision based on what I think God is saying and then 
discover I was wrong … then what?

I wrestled with these questions several years ago when our family was going 
through a tough time. Much was at stake, and despite numerous conversations
with my husband, considering every option, it was clear that a sacrifice was 
required.

One morning, as I stared into my bathroom mirror — trying to ignore the knot 
in my stomach and holding back a wall of tears — I turned on my blow dryer
and started drying my hair.

I asked again, "Lord, what if I can’t discern what You’re telling me? Will 
all the chaos and thoughts swirling in my mind drown out Your voice?"

As the high-pitched sound of my blow dryer blasted away, I began to hear 
another sound. It was muffled and faded, yet I was aware of it.

I ignored the sound at first, but even with my blow dryer going, I could 
still hear a familiar tone.

I turned off the blow dryer and surprisingly heard my friend Renee Swope. 
Confused at first, I walked into the bedroom and realized her voice was 
coming
from the radio. She and Proverbs 31 Ministries President, Lysa TerKeurst, 
host a daily broadcast called "Everyday Life with Lysa and Renee."

Renee and I have been friends for years. We’ve spent lots of time together 
engaging in honest and transparent conversations.

As I listened to Renee’s voice, the thought came to me, "Because you know 
Renee so well and have spent a lot of time with her, you can discern her 
voice,
despite the overwhelming noise of the blow dryer."

I realized God was teaching me a new truth about discerning His voice.

Just like my close relationship with Renee, God showed me that a close 
relationship with Him — based on truth, transparency and time invested — was 
essential
to discerning His voice.

Over the years, as I’ve spent more time in God’s presence — through prayer, 
reading His Word and singing songs of worship — I’ve come to know Him better
and recognize His voice.

Maybe you’ve felt like God has been silent lately. Like you’re not sure God 
actually speaks to you or that you’re capable of discerning His voice. If 
so,
let me give you three things to consider:

Believe: Jesus said in
John 8:47a,
"Whoever belongs to God hears what God says" (NIV). If you’ve accepted Jesus 
Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you belong to Him. You already have the
capability of discerning God’s voice when He speaks to you. This happens 
through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Anticipate:
1 Samuel 3:9b
says, "Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening" (NIV). What if we 
approached each day with an attitude of anticipation, making this verse a 
welcome
invitation for the Lord to speak to us? Let’s set our hearts and minds to a 
place of readiness as we wait to hear from God.

Follow: Jesus said in
John 10:27,
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (ESV). God 
doesn’t just speak to be heard. He speaks to be obeyed. When we discern God’s
voice of direction or correction, we have to be willing to follow in 
obedience.

That day in my bathroom was a defining moment. I didn’t receive a specific 
answer to what our family was supposed to do. But I did receive a beautiful
promise from God, that when the time was right, He would let us know. And no 
noise from this world would block out His voice, as long as we stayed close
to Him.

Dear God, help me discern Your voice. Give me an attitude of anticipation to 
wake up every morning and say, "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." And
when You speak, let me be faithful to follow and obey You. In Jesus’ Name, 
Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 30:21,
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice 
behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’" (NIV)

Jeremiah 33:3,
"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things 
you do not know." (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Hear God’s Word first thing in the morning, by giving Him your first 5 
minutes. The First 5 app will be available soon and will transform your time 
with
God.
Learn more here.

Continue your First 5 journey with the corresponding Experience Guide. The 
Experience Guide is beautifully designed to complement each day’s teaching 
and
grow your faith, as you reflect on and respond to what you’re learning.
Pre-order your guide today
for a special price and receive it before the study starts!

Stop by
Leah DiPascal’s blog
today for more encouragement.
©️ 2015 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

My Shepherd!

(J. R. Miller
"Bethlehem to Olivet" 1905)

"The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need!" Psalm 23:1

The shepherd is a favorite Scriptural picture of the divine love and care. 
In the Old Testament, the twenty-third Psalm gathers the whole wonderful 
truth
in exquisite lines, which are dear to young and old wherever the Bible is 
known. Then in the New Testament, when our Lord would give His friends the 
sweetest
revealings of His heart toward them, and tell them what they are to Him, and 
what He would be to them--He says, "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good 
Shepherd
lays down His life for the sheep." John 10:11

The Hebrew shepherd lives with his sheep. If they are out in the storm--he 
is with them. If they are exposed to danger--so is he. Just so, Christ lives
with His people. He enters into closest relations with them.

The shepherd knows his sheep. He has a name for each one and calls them all 
by their names. Just so, Christ knows each one of His friends, and has 
intimate
personal knowledge of each one. He knows the best in us--and also the worst. 
He knows our faults, our sins, our wanderings. Yet, knowing us as we are--He
loves us still and never wearies of us!

The shepherd is most gentle with his sheep. He does not drive them--but goes 
before them and leads them. When they need rest on the way--he makes them
lie down, and chooses for their resting-place, not the dusty road--but green 
pastures. He is especially kind to the lambs, gathers them in his arms and
carries them in his bosom. All this is an exquisite picture of the 
gentleness of our Good Shepherd in His care of His sheep. He is thoughtful 
toward the
weak. He loves the lambs and makes room for them in His bosom. Whatever the 
need is, there is something in the heart of Christ which meets its craving
and supplies its lack! "He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will 
carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently 
lead
the mother sheep with their young." Isaiah 40:11

The shepherd defends his flock in all danger. Often he had to risk his own 
safety, even his life, in protecting his sheep. Just so, the Good Shepherd 
gives
His life--for His sheep!

Christ's sheep are absolutely safe in His keeping. "I give unto them eternal 
life," He said; "and they will never perish--ever! No one will snatch them
out of My hand!" Then at last, He will bring His own all safely home, "and 
they shall become one flock--with one Shepherd!"
Feel free to forward these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited 
by them!

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

Sing Something Fresh
Matt Boswell / July 4, 2015
Sing Something Fresh

I began writing new songs of worship when I was fifteen years old. No one 
sat me down and said this practice can be a part of growing in Christ, nor 
explained
the spiritual benefits of writing songs. I simply tasted the goodness of God 
and felt compelled to respond by crafting a new song.

Now, for the last twenty years, I have been trying to bend the English 
language around for the glory of God and write melodies to encourage the 
hearts
of his people. I know the difficulty and the reward of this labor and, more 
than ever, I feel the need to sing to the Lord a new song.

The Hymnal’s Not Closed

From the beginning of our history, God’s people have been a singing people. 
In Exodus 15, Moses stood before the Israelites who had just been rescued 
from
slavery and led them in a new song of praise. In Judges 5, when God 
powerfully delivered his people from the Canaanites, Deborah and Barak led 
the people
in a new song of salvation. At the dedication of the temple in 2 Chronicles 
5, the people sang a new song of God’s love and faithfulness.

The hymnal of the church has no back cover. While the canon of Scripture is 
closed, our hymnal is an ever-expanding work. We ought to continue to
sing the historic songs
of our faith, but we should not blush to add new expressions of worship to 
God. We have many new songs that are helpful, richly theological, and 
thoroughly
biblical.

The “new song” we sing is informed by the “old song” (Exodus 15) and looks 
with anticipation toward the new song we will sing in the presence of God 
(Revelation
5:8–10). Through the lens of the past, and with an eye to the future, our 
songwriting finds its place.

As the timeline of redemption unfolds, culminating in the restoration of all 
things, God’s people will continue writing and singing new songs.

Old Truths, New Songs

When you hold a diamond in your hand and allow the sunlight to pass through, 
it casts brilliant colors around the room. When you turn the diamond, you
see the brilliance of the stone in even more vibrant and beautiful ways. New 
songs have the same effect with the truths of God. When we sing new songs,
we see the truths we sing in a new light, provoking our hearts to continued 
praise.

Our new songs proclaim old truths. We walk a well-worn path of people who 
have wrestled with theological issues, philosophical tensions, and written 
about
their experience with God. That road has not yet reached its end.

When we sing new songs of praise to God, we walk in a tradition that from 
the beginning is marked by singing. Every historical hymn we sing has a 
birthdate.
It was once a new song and, over the course of time, has served the people 
of God by putting concepts into words, shaping emotions, and providing a 
tool
of communicating truth. Our new songs aim for the same thing: helping us 
wrap our hearts and minds around rich, theological truths, resulting in 
praising
God.

Celebrate New Mercies

We should celebrate the historic hymns of our faith. They have carried the 
burdens and lifted the hearts of countless people who have gone before us. 
At
the same time, we must celebrate new songs of our faith that will surely do 
the same work in us and the children who follow. As we continue to 
experience
the newness of God’s mercies, surely we will continue to have new songs to 
sing.

The next time you are in a church service and a new song is introduced, lean 
in and listen closely. Hopefully in it you will find truths for your heart
to be warmed by, and find your mouth open to sing a new song of praise. Walk 
with renewed wonder and obedience to “sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm
96:1).

There is more of God to know and praise, no matter how much of him you 
already have enjoyed.

Don’t Try To Do It All On Your Own
by
admin

Hebrews 4:15-16
For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our 
weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we 
are, yet
without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so 
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hard times bring you to the point of wanting a closer walk with God usually, 
and when you are closer to God you will have more joy and peace. It is sad
that it sometimes takes really tough times to bring us to the point of 
crawling up on His lap to draw close to Him and to have that really close 
relationship
with Him! The really scary thing is that as women we often take our hurt and 
broken hearts and instead of turning to God we hold on and decide we will
never be vulnerable in that area again. That sounds real
good at the time but when we build that wall we are really shutting 
ourselves in and then we are not open to the healing or the love and 
protection we
need. God would love to have that close loving relationship with us on a 
daily basis, He wants to be our strength and protection. Why do we wait for
tragedy to strike before we have the relationship we could have every day? 
It is so much easier to deal with every day life when we are close to Him 
than
it is to do it on our own until it all goes haywire. I like to consider 
myself a "strong woman" but quite often I take that to an extreme because I 
somehow
think that will prevent me from getting hurt. All it does is hurt me in the 
process because everything I am saying and doing is coming from a heart that
fears hurting like that again. God never meant for us to do it all on our 
own, He may have allowed you to come to this place to lean on Him.

It's time to give all of those broken hearts and walls we have built to God, 
just hand them over every morning until they fade into the past where they
belong and allow Him to make us the "strong Godly women" He has called us to 
be! I would encourage you to look for Him in all you do and to really ask
Him to give you a desire to be in your Bible. The easiest way to get that 
close relationship is to spend the time getting to know who He is! He 
really
does want to bless you in even the littlest of ways, whether it is a 
beautiful sunset, great parking space, what ever it might be, He does enjoy 
spending
time with you, so don't shut Him out, absorb all that He wants to pour into 
you, then when you have a "time of need" you will have the confidence to go
to Him and trust Him, knowing He understands and wants to be there for you!

Funny Quote for the day:
A woman taught the tiny tots in her Sunday school class to sing her favorite 
hymn, "Oh, the Consecrated Cross I Bear". Then came the Sunday
morning when a concerned mother questioned the teacher about the songs she 
was teaching the children. Her child told her she'd learned to sing, "Oh,
the constipated, cross-eyed bear."
By Dean Masters
Admin
Admin
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Age : 75
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Post  Admin on Tue 01 Sep 2015, 8:02 pm

Why God Makes You Wait

There are times in the Christian’s life where we wait upon God, where we 
wait for relief from some kind of afflication, and where we wait for a long 
time
for God to answer prayer. I am certain that you have experienced times like 
these, and know that the temptation in such times is to despair and to 
demand,
to grow angry and impatient. But in The Mystery of Providence John Flavel 
warns: Though God means to give you the comfort or mercy you long for, he 
usually
first exercises your patience by making you wait. He does that for these 3 
reasons:

1. Because this is not the right time for you to receive that mercy. Simply 
stated, God does not judge time as you do. You are in a hurry, but God is 
not,
and he knows the perfect time to dispense his mercy. “For the LORD is a God 
of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him†(Isaiah 30:18). Will you
wait for his timing?
2. These difficult circumstances have not accomplished in your heart what 
God means for them to accomplish. Though you may be earnest and impatient in
your desire for what you believe are better circumstances, God will wait 
until the trial has accomplished his purposes.
3. The more you pray and the more you search your heart, the sweeter the 
relief will be when it comes. God means to overwhelm you with his grace, and 
it
may take fervent prayer and humble patience for you to respond to his mercy 
in the right way. “It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we
have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited 
for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation’ (Isaiah 25:9 ESV).â€

As a sinful human being you are prone to judge your circumstances by your 
senses and observations. Always consider that God’s heart can be toward you 
even
while his hand appears to be against you. If your circumstances continue 
unabated you may be tempted to think that your prayers have been useless and 
that
you are without hope in the world. You may even go so far as to conclude 
that God is angry with you and has closed his ears to your prayers. But the 
God
who has saved you will never turn his back on you.

Instead of believing such lies, consider these 6 things:

1. God is delaying his mercy for your benefit. God is waiting so that he may 
extend grace to you at the perfect moment. Right now you are in the time of
preparation where God is readying the comfort he means to give you. A 
foolish child plucks an apple while it is green. But when that apple is 
ripe, it
drops off of its own accord and is far more delicious and wholesome. Wait 
with wisdom and patience. It will be worth the wait.
2. A heart that trusts in God is far more precious than any comfort. It is a 
greater mercy to have a heart that trusts in God than to enjoy the comfort
you are sure you need. Flavel says, “a frame is better than a fruition.†A 
heart oriented toward God is much more precious and enduring than any 
peaceful
or comfortable circumstance.
3. Mercy is never nearer than when your heart and hope is lowest. Light 
shines the brightest when you are sure that only darkness remains. God’s 
mercy
will be all the brighter when your heart is in its darkest state.
4. God delays his mercy because you are unfit to receive it. God’s mercy may 
be waiting for you to become ready to receive it. God may holding it back
for your own good, even while you grumble and complain about his lack of 
haste.
5. Remember that any mercy you desire is only and entirely a gift of grace. 
You do not deserve God’s mercy and have no claim to it. Because of this, the
only proper way to wait for it is with patience and gratitude. You are 
waiting for a gift, not for your just reward.
6. Consider how many people are forever cut off from all hope of mercy. 
Consider those who are perishing without grace and how for them all that 
remains
is the further expectation of wrath. This might have been you if not for the 
grace of God. So wait for God’s mercy with patient humility.
Posted by Dean Masters

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, 'Who are these, clothed in 
white robes, and from where have they come?'" Revelation 7:13

By Answers2Prayer

A New Value

"Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, 'Who are these, clothed in 
white robes, and from where have they come?' I said to him, 'Sir, you know.' 
And
he said to me, 'These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They 
have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'" 
Revelation
7:13-14

What is a thing worth? Sometimes figuring out the worth of a thing can be a 
difficult task.

There are things which bring back memories; there are things which are 
heirlooms or antiques; there are things which are personally precious to us 
as individuals.
The value on those items is far more to us than anyone else would be willing 
to pay if the item were put up for auction.

Here is an example: there is a little piece of silk in a Springfield, 
Illinois, museum. If you were to go to a fabric store, and if they would be 
willing
to sell you a piece of cloth so small, it would cost you no more than a 
penny or two. That being said, there is no amount of money which would 
enable you
to purchase this piece of silk. That's because this bit of cloth is stained 
with blood.

Now that is an interesting fact, but that fact hardly explains why this bit 
of material is considered to be so precious. Its value only becomes clear 
when
you are told this bit of silk was once part of the dress worn by the girl 
who sat in the presidential box the night Abraham Lincoln was murdered. As 
he
was dying, she cradled his head in her lap, just as a mother might hold her 
child.

It is his blood which has stained that cloth.

Long ago the State of Illinois bought that dress, cut out that piece of 
silk, and placed it out for public viewing so all could see. Because of the 
blood
of a great man, that pitiful piece of fabric has a value beyond reckoning.

So, let me now ask you, what are you worth?

Looking at your sinful soul, at all the transgressions you have committed, 
the answer would have to be, "Not much. Not much at all." But when a person
is brought to faith, when those sins are washed away by the precious blood 
of Jesus Christ, things change.

Your soul, which once was condemned to eternal punishment in hell, has been 
given new value, a wonderful value. At the cost of the life of God's Son, 
our
Savior, you have been washed of your sins; the old is gone and a new value 
is placed upon you.

Knowing your value ought to make a difference in your life. Because you know 
that Jesus lived, died and rose to rescue you, you can be assured that 
nothing
in your past and nothing anybody else says can change the value God has 
given you. Because of Jesus' blood, you have become priceless.

My priceless friends, believe it and live it.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks that by the Holy Spirit's power, I have 
been brought to faith and my sin-saturated soul has been washed in Jesus'
blood. Now may I live a life which glorifies Him and bears witness to the 
transforming power of the Redeemer. It is in His Name I pray. Amen.

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

Announcement:

Would you like to be blessed by reading testimonies of people who've 
experienced answered prayers? Go to
the Sermon Illustrator
and enjoy! You will discover how awesome our God is!

Happy First of July Canada!

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


Age Has Nothing To Do With It
by
admin

Joshua 13:1
Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the Lord said to him, “You are 
old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess.â€

You know you are old when God tells you that you are old! Wow! I’m not sure 
as a woman how I would have quite handled that.

I have a wonderful sister that we have always given a hard time because she 
always hated getting older even when she was young. She ended up teaching 
Kindergarten
for years and of course if there’s a child on earth that will make age 
comments about or to their teacher it would be a 5 or 6 year old. One day 
she showed
her class a picture of her shaking hands with President Reagan before he was 
President and one little boy went home and told his mom, “today Mrs Aenis
showed us a picture of her shaking hands with George Washington!†Of course 
his mom thought it was hysterical so she called her to say, “just how old 
are you?

My point with this verse is this; your age has nothing to do with what you 
are called to do! You aren’t too young and you are never too old either, to
do what God is calling you to do! Notice that after he commented on Joshua 
being old He told him that there was still a lot to do. God recognized that
Joshua may not be able to fight the way He did when he was younger so God 
was going to drive people out of the land and He was giving Joshua his 
orders
for what he still needed to do.

Take a look around and stop making excuses for not serving God in some way. 
If you are here on earth God has a purpose for your life and no matter what
you do in life you can serve Him with your attitudes and behaviors. Do you 
work in a way that shows you are a child of God or do you just go in and do
what is expected. Sometimes we expect our service to be something that just 
involves the church but our service for Him is in all we do whether it is at
work, home or in the church. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to serve God 
today for any reason, start today and ask Him to show you what can do to 
better
serve Him with your life.

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life..... we can never 
help another without helping ourselves.†Ralph Waldo Emerson
Dean Masters
Admin
Admin
Admin

Posts : 66368
Join date : 2008-10-25
Age : 75
Location : Wales UK

https://worldwidechristians.forumotion.com

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