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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 35 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 20 Jun 2014, 5:06 pm

What if I Don't Get Any More Tomorrows?
Tracie Miles

"How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the 
morning fog — it's here a little while, then it's gone."
James 4:14
(NLT)

Before the plane backed away from the gate, the flight attendant warned us: 
"It's been a rough day in the air. Prepare yourself for tremendous 
turbulence."
Although I wanted to make a mad dash for the door, I simply tightened my 
seat belt and prayed for safety. Soon, her verbal warning became a reality.

The plane rocked back and forth, as if it were slamming into walls instead 
of fluffy clouds. It was a short, but difficult, flight and after several 
attempts
at landing, we were diverted to another airport, adding hours to the trip.

During this extra time in the air, I did a lot of thinking about what was 
most important in my life. I didn't really believe we would crash, but I 
couldn't
keep from wondering ... What if the worst happens? What if I don't get any 
more tomorrows?

I thought about my loved ones. What were my last words to them? Were they 
kind or harsh? Were they filled with love, or merely instructions to carry 
out
during my absence? Did I hug everyone and tell them how much they meant to 
me? If I didn't make it home, had I prepared my children spiritually and 
emotionally
to handle life, trust God and walk in faith? Had I told my husband how much 
I appreciated him?

Was there anyone I needed to forgive? Were there people I had been meaning 
to call or visit but never took the time? Had my priorities and plans been 
in
line with God's will? Had I sought God's insight about everything on my 
to-do list? Had I done all I could to bring glory to God? Would I be ready 
to meet
Jesus face to face?

Although my heart knew God was in control, my mind and emotions ran wild as 
I peered out the oval window at the dark clouds hovering all around us.

In an effort to ignore the panicked voice over the intercom, I began 
searching my Bible for scriptures about how God knows the number of our 
days. The
first verse I found was today's key verse.

In the rest of chapter 4, James reprimands the people for their 
self-centered living. Their self-indulgent, judgmental and prideful ways 
caused arguments
and quarrels. They were consumed with business profits and neglected to seek 
God's insight.

They focused on their personal agendas instead of what actually mattered. 
They acted as if God didn't exist, or didn't matter, and pursued their own 
plans.
They disregarded God's control over their lives and the number of their 
days.

James then wrote these words that spoke truth into my heart, "How do you 
know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning 
fog —
it's here a little while, then it's gone"
(James 4:14).

That passage could have been written to me. Sometimes I focus on my own 
plans, ignoring that only God knows how long He will allow me to carry them 
out.
Other times, I make plans without seeking God's will and get distracted by 
lesser things, instead of what really matters.

James wanted his readers to remember God directs us to live with a holy 
perspective, knowing every breath we take is one more gift from God. We 
aren't
promised any tomorrows, so we need to live today with an eternal 
perspective.

I remained calm in the midst of the airborne chaos, but that time of 
reflection in the bumpy skies served as a great reminder not to take time 
for granted.
I don't want to assume I'll always have another tomorrow, or another chance 
to love on those I love the most. From now on, I want to include God in my
plans and serve Him as best I can.

Lord, forgive me for focusing on my own plans or neglecting to seek Your 
insight. Help me to never put off until tomorrow what You want me to do 
today.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace in Your Chaotic World
by Tracie Miles

© 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

Why are we here? What is our purpose?

(Frank Hall)

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1

Before there was a Milky Way--there was God!
Before there were galaxies, solar systems, constellations, and 
nebulae--there was God!
Before Mercury, Venus, and Mars were plugged into their sockets--there was 
God!
Before Polaris was fastened above the North Pole--there was God!
Before Orion the hunter had a belt, and Saturn had its rings--there was God; 
all alone, perfect and content, glorious in His solitary existence as the
eternal I AM!

Before there was a sun, a moon, or an earth;
before there was grass to clothe the field, and flowers to adorn it;
before the mountains were brought forth, and the sea filled the depths;
before the eagle soared through the sky, and the fish swam through the sea;
before angels, devils, and men had their being--there was God alone!

If we would understand things aright, we must not begin with man, but with 
God, for He is the beginning of all things. To begin with man is folly, for
man is but a creature--a production of the Creator. We must back up and 
begin where the Bible begins, with God!

God's people know, and have always known, what continues to baffle the minds 
of the scholars and scientists of our day, that "in the beginning God 
created
the heavens and the earth." Through faith, God's people understand the 
mystery of creation.

I ask you, "Why are we here? What is our purpose? What is God's purpose?" 
Can we even know the answer to these questions? Indeed we can.

The twenty four elders seated around God's throne in Heaven give us the 
answer in Revelation 4:10-11, "The twenty-four elders fall down before Him 
who
sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast 
their crowns before the throne, saying: You are worthy, O Lord, to receive 
glory
and honor and power; for You created all things, and for Your pleasure they 
exist and were created!"

You, me, angels, animals, plants, rocks, and all other things, exist and 
were created for one reason--the pleasure of the Creator. We were created 
according
to His will and purpose, for His pleasure and glory.

God did not create the Heaven and the earth arbitrarily. He created them to 
be the stage upon which He would perform His eternal purpose of grace, and
reveal all the wonders of His goodness and mercy toward His elect. It is 
upon the stage of time, that God displays His eternal purpose and shows 
forth
His glory in the salvation of chosen sinners. He created this world for the 
salvation of His people, that they would be recovered from their sin by His
almighty grace.

"I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. 
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are 
not
yet done, saying: My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure!" 
Isaiah 46:9-10

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
We have published John Newton's three page insightful letter, "
The comforts and snares of social affections".

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

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)
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Post  Admin on Fri 20 Jun 2014, 1:44 pm

Help in Distress

Acts 27:23

Storms and darkness, combined with imminent risk of shipwreck, had brought 
the crew of the vessel into a sorry predicament; only one man among them 
remained perfectly calm, and by his word the rest were reassured. Paul was 
the only man who had enough heart to say, "I urge you to take heart." There 
were veteran Roman soldiers on board, and brave sailors, but their poor 
Jewish prisoner had more spirit than all of them. He had a secret Friend who 
kept his courage up. The Lord Jesus sent a heavenly messenger
to whisper words of comfort in Paul's ear, and as a result his face shone, 
and he spoke like a man at ease.

If we fear the Lord, we may look for His timely intervention when our case 
is at its worst. Angels are not kept from us by storms or hindered by 
darkness. Seraphs do not think it is beneath them to visit the poorest of 
the heavenly family. If angels' visits are few and far between at ordinary 
times, they will be frequent in our nights of tempest and storm. Friends may 
leave us when we are under pressure, but our awareness of the members of the 
angelic world will be far more apparent. Strengthened
by loving words brought to us from the throne via Jacob's ladder, we will be 
able to do daring feats.

Dear reader, are you facing an hour of distress? Then ask for particular 
help. Jesus is the angel of the covenant, and if you earnestly seek His 
presence, it will not be denied. The encouragement which that presence 
brings will be remembered by those who, like Paul, have had the angel of God 
standing by them in a night of storm, when anchors slipped and shipwreck 
threatened.

O angel of my God, be near,
Amid the darkness hush my fear;
Loud roars the wild tempestuous sea,
Thy presence, Lord, shall comfort me.

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Proverbs 28

verse 2 2 Thessalonians 2

Click here to learn more about
Truth For Life

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.

Help in Distress

Acts 27:23

Storms and darkness, combined with imminent risk of shipwreck, had brought 
the crew of the vessel into a sorry predicament; only one man among them 
remained perfectly calm, and by his word the rest were reassured. Paul was 
the only man who had enough heart to say, "I urge you to take heart." There 
were veteran Roman soldiers on board, and brave sailors, but their poor 
Jewish prisoner had more spirit than all of them. He had a secret Friend who 
kept his courage up. The Lord Jesus sent a heavenly messenger
to whisper words of comfort in Paul's ear, and as a result his face shone, 
and he spoke like a man at ease.

If we fear the Lord, we may look for His timely intervention when our case 
is at its worst. Angels are not kept from us by storms or hindered by 
darkness. Seraphs do not think it is beneath them to visit the poorest of 
the heavenly family. If angels' visits are few and far between at ordinary 
times, they will be frequent in our nights of tempest and storm. Friends may 
leave us when we are under pressure, but our awareness of the members of the 
angelic world will be far more apparent. Strengthened
by loving words brought to us from the throne via Jacob's ladder, we will be 
able to do daring feats.

Dear reader, are you facing an hour of distress? Then ask for particular 
help. Jesus is the angel of the covenant, and if you earnestly seek His 
presence, it will not be denied. The encouragement which that presence 
brings will be remembered by those who, like Paul, have had the angel of God 
standing by them in a night of storm, when anchors slipped and shipwreck 
threatened.

O angel of my God, be near,
Amid the darkness hush my fear;
Loud roars the wild tempestuous sea,
Thy presence, Lord, shall comfort me.

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Proverbs 28

verse 2 2 Thessalonians 2

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.

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

Speak the Truth to Yourself
By Christina Fox | Apr 09, 2014 10:30 am

Speak the Truth to Yourself

I woke up sick that morning. “I’ll never make it to the end of the day,” I 
muttered to myself.

My husband was due to leave town for work. “How am I going to manage the 
kids while feeling like this?” These thoughts traveled with me throughout 
the
day, spawning new ones. “This is too much, I just can’t do it.” “Can’t they 
see that I am sick? Why can’t they listen for once?” Before I knew it, I was
overwhelmed, stressed, irritable, distraught.

Talking to Ourselves

I remember teasing my mother for talking out loud to herself. Now I find 
myself doing the same thing. While most of us may not be in the habit of 
talking
out loud to ourselves, we all keep some kind of internal dialogue. The 
problem is that we all too often fail to talk back to ourselves.

The psalmist in Psalm 42 was feeling deep sorrow, “My tears have been my 
food day and night” (verse 3). But he talked to himself, “Why, my soul, are 
you
downcast? Why are you so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I 
will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5). In this psalm, the 
writer
challenges and confronts himself with the truth.

In the book of Lamentations, the poet does the same thing. He had also been 
through an intense trial. He was weary and worn and felt as though he had 
lost
all hope. Throughout the book, he lamented over the sin of the people and 
God’s subsequent judgment. He voices his despair, “I have forgotten what 
happiness
is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the L???’” 
(Lamentations 3:17–18).

But he didn’t stay there. He spoke his lament. He voiced the depths of his 
sorrow and pain, and then he reminded himself of what he knew to be true. 
Though
he felt like he had no hope, he reminded himself that he actually did have 
hope. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope; The steadfast 
love
of the L??? never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new 
every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The L??? is my portion,’ says my 
soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him’ (Lamentations 3:21–24).

In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul talks about taking “every thought captive to 
make it obedient to Christ.” When we feel overwhelmed, stressed, worried, 
anxious,
fearful, or in despair, we need to talk back to ourselves. We need to speak 
the truth of the gospel to ourselves. Like the psalmist in Psalm 42, and 
like
the writer of Lamentations, we need to point ourselves to the hope we have 
in Christ.

In his book,
Spiritual Depression,
Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote,

You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to 
yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast 
down
— what business have you to be disquieted?’ You must turn on yourself, 
upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: 
‘Hope
thou in God’ — instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then 
you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and
what God has done, and what God has pledged himself to do. (21)

Four Truths Worth Remembering

So what is the truth that we need to say to ourselves? What can we say to 
ourselves when we feel overwhelmed by life, or fearful of the unknown 
future,
or despairing over a trial?

1. Remember God is sovereign.

We should remind ourselves that God is in control of everything (Isaiah 40; 
Proverbs 21:1). He holds the world in his hands. Nothing happens outside his
will. In fact, he is not surprised by our circumstances (Job 28:24; 
Lamentations 3:37–38; Genesis 50:20). What is happening to us is not by 
chance. Rather,
it is from the hand of God for our good.

2. Remember who we are in Christ.

We should remind ourselves of who we are in Christ. Because Christ redeemed 
us from sin, we are no longer slaves to sin (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are 
adopted
sons and daughters of the Most High (Romans 8:15). God loves us like he 
loves his Son (John 17:23). God looks at us and sees the righteousness of 
Christ
(2 Corinthians 5:21). In Christ, we are now the heirs of his Kingdom (1 
Peter 1:4).

3. Remember God’s character.

We should remind ourselves of who God is — of who he’s revealed himself to 
be. He is good, he is holy, he is just (Daniel 4:37). He is all-powerful, 
all-knowing,
forever faithful (Hebrews 10:23). He is gracious, merciful, and kind (Psalm 
103:8). And all of his character, of course, is seen definitively in Jesus
himself, as Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 
14:9).

4. Remember God’s promises.

We should remind ourselves of God’s promises. He has promised salvation for 
everyone who calls on his name (Acts 2:21; John 6:37). He is always with us
(Joshua 1:9; Matthew 28:20). He has promised to never leave us or forsake us 
(Romans 8:35–39). He hears us when we cry out to him (Psalm 34:15; Psalm 
86:5–8).
He will meet all our needs (Philippians 4:19; Romans 8:32). He has promised 
us eternity with him in heaven (John 14:2–3; 1 John 2:25).

The next time you face a trial and find yourself thinking such thoughts as 
“I’ll never get through this,” speak the truth. Go ahead. It’s okay to talk
to yourself. Preach the gospel to yourself. Remind yourself of the hope you 
have because of Christ Jesus.
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Post  Admin on Tue 17 Jun 2014, 10:28 pm

Delilah


Her name means: "Dainty One"


Her character: A prostitute whose nationality is unknown, she used her 
beauty to betray her lover and enrich herself.
Her sorrow: That Samson lied to her, making her look foolish on three 
different occasions.
Her joy: That she overpowered one of history's most powerful men, handing 
him over to his enemy, the Philistines.
Key Scriptures:
Judges 16:4-22


Her Story


Her teeth gleamed white in the dusky light as a smile parted lips soft and 
smooth as a scarlet ribbon. Earrings glinted gold as she threw back her head
and laughed out loud. Fortune had come knocking on her door that day. No 
lover had ever paid Delilah as well as Samson would.


The Philistine kings hated the long-haired strongman who had set their 
fields afire and slain a thousand of their countrymen. Each had offered 
Delilah
an incredible sum—eleven hundred shekels of silver! She had merely to 
deliver the secret of Samson's strength. His would be no match for hers, a 
strength
born of beauty and schooled in the arts of love. Weakened by passion, he 
would tell her everything she needed to know.


"If anyone ties me with seven fresh thongs that have not been dried, I'll 
become as any other man," he replied to her persistent probing. Hiding a few
Philistines in the room for good measure, Delilah waited until he slept and 
then carefully wrapped him with the thongs and exclaimed, "Samson, the 
Philistines
are upon you!" But he had outsmarted her, snapping the cords as his enemies 
fled.


Like a man toying with a kitten, Samson repeated the ruse twice, tricking 
Delilah with crazy stories about new ropes and braided hair. Finally Delilah
confronted him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in 
me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven't told me 
the
secret of your great strength." Worn down by her nagging, Samson gave in.


"No razor has ever been used on my head," he confided, "because I have been 
a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength
will leave me, and I will become as weak as any other man." Years earlier, 
before his birth, an angel had instructed his mother that he should drink no
wine, touch nothing unclean, and never cut his hair. He was to be dedicated 
to God in a special way, destined to play a great role in God's plan to free
his people from their Philistine overlords. A strong man unable to subdue 
his own tempestuous nature, Samson had already broken the first two 
stipulations
of his vow. Now he was about to break the third, preferring the good graces 
of a woman to the favor of his God.


Sensing she had heard the truth at last, Delilah sent word to the 
Philistines. After cutting his hair while he slept, she once again called, 
"Samson, the
Philistines are upon you!" This time Samson awoke from his sleep unable to 
resist his enemies, who quickly seized him, gouging out his eyes. Then they
imprisoned him in Gaza, where he spent his days in darkness, performing 
women's work grinding grain.


That's the last we hear of the lovely, treacherous, and now wealthy Delilah, 
but not the last we hear of her lover. Slowly Samson's hair began to grow
back, first a short cap to warm his head and then a cover for his ears. What 
harm can a blind man do us? the Philistines must have reasoned.


One day they held a great celebration in honor of Dagon, god of the harvest, 
for delivering Samson into their hands. Oblivious to their danger, they 
brought
him out of prison to make sport of their once-mighty enemy. But when Samson 
stood among the pillars of their temple, he prayed, "O Sovereign Lord, 
remember
me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get 
revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes." Then he braced himself against
the two central pillars of the temple and pushed. The roof buckled and 
collapsed, and Samson and his enemies were buried together under its rubble. 
By
his death, Samson killed more Philistines than he had in life. Just as the 
angel had predicted, Samson had begun a work of deliverance that David would
complete many years later.


The strange story of Samson and Delilah is hardly edifying. It's tempting to 
conclude that the selfish, ill-disciplined Samson had finally met his match
in the greedy Delilah. A visitation by an angel, the gift of supernatural 
strength, a prophetic destiny—such obvious blessings could not assure 
Samson's
devotion. Why would God use such a man, enabling him to become a judge in 
Israel? What a contrast to Deborah, who had ruled Israel a century earlier! 
Perhaps
God had little promising material to choose from, given the state of his 
people during an era of Israel's history where "everyone did as he saw fit" 
(


Judges 21:25).


If anything, Delilah's role in this sordid tale assures us that God will use 
anything and anyone to accomplish his purpose. Even our sin. Even our 
enemies.
Our deliverance is purely a matter of grace. But how much better if we 
become people set apart for his service, whose inner strengths match our 
outer strengths,
enabling us to live out our destiny assured of God's pleasure.


Her Promise


Even the sordid story of Delilah and her Hebrew lover, Samson, conveys an 
important truth: God loves us and will not abandon us even when we make 
mistakes,
even when we sin. Over and over throughout the biblical narrative, we see 
God using people who are great sinners, people who are less than perfect, 
people
who through their own folly fail and only then recognize their need of him. 
He didn't abandon people like Samson, foolish and sinful though he was, and
he won't abandon us, foolish and sinful though we might be.


Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com




Enough Already
by John UpChurch, Senior Editor, BibleStudyTools.com


“The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus 
sent him away, saying, ‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’
So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for 
him.”
Luke 8:38-39


I knew I’d feel inadequate, but once they slapped the Journeyman mic on me 
and the congregation sauntered in, the word inadequate became inadequate. 
Over
my head, crazy, off my rocker—those shot through my mind a time or two.


Yes, I had notes. Yes, I’d practiced. Yes, I’d taken public speaking 
courses. But none of those really prepares you to face a congregation on 
Sunday morning.
Nothing gets you ready to reach into Scripture and yank out the good stuff. 
You’re dealing with potent material here, the kind of thing you don’t want
to get wrong. And out there are the faces of those who may never come back 
through the door of a church again.


No pressure.


And that’s how my first sermon started. Actually, I don’t remember much of 
it. It just kind of started and then ended. If there weren’t a recording, I
don’t think I’d even know what I said. But, alas, said recording does exist 
(no chance of being linked here), and the final verdict is… let’s just say
mixed. At least no one left, and given the size of the church, I would have 
noticed.


In many ways, I felt like that formerly demon-possessed man whom Jesus told 
to go tell it on the mountain. Jesus didn’t give him much in the way of 
lessons
or practice. He just sent the man home to talk about God healing him. And as 
far as we know, the man went and did just that. Since it made it into the
gospel accounts, I’m chalking that up as a success. All the man needed to 
know was that Jesus healed him, and—boom—he started sharing the good news.


Too many times, I’ve been shut down by the notion that I need to know more 
before I can say more. I can’t tell this person about Christ because I haven’t
finished my study on Galatians. I can’t share how God changed me because I 
only spent 15 minutes in prayer this morning. I can’t start a small group in
my house because I’m not the perfect husband or dad.


It’s hard for me to say, “Enough already.” I know enough already to preach a 
sermon, even if I’ll keep learning and growing for years. I know enough 
already
to share that God wrenched me out of depression, even if I don’t know how to 
answer every question about the Bible. I know enough already to share my 
home,
even if I’m still working on keeping my smartphone off during
family
time.


After all, I know enough to know that Christ is the one who does the saving, 
not my faulty words.


Intersecting
Faith
and Life: Here’s the secret. None of us will ever be adequate for sharing 
our faith, for discipling others, or for preaching God’s Word. We just aren’t.
You could study your entire life and not be. So, shake that monkey off your 
spine and say, “Enough already!” You have enough to start.


You’ll make mistakes; you’ll blow it; you’ll say dumb things. But it doesn’t 
depend on you. You know enough because you know Christ. Keep growing and 
share
from where you are.


For Further Reading


Luke 8:26


Colossians 2:1




CHRIST IS RISEN INDEED


But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those 
who have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:20


Brother Andrew shares today’s devotional:


At the time of the cruel persecution in the Soviet Union under Stalin, 
public meetings were regularly held in order to ridicule religion, the 
church and
the priests. On one occasion the inhabitants of a town were summoned to the 
main square. From a platform on the square, a fluent 'scholarly’ atheist, 
who
seemed to have many proofs against the Bible, God and the clergy addressed 
the public.


The crowd had listened silently. But when the local priest was called to the 
front to answer this brilliant oration, an uneasy muttering rippled through
the crowd. The man went and stood close to the microphone and everyone held 
his breath. The tension could be cut with a knife, and you could hear a pin
drop. What would his answer be?


We shall never know what went on in the heart of this man - his fear, his 
prayer - but at last his voice could be heard, resounding through the 
loudspeakers,
not only to the crowd, but also to a large part of the city: “Khristos 
voskrese!” Christ is risen!


For one split second there was silence. A shudder went through the crowd and 
then, as a blazing testimony to the priest and to the atheist opponent, the
cry broke out, unanimous and powerful: “Voistinu voskrese!” The Lord is 
risen indeed!


That was a bad day for atheistic propaganda in Russia. It was also a bad day 
for the religious leaders in Jerusalem, nearly 2,000 years ago, because they
had to bribe the soldiers with much money to get them to tell lies (
Matthew 28:12-13).
It was also a bad day for the guards who “became like dead men” (
Matthew 28:4).


But it was a bad day especially for the devil because if he had known this, 
he “would not have crucified the Lord of Glory” (
1 Corinthians 2:8).


The one who believes in the Cross and the Resurrection takes the side of 
those who are persecuted. Or, to put it another way, whoever identifies with 
the
persecuted church stands in the power of the Resurrection - a target of 
misguided and corrupt people, but nevertheless together with the mighty 
Conqueror.
The Lamb conquers and we conquer too...in Him. Hallelujah!


RESPONSE: Today I rejoice in the glorious truth of the resurrection of Jesus 
Christ our Lord.


PRAYER: Lord, may the persecuted church around the world resound today with 
a vocal outburst of assurance that Jesus is alive.


Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks


© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission
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The Elk of the Smokey Mountains
As the deer longs for streams of water,
so my soul longs for you, O God!
Psalm 42:1

May God reveal His fellowship!
Volume XIV, Issue 14
April 7, 2014

One fall day Beverly and I made our annual journey. Golden sun. Blue sky. 
Clear streams. Colorful leaves. The scenery changed with every turn. Less 
green
and more reds, oranges, and yellows. Beautiful cascades and waterfalls along 
winding roads. The world was God's canvas and He was painting an amazing 
picture.

We drove along the Blue Ridge and crossed the Nantahalas. At the entrance to 
the Great Smokey Mountains National Park stood a visitors center with a 
large
open field nearby. I glanced toward the field and noticed something moving. 
It wasn't a black bear, of which there are many in the Smokeys. I looked 
closer,
gasped, and dove into the center's parking lot.

Jumping out of the car, we quickly joined about thirty others, all perfectly 
still and quietly staring into the field. There, not more than fifty yards
away, stood a beautiful, grand, majestic male...elk. Not far away were 
several females peacefully grazing.

I've traveled in these mountains my entire life and had never seen an elk. 
Turns out the Park Service was reintroducing them to the area. But never had
they come out into the open like this. I decided God was saying, "Hey Chuck. 
What do you think of this?" I love seeing God in His creation.

But I wasn't alone. There were others and we were bonding over this unique 
event. Yet not all. On the road, cars passed without even a glance. Some 
entered
the parking lot and stopped at the restrooms. Passengers looked at us and 
the field, saw nothing of significance, and moved on.

What?! I was shocked and sad at the same time. They were missing this 
incredible animal. I wanted to shout, "Elk is here! Come back! He's waiting 
for you.
You may never see him again."

Something similar can happen with each of us---not missing an experience 
with an amazing creature, but with an amazing Creator. We get in such a 
hurry
to be somewhere or have something that we rush by God. We lose that 
incredible experience with Him.

We also lose an incredible experience with each other. Those who sped by the 
visitors center or stopped only to satisfy an immediate need all missed out.
Beverly, I, and our small group got to share the experience. We were in awe, 
happy, smiling, even laughing...together.

Christian fellowship should have such a bond. Paul wrote of the first 
believers, They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the 
fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:42). Wow. Fellowship was equally 
important with learning, communion, and prayer. So why do we act as though
our spiritual life doesn't need it?

If you've ever been in a church, Bible study, or JABOB (Just A Bunch Of 
Believers), you may have been disappointed, frustrated, angered, betrayed, 
ignored,
etc. It happens to us all. The Family of God would go so much more smoothly 
if we didn't have to deal with people. Alas, we do.

But notice those first believers didn't just have fellowship. They were 
devoted to it. They loved and encouraged each other. They were one in spirit 
and
purpose, doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. With 
humility they valued each other, taking care not only of their own needs, 
but those
of other believers as well. (see Philippians 2:1-4)

This is what fellowship is meant to be, regardless of where it may be 
found...a church or JABOB. We must be devoted to it. And if at this moment 
you don't
have that fellowship or need more...well, don't forget us. Remember Ciloa. 
We're kind of into that encouraging thing.

May the Fellowship heed the call: God is here! Come back! He's waiting for 
you. You may never see Him again.

Take care & be God's,

Chuck
Ciloa - Encourage One Another
SHARE GOD'S ENCOURAGEMENTMWITH THE WORLD
Visit us at www.Ciloa.org
Ciloa is a registered trademark of Ciloa, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) 
organization.
A Note of Encouragement is a copyright interest held by Ciloa, Inc.

Discipleship IS Evangelism

Michael Craven

Thus far in my series on reevangelizing the church I have addressed the 
problem of gospel reductionism, a condition that has reduced the gospel to 
nothing more than the privatized plan of salvation. In response, I have 
sought to recover the broader historical understanding and implications of 
the gospel of the kingdom and, in light of this, explain how the church 
should best express this gospel. I have offered a threefold approach for 
expressing the gospel of the kingdom that is drawn from Scripture.

I have written that the church must first manifest this good news of the 
kingdom by demonstrating what life looks like under the reign of God within 
a distinct community: the church, a community characterized by its radical 
love for one another (see John 13:34, 35; John 17). Second, this unique 
community manifests the gospel by serving the world through acts of service, 
compassion, and mercy, working to reverse and/or mitigate the effects of sin 
(see Matt. 5:16, 22:39; Eph. 2:10; James 2:14-26).

I now turn to the third and final aspect: proclamation of the gospel. How 
and what do we tell others about Jesus and this kingdom that has come into 
the world? The modern approach to this question seems to have gravitated, 
almost exclusively, toward highly simplistic and formulaic expressions of 
the gospel story. What I mean is that we have tried to condense the gospel 
to the most basic "facts" about Jesus, formulate simplistic mediums or tools 
for the conveyance of these facts, and then send folks
out among strangers in an organized and frequently impersonal fashion.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying the Lord can't use these means to 
accomplish his ends. He can and often does. However, the commission that we 
were given by Jesus (and that which we should take as our guide) was to 
"make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and 
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have 
commanded you" (Matt. 28:19, 20, ESV). Clearly, the process of making 
disciples involves more than simply sharing some propositions
about Jesus. Also notice that Jesus actually places disciple making ahead of 
conversion, which is then followed by their being joined to the church 
through baptism. Today we almost always speak of discipleship as something 
that follows conversion, a program whereby we acquaint new converts with the 
basics--more facts--of the Christian faith, church doctrines, and so forth, 
often in four weeks or less!

The New Testament usage of the Greek noun math¯et¯es (commonly translated 
"disciple") is key to understanding the Great Commission. In the original 
Greek, math¯et¯es referred to a student who would attach himself to a 
teacher in order to acquire theoretical and practical knowledge in a certain 
discipline (e.g., philosophy, medicine, a trade). In other words, the 
student strived to become a follower of said teacher, to think and act like 
the teacher.

Following Jesus as a disciple means that we are bound to live according to 
his teachings as well as to pass on his teachings to others. The link 
between discipleship and teaching is clear in the Great Commission of 
Matthew 28:18-20. Moreover, in this text, Jesus' fundamental expectation of 
his disciples is evident--specifically, that his disciples will "observe all 
[things]...I have commanded you" (verse 20). Thus obedience to Jesus' 
commandments is essential to living as his disciple.

Taken in light of the fact that the gospel--or good news--is the 
announcement of God's in-breaking reign (i.e., the kingdom) in which he is 
making all things new, and recalling that Jesus stressed repentance and 
obedience as being essential to entry into the kingdom (see Matt. 7:21-23), 
disciple making involves instruction in the principles of the kingdom and 
obedience to Christ's commands. In other words, making disciples is a 
relational activity that involves instruction about new life in the kingdom
of God under the lordship of Jesus Christ. The goal is one of action: 
changed thinking that animates changed behavior that reorients the life of 
the believer to Jesus' kingdom-oriented goals and activities.

Discipleship is preparation for citizenship in the kingdom, which we 
actively prioritize (see Mathew 6:33). There is an expectation implicit in 
discipleship that culminates in the convert's participation in the 
redemptive mission of Christ. This participation is anything but passive. 
Jesus calls us to action, to take up the cross, to follow him, to live like 
him, to present ourselves as a living sacrifice (see Romans 12:1, 2) into 
the hands of God who empowers us for use in his redemptive purpose
in creation. The follower of Christ--or disciple--seeks first to advance the 
rule and reign of Jesus Christ with all vigor (see Matthew 11:12).

Where discipleship precedes conversion it is evangelism; where it follows 
conversion it serves sanctification. The man or woman moved by God will 
receive this instruction, becoming a follower of Christ, whereas the natural 
man will reject these things. We don't convert people through arguments or 
persuasion; Christ alone receives credit for the conversion of human souls.
Again, we are called to make disciples--and making disciples, unlike 
proselytizing, is intensely relational, hard work that requires grace and 
perseverance. Loving your neighbor, as Christ commanded, is the genesis of 
disciple making as evangelism. It can be talking with your neighbor about 
life and the world in which he lives, offering the biblical truth of reality 
applied to the particulars of his life whenever possible after you have 
earned the right to speak into his life by first loving him.
This could be offering answers relative to his marriage, how he raises his 
kids, financial problems, and on and on.

As Christians who are biblically informed, we have real and substantive 
answers to the questions of this life; we posses a wisdom and understanding 
of reality that the lost do not; we live with the hope of a better future 
when all things are finally and forever made new. Our engagement in the 
lives of our unchurched neighbors should compel them to ask why we posses 
this hope! It is here that we tell them about this Jesus, what he did for 
us, and what he desires to do for them; we tell them, "Repent
and enter his loving kingdom where you will find peace and rest!"

©️ 2009 by S. Michael Craven

The Gift Of Wisdom

We now study another gift of the Holy Spirit which is the gift of wisdom 
which Paul lists:

1 Corinthians 12:8 KJV
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word 
of knowledge by the same Spirit;

The following is what Matthew Henry says about the gift of wisdom in his 
commentary:

To one was given the word of wisdom; that is, say some, a knowledge of the 
mysteries of the gospel, and ability to explain them, an exact understanding 
of the design, nature, and doctrines, of the Christian religion. Others say 
an uttering of grave sentences, like Solomon’s proverbs. Some confine this 
word of wisdom to the revelations made to and by the apostles.

Here is what Paul and James have written about wisdom:

1 Corinthians 2:6-8 Darby
6 But we speak wisdom among the perfect; but wisdom not of this world, nor 
of the rulers of this world, who come to nought. 7 But we speak God’s wisdom 
in a mystery, that hidden wisdom which God had predetermined before the ages 
for our glory: 8 which none of the princes of this age knew, (for had they 
known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory Wink

James 3:17 ASV
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, 
easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, 
without hypocrisy.

So the wisdom we are to give as the Spirit leads has to come from God. If it 
doesn’t follow the things which James wrote of then it is not from God and 
should not be followed. The Lord may put on your heart to give a word of 
wisdom to someone as you are talking to them. It may be a Bible verse but it 
cannot contradict the Bible. One way to know the wisdom of God so that you 
can impart His wisdom to others is to read the Bible and spend time in 
prayer and listening to God speak to you.

If you need an answer from the Lord, it may come from Him personally or it 
may come from someone else but you need to do what James tells us to do:

James 1:5 Darby
5 But if any one of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all 
freely and reproaches not, and it shall be given to him:

by Dean W. Masters

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Understanding the Truth in a Culture of Conflicting Messages

Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of 
Ravi Zacharias' book,
Why Jesus? Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality,
(Faith Words, 2012).

American culture mass-markets a generic brand of spirituality which claims 
that all religions are basically the same, and that a relationship with 
Jesus is just one option among many different ways to connect with God.

Yet Jesus declares that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no 
one can come to God apart from Him. Although Jesus’ message can be hard to 
hear above the loud noise of our culture’s spiritual philosophies, Jesus 
remains unique, and a embracing a relationship with Him is the only true way 
to connect with God.

Here’s how you can clear away the fog of mass-marketed spirituality around 
you and find true life for your spirit in Jesus:

Consider how the “new spirituality” that’s currently popular differs from 
the historical spirituality of biblical Christianity. They differ in 
authority because new spirituality says that you have the authority to 
determine what’s best for you, while biblical Christianity says that the 
church holds spiritual authority. They differ in worship because new 
spirituality says that you define how and what to worship, while biblical 
Christianity says that worship should be a way to engage with Jesus in
the ways He leads you to relate to Him. They differ about the path to God 
because new spirituality says that you can choose any type of path and still 
end up close to God, while biblical Christianity says that only one path 
will truly lead you to God: walking with Jesus Christ. They differ about 
what’s sacred, because new spirituality says that anything goes when you’re 
trying to live a holy life and therefore you can consider anything to be 
sacred, but biblical Christianity says that there are sinful
parts of this fallen world and human nature that must be denied, sublimated, 
or transcended. Finally, they differ about the nature of truth, because new 
spirituality says that truth is constantly changing as you grow, so you 
never quite arrive at truth, while biblical Christianity says that truth is 
constant and knowable, leading you to real answers to your spiritual 
questions.

Realize the limits of a religion that revolves around you. The new 
spirituality that the culture pushes is one that urges you to try to find 
peace by looking inward at yourself rather than outward at God. According to 
the new spirituality, deep down, you are God. But you only have to consider 
how often you struggle with sin (such as pride, greed, and lust) every day 
to realize that you can’t overcome evil in your own strength. Reflect on how 
many times you’ve intended to do what’s right, only to
end up doing what’s wrong despite your good intentions. Think about how your 
mistakes and weaknesses affect your life. Recognize that you need a Savior, 
just like all other human beings in this fallen world that’s full of evil 
unleashed by sin.

Understand that it’s impossible for all religions to be the same. Although 
the culture tries to insist that all religions are basically the same at 
their core, in fact they’re fundamentally different. Any kind of truth, by 
definition, excludes the denial of what it asserts. The world’s religious 
doctrines often contradict each other, and Christianity is distinct in that 
it alone focuses on how God reaches out to people rather than how people can 
try to reach out to God. Only Jesus is able to truly
bridge the distance between a perfect God and sinful people.

Think critically about the spiritual messages that the media presents to 
you. Don’t just absorb the media’s messages about spiritual matters without 
thinking them through and discerning what they’re really saying about God 
and people. Popular public figures such as Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra 
have a lot to say about faith (and about Jesus), but their messages can 
diverge from the Bible’s message and even from what your conscience tells 
you is right. Whenever you watch a television show, visit
a site online, read a magazine or book, watch a movie, listen to the radio, 
or engage with popular culture in other ways, carefully consider the 
messages you receive about spirituality. Pray about those messages, asking 
God to give you the wisdom to figure what’s true, what’s not, and why that’s 
so.

Seek a personal God, not an impersonal idea. God has created you to be in a 
relationship with Him, which is why you have a natural longing for 
relationships. While the best concept of God that the new spirituality can 
offer you is a vague idea of an impersonal divine force in the universe, 
Jesus offers you a personal relationship that connects you directly with 
God. In fact, it’s through a personal relationship with Jesus that you can 
discover your personal worth and learn how to live in the way
that God intended when He made you in His image.

Understand how the human desires to avoid pain and pursue pleasure 
ultimately lead you to Jesus. The new spirituality says that you should 
follow your urges to avoid pain and pursue pleasure, unchecked by any 
thought of whether or not doing so is truly good for you. Simply following 
the urges of your fallen human nature will only lead you to discover that it’s 
impossible to avoid pain in this fallen world, and that selfish pleasure can’t 
ultimately fulfill you. In contrast, Jesus brings value out
of pain that otherwise you’d suffer without meaning, and leads you to true 
and lasting pleasure. The pain you go through makes you aware of how much 
you need Jesus in your life, and when you trust Him with your pain, Jesus 
will use it to accomplish good purposes in your life, such as helping you 
become a stronger person who knows God’s love better than you did before. 
Your search for pleasure in life can find no greater destination than a 
relationship with Jesus Christ that gives you love, forgiveness,
hope, peace, and joy.

Get to know the historical Jesus so you can recognize when the culture’s 
idea of Him doesn’t line up with the facts. The new spirituality presents a 
mythological concept of Jesus that’s just plain wrong in light of history. 
Get to know the evidence that supports the Bible’s veracity and its reports 
about Jesus and His life on Earth. Then you’ll see how Jesus was not just 
one teacher or spiritual master among many, but God Himself who came into 
the world to save it.

Adapted from
Why Jesus? Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality,
copyright 2011 by Ravi Zacharias. Published by FaithWords, a division of 
Hachette Book Group, New York, NY,
www.faithwords.com.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias 
International Ministries, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with additional 
offices in Canada, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the 
United Arab Emirates.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a 
Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on 
angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/).
Contact Whitney at:angels.guide@about.com

uth in the Midst of Turbulent Feelings

Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of 
Sheila Walsh’s new book
The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You 
Are
(Thomas Nelson, 2014).

When you feel turbulent emotions such as anger, fear, and disappointment, it 
can seem as if a chaotic storm is raging inside of your soul. No matter how 
stormy you might be feeling, however, the Holy Spirit is more powerful than 
any storm you’ll ever face. If you seek his help, the Holy Spirit will show 
you eternal truth that you can rely on in the midst of turbulent feelings. 
Here’s how:

Find strength in the midst of heartbreak. When you’re feeling heartbroken, 
it won’t help to hear pat answers from others who randomly throw encouraging 
Bible verses at you, but it will help to ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to 
caring people who are willing to take the time to help you carry your 
burdens. Keep in mind that you’re never alone in your heartbreak even when 
you’re not with other people, because God has promised to be near the 
brokenhearted. Pray honestly about your feelings, inviting
Jesus into the darkest places in your soul and calling out to him for the 
comfort and help you need. Read and reflect on Bible verses that describe 
God’s strength, and choose to rely on his unlimited power to help you in 
every situation you face.

Find hope in the midst of disappointment. Identify the areas of your life in 
which you feel disappointed with yourself, other people, or God. Ask God to 
change disappointing circumstances in your life if he will, but no matter 
how God chooses to answer your prayers, continue to love and trust him. When 
you relinquish control of your life and trust God to do what’s best for 
you – even when you don’t understand it – you free yourself to pursue God 
himself rather than just something that you want God
to do for you. In the process, you’ll discover the hope you have as one of 
God’s beloved children. Focus on that identity rather than any issue in your 
life that’s currently disappointing you. Offer your deepest disappointments 
to God in prayer, and keep a prayer journal where you record how God 
eventually answers the various prayers you bring to him. Reading through it 
will encourage you as you reflect on the hope God is constantly bringing 
into your life.

Find freedom in the midst of bitterness. Answering God’s call to forgive is 
the key to finding freedom from bitterness that will poison your soul if you 
don’t do something about it. Remind yourself of how many sins God has 
forgiven you for, and let your gratitude for his forgiveness motivate you to 
obey his command to forgive the people who have hurt you. Start by asking 
the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind the people you need to forgive. Then 
write each name down and ask the Spirit to empower you
to release each person from his vengeance and give them mercy instead. If 
bitter feelings about the person return later, pray for God’s blessing on 
that person. Gradually, through the process of faithfully making the choice 
to forgive despite your feelings, your bitter feelings will disappear and 
you’ll feel peace instead.

Find love in the midst of shame. Recognize that feelings of shame reflect 
lies about who you really are, and that truth is what God says about who you 
are: someone who is loved, redeemed, chosen, beautiful, whole, healed, pure, 
and holy, because of your relationship with Jesus. Put your shame into words 
by writing it out and talking about it with a friend or counselor you trust. 
Turn to Jesus and focus on him rather than your shame. Spend time with Jesus 
to get to know him better; the more you understand
his love for you, the less room your life has for shame. Come to Jesus often 
to confess and repent of sins that are making you feel guilty, get rid of 
shame, and receive the forgiveness and powerful love he wants to give you.

Find rest in the midst of regret. Pray about the various types of regret 
that may be haunting you, such as regret about things you’ve done, things 
you’ve failed to do, things others have done to you, and things others didn’t 
do for you. Remember that God will redeem any situation that has caused you 
to feel regret, if you invite him to do so, which means that nothing will be 
wasted in your life. So confess your regrets in prayer, grieve your losses, 
forgive yourself and those who have played a part
in your past regrets, and ask God to give you the courage you need to engage 
in life fully again.

Find joy in the midst of fear. Fear robs you of the joy that God wants you 
to have, because you can’t fully appreciate what God has given you now if 
you’re afraid of what might happen later. Whenever you feel afraid, pray 
about your fears, asking Jesus to give you his peace and the Holy Spirit to 
renew your mind so you can see whatever concerns you from an eternal 
perspective. Remind yourself often that God is much more powerful than 
anyone who, or anything that, scares you.

Find confidence in the midst of insecurity. Choose to place your confidence 
in God and trust what he says about you rather than believing the feelings 
of insecurity that you experience. Keep in mind that God’s love for you has 
nothing to do with your performance. Read and meditate on Bible verses that 
describe how much God loves you, unconditionally and completely.

Find courage in the midst of insignificance. Whenever you feel 
insignificant, remind yourself that your life matters to God, and he has 
significant purposes for you to accomplish. Invite God to reveal those 
purposes to you, and choose to boldly pursue them. As you do, you’ll become 
more courageous.

Find faith in the midst of despair. Recognize that emotions of despair are 
only temporary, while the hope that God offers you will last forever. Don’t 
base any of your decisions on feelings of despair, because feelings are 
unreliable. Instead, ask God to give you the faith you need to overcome 
despair, and wait to make important decisions until your despair disappears 
and you can sense God guiding you.

Find restoration in the midst of anger. The key to mastering anger is 
submitting yourself to the Holy Spirit, who will empower you to see 
everything that makes you feel angry from an accurate perspective. Then you 
can experience the peace of knowing that God is greater than any 
circumstances that anger you, and trust God to help you make the best 
decisions about how to handle those circumstances.

Adapted from
The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You 
Are,
copyright 2014 by Sheila Walsh. Published by Thomas Nelson, a division of 
HarperCollins Publishers, Nashville, Tn.,
www.thomasnelson.com.

Sheila Walsh, a Women of Faith® speaker, is the author of the award-winning
Gigi, God's Little Princess®
series,
God Loves Broken People,
The Shelter of God's Promises,
and a new fiction novel,
Sweet Sanctuary.
Sheila lives in Texas with her husband, Barry, and son, Christian.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for 
many years, is author of the Christian novel
Dream Factory,
which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Her Twitter handle is 
@WhitneyHopler.

Publication date: March 31, 2014

The First Lord’s Supper

On the night of the first Lord’s Supper, Jesus models an attitude that we 
must choose to have each time we come to His Table.

On the evening of the Last Supper there was a problem among His disciples 
that Jesus had to address.

While Satan waited at the door, while the High Priest plotted for His life, 
and while the Roman cross stood not far away, a greater priority than all 
others was Christ's—His disciples had to learn what genuine love was all 
about. The hearts of His disciples contained: unforsaken selfishness, 
disagreements, contentions, jealousies, impatience, and ambition; and none 
of those are acceptable at Christ's Table.

Luke 22:24
“Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be 
considered the greatest. “

The Passover meal was about to start, but no one was willing to take the 
lowest job. In a home without slaves, someone (usually the lowest in rank) 
had to take a basin and wash feet before the meal. None of the disciples 
felt like serving that night.

During the long meal in reclining couches feet would be near faces. Dirty 
feet would distract, so would dirty hearts. So Jesus addressed their hearts 
as He washed their feet.

Jesus girded Himself as the slave. Jesus knelt before all of His men and 
took the lowest place.

The picture they got of Jesus was burned into their hearts forever. Peter 
wrote of it, John wrote of it, and they talked so much about it that Paul 
even describes that humble servant attitude and action of Jesus.

What was Christ's answer to their selfishness? His Love.

What was Christ's cure for their selfish ambition? His love.

Christ's Last Supper Message to Us

As we turn to John 13, we enter into that night of nights. It is Christ's 
last night on earth. It is Passover time and the Seder meal that both Christ 
and His disciples had participated in from their earliest childhood. This 
night the disciples came troubled, unfocused, arguing, and out of step with 
Jesus. They had everything on their minds but Him.

That is the constant struggle that He had with them.

· They thought of Earth as He talked of Heaven.

· They thought of others as He pointed to them.

· They were self focused when He asked for them to think of others.

John 13 is Christ's lesson on how to prepare for meeting Him at His Supper.

Continue reading
http://www.christianity.com/devotionals/discover-the-book-john-barnett/discover-the-book-april-3-2012.html

I will never leave you nor forsake you!

(James Smith,
"The Pastor's Morning Visit" 1840)

"God Himself has said: I will never leave you nor forsake you!" Hebrews 13:5

The Lord's redeemed people are never alone!

God is with them as an Observer. He notices their . . .
every thought,
every word,
every action,
every trial,
every foe,
every danger.

He is with His people . . .
as a Father--loving and holding communion with them;
as the Lord Almighty--having all power to help them;
as a Guide--to wisely lead them;
as an Advocate--to plead their cause;
as a Friend--to supply and comfort them;
as a Savior--to deliver and protect them;
as a holy, sin-hating God--to purify them!

He is present with them . . .
to try them,
to reprove them,
to humble them,
to preserve them,
to comfort them, and
to save them with an everlasting salvation!

Beloved, let us remember that God is with us--everywhere and always! This 
precious truth will . . .
check levity,
prevent impatience,
make us people of integrity,
encourage prayerfulness,
inspire us with fortitude,
and produce diligence.

If God is with us thus--then He is for us! And if God is for us--then who 
can effectually be against us?

"So be strong and courageous! For the LORD your God goes with you; He will 
never leave you nor forsake you!" Deuteronomy 31:6

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

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WHAT ABOUT TONGUES?

Acts 2:1-8 ASV
And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one 
place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a 
mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And 
there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it 
sat upon each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, 
and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation 
under heaven. 6 And when this sound was heard, the multitude came together, 
and were confounded, because that every man heard them speaking in his own 
language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying, Behold, are not 
all these that speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we, every man in our own 
language wherein we were born?

In this Scripture which describes the first time anyone speaking in tongues. 
these were not unknown tongues but tongues which had not been studied by 
those speaking them. Men from other countries understood the men talking in 
their own languages.

So tongues are known languages which the speaker has never studied. A friend 
of mine was in Jerusalem at a huge meeting where Kathryn Kuhlman was the 
main speaker. A woman from England stood up and spoke in some language and a 
man who only spoke German stood up and spoke in fluent English, translating 
what the woman had said. Some people make up something because they want to 
be part of the group. Some will wail some phrase they have made up that is 
no tongue known on this earth and has no interpretation.

The first time I had anything to do with speaking in tongues and 
interpretation was at a retreat when I was in high school. there were three 
of us in a room. One boy had experience speaking in tongues and the other 
two of us had no experience. the one boy said something in a language we 
didn’t know and a phrase in English came to my mind but I didn’t say it. The 
Third boy said the phrase I was thinking of and I concurred with him.

I saw a program on Christian TV where they were talking about a man who hadn’t 
graduated from grade school. He was given the gift to speak to someone from 
another country in their own language and understand what he was saying as 
well as knowing what the foreigner was saying. this happened to him with 
several different language groups. this is the first time I had heard of 
this kind of speaking in tongues. The Lord gave him the words and the 
understanding both.

When you pray it is OK to pray in tongues but all prayer, even personal, 
should not be in tongues. Paul said this

1 Corinthians 14:15 ASV
15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the 
understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the 
understanding also.

We must know what we are praying for but also should allow the Spirit to 
pray deeper prayers than we can pray.

You must be filled with the Holy Spirit before you can have any of the 
spiritual gifts including tongues. If you have never been filled with the 
Holy Spirit, ask God for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. When you feel the 
Spirit moving you to speak in tongues or interpret when tongues are spoken, 
open your mouth and let God fill it with the words He gives. Do not hinder 
the work of the Holy Spirit in any of the spiritual gifts.

by Dean W. Masters

Owner of the Master's List

God Knows
by David Wilkerson

March 31, 2014

This message is for anyone who is suffering pain, affliction
or tribulation. It is for the unemployed and those facing
financial trials. It is for people who live each day with an
anxious foreboding about their future. I want to say to each
of you right now: GOD KNOWS ABOUT IT ALL.

The Psalmist testifies, "O Lord, thou hast searched me, and
known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising,
thou understandest my thought afar off" (Psalm 139:1-2). He
is telling us, "My God sees whenever I sit down and rise up.
He hears and considers every thought I think. He knows
everything about me." When we are in tribulation, God knows
what we are going through.

Whenever I am in pain and need a word of encouragement, I
want to talk to somebody who knows. I don't want someone
who'll merely quote scriptures to me. I need to talk to
someone who has also been in the fire - someone who has felt
depths of suffering, who has been there himself.

Usually only those who have suffered deep pain themselves
have genuine compassion for others who are hurting. I saw
this over the years as my wife and I vacationed in Florida.
At restaurants we overheard elderly people talking about
their doctors and the operations they'd undergone. Someone
who had the same pain would chime in with sympathy. In the
very tone and timbre of their voice, I could feel the agony
of the long nights they'd endured. A deep connection was
established, a bond of understanding and compassion.

Many Christians today are so despondent over their pain they
no longer believe God cares about their situation. They
wonder, "Does God hear my prayers? Why does he allow this
trial to go on?" Other Christians slowly grow more bitter in
the midst of their trial. They think, "I've been faithful to
love and obey God all these years. I've done right according
to his Word.

Now I've lost my job and we're on the brink of losing our
home. Medical bills are piling up, and our finances are
spiraling out of control. We're facing permanent ruin. Why
would God allow all this to happen? Why won't he hear my cry
when I need him most?"

God knows about our suffering - and he cares.

Our heavenly Father also has known suffering - through
Jesus, his only begotten Son. The author of Hebrews tells us
Christ himself is touched by the feelings of our
infirmities. The fact is our afflictions will either draw us
closer to Christ or plunge us deeper into despair.
Afflictions can make us wholly dependent on God's Word or
they can drive us into a spiral of unbelief. If we continue
to harbor bitterness, it can harden our heart until we end
up in a pit of hopelessness.

I personally know the "soul battle" that suffering brings.
My wife, Gwen, battled twenty-eight surgeries over a
lifetime marked by physical suffering. Night after night, I
sat on the edge of our bed burdened down with grief, crying,
"Lord, I love you, I trust you. But we are hurting so badly.
Why does this pain continue? Will it never end?"

At such times I heard him lovingly whisper to me, "David, I
know. And I care. I am with you." Oh, the healing power of
those words: "I know" - and the great mercy of our precious,
loving Savior!

In our most trying times, we are faced with a choice. We
either must trust God with our life and future, or we must
charge him with willful negligence. This has always been the
choice for God's people. In the Old Testament, the children
of Israel made the wrong choice. The Lord had chosen them to
be a "teaching people," examples of faith and trust in God
before the world. And God had given Israel great promises to
live on. The plan was simple: Israel, the "light of
nations," was to learn to live on every word that proceeds
from God's mouth (see Deuteronomy 8:2-3).

Great difficulties lay ahead of Israel, but God promised he
would never leave nor forsake them. He pledged to lead them
through it all by his own hand. He only asked that they
trust him, living by every word he spoke to them.

Israel's difficulty was never about not having enough
provisions. They never lacked food, water or shelter. Not
one of them starved in forty years. Even in their unbelief,
God provided for all of their physical needs through every
trial and difficulty. Our Lord does not cut off his children
from what they need because their faith falters.

The Israelites' trials were necessary to produce an enduring
testimony to the world.

What was the testimony God intended for Israel? It was that
his people can survive and be at rest in any crisis. The
Israelites were headed to Canaan, the Promised Land, a place
filled with a never-ending supply of milk and honey. Yet the
"place of rest" that God intended for Israel was more than
just a physical location. It was a place where his people
would live completely by faith, trusting in every word that
proceeded from his mouth.

This is still God's plan for his people - to have a place of
rest. They find it by living wholly according to every word
he speaks. The author of Hebrews tells us such a place of
rest remains unclaimed by God's people. In short, the Lord
is still testing a people who would "enter into his rest by
faith."

Israel never did become the Lord's testimony in this sense.
Instead, the people murmured and complained, questioning
God's faithfulness in every crisis. And they died in misery.
They led lives full of fear, completely self- centered,
obsessed with their own needs. Yet all along the Lord had
faithfully led them, clothed them and sheltered them.
Inside, they were just spiritually dead.

The Lord knows what is in the heart of each of his servants.
And he knows every reason given by those who once served him
joyfully but now have turned away in bitterness. He sees
clearly that inner place in us, even when we don't.

Jesus spoke about this when a group of covetous Pharisees
came to hear him teach. As they harassed and ridiculed him,
Christ responded, "Ye are they which justify yourselves
before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is
highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of
God" (Luke 16:15).

Christ's words here have never been more relevant. In the
world's eyes today, you do not want to be found out as being
one of those "Jesus people." Many Christians who were once
passionate about Jesus have now adopted a religion of
respectability, emphasizing good works and charity. Utmost
in their minds is to keep the approval of the crowd. So they
justify their rejection of having any zeal for Christ. Jesus
says this attitude is abomination in God's eyes.

I simply have no answer for those who ask why the holiest
believers suffer so deeply and so often. I can't begin to
answer why God's beloved ones endure such hard times. But I
do know something about those who have turned away from the
Lord in bitterness.

To all backslidden people, I must ask this: Is your heart
softer since leaving the Lord? Or is it harder? Are you
warmer or colder to the people in your life? Jesus told us
to judge a tree by its fruit.

As a faithful shepherd, I have to speak to you a warning:
The devil is happy to continually fill your mind with
endless questions. He wants to smother any flicker of faith
remaining in you with a growing mountain of doubts. You can
be sure such thoughts will continue to pile up. Hear me when
I say, you picked the wrong time to turn away from Jesus.

The truth is God knows. He knows your sitting down and your
rising up. He knows all about your pain, all about your
situation, all about your future. As David writes, "There is
not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it
altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before [surrounded
me], and laid thine hand upon me" (Psalm 139:4-5).

David is saying, in essence, "Because I trust him, he has me
covered on all sides. In the midst of tribulation, I am able
to say, ‘God knows. He cares. He is with me!'"

In Psalm 139, God reminds his people where he is in our
tribulation and what he promises to do for us.

Perhaps you sense the Holy Spirit tenderly wooing your heart
in the midst of your pain. Yet you continue to ask, "But
what about my outward situation, my circumstance? Where is
God in my case? When is this trial ever going to end?"

I don't know why the Lord allows the righteous to suffer. I
don't know why he allows children to suffer. I don't know
why he has allowed the suffering of my own children, my
wife, my family. I simply can't tell you what I don't know.
But I can tell you what God promises you in his Word.

Consider the beginning of Psalm 139. He pledges to all who
call on his name: "I know you! You are never out of my mind"
(verse 1). "I monitor your every move. I know every thought
you think" (verse 2). "I have you covered at all times"
(verse 3). "My very hand is upon you" (verse 5). "There is
no place in heaven or earth you can escape my Spirit" (verse
7). "You may think my Spirit is not with you, but he is
always there" (verse 8). "When darkness tries to hide me
from your eyes, I will break through that darkness" (verse
12). "I loved you and covered you even in your mother's
womb" (verse 13). "I saw the substance of your being before
you were born" (verse 15). "And I've had precious thoughts
toward you from then until now" (verse 17).

Beloved, you cannot begin to number the good thoughts God
has toward you, even now. Be encouraged: He is with you in
your situation, no matter how intense it may get. You have a
faithful, knowing companion in your pain. Yes, God knows!

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

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Post  Admin on Thu 12 Jun 2014, 7:07 am

Care Instructions for a Life Worth Living

The Water or the Boat?

When Jesus came to the disciples on the water, he was revealing his divine 
presence and power. Only God can do such a thing. It is interesting that the
disciples entered the boat in the first place at Jesus’ command. They would 
have to learn—as do we—that obedience is no guarantee of being spared 
adversity.
But now that the storm had their full attention, Jesus decided it was time 
the disciples got to know a little bit more about the guy who was piloting 
this
thing. It’s like this, dudes, he reassured them. You can trust me. You know 
my character and my competence. You can safely place your destiny in my 
hand.
Take courage. It’s me.

Peter blurted out to the water-walker, “If it is you, command me to come to 
you on the water.” Why does Matthew include this detail? Why doesn’t Peter
just plunge into the water? I think it’s for a very important reason. This 
is not just a story about risk-taking; it is primarily a story about 
obedience.
That means I will have to discern between an authentic call from God and 
what might simply be a foolish impulse on my part. Courage alone is not 
enough;
it must be accompanied by wisdom and discernment.

This is a story about extreme discipleship. This means that before Peter 
gets out of the boat, he had better make sure Jesus thinks it’s a good idea. 
So
he asks for clarity,

“If it is you, command me.…”

And in the darkness, I think Jesus smiled. Maybe he laughed. Because one 
person in the boat got it. Peter had some inkling of what it is that the 
Master
is doing. Not only that, Peter had enough faith to believe that he too could 
share the adventure. He decided he wanted to be part of history’s original
water-walk. Command me. If I am going to experience a greater measure of 
God’s power in my life, it will usually involve the first-step principle. It
will usually begin by my acting in faith—trusting God enough to take a step 
of obedience. Simply acknowledging information about his power is not 
enough.
I have to get my feet wet. But when I say yes, I set in motion an adventure 
that will leave me forever changed.

We recognize that traumatic events can change our lives, for better or for 
worse. They can bring about deep character and personality change. Boot 
camp,
for example, can be thought of as an example of controlled trauma that is 
designed to foster traits like loyalty and obedience. Allowing his disciples
to face a storm alone in a boat is an example of Jesus using controlled 
trauma with masterful skill to help them take the step toward trust that 
they would
never be able to develop on their own.

Put yourself in Peter’s place for a moment. You have a sudden insight into 
what Jesus is doing—the Lord is passing by. He’s inviting you to go on the 
adventure
of your life. But at the same time, you’re scared to death. What would you 
choose—the water or the boat?

© 2014 by Zondervan. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Visit
JohnOrtberg.com
for more about John Ortberg's work and ministry
Today's reading is drawn from
If You Want to Walk on Water You've Got to Get Out of the Boat
by John Ortberg. John Ortberg teaches us how to step out of the "boat" of 
casual Christianity so that we can faithfully follow the Lord who is calling
us out onto the risky, exciting waters of the high seas. Let Pastor Ortberg 
teach you how to leave your comfort zone for a remarkable life of faith.


Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"Examine your motives, test your heart..." (1Cor 11:28a, MSG).

By Answers2Prayer

Let us Go for a Walk. Why Can't I Hear God? Part 1

I often encounter questions similar to this: "Why can't I hear God?" 
Generally those who ask these kinds of questions have been struck with 
adversity.
They long to hear from God, but somehow they are unable to perceive His 
voice. They wonder if they ever will hear from Him again.

The answer to this is much more complex than we may think. In the upcoming 
months, we will explore the different things that can hinder us from hearing
God's voice. After all, our God is a God of love and He always has our best 
interest at heart. Throughout His Word, the Bible, He makes us aware of the
many things that can cause our relationship to become estranged and what can 
be done to rectify this, but first we need to realize a very important 
truth:
"Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. 
He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share 
the
same Spirit and have equal access to the Father." (Eph 2:17-18, MSG)

We have never had access to God through our own merits. We are the ones who 
broke off our communication with God, wandering away from His love to pursue
our very own interests. But God in His grace didn't give up on us. Instead 
He pursued us with His love, willingly dying for us, so that our broken 
relationship
could be rectified and we could experience God fully.

This is confirmed all over in the New Testament, in verses such as this one: 
"Don't Throw It All Away. So, friends, we can now--without hesitation--walk
right up to God, into 'the Holy Place.' Jesus has cleared the way by the 
blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The 'curtain' into 
God's
presence is his body." (Heb 10:19, MSG)

Here is our first hindrance: If we foster anything that will separate us 
from our righteous God, we won't be able to hear His voice any longer. 
"There's
nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in you. Your wrongheaded lives caused 
the split between you and God. Your sins got between you so that he doesn't
hear." (Isa 59:2, MSG) This is why it is so important to "Examine your 
motives, test your heart..." (1Cor 11:28a, MSG).

The same is true with any relationship. How close can a wife be to her 
husband if he never has any time for her? If his hobbies always seem more 
important
to him than anything else? The same is true with our relationship with our 
loving Father in heaven. If we have nothing in common, if we show no 
interest
in spending time with Him, there won't be any intimacy.

For years my wife invited me to go for walks with her, and for years I had 
what I thought were very legitimate excuses: "Too hot;" "Too cold;" "Too 
rainy;"
"Too windy;" "Too busy" (My most common excuse!)...and the list could go on. 
One day I woke up and realized that we had drifted apart. We had become 
estranged
from one another. We still loved each other, but I had no idea what my wife 
was going through.

Around the same time I realized this, I was going through some tumultuous 
times of my own, with health concerns needing to be addressed. Walking was 
part
of the cure, and I began going for a walk with my wife every evening. We 
began to get to know one another again, in the way we used to know one 
another,
and romance began to come back into our marriage. I now know in detail what 
she is going through on a daily basis, her joys, her struggles, her hopes,
and no matter what she is going through I am there for her.

We haven't stopped walking since that time, and just recently we've found a 
way to make the walks even more meaningful: We involve God in our walks! 
This
time we spend together gives us the opportunity to pray for others and for 
this ministry as well.

If we don't foster a relationship, it's inevitable that we will become 
estranged. Remember all of your friends from the past? How close can you 
feel to
those you never stayed in contact with? Would they even answer a letter if 
you sent it to them?

Yes, the busyness of life can make us wander away from what we once 
considered to be a prized relationship. If we examine our motives and 
discover that
we have wandered away, we have a choice to make: Either we continue our 
pursuits and forsake our relationship with our Maker and Savior, or we stop 
in
our tracks and turn back, asking for forgiveness and once again hungering to 
romance the Lover of our souls.

You know what God says in such circumstances? "On the other hand, if we 
admit our sins--make a clean breast of them--he won't let us down; he'll be 
true
to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing." (1 John 
1:9, MSG)

It's never too late to rectify our relationship with our Heavenly Father. 
Now is our opportunity to start experiencing Him fully again. Start walking 
with
Him. Try listening to His sweet loving voice. You will have no choice but to 
fall in love with Him once again, more than ever before, for He truly loves
you. He loves you more than you love yourself! You are, after all, His 
child!

But there are many other reasons that can hinder us from hearing God. Next 
month we will discover another hindrance that may need to be examined a bit
closer in our lives.

Remember that God loves you and will never stop loving you.

Will you go for a walk with Him?

Rob Chaffart

Announcement:

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

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

COME AND DIE

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and 
dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
John 12:24

When our children were young, we would often sing before dinner the chorus, 
“Come and dine the master calleth, come and dine...” One day our youngest,
Melinda, our adopted Filipina asked, “Daddy, why does Jesus say we have to 
come and die?” The family laughed at this question concluding that we really
needed to work on our singing diction.

But as I study Jesus’ teaching, I’ve come to realise that Melinda was 
singing correctly all the time. Because Jesus also indicates that 
discipleship means
there is a cross to bear. All too often the cross becomes for us just an 
historic symbol. One day a North American minister was showing a foreign 
visitor
his newly built church building. Outside, a spotlight illuminated a huge 
cross on the steeple. The pastor boasted, “That cross alone cost us 
$10,000.”

The visitor looked at him quizzically and replied, “Where I come from, 
Christians can get them for free!”

A Canadian Christian aid worker was overwhelmed at the enormous need among 
the believers of southern Sudan. He recalls some children in a village 
wearing
nothing but hand carved bone crosses fashioned in necklaces around their 
necks. He pointed to the cross on one emaciated child and questioned her 
with
hand motions. She smiled broadly, took off the necklace and handed it to 
him.

His thoughtful analysis is this: “That little act symbolises the state of 
the suffering church in Sudan. With absolutely nothing in the way of 
material
possessions, they still have the cross of Jesus Christ. They are prepared to 
share its hope - even though it means death.”

To Jesus the cross meant the willing denial of self for the sake of others. 
Seeking to save your life, you’ll lose it while losing your life for Jesus
will save it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who gave up his life taking a 
stand against Hitler wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and 
die.”
That’s what it means to lose our life in order to save it. Jesus himself was 
our example being willing to go to the cross on behalf of others—even a lost
world.

RESPONSE: Today I will deny myself, take up my cross and follow Jesus.

PRAYER: Lord, I respond to Your call to “come and die to myself” in order to 
find real life in You.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission
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Post  Admin on Wed 11 Jun 2014, 7:34 am

The Greatest Power of All

When Jesus stepped from the Tomb on Resurrection morning, God unleashed the 
greatest power of all.

Often we fail to understand the magnitude of what really happened. Here is 
what had changed -- after the Resurrection Jesus was no longer limited to 
one location. Jesus could be at anytime with everyone in anyplace. Think of 
all of Christ's power we see in the Gospels available everywhere and all the 
time! That was God unleashing Jesus Christ to be everywhere available!

From the Manger to the Cross Jesus had been for 33 years in only one place 
at one time. He had humbled Himself, He had emptied Himself, and He had 
limited Himself. He was localized, operating in one place at a time.

Even in this condition of being localized, Jesus accomplished more than any 
human ever has or will. He grew up perfectly, mastered God's Word perfectly, 
and related to His family, friends, and neighbors perfectly for 30 years.

As far as we know Jesus only ventured outside the borders of tiny Israel but 
once, and then it was quite a brief stop in the north to help a troubled 
woman. Crowds came to Him, multitudes flocked to Him, and none were 
disappointed – He helped them all. But sometimes the crowds were so great 
that people were pressed out and had to resort to digging through rooftops, 
climbing trees, and reaching down through the feet of the crowds just to 
grab the tassel of His robe. All this because He was just One
person who was limited to being in one place at a time.

By now after having said it so many times, you have probably caught the 
drift of where we are going. As we step into the Garden that surrounded the 
borrowed Tomb on Resurrection morning – something has wondrously changed. 
Jesus is no longer trapped by time and space to be in one place at a time. 
He seems to be everywhere at once.
And for forty days after the Empty Tomb, He is never seen even once by any 
unloving eyes, He is never touched even once by unloving hands.

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Post  Admin on Mon 09 Jun 2014, 7:48 pm

This is the beginning of a series of studies I am planning on doing about 
the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. We receive the Holy Spirit when 
we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior but is that all there is? Let’s look at 
the Scriptures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Holy Spirit is a good gift from God. If you have never received that 
great gift, ask Him now.

By Dean W. Masters
Owner of the Master's List
Unedited redistribution approved. 


What is Prayer (Part 2)*
As Christians we readily acknowledge that prayer is important. But far too 
often our actual practice reveals that we really don’t appreciate just how 
important
it is. We know that we do not pray as often as we ought. But sadly we 
frequently do not even think about prayer with anything like the priority 
that we
ought. Many of us place far greater stress on other things in the Christian 
life, things like Bible study or sitting under the preaching of the Word 
each
week. It may be rather surprising, therefore, to read what the 19th century 
Anglican bishop J.C. Ryle says about the necessity of prayer in the 
Christian
life:

It is not absolutely needful to salvation that a man should read the Bible. 
A man may have no learning, or be blind, and yet have Christ in his heart.
It is not absolutely needful that a man should hear the public preaching of 
the Gospel. He may live where the Gospel is not preached, or he may be 
bedridden,
or deaf. But the same thing cannot be said about prayer. It is absolutely 
needful to salvation that a man should pray.1

Ryle’s point is that genuine faith will necessarily express itself in 
prayer. It may not express itself in Bible study, because an individual 
might not
be able to read or might be uneducated. It may not express itself in sitting 
under the preaching of the Word, because an individual might live where 
there
is no gospel preaching or might not be able physically to sit under that 
preaching. But genuine faith will always express itself in prayer. It is 
just
as necessary for the Christian as breathing is for life.

Several passages in Scripture support the claim that prayer is necessary for 
the Christian. Acts 9:11, for instance, tells us that the one distinguishing
characteristic demonstrating beyond all doubt that Saul has become a 
Christian is prayer. Ananias can rest assured that Saul is in fact a changed 
man,
because faith necessarily expresses itself in prayer, and Saul “is praying.” 
In Matthew 6:5-7 and in Luke 11:2, Jesus assumes that all Christians will
be engaging in prayer as a regular part of their lives (he says “when you 
pray,” not “if”). In Revelation 8:3, we are given a glimpse into heaven and 
told
that “the prayers of all the saints” are offered on the golden altar, which 
clearly implies that “all” Christians will have contributed prayers to this
offering. It is not the prayers of some of the saints that are offered but 
the prayers of all of them. Moreover, when Paul lays out the marks by which
a genuine Christian is distinguished in Romans 12:9f, he includes “constant 
in prayer” among those marks (v.12), which suggests that all Christians will
not only contribute an occasional prayer but will be as persistent in their 
praying as they are in their breathing. Prayer is necessary. It is as 
necessary
to spiritual life as breathing is to physical life.

The Scottish Reformer, John Knox, expressed the necessity of prayer in 
similar terms, albeit with a different metaphor:

For if the fire can be without heat, or the burning lamp without light, then 
true faith may be without fervent prayer.

Faith and prayer necessarily go together, just like fire must go together 
with heat or a burning lamp must go together with light. It is impossible to
have the one and not the other.

What we really see on display here in this discussion of the necessity of 
prayer is the relational nature of faith. Faith is frequently depicted in 
the
Bible as an intimate relationship between the individual and Christ. In 
Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV), for instance, Jesus says:

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, 
but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day 
many
will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out 
demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will
I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of 
lawlessness.

Now, obviously, Jesus did know these people. He knew them well enough to 
know that they were “workers of lawlessness.” So when he says that he “never 
knew”
them, he is not using the word “know” to refer to knowing things about them 
but is instead referring to the absence of a relationship. Jesus knows about
them but does not know them in relationship. The “faith” that they 
exhibited—enough to turn to Jesus and call him “Lord, Lord”—was not, 
therefore, a true
and genuine faith. To be sure, they knew certain things about Jesus, but 
they did not have an intimate relationship with him.

Every intimate relationship requires constant communication (take marriage, 
for instance). It is a necessary component, as there can be no relationship
without it. This is especially the case with our relationship with the Lord, 
because of the way this particular relationship is sovereignly initiated and
graciously and sacrificially established. Let me explain by illustrating 
with the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). In the parable, the younger 
of
two sons asks his father for his share of the inheritance—in essence 
rejecting his father and telling him he wants nothing to do with him. After 
going
off into a far country, squandering the inheritance in riotous living, 
barely eking out an existence among the pigs, realizing that the servants in 
his
father’s house have it much better than he does, and resolving to return 
home and plead for mercy, the younger son is overwhelmed by the father’s 
lavish,
gracious (i.e., undeserved), and sacrificial display of love and affection. 
What would it say about the son if, after all this, he never spent any time
talking with his father and building their relationship? It would say that 
his father, and everything his father did for him, meant very little to him.
It would say that, from his perspective, there was little, if any, real 
relationship. Communication is a necessary part of all relationships. If 
there
is a relationship, there must be communication. If there is not, there is 
obviously a problem with the relationship.

Just as the struggles we experience in our breathing should serve as warning 
signs that something is wrong with our physical health, so the struggles we
experience in our praying should serve as warning signs that something is 
wrong with our spiritual health. We have a relationship problem. It is vital
to remember, however, that when we struggle in our breathing, we are, 
nevertheless, still breathing. There is a big difference between struggling 
in our
breathing and not breathing at all. The fact that we struggle means that we 
are alive. It is the absence of struggle that means there is no life. Like
the prodigal, we need to be reminded daily both of our unworthiness and of 
the sovereign initiation and gracious and sacrificial institution of the 
intimate
relationship we have with the Father. And we need to let that motivate all 
our communication with him.

1. An excerpt taken from Ryle's "
A Call to Prayer"
in Practical Relgion. Ryle is not contradicting what the Apostle Paul says 
in Romans 10:14-15, or what Jesus says in John 8:31 about the necessity of 
hearing
the Gospel and abiding in Christ's word. He is emphasizing that there may be 
times when a man may not hear the word preached or be able to read the 
Scritpures,
and yet have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him. Prayer, on the other 
hand, must be--and will be--offered to God by everyone who is indwelt by the 
Spiritof God.

*This is the second installment in the "What is Prayer?" series. You can 
read the find post
here.
Dr. Guy M. Richard is Senior Minister of
First Presbyterian Church in Gulfport, MS.
He is the author ofWhat is Faith?
(Philipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2012), has written
several articles for Reformation 21,
Tabletalk Magazine and other theological journals.


Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List
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Post  Admin on Sun 08 Jun 2014, 9:27 pm

Prayer in Gethsemane

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 09:55 PM PDT

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said 
to them, Sit here while I go over there and pray. He took Peter and the
two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and 
troubled. Then he said to them, My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the 
point of
death. Stay here and keep watch with me.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, My 
Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will,
but as you will.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. Could you men 
not keep watch with me for one hour?†he asked Peter. Watch and pray so 
that
you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is 
weak.

He went away a second time and prayed, My Father, if it is not possible for 
this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were 
heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, 
saying
the same thing.

Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, Are you still sleeping 
and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the
hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer! (Matthew 
26:36-46, NIV)

As Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples, we sensed His burden. Now it 
seems to be almost crushing Him. My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the
point of death†(v.38). Physically, He is facing extended torture and an 
excruciating death. Emotionally, He is already under tremendous pressure, 
and
soon complete isolation and humiliation will be added. Spiritually, He is 
about to experience a sense of separation from the Father Who has been His 
constant
companion and strength.

It is Jesus final hour or hours before his arrest. How does He spend them? 
He prays. His life has been filled with prayer. He has seemed in almost 
constant
communication with His Father. He came to Gethsemane to pray so regularly 
that Judas knew where to find Him, even though he had left during the meal.

What can we learn about Jesus from His prayer in Gethsemane?

When burdened or pressured, pray. Jesus didn't resort to recreation or 
diversion or bodily rest. He prayed.
He was honest with God about His feelings. Father, if it is possible, may 
this cup be taken from me (v.39).
It's OK to struggle, IF we keep our eyes on the Father and continue to 
trust Him and stay committed to Him.
You may have heard people say that we’re supposed to give our concerns to 
God in prayer, then leave them there; don’t ever go back to them. But here
Jesus kept coming back, repeating the same prayer. Some burdens are so heavy 
that we can’t just pray about them once and forget them. They keep pressing
on our minds and emotions. Jesus example teaches us to keep bringing our 
concerns to God whenever they come to mind. That's not doubt. It's faith. 
Jesus
didn't have anything new to communicate, but He kept bringing His burden to 
His Father.Your will be done in v.42 is the exact same Greek phrase used in the 
Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:10. Jesus modeled and lived out the Lord's 
Pray
The Lord's Prayer isn't just words. It is an attitude toward God, a 
relationship with Him, a lifestyle. If you want to understand its meaning 
for life,
look at the example of Jesus.
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is 
willing, but the body is weak (v.41). When Jesus hour of great trial came,
He was ready. The disciples, who had spent the time sleeping, crumbled. They 
scattered in fear. Watch and pray.
 When every fiber of Jesus being was screaming to run the other way, He 
submitted because He remained focused on the Father and continued to trust 
Him, step by step. We can too.

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

Jael

Her name means: "A Wild or Mountain Goat"

Her character: Decisive and courageous, she seized the opportunity to slay 
an enemy of God's people.
Her sorrow: To be lauded by Deborah and Barak for her part in a decisive 
victory.
Key Scriptures:
Judges 4-5

Her Story

Jael watched uneasily through the flaps of her tent as clouds swept the blue 
from the sky and rain fell like a shroud across the horizon. Sisera, she 
knew,
had marched to Tabor. But what good were iron chariots in a flooded valley? 
she wondered. Yet the Israelites were poorly armed, with little chance of 
prevailing.
Still, she remembered the stories of Moses and the people he had led across 
the wilderness. Had their God, she wonderd, been asleep these many years?

The sight of a man running, then stumbling toward her interrupted her 
thoughts. A soldier fleeing? Was he Israelite or Canaanite? His identity 
might reveal
the way the winds of battle were blowing. She went out to meet him, 
surprised to find that Sisera himself was approaching, dirty and bleeding.

"Come, my lord, come right in. Don't be afraid," she welcomed him.

"I'm thirsty," he said. "Please give me some water." Instead Jael opened a 
skin of milk and gave him a drink.

"Stand in the doorway of the tent," he told her. "If someone comes by and 
asks you, 'Is anyone here?' say 'No.' "

As soon as Sisera fell into an exhausted asleep, Jael picked up a tent peg 
and hammer. Her arm was steady, her aim sure. Hadn't she been in charge of 
the
tents all these years? Quickly, she thrust the peg through his temple and 
into the ground. Like a piece of canvas fixed in place, Sisera, the great 
general,
lay dead, slain by a woman's hand, just as Deborah had prophesied to Barak.

Was Jael a hero, an opportunist, or merely a treacherous woman? It is 
difficult to know. She and her husband, Heber, were Kenites, members of a 
nomadic
tribe whose survival depended on its ability to stay clear of local 
disputes. Her husband had made his peace with the Canaanites despite his 
descent from
Hobab, Moses' brother-in-law. Perhaps ancient ties had no longer seemed 
expedient, considering the power of the Canaanite rulers. But Jael may have 
believed
in Israel's God. Or perhaps she merely wanted to curry favor with the 
Israelites, the day's clear winners. Certainly Barak and Deborah approved of 
her,
singing:

Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
most blessed of tent-dwelling women.
He asked for water, and she gave him milk;
in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.
Her hand reached for the tent peg,
her right hand for the workman's hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
she shattered and pierced his temple.
At her feet he sank,
he fell; there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell;
where he sank, there he fell—dead. -
Judges 5:24-27

Jael's treachery and Deborah's gloating strike us as bloodthirsty, all the 
more so because we don't usually attribute such behavior to women. But by 
the
standards of ancient warfare, both were heroes. Both were decisive and 
courageous women who helped God's people at a critical moment in history.

Her Promise

Behind the story of Jael and the death of Sisera is a God who promised never 
to forget his people and who holds to that promise. When hope seems dim and
the prospect of victory seems close to impossible, God is at work, bringing 
about his plan.

The people of Israel during the time of the judges must have worn God to 
exasperation with their continual wavering. When times were good, they 
easily
forgot God and went their own way. But as soon as times got tough, they went 
running to him for deliverance.

Sound like anyone you know? The story of the wavering of God's people 
continues even today. We so easily move forward on our own, thinking we can 
handle
it all, until we run up against something too hard for us. Only then do we 
run to God for help.

But what an amazing God he is. Always there. Always willing to rescue us 
when we call. Always willing to forgive.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
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8 Causes of Spiritual Depression

Most of us go through real times of spiritual melancholy in the Christian 
life. They can be brief or entire seasons in which, as Gisbertus Voeitus 
said,
a person "fails to feel his or her heart's delight in God and divine 
things." If you have been a Christian for any period of time, you most 
likely have
experienced this reality. In the midst of these times we often struggle to 
know why this feeling has crept into our hearts. It is good for us to search
our hearts in times like this. We must ask the Lord to give us wisdom in 
identifying the cause--even as we continue to seek Him. These are eight of 
the
most common causes:

Physical Tiredness: Man was created body and soul. There are times that our 
physical bodies are just exhausted. Our bodies affect our souls, even as our
souls affect the body. This physical tiredness can be caused by multiple 
things. Could you be laboring in your own strength as opposed to the Lord's 
(Col.
1:28-29)? Maybe you are leading an imbalanced life with respect to work and 
sleep. Have you neglected the weekly routine of rest on the Lord's Day? It
could also just be a busy time of life that has taken a toll upon you. If 
this is the case, rest your body and bless your soul. Just as one of the 
remedies
for Elijah's melancholy was found in the basic provision of food and drink 
(1 Kings 17:1-7), so it may be with a need for sleep.

Neglect of the Means of Grace: Even as we feed our bodies, we must feed our 
souls. We must attend to corporate, private, and family worship. We need to
sit under the Word of God preached each week. Our affections need to be 
stirred in prayer and we need to feed our souls at the Lord's Table. Have we 
allowed
ourselves to avoid the fellowship of the saints? If any of these are the 
case, then we are forsaking the oasis in the midst of the desert.

Trials and Suffering: Trials and suffering can lead to real spiritual 
melancholy. Maybe we have lost a job, a friend, our home, a spouse, or even 
a child.
Persecution or betrayal has descended upon us and we are suffering the 
effects. At times we suffer spiritual melancholy because we do not have a 
healthy
expectation of trials and suffering coming into our lives (Philip. 1:27-30). 
If that is the case, we need to remind ourselves to expect them (Matt. 
10:38)
and to persevere through them. This trial will end and we are not alone. 
Though we may feel abandoned, nothing could be farther from the truth. He is 
with
us (Matt. 28:20).

Cares of the World: The homes we live in, the jobs we occupy, the 
recreations we pursue, the investments we hope in, and a myriad of other 
things in this
world can begin to edge out our joy in the Lord (Mark 4:19). We can be too 
invested in the things of this world. We would do well to remember Demas. A
man who enjoyed the inner circle of the Apostle Paul's ministry (Col. 4:14; 
Phil. 1:24) and yet fell in love with the world (2 Tim. 4:10).

Too Much Introspection: We are all to look inward and examine our spiritual 
lives. As the Puritans used to say, we must be a student of God and 
ourselves.
However, there is a self-examination that goes too far or too long. A 
self-examination that constantly looks within and seldom looks up to God is 
an arrow
of moroseness aimed at the Christian's heart; and it can easily spread a 
poison that leads to spiritual melancholy. Lloyd Jones said, " We all agree 
that
we should examine ourselves, but we also agree that introspection and 
morbidity are bad...I suggest that we cross the line from self-examination 
to introspection
when, in a sense, we do nothing but examine ourselves, and when such 
self-examination becomes the main and chief end of our life. We are meant to 
examine
ourselves periodically, but if we are always doing it, always, as it were, 
putting our soul on a plate and dissecting it, that is introspection."

Sin: Giving in to a particular sin or sins may be the cause of our spiritual 
melancholy. Sin clouds our view of God's glory and our pursuit of Christ.
It is not that His face is hid from us, but it can be obscured by habitual 
or gripping sin in our life. If this is the case, then mortification is the
call of the day.

Lukewarmness: This is similar to the reason above, but because it is often 
the cause of spiritual melancholy and is rather particular, I mention it 
separately.
There is a sin that consists of "going through the motions" and not being 
fervent in Christ and the things of Christ. It is seen in the warning given 
to
the church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:15). A lukewarm heart is playing with fire 
and spiritual melancholy can sometimes be a sign to awaken us.

God's Withdrawing A Sense of His Delight: God does not do this maliciously, 
but as a Father with tender care for His children. He is not abandoning us
or forsaking us (
WCF 18.4).
He merely withdraws. And He does so for our sanctification. He may withdraw 
a sense of His delight so that we might grow in our reliance upon Him, know
the fruit of suffering, have our hidden sins uncovered, learn to seek Him 
more fully, be encouraged to look forward to the next life, see ourselves as
pilgrims in this world more clearly, etc. (Job; Ps. 63:8; Rom. 5:3-5; Rom. 
8:37). There are a multitude of reasons, but we can rest assured that it is
always for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28; Rom. 11:36).

Spiritual melancholy can come upon us suddenly or gradually overtime. It is 
not a season that any Christian desires to endure. Yet, it can be one of the
greatest means for our sanctification and reveling in the grace of God. For 
how filled our lives would be with eternal melancholy if not for His grace.
Take these seasons to discern your own heart, to search for anyway the Lord 
might be prodding you, to look to the throne of grace, and to have your 
affections
stirred for heaven where melancholy will have no place.

Related Resources
Gisbertus Voetius and Johannes Hoornbeeck.
Spiritual Desertion
(Baker, 2003)

D. Martyn Lloyd Jones.
Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cures
(Eerdmans, 2002)
Sinclair B. Ferguson

SSTS_Devotional_header

ENTRUSTING ASPECT OF COMMITMENT

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny 
themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9:23

On the basis of certain facts, a relationship has been established between 
two parties. Now there must be actual evidence to prove that one has made 
that
commitment. This is the aspect of entrusting oneself to that second party. 
In our Luke text, we see two phrases that reflect this entrusting aspect of
commitment, “deny yourself” and “take up your cross daily.”

Deny Yourself:

The word “deny” literally means “say no to oneself” or “renounce self—leave 
self behind.” The biblical concept of commitment calls the follower of Jesus
to “deny oneself” not self-denial. This is not to deny something, but a more 
complete and total denial of oneself in which one no longer seeks for what
pleases self.

This is in direct contrast to the normal way of life where everyone is out 
for himself or herself. The basic sinful nature of the world, whether 
communist,
capitalist or revolutionary is the same. It desires the promotion of self at 
the expense of someone else. Jesus says his followers will be known as those
who deny themselves.

Take Up Your Cross Daily: The second part is even more extreme. Commitment 
also calls for the taking up of the cross. In commitment to Jesus, you deny
yourself even to the point of willingness to go to your own execution! We 
only commit ourselves to the point of willingness to die when we understand 
that
the present life ends up in death anyway and the One who has promised us 
forgiveness and eternal life can really deliver.

In Jesus Christ, the believer has found real life. Therefore the denying of 
self and the way of the cross are only logical steps for him or her to take.

A young man who had recently become a Christian was returning home to a 
country where the punishment for conversion to Christ was death. He was 
asked whether
or not he was afraid to go back. He replied, “I have already died in 
Christ!”

Jim Elliott, a missionary who was martyred in Ecuador, said, “He is no fool 
who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

RESPONSE: Today I will commit to entrust myself to Jesus by denying self and 
taking up my cross.

PRAYER: Lord, I entrust myself to You and purpose to live the rest of my 
life to the fullest in ways that only You decide.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission
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How to Assert Your Faith in Controversial Conversations

Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of 
John Stott’s republished work
Christ in Conflict: Lessons from Jesus and His Controversies
(IVP Books, 2013).

Although Jesus is often portrayed today as someone who made peace at any 
cost, he was actually quite controversial during his time on Earth. Jesus 
didn’t hesitate to disagree with people on issues or engage in vigorous 
debate with them.

Evangelical Christians today sometimes shy away from Jesus’ call to follow 
his example of asserting the truth about faith – especially when talking 
about controversial issues. But if you boldly do so, you’ll inspire others 
to discover more about God and seek closer relationships with him.

Here’s how you can assert your faith in controversial conversations:

Understand the forces you need to overcome to inspire people to talk about 
spiritual truth. Certain cultural forces undermine the importance of 
discussing the nature of truth in faith: dislike of dogmatism, hatred of 
controversy, love of tolerance, anxiety about the church’s decreasing 
popularity, and the spirit of ecumenism. Pray for the ability to engage 
people in conversations successfully despite these forces.

Recognize what the call to express “evangelical” Christianity entails. Keep 
in mind that evangelical Christianity is: theological in its character, 
biblical in its substance, original in its history, and fundamental in its 
emphasis.

Discuss whether the Christian religion is natural or supernatural. 
Christianity is not natural, but supernatural, because it’s a life lived by 
the power of God. Yet in our culture today, people often get confused 
because religion is frequently presented stripped of its miracles, as if it 
was just a system of merely human effort. Talk with people about how God, 
the Creator, is always at work within the natural order he set up for the 
universe, but that He occasionally works in beyond it in supernatural
ways to accomplish specific purposes related to salvation, revelation, and 
judgment. Discuss how Christianity is much more than just a natural list of 
religious rules and rituals; it’s actually a journey in which people rely on 
God’s supernatural power to gain new life that transforms who they are and 
how they live.

Discuss which has more authority: tradition or Scripture. Authority is found 
not in tradition but in Scripture, because tradition is human while the 
Bible is divinely inspired Scripture. People today often debate by what 
authority Christians believe what we believe and by what authority churches 
teach what they teach. They wonder whether there is a final, objective 
standard by which Christians’ beliefs and teaching may be assessed and 
judged. So we need to clearly submit church traditions (which
differ between Christian denominations) to the higher authority of the Bible 
(which presents the core truths of the faith).

Discuss whether the Bible is an end in itself or a means to something else. 
Scripture is not an end in itself, but a means to an end (pointing us to 
Jesus Christ so that we may find eternal life in him). When discussing 
Scripture with religious leaders during his time on Earth, Jesus asserted 
that Scripture was designed by God to point people to him, so they could 
then believe in him and go to him for the eternal life they need. So think 
of the Bible as a love letter that testifies about Jesus, just
as a husband or wife’s love letter speaks to a spouse who reads it about his 
or her beloved. The love letter itself isn’t the object of devotion; 
instead, it’s the person to whom it points. Discuss with people how there is 
a two-way testimony between Jesus (the living Word) and the Bible (the 
written Word), with each bearing witness to each other: Because Jesus bears 
witness to the Bible, we believe it. Because the Bible bears witness to 
Jesus, we go to him to find true life.

Discuss how people experience salvation: through merit or mercy. Salvation 
is possible for people due to God’s mercy, not human merit. People often 
mistakenly think that they can somehow earn salvation. All of the world’s 
religions other than Christianity teach merit systems that supposedly can 
make it possible for sinful human beings to earn salvation. But Christianity 
stands alone by announcing that God has freely given salvation to sinful 
people who don’t deserve his mercy, simply because of His
great love for us. Talk with people about how God accepts us sinners when we 
place our trust in Jesus, not because of anything we do or any quality we 
possess, but because of his mercy.

Discuss whether morality comes from outward or inward changes. What makes us 
either clean or unclean from God’s perspective is what comes out of us, 
rather than what goes into us. Real moral change happens inside of us, as a 
result of the Holy Spirit’s work inside our souls. Converse with people 
about how the evidence of our morality isn’t found in our external behavior 
(which is superficial and can be faked), but the growth that happens inside 
our minds and spirits, which motivates us to make the
decisions we make about what to say and do.

Discuss how people can express true worship that pleases God: with their 
lips or with their hearts. God seeks people who will worship him with their 
hearts (devoting themselves entirely to worship), not just with their lips 
(speaking words of worship without really having their hearts in it). 
Discuss with people how true worship is rational (involving the mind), 
spiritual (involving both God’s spirit and ours), and moral (involving the 
conscience and decisions made in every part of life).

Discuss Christians’ responsibility to nonbelievers and whether they should 
withdraw from them or get involved with their lives. Christians should serve 
those who don’t currently have relationships with Jesus, because by doing 
so, God’s love working through us can inspire them to seek Jesus. Jesus 
calls us to follow the example he set during his earthly lifetime of being 
involved with sinful, faithless people without being contaminated by their 
unhealthy attitudes and behaviors, but instead influencing
them for the better. Converse with people about the importance of serving 
nonbelievers with compassion rather than despising, fearing, shunning, 
condemning, or tolerating them.

Discuss how people should direct their ambition: for their own glory, or for 
God’s glory. The driving force of Christians’ lives should be the ambition 
to bring glory to God through how we choose to live. When discussing your 
faith with people, talk about how selfish ambitions contaminate people’s 
motives and lead to unhealthy results, while sincere efforts to glorify God 
bring about good results in people’s lives while also honoring God.

Adapted from
Christ in Conflict: Lessons from Jesus and His Controversies,
copyright 2013 by John Stott’s literary executors. Published by IVP Books, 
an imprint of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill.,
www.ivpress.com.

Three Tips on Being a Friend of Sinners
By Jonathan Parnell | Mar 21, 2014 11:00 pm

Three Tips on Being a Friend of Sinners

Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners. That was the word on the 
street in first-century Palestine.

The precise phrase — “friend of sinners” — is mentioned twice in the 
Gospels, in Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34. The naysayers of the day, the 
religious aristocracy,
criticized Jesus as a “glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors 
and sinners.”

They called him this because it was true. He was a friend of sinners. Jesus 
himself said that he didn’t come for the spiritually healthy, but for the 
sick.
“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 
5:31–32).

Just like he greeted children that others thought were a nuisance, he 
welcomed sinners that others didn’t (Matthew 19:14; Luke 7:37–39). He looked 
at them,
as Mark says he did with the rich young man, and he loved them (Mark 10:21). 
He had compassion on them. And most glorious of all, he wielded his 
authority
to speak those wondrous words, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48).

This is all very important for us because, as some have noted recently, we 
Christians pattern our lives after Jesus’s example. He has, after all, sent
us into the world in the same Spirit of his own mission (John 20:21–22).

If Jesus was a friend of sinners, we should be too, it seems — somehow, 
someway. And instantly, this discussion can drift into a much bigger one 
about
Christians and culture and all that. But instead of going there, let’s just 
talk friendship for a minute. Friendship, which is not without its 
implications,
is more practical and relevant than a primer on the church’s posture in 
society. So in that light, here are three tips on being a friend of sinners.

1. Be okay with marginal.

In the example of Jesus, we need to be all right with marginal all the way 
around. Be okay with associating with the marginal, the poor, the destitute
— those often overlooked in society (Luke 7:22). Go there. Be with this 
people. Serve them. Learn from them. And be okay with being thought marginal 
yourself
(Matthew 19:6–9), or non-progressive or backwater or against sexual 
modernity — whatever they are saying these days about the Christian 
conscience. The
truth is that many of our neighbors, especially in urban contexts, will 
think we’re weird. Or stupid. Or close-minded. Or judgmental. Or just simply 
out
of touch with the new post-Christian world.

Popular opinion will continue to cast Christian ethics as outdated and 
antithetical to the development of the American self. We’ll often find 
ourselves,
in the coffee shop, on the light-rail, at the theater, to be the only ones 
there who don’t think same-sex “marriage” is the coolest thing since sliced
bread. The number of those who share our convictions, or are open to 
listening, may continue to dwindle. And, really, this is fine. It’s okay. 
Our calling
doesn’t live or die by societal acceptance.

2. Aim to love, not be liked.

We must nail this down. The aim of our charge is love, not popularity (1 
Timothy 1:5). Jesus constantly infuriated the popular ideals of his day. 
They
knew his teaching contradicted their own, and rather than like him and wrap 
their arms around him in happy tolerance, they tried to shut him up (Mark 
12:12).
“If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will 
they malign those of his household” (Matthew 10:25).

Jesus wasn’t a fan favorite. They crucified him, remember? The leaders and 
the people. Not to mention that alongside Jesus’s reputation for shady 
associations
was the utter absence of popularity baiting. “Teacher, we know that you are 
true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by 
appearances
. . .” (Mark 12:14). This means Jesus didn’t let the crowd’s facial 
expressions dictate his message. Or pageviews. Or book sales.

In a sense, there is a holy disregard for what outsiders think, but that’s 
not the whole story. In the Pastoral Epistles, Paul lays out that one of the
qualifications to be an elder is that “he must be well thought of by 
outsiders” (1 Timothy 3:7). As David Mathis
writes,
we care what others think because God cares. Ultimately, “we want outsiders 
to become insiders.” Jesus came to serve, not be served (Mark 10:45), and 
the
same goes for us. We are in this world to serve, not be pampered. To love, 
not be applauded. To bless, not be notarized. So we should care about our 
reputation
— to serve and love and bless — but that doesn’t mean trying so hard to be 
liked by everybody. Having a respectable reputation is one thing, trying to
get everyone to throw their arm around us is another.

3. Put the gospel to work.

This means, first and foremost, that
the most important thing
we could ever say is that Jesus is Lord. He is the risen King of the 
universe, alive now and reigning in his mercy and love, commanding all 
people everywhere
to repent and come home. This is amazingly good news, and it is 
controversial. If we believe this, and say it, some sinners won’t want to be 
our friends.
Nevertheless, the news is still good. The truth is still compelling. Its 
beauty is never diminished.

A few of the most practical ways we might put the gospel to work as friends 
of sinners is captured by Tim Keller in
Center Church.
Leaning on Simon Gathercole’s outline of the gospel as Jesus’s incarnation, 
substitution, and resurrection, Keller considers three aspects in which the
gospel impacts our lives. He calls it the “upside-down” aspect, the 
“inside-out” aspect, and the “forward-back” aspect — each of which are 
opposite the
world’s way of thinking (46–48). Upside-down is rooted in the most glorious, 
humble event in history. God became a man. He suffered. He died. Our message
and lives are marked by this relentless posture of servanthood. Inside-out 
gets at the great work Jesus did by taking our place on the cross. He died 
for
us, sinners as we were, and was raised for us by sheer mercy — to bring us 
to God and accept us not based upon our works, but solely by his grace. This
electing grace has no preconditions. It’s lavished on the worst of sinners 
and tidiest of Pharisees, giving us all the eyes of faith. Then the 
forward-back,
the kingdom Jesus inaugurated by his victory over the grave, reminds us that 
we are destined for another world, a better one. Heaven will be on earth,
but not yet. The world will be made completely new, but now we’re still 
working and waiting, loving the lost, telling God’s story.

When these truths touch our lives and are put to work in our relationships, 
we’ll be walking in the steps of our Savior. When this world-shaking wonder
orders the way we, sinners saved by grace, think about those around us, 
sinners in need of grace, then, and only then, we’ll make for good friends. 
Then
we’ll be good friends of sinners, like the true and better “friend of 
sinners.”
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A MATTER OF FAITH

If You Own a Can Opener, You’re Rich

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers 
and sisters of mine, you did for me”—Matthew 25:40 (NIV).

If you own a can opener, you’re rich—at least materially. I never considered 
myself rich, according to man’s definition, until I came to know a man who
didn’t own a can opener. I met Calvin at our church several years ago. Some 
avoided him. He didn’t quite fit in. Until I began working with Calvin in 
our
church pantry and got to know him, I confess I was one of those.

Calvin volunteered at church and was always willing to help at a moment’s 
notice. He never refused when someone needed his assistance. He had one 
condition
though—since he didn’t own an automobile, he requested a ride to the church.

As a handyman, Calvin was available to repair many things at our church, 
including the plumbing. He also volunteered to paint, move furniture, wash 
dishes
and often helped in the church pantry, unpacking food items and assisting 
with the filling of grocery sacks for those in need.

During worship service on Sunday mornings and during Bridge Services on 
Thursday evening, it was evident to anyone who saw or heard him that Calvin 
loved
the Lord. Raising his hands in praise, Calvin was oblivious of others as he 
sang off-key—and loud—because he was singing for the Lord.

Calvin was only 50 when he was discovered dead several weeks ago in his 
apartment. He died alone. Two weeks before his passing, I was working with 
Calvin
in the food pantry when I learned he didn’t own a can opener. Our 
conversation came about because he had picked up a soup can with a pull-tab 
top, mentioning
he was glad for the invention since he didn’t have a can opener.

My heart went out to him. I could afford to buy a can opener. However, I 
kept forgetting until several weeks later while I was grocery shopping and 
remembered
to purchase one for him. It was a Friday afternoon. I didn’t learn, however, 
until the next day that Calvin had gone home to be with the Lord the 
previous
day. While his passing saddens me, I also know Calvin is in a better place. 
You see, Calvin also suffered from several medical conditions.

Calvin didn’t have many possessions. However, he was rich in all the ways 
that counted. While he had no family living in our community, he was blessed
with our church family, whom he loved to serve.
Jesus came to proclaim the Good News to everyone. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus 
says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these 
brothers
and sisters of mine, you did for me.” As His followers, we must humble 
ourselves and reach out to the “least of these.” While we might consider 
Calvin
“one of the least,” he taught us what it meant to serve others.
I’ll never look at a can opener again without thinking of my friend. Rest in 
peace, Calvin.
The author is available to speak at women’s events or to lead prayer 
journaling workshop.

Carol Round
Columnist/Author/Speaker

He Defeated Death
by Sarah Phillips

Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples 
dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took 
the
bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time 
that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 
(John
21: 12 - 14)

Recently, my husband and I attended a forum to discuss the increasingly 
controversial issues surrounding end of life decisions. The event was 
intended
to approach the topic from a Christian worldview, drawing on the Christian 
teachings of the dignity of human life.

Most of us came expecting experts to delve into the ways we can ethically 
preserve a person's life in a culture all too quick to promote what Pope 
John
Paul II coined "the culture of death." This aspect of end-of-life issues is 
a very important one, and it was discussed at length. But before we got to
those topics, a local trauma surgeon gave the first talk. And her words sunk 
in deeply with the entire room.

She highlighted the reality that death is part of human life, and when it's 
a person's time, it's okay to die. She offered ways families can come to 
recognize
- and find peace - when that time comes.

I can't lie - these words were hard to hear even though we all, deep down, 
know we are mere mortals. Nobody wants to die. Nobody wants to think about 
death.
It is strangely easier to discuss heavy issues such as battling diseases or 
unethical procedures than to discuss the need to accept natural death.

Undoubtedly, part of our hesitancy to discuss the topic is fueled by our own 
sense of self-preservation and fear of loss. But I also think the topic is
difficult because as Christians we celebrate life - and rightly so. We are 
people of hope, people who cherish the gift of life and the blessings that 
come
with it. For centuries, Christians have been among the first to defend life 
and promote the dignity of even the tiniest, most fragile person.

But the trauma surgeon's talk about preparing for natural death does not run 
contrary to being people of hope. She spoke these words in light of our true
hope: Jesus Christ. She highlighted that while we should not prematurely end 
our earthly lives - because, yes this life is a gift - there is eternal life
with Jesus Christ awaiting those who believe. Our time here is a time of 
preparation for the fullness of life in Christ. She said (to paraphrase), 
"Natural
death of a loved one or even our own is the time we are called to put into 
practice that
faith
we've developed year after year as church attendees, deepening our 
relationship with the Lord."

During Easter week, we celebrate the resurrection of the risen Christ. Jesus 
Christ faced all the loneliness, pain, and fear that comes with death and
conquered it. And as we read the Easter scriptures, we see that he did not 
disappear or abandon his disciples after the resurrection, but walked among
them in his glorified state to offer further hope and instruction. So now, 
as we celebrate this profound moment in salvation history, we must ask 
ourselves:
Do we truly believe He has conquered death and will never abandon us? As 
Christians, we can say yes with confidence.

Intersecting Faith & Life: Do you know someone who is ill or even grieving a 
loss? Find a way to be Christ's comforting presence for that person this 
week
even if it's through a small gesture like a card.

Further Reading:

Acts 4: 1 - 12
John 21: 1 - 14
Crosswalk.com

How to Stay Strong in Disappointment

Cindi McMenamin

Wouldn't it be nice if life consisted only of pleasant surprises, not the 
disappointing ones?

And yet when we meet disappointment head-on, it is a true test of the 
strength of our faith.

I recently received news that was gravely disappointing. I wasn't prepared 
for it in the least. It was shocking, really. God had been on a roll with 
blessings in my life. I guess I'd gotten a little comfortable. And this 
disappointing news couldn't have come at a worse time...a week before 
Christmas, just days after celebrating my daughter's college graduation, and 
just a week prior to my husband's transition into a new season of life that 
carried with it a lot of financial uncertainty.

My family was daily looking for the little assurances that God had our back 
and we were constantly praising him for all the times he came through. And 
now, it looked like the door to my golden opportunity and financial 
stability had slammed shut. My first reaction, spoken nearly aloud, was 
"God, this is so out of character for You."

And then I suddenly realized something: God doesn't do anything out of 
character.

• If God's response to my request appeared out of character for him, then it 
was is my understanding of the situation that was in question, not his 
character.
• If God's timing appears to be wrong, then it is my perception of his 
timing that I will doubt, not his ability to coordinate all things.
• If God's love appears to be in question - because of how he has responded 
to my situation - then it is my trust that is in question, not God's love.

It was then that I understood. It wasn't God's character that was being put 
to the test in my disappointing circumstances. It was mine. Would my faith 
stand an unexpected turn? Would I take only blessings from God and not the 
disappointments, too? Or will I trust him, wholeheartedly, that he knows 
exactly what he's doing and perhaps this closed door means an even better 
one will soon be opening?

It's been said that when God closes one door, he opens another. But when we 
can't immediately see that other door, we tend to panic. At least I do.

It has helped me to remember three things about disappointment:

1. Disappointment is a very real part of life.
2. Disappointment is something God can use to grow me into someone who is 
more like his Son.
3. Disappointment is the measuring stick for how strong my faith is.

I realized, through my reaction to this disappointment, that this 
comfortable woman - who was secure in her ability, her work, and her 
finances - was suddenly desperate for God. Desperate for him. And that's 
exactly where he wants me to be.

And, it occurred to me that I had actually prayed for this disappointment.

Just prior to receiving my disappointing news, I had been praying for 
change - in my personal life, my marriage, my professional life, and my 
spiritual life. And yet, more of the same never means change. In fact, 
growth always means change. God was giving me what I asked for - change! It 
just came in a package I called "disappointment" and in a way that I didn't 
expect.

I want my response to God in the disappointments of life to be just as 
pleasing to Him as my praise during the blessings of life. Can God trust me 
to be faithful to him regardless of my circumstances, regardless of when he 
chooses to bless and when he chooses to withhold?

Job once said "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him" (
Job 13:15,
NKJV). I haven't been "slayed" - not in the least. I've just been 
disappointed. So I long for the song of my heart to be, "Though I don't 
understand why he allowed this, still I will trust him."

Have you been gravely disappointed in your circumstances, too? Are you 
wondering why God has allowed - or not allowed - something in your life? 
It's possible he wants you to be desperate for him, too. When we can say our 
hope is in him, not in what he will do, then we get a little clearer picture 
of what it means to follow him faithfully.

Trust him through this time of disappointment or uncertainty. Wait for the 
door that he may soon be opening now that this one has been shut. And quiet 
your heart, along with me, so that we can say, as the Psalmist did:

"I have calmed myself and quieted my ambitions.
I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content"
(Psalm 131:2).

Disappointment or not, I want my faith to be strong and my heart to be 
pleasing to him. Don't you?

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of a dozen books, including
When Women Walk Alone
(more than 100,000 copies sold),
When a Woman Overcomes Life's Hurts,
and her newest,
God's Whispers to a Woman's Heart.
For more on her books and ministry, or for free resources to strengthen your 
soul, see her website:
StrengthForTheSoul.com.
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Women of the Bible Header

Deborah

Her name means: "Honey Bee"

Her character: Her vision of the world was shaped not by the political 
situation of her day but by her relationship with God. Though women in the 
ancient
world did not usually become political leaders, Deborah was just the leader 
Israel needed—a prophetess who heard God and believed him and whose courage
aroused the people, enabling them to throw off foreign oppression.
Her sorrow: That her people had sunk into despair because of their idolatry, 
forgetting God's promises and the faith of their ancestors.
Her joy: That God turned the enemy's strength on its head, bestowing power 
to the weak and blessing the land with peace for forty years.
Key Scriptures:
Judges 4-5

Her Story

Jericho, gateway to Canaan, had lain in ruins for two hundred years. From 
there, the Israelites had swept across the country like a storm of locusts, 
devouring
everything in their path. But the native peoples had somehow managed to 
survive, and like well-rooted weeds, their idolatry spread until it began to 
strangle
Israel's faith.

Rahab and Joshua were the palest of memories now, and the 
slaves-turned-warriors were once again underdogs, oppressed for twenty years 
by a coalition of
Canaanite rulers, whose chief warrior was Sisera. His nine hundred 
iron-plated chariots terrified the ill-armed Israelite people, threatening 
to sweep
over them with invincible force. Small wonder no one challenged him.

Sisera must have felt smugly secure, especially since Israel was now led by 
a woman. But his military calculations failed to account for one key 
variable:
the strategic power of that woman's faith. Deborah was a prophetess who held 
court under a palm tree several miles northwest of Jericho. Though much of
Israel was divided and dispirited, she refused to lose heart. How could she 
forget God's faithfulness, living so close to ruined Jericho?

She summoned Barak, a Hebrew from the north, and told him plainly: "The 
Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men 
of Naphtali
and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the 
commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon 
River and
give him into your hands.' "

But, like every other man of Israel, Barak was terrified of Sisera, and he 
refused to comply unless one condition was met: Deborah must accompany him 
in
battle. She would be his talisman in the fight. "Very well," she replied, "I 
will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor
will not be yours, for the Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman."

Hearing of the plot, Sisera led his troops and chariots to the Kishon Wadi, 
a dry riverbed, determined to crush the uprising. But his very strength 
turned
against him as rain swelled the valley to floodtide. Suddenly, nine hundred 
iron chariots became a huge liability. No matter how furiously the soldiers
flogged their horses, urging them onward, oozing mud held them. They became 
easy targets for Barak's troops sweeping down from Mount Tabor, putting 
every
man but Sisera to the sword.

Once again, God had heard his people's cries and had sent a deliverer—this 
time a woman whose faith stilled the nattering voices of doubt and timidity
so that the people could hear the one Voice that mattered. On their day of 
victory, Deborah and Barak sang this song:

When the princes in Israel take the lead,
when the people willingly offer themselves—
praise the Lord!
Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
I will sing to the Lord, I will sing;
I will make music to the Lord, the God of Israel….
Village life in Israel ceased,
ceased until I, Deborah, arose,
arose a mother in Israel. -
Judges 5:2-3,
7

Indeed, a mother in Israel had arisen, a woman whose strong faith gave birth 
to hope and freedom and a peace that lasted forty years. Never again would
the Canaanites join forces against Israel. Like an ancient Joan of Arc, 
Deborah arose and called the people to battle, leading them out of idolatry 
and
restoring their dignity as God's chosen ones.

Her Promise

Godly Deborah has been an encouragement to women throughout the centuries. 
When women feel confined or mistreated, when they are unsure of what is 
right
or which way to proceed, when they are entering unknown territory, when they 
feel overlooked or ignored—they gain stability and help from remembering 
Deborah.
Whatever Deborah had is available to you today. Her wisdom is discovered in 
the Scriptures. Her confidence in God is found in a relationship with him.
Her bravery is achievable when you put your trust in God and his promises. 
Her inner strength and calm leadership are characteristic of confidence not
in herself but in her God. All Deborah offered to Israel she offers to you 
as an example of a woman willing to be used by God.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
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What Voice Do You Listen To?

Danny is a sky-diving, mountain-climbing, hang-gliding thrill-seeker, but in 
the cave he felt sheer panic. He was terrified. He tried fighting his fear,
but he kept picturing his dead body moldering in the cave. Finally, he told 
his guide he was about to lose it, and the guide said, “Danny, close your 
eyes
and listen to my voice. I will keep talking, calmly, and guide you through 
this. We will be okay. I have been here before. I will get you to the other
side. But you must listen to my voice. It will not work for you to let your 
thoughts run wild. Just focus on my voice.” Danny did so. What freed him 
from
panic and fear was not trying hard to quit thinking fearful thoughts. It was 
listening to another voice.

What voice do you listen to when you’re in the cave and it’s dark, when the 
ceiling is low and you can’t back out? The Spirit longs to flow in our minds
all the time. One reason why people have found memorizing Scripture helpful 
is that it helps us listen to the voice of our guide when we are in the 
cave.
We set our minds on those thoughts that equip us for life. God does not want 
us to live in worry or fear. He wants us to live with bold confidence in his
power. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us 
power, love and self-discipline.”

In the Bible, we see a pattern in which God rarely sends people into 
situations where their comfort level is high. Rather He promises to be with 
them in
their fear. It is God’s presence — not comfortable circumstances — that 
brings people to the best version of themselves.

Paul said that when we live in the flow of the Spirit, he does not make us 
timid, but instead gives us power and love. This is not the only place in 
the
Bible where we see a close connection between receiving love and living in 
power. The apostle John makes the same association in one of the most famous
statements in the Bible: “There is no fear in love... perfect love casts out 
fear.”

When we live in the flow of the Spirit, we let the perfect love of God wash 
over us until our fear begins to leave. Modern science has confirmed what 
John
wrote so many centuries ago. Love and fear are literally incompatible in our 
bodies. God wants to love you — and in loving you, to cast out your fear.

Jesus was facing adversity when he told his followers that if they had 
faith, they could command a mountain and it would be cast into the sea. When 
my
focus is on the mountain, I am driven by my fear. When my focus is on God, 
however, I am made alive by my faith. But if I did not have the mountain, I
would not know that faith could be in me.

Use your imagination to picture being shepherded by the Lord in green 
pastures beside still waters. Is there any room for fear?

© 2014 by Zondervan. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Visit
JohnOrtberg.com


WHY PERSECUTION AND MARTYRDOM?

…in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are 
offering a service to God.
John 16:2b

Today we begin a two-part look at the testimony of a terrorist persecutor 
named Maulana who ultimately gave his life to Christ and became a Christian 
missionary:

I was born in a Muslim family in a small town of Demak, central Java, 
Indonesia. My family was very strict in following Islamic Sharia laws. As a 
Muslim,
I read a lot of the Koran, Hadits, the sayings of the prophet Mohammed, and 
all the other books that help me be a devoted Muslim.

I started to learn about a famous international Muslim named Ayatollah 
Komeini from Iran. I welcome Ayatollah Khomeini’s ideas and his call to 
revolution
to all Muslims because it will be very nice to have Islamic Sharia law 
applied in our society. That would arrange all ways of life in this country 
according
to the truth of the Koran. I don’t like the West because their lifestyle has 
affected the Eastern lifestyle, young people dress like those in the West,
which is so far from Islamic propriety. I hate that.

And this has also caused me to hate tourists who come to Indonesia. They 
bring Western lifestyle and can’t be a role model for us in Islam. I see 
Christians
as hindering Sharia teaching in Indonesia. Indonesia must be cleansed from 
the cross. It’s a must! Sharia must happen in civil society. The Christians
worship Jesus, who is merely a man. For us this is sin, and we must stop 
this movement through churches.

The Indonesian government is committed to freedom of religion, as stated in 
our national constitution. But for Muslims this is not good. It will not 
bring
any good to the country’s future. Because we do not get support from the 
government, we take law into our own hands. We attack churches; we shoot 
pastors
while they are preaching to cause fear. We do it because the government does 
not back us up, so we do it by ourselves. We do not fear death because we
were encouraged by Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini to spill our blood to the last 
drop to make this happen.

Remember the bombing in Bali? That was a combined expression of our 
frustration and our goal. Calling us terrorists is a big mistake, because we’re 
just
Muslim God lovers.

The government supports Eastern Indonesia and the islands to be Christian, 
and is actually hindering us from teaching or implementing Sharia law there.
So we devised secret plans to bring about Sharia law in Eastern Indonesia. I 
was one of the first 5,000 soldiers sent from east Java on a ship to the 
island
of Ambon. En route from Surabaya to Ambon, we hijacked the ship in Solo. We 
searched the ship and checked each passenger’s identity. Anyone with a 
Christian
ID was either killed or thrown into the ocean. And together our group took 
over the ship and headed for Ambon Island to eliminate the church of Jesus 
Christ.

Our focused activity on Ambon was how to close churches. From the 
persecution, the Christian people did not fight back. When I see children 
with no parents
running around the church, I feel guilty.

As time passes, my heart becomes softer, and then love enters my heart. 
There’s a change in my heart that I become sensitive and start to love them 
slowly.
The love becomes thick. One night, I was fasting and praying, I said, “God, 
you’re the one who create my heart, show me your righteousness.” In the 
middle
of my heart-crying, I saw a man appear to me. There was fresh blood 
spattered on the bottom of his white robe, He greeted me with “Salaam Al I 
Kum,” (Peace
be with you!) I tried to figure out who I had seen in my vision. It could be 
the angel of Gabriel, or Mohammed, or could be Nabi Isa, maybe He is Jesus.

To earn income, I became a distributor of an Islamic magazine in Solo, and 
then went to a small town called Desa Mangu. One day I was distributing 
magazines,
and an old man called to me. He said, “Maulana, come here. I was waiting for 
you.” It was Friday at lunch time. He asked me to eat rice and noodle sarimi
together with him. Then he prayed in the name of Jesus before eating. I was 
shocked!

After lunch, he brought me to a room, and he picked up a large Bible and 
opened it to
John 14:27.
It said, “I am leaving you with a gift, peace of mind and heart. And the 
peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or 
afraid.”
The mystery of the voice is Isa (Jesus). I confess that Jesus is God! Jesus 
is great! And I cry, and I received Him, Isa, as the people of Ambon whom I’ve
persecuted.

Now that I believe Jesus is Savior, there is a miracle that happens in my 
life. What I received from God is an assignment, instead of regrets. My 
first
Christmas morning as a Christian, I was walking with courage and joy on my 
way to church. But all of a sudden there’s a group of young people standing
in front of me. One of them knew me and asked, “Where are you going?”

I said, “To church.” They said, “Stop! You’re not going there!” Then punches 
from all directions come to my body. When I was there in the hospital, I 
prayed
like Stephen prayed. “God, forgive them for they know not what they were 
doing.” Spiritual strength from within!

That is powerful and gives me strength to be brave and give testimony. I 
deliver to the people that this government is under His authority. God’s 
authority
works in every believer so that we have the freedom to speak. The authority 
is from the Lord. God’s authority is in every believer, so you don’t need to
be afraid.

RESPONSE: Today I will submit to the peace Jesus gives that overcomes 
troubles and fear.

PRAYER: Pray that many more terrorists will have an encounter with Jesus and 
become His follower.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission
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Not Fair!

2 Samuel 6:6-7 (NKJV)
6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to 
the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. 7 Then the anger 
of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his 
error; and he died there by the ark of God.

David took men to Judah to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. They 
were on the road with musical instruments, singing and dancing. It was a 
great day! The Ark was coming to Jerusalem! The Ark represented God. 
Wherever the Ark was, there was the blessing of God.

They had put the Ark on a cart drawn by oxen. In the Scripture above we read 
where the Ark was about to fall off the cart when Uzzah touched the Ark. God 
killed him right then and there.

I’m sure a lot of those people who saw this said, “God, that’s not fair! Did 
you want the Ark to hit the ground?” God is not fair, Our heavenly parent is 
just. If God was fair, God might let something slip by but God is not fair. 
God is just. That means that our heavenly Parent expects all the 
commandments to be done to the letter of the law. If they aren’t then there 
are consequences.

David and those in charge of the Ark must not have known the laws on how to 
handle the Ark. Either the laws had not been handed down from the fathers or 
not read. It was to be carried with poles that went through rings at its 
base. The Ark represented God and was to be considered holy. Nothing unholy 
could come in contact with it. If it did, there was a consequence.

Today we have no excuse to not know what God wants of us. WE don’t have to 
rely on The Word being passed down by mouth from generation to generation or 
for it being lost. Most of us have at least one Bible. WE need to read the 
Bible to know what God expects of us. We all need to spend time in the Word. 
WE need to not only read it but meditate on it. We need to pass it on to the 
children as well. Then we will all know it well enough to know what to do in 
most situations.

Psalm 119:11 (NKJV)
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

by Dean W. Masters

Owner of the Master's List
Unedited redistribution approved 


Women of the Bible Header
Rahab

Her name means: "Storm," "Arrogance," "Broad," or "Spacious"

Her character: Rahab was both clever and wise. She saw judgment coming and 
was able to devise an escape plan for herself and her family. As soon as she
heard what God had done for the Israelites, she cast her lot with his 
people, risking her life in an act of faith.
Her sorrow: To see her own people destroyed and her city demolished.
Her joy: That God had given her, an idolater and prostitute, the opportunity 
to know him and belong to his people.
Key Scriptures:
Joshua 2:1-21
;
6:17-25
;
Matthew 1:5
;
Hebrews 11:31
;
James 2:25

Her Story

Jericho may be the world's oldest city. Established nearly six thousand 
years before Miriam and Moses completed their desert wanderings, its ancient 
ruins
can be found just seventeen miles northeast of Jerusalem. Gateway to Canaan, 
it was also the home of a prostitute named Rahab, whose house nestled snugly
into its thick surrounding walls.

As well as entertaining locals, Rahab welcomed guests from various caravans 
whose routes crisscrossed Jericho. Men from all over the East brought news
of a swarm of people encamped east of the Jordan. Rahab heard marvelous 
stories about the exploits of the God of the Israelites—how he had dried up 
the
Red Sea so they could escape their Egyptian slave masters, and how he had 
given them victory in battle against Sihon and Og, two kings of the 
Amorites.
For forty years the God of the Israelites had trained and toughened them in 
the desert. Such rumors spread fear in Jericho.

While men talked, another man planned. Moses was dead, and Joshua, son of 
Nun, had been appointed leader of the Israelites. Nearly forty years earlier
Joshua had spied out the land along with Caleb and a group of others, urging 
the Israelites to take hold of the land of promise. This time there would
be no shrinking back. Once the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and 
destroyed Jericho, the land would open like a melon with the rind peeled 
back. He
could taste the victory.

Joshua sent two spies to Jericho to probe its secrets. The spies soon made 
their way to Rahab's house, where she hid them beneath stalks of flax drying
on the roof. Later that day, Rahab received a message from the king of 
Jericho, asking her about the spies who had taken refuge in her house.

"Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from," she 
lied to the king's messenger. "At dusk, when it was time to close the city
gate, the men left. I don't know which way they went. Go after them quickly. 
You may catch up with them."

As soon as the king's men left, she hurried to the roof, quickly warning her 
two guests: "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a 
great
fear of you has fallen on us…. The Lord your God is God in heaven above and 
on the earth below. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will
show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a 
sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers
and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from 
death."

To this remarkable statement of faith, the men replied: "Our lives for your 
lives!" thus sealing the bargain.

Quickly, the two spies handed Rahab a scarlet cord, instructing her to tie 
it in the window on the side of the house built into the city wall. The 
invading
Israelites would see it and spare everyone inside. Then Rahab instructed the 
men to hide themselves in the hills for three days until their pursuers 
abandoned
the chase. With that, they slipped out the window and scrambled down the 
walls of Jericho.

Joshua was smiling long after the spies had left him with their good report. 
Now was the time to move. He marshaled the people and led them across the
Jordan. Though the river was at flood stage, a massive army of Israelites 
crossed on dry ground. God was with them just as he had been when they left 
Egypt.
Only this time, no one was chasing them—Israel had become the pursuing army, 
ready for battle!

The news that the waters of the River Jordan had parted for the Israelites 
terrified the inhabitants of Jericho. Rahab watched anxiously from her 
window
in the wall as the Israelites gathered around the city like a growing storm. 
Would these fierce warriors with their powerful God remember the scarlet 
cord?
For the thousandth time she reminded her family, especially the little ones, 
not to take even one step outside the house, lest they perish.

That first day Rahab watched as seven priests carrying an ark led thousands 
of men around the city. She braced herself, but nothing happened. The next
day and the next, for five more days it continued. Then, as the sun was 
rising on the seventh day, the men of Israel marched again, encircling 
Jericho
seven times. Suddenly, she heard the ram's horn sound and then a thunderous 
cry, loud enough to split a mountain. The city walls shattered and the 
Israelites
rushed in. Rahab tried to plug her ears to the mayhem outside her home. When 
the battle of Jericho was over, Rahab and those she loved were spared. Her
faith had saved not only herself but her entire household from the terrible 
judgment decreed for her city.

Jericho's end reminds us of Sodom's. In Sodom, Lot and his daughters were 
spared; in Jericho, it was Rahab and her family who were spared. But unlike 
Lot
or his wife, Rahab never once hesitated. She is the only woman singled out 
by name and commended for her faith as part of the great "cloud of 
witnesses"
mentioned in the book of Hebrews. A prostitute living in the midst of an 
idolatrous people, Rahab was like a brand plucked from the fire. Her own 
people
destroyed, she left everything behind, becoming an ancestor of King David 
and, therefore, one of Jesus' ancestors as well.

Rahab's story is a dramatic one. It shows us that God's grace accepts no 
boundaries. The red cord that saved Rahab and her family reminds us of the 
red
blood of Jesus, who still saves us today, and of Isaiah's words, that 
"though your sins may be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Rahab 
put her
faith in the God of Israel and was not disappointed.

Her Promise

The story of Rahab reveals again God's willingness to use the less than 
perfect, the outcast, what we might see as the unsuitable to accomplish his 
holy
purposes. Throughout Scripture, with what can almost be seen as divine 
humor, God chooses a stutterer to speak for him (Moses), an infertile woman 
to be
the mother of a nation (Sarah), a weakling to defend him (Gideon), a 
forgettable youngest son to be the most unforgettable king of his people 
(David),
an unknown youngster to be the mother of his son (Mary), and a persecutor to 
take the gospel to the nations (Paul).

God doesn't wait for us to become spotlessly clean or totally mature in our 
faith in order to use us. Instead, he takes ordinary, willing people and 
accomplishes
the extraordinary, both in their lives and in the lives of those around 
them. As he did with Rahab, he promises to use us, and through that 
experience
to perfect us.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
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Today's Turning Point with David Jeremiah
Turning Point
Weekend, March 22 & 23

The Approval Process: Act Out

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

Recommended Reading
Galatians 6:1-10
Last October two puppies, brothers Jeffrey and Jermaine, were found 
wandering the streets of Philadelphia. Though both dogs were frightened and 
sick, Jeffrey
had the greater challenge -- he was blind. Determined to care for his 
brother, Jermaine literally became a guide dog. He constantly stayed within 
touching
distance of his disabled brother, and Jeffrey leaned on Jermaine for 
support. Without any training, Jermaine became a guide dog. The puppies were 
always
seen touching each other and even slept holding each other. Their story 
melted the hearts of Philadelphians, and the brothers had no trouble finding 
a
home.

If animals can be that devoted to each other, shouldn't we be the same? 
Galatians 6 tells us, as we have opportunity, to bear the burdens of others, 
especially
to those who are of the household of faith. We can affirm, appreciate, and 
approve of others by the way we treat them. We can bear their burdens. Love
is worthless unless it acts out, unless it's expressed in deed and behavior.

That's not just puppy love; it's agape love.

Love is seen in what it does.
Gladys Aylward

Turning Point's mission is to deliver the unchanging Word of God to an 
ever-changing world.

Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah
Copyright © 2014 Turning Point for God. All rights reserved.



TO THE GARDEN AND THE CROSS

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the 
Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his 
disciples
went into it.
John 18:1

Today’s devotional comes from a Chinese house church pastor who was arrested 
and held for three weeks just prior to this talk. He says:

When we suffer for Christ, what actually happens? I mean, what really goes 
on spiritually within us when we are going through suffering?

I ask the question because a young sister was listening to me recently 
recount my experience of being in jail for three weeks last year. She said, 
“You
talked of having constant diarrhea, of being kicked and punched painfully, 
and you even feared that God was punishing you…yet you talked also of 
feeling
joy and experiencing peace.” She said to me, “I don’t understand how these 
things go together.”

My reply to her, and I give it also as an instruction to you all (for you 
will all suffer at some point for His Name), is that when we suffer, three 
spiritual
experiences happen to us all at once: angelic strengthening, superhuman 
forgiveness, and human incomprehension. These three things appear 
contradictory,
but if you suffer, you will find they come together as they did in the life 
of Christ.

An old Christian used to say to me, “When they lead you away to jail, tell 
yourself you are merely going with Christ to the Garden of Gethsemane, and 
to
the Cross.” To the Garden, and to the Cross. I liked that. I tested it. It’s 
true…

So that is why suffering Christians appear to speak out of “both sides of 
their mouth.” On the one hand we talk of joy and endurance. On the other 
hand,
there is anger at God, pain and a feeling of spiritual desertion. They sit 
together, because there is always a war of different feelings and emotions.

Although we are angelically strengthened and the recipients of superhuman 
forgiveness, we also experience a sense of spiritual abandonment as a result
of our human incomprehension.

But the greatest thing of all is to walk the way of Christ. That is the 
privilege of suffering: to suffer a little as our Lord Jesus suffered. As He 
identified
with us by suffering pain, so some are called to identify even more closely 
with Him by going into the Garden, and onto the Cross.

Never fear, my friends, when you are arrested. You will receive strength. 
You will also be bewildered. Think of Christ, and follow him into the 
Garden,
and onto the Cross.

For the next three days we will listen to his contrasting explanation of the 
Garden and the Cross: angelic strengthening; superhuman forgiveness; and 
human
incomprehension.

RESPONSE: Today I will walk with Jesus whether into the Garden or onto the 
Cross.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord that You strengthen Your people in preparation for 
suffering and even during it.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission
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Care Instructions for a Life Worth Living

Who's in Charge?

The reality of this world is that I was born into Someone Else’s kingdom. My 
life came to me as a gift I did not choose; it is suspended from a slender
thread that I did not weave and cannot on my own sustain.

"Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that 
prevails."
(Proverbs 19: 21,
NIV)

So I will need to resign as Master of the Board. The Bible’s word for this 
is “surrender.” I crown another to be Master — Lord — of my life. I offer my
gifts, energies, resources, and heart to him. Surrender is not passivity or 
abdication. It is saying yes to God and life each day. It is accepting the
gifts he has given me — my body, my mind, my biorhythms, my energy. It is 
letting go of my envy or desire for what he has given someone else. It is 
letting
go of outcomes that in reality I cannot accept anyway. I surrender my 
ambitions, my dreams, my money, my relationships, my marital status, my 
time, and
my desires to God. Surrender means I accept reality.

Surrender means giving up ultimate mastery of my life. However, I am not 
called to do this grudgingly. A person may yield to a stronger person, or an 
army
to a stronger army. One may yield to God because he is almighty. None of 
this is full surrender. Only if one experiences that God is good is it 
possible
to surrender to him unconditionally one’s whole heart, soul, and being.

Because I am creature and not Creator, surrender is actually a better way to 
play the game. I am not Master of the Board. Surrender opens me up to God’s
blessing.

Materialism is for most of us God’s main rival. And it is possible to get 
increasingly free of it. Sometimes when I’m speaking, I try a little 
exercise
in dethroning the idol. I ask people to take out their wallets. (You can do 
this right now if you like.) Hold it for a moment. Look inside to see if 
anybody’s
home. It looks like a piece of leather. But it’s really the temple of the 
twenty-first century. Most people in our day believe that their ability to 
experience
happiness is directly associated with the contents of this little container. 
This is where the god Mammon lives. We give this little piece of leather the
power to make us feel secure, successful, and valuable.

It is very hard for us to surrender control of this little piece of leather. 
The real issue: who’s in charge? Are you holding it or is it holding you?

We are actually receiving greater power by surrendering… there is only so 
much that willpower can accomplish.
To what have you surrendered? Money? Position? Power? Friendships? Have 
you surrendered all, or only that which doesn’t really matter?

© 2014 by Zondervan. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Visit
JohnOrtberg.com

Heaven: Harps Optional

One of the things Randy Alcorn accomplishes in his chapter on heaven in Game 
Plan for Life is to quiet our misconception that life after death for the 
Christian is going to be boring. A never-ending church service. All 
Christmas carols and choir books.

Actually, the Bible says heaven will be a total experience of newness that 
touches everything about us and everything we do. Not just better singing 
and sermons. Not just better food options at church potlucks. Better 
everything. The very best of everything. Renewed, remade, reborn.

God has promised, "I will create new heavens and a new earth" (Isaiah 
65:17), meaning that while we're going to live in a place we've never been 
before, it will contain perfected elements of things we've always known. But 
instead of fatigue and physical limitations, we'll have total freedom of 
enjoyment. Instead of sin's empty promises, we'll know constant 
satisfaction. Instead of having to lock our doors and watch our backs, we'll 
learn what it really means to live without fear. Of anything.

Don't go worrying that God is baiting you with free gift offers that are 
going to end up being a time-share presentation. These new heavens and new 
earth are His gift of undying, undiluted life to you. It's definitely 
something you don't want to miss.

Pray this prayer: Lord, I don't deserve the privilege of having this kind of 
hope in my future. But I'm so grateful—eternally grateful—that you desire 
this kind of life for me. Thank you for making it possible through Christ. 
Thank you for making it mine.

Please visit Joe Gibbs' Website at
www.GamePlanForLife.com
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Patience Pays Off
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the 
test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who 
love him. (
James 1:12,
NIV)

Friend to Friend

Patience is not one of my greatest strengths. In fact, I tend to live each 
day with a schedule in mind - an agenda by which to live that day and 
several goals I need to meet before the day’s end.

God does have a sense of humor.

I can’t tell you how many times my schedule falls apart, the agenda is 
completely forgotten, and I have to move today’s goals to tomorrow’s list of 
things to do. I am learning that when God wants to build a certain quality 
in my life, He puts me in the opposite circumstance. For example, if God 
wants me to be more patient, He arranges the hours and minutes of my day in 
ways that demand patience.

What is patience? To be patient is to have the ability to endure, but it 
doesn’t stop there. Patience must also have the capacity to be wronged and 
not retaliate. In other words, patience is love persevering and love 
waiting. We are not only to be patient in the way we face difficult 
situations but in our relationships as well. That just about covers life, 
doesn’t it?

One of the most powerful Bible passages on patience and perseverance is 
found in the book of James. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, 
because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that 
God has promised to those who love him.” Do you want to be blessed? Stand 
firm in your trial. Do you want to be rewarded? Stand firm in that tough 
circumstance. Be patient – because patience really does pay off.

God promises blessings and rewards to those who persevere and stand firm in 
hard times, but the reason we can stand firm is because He loves us 
unconditionally and promises to walk with us through every dark moment life 
will bring.

Nothing touches our life that does not pass through God’s hand, with His 
permission.

Remember the Bible story of the man named Job? Job was a faithful servant of 
God, strong in his faith and unwavering in his obedience to God. Satan didn’t 
like it. In fact, he went to God and asked permission to test Job. I love 
that truth! The devil had to go to God like an errand boy in order to get 
permission to touch His child, Job. Satan was convinced that if Job lost 
everything God had given him - his health, his family, and his possessions - 
if Job lost everything, he would curse God and follow
Satan. God told the serpent to give it his best shot, convinced that Job 
would persevere. Satan stripped Job of his health, his possessions, his 
wealth and his family – everything Job held dear. Job stood firm.

Every trial must come through His love but every trial has a purpose. Every 
pain has a purpose, every ordeal contains a seed of victory, and there is a 
promise for every problem you and I will ever face. The psalmist writes, 
“The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with 
all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy” (Psalm 28:7).

Patience pays off in many ways, but one of the greatest rewards of patience 
is joy. Joy is a deeply rooted confidence that God is in control. Warren 
Wiersbe writes, “When God permits His children to go through the furnace, He 
keeps his eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat!” God will never 
let us face more than we can handle with His help. Hebrews 12:12 says it so 
well: “So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky 
legs.” I have been there, done that and can relate
to a weary heart and shaky legs. Can’t you?

An evangelist told the story of his friend who, during the depression, lost 
a job, a fortune, a wife and a home, but he held onto his faith because it 
was all he had left. One day, the man stopped to watch some men building a 
stone church. One of the workers was chiseling a triangular piece of rock. 
“What are you going to do with that?” asked the friend. The workman said, 
“Do you see that little opening way up there near the spire? Well, I’m 
shaping this down here so that it will fit up there.” Tears
filled the eyes of the broken man as he walked away. It seemed that God had 
spoken through the workman to explain the trials of his life.” God is using 
the trials here on earth to refine and purify us. In Colossians 1:11, the 
apostle Paul writes, “God will strengthen you with his own great power so 
that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient!”

No matter where you are today, where you have been, or what you are facing 
tomorrow, be patient, knowing your God will strengthen you to stand firm.

Let’s Pray

Father, please forgive me when I am impatient. Help me see You at work in 
the trial and choose to depend on Your strength instead of my own. Help me 
see Your purpose and plan, but even if I can’t understand it all, help me to 
stand firm in faith. Lord, make me more patient so that others will see You 
in me.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Now It Is Your Turn

Read Romans 12:12 “Be patient when trouble comes.” What trouble in your life 
today requires patience? Are you willing to choose faith and obedience by 
trusting God with that trouble?

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “Be patient with everyone.” What relationship in 
your life demands patience from you? Evaluate how patient you have been in 
this relationship. What one thing do you need to change in order to choose 
obedience to God as you relate to this person?

Read Ephesians 4:2 ”Always be humble, gentle and patient.” Notice that 
patience is listed along with two other important qualities that God wants 
to see in us. How do you think patience relates to humility and gentleness?

More from the Girlfriends

We all need help learning to be patient. Check out Mary’s E-Bible Study,
It’s Never Too Late to Be Great,
for practical steps to leading a life of victory.
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You

A Word With You

Daily Devotional
Treasure in the Trash - #7091

My wife and I were driving through a nearby town with some of our friends, 
and all of a sudden my wife says, "Stop!" She saw something, but what was 
it?
Well, there was a gas station, there was a trash dumpster; you know, the 
sights that we would always want to stop and tour with our friends. She saw 
the
top leaves of a plant sticking out of this dumpster. So we stopped and my 
friend who was driving got out with her. My wife said, "Hey! That would be 
great
for our office." I said, "The dumpster?" She said, "No, the plant."

The next thing you know, my friend is pulling this enormous plant out; pot 
and all. And they came back to the car with it. I couldn't get out of there
fast enough; I was so embarrassed. And to announce my embarrassment, I put 
my handkerchief over my head. But today, I have to tell you, once that plant
was all cleaned up, it nicely decorated our office lunch area, and it made 
an otherwise drab corner pretty nice.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Treasure 
in the Trash."

Our word for today from the Word of God is in 2 Corinthians chapter 12, 
beginning at verse 7. Actually, what led me to it was this ability that my 
wife
has; where others see trash, she sees treasure. It's happened many times in 
our neighborhood as we've driven past things that others have thrown away.
Here's the difference that kind of perspective can make when you're going 
through the garbage in your life.

Paul says, "...to keep me from becoming conceited, because of these 
surpassingly great revelations, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger 
of Satan,
to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 
But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made 
perfect
in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses 
so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I 
delight
in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. 
For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Well, one thing is clear about the thorn in the flesh, Paul didn't like it. 
It was garbage. Paul said, "If I didn't have it, I would have become 
conceited.
I would have never tasted God's power like this, because I never would have 
needed Him so much." See, those who touch God's power most deeply are those
who have needed Him most desperately.

Paul shows us how to look for God in life's garbage; for good in life's 
garbage. Though we don't get to choose whether we go through this painful 
time,
we do get to choose what we focus on. If you belong to God through faith in 
Jesus Christ, there's always something beautiful in the ugly stuff or He 
would
not allow you to go through it.

Maybe this is a time for you to learn God's patience, or God's peace, or 
God's power. Maybe it's a time to let other people have the joy of serving 
you
as you have served them. Maybe it's time to find out how much people love 
you; how much God loves you. Or to develop a new inner strength that you 
have
never touched before. Maybe there are people who have never listened to what 
you have to say about your Jesus, but this might just get their attention.
This hard time? This might be the best opportunity, the best platform, you 
have ever had to show what a real difference Jesus makes, because He 
recycles
garbage into something useful and beautiful.

You know, because of what you're going through you have what I call 
"crudentials." You've got the credentials that come from just the ugly stuff 
of life.
And if they see that Jesus gives you a peace and a power and an endurance 
and a joy in the midst of that, you may never have a better opportunity to 
prove
the reality of your Savior.

My wife's amazing! I mean, I look at trash; I see dirty, I see useless. She 
looks at that same garbage and sees the valuable things that could come from
it. When it comes to life's garbage, that's what Jesus does. Maybe Satan 
sent it, maybe God allowed it, and you probably don't like it. But God can 
use
it for something beautiful if you will just ask Him to show you the treasure 
in the garbage.

GOD KNOWS WHAT IT IS LIKE TO LOSE A CHILD

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still 
sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Young Nam left his family behind in North Korea to search for money and food 
in China. Christians there helped him but on the way back he bumped into a
North Korean patrol, and he was arrested on the spot. A prison official let 
Young Nam go after taking away all his money. Young Nam fled again to China,
only to be arrested by Chinese policemen. And now he was back in the same 
prison with the same official who took a bat which was wrapped in newspaper.
After Young Nam had taken the beating, the guards dragged him back to an 
overcrowded cell.

He convinced the prison official that he was not going to betray him and was 
released a second time. If he wanted to survive, the only option was to go
back to China and stay there. He was able to secure a job working in the 
kitchen of a Beijing restaurant. There he met Eun Kyung who also came to 
work
in the kitchen. Her husband had died in North Korea. Her sweet daughter died 
in her arms and her son was put in an orphanage. She and a bunch of other
women were locked up in a house and sold into marriage to Chinese men.

Eun Kyung protested. “I have just lost my husband. Don’t force me to marry 
someone!” The human traffickers listened to her and placed her on a Chinese
farm, where she had to work for room and board, but the family treated her 
very well. She ultimately came to Beijing and met Young Nam. There was 
chemistry
between them. They took some secret Bible study classes together and they 
married, also in secret of course. After a while, the situation in Beijing 
became
too tense for North Korean refugees, and the restaurant boss arranged false 
passports and put Young Nam and Eun Kyung on a plane to another country.

Now, Young Nam and Eun Kyung live in small apartment far away from their 
home country. There is little that reminds them of their painful past, 
unless
it’s the eyes of their baby. Inevitably the eyes look similar to the eyes of 
the child she left behind in that wretched country with its love-wrecking
system. Eun Kyung holds her few-months-old son tightly. The child is tense. 
Eun Kyung doesn’t seem to notice. She will protect this precious child with
her life.

After their escape from China, Young Nam and Eun Kyung really got to know 
God by studying the Bible with a local pastor. They realized it was God who 
protected
them. “God saved us, brought us together and gave us another child. We are 
very grateful for his love.”

Young Nam and Eun Kyung look to their son. For them, the child is a symbol 
of God’s hope and love. They know that God will not undo the past. However,
God promises us that all tears will be wiped from our faces. That’s possible 
because the Son of God, out of love, let Himself be crucified. God Himself
carried our pain. He knows what it is like to lose a child.

They conclude, “No matter what happened to us, we trust in God. We know that 
He is love.”

RESPONSE: Today I will forget the past, rejoice in God’s love and be 
thankful for all His gifts of life.

PRAYER: Thank You God that You can feel the pain of those who have lost a 
child. May Your love envelop them today and wipe the tears from their faces.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

You Cannot Have Faith Without Questions

Colin Smith

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are 
revealed belong to us and to our children.” Deuteronomy 29:29

You cannot have faith without questions for the very simple reason that God 
has chosen to keep many secrets. There are certain things God has 
revealed—that’s what makes faith possible, and there are certain things God 
has kept secret—that’s what makes faith necessary.

Paul says, “Now I know in part…” (1 Corinthians 1:12). We know in part and 
that is why we walk by faith and not by sight. Just as it is part of 
Christian faith to say we know what God has revealed, it is part of 
Christian humility to say we do not know what God has kept secret.

The world will often say to believers, “How do you explain this?” as if 
faith depended on having all the answers. But if you had all the answers, 
you’d have no need of faith. The day will come when we’ll know fully, even 
as we’re fully known (13:12), but on that day faith will no longer be 
necessary. Faith will be turned to sight, and we’ll behold Christ! Until 
then, faith with questions will be the normal experience of the Christian 
life.

You can only doubt what you already believe

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9:24

Doubt is not the absence of faith; it is the questioning of faith. You can 
only doubt what you already believe. When a Christian doubts, he fears that 
God may not exist. The Christian believes that there is a God, and when he 
doubts, he questions what he believes.

When an atheist doubts, he fears God may actually exist! The atheist 
believes there is no god and so, by definition, a doubting atheist would be 
someone who was questioning his unbelief. Doubt presupposes some kind of 
faith. Doubt is faith with questions. That is what doubt is and it is one 
of the most common struggles in the Christian life.

Doubt is very different from unbelief

“I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” 1 Timothy 1:13

That’s how Paul described his persecution of believers. In other words, “I 
could not understand the truth”—that’s ignorance, and “I was deeply 
resistant to the truth”—that’s unbelief. Unbelief involves spiritual 
blindness and a determined resistance towards God.

It is very important to grasp the difference between doubt and unbelief. 
“Doubt” is questioning what you believe. “Unbelief” is a determined refusal 
to believe. Doubt is a struggle faced by the believer. Unbelief is a 
condition of the unbeliever.

The only cure for unbelief

“Who are you, Lord?” Acts 9:5

The only cure for Paul’s condition was what happened when he was wonderfully 
converted on the Damascus Road. When Paul saw the risen Christ, he was so 
overwhelmed by His glory that he fell to the ground and his first words were 
“Lord…” Lord!? The man has been humbled. He is no longer the captain of 
his life.

Once Paul discovered that Jesus is Lord, the whole disposition of his soul 
was changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. He moved from a position of 
unbelief to a position of faith as God worked a miracle in his life. That 
may be precisely what needs to happen for you, and God will give you that 
same gift if you will ask Him.


This LifeKey based on the message “Defective Memory,” by Pastor Colin S. 
Smith, September 8, 2002, from the series “
Faith With Questions: Dealing With the Darkness of Doubt
.”

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free 
Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the 
Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus 
Christ.
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Post  Admin on Wed 28 May 2014, 11:53 am

Life is full of Choices

A Life of Power
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
“In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, 
lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, 
ungrateful,
unholy…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of 
godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these.” – 
2
Timothy 3:1-5 NASB
When Marco Polo arrived in China in 1275, he discovered a multicultural 
empire filled with people of many religions. However, China’s leader, Kublai 
Khan,
had a strong interest in Christianity. His wife, in fact, was a Christian. 
Khan once told Polo that the Christian faith was the “truer and better” and
took precedent over other religions.
When asked why he didn’t declare himself a Christian, Khan explained that he’d 
seen that other religions had supernatural power. But based on his 
observations,
he didn’t believe that faith in Christ would preserve him from poison or 
from spells cast by “sorcerers or shamans.”
Unfortunately, Khan was familiar with a Christianity filled with doctrines, 
but without power. While respecting the teachings of Jesus and Christian 
morals,
he couldn’t wholeheartedly endorse the religion. What he wanted was 
something real…something powerful. Khan wanted was the kind of Christianity 
described
in the Bible—a life of power! Not weakness, but strength, miracles, and the 
supernatural.
Concerning Christianity, the world still looks for proof, validation, and 
people with a vital faith who don’t just talk about what they believe but 
put
their faith into practice. The world is looking for people who have real 
answers and whose lives are charged with the supernatural!
Today, don’t limit God, but let Him use you to change the world. Be bold and 
ready to step out in faith. Remember: You serve the true, living God, the
One who created the heavens and the earth. Believe Him for mighty miracles 
in your life!
Today's Inspiration Prayer

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Father, take away my doubt. Help me be willing to step out in faith. 
Demonstrate Your power in mighty ways in my life! I believe that all things 
are possible
with You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: 2 Timothy 

Inspiration Ministries
www.inspiration.org

The Power of Your Presence

Jesus said in
Matthew 5:16,

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and 
glorify your Father in heaven."

The way you let your light shine is just being yourself around people. 
Witness everywhere you go through your life, and use words, if necessary.

You can sow seeds just by showing people that you are real. Some people 
call it friendship evangelism: being a genuine friend, touchable, genuinely 
caring for people, just letting your light shine.

Jesus also said you are a city set on a hill. A city set on a hill cannot 
be hidden. Nobody lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. You and I are 
to live a life that brightly shines the gospel to the unsaved.

I read a story years ago about a guy who had his doorbell hooked up to a big 
buzzer in the back room. The buzzer was really loud. He wanted to change 
it and put a light there instead that would illuminate when somebody pushed 
the doorbell. So he rigged it up to do just that.

The problem was the light would barely illuminate. He could not figure out 
what was wrong, so he called an electrician friend. His friend looked at it 
and told him, "Oh, you don't understand. It takes more power to shine than 
it does to make noise."

That is very true. Jesus said, "Let your light shine." Without having to 
necessarily confront people, they will just notice something different about 
you. If you are walking with God, it is reflected in your attitude, your 
work ethic, and your countenance. It is a discernable difference that will 
lead some people to ask about your faith. You will be able to sow seeds 
just with your presence.

Visit the Answers with
Bayless Conley
website for more ways to Connect with God
and
click here to view today's Answers with
Bayless Conley
broadcast at LightSource.com.
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Post  Admin on Tue 27 May 2014, 2:28 pm

Bragging Rights

1 Chronicles 16:23-27 (NRSV)
23 Sing to the LORD , all the earth.
Tell of his salvation from day to day.
24 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples.
25 For great is the LORD , and greatly to be praised;
he is to be revered above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
27 Honor and majesty are before him;
strength and joy are in his place.

We don’t have bragging rights in ourselves but n the Scripture we have the 
right and are commanded to brag about our great God to the whole world. WE 
are to sing God’s praises everywhere. We are to tell everyone of God’s 
salvation and miracles.

God is a great God who made heaven and earth and everything therein. God is 
not an idol made of wood or stone that does not live. To God belongs all 
honor and majesty. WE need to let everyone know this.

Some Bible versions say we are to fear God where this one says we are to 
revere God. We are not to be afraid of God but to worship God and let God 
love us. There is joy and strength in Almighty God and in God alone. True 
joy is only found in God who loves everyone so very much.

WE should be so excited about what God has done for us and the whole world 
that we can’t help but tell everyone what God has done. WE should want to 
let everyone know so they can know God also. WE should be bragging every 
chance we can about everything God has done. WE need to bring people face to 
face to Almighty God so they can see how great God is before they have to 
come face to face with God on Judgment Day and face God’s wrath. As Charles 
Spurgeon wrote:

If sinners be dammed, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. 
If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let 
no one go there unwarned and unprayed for."

by Dean W. Masters

Owner of the Master's List
Unedited redistribution approved 

Five Truths About the Death of Jesus
Joseph Scheumann
Grace is at the heart of the Christian faith. Nowhere is this more clearly 
seen than at the cross of Christ. It is grace that the Son of God took on 
flesh,
and grace that he taught us how to live — but it is especially grace that he 
died on the cross in our place.

Moreover, this climactic grace shown at the cross has a specific shape — it 
has edges. These edges help us see what exactly happened when Jesus died. 
And
it’s important that we see because seeing leads to worship — you can’t 
worship what you don’t know.

So in hopes of more clarity — fuel for worship — here are five biblical 
truths about what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

1. The death of Jesus was for his enemies.

God’s love is different than natural human love. God loves us when we’re 
utterly unlovable. When Jesus died, he died for the ungodly, for sinners, 
and
for his enemies. Paul gets at how contrary this is to human nature when he 
writes, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps 
for
a good person one would dare to die, but God shows his love for us in that 
while we were sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7–8).

2. The death of Jesus purchased a people.

The death of Christ was effective in its purpose. And its goal was not just 
to purchase the possibility of salvation, but a people for his own 
possession.
Hear Jesus’s words: “All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and 
whoever comes to me I will never cast out… And this is the will of him who 
sent
me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up 
on the last day” (John 6:36, 39).

If we say that Christ only purchased the opportunity of salvation for all 
men we gut biblical words such as redemption of their meaning. John Murray 
writes:
“It is to beggar the conception of redemption as an effective securement of 
release by price and power to construe it as anything less than the 
effectual
accomplishment which secures the salvation of those who are its objects. 
Christ did not come to put men in a redeemable position but to redeem to 
himself
a people” (Redemption Accomplished and Applied,63).

3. The death of Jesus is on our behalf.

Jesus’s death was substitutionary. That is, he died in our place. He died 
the death that we deserved. He bore the punishment that was justly ours. For
everyone who believes in him, Christ took the wrath of God on their behalf. 
Peter writes, “[Jesus] himself bore our sin in his body on the tree that we
might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been 
healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

4. The death of Jesus defines love.

Jesus’s death wasn’t just an act of love, it defines love. His 
substitutionary death is the ultimate example of what love means, and Jesus 
calls those
who follow him to walk in the same kind of life-laying-down love. John 
writes, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we 
ought to
lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and 
sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s
love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in 
deed and in truth” (1 John 3:16). John Piper explains: “Jesus’s death is 
both
guilt-bearing and guidance-giving. It is a death that forgives sin and a 
death that models love. It is the purchase of our life from perishing and 
the
pattern of a life of love” (What Jesus Demands from the World,266).

5. The death of Jesus reconciles us to God.

Justification, propitiation, and redemption — all benefits of Christ’s 
death — have one great purpose: reconciliation. Jesus’s death enables us to 
have
a joy-filled relationship with God, which is the highest good of the cross. 
Paul writes, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing 
evil
deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to 
present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 
1:21–22).

Think about how this works in our relationships with other people. When we 
sin, not only do we hurt the person we sin against, we harm the 
relationship.
It will never be the same until we seek forgiveness. So it is with our 
relationship with God. We enter this world sinful, and as a result, we’re 
alienated
from God. Only forgiveness — forgiveness which was purchased at the cross — 
can heal the relationship so that we are able to enjoy fellowship with God.

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

Recent posts from Joseph Scheumann:
http://www.desiringgod.org/authors/joseph-scheumann

Five Truths About the Resurrection of Jesus

Five Truths About the Incarnation

Five Truths About Christian Suffering

20 Quotes on Loneliness
By Tony Reinke | Mar 05, 2014 11:30 pm

20 Quotes on Loneliness

Loneliness can be an embarrassing topic we don’t like to talk about or admit 
to. Yet all of us are familiar with it, to some degree, because loneliness
is an inescapable consequence of the fall.

No surprise, readers request more content on loneliness. To that end, let me 
introduce Paul Matthies. Paul is a Christian, former missionary in Asia, 
current
pastor in Texas, he’s single and he has openly shared his struggle with 
loneliness over the years. In the summer of 2006, while serving as a pastor 
at
The Village Church, Matthies preached a four-part sermon series titled “Only 
the Lonely” (links available below). The series offers a much-needed 
biblical
theology of loneliness and is filled with mature thoughts on the problem, 
and wise words of gospel hope, for those enduring its pain.

Recently I went through the four sermons and pulled out 20 quotes to share 
the flavor of the hope offered in these messages.

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

“Loneliness is a common human experience. Meaning that all of us, whether 
single or married, whether for a short period of time or for an extended 
season,
deal with loneliness. Why so? Well that leads into my second aim that 
loneliness is, at its root, a spiritual issue. But often we define 
loneliness in
physical or emotional terms. We think loneliness can be defined by the 
absence of people whether physically or emotionally. So we think to 
ourselves, ‘What
we need to do to fix our problem of loneliness is to have more people in our 
lives.’ And when that doesn’t work we think, ‘Well, we need more considerate
people in our lives.’ And so I talked about how we define loneliness as 
emotional or physical. But that doesn’t complete the picture because 
loneliness
is also the presence of pain. Loneliness is not just the absence of people, 
it’s the presence of pain, the pain of separation from God and others. It 
began
in the Garden of Eden when Adam decided to choose the pleasures of sin, and 
in doing so, inherited the pain of loneliness.”

“The worst type of loneliness comes from our sin and disobedience. We do it 
to ourselves through the pleasures of sin. . . . The second type of 
loneliness
is that loneliness that comes upon us through our circumstances. Not all 
loneliness is our fault. Sometimes we’re thrust into it. . . . The third 
type
of loneliness comes upon us through our obedience and courage, the 
loneliness that comes from being Christ’s disciple.”

“In Philippians 3:10, Paul uses the phrase, ‘the fellowship of his 
sufferings.’ So many of us love to enter into the fellowship of God’s joy, 
but Scripture
also calls us into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. And sometimes, we 
don’t need to avoid the pain or numb the pain, we need to look at that pain
and ask God for a deeper joy.”

“We have a heart problem. We can invite more people into our lives, and we 
can invite more quality people into our lives, but the problem is that doesn’t
take care of the root pain of separation that’s happening there. We have a 
spiritual heart problem and we don’t need medication, we need a new heart, 
and
that takes a doctor. And so, we have a strong desire to be in intimate 
fellowship with God and others, but the problem is that we have, at our 
root, a
sin problem that clouds our hearts.”

[On 1 John 1:5–10] “At the root of our fellowship issue is not merely the 
absence of people in your life, or the absence of God in your life, it is 
the
presence of sin in your hearts that separates you from God and other people. 
You have a heart problem, and that problem is painful.”

“Because Adam chose the pleasures of sin, humanity has inherited the pain of 
loneliness and the pain of separation from God and others. At its root, 
loneliness
began in the Garden of Eden, and we are all children of Eden.”

“If you are depressed and you take medication, and you realize that you have 
a chemical imbalance, and it’s biological, and it causes you loneliness. I’m
not saying that, by mere repentance, that fixes the issue, but I am saying 
we can’t divorce our physical needs from spiritual realities. Every time we
realize we have a fallen body, we must also acknowledge that the reason why 
we have a fallen body with a chemical imbalance is because we inherited the
pain of the fall.”

“Loneliness, at its root, is a spiritual issue. We don’t need to merely hang 
out with more friends. We don’t need to merely learn how to speak love 
languages.
We need help. We need a savior. We need an advocate whose name is Christ 
Jesus. And our heart cry should not merely be, ‘I do bad things because I’m 
lonely,
so someone come keep me company, make me feel better.’ Our deep heart cry 
should be, ‘I’m lonely because I’m a sinner in a dark and fallen world. God 
help
me.’”

“We can say with Romans 8:28, that God uses all things for the good of those 
who love him, even our loneliness. Because our loneliness leads us to our
deepest spiritual need, who is Christ. And we can also say with 1 John 3:20, 
that even when we feel condemned, God is greater than our hearts, and that
loneliness cannot separate us from the love of God. We have a solution to 
our spiritual problem, and if we will submit to the Lord and accept his 
solution
for our deepest spiritual problem, the atoning work of Christ on the cross, 
God can attack loneliness at its root and overcome the pain of separation in
our lives that leads to separation from him, which leads to separation from 
other people.”

“If you’re lonely, have you ever thought about coming to God and offering it 
to him as a gift in worship? In saying, ‘I’ve tried everything to fix it,
and I can’t. I’ve tried filling it with the world. I’ve tried filling it 
with people. I’ve tried seeking you. I don’t know what to do with it. So I’m 
just
going to offer it up to you. Can you take this ugly thing and make it 
something beautiful?’”

“Loneliness is a wilderness, but through receiving it as a gift, accepting 
it from the hand of God and offering it back to him with thanksgiving, it 
may
become a pathway to holiness, to glory and to God himself” (Elizabeth 
Elliot).

“The wilderness is that season of our lives where God, through our 
loneliness, teaches us that his will is to do something in us, not merely do 
something
for us. That is, by walking by faith and not by sight, he works in us a 
stronger faith, leading to a deeper worship that results in a greater joy.”

“Listening to the music our culture listens to, I realize all of us 
fluctuate between loneliness as our problem to loneliness as a solution to 
our problem.
. . . We see loneliness as a problem at first, but then we think that maybe 
it’s a solution to our problems. And I’m here to tell you that we’re not the
first people in the history of mankind to choose loneliness.”

“God doesn’t only come and sit with us, he also allows us to enjoy the 
pleasures of his presence. It’s not that he just comes with a message; he 
comes
with a message of hope, a message of joy, and he says, ‘I’m going to never 
leave you, nor forsake you. And I’m going to give you new eyes and I’m going
to give you great faith and I’m going to give you renewed purpose. I love 
you where you’re at but I’m not going to leave you where you’re at. I am for
you, not against you, and I’m going to give you what your greatest heart’s 
desire is. You thought you were hiding, but in reality, I was setting you up
to meet with me. That’s what you need. You need an encounter with me.’ And 
it’s at that moment we discover the joy of the hiding place. It’s not a 
removal
of our problems, it’s the gift of God’s presence with us. It’s not that we 
escape our great trials and tribulations, it’s the great joy of knowing that
he calls us ‘friend.’”

“Loneliness is seeking to run from the presence of people and the pressures 
of life and to withdraw from reality, but aloneness is experiencing the 
reality
of God’s presence, running into the hiding place, not so you can just 
escape, but so you can enjoy God’s presence.”

“The hiding place can be viewed as that place or season in our lives when we 
run from people and circumstances, feel that the world is against us and 
embrace
loneliness only to encounter God, learn that he is for us and therefore 
experience true aloneness.”

“Learn how to fight for community. God does want you to intentionally 
commune with him, but he also wants you in an intentional community. You can’t 
just
stay with him forever. He’s not just calling you to be a monk. He’s also 
calling you to go out and make disciples and to get back into community.”

“Let me speak a very personal word to singles. For most of us, the greatest 
fear in the world is that we’re always going to be the bridesmaid and never
be the bride, and the hope that this passage gives us is that God is worthy 
of worship regardless if we die alone and in obscurity (John 3:23–31). He 
can
still make our joy full. He can still fill us with joy. Why? Because as long 
as Jesus is being lifted up, we have the great promise that he who is above
all can still fill us with a joy and, even though we may be forgotten, as 
long as the works of the Lord are not forgotten, our joy can be made full. 
And
God is worthy of worship even if we die in obscurity.”

“It was in that moment that I turned to God and gave him my loneliness that 
I began to sense God’s presence working in my life again. He started asking
me questions like this: ‘If I asked you to move overseas, would you go? If 
you were to be single your entire life, would you still walk in purity? If 
no
one ever liked a single word I asked you to speak, would you still preach? 
If your job remained difficult, would you still serve me? If I never fixed 
your
problems, would you still worship me? If I never gave you a faithful friend 
again, would you still love your neighbor as you love yourself? If the 
gospel
was offensive to every unbeliever you know, would you still share your 
faith?’ And the underlying question behind all that God was speaking into my 
heart
was this: ‘Am I still worthy of worship?’”

“God approached Adam in the Garden of Eden and said, ‘It is not good for man 
to be alone,’ not because Adam was lonely, but because he was making a 
statement
about himself. He was saying, ‘It is not good for man to be alone, because 
one man cannot glorify me by himself.’ God creates an entire race of people
to glorify him. . . . The panoply of gifts is essential if the church is to 
function as God intended. Image bearers are not lone rangers, and we see the
great scriptural truth that God has not given us people to complete us, but 
to complement us as we seek to glorify him together in community.”

“Sometimes we call ‘loneliness’ what God’s word calls a longing for 
unhindered intimacy with him and others. And we start thinking that other 
people can
provide us what only God can provide. And it amazes me how often I call 
‘loneliness’ what is actually a groaning for redemption. And instead of 
trying
to numb it I should embrace it and try to realize that it’s God’s good gift 
to me to remind me that this world is not my home.”

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

To listen to, or read, Paul Matthies’s sermon series — “Only the Lonely” — 
click on the following links to
The Village Church
website and sermon archive:
http://www.thevillagechurch.net/resources/sermons/?page=2

The Pain of Loneliness
(Part 1)
The Joy of the Hiding Place
(Part 2)
The Jewel of the Wilderness
(Part 3)
The Hope of the Exile
(Part 4)
----------------------------------------------------------
Other posts in the 20 Quotes series:

20 Quotes from The Explicit Gospel
20 Quotes from Walking with God through Pain and Suffering
20 Quotes from Eyes Wide Open

© 2014 Desiring God, All rights reserved.

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List
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DRAWN TO JESUS

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will 
raise them up at the last day…”
John 6:44

Throughout the Muslim world, Jesus (“the man in white”) has appeared to 
seekers in special ways—often in dreams and visions. For example, Achmed is 
forty-two,
married and has four daughters. A year ago, the Lord Jesus appeared to him 
in a dream. Coming from an Egyptian fundamentalist family, Achmed was a 
committed
Muslim. The dream caused his Islamic faith to waver. As a secret believer, 
he has gone into hiding in Cairo. He describes his dream:

In the field, there were hundreds, perhaps even thousands of people. They 
were all dressed in white and were looking up to heaven expectantly. They 
didn’t
pay any attention to me. Suddenly a dazzling light shone on the crowd. Out 
of the light, the Lord Jesus stepped forward. He hovered over the people and
blessed them. Then he pointed at me.

At that moment, I woke up. I was completely confused. I knew Isa (Jesus) 
only from the Koran. I knew that he was a man who had performed miracles, a 
prophet.
Never had I thought that he would reveal himself to me. I was shaking all 
over my body and woke up my wife. “What’s the matter?” she asked. I could 
only
say, “They’re right. They’re following the right way. They’re right...” I 
couldn’t go back to sleep. I had to know more about this man.

The easiest way was to turn on the television and look for Christian 
satellite stations. Achmed also read the Bible and watched the JESUS film. 
He had
bought this on impulse a year before at a book fair in Cairo. He spoke to a 
Christian neighbour, who took him to a church in Cairo. He says, “I started
to attend the services in secret and took part in a Bible study group. The 
love of the Christians touched me. The members of our Bible study group are
like family to me.” Achmed had been supernaturally drawn to Jesus.

RESPONSE: I thank God today that I have also been drawn to Jesus, and He 
will raise me up!

PRAYER: Pray that God will continue to draw many, many Muslims to Jesus 
around the globe.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

Francis of Assisi - Blessing Our Brothers, the Birds

Verse:
Matthew 10:9

Quote: "If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the 
shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise 
with
their fellow men."

The son of Pietro di Bernadone, a wealthy Italian fabric merchant, Francis 
of Assisi is one of seven children. Young Francis spends several years 
vacillating
between the life of a troubadour, time in the military, and visions of God 
speaking to him.

In 1209, in his late twenties, he hears the voice of Go, saying: "Preach, 
the kingdom of heaven is at hand, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast 
out
devils. Provide neither silver nor gold, nor brass in your purses." This 
becomes his rule of life.

He discards his purse and shoes, dresses in rags, and feels guilty if he 
meets someone poorer than he. He lives with lepers, washing their 
puss-filled
sores and kissing their fingerless hands and stubbed feet. His father and 
his friends think he has gone mad. Initially, he is a loner. But then a 
follower
comes along, and by the end of the year, with ten more disciples, the 
"Lesser Brethren" beg from house to house, spending nights out of doors.

In Rome Francis seeks the papal blessing. Initially, Innocent III is 
insulted by his apparent show of disrespect, but, he later agrees to give 
provisional
approval for a new religious order. Final sanction will come only after they 
have proven themselves worthy.

Poverty is not new to monasticism, but Francis gives it greater prominence, 
bringing new meaning to urban poverty. He embraces poverty rather than 
separating
from it as hermits and monks had done. The inward emphasis on personal 
self-denial is turned upside-down with an outward focus on the poor and 
needy living
on the margins of society.

Although having taken a vow of celibacy, he considers himself married to 
Lady Poverty, revering her as "the mistress and queen of the virtues." 
Second
only to Lady Poverty is his other love, Mother Nature. So close was Francis 
to nature that he preached sermons to those he regarded as his companions:
"Brother birds," he admonished, "you ought to love and praise your Creator 
very much. He has given you feathers for clothing, wings for flying, and all
things that can be of use to you." An environmentalist before his time, he 
asked the emperor enact laws to protect "our sisters, the birds."

For Francis, however, life is far from idyllic. For many of the 
less-committed friars, the love for Lady Poverty quickly evaporates. They 
rebel against
what they perceive to be an evil stepmother. Having been stirred by the 
personal charisma and emotion-charged sermons of Francis, they have second 
thoughts
about being on the bottom rung of society. Other monks, they observe, live 
the good life. Supported by clerics, angry friars replace Francis with a new
leader while he is away on a mission trip. It is the most dramatic coup in 
monastic history. He returns to find a wealthy cleric in charge of the very
ministry he has founded. He might have rallied his dedicated followers and 
led them away and begin anew. But this, he reasons, is not the way of 
humility.
He accepts the stunning reversal as God's will. He tells his followers, 
"From henceforth I am dead for you. Here is brother Peter di Catana whom you 
and
I will obey." He then prostrates himself before his new superior and directs 
the friars to follow in submission. His heart is broken, but there is no 
other
course of action for this most singular saint.

Despite this turn of events, Francis is widely regarded as a saint, and his 
death in 1228 only increases his stock as a holy man. After he dies, the 
vicar
of the Franciscan order testifies to the miracle of the stigmata on the body 
of Francis. Church leaders from far and near, including Pope Gregory IX, 
bask
in his popularity. In fact, the pope preaches at his funeral, lays the 
cornerstone for a church in his memory, and canonizes him as a saint.


If you enjoyed the above article, please take a moment to read about the 
book it was adapted from:

ParadeofFaith-Bookcover
Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church
by Ruth A. Tucker
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How Do I Share What I Believe? When Evangelism Is Like Baseball

J. Warner Wallace

I’ve been doing
criminal interviews and interrogations
for many years now, and I’ve interviewed a variety of criminal offenders 
(although most have been murder suspects). I’ve learned an important 
principle, analogous with baseball, in these repeated efforts to get to the 
truth: homeruns aren’t the only way to score. In fact, there are times when 
swinging for the fences can be a distinct liability. Baseball games are 
usually won with singles and doubles; realistic efforts to get on base and 
let the next guy at bat do his job. I’ve learned not to make
the “copout” my singular goal in interrogations. If I can score a homerun 
and get a confession, great; if not, a number of lesser admissions will 
serve the same purpose when we finally get to trial. If I can get enough 
singles, I’ll still drive in a run.

This analogous truth is equally applicable to our efforts to share and 
defend the Christian worldview. In recent months (and years) we’ve seen a 
number of movies released in an effort to evangelize or make a defense for 
Christianity. Some are good, some are not so good. Less successful efforts 
have typically targeted homeruns rather than singles. Ten years ago, when 
Mel Gibson produced the critically successful,
The Passion of the Christ,
he decided to limit the narrative to a very small portion of the Biblical 
account. As a result, the movie was laser focused and had the time (and 
creative “space”) to do the narrative justice. It was a well-placed single, 
causing many people to rethink what they believed about Jesus. It started 
conversations. It had a deep impact, even though it left many questions 
unaddressed and omitted the vast majority of the Biblical narrative. The 
producers reined in their ambition and produced something limited,
but powerful. They never preached the Gospel directly, but their movie 
certainly loaded the bases for many of us who came to the plate later and 
did our part to drive in a run.

Our private conversations with non-believers are similarly analogous to 
baseball. In every conversation I have with unbelieving friends, I am ever 
mindful of the value of singles. I don’t have to “win” every encounter. I 
don’t necessarily have to offer the Gospel or describe the Christian view of 
Salvation. If I get the right pitch, I’m happy to swing. But most of the 
time I’m lucky to get on base at all. With reasonable expectations in mind, 
I am happy to overcome a single objection
or advance someone’s understanding
just a base or two. In fact, sometimes the most important thing I can do is 
reflect the nature of Jesus as I listen and gently respond. I may not even 
get the chance to offer a defense or make a point, but my character will 
speak for me as I
make the effort to get on base.

When I share the truth with unbelievers, I sometimes act as though I’m 
playing a singles tennis match. I’m on one side of the net, and my opponent 
is on the other. I’m
all alone out there on the court,
it’s hot and the entire world is watching on ESPN. Whatever I do (or don’t 
do), whatever I say (or don’t say), will all come down to my individual 
effort. If I’m going to be successful, it’s all on me. But that’s not the 
reality of my situation. I’m part of
a much deeper team called the Church.
I’m not alone on the court; I’m just one in a series of batters. I come to 
the plate, I get a sense of what the pitcher is throwing, and I make an 
appropriate decision on how to respond. On rare occasions I may swing for 
the fences, but sometimes the wiser choice will be to make contact with the 
ball, get on base if possible, or take a “walk” if the pitcher is throwing 
wildly. It’s not all on me. I don’t have to win the game by myself. 
Evangelism and Christian Case Making is often just like baseball.
Remember your place in the line-up. Drive in a run if you can, or just get 
on base for the next player at bat. Remember you’re not alone. If each of us 
can get a single, we’ll eventually succeed as a team.

J. Warner Wallace is a
Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and ALIVE

Friendship and the Gospel

I am humbled by the fact that my Heavenly Father has given me friendships to 
enjoy, that he has created me with the capacity to love and be loved by 
others,
that He has not called me to walk on this journey to heaven alone and that 
through these friendships He has provided strength, unity, and protection 
for
me. The words of Ecclesiastes 4:12 prove true in this regard: “And though a 
man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a 
threefold
cord is not quickly broken."

I am learning the greatness of the gift of friends that God has placed in my 
life. He has graciously given them and continues to use them to comfort me
in loss, to reprove me when I’m going astray, to counsel me when unsure of 
the way to go, to gladden my heart when I am sad, to encourage me in the way
of the Lord and to pray for me when I am need. In my eyes, they seem to love 
me at all times and seem to stick closer than a brother; but their love for
me is only a small reflection of the love of an even greater Friend and 
Brother, Jesus Christ. John Newton captured this idea so well when he penned 
the
following words:

“One there is, above all others,
Well deserves the name of Friend;
His is love beyond a brother’s,
Costly, free, and knows no end:
They who once His kindness prove,
Find it everlasting love!

Which of all our friends to save us,
Could or would have shed their blood?
But our Jesus died to have us
Reconciled, in Him to God:
This was boundless love indeed!
Jesus is a Friend in need.

O for grace our hearts to soften!
Teach us, Lord, at length to love;
We, alas! forget too often,
What a Friend we have above:
But when home our souls are brought,
We will love Thee as we ought.”1

Jesus Christ alone has laid down His life for me. There is no greater love 
than His (John 15:13). Earthly friends will come and go, but Christ will 
never
leave me nor forsake me. Earthly friends only know what I have shared with 
them. The Lord is intimately acquainted with all my ways. “Can we find a 
friend
so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness, 
[we can] take it to the Lord in prayer!” He alone takes all of our burdens
and comforts us wholly with Himself. As the apostle John declared, “In this 
the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into
the world, so that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9)

As believers in union with the Lord Jesus, we have the hope of eternal 
fellowship with Him in Heaven. As those who have this hope and understand 
the great
love that God has freely lavished upon us, we are responsible to love our 
friends in such a way that our friendships reflect something of the glory of
the friendship that we have with our Savior. Only as we delight ourselves in 
the Lord and grow in understanding of his love for us will we begin to love
God as we ought. And it will not be until we learn to love our God supremely 
that we will learn how to love our neighbors as ourselves.

We need grace to become the kind of friend that we ourselves want to have 
(Proverbs 17:17). We have failed, at many times and in many ways, to be the 
kind
of friend that God would have us be. We need the grace of God to forgive us, 
grace to bring blessing wherever we go (Proverbs 11:25), grace to be humble
(Proverbs 11:2, James 4:6), grace to stop criticizing (Proverbs 19:11), 
grace to consider others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3), and grace 
to
listen and understand before expressing our own opinions.(Proverbs 18:2, 
13).

As we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and in fellowship 
with Him, He will make us more like Himself--the best Friend of all. He is 
the
only one that can restore our broken friendships, for at the root of every 
broken relationship is sin. The good news of the Gospel is that “for our 
sake
He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the 
righteousness of God “(2 Corinthians 5:21).

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has so richly 
blessed us with the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life. Jesus,
what a friend for sinners! We humble ourselves under your mighty hand. We 
confess that we don’t have the grace or faith we need to love our friends as
we ought. Our sin and our pride keep us from knowing more of the glory of 
Christ in our friendships. Thank you for being a faithful friend willing and
ready to forgive despite our unfaithfulness to you. Savior, Brother, Friend, 
wrap us in your robes of righteousness. Conform us into your likeness, the
likeness of a selfless friend. Lord, use our friendships to glorify your 
name and expand your Kingdom!

1. John Newton “
One There is Above All Others
” from Psalms and Hymns for Public and Social Worship
(London: Nisbet & Co., 1855) p. 22

Meghan Reyno worships at Kirk of the Isles
(PCA) in Savannah, GA.

WILL YOU MAKE THE JUMP?

In the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," Butch and Sundance, 
running from the law, run up to a cliff hundreds of feet high overlooking a 
river.
They are outnumbered by lawmen who have taken up their positions and there 
is no way out. They get ready to shoot it out, but they know it's a suicide
mission. Then Butch looks out over the cliff and sees the river below and 
says, "I know, we'll jump!" Sundance thinks he's crazy. Butch tells him 
it's
their only hope. Sundance is still reluctant. Butch assures Sundance that 
the lawmen would never follow them, saying, "Would you make a jump like that
you didn't have to?" Sundance says, "I have to, and I'm still not going 
to." Finally, Sundance gives the reason for his reluctance. He says, "I 
can't
swim." Butch just laughs and says, "Are you kidding? The fall will 
probably kill you!" But Sundance, because of the predicament, knows he's 
out of options,
and though he can't swim, he jumps.

I think there are times that the Lord leads us into predicaments where the 
only reasonable thing to do is to jump and trust the Lord. And we know that
he'll never let us down. Over and over, the Bible stresses that one of the 
primary attributes of God is his faithfulness. God is always dependable.
You can count on him. He makes his word good. When he tells you he'll do 
something, you can believe that he will do it. When he makes a promise, you
know he's going to keep it. Because God is faithful.

It's interesting to notice how the Bible connects stability in the lives of 
Christians to the faithfulness of God. Thus, we find statements like this:
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who 
promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23). The reason a Christian is able to 
stand
when life's storms come against him is that his faith is grounded in a God 
whose promises to him will always be honored.

In Hebrews 11, Sarah is praised with these words: "By faith Sarah herself 
also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was
past the age, because she judged him faithful who had promised." (Hebrews 
11:11). Here were two people who shared the disappointment over the years 
of
being childless. They had no tangible reason to think anything had changed. 
Yet, God gave his word to them. And they knew that God was faithful. He
wouldn't let them down.

It is essential that we understand this very important truth: God keeps his 
promises. And it doesn't matter whether it was made to Abraham, David, Paul
or you, God has never given a promise that he failed to honor. He is 
faithful.

All you need to do is to jump.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith
Helen Street Church of Christ
Fayetteville, North Carolina
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THE WAY OF THE CROSS

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship 
of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…
Philippians 3:10

Members of the persecuted church around the world have long understood the 
true significance of the cross of Christ. Pastor Allen Yuan in China, who 
spent
almost twenty-two years in prison for his faith away from his large family, 
often talks about his sufferings over those years. But he invariably 
concludes
with the statement, “They are nothing compared with the Cross!”

The best known and loved pastor in China was Watchman Nee who was martyred 
in the early 1970’s. One of his elderly co-workers said recently, “If we 
call
ourselves Christians—people following Christ—we should know what road we are 
taking. Christ went the way of the Cross. We should be prepared to do 
likewise.”

A Canadian Christian aid worker was overwhelmed at the enormous need among 
the believers of southern Sudan. He recalls some children in a village 
wearing
nothing but hand carved bone crosses fashioned in necklaces around their 
necks. He pointed to the cross on one emaciated child and questioned her 
with
hand motions. She smiled broadly, took off the necklace and handed it to 
him.

His thoughtful analysis is this: “That little act symbolizes the state of 
the suffering church in Sudan. With absolutely nothing in the way of 
material
possessions, they still have the cross of Jesus Christ. They are prepared to 
share its hope - even though it means death.”

Indian missionary and martyr, Sadhu Sundar Singh, wrote in his diary, “It is 
easy to die for Christ. It is hard to live for him. Dying takes only an hour
or two but to live for Christ means to die daily [to self].”

A thirty-two-year-old pastor works in upper Egypt, an area of intense 
persecution for Christians. He runs a day care centre, a medical clinic, a 
literacy
training program as well as caring for the families of those in prison. He 
has been beaten twice by Muslim extremists and threatened daily with death.
He knows they are trying to kill him...but he continues to daily bear his 
cross.

A leading pastor in Egypt shared about a parishioner who tearfully came for 
counselling. Young people she had trained at her work were recently promoted
to be her supervisors. She was passed over solely because she was a 
Christian. The pastor concluded, “That’s the cross we must bear here in 
Egypt!”

The essence of these examples is that instead of exercising and asserting my 
will, I learn to co-operate with God’s wishes and comply with His will.

RESPONSE: Today I will walk the way of the cross with Jesus and comply with 
His will.

PRAYER: Pray for believers under severe persecution who today will take up 
their cross to follow Jesus.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission
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Post  Admin on Fri 23 May 2014, 10:41 pm

The Right Order of Love
Lynn Cowell

"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all 
your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest 
commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Matthew 22:37-39
(NIV)

"I just want a boy to like me," she said with a sigh.

My heart understands her desire. As I sat around my kitchen table with my 
small group of high school girls, I realized again how some things never 
change.

We all want to be wanted. Whether you're a girl wanting a date with the guy 
in math class or a woman hoping for an invitation to lunch with a friend, 
each one of us wants to be wanted. To know we matter. To be chosen.

Wanting to be wanted is a good thing. It doesn't mean we're incredibly 
needy. It means we're normal. In fact, God created us with this desire. Here 
are two reasons:

1) So we would want a relationship with Him.

God created us for the sake of love. He has so much love to share and He 
wants a relationship with us. He chose us; now we choose Him.

2) So we would want relationships with others.

God also created us with the desire to share our lives with others, for 
friendships and family too.

Things get tricky and difficult when we reverse the order of these desires, 
which we easily do.

Whether we want to be loved by a boyfriend, a friend or a husband, when we 
go looking to "the one" to meet our needs before we fall in love with The 
One, we can get ourselves in a world of trouble.

Today's key verse from Matthew confirms the importance of this order. In 
this passage, an expert in the law asked Jesus the most important 
commandment. Jesus answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart 
and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and 
greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as 
yourself'" (Matthew 22:37-39).

Jesus is clear on the order. The first command is to love the Lord with all 
our heart, soul and mind. Then we are to love others.

God didn't intend for people to fill our hearts with love. In fact, they 
couldn't even if they tried! We aren't equipped to do a job that big, as God 
never wants another to take His proper place.

When we love God with all we have first, our love expands, multiplies even, 
and we have more love to give to others. And that love is healthy because 
our hearts' needs are met by Him first.

However, when we reverse God's order and seek the love of others before God, 
our love source and its purity diminishes. Then love can become self-focused 
and unhealthy because our own God-designed needs aren't met.

God created a love gap in us only He can fill. When we try to love others 
out of our human love, we can run out of love. We begin looking to others 
instead of overflowing on others.

God's order is best. Get filled by Him first. Spill over to others after 
that.

Lord, it can be so much easier to look for love from those around me, those 
I can touch and see. Help me to keep love in order by first loving You with 
everything in me, and then allowing Your love to spill over on those around 
me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Evaluating Questions

1 Samuel 30:13

In the life of faith, neutrality is not an option. We are either ranked 
under the banner of the Lord Jesus, to serve and fight His battles, or we 
are slaves of the dark prince, Satan. "To whom do you belong?"

Reader, let me assist you in your response. Have you been "born again"? If 
you have, you belong to Christ; but without the new birth you cannot be His. 
In whom do you trust? For those who believe in Jesus are the sons of God. 
Whose work are you doing? You are sure to serve your master, for he whom you 
serve is thereby owned to be your lord. What company do you keep? If you 
belong to Jesus, you will keep company with those who wear the uniform of 
the cross. "Birds of a feather flock together." What
is your conversation? Is it heavenly or is it earthly? What have you learned 
from your Master? For servants learn a great deal from the masters to whom 
they are apprenticed. If you have served your time with Jesus, it will be 
said of you, as it was of Peter and John, "they recognized that they had 
been with Jesus."2

We press the question, "To whom do you belong?" Answer honestly before you 
fall asleep for the night. If you are not Christ's, you are in a hard 
service--run away from your cruel master! Enter into the service of the Lord 
of Love, and you will enjoy a life of blessedness.

If you are Christ's, let me advise you to do four things. You belong to 
Jesus--obey Him; let His word be your law; let His wish be your will. You 
belong to the Beloved; then love Him; let your heart embrace Him; let your 
whole soul be filled with Him. You belong to the Son of God; then trust him; 
rest on nothing or no one but on Him. You belong to the King of kings; then 
be decided for Him. Thus even without being marked with a sign everyone will 
know to whom you belong.

2 Acts 4:14

Family Bible reading plan
1 Job 41
2 Corinthians 11
Truth For Life
From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003.
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