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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 37 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 23 Apr 2014, 5:25 pm

The Brook Network
|
Mel Lawrenz

Knowing Him - An Easter Devotional

RESURRECTION DAY

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene 
went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus 
loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t 
know
where they have put him!”
(John 20:1-2)

How difficult was it for the one who is Lord of the universe–who had a hand 
in the creation itself, who is the very force of life that holds living 
things
together–to wake up from the sleep of death and set aside the burial cloths 
draping his body?

As was always the case, Jesus’ revelations of himself did not happen with 
television cameras focused, not even a respectable crowd gathered. An 
alarming
word from young Mary Magdalene about Jesus’ body being gone produced a panic 
and a foot race among two of Jesus’ beloved disciples, Peter and John. One
looked and merely saw the emptiness of the tomb, the other saw the 
connection between this moment and the mysterious words of Jesus–and he 
believed.

Now things were really complicated and the disciples just went home. But it 
was to a broken-hearted Mary who stayed at the tomb that Jesus revealed 
himself.
Mary was the first to behold something the world had never seen before–a 
resurrected, transformed life.

Resurrection day for Jesus was simply the first installment of a 
resurrection of masses of people when this era of the history of the 
universe draws to
a close. What God promises to those who belong to Jesus is not the loss of 
self into a nothingness-bliss, but the resurrection and re-making of 
everything
that is right and good in the world he has created. And until then, he 
invites us to begin living transformed lives, continually shaped and changed 
by
the hope of the redemption of all that God has made.

Ponder This: Where in your life do you need the resurrection power of Jesus 
at work today?

Christ Arose!
Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014

“He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was 
still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the 
hands
of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” – Luke 
24:6-7 NASB
Born on March 12, 1826, in Philadelphia, Robert Lowry pastored churches in 
Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey before becoming a teacher and then 
chancellor
at the University of Lewisburg. But he probably is best remembered as a 
musician and composer.
One day in 1862, he was sitting at his organ, with his brain working as a 
“sort of a spinning machine.” For, as he confessed, “there is music running 
through
it all the time.” He had been reading Luke’s account of the moment when the 
disciples discovered that Jesus wasn’t in the tomb. Suddenly, powerful 
images
formed in his mind, and he quickly wrote a hymn, “Christ Arose!” It has 
become a classic.
While most hymns have one mood and tone, Lowry’s Easter hymn had two 
contrasting parts. The first sounded dark, with a mood of gloom and 
uncertainty. He
described how Jesus lay “low in the grave” as He awaited “the coming day.” 
Although the tomb was sealed, this was in vain, for death could not “keep 
his
prey” as “He tore the bars away.”
In the triumphant chorus that followed each verse, Lowry declared, “Up from 
the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o’er His foes.” Jesus was not 
defeated
but “arose a Victor from the dark domain,” and He lives forever with His 
saints to reign.” He could only end by repeating the victorious refrain: “He 
arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!”
Today, ask God to give you a fresh revelation of the glory of the 
Resurrection and all that it means—for you, for your loved ones, and for the 
whole world.
Celebrate, for He is risen! He is risen, indeed!
Today's Inspiration Prayer

Father, thank You that Jesus rose from the dead! I know that He died in my 
place, so I can have newness of life! Help me to bring the Good News to 
others!
Hallelujah! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: Luke 24
Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List
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Post  Admin on Tue 22 Apr 2014, 3:33 pm

April 18, 2014

Overcome by Love
Sharon Glasgow

"I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than 
this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes."
2 Samuel 6:21b-22a
(NIV)

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something zip by me. What was that? A 
minute later, I saw it again. Someone was running up and down the side aisle 
of
the church.

Joyful voices filled the church that Easter Sunday morning as we sang, "What 
can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole
again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus,"*

Although I tried to focus on the words of the song, my thoughts were 
distracted by the runner. I looked inquisitively at the woman next to me, 
hoping for
an explanation.

She whispered an answer to my unspoken question: "He was a drug addict. A 
couple of months ago he surrendered his life to Christ and is now free from 
his
addiction. He's overcome by love for Jesus!"

About that time an elderly woman and man started to dance with him. They 
were his grandparents. For years, this couple had steadfastly prayed for 
their
grandson.

Watching this freed man and his joyful grandparents worshipping reminded me 
of King David returning to Jerusalem. David explodes with love for his Lord.
He couldn't contain his awe and gratitude for all God had done for him: 
winning a huge battle, restoring the ark of the Lord and appointing him 
king. Coming
down the road, everyone could see "King David leaping and dancing before the 
LORD"
(2 Samuel 6:16
NIV).

Stories of people being overcome by love for God are awesome. But there is 
one example of love that tops them all: the gift of the cross. I know
John 3:16
is a familiar verse to most of us and can be easy to skim. But let's read it 
again with the view of God's love for us.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever 
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (NIV)

The young man and his grandparents probably gave up some self-consciousness 
to display their love for the Lord through dance. In our key verse, we learn
that King David admitted he let go of pride to show his love through 
worship: "I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more 
undignified than
this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes"
(2 Samuel 6:21b-22a).
He sacrificed his dignity for the Lord.

And God the Father sacrificed a most precious gift, His Son, Jesus. And 
Jesus surrendered His very life for us!

Why? They were overcome by love.

As a mama of five daughters, I'm hit hard by the depth of God's love to 
offer His Son in our place. It seems impossible for me to even think about 
giving
up my children for the sake of someone else. Let alone sacrificing my own 
life!

Yet out of unfathomable love, God sent Jesus to death on a cross to pay our 
debt of sin. By this sacrifice, Jesus secured eternal life for those who 
surrender
their lives to Him. That truth makes my heart overcome by love!

When we're overcome by love for God, the way we show that will look 
different for everyone. For some, it's quietly praising the Lord in their 
hearts. For
others, it is worshipping at the top of their lungs or dancing in the 
aisles.

However you express your praise to God, take a moment to reflect on all the 
Lord has done in your life and give thanks for His overcoming love. You may
just find your toes tapping and your feet moving!

Lord, thank You for sacrificing everything for me, for sending Your only Son 
to die on a cross for my sins. Thank You for loving me and offering me 
eternal
life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Visit
Sharon Glasgow's blog


Pastor's Blog

Hugging Trees and Thanking God

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. (Genesis 
1:31)

Do you remember when you first discovered that the world, the earth is a 
beautiful place? Perhaps you were on a family vacation and you were gripped 
by
exploding autumn colors in the Great Smoky Mountains. Or you hiked with your 
parents to a waterfall and for the first time were overwhelmed as the mist
enfolded you and the water thundered down. When was it that you discovered 
the beauty of creation? Staring at Orion galloping across the evening sky or
peering through the telescope to see the craters of the moon?

Early in college I took an interest in ecology and the environment and found 
myself accused of being a tree-hugger. Well I must confess I am. I love 
trees.
Many mornings you might see me walking around this campus admiring the 
stately live oaks, redbuds, and Japanese Maples that mark our church 
grounds. With
great affection I remember the first tree I fell in love with when I was a 
boy. It was a giant sycamore that to this day still looms over a creek 
through
the pasture bottoms where the dairy cows graze before the afternoon milking. 
When we were small children my daddy and grandparents would take us to that
spot to play in the sand alongside that sycamore whose roots reached beneath 
the creek itself and the massive limbs shaded us from the scorching summer
sun.

This time of year trees around us are shaking off winter’s sleep and opening 
up delicate new leaves for the year. I have a maple tree in our front yard
given to me as a seedling six or so years ago by Jack Thompson, a church 
member who loved beauty through nature and architecture. He died four years 
ago
about this time of year but his gift to me lives on. It is growing a fine 
canopy of leaves and the limbs may be sturdy enough to hold a bird house 
this
year. Jack gave me the gift of a tree whose shade he would not live to see.

I wonder what gifts I am leaving behind that will give shade to the weary 
and inspiration to the seeker? Will it be words spoken or written? Will it 
be
laughter or integrity or a hopeful attitude? What gifts will live on when I 
am gone? Surely, hopefully, prayerfully it will be something more than just
“stuff.” What about you?

Gifts that live on are part of the larger narrative of Easter. Easter is not 
simply a celebration of a particular Sunday once a year. Liturgists remind
us that Easter is a season that carries us into the year. Even now God is 
offering new life to all who are willing to receive it. There are more gifts
to behold and accept and so life can begin anew today, right now. And not 
only are there gifts of grace that are waiting for you, you too have the 
chance
to bless, to care, to love, and to show mercy. These are the gifts that 
truly live on when we are no more on this earth.

The silence of Holy Saturday is broken by the Alleluia of the One who makes 
all things new. May this be for you a promise realized.

Shaded by peace,
Greg

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

Keeping it Clean
Rev. Daniel McNerney

There are few things more beautiful than a clean conscience. If our 
conscience is burdened with guilt, regret, or remorse, there is no place to 
run or
hide. No amount of worldly pleasure, success or happiness can assuage a 
burdened conscience. But, if our conscience is clear, we experience a 
freedom and
joy of living that is indescribable. And, for this reason, Christ was 
willing to be crucified - to set us free from the weight of guilt in our 
lives. Good
Friday is good indeed if we are willing to embrace all that God has provided 
for us in Jesus. Otherwise, Good Friday is just another day.

No one values freedom more than God. He is all about freedom. He wants every 
single person in his creation to be free. But, there is only one path to 
true
freedom, and that is for us to participate through faith in the death and 
resurrection of his son. Before we burst into the beauty of spring and 
summer
this week, and make plans to enjoy being outdoors again, can we take a 
moment during this Easter weekend to examine our own consciences? Are there 
things
that are still weighing us down, causing us to move slowly through the day, 
sometimes with heavy hearts? God would love to relieve us of those burdens
if we would only receive the gifts he has provided for us.

Keeping our consciences clean is a daily task. The only issue is whether we 
will take the time to attend to these kinds of matters, or whether we will
continue to race through the day in pursuit of seemingly more important 
affairs. What daily or weekly practice do you have of confessing your sins, 
or
forgiving someone who has sinned against you? Or, do you think confession is 
an ancient practice that has nothing to do with the modern world today? 
Confession
does not necessarily need to be performed in front of a priest, minister or 
counselor; on the contrary; all we need to do is simply shut the door, close
our eyes and confess our sins directly to God through Christ. Doing it on a 
regular basis is what increasingly sets us free and gives us a hope and 
peace
beyond description. For these reasons, the Apostle Paul wrote the following 
words to his disciple, Timothy; "Timothy, my son, here are my instructions
for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they 
help you fight well in the Lord's battles. Cling to your faith in Christ, 
and
keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their 
consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked." (1Timothy 
1:18-19)

Forgiveness is the key to life. It is a free gift, which we can neither 
manufacture, buy, nor sell on our own. We can only receive it through faith. 
We
must be forgiven. Forgiving ourselves is not possible. When we are forgiven 
by our Creator, our souls sing a new song of joy.

In recent months, I have been told the spiritual climate in Egypt has 
changed significantly. For the first time ever in all of Egyptian history, 
some Muslims
who now follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior have been preaching 
openly in the streets about their newfound liberty. From the 7th century 
until
the 21st century, this was a practice absolutely forbidden and punishable as 
a grave crime under Egyptian law. But the Egyptian law has changed recently,
and people are now miraculously free to express themselves publicly in these 
regards. I have heard there is one former Muslim terrorist in Cairo who is
now preaching the Good News of Christ on street corners, attracting 
increasingly larger crowds. They say he has a following of 300 to 500 people 
who seek
his counsel on a regular basis. He preaches about forgiveness - that Christ 
has forgiven him for all his past transgressions -in the same spirit Moses,
David and the Apostle Paul were forgiven for their past, highly publicized 
sins. These kinds of new realities are history in the making beyond our 
wildest
imagination for the Arab world! The Gospel is not waning in the Middle East; 
it is waxing!

It seems that almost every week, we read in newspapers about a new 
phenomenal statement coming from Pope Francis. Last month, he said that 
people who have
experienced the pain of divorce should be accompanied, not condemned by the 
Church or Christian friends. He said, "When love fails, because many times
it fails, we have to feel the pain of the failure; and we must accompany 
those people who have had this failure in their love. Walk with them, and 
help
them heal." The last thing we need to do with someone who has been divorced 
is heap shame and judgment on top of the pain that is already there from the
loss of the marriage.

It is the Easter story that reminds us there is new life beyond our 
shortcomings and failures, provided we confess our sins, and follow the 
resurrected
Jesus as our Lord. Over half of marriages today end in divorce. Francis says 
the Church should be a place of healing, not pain; that it should be a 
"field
hospital after battle." In summary, he said, "The thing the Church needs 
most today is to heal wounds, to warm the hearts of the faithful."

Forgiveness is a gift. It was made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus dying 
on the cross for the sake of our sins. God did not need to go to such great
lengths to provide for humanity; but that is how much he loves us, and wants 
to throw his arms around us in his healing embrace. He atoned for our 
estrangement
from Him, and our daily transgressions from his will for our lives. What can 
possibly be more valuable in this life than being freed from the errors and
burdens of our past? Easter is a gift waiting to be opened by those who 
choose to receive it. Listen to these words Christ spoke after his 
resurrection
to the Apostle John, "Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my 
voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together 
as
friends." (Revelation 3:20-21).

Good Friday would be a good day to deal with a burdened conscience - a good 
day to wipe it clean. He has risen. He has risen indeed! Praise be to God 
for
the freedom he brings. Lots of love from my family to yours during this 
special time of year.
Admin
Admin
Admin

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Post  Admin on Sun 20 Apr 2014, 4:17 pm

Blood on His Hands

Hebrews 10:19–39

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Take Away
list of 3 items
• Take a few minutes to read Leviticus 16. Why do you think God required 
such elaborate ritual and detail for the sacrifice of atonement?
• According to Old Testament law, Israel needed to offer sacrifices to 
become right before God. In the New Testament Jesus becomes the final 
sacrifice
for all. Why did God require a sacrifice at all?
• How does the thought that the Father “gave [Jesus] up for us all” (
Romans 8:32)
make you feel about God? Why? What effect does this have on your life?
list end
New Men's Devotional Bible
Today's reading is from the New Men's Devotional Bible
Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

Finished!
By Skip Heitzig

A man came to evangelist Alexander Wooten and asked, using the biblical 
phrase, "What must I do to be saved?" Wooten said, "It's too late." The man 
was shocked. "It's too late? You mean I can't do anything?" Wooten said, 
"It's too late. It's already been done for you. The only thing left for you 
to do is to believe that it's done."

On the cross Jesus said, "It is finished" (John 19:30). Those three words in 
English are the translation of a single word in Greek, tetelestai, which 
means to complete, to bring to an end, to accomplish, or to perfect. To get 
the depth of the meaning, and how fitting it was for Jesus to say it, 
consider four different groups that used it.

It was a term used by servants. In ancient times, when a servant 
accomplished a task assigned by his master, he would announce, "Tetelestai." 
In other words, "Master, I've done the job you gave me to do." Jesus said, 
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to 
give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

It was a term used by priests. When a lamb was brought for sacrifice at the 
temple, the priest would examine it. If he found no flaws, he would say the 
Aramaic or Hebrew equivalent of the Greek "tetelestai," meaning, “It's 
perfect; it’s suitable for sacrifice.” Peter said we are redeemed “with the 
precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 
Peter 1:19).

It was a term used by artists. When an artist completed a painting or 
sculpture, he would step back and say, "Tetelestai," meaning, “The picture 
is complete.” In the Old Testament we find lots of details, prophecies, 
ceremonies, etc., but something's missing; the picture is not complete. 
Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I 
did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). He completed the 
picture.

It was a term used by merchants and bankers. Once you paid off a bill or 
debt, the banker or merchant would give you a document that read tetelestai, 
meaning, “Paid in full.” We are all debtors; we have sinned, and the wages 
of sin is death (Romans 6:23). But that insurmountable debt was paid in full 
when Jesus announced from the cross, "It is finished."

So as the Servant, He fulfilled the wishes of His Master. As the Priest, He 
offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice. As the Artist, He completed the 
picture. And He paid off our debt in full.

Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2), said, 
"It is finished." Our redemption, our salvation is done. It's a finished 
work. You can't add to it. You can't improve upon it. And it's not a joint 
effort; it's not like, "Well God, you do your part and I'll do my part."

But, although it's a finished work, you may have unfinished business with 
God. He offers you the gift of forgiveness, of eternal life. The only thing 
missing is you haven't received it. So finish the business. Come to God by 
faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, who finished the work of salvation for you!

Copyright © 2014 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

PRACTICAL LOVE

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in 
truth.
1 John 3:18

In his book, The Upside Down Church, Pastor Greg Laurie says, “The first 
Christians didn’t out-argue pagans—they outlived them…Christianity made no 
attempts
to conquer paganism and dead Judaism by reacting blow by blow. Instead, the 
Christians of the first century outthought, outprayed and outlived the 
unbelievers.

“Their weapons were positive not negative. As far as we know, they did not 
hold protests or conduct boycotts. They did not put on campaigns to try to 
unseat
the emperor. Instead, they prayed and preached and proclaimed the message of 
Christ, put to death on the cross, risen from the dead, and ready to change
lives. And they backed up their message with actions: giving, loving.”[1]

A co-worker shares a significant event he witnessed among Christian children 
in Egypt:

A crowd of smiling faces awaited us as we entered the small stuffy room. The 
ages of the children ranged from eight to eleven years and they were 
seemingly
oblivious and unaware of the circumstances surrounding their 
village—poverty, problems and persecution. To be a Christian, let alone a 
Christian child,
was not an easy life.

It was Saturday evening and the excitement that filled the air overwhelmed 
any feeling of self-pity and despair that might have existed. Between thirty
and forty young boys, each equipped with a large maize bag, excitedly 
awaited orders.

As we entered the room the youth leader saw the frowns on our faces and 
answered our questions even before we could ask. “Yes, it’s Saturday 
evening,”
he started explaining, “and tonight the children will once again ‘invade’ 
our little village. They will go to every house in every street. They will 
ask
the inhabitants whether they have enough bread to eat or not. If there is 
more than enough bread in the house they will ask the families to place any 
extra
bread in the bag for those who do not have enough bread.

“The children will continue until all the bags are filled to the top. Then 
the fun part of the evening starts. They will then go back to all the homes
where there was not enough bread to eat and distribute so that every family 
in our village will have enough bread to eat for the next week.

“They do not have the means to provide it themselves, but regardless of 
their own needs, they have become instruments of love to eradicate all 
hunger in
our village.”

RESPONSE: I will live this day showing love to those in need in the most 
practical ways.

PRAYER: Lord, bless those Egyptian Christian children who love others and 
demonstrate it in a practical way.

1. Greg Laurie, The Upside Down Church (Wheaton: Tyndale Publishers, 1999), 
p. 46.

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

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

The Brook Network
Mel Lawrenz
Knowing Him - An Easter Devotional

WAITING FOR GOD

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph 
was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With 
Pilate’s
permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, 
the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture
of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two 
of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in 
accordance
with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there 
was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been 
laid.
Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, 
they laid Jesus there.
(John 19:38-42)

A small act of mercy on the part of Joseph of Arimathea meant that Jesus’ 
limp and lifeless body would not be thrown into a pit of a grave, but laid 
carefully
in a rock-hewn garden tomb. Joseph was probably a man with significant 
conflicts. Wealthy, a prominent member of the Jewish council, he represented 
the
very establishment that was committed to Jesus’ demise. Yet he believed in 
Jesus, secretly. To believe in Jesus does put one on the spot. Being a 
committed
disciple of Jesus always upsets the status quo.

Nicodemus, also fearful but compelled, came to the tomb too. So there two 
men, both of whose associations put them at odds with Jesus, both of whom 
really
wanted to believe, are the ones who respectfully wrap the body of Jesus in 
cloths and seventy-five pounds of spices. Yet the only thing that can really
take away the stench of death and its empty stare is resurrection.

These and the other disciples were still stuck in that no-man’s-land between 
life and death. All that Jesus’ followers had to hold onto were Jesus’ vague
words about rising from death. Could such words be taken seriously at all? 
What would they do in these days? Would they be arrested next? And so they 
waited
behind locked doors because there was nothing else to do.

Ponder This: Is there some way in which you are waiting to see what will 
happen next? How will you find faith in the waiting place?
The Brook Network,
sponsored by
Elmbrook Church,
is an exchange of ideas and growing set of relationships.

Blood on His Hands

Hebrews 10:19–39

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Take Away
list of 3 items
• Take a few minutes to read Leviticus 16. Why do you think God required 
such elaborate ritual and detail for the sacrifice of atonement?
• According to Old Testament law, Israel needed to offer sacrifices to 
become right before God. In the New Testament Jesus becomes the final 
sacrifice
for all. Why did God require a sacrifice at all?
• How does the thought that the Father “gave [Jesus] up for us all” (
Romans 8:32)
make you feel about God? Why? What effect does this have on your life?
New Men's Devotional Bible
Today's reading is from the
New Men's Devotional Bible,
which contains a year’s worth of relevant, engaging devotions

Persecuted because of the Cross
- remembering the persecuted over Easter
By Elizabeth Kendal
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) 256
Special to ASSIST News Service

AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- To those who believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a mere 
man, the Cross is a symbol of Christian foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18). 
'Jesus
was executed,' they scoff, 'and it is ridiculous to suggest that a dead man 
would rise.'

To Muslims, who believe that Jesus was a mere prophet of Allah, the Cross is 
a symbol of Christian blasphemy. 'Jesus was never crucified,' they object,
'and it is blasphemous to suggest that Allah would permit such a thing.' (
Qur'an, Sura 4:157-159)

To Satan, who knows exactly who Christ is, the Cross is a symbol of his 
defeat. 'It must not be seen,' he demands, 'and it must not be heard, lest 
people
come to understand what it means.'

To Christians, who believe that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah), the Cross 
is a symbol of everything we believe about sin, judgment, justice, 
redemption,
salvation, hope . . . and most of all, love. 'It is in the Cross that God 
shows his love for us,' we say, 'because while we were still sinners, Christ
died for us.' (Romans 5:8)

On 4 November 2013, as part of Australia's 'Festival of Dangerous Ideas', an 
episode of the ABC program 'Q&A' was broadcast from the Sydney Opera House.
[
Video and transcript]
Peter Hitchens, the lone conservative and Christian amongst a panel and 
audience of 'progressives', was laughed at, mocked and pilloried for an 
hour. Finally
the panellists were asked: 'Which so-called dangerous idea do you each think 
would have the greatest potential to change the world for the better if it
were implemented?'

Peter Hitchens responded, 'The most dangerous idea in human history and 
philosophy remains the belief that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and rose 
from
the dead and that is the most dangerous idea you will ever encounter.'

The panel and audience laughed and cheered until they realised that 
something must be wrong if they were agreeing with Peter Hitchens! At that 
point, confusion
took over and Peter was asked to explain. 'Because,' he said, 'it alters the 
whole of human behaviour and all our responsibilities. It turns the universe
from a meaningl ess chaos into a designed place in which there is justice 
and there is hope and, therefore, we all have a duty to discover the nature 
of
that justice and work towards that hope. It alters us all. If we reject it, 
it alters us all as well. It is incredibly dangerous. It's why so many 
people
turn against it.'

To fallen humanity, the Cross represents a truly dangerous idea, a dangerous 
choice. For some the Cross represents a threat to their personal 
sovereignty,
sexual freedom and status in the world. For those in hostile environments 
the Cross represents a threat to their family, liberty and even life. Across
the world, including Kosovo, Egypt, Raqqa (Syria) and Zhejiang (China), 
crosses have been pulled down and smashed, sending a loud message to the 
Church
and the local population that 'Christianity is not welcome here'.

The Cross will always be a symbol of persecution at the hands of a hostile 
world that wants to be rid of Christ. But for those who understand and 
believe,
the Cross will always be wondrous, a s ymbol of divine love, hope and life 
in all its fullness.
WE THANK YOU LORD
for your amazing love, which led you to the Cross for us.

WE PRAISE YOU LORD
for your perfection, which meant death could not hold you and now cannot 
hold any who are 'in Christ'.

MAY WE never be ashamed of the Cross of Christ our Saviour.

MAY WE never be ashamed of those who are persecuted because of the Cross of 
Christ.

LORD GIVE US boldness and faith to exalt your Cross at all times
so that peoples and nations might see, hear, understand and believe.

AMEN
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
----------------------------------------------------------
The Cross of Christ is the most obvious and enduring of all Christian 
symbols. Satan cannot abide the Cross for it symbolises his defeat. Fallen 
humanity
hates the Cross because it threatens personal autonomy, sexual freedom, 
power and all that fallen humanity holds dear. In many pa rts of the world 
today
the Cross is under attack and Christians are suffering persecution because 
of the Cross of Christ. In Kosovo, Egypt, Raqqa (Syria), Wenzhou (China) and
beyond, crosses have been pulled down and smashed to send a loud message to 
the Church and the local population that 'Christianity is not welcome here'.
But for Christians, the Cross will remain a symbol of all we believe and 
hold dear. The spiritual battle continues -- please pray for the persecuted 
Church
this Easter.

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

To view this RLPB with all hyperlinks or to access RLPB and RLM archives, 
visit the
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin blog.

Elizabeth Kendal is an independent international religious liberty analyst 
and advocate. She is an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study
of Islam and Other Faiths at the Melbourne School of Theology, and Director 
of Advocacy for Canberra-based, Christian Faith & Freedom.

Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah speaks to Christians today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012) which applies a Biblical response to suffering and 
persecution to today's realities.
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Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come forth 
as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to His way 
without
turning aside." ( Job 23:10-11)
Lost
Fog! Thick, swirling, engulfing fog! And I was hopelessly lost. I had 
decided to take a shortcut home to save time, but now I had absolutely no 
idea where
I was. My GPS was in a drawer somewhere in my house, and I no longer carried 
maps because I had a GPS. How ironic!

I crawled along slowly, for fear of running off the road or meeting another 
car in the middle of the road. As I squinted through the ghostly tendrils 
curling
across my window, I noticed a cross-road ahead, but I couldn't make out any 
signs. Feeling a sense of panic beginning to build up, I decided to pull off
onto the shoulder, and putting on my flashers, I did the only thing I could 
under the circumstances: I began to pray.

Suddenly, a verse from the Bible popped into my mind:

Isaiah 30:21 "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will 
hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (NIV)

For a moment, I was stunned. Was that God telling me that I should follow 
this side road? Which way? Now I was really confused and more than a little 
scared.

Suddenly, out of the fog, a whirling red light appeared behind me, its rays 
wavering through my back window, and I heard a muffled voice on a loud 
hailer:
"You there, in the car. Are you all right?"

The next thing I knew, there was a person standing beside my window, shining 
a light on his police badge. I let out a relieved sigh of gratitude. It was
probably the only time in my life when I would be so happy to see a flashing 
red light shining through my back window!

As I began rapidly pouring out my predicament, the officer kept patiently 
nodding his head. I didn't realize how uptight I had been, and I could feel 
the
tears of relief threatening to spill out. The officer evidently saw my 
reaction, and he quietly asked me where I was headed.

When I told him where I lived, he said that he would drive ahead of me, and 
when he honked his horn, I was to turn left at the traffic lights. Then I 
would
be on familiar ground and soon be home. It happened exactly as he had 
promised, and as I pulled into my driveway, I quietly bowed my head in a 
prayer of
thanksgiving to the One who had promised so often to direct our paths.

Sometimes, when we are faced with difficult situations, we may feel that our 
minds are in a kind of thick fog, a state of utter confusion, possibly even
to the point of panic. We know that we must make some important decisions 
that will affect our lives, but how do we begin? It is then that we need to 
stop
and "pull off the road", as it were, and be still in God's presence, in 
order to calm down and hear His voice. We must turn the entire matter over 
to the
One who has promised to guide us in the way we should go, because He knows 
the way.

When we follow His leading, it won't be long until we can see clearly what 
we are to do, and we can move confidently in the right direction towards the
goal.

Prayer: Lord, help us to rely on You every day to guide us in the way that 
You have planned for us. Teach us not to lean on our own understanding, but
in all our ways to acknowledge You, knowing that You will direct our paths. 
Amen

Sharon Greer
Sandycove Acres, Innisfil, Ontario, Canada

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

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

Observing the Annual 'Pick Your Own Savior' Week

By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

SWARTZ CREEK, MI (ANS) -- Can we remember from our Sunday School lessons -- 
Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey, the crowds of common people going wild,
welcoming him with shouts of praise, laying down their garments and palms 
spread before him on the dusty road. The images are strong; we took away 
mementoes
of the cut palms we often kept for a year. The facts of the story were clear 
enough.

Jesus entered Jerusalem, having recently performed mighty miracles of 
healing and even raising Lazarus from the dead. The population marveled at 
His wisdom
and power; His preaching and moral challenges; His feeding of peoples' empty 
stomachs and empty souls.

By all accounts (even of skeptics of the day, and secular historians) Jesus 
was making a triumphal entry, as, today, a rock star or political favorite
would do.

We even remember the anomalies: Why get in the face of the Jewish temple 
leaders who were poised to take Him down; why challenge the Roman 
authorities
who tolerated everything except revolution among the Jewish masses? Or, why 
not walk boldly, why not enter on a charging horse, why not organize the 
adoring
public?

We understood in Sunday School. Numerous prophecies were being fulfilled, 
down to the donkey and how it would be obtained by the disciples. We 
understood
the meaning and significance of it all. But the multitudes that week in 
Jerusalem did not understand everything. Even the disciples themselves 
understood
little.

We can recall those stories, and cherish those images, in the same way many 
of us tucked the palms behind pictures on the wall, or atop the bookcase 
with
our Bibles. But have we forgotten the points of significance about Palm 
Sunday, the same way the people around Jesus never really understood 
everything?

They called out "Hosanna" and "Son of David" and shouted "Blessed is He who 
comes in the name of the Lord!" but we know that the general enthusiasm of
the crowd was for one they hoped would be a political savior. They craned 
their necks to see the one who performed all those miracles. but perhaps as 
curiosity
to see a magician or celebrity. There probably were more shouts of "prophet" 
than "Savior," but in either event the Chief Priests felt threatened.

In other words, many of those people hailed Jesus as the hope of quick 
fixes; momentary comfort; or as an emergency manager.

How about today? Jesus, after all, without much imagining on our part, is 
riding down that dusty road still, coming towards us. Do WE know who He is? 
Before
you say "Of course," remember that his disciples, who lived and traveled and 
ate and slept with Him for three and a half years -- who saw miracles, had
their lives touched, heard divine wisdom -- even they did not understand 
everything about Him.

To many in the Jerusalem crowd, this Jesus was many things, but not always 
the Son of God, their Savior. With their passions and grievances, many of 
those
people knew what they wanted, but they did not know what they needed. And 
day by day, the following week, the cheering people fell away. Remember, "He
came unto his own, and His own received him not."

I call Palm Sunday the national "Pick Your Own Savior" day, because this 
understanding, or lack of understanding, infects our lives no less. We, too, 
might
speak words like "Lord" and "Master." But how many people mostly regard 
Jesus as a crutch during crises? As a good-luck charm instead of the One who 
died
for our sins? To how many of us is He a stranger... until we need Him?

Are we, too, like the rabble i n Jerusalem? Oftentimes, we too know what we 
want from God, but we don't seek what we truly need from Him. We lay down 
palm
leaves according to our momentary agendas... for the health-crisis Jesus... 
or the financial-problems Jesus. But He is Lord of ALL: that is why He rode
straight into Jerusalem.

Do we really think God's plan is for us to pick our own Savior?

+ + +

The Jews of Jerusalem shouted "Hosanna!" based on the Hebrew word in Psalm 
118:25 - "Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now
prosperity!" It has come to us a pure shout of praise, but had a subtext for 
those who laid palms.

Click: https://www.youtube.com/embed/pMKNbLd0dfg
Hosanna!
https://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=pMKNbLd0dfg&feature=related
Share
See all ASSIST News articles at
www.assistnews.net

I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, 
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are 
no
sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the 
LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3: 17-18

Cuba is an island full of color, warmth and smells, yet it is also run down 
and dilapidated. This island seems to be open, but it is subject to many 
restrictions.
Almost all Cubans experience shortages of literally everything.

Christians can be found throughout Cuba, and shortages are extreme for them. 
There is a chronic shortage of Bibles and Christian literature. “Every 
month,
we have baptism services and we often have tens and sometimes dozens of new 
Christians being baptized,” reported a female pastor. “Due to the shortage
of Bibles, we do not give people a Bible when they convert. They first have 
the possibility to enter a ‘Christianity course’ before being baptized. Once
people have finished the course and have been baptized, they receive a 
Bible. This way we have more certainty that the Bible will really be used.”

Christian leadership is lacking in Cuba. “There is a shortage of good, solid 
Christian leadership in the churches. We don’t have the knowledge and could
really use good study material on biblical leadership,” stated a Cuban 
pastor.

Christians lack places to worship together. One pastor in Cuba said, “We don’t 
have our own building and our houses are too small to meet in. Every Sunday
we use all the means of transport that we can find to go out into the 
countryside. There we're less conspicuous and we can hold an open-air 
service. But
if it’s raining or too windy, it has to be called off. That’s a pity, 
because we like meeting together so much.”

Another pastor said, “We don’t get permission to build new churches or 
church buildings. Only the church buildings that have been here before 1959 
are
officially registered as church buildings. Since then, it has not been 
possible to obtain permits for new church buildings.”

When a pastor was asked what his greatest wish is, he replied, “To conquer 
the city for Jesus Christ!” This is the dream of many Cuban Christians, who
show their resiliency in the midst of restrictions. Are there too few 
Bibles? Then they simply share Bibles with each other and copy out Bible 
texts. Is
it prohibited to proclaim God’s Word outside your church building? Then they 
make sure that the music and the words of the psalms and hymns are heard 
through
the open windows of the building. When the police drive them away while 
evangelizing on the street, then they carry on somewhere else tomorrow. The 
scripture
above is sung as a favorite hymn.

Cuban Christians see the restrictions as a challenge. They have the courage 
to dream. They stand up for their faith. In this way, the Word is heard and
the Church in Cuba is growing.

RESPONSE: Today I will follow the example of Cuban Christians and rejoice in 
Jesus and serve Him faithfully even when the necessities and comforts of 
life
are absent.

PRAYER: Lord, I want to be so dependent on You that I can sing the closing 
song of Habakkuk too.

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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Knowing Him - An Easter Devotional

FOOT WASHING

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for 
him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were
in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. The evening 
meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, 
son
of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things 
under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so 
he
got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel 
around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash 
his
disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
(John 13:1-5)

The final drama was drawing near. The disciples went to the upper room where 
they would have the Passover meal and Jesus would teach them about things
to come. Jesus “knew that the time had come.” He knew that “the Father had 
put all things under his power” and that he was returning to God. Satan had
already entered the heart of the betrayer, Judas Iscariot. With the stage 
thus set, Jesus chose to do a most peculiar thing. He removed his outer 
garment,
wrapped a towel around his waist, poured water in a basin, and began to wash 
his disciples’ feet.

Foot washing was not unusual in that world of dusty paths and dry air. What 
was unusual was for the master to do this for all his followers at this 
moment
when everything held in the balance.

“Do you understand what I have done for you?” Jesus asked. I am Lord. I am 
Master. Yet if I serve you in this way, surely you can serve each other. And
if you do, you will be blessed.

Love each other. Care for each other. Serve each other. Do the dirty work 
for each other. Humble yourself before each other. Expend yourself for each 
other.

One more time Jesus showed the disciples what it means to be a disciple. And 
he also knew that only on the other side of the cross, when they would see
just how far Jesus’ service would go, would they understand it all.

Ponder This: What would your reaction have been if Jesus approached you in 
order to wash your feet?

The Brook Network
About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook 
Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for 
thirty
years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help 
Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, 
the
most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to 
Engagement.

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep 
on doing." Romans 7:19

By Answers2Prayer
Stones in the Shoe

It wasn't so long ago the evening news told the story of a man who had 
hitchhiked from coast to coast.

Understandably, when rides were scarce, he ended up walking. In the 
interview the man was asked what was the most difficult thing he had to 
endure. His
reply surprised the interviewer (and me). I thought he would say his 
greatest problem was dealing with the steep mountains or the hot sun. Not at 
all.
Nor was it the heat of the desert or torrential rains.

What was it that bothered him most? What was the biggest difficulty he had 
to endure?

The man said, "It was the very small stones in my shoe."

He was right. Small things can make life bitter.

Ask any Sunday school child, "What did Jesus do for you?"

That child will almost always reply, "Jesus died on the cross to take away 
my sins." It is a perfectly right and proper answer. Jesus lived His life 
perfectly,
so He could be the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Still, if we could go to Jesus and ask, "What was the hardest part about 
Your suffering?" I wonder what He might reply. Would He talk about the nails 
that
pierced hands and feet or the whip that ripped His back? That would make 
sense, but I wouldn't be shocked if Jesus said the nails hurt, but that was 
a
pain that was short and quickly over.

Do you think it would be possible Jesus might say His greater suffering was 
"the small stones in His sandals"? Possibly Jesus would say His greatest 
burden
was the fact throughout His life He was despised and rejected by the people 
who should have recognized Him, that He was railroaded to the cross by the
people He had come to save.

What would Jesus say if we asked Him about His greatest disappointment 
today?

If He were to speak about His greatest frustration, do you think He would 
talk about the quickly passing persecutions of His people by non-Christian 
leaders,
who are here today and gone tomorrow?

Or do you think He would talk about His people who, week after week and 
month after month, forget to give thanks for all the things He has done on 
their
behalf?

Would He talk about the people who forget all His blessings and complain as 
if the meal of their lives was composed only of bitter herbs?

I wonder what Jesus would say.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, with the Spirit's help I believe I can identify and 
put up a fair fight against the big problems of life. It's the small ones 
that
often defeat me. Today I pray You will keep me faithful in things both big 
and small. In Your Name. Amen.

Pastor Ken Klaus

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

Announcement:

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The Sermon Illustrator as your source.

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

The Way of the Cross
Tuesday, April 15, 2014

“When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in from 
the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus. And 
following
Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were mourning and 
lamenting Him.”
– Luke 23:26-27 NASB
On a recent weekend, a Colorado man decided to do something radical: spend 
the day at a retreat center near the Rocky Mountains. His goal? To 
experience
for himself the “stations of the Cross” that were laid out there. This 
proved to be a moving, even life-changing, venture.
Over the centuries, many Christians have taken similar pilgrimages in 
various locations. Also known as the “Way of the Cross” or Via Dolorosa, 
these stations
take pilgrims through the steps Jesus took on the way to the Cross. Some 
journeys have twelve steps—some more, some less. Some use paintings or 
separate
rooms, where people can stop and pray. But the objective is the same.
Of course, for some this is just an empty ritual. But for many this is an 
opportunity to think reflectively about what Jesus did for us and visualize 
His
experience. This is not fiction. He really suffered and died.
In our culture, it’s easy to take Jesus’ death for granted and approach this 
as just a story. But we need to pause and think about what He went through
as He faced Pilate and Herod, as He was beaten and bruised, as He carried 
and was nailed to the Cross, and as He suffered His agonizing death.
Today, you may not be able to physically go through the “stations of the 
Cross,” but during this Holy Week, spend time reading the Biblical accounts. 
Think
about what Jesus did that day. Ponder what His death means for you.

Because of Jesus, you can be forgiven of your sins and receive eternal life. 
Don’t take this for granted. Thank Him. Worship Him. Live for Him!

Today's Inspiration Prayer
Lord Jesus, thank You for dying for me on the Cross. I dedicate my life to 
serving You. I worship and praise You! Help me to share the Good News with 
others.
In Your name. Amen.

Further Reading: Luke 23

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Easter: Celebrating the Extravagance of God’s Love

Sandy Coughlin

Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of
love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but
extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us, but to give
everything of Himself to us. Love like that. (
Ephesians 5,
The Message)

I'm thankful for this extravagant love. It's because of Easter and the
resurrection of Christ that I have been able to experience true, extravagant
love.

And through this love, I can reach out and give of myself to others. I can
take this divine love and let all expectations die. In order to give, I
don't have to always look for something in return.

This means when I am planning to have guests in my home, like this Easter, I
need to let ideas like, "They haven't had us over," or, "It's their turn,"
go. I'm supposed to love extravagantly. Not just on Easter, but every day.

As we race toward the finish line, trying to prepare for our Easter plans,
how can we make sure we don't confuse extravagant love with the trappings
that come with an extravagant budget? How can we welcome others into our
homes in a way that truly conveys the message of Easter? Our family has
learned to plan ahead while also letting go of perfectionism. Here's what we
came up with.

I will set the table for ten guests... and use "paper" napkins!

I'll be serving a tasty appetizer on these plates.

I'll be pulling out my standard white dishes for the main course.

I'll serve drinks in these Dollar Store goblets.

And we'll enjoy the adornments of these front yard beauties.

I'll be cooking either a ham or baked salmon served in tarragon, wine, and
fresh lemon, whipped sweet potatoes, brown sugar-coated asparagus, and fresh
strawberry spinach salad. Along with my menu, we'll enjoy delicious dishes
provided by my guests like homemade rolls, fruit salad, a peach cobbler and
Easter cake.

Yes, planning ahead is what really helps the reluctant entertainer feel
better about entertaining.

I've learned to think ahead and to have a goal. It takes discipline and an
obtainable vision to have guests into my home. Delegation, paper napkins,
inviting people in - things don't have to be picture perfect in order to
enjoy a day of Easter celebration!

Regarding her get-together just a week ago, my friend
Meredith
noted that her guests brought a lovelier assortment of food than she could
have baked herself. "Here's to letting go of perfection! I love it when
embracing 'good enough' leads to something even better!"

May you and your family experience extravagant love instead of perfectionism
this Easter season!

March 20, 2010
Sandy Coughlin is a mom to 3 teens, wife to one awesome man, and author of
the popular
Reluctant Entertainer
blog. She loves to cook and entertain in her home, and look for creative
ways to give to those around her. Her book,
The Reluctant Entertainer, released in the summer of 2010.
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O Sacred Head
Saturday, April 12, 2014

“After twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a 
reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, 
saying,
‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to 
beat Him on the head.”
– Matthew 27:29-30 NASB
The man we know as Bernard of Clairvaux is thought to have been born in 1091 
in his father’s castle near Dijon, Burgundy, France. A well-educated man,
he developed a passion for poetry and literature, inspired by his love for 
the Bible. He lived in a difficult, complex time during which the church was
filled with divisions and disputes. Yet Bernard gained respect as a man of 
integrity and piety. Writing in the 16th century, Martin Luther called him 
“the
best monk who ever lived.”
It’s said that around 1153, Bernard wrote a hymn about the death of Jesus. 
We know this hymn largely because of the German language translation of Paul
Gerhardt. The version commonly sung in English (“O Sacred Head Now Wounded”) 
was translated by James Alexander in 1830.
This hymn focuses on Jesus as He suffered and died for our sins. We witness 
His “sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down.” Adorned
only with a crown of thorns, we see Him, “pale with anguish, with sore abuse 
and scorn!” He was sinless, yet went through “deadly pain” and died in our
place, for we were the ones who committed transgressions.
If we think about Jesus’ sacrifice, words can’t express all that we owe to 
Him. Bernard wrote: “What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest 
Friend?”
In gratitude, we need to be “His forever.” Our prayer must be that we 
“never, never outlive” our love for Him.
Today, remember all that Jesus has done for you. Worship Him! Live for Him! 
And tell others about His sacrificial love.
Today's Inspiration Prayer

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for suffering for me. You took my place, and I am 
eternally grateful. Use me to help others find salvation and receive the 
Good News.
I love You! In Your name. Amen.

Further Reading: Matthew 27

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BOASTING ABOUT THE CROSS

Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel 
you to be circumcised…. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord 
Jesus
Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the 
world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts 
is the
new creation.
(Galatians 6:12-15)

Paul wrote this letter we call “Galatians” to certain Christians who had 
begun their new spiritual life with faith in Jesus, but then were told by 
others
that Paul’s message was horribly incomplete and probably dangerous. It is 
not enough to believe in Jesus and follow him, you must also continue to 
observe
those hundreds of regulations in the Old Testament. Even if you are a 
Gentile, you should still observe the dietary laws, the sacrifices, and 
circumcision,
they said.

Paul saw this as a spiritual emergency and wrote this letter to warn these 
believers not to be bewitched by those legalists.

There is one way to God. Let things in your life that should die, die. Let 
strivings die, let legalism die, let love for the world die, let personal 
spiritual
pride die. Resign it all, give it all over, let it be crucified as Jesus let 
himself be crucified, and then you will be free.

Then we will have something to boast about. We will brag about Jesus Christ. 
We will shout his name to the world around. We’ll fill up with a pride not
in ourselves, but in him. And we will look at his cross and see it as a 
moment of glory, not of shame.

Ponder This: Are there things you have been boasting about in your life? 
What needs to happen for you to boast only of Christ?

Influence Project
The Brook Network,

Women of the Bible 
Leah

Her name means: "Impatient" or "Wild Cow"

Her character: Capable of both strong and enduring love, she was a faithful 
mother and wife. Manipulated by her father, she became jealous of her 
sister,
with whom, it seems, she never reconciled.
Her sorrow: That she lacked her sister's beauty, and that her love for her 
husband was one-sided.
Her joy: That she bore Jacob six sons and one daughter.
Key Scriptures:
Genesis 29-35
;
Ruth 4:11

Her Story

We buried my sister Rachel today. But she is still alive. I catch glimpses 
of her in Jacob's broken heart, in dark-eyed Joseph and squalling little 
Benjamin,
his favorite sons. Rachel's sons. I can hear my beautiful, determined sister 
weeping loudly for the children she might have had, stubbornly refusing to
be comforted. Yet who takes note of my tears? Should they flood the desert, 
no one would notice.

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dinah, and then Gad and 
Asher by my maid—these are the children God has given me and I have given my 
beloved
Jacob. And still he loves her best. Should my husband and I live another 
hundred years, I will never be his only wife.

Contrary to what Leah may have felt, God had taken note of her sorrow. 
Knowing well that Jacob's heart was too cramped a space to harbor both 
Rachel and
Leah, he made Leah a mother, not once, but seven times, extending her 
influence in Jacob's household.

With the birth of each child the unhappy Leah hoped to secure her husband's 
affection. But each time her disappointment grew. She felt the old curse 
asserting
itself: "Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you" (
Genesis 3:16).

Perhaps Jacob still resented Leah for tricking him on their wedding night, 
disguising herself as his beloved Rachel. Surely Leah's love had been 
passionate
enough to deceive him until morning. She felt both glad and guilty for her 
part; though, truth to tell, she had little choice but to obey her father, 
Laban,
in the matter. And she thanked God each day for enabling her to bear Jacob's 
children. Still, children often caused a mother untold sorrow.

Dinah, her only daughter, had been raped by a local prince on their return 
to Jacob's homeland. Leah hardly knew how to comfort her. To make matters 
worse,
her sons Levi and Simeon avenged their sister by savagely murdering a 
town-full of people. Then Reuben disgraced himself by sleeping with his 
father's concubine Bilhah.

Hadn't God promised to protect us if we returned to this land of promise? 
How, then, could such things happen? Leah wondered. True, God had watched 
over
them as they faced Esau and his four hundred men. But Leah's joy at the 
brothers' friendly reunion was eclipsed by her sorrow at once again being 
proved
the lesser-loved wife. Jacob had made it plain enough by placing Rachel and 
her children last in their long caravan, giving them the best chance of 
escape
should Esau prove violent.

But Jacob's love could not prevent Rachel from dying in childbirth. Leah, 
not Rachel, was destined to be his first and last wife. Alongside her 
husband,
the father of Israel, she would be revered as a mother of Israel. In fact, 
the promise of a Savior was carried not through Rachel's Joseph but through
Leah's Judah, whose descendants would include David, Israel's great king, 
and Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah. In the end, Jacob was laid to rest in 
the
cave of Machpelah, next to his first wife, Leah, rather than his favorite 
wife, Rachel, who was buried somewhere near Ephrath.

The two sisters, Rachel and Leah, remind us that life is fraught with sorrow 
and peril, much of it caused by sin and selfishness. Both women 
suffered—each
in her own way—the curse of Eve after she was expelled from her garden 
paradise. While Rachel experienced great pain in giving birth to children, 
Leah
experienced the anguish of loving a man who seemed indifferent to her. Yet 
both women became mothers in Israel, leaving their homeland to play 
essential
roles in the story of God's great plan for his people.

Her Promise

The Lord noticed Leah's misery. He looked down and saw a woman who was 
lonely and sad because her husband loved his other wife better than he loved 
her.
So, to ease her sorrow, to provide her comfort, God gave her 
children—beautiful, intelligent, strong children, one of whom would 
establish the lineage
of the priests of Israel and another who was an ancestor of Jesus himself.

This same God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Leah is our God. He sees our 
miseries, no matter how small or how large. He knows our circumstances, our 
feelings,
our hurts. And, just as in Leah's life, he is willing to step in and create 
something beautiful in and through 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
to learn more about Ann's writing and ministry.

Today's reading is drawn from Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda's devotional
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture.
Available at the Bible Gateway store!

Devotions by Christine Caine - Undaunted
Read Psalm 23

God, like a faithful shepherd, is with us throughout our lives, looking 
after us, helping us, leading us, comforting us.

Way of Life

The greatest thing about renewing our minds is the fact that transformation 
is happening on the inside, in our spiritual core, and this change isn’t 
fleeting.
There may be realignment and readjustment from time to time, but this new 
way of thinking is so engrained that it becomes a new way of life. Instead 
of
yelling at our spouses when we’re frustrated, we’re able to arrest those 
thoughts and speak the truth in love. Instead of falling into a pit of 
depression
when we make a mistake or when someone forgets to invite us to a party, we 
find grace within for others. Instead of eating our way into junk-food 
heaven
when we feel lonely, we reach out to God or a friend for comfort.

It was in a moment of great grief and pain that the strength of my mind 
muscle was tested. Would I still believe that God is good, even when my 
circumstances
were not? Would I be able to trust Him, even though I could not understand 
why this was happening to me? Was I willing to apply the truth of the Word 
to
this situation despite my disappointment? My emotions were screaming on the 
inside. Although the sense of loss and overwhelming sadness I felt were very
real, I had to choose to set my mind on things above.

No matter what circumstances we might face in life, it is possible for us to 
overcome in the midst of them by taking hold of God’s thoughts. It may not
always be the easiest thing to do, but trust me: it can be done. The same 
Holy Spirit who helped me strengthen my mind muscle is also there for 
everyone
else, no matter who they are or what their past looks like.

When we make the choice to develop the mind of Christ, we will never regret 
the time and energy it takes to continually exercise this spiritual core 
muscle.
Our lives will be defined by a deep inner peace and an unshakable joy that 
can only come from God.

As tempting as it may sometimes be to attempt to bypass the process of 
renewing our minds, I encourage you to keep persevering. As we transform our 
thinking
and align our thoughts with God’s Word, we will be able to make the most of 
the good times, walk through the dark valleys, and never lose sight of God.

Point to Ponder

Are you struggling to overcome sadness in your life? The Holy Spirit is 
waiting to help you gain strength that will bring you to a deep inner peace

Undaunted by Christine Caine
Today's reading is adapted from
Undaunted: Daring to Do What God Calls You to Do
by Christine Caine. Available in softcover, audio, ebook, and Spanish 
editions
Devotions by Christine Caine, Copyright © 2012 by Christine Caine and Equip 
& Empower Ministries.

BOASTING ABOUT THE CROSS

Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel 
you to be circumcised…. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord 
Jesus
Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the 
world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts 
is the
new creation.
(Galatians 6:12-15)

Paul wrote this letter we call “Galatians” to certain Christians who had 
begun their new spiritual life with faith in Jesus, but then were told by 
others
that Paul’s message was horribly incomplete and probably dangerous. It is 
not enough to believe in Jesus and follow him, you must also continue to 
observe
those hundreds of regulations in the Old Testament. Even if you are a 
Gentile, you should still observe the dietary laws, the sacrifices, and 
circumcision,
they said.

Paul saw this as a spiritual emergency and wrote this letter to warn these 
believers not to be bewitched by those legalists.

There is one way to God. Let things in your life that should die, die. Let 
strivings die, let legalism die, let love for the world die, let personal 
spiritual
pride die. Resign it all, give it all over, let it be crucified as Jesus let 
himself be crucified, and then you will be free.

Then we will have something to boast about. We will brag about Jesus Christ. 
We will shout his name to the world around. We’ll fill up with a pride not
in ourselves, but in him. And we will look at his cross and see it as a 
moment of glory, not of shame.

Ponder This: Are there things you have been boasting about in your life? 
What needs to happen for you to boast only of Christ?


Influence Project
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Feel the Pain

You may be going through an awful lot right now. Maybe your company is 
shedding jobs and salaries, trying to keep from going under. Maybe one of 
the jobs they calved off was yours.

Maybe your marriage is really tanking at the moment. You can't say you 
haven't contributed to the problems, but you're trying as hard as you can 
now to make this work, to make this right. Still, you're not sure where 
things are headed.

Work. Family. Health. Finances. Between these major categories, life can get 
very complicated, both from things you've done as well as things that just 
happened. And if God feels very far away today, unconcerned and out of the 
picture, hear a word of encouragement from hundreds of years ago.

Throughout the Old Testament, God's people faced one crisis after another. 
Sometimes it was their own dumb fault; sometimes it came by way of surprise 
attack. But no matter how they got into their troubles, "in all their 
distress, he too was distressed" (
Isaiah 63:9).
When they hurt, He hurt. When they suffered, He suffered.

God has not lost the directions to your house. He's not waiting to work you 
in between 3:00 and 4:00 next Wednesday. God feels. He grieves. He knows 
what you're going through. You're not the only one hurting here. And His is 
the kind of hurt that knows how to help you.

Pray this prayer: Lord, thank you that you haven't forgotten me. It's good 
to know you're a God who's really alive, who's really here, and who 
genuinely cares. I'm counting on that today.

Please visit Joe Gibbs' Website at
www.GamePlanForLife.com

King of My Life
Saturday, February 8, 2014

“On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND 
LORD OF LORDS.’” – Revelation 19:16 NASB

Jennie Hussey had a sister who was an invalid. Jennie, who was born on this 
day in 1874, was filled with compassion for her sister, dedicating much time
to her care. But when she had free time, Jennie liked to write poems.
A deeply spiritual person with a strong commitment to Christ, she often 
expressed insights about what it meant to make Jesus her Lord. In 1921, she 
wrote
a poem that told of how she had surrendered her life to serve Him.
Jennie realized that Jesus set an example for us by being a servant and 
dying for our sins. And to her, He was the unrivaled Master of her life.
She wrote, “King of my life, I crown Thee now, Thine shall the glory be; 
lest I forget Thy thorn crowned brow, lead me to Calvary.”
Through faith, she tried to express what Jesus went through for her. She 
wrote about her desire to see the tomb where He had been buried. And she 
realized
that she needed to take up her cross daily and follow Him. She prayed, “May 
I be willing, Lord, to bear daily my cross for Thee; even Thy cup of grief
to share, Thou hast borne all for me.”
Everything in her life needed to point to what Jesus had done for her: “Lest 
I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget Thine agony; lest I forget Thy love for
me, lead me to Calvary.”
In your life, pause to think about what Jesus has done for you. Some day, 
every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Crown 
Him
the King of your life, and commit everything to Him. He is the King of Kings 
and Lord of Lords.
Today's Inspiration Prayer

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Dear Jesus, You are my Lord. Thank You for all that You have done for me. I 
commit my time, talent, and treasure to You. I dedicate myself to serving 
You.
In Your name. Amen.

Further Reading: Revelation 19

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A Crazy Hunch and a High Hope

"If I can just touch his clothes," she thinks, "I will be healed" (
Mark 5:28
NCV).

Risky decision. To touch him, she will have to touch the people. If one of
them recognizes her ... hello rebuke, good-bye cure. But what choice does
she
have? She has no money, no clout, no friends, no solutions. All she has is a
crazy hunch that Jesus can help and a high hope that he will.

Maybe that's all you have: a crazy hunch and a high hope. You have nothing
to give. But you are hurting. And all you have to offer him is your hurt.

Maybe that has kept you from coming to God. Oh, you've taken a step or two
in his direction. But then you saw the other people around him. They seemed
so clean, so neat, so trim and fit in their faith. And when you saw them,
they blocked your view of him. So you stepped back.

If that describes you, note carefully, only one person was commended that
day for having faith. It wasn't a wealthy giver. It wasn't a loyal follower.
It wasn't an acclaimed teacher. It was a shame-struck, penniless outcast who
clutched onto her hunch that he could and her hope that he would.

Which, by the way, isn't a bad definition of faith: A conviction that he can
and a hope that he will. Sounds similar to the definition of faith given by
the Bible. "Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God
must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to
find
him" (
Heb. 11:6
NCV).

Not too complicated is it? Faith is the belief that God is real and that God
is good. Faith is not a mystical experience or a midnight vision or a voice
in the forest ... it is a choice to believe that the one who made it all
hasn't left it all and that he still sends light into shadows and responds
to
gestures of faith.

There was no assurance, of course. She hoped he'd respond ... she longed for
it ... but she didn't know if he would. All she knew was that he was there
and that he was good. That's faith.

Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. Faith is the belief
that God will do what is right.

This excerpt is taken from
He Still Moves Stones.
Lucado explores the question "Where is God when I'm hurting?"--and points to
Jesus, who steadfastly steps into your life when everybody else steps out.
Copyright 2014 Max Lucado. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Care Instructions for a Life Worth Living
The Best Version of You
John Ortberg
Not long ago I boarded an airport shuttle bus to get to the rental car lot.
People on the bus are often grumpy from travel and in a hurry to get to
their
car. No one says much except the name of their rental car company. But not
on this bus. The man who drove the bus was an absolute delight. He was
scanning
the curbside, looking for anybody who needed a ride. “You know,” he told us,
“I’m always looking because sometimes people are running late. You can tell
it in their eyes. I’m always looking because I never want to miss one. Hey,
here’s another one!...”

The driver pulled over to pick up a latecomer, and he was so excited about
what he was doing that we got excited. We were actually cheering him on when
he was picking people up. It was like watching Jesus drive a shuttle bus.
He created such a little community of joy on that bus that people wanted to
ride around in the terminal a second time just to hang out with the guy. He
wasn’t just our shuttle bus driver — he was our leader; he was our friend.
And for a few moments, community flourished. On a shuttle bus for a rental
car
company — and one person moved toward the best version of himself.

What happened to that shuttle bus driver can happen in you. Sometimes it
does. Every once in a while you do something that surprises you and catch a
glimpse
of the person you were made to be. You say something inspirational at a
meeting. You help a homeless man no one else notices. You are patient with a
rambunctious
three-year-old. You lose yourself in a piece of music.

God made you to flourish — to receive life from outside yourself, creating
vitality within yourself and producing blessing beyond yourself. Flourishing
is God’s gift and plan.

As you do, you glimpse for a moment why God made you. Only God knows your
full potential, and he is guiding you toward that best version of yourself
all
the time. He has many tools and is never in a hurry. That can be frustrating
for us, but even in our frustration, God is at work to produce patience in
us. He never gets discouraged by how long it takes, and he delights every
time you grow. Only God can see the “best version of you,” and he is more
concerned
with you reaching your full potential than you are.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which
God prepared in advance for us to do.”
(Eph 2:10,
NIV)

You are not your handiwork; your life is not your project. Your life is God’s
project. God thought you up, and he knows what you were intended to be. He
has many good works for you to do, but they are not the kind of “to do”
lists we give spouses or employees. They are signposts to your true self.

Your “spiritual life” is not limited to certain devotional activities that
you engage in. It is receiving power from the Spirit of God to become the
person
God had in mind when he created you — his handiwork.

“God, you made me, to do the works you prepared for me to do. Get “me” out
of the way to allow your work to be done through me.”

© 2014 by Zondervan. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

The Intensity of Christ's Love and the Intentionality of His Death
by John Piper

The love of Christ for us in his dying was as conscious as his suffering was
intentional. "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us" (1
John 3:16). If he was intentional in laying down his life, it was for us. It
was love. "When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this
world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved
them to the end" (John 13:1). Every step on the Calvary road meant, "I love
you."

Therefore, to feel the love of Christ in the laying down of his life, it
helps to see how utterly intentional it was. Consider these five ways of
seeing Christ's intentionality in dying for us.

First, look at what Jesus said just after that violent moment when Peter
tried to cleave the skull of the servant, but only cut off his ear.

Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who
take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal
to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of
angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be
so?" (Matthew 26:52-54)

It is one thing to say that the details of Jesus' death were predicted in
the Old Testament. But it is much more to say that Jesus himself was making
his choices precisely to see to it that the Scriptures would be fulfilled.

That is what Jesus said he was doing in Matthew 26:54. "I could escape this
misery, but how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be
so?" I am not choosing to take the way out that I could take because I know
the Scriptures. I know what must take place. It is my choice to fulfill all
that is predicted of me in the Word of God.

A second way this intentionality is seen is in the repeated expressions to
go to Jerusalem--into the very jaws of the lion.

Taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him,
saying, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be
delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn
him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him
and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will
rise." (Mark 10:32-34)

Jesus had one all-controlling goal: to die according the Scriptures. He knew
when the time was near and set his face like flint: "When the days drew near
for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51).

A third way that we see the intentionality of Jesus to suffer for us is in
the words he spoke in the mouth of Isaiah the prophet:

I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the
beard;
I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. (Isaiah 50:6)

I have to work hard in my imagination to keep before me what iron will this
required. Humans recoil from suffering. We recoil a hundred times more from
suffering that is caused by unjust, ugly, sniveling, low-down, arrogant
people. At every moment of pain and indignity, Jesus chose not to do what
would have been immediately just. He gave his back to the smiter. He gave
his cheek to slapping. He gave his beard to plucking. He offered his face to
spitting. And he was doing it for the very ones causing
the pain.

A fourth way we see the intentionality of Jesus' suffering is in the way
Peter explains how this was possible. He said, "When he was reviled, he did
not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued
entrusting himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:23).

The way Jesus handled the injustice of it all was not by saying, "Injustice
doesn't matter," but by entrusting his cause to "him who judges justly." God
would see that justice is done. That was not Jesus' calling at Calvary. (Nor
is it our highest calling now. "Vengeance is mine, I will repay," says the
Lord, Romans 12:19.)

The fifth and perhaps the clearest statement that Jesus makes about his own
intentionality to die is in John 10:17-18:

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may
take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own
accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up
again. This charge I have received from my Father.

Jesus' point in these words is that he is acting completely voluntarily. He
is under no constraint from any mere human. Circumstances have not overtaken
him. He is not being swept along in the injustice of the moment. He is in
control.

Therefore, when John says, "By this we know love, that he laid down his life
for us" (1 John 3:16), we should feel the intensity of his love for us to
the degree that we see his intentionality to suffer and die. I pray that you
will feel it profoundly. And may that profound experience of being loved by
Christ have this effect on you:

The love of Christ controls us . . . . He died for all, that those who live
might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and
was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15.

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

DOERS OF THE WORD

Three men went deer hunting, and as they crossed the field going to the
woods, a huge buck jumped up in their path. All three fired at the same
time.
The buck dropped, and as they came up on the buck, they realized they had a
problem. Which one of them shot the deer?

As they discussed the problem, a game warden came along to check for hunting
licenses. He offered to sort out the problem, examined the deer, and said,
"One of you guys is a preacher, right?" And sure enough, one of them was.

"Well, preacher, your shot is the one that got the buck."

Amazed, the guys asked how he knew one of them was a preacher and that the
preacher's shot was the one that scored.

"Simple," the game warden said, "It went in one ear and out the other."

As a preacher, it does feel that way sometimes. But it's difficult to be
too harsh on those who listen to my sermons because I know that sometimes,
as
a reader of God's Word, I tend to do the same thing. I read what God says.
I even understand what God says (though I wish sometimes that I didn't!).
It's just that I don't allow what I'm reading to make any real difference in
my life. It goes in one ear and out the other.

James wrote, "Do what God's word says. Don't merely listen to it, or you
will fool yourselves. If someone listens to God's word but doesn't do what
it says, he is like a person who looks at his face in a mirror, studies his
features, goes away, and immediately forgets what he looks like. However,
the person who continues to study God's perfect teachings that make people
free and who remains committed to them will be blessed. People like that
don't
merely listen and forget; they actually do what God's teachings say." (James
1:22-25, GOD'S WORD)

May God's Word go in one ear, stay there, and then demonstrate itself in how
you live this day.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith
Helen Street Church of Christ
Fayetteville, North Carolina
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Experiencing LIFE Today - February 5, 2014

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who
could not hear the music.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

One of the highlights of my life was the night I learned to dance–sort of. I
mean, it was a “highlight” all right, but saying I "learned to dance" might
be stretching it a bit. Libby and I had gone to Billy Bob's Texas, the
world's largest honky-tonk. Every Thursday night, they offer free dancing
lessons, which is a good thing, because I couldn't have afforded to pay
anybody enough to try to teach me. But, humility aside, by the end of the
night Libby and I were dancing pretty well, more or less
(Libby more, me less). At one point, I was actually starting to feel pretty
good about myself.

Then, one of the couples next to us (presumably doctors or EMTs) stopped to
ask if I was having a seizure. I was messing up, literally hundreds of times
in the course of an hour. I stand a lanky 6' 5", and Libby a beautiful 5'
4". I nearly squished her like a bug more than once. Yeah, good memories.
Any night alone with my wife is a highlight and learning to dance that night
was a blast.

But you know who really made the night? It was our instructor.

When he started telling us how to dance, I thought he was speaking
Ethiopian. I mean, the terminology was totally foreign to me. I felt like a
fool, but the instructor kept talking us through it step-by-step. Our
instructor showed us and then gently corrected. But he never ridiculed us.
He didn't punish. He just smiled and somehow resisted the temptation to
laugh out loud at me or kick me off the floor as a hopeless case.

About halfway through the night, I realized that the secret was staying
focused on the instructor, enjoying the music, and not worrying about what
people around me were doing.
list of 3 items
• If I watched the really good people? I got embarrassed and discouraged.
• If I watched the other beginners? We all started tripping over each other.
• But when I forgot about everyone else and fixed my attention on the
instructor? Good stuff happened.
list end
That’s decent advice for dancing. That’s great advice for life.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let
us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes
on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. — Hebrews 12:1-2

Let me warn you: Stay away from any teaching that points you to anything
other than Christ as your means of living the Christian life. There are
steps to take in the Christian life, but friends, it is not about the steps.
It’s about following the lead of our Instructor and moving freely to His
music of life.

Jesus — my instructor and my friend, I don’t want to march like anyone else.
Don’t let anyone else discourage me or trip me up as I pursue You and Your
music. I don't want to march for You, I want to dance with You. Make today a
continual dance with You as I listen for You to tell me the next steps, as I
see You smile at my stumbling attempts. Amen.

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

Make the Most of Today

Matthew 24:36–51

Recommended Reading:
Proverbs 11:30; Matthew 25:14–30; John 9:4; Philippians 1:20–26

Carpe diem.

This Latin phrase means “seize the day,” and it certainly echoes a valid
objective. We do need to seize each day, because we don’t know whether
tomorrow
will come or just how much of this life remains for us.

But what if we did? Imagine if a clock on the bottom of one foot digitally
displayed how many days remained before we died. Theologian Francis
Schaeffer
put it another way: “Life is like a clock with no hands. It’s ticking but
you never know when it’s going to strike midnight.”

What a sobering thought—for those living in the 1st century or the 21st
century. Despite all of our advances in safety measures, in both industry
and transportation,
and all of our progress in the medical field, life still maintains a measure
of unpredictability for us today. Accidents still happen, and people still
suffer from strokes and coronary artery disease, often seemingly out of the
blue. Nearly everyone has a story to tell regarding a friend, family member
or coworker who has experienced something like this.

The 1st century disciples asked Jesus, “What will be the sign of your coming
and of the end of the age?” (
Matthew 24:3).
In the midst of his teaching, Jesus replied, “Keep watch, because you do not
know on what day your Lord will come” (
Matthew 24:42).

In a way, Jesus urges his followers to “seize the day” because no one knows
when he will return. But we do know that each of us will come face-to-face
with Jesus and give an account of how we have lived for him. Each of us in
large measure determines how that encounter will go.

Jesus wants us to be ready no matter when he returns—to be “faithful and
wise” servants (
Matthew 24:45).
Who are the faithful and wise servants? Those who are ready—those whom the
Master finds doing his will when he returns.

Are you ready?

To Take Away
list of 3 items
• How would your life be different if you knew you had just a year left to
live? A month? A day?
• God gives each of us gifts with which to serve him. Can you identify the
ways in which God wants you to serve him?
• Do you think God sees you as a “faithful and wise servant”? Why or why
not?

Denying Myself

Posted: 04 Feb 2014 09:55 PM PST

block quote
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross
and follow me.” (Mark 8:34, NIV)
block quote end

“Jesus, I lay aside my self-concern.
Lead, and I will follow.”

It’s easy to pray this in the calm, quiet moments.

But pray this way when
God places a challenge of service before you and
calls you to step out in faith.

Pray this when a situation demands that
you give yourself beyond your comfort level.

Pray this when you face a difficult relationship and
emotions cry out for
escape or
revenge.

Pray this when you have to give up your rights
in order to serve someone else.

“Jesus, I lay aside my self-concern.
Lead, and I will follow.”
KenBible.com
Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand in
the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our
Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and
authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25
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PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Today's Devotional

Take The Boat

I didn't want to, but God was telling me, "Take the boat."

Tuesday was a beautiful, blue-sky day, again, and the kayak lay out in the 
courtyard, its wheels tucked up under its keel, beckoning to be used. But I
had a Bible story to prepare for the afternoon kids club at a local school. 
Yakking would have to wait.

Loading up my truck with Bibles and song sheets, memory verse tokens and 
attendance lists, permission slips and cookies, I passed the blue, ocean 
kayak
quietly watching me. Our lesson that day was Jesus jumping into Peter's boat 
to talk to the crowds of people that constantly followed Him, listening to
His explanation of His Father, God, and His love and forgiveness, 
characteristics not familiar to those Jewish and Gentile people of Galilee.

"You should take the boat."

No, the kids will climb on it; they will get sidetracked and not listen to 
the lesson. I'll think about it as I continue getting things ready. Then I 
sat
down to really study the lesson till it was time to go.

Luke 5:1-5a – One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of 
Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He 
noticed
two empty boats at the water's edge, for the fishermen had left them and 
were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, 
its
owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the 
crowds from there. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Now go
out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish." 
"Master," Simon replied, "we worked hard all last night and didn't catch a 
thing."
(NLT)

Peter had just met Jesus not many days before. And not really knowing what 
this new friend was capable of, Peter obligingly did what Jesus suggested: 
"If
you say so, I'll let the nets down again." We know that Peter caught the 
catch of a lifetime! He hollered at his friends to come help: the boats 
couldn't
hold all this catch, and the nets were tearing!

Practicing the story a couple of times, I was ready to go. The kayak quietly 
watched me. If you say so, Lord, I will take the boat. How I was to use it
and where I was to hide it until its place in the story, I didn't know, but 
if God said so, I would take the boat.

Arriving at the school late, I reasoned that if I had time, I would take it 
in. All things ready, the last prop to go in place was the kayak. I put it
behind the stage curtains, still not knowing how to work it in.

All went well, and it came time for the story. I retold the situation that 
Jesus was in, and to demonstrate, I had the fifty kids crowd around me, 
pushing
me onto the stage. But Jesus had an idea to escape the people: He jumped 
into Peter's boat! At that, I rolled out the plastic vessel. The kids 
giggled,
oohed, and ahhed. How cool! It illustrated the lesson, just as God had 
planned!

Maybe the kids didn't fully grasp the lesson as I confessed that I hadn't 
wanted to bring the kayak there, but God did. I had to tell Him exactly what
Peter had said when he thought that Jesus had a crazy idea. I may have 
prepared a lesson for fifty kids, but God made it a lesson for just one: me.

That lesson, as so many have, sank into my heart and increased my faith. 
That's just how our God works: teachers and pastors learn more from 
preparing
their lessons than the students. That's one of the great benefits of being 
obedient to God's call on our talents.

Prayer: Father, You are creator of all. You include everyone, yet one person 
at a time can be dear to You in a special way. Reminded once again of Your
sovereignty, direct our attention to Your love, like You did with those 
crowds of people. May we yearn to follow You as a crowd, or as a church, or 
as
an individual, like Peter. Your love is for us all. Thank You for that 
awesome love. Amen.

Terry Karr 
Wildomar, California, USA

Thought for Today: Praying hands bring better results than pointing fingers.

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You

Daily Devotional
Landing Hard - #7062

I've lost count of how many times I have landed in an airplane. But who 
would care? For the most part - routine landings - except for the ones that 
were
unusually soft or unusually hard. In fact I experienced one of those hard 
landings not too long ago. We hit the runway let's say with authority.

Now, my neighbor in the seat next to me commented very matter-of-factly, 
"Navy pilot." When I asked him what he meant by that, he said, "Well, I've 
observed
this over the years. The guys who are former Air Force pilots glide in 
because they're used to landing on big runways at big airports. But the 
former Navy
pilots, they land hard. They're used to landing on ships in the middle of 
the ocean."

And that started me thinking, "Man, if all I had to land on was this little 
speck in a big ocean called a carrier, I'd land hard too." That's the smart
thing to do when there's only one spot to land on.

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

Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Corinthians chapter 1, 
and I'm going to be reading verses 8 and 9. As I read, would you see if any
of these phrases might sound familiar in your life? Here's what Paul says, 
"We do not want you to be uninformed about the hardships we suffered in the
Province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to 
endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed in our hearts we felt the 
sentence
of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, 
who raises the dead."

Any of those phrases sound like anything you've been going through? 
Hardships, under great pressure, beyond your ability to endure, despairing 
even of
life? He said, "In our hearts, man, we felt like we were dying the sentence 
of death." A dark time! In a sense, Paul has no place to land with his pain
but one place, and that's why God allowed all the pain so his options would 
be limited to one. With only one place to land, Paul landed hard in the arms
of God and he traded in self-reliance for God-reliance.

This talented, competent, successful, driven, well-educated man had to reach 
the end of himself to find out what God's power was like. And when he had
only God to turn to, he said, "Man, that's when I learned who I was supposed 
to rely on." He traded in human strength for heaven's strength.

You can learn a lot from studying the people who got a miracle in Jesus' 
day. The Bible says in Mark chapter 1, "A man with leprosy came to Him and 
begged
Him on his knees, 'If you are willing, you can make me clean.'" And then in 
Mark chapter 5, one of the synagogue rulers came. "Seeing Jesus, he fell at
His feet and pleaded earnestly with Him." Now, this guy was a "big shot"; he 
was an official. And yet you see him pleading earnestly; falling at Jesus'
feet.

And it says of the woman then who came to Jesus with a hemorrhaging problem 
she'd had for 12 years, "When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him
in the crowd, touched His cloak, because she thought, 'If I just touch His 
clothes I would be healed.'" You could just see her desperately pushing 
through
the crowd. She's just lunging for Jesus.

See, people who got a miracle landed hard at Jesus' feet; totally powerless, 
grabbing Him as if He were their only hope. And their desperate faith 
released
the power of God to change their situation. This is faith that doesn't just 
pray, "Dear God..." No, it prays urgently, "Oh, Lord." It lands hard.

Well, maybe you're running out of fuel and you've run out of places to land. 
There's one place left. You could land hard at the feet of Jesus Christ. You
know, that's how you even begin a relationship with God. That's how you get 
your sins forgiven. That's how you trade hell for heaven, as you realize 
that
there's nothing you can do to contribute to you getting to heaven; nothing 
you could do that would give you a relationship with God. And so, that's 
when
you grab Jesus. You land hard in His arms and say, "Jesus, rescue me."

Maybe you've never done that and you'd like to. You'd like to know you 
belong to Him. I would like to show you how that could happen. I want to 
invite
you to join me at our website, ANewStory.com. He wants you to pin all your 
hopes on Him. And when you do, you'll be ready to fly again.

------
"A Word With You" by Ron Hutchcraft is a daily radio challenge, with 
slice-of-life illustrations and insights-providing practical help on the 
issues that
matter most. If your local Christian radio station does not air this 
program, please let them know how much it is of value to you. "A Word With 
You" is,a radio outreach and production of
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc
Creative Commons License
© Ronald P. Hutchcraft • Distributed by Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc
 
What about those who never hear about Jesus?

Acts 4:12

There may be no satisfactory answer to this question. The Bible is clear 
about the exclusive claims of Christ (see
Jn 14:6).
Yet we also know God is merciful and absolutely just. It would seem to 
contradict what we know of his nature if he did not account for the 
disadvantages
of those who, through no fault of their own, have never heard of Jesus.

From another perspective we have to say that even those who have heard the 
name of Jesus do not deserve to be saved. Salvation is always the result of
God’s love for us, not our love for him. It is his grace—not our 
efforts—that saves us.

Still, God’s grace requires a human response. Christians have a 
responsibility to make Christ known in all the world so people have the 
opportunity to respond (see Mt 28:19–20).
Ultimately, we can trust God to judge the world justly.
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Speak of Jesus’ Wonderful Love

2 Samuel 1:26

Come, dear readers, let each one of us speak for himself of the wonderful 
love, not of Jonathan, but of Jesus. We will not relate what we have been 
told, but the things that we have tasted and handled--of the love of Christ. 
Your love to me, O Jesus, was wonderful when I was a stranger wandering far 
from You, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Your love 
restrained me from committing the sin that is unto death and withheld me 
from self-destruction. Your love held back the axe when
Justice said, "Cut it down! Why does it clutter the ground?"

Your love drew me into the wilderness, stripped me there, and made me feel 
the guilt of my sin and the burden of my iniquity. Your love spoke 
comfortably to me when I was deeply troubled--"Come to Me, and I will give 
you rest." Oh, how matchless Your love when, in a moment, You washed my sins 
away and made my polluted soul, which was crimson with the blood of my 
nativity and black with the grime of my transgressions, to be white as the 
driven snow and pure as the finest wool.

How You commended Your love when You whispered in my ears, "I am yours, and 
you are Mine." Those were kind words when you declared, "The Father Himself 
loves you." And sweet were the moments when You commended to me the love of 
the Spirit.

My soul shall never forget those chambers of fellowship where You unveiled 
Yourself to me. Moses had his cleft in the rock, where he saw the train, the 
back parts, of his God. We, too, have had our clefts in the rock, where we 
have seen the full splendors of the Godhead in the person of Christ. Did 
David remember the tracks of the wild goat, the land of Jordan and the 
Hermonites? We, too, can remember spots dear to our memory, equal to these 
in blessedness. Precious Lord Jesus, give us a fresh taste
of Your wondrous love with which to begin the month. Amen.

Family Bible reading plan
verse 1 Esther 9, 10
verse 2 Romans 4
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.

Corporate Worship: A Lifting of the Gaze
By Matt Boswell | Feb 01, 2014 07:05 pm

Corporate Worship: A Lifting of the Gaze

I had preached the funeral of their baby just a few days before. Some of our 
best friends laid to rest their little girl, marking one of the most 
difficult
days of my life. While preaching graveside, my eyes rested on my wife, 
dressed in black, who we knew was in the process of miscarrying a child.

Now, the Sunday after had come. I had chosen songs to remind them, to remind 
me, of God’s faithfulness and goodness in the midst of suffering. It is 
difficult
to sing with sorrow in your throat.

What our friends did not need were three tips to overcome pain, or a 
weightless song that may pacify for a moment. What they needed, what I 
needed, was
to behold the glory of God in the face of Christ. We needed a lifting of our 
gaze.

Lifted Gaze, Lifted Heart

In Psalm 121, the psalmist feels this tension as he ascends to the temple to 
worship. Along the journey, we find him in need of remembering where his 
help
is found. He sings to his heart to remind it to hope in God.

In the opening line of his hymn, he asks his soul a question that demands a 
sure response. “I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where does my help 
come?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1–2). 
When the gaze of the psalmist is low, he is filled with doubts and 
questions.
When his gaze is lifted up, his heart is lifted up also.

Any Given Sunday

Corporate worship is a lifting of the gaze from created things to the 
created one. On any given Sunday morning, as people walk into the room, 
questions
come with them.

Is there grace enough for someone like me?

Will my marriage make it through this?

Has God forgotten me?

Amidst the singing, there are other songs being sung: songs of pain and 
suffering, songs of doubt and fear, songs of desperate need. These songs may 
not
ring through the microphone, but they are there. The resounding theme of 
each of these songs is simple: we need to behold God.

Renew Your Hope

Corporate worship reminds us that our hope is not fixed on anything less 
than our sovereign God. There is a tendency in all of us to forget our 
neediness.
Like the psalmist, we question where our help comes from and must be 
continually reminded of the source of our hope. We are easily distracted. We 
are lulled
to sleep by the idols of comfort and self-sufficiency. We are prone to 
forget that Christ is the sure and steady anchor in the fury of every storm.

We gather together in worship to have our eyes set upon Christ. The hand of 
the gospel lifts our drooping head to remember that in Christ the acceptance
of God has been fixed upon us. The weekly practice of hearing the gospel in 
song and in sermon clears the hazy effects of sin from our eyes and focuses
our hearts on the glory of God. Lifting our gaze brings clarity to us of who 
God is and who we are as his people.

Allow corporate worship to help renew your hope in God. In the call to 
worship, call your heart to worship. In the confession of sin, lift your 
gaze to
Christ whose blood has satisfied the wrath of God. In the preaching of God’s 
word, hear the gospel and allow it to echo through the chambers of your 
soul.
In the benediction, be sent into the world to remember the glorious and 
steadfast hope that is ours in Christ.

Love Worth Finding Ministries
devotion_header_2014.jpg

Perfectionism Is a Thief

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be 
made the righteousness of God in Him.”
2 Corinthians 5:21

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Did you know that your performance doesn’t make you any more or less 
acceptable in God’s eyes?

If you think that God is going to accept you on the basis of your quiet 
time, your Bible study, or your service, you will fall into a trap of never 
knowing
if you’ve done enough. You’ll never truly feel accepted.

Perfectionism is a thief. It promises rewards, but it steals both joy and 
satisfaction. Why? Because perfection is an unattainable goal! If you are a 
perfectionist,
you’ve set an impossible goal for yourself, and therefore you will 
constantly be faced with frustration and failure.

Two things about you are true, without your “performance”—
• You are forgiven in Christ.
• You are righteous in Christ.

ACTION POINT:
Are you a perfectionist? Ask the Holy Spirit to free you from the fear of 
failure. Now make a conscious decision that you can be less than perfect and
still be loved by God.

View or Share online

Discover Jesus
|LWF.org
Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
© 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300
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The chisel and mallet of affliction!

(John MacDuff,
"Ripples in the Twilight" 1885)

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those
who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those
whom
He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His
Son!" Romans 8:28-29

In that great block of uncut marble, there is, in the mind of the sculptor,
a slumbering angel. As chip by chip flies off, the form becomes crudely and
slowly developed. In the course of time--after months of long labor--his
conception is realized, and the masterpiece is completed.

God is the Supreme Sculptor, and it is very often by the chisel and mallet
of affliction that He is now fabricating and fashioning His people for
Heaven.
The tools are in His hands. Let us trust Him that no stroke is unnecessary
or redundant in the working out of His own Divine ideal, which is nothing
short
of this, "to be conformed to the image of His Son."

"Now He who has fashioned us ('chiseled'--so the word means) for this very
thing is God." (2 Corinthians 5:5)
www.gracegems.org

Holiness and Service
By Skip Heitzig

One thing I love is that God looks for volunteers. He doesn’t force or push
or “guilt” a person into service. He simply asks and looks for volunteers. I
think there are far too many Christian organizations and churches that try
to artificially produce something within people that is really a natural
process, by the Spirit of God. I’m talking about service. You shouldn’t do
it unless you feel that “I-want-to-do-that” sense.

One way God’s holiness should affect us is to develop a sense of mission, a
desire to serve Him. In Isaiah 6:8 the prophet writes, “Also I heard the
voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?’” (I
think this is the Father speaking to the Son and the Holy Spirit. It’s the
triune God “in conference” with each other.)

And Isaiah’s response is this: “Then I said, ‘Here am I, send me.’” In this
passage, Isaiah goes from the revelation of a holy God, to the conviction of
his own sin, to the cleansing of that sin, to the decision, “Send me, God.
Let me serve You.”

Holiness develops commission. This is always the pattern: An unholy person
is declared holy by a holy God, and then decides at some point, “I want God
to have all of me. I want to do whatever He wants. I want to do His work, to
serve Him.” Every Christian worker is simply a saved sinner who met a holy
God who brought a deep sense of conviction and cleansed them. And they came
to a place where they said, “I want to serve the Lord.” It’s a natural
process by the Holy Spirit.

As we live the Christian life, the big challenge is to increasingly match
our practice to our position. It’s one thing to be declared holy by God’s
act of atonement, but it’s quite another to live a holy life. For example, a
famous text is Ephesians 1:4: “God chose us that we should be holy and
without blame before Him.” That’s a positional statement; that’s how God
sees you in Christ: holy and without blame. But we fall short on a daily
basis. The sanctification that comes after salvation, where
we become holier and more like the Lord, is paramount.

I’ve always loved what Layton Ford said: “God loves you just the way you are
but He loves you too much to leave that way.” And so, He makes you
increasingly like Him by His grace…and that will include service.

Our desire should be to be like Christ, whose desire was to “work the works
of Him who sent Me” (John 9:4).

Copyright © 2014 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

For more from Skip Heitzig, visit
ConnectionRadio.org,
and listen to today's broadcast of The Connection with
Skip Heitzig at OnePlace.com.
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Evangelism: It's Only about What You Value Most

Keith Manuel

ALEXANDRIA, La. -- What do you value most?

When you value something, you talk about it. If you get a new car, do you
tell anyone? How excited would you be to discuss a new child or grandchild?
Are you energized about the start of an upcoming sports season? Don't you
naturally talk about it?

Why do Christians offer so many excuses for not incorporating God in
conversations? We say we don't know enough Scripture. We try to convince
ourselves that others don't want to talk to us. We are afraid or don't have
time. Excuse after excuse.

"If someone doesn't want to hear about the thing you're interested in, do
you stop talking about it with everyone? No. You find someone who is
interested in talking about it," John Avant, pastor of First Baptist Church
West Monroe, La., once said.

When you value Jesus above everything else, you find ways to tell others
what He has done for you.

I watched this become a reality in my son's life recently. We went to North
Carolina to participate in Families on Mission, a NAMB-sponsored mission
trip for parents and grandparents with children.

Jeremy, who is 12, told my wife he wanted to lead someone to faith in
Christ. Then he said, "Mom, can you imagine walking around in heaven and
someone walking up to you that you lead to Jesus. That guy might say,
'Thanks, man. Because you told me about Jesus, I'm here in heaven.' Mom,
that would be awesome!" He began to pray that God would open the door during
the mission trip for him to share his faith.

That particular week Jeremy didn't lead someone to the Lord, but he didn't
quit praying. Two weeks later, while helping with a Vacation Bible School,
he helped lead a girl to the Lord. He was so excited when the parents of the
girl wanted to meet him and thank him.

What happened to Jeremy can happen to anyone. Jeremy made three instinctual
choices to become obedient to Christ's command.

First, he had the desire. Jeremy loves Jesus, and loves to go to church. He
has studied the Bible enough to know what Jesus wanted him to do. Because of
his love for Jesus, he wanted to tell someone what Jesus did for him. He
knew the other person's eternal life depended on it. Desire or passion leads
to intentional evangelism.

Secondly, Jeremy prayed. God tells us to pray for laborers to go into the
harvest. However, when we ask for laborers, God points to us and says, "OK,
let's start with you." When you pray for opportunities to witness, God opens
your spiritual eyes to where He is working.

Thirdly, Jeremy acted when the opportunity presented itself. He put himself
in places where lost people were. Then when the opportunity arose, he put
his faith into action. He and an adult teacher shared the Gospel with the
girl and Jeremy led her as she prayed to receive Christ.

To Jeremy, the value of Jesus was so important that it motivated him to find
someone and tell her about Jesus. Watching Jeremy motivates me to continue
to set the example and to reevaluate how much I value the Lord Jesus. What
do you value most?

Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist
Convention's evangelism & church growth team.
© Copyright 2008 Baptist Press. Used with permission.

Care Instructions for a Life Worth Living

The Ecstasy of Gratitude

In the Gospel of Luke, we read the story of ten healed of leprosy by
Jesus…all were healed; one, a Samaritan, came back to Jesus to thank him,
and Jesus
said:

“Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to
return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (NIV,
Luke 17: 17-18)

Ten men were cleansed. Ten were given their life back. Only one turned
around. Nine ran the wrong way. Only one came back to thank the Giver for
the gift.
When I read the story of Jesus and the lepers, I wonder why the only
grateful one was the Samaritan. I wonder if the fact that he was Samaritan
and Jesus
was Jewish made him that much more aware of what a gracious gift this was.
Having too much can make a person ungrateful. The illusion of gratitude is
that
we will experience it more if we get new stuff that we really want.

We tend to keep score by comparing ourselves to others. When it comes to
affluence, for instance, we tend to follow what psychologist Leon Festinger
calls
the “principle of slight upward comparison.” We chronically compare
ourselves with those just a little better off, in the hopes of attaining
their level
of success. This keeps us from gratitude. It also keeps our eyes off people
who are under resourced so that we don’t think about our need to share.

God gives us the gift of the capacity for gratitude. Gratitude is the
ability to experience life as a gift. It opens us up to wonder, delight, and
humility.
It makes our hearts generous. It liberates us from the prison of
self-preoccupation. Gratitude is the gift God gives us that enables us to be
blessed by
all his other gifts, the way our taste buds enable us to enjoy the gift of
food. Without gratitude, our lives degenerate into envy, dissatisfaction,
and
complaints, taking what we have for granted and always wanting more.

We can have very little and yet be rich. A rich soul experiences life
differently. It experiences a sense of gratitude for what it has received,
rather
than resentment for what it hasn’t gotten. It faces the future with hope
rather than anxiety.

We break rules — we violate God’s will — because we think breaking them will
help us win, or at least avoid pain. But what we do not see is that the very
breaking of them turns us into the kind of people who are increasingly
incapable of the gratitude and purity of heart that makes lasting happiness
and
meaning possible.

The great secret joy of life — the prize that we think getting richer will
bring us — is the ecstasy of gratitude. Gratitude is how those rich toward
God
— rich in being, not just having — play the game.

The apostle Paul discovered that whether he was living in luxury or living
in prison he had more than enough, because he had been freed from the
treadmill
of having. Are you experiencing the ecstasy of gratitude, or on the
treadmill of having?

© 2014 by Zondervan. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Are You Bearing Fruit?
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Culture Editor

"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead,
he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.” –
Luke 8:16

One of the traditions my
family
had while I was growing up was that every fall we would go apple picking at
a place called Edwards Orchard. It was a great place. There were barn
animals
for kids to feed, a maze that my siblings and I would always cheat to win,
and a small kitchen that made the best apple doughnuts on this continent.
Once
we had exhausted ourselves on all the activities and eaten enough doughnuts
to last us for days, our parents would load us up on the orchard's wagons,
and we would go into the trees to pick apples.

Afterwards, we'd enjoy a long stretch of apple-related meals at home, and I
was particularly fond of my mother’s upside-down apple pie. Then one year,
as we clambered out of our van like usual, we were met by an employee who
informed us the orchard had closed that season. I don’t remember exactly why
-- I think a storm had damaged most of the trees -- but the absence of our
usual Macintosh apples was pretty noticeable the following week. This was
the
memory that jumped to my mind a few days ago, as I was reading the book of
Luke. Take a look at the following verses,

And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and
he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser,
'Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I
find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?' And he answered
him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on
manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not,
you
can cut it down.'" – Luke 13:6-9

The simple truth is that there is not much use in a fruit tree that doesn’t
grow fruit, just like there isn’t much use in a Christian that isn’t living
out Christ’s teachings. God made us, the Church, to be people of growth and
action. It is his desire that we constantly seek to mature in our
faith,
and the way we do that is by getting involved in the world around us. It
doesn’t have to be anything big. Become a greeter at your Church, make a
small
donation, or bring a meal to the couple that just had a baby. All that
matters is if your heart is providing a harvest for God because you never
know what
he’ll do with the spiritual fruit you create.

Intersecting Faith and Life: Find your own way to serve Christ’s Kingdom, no
matter how small.

Further Reading

Luke 14
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PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Today's Devotional

Clydeside Preacher

1 Corinthians 16:13 – Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of 
courage; be strong. (NIV)

My hometown of Glasgow, Scotland, used to have a magnificent shipyard 
industry on the River Clyde. Thousands of men were employed in the building 
of some
of the biggest warships and ocean liners in the world. When I was growing 
up, it was wonderful to see the shipyards at night time. From all over the 
docks,
flashes of light could be seen as the riveters and welders worked on the 
hulls of the great ships.

On Friday afternoons, when most of the workforce was paid, thousands of men 
would walk out of the gates either to go to the pubs and spend their wages,
or to head home to be with their families, possibly buying them a 
fish-and-chips supper for dinner. As these men walked out of the shipyard 
gates, a man,
with his own portable platform, was preaching the gospel to the huge mass of 
workers. Most of the men walked by; some jeered and some cheered; some 
hurled
insults and called the preacher everything under the sun.

It was an amazing ministry to watch, and on some rare occasions, the 
preacher was able to reach into the heads and hearts of a few men. He had 
been a shipyard
worker himself, so he knew of their hardships, addictions, and struggles 
with life. Jesus had changed him, so he wanted to help other men make that 
transformation.
It was a courageous, yet often humiliating ministry. But every Friday, the 
preacher was there giving God's message to thousands of men who had no time
for faith.

The Church of Scotland was approached by some people and asked if they would 
ordain the Clydeside preacher. Sadly, they turned him down. He didn't have
the right academic qualifications or the privileges of seminary training. 
This didn't bother the preacher. He just kept turning up on Fridays to 
preach
the gospel. His strength was in the Lord and not in an ecclesiastical 
certificate that proclaimed him to be an official minister of the church. I 
never
knew his name, but I admired his ministry, and he reminds me of this: God 
calls all sorts of people to minister, pastor, and preach in His name.

Perhaps you are being led by God to initiate a new ministry in your church. 
Perhaps God is calling you to do something in Christ's name for your 
community.
Maybe you don't feel qualified to start or accomplish it. Remember this: if 
God truly calls you, He believes you can get it done.

Prayer: Lord God, we are all so different, and we each have various gifts, 
talents, and skills. Sometimes You call us out of our comfort zones and 
specialized
areas to do something beautiful and completely unexpected for You. Grant us 
the courage to respond to Your call, and give us the strength to 
successfully
fulfill all that You ask of us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart 
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

Thought for Today: It's what we learn after we know it all that counts.

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List
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The Folly of What Noah Preached
By Jon Bloom | Mar 27, 2014 11:00 pm

The Folly of What Noah Preached

Paul wrote, “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but 
to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). In
Noah, we have an Old Testament illustration of this. Ponder how Noah’s 
warnings about fantastic “events as yet unseen” (Hebrews 11:7) must have 
sounded
to his hearers (I’ve imagined two, Talmai and Bakbukiah).

“This is madness!” Talmai was alarmed by the huge piles of logs around the 
vast clearing and all the hired men cutting and hauling them. “How long will
this boat be?”

Noah braced for a deluge of ridicule. “Three hundred cubits.”

“Unbelievable!” Bakbukiah laughed incredulously. “Three hundred? You were 
right!” he said slapping Talmai’s back. “I said, ‘No one’s that stupid.’ But
I stand corrected!”

Talmai shook his head in disbelief. “Noah, you’ve lost your mind! No one can 
build a boat that big!”

“You are an idiot!” shouted Bakbukiah. “You’re building a three hundred 
cubit boat six-day’s journey from the sea?”

“It won’t need to be near the sea,” Noah replied.

“Oh, come on, Noah!” said Talmai exasperated. “You’ve been preaching about 
this flood of divine judgment. But look around! You seriously believe all 
this
is going to be under water?”

“Talmai, I don’t base my faith merely on what seems plausible to me,” said 
Noah.

“Well, that’s obvious!” Bakbukiah scoffed.

Noah held up his hand and continued, “I base my faith on what God says he 
will do.”

“Whose god, Noah?” said Talmai flatly.

“The only God there is, Talmai: Elohim, the Almighty, the Creator,” said 
Noah.

“So Elohim is a mass murderer then?” said Bakbukiah mockingly.

“Bakbukiah, you’re speaking foolishness,” said Noah firmly.

“I’m speaking foolishness!” snapped Bakbukiah. “You’re building a colossal 
boat in the middle of nowhere because some bloodthirsty god told you to and
you’re calling me foolish?”

“Yes, I am! because you’re assuming that what looks foolish to you is 
foolish,” replied Noah unwaveringly.

“Building this ark doesn’t just look foolish, Noah,” said Talmai curtly.

“Tell me what foolishness is, Talmai,” countered Noah intensely.

“Foolishness is that, my friend,” said Bakbukiah, gesturing toward the site.

“No, I want you to answer the question. What is foolishness?” said Noah.

“It’s believing something that isn’t real!” exclaimed Talmai. “Basing your 
life on a delusion!”

“Exactly!” said Noah. “Foolishness is basing your life on a delusion.”

Both men looked at Noah for a moment perplexed.

Talmai snorted. “You’re saying that we’re the deluded ones?”

“Yes. What makes you certain that you’re not deluded?” asked Noah.

“Common sense, Noah!” Try it! Comes in handy in boat building,” chortled 
Bakbukiah.

“Common sense? Whose common sense, Bakbukiah?” responded Noah. “Yours? The 
common sense you exercise when beating your wives when you’re angry? Or when
you try to take advantage of every customer you can? Or perhaps it’s the 
common sense of your friend, Jobab, who extorted sex from the wife of a man 
indebted
to him? Or the common sense of that man to cut Jobab’s throat? Or, Talmai, 
was it your common sense in working your slave into the ground and beating 
him
mercilessly for petty infractions? Or your slave’s common sense in raping 
your daughter before he escaped? Or, Bakbukiah, was it the chief’s common 
sense
to run your father through with a spear for laughing at him?”

“Watch your tongue, old man, if you want to keep it,” threatened Bakbukiah.

“Point made then,” replied Noah. “Depravity is rampant everywhere. We always 
carry our weapons because we can’t trust anyone. And when we’re honest, we
know we aren’t trustworthy. The most common sense we share is our evil 
selfishness.”

“Listen, that besides the point!” asserted Talmai. “The point is there isn’t 
going to be any flood and this huge ark is a waste of time, money, and 
trees!”

“It’s not besides the point,” said Noah. “Elohim has been warning us for 
generations to forsake our evil, self-absorbed sin and return to him. No one 
has
listened! We have only gotten worse. We’re consuming each other! The point 
is that your perception of reality is distorted by self-centeredness, 
Talmai.
Elohim created the predictable world you know. And it’s foolish to presume 
that he can’t turn this plain into a sea.”

“Well, if he does, this Elohim of yours is as wicked as the rest of us. He’s 
just going to drown us all like dogs,” replied Bakbukiah. “Except you, of
course, being so righteous.”

“Not true, Bakbukiah! It is not Elohim’s blood thirst and selfishness that 
is bringing the flood. It’s his justice. It’s what our sin deserves! Don’t 
you
see? In his mercy he has been warning us over and over. But the ark is a 
sign that he will not wait forever. And God isn’t sparing me because my 
nature
is any better than yours. He’s sparing me because I trust him. I believe 
what he says. And this ark will shelter anyone who will trust him. Join me, 
brothers!
You don’t have to perish in Elohim’s judgment! Believe him and escape!”

Talmai looked blankly at Noah. “Build your boat, crazy man. But keep away 
from me and my family.”

“Me too,” added Bakbukiah. “If Elohim’s going to wipe out everyone I know 
and love, then I want to go where they’re going. I’m not going on a boat 
ride
with a murderous god, religious fanatics and a bunch of wild animals!”

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

The clever and contemptuous mockery of those who find the gospel simply 
ridiculous stings us. And it can stir up fears and doubts that we might 
really
be foolish after all and tempt us to keep our mouths closed.

God knows this and prepares us by explaining that the gospel will sound 
foolish to the world because he’s “[making] foolish the wisdom of the world” 
(1
Corinthians 1:20). Then he repeatedly tells us not to be ashamed of it (Luke 
9:26; Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:8).

Like Noah, who was a “herald of righteousness” in his age (2 Peter 2:5), we 
also are heralds of “events as yet unseen” (Hebrews 11:7). Jesus tells us 
that
Noah’s flood was a foreshadow:

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For 
as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying 
and
giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were 
unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming
of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:37–39)
block quote end

But in this greater judgment a greater, more perfect Ark has been provided: 
the crucified and risen Son of Man. All who are in him when the flood of God’s
wrath comes will be saved. But only those who believe his word can enter 
this Ark.

If Noah’s warning and gospel sounded foolish to his hearers, how much more 
does our warning and gospel sound to our hearers? We must not be surprised 
when
others ridicule it, for “the word of the cross is folly to those who are 
perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). But “it pleased God through the folly of 
what
we preach to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

Our call is not to be respected by the unbelieving world. Our call is to 
trust our Lord’s word over the confident contempt of those who are blinded 
(2
Corinthians 4:4), endure the reproach Jesus endured (Hebrews 13:13), and 
preach the gospel for the sake of those “who are being saved” (1 Corinthians 
1:18).
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C.S. Lewis Daily
Today's Reading

“You’ll understand when you see him.”

“But shall we see him?” asked Susan.

“Why, Daughter of Eve, that’s what I brought you here for. I’m to lead you 
where you shall meet him,” said Mr. Beaver.

“Is—is he a man?” asked Lucy.

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the 
King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you
know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel 
rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s 
anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re 
either
braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who 
said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the 
King,
I tell you.”

From
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Compiled in
A Year with Aslan

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Copyright © 1950 by C. S. Lewis Pte., 
Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1978 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.
Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With Aslan: Daily 
Reflections from The Chronicles of Narnia. Copyright © 2010 by C. S. Lewis 
Pte.
Ltd. Extracts taken from The Chronicles of Narnia. Copyright © C. S. Lewis 
Pte. Ltd. 1950-1956. All rights reserved. Used with permission of 
HarperCollins Publishers.
Follow C.S. Lewis:
CSLewis.com
Chronicles of Narnia:

Pastor's Blog
----------------------------------------------------------

Don’t I Know You?

Posted: 28 Jan 2014 06:42 AM PST

do i know you

Not so many days ago I was involved in a rather innocent exchange with a 
gentlemen seated to my right at a banquet. His name was Dr. Clarence 
Williams.
We were seated at the head table because I was invited to give greetings on 
behalf of the religious community and Dr. Williams was invited to give 
greetings
on behalf of the medical community. Between mouthfuls of food – I never let 
conversation interfere with eating – he asked me where I was from. I 
shrugged
and said, “Eatonton; you probably never heard of it.” His reply was quick 
and said that yes, in fact, he did know it quite well. “I taught at the High
School for a few years before I went to the Medical College. My wife is from 
Eatonton. In fact I know some Deloaches.” I proceeded to name the DeLoaches
in my family and he shook his head and said, “I remember Greg DeLoach, is he 
any kin?” “Well that’s me,” I blurted out.

It turns out he taught while I was in high school and although I never had 
him for a class, he remembered me attending a class next door. I wondered, 
and
still do, what in the world did I do, say, or how did I behave that would 
cause him to remember me thirty years later. As I ponder this, I am not sure
I want to know the answer. Still, I was touched that he reached across three 
decades to connect with me.

A couple of days later during Wednesday night dinner I am wandering from 
table to table (are you picking up that food is an underlying theme in my 
life?)
and Sophia, age four, gave me a big hug and a bigger smile and asked, “Did 
you see me last week?” I honestly could not remember, but instead of 
engaging
her in a nuanced dialogue around the limits of middle-age memory, I said, 
“You know, I think I did.” She responded with great delight, “Noooo….I wasn’t
here!” Howls of laughter from parents and grandparents filled the fellowship 
hall.

There are times when I will casually greet someone and be asked, “Did you 
miss me? I have been out of town travelling.” Or, “I have been sick,” or 
something
like that.

To be noticed…deep down we all want to know we mattered to someone else. 
While out of shyness, modesty or just simply introversion there are some who 
want
to be as inconspicuous as possible, I think everyone wants to matter to 
someone else.

Church – wherever you may go – can be a big place. Church should never be so 
big, however, where we no longer matter to one another. Jesus noticed a 
solitary
widow offering meager coins to a Temple treasury when others were busy with 
the wealth of others; he saw little children coming to be blessed when 
others
saw distractions needing to be shooed away; he saw a woman stooped with 
infirmity when others only saw a breach in protocol.

One of the great missions of the church is to see: to see injustice; to see 
brokenness; to see loneliness; to see pain; to see joy; to see opportunity;
to see others. We are here to pay attention to each other and to all others 
and take notice. It is a call to look in the eyes of Jesus and see the 
freedom
that awaits because we do not have to be captive anymore. It is also a call 
to see with the eyes of Jesus those who are bound and fettered, lost and 
lonely,
the least and the last, and set them free.

And when we see with the eyes of Jesus, or when we are seen by Jesus, the 
darkest powers no longer have a hold anymore.

“Don’t I know you?” is a holy claim and a sacred commission.

I am grateful for those who took notice of me and took me in.

Greg
Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List


Holiness and Service
By Skip Heitzig

One thing I love is that God looks for volunteers. He doesn’t force or push 
or “guilt” a person into service. He simply asks and looks for volunteers. I 
think there are far too many Christian organizations and churches that try 
to artificially produce something within people that is really a natural 
process, by the Spirit of God. I’m talking about service. You shouldn’t do 
it unless you feel that “I-want-to-do-that” sense.

One way God’s holiness should affect us is to develop a sense of mission, a 
desire to serve Him. In Isaiah 6:8 the prophet writes, “Also I heard the 
voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?’” (I 
think this is the Father speaking to the Son and the Holy Spirit. It’s the 
triune God “in conference” with each other.)

And Isaiah’s response is this: “Then I said, ‘Here am I, send me.’” In this 
passage, Isaiah goes from the revelation of a holy God, to the conviction of 
his own sin, to the cleansing of that sin, to the decision, “Send me, God. 
Let me serve You.”

Holiness develops commission. This is always the pattern: An unholy person 
is declared holy by a holy God, and then decides at some point, “I want God 
to have all of me. I want to do whatever He wants. I want to do His work, to 
serve Him.” Every Christian worker is simply a saved sinner who met a holy 
God who brought a deep sense of conviction and cleansed them. And they came 
to a place where they said, “I want to serve the Lord.” It’s a natural 
process by the Holy Spirit.

As we live the Christian life, the big challenge is to increasingly match 
our practice to our position. It’s one thing to be declared holy by God’s 
act of atonement, but it’s quite another to live a holy life. For example, a 
famous text is Ephesians 1:4: “God chose us that we should be holy and 
without blame before Him.” That’s a positional statement; that’s how God 
sees you in Christ: holy and without blame. But we fall short on a daily 
basis. The sanctification that comes after salvation, where
we become holier and more like the Lord, is paramount.

I’ve always loved what Layton Ford said: “God loves you just the way you are 
but He loves you too much to leave that way.” And so, He makes you 
increasingly like Him by His grace…and that will include service.

Our desire should be to be like Christ, whose desire was to “work the works 
of Him who sent Me” (John 9:4).

Copyright © 2014 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

Jesus's Command: "Be Different!"
by Charles R. Swindoll

Matthew 6:8

When Jesus walked the earth, He attracted a number of people to Himself. On 
one occasion, He sat down among them and taught them some bottom-line truths
about how He wanted them to grow up.

The scriptural account of His "Sermon on the Mount" is found in Matthew 5, 
6, and 7. If I were asked to suggest an overall theme of this grand sermon,
it would be "Be different!" Time and again, Jesus states the way things were 
among the religious types of their day, and then He instructs them to be 
different.
For example
Matthew 5:21-22: "You have heard . . . but I say to you. . . ."
Matthew 5:27-28: "You have heard . . . but I say to you. . . ."
Matthew 5:33-34: "Again, you have heard . . . but I say to you. . . ."
Matthew 5:38-39: "You have heard . . . but I say to you. . . ."
Matthew 5:43-44: "You have heard . . . but I say to you. . . ."
block quote end

Get the picture?

Then in Matthew 6, Jesus further explains how His listeners were to be 
different when they gave to the needy (6:2), and when they prayed (6:5), and 
when
they fasted (6:16). The key verse in the entire sermon is, "So do not be 
like them . . ." (6:8).

You see, Jesus saw through all the pride and hypocrisy of others and was 
determined to instill in His disciples character traits of humility and 
authenticity.
His unique teaching cut through the facade of religion like a sharp knife 
through warm butter. It remains to this day the most comprehensive 
delineation
in all the New Testament of the Christian counterculture . . . offering a 
lifestyle totally at variance with the world system.

Are you willing to be different today?

Excerpted from
Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living,
Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). 
All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

Women of the Bible Header
Rebekah

Her name means: "Loop" or "Tie"

Her character: Hardworking and generous, her faith was so great that she 
left her home forever to marry a man she had never seen or met. Yet she 
played
favorites with her sons and failed to trust God fully for the promise he had 
made.
Her sorrow: That she was barren for the first twenty years of her married 
life, and that she never again set eyes on her favorite son, Jacob, after he
fled from his brother Esau.
Her joy: That God had gone to extraordinary lengths to pursue her, to invite 
her to become part of his people and his promises.
Key Scriptures:
Genesis 24
;
25:19-34; 26:1-28:9

Her Story

The sun was dipping beyond the western rim of the sky as the young woman 
approached the well outside the town of Nahor, five hundred miles northeast 
of
Canaan. It was women's work to fetch fresh water each evening, and Rebekah 
hoisted the brimming jug to her shoulder, welcoming its cooling touch 
against
her skin.

As she turned to go, a stranger greeted her, asking for a drink. Obligingly, 
she offered to draw water for his camels as well. Rebekah noticed the look
of surprised pleasure that flashed across his face. Ten camels could put 
away a lot of water, she knew. But had she overheard his whispered prayer 
just
moments earlier, her astonishment would have exceeded his: "O Lord, God of 
my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master 
Abraham.
May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may 
have a drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too'—let her
be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac."

A simple gesture. A generous response. A young woman's future altered in a 
moment's time. The man Rebekah encountered at the well, Abraham's servant, 
had
embarked on a sacred mission—to find Isaac a wife from among Abraham's own 
people rather than from among the surrounding Canaanites. Like her 
great-aunt
Sarah before her, Rebekah would make the journey south to embrace a future 
she could hardly glimpse. Betrothed to a man twice her age, whose name meant
"Laughter," she felt a sudden giddiness rise inside her. The God of Abraham 
and Sarah was wooing her, calling her name and no other, offering a share in
the promise. God was forging a new nation to be his own people.

Isaac was forty when he first set eyes on Rebekah. Perhaps his heart echoed 
the joy of that first man, "Here at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my
flesh!" So Isaac and Rebekah entered the tent of his mother Sarah and made 
love. And the Bible says that Rebekah comforted Isaac after the death of his
mother.

Rebekah was beautiful and strong like Sarah, yet she bore no children for 
the first twenty years of her life with Isaac. Would she suffer as Sarah did
the curse of barrenness? Isaac prayed and God heard, giving her not one, but 
two sons, who wrestled inside her womb. And God told her: "Two nations are
in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people 
will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."

During the delivery, Jacob grasped the heel of his brother Esau, as though 
striving for first position. Though second by birth, he was first in his 
mother's
affections. But his father loved Esau best.

Years later, when Isaac was old and nearly blind, he summoned his firstborn, 
Esau. "Take your quiver and bow and hunt some wild game for me. Prepare the
kind of meal I like, and I will give you my blessing before I die."

But the clever Rebekah overheard and called quickly to Jacob, suggesting a 
scheme to trick the blessing from Isaac. Disguised as Esau, Jacob presented
himself to his father for the much-coveted blessing.

Isaac then blessed Jacob, thinking he was blessing Esau: "May nations serve 
you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the 
sons
of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those 
who bless you be blessed."

Isaac had stretched out his hand and passed the choicest blessing to his 
younger son, thus recalling the words spoken about the two children jostling 
for
position in Rebekah's womb. The benediction thus given could not be 
withdrawn, despite the deceit, despite Esau's tears, and despite his vow to 
kill Jacob.
Afraid lest Esau take revenge, Rebekah persuaded Isaac to send Jacob north 
to find a wife from among her brother Laban's daughters.

As the years passed, Rebekah must have longed to embrace her younger son, 
hoping for the privilege of enfolding his children in her embrace. But more 
than
twenty years would pass before Jacob returned. And though Isaac would live 
to welcome his son, Rebekah would not.

When Rebekah was a young girl, God had invited her to play a vital role in 
the story of his people. He had gone to great lengths to pursue her. Like 
Sarah,
she would become a matriarch of God's people, and like Sarah, her heart 
would divide itself between faith and doubt, believing that God's promise 
required
her intervention. Finding it difficult to rest in the promise God had made, 
she resorted to trickery to achieve it.

The results, mirroring her own heart, were mixed. Though Jacob indeed became 
heir to the promise, he was driven from his home and the mother who loved
him too well. In addition, he and his descendants would forever be at odds 
with Esau and his people, the Edomites. Two thousand years later, Herod the
Great, who hailed from Idumea (the Greek and Roman name for Edom) would 
slaughter many innocent children in his attempt to destroy the infant Jesus.

Yet God was still at work, graciously using a woman whose response to him 
was far less than perfect, in order to accomplish his purposes.

Her Promise

Rebekah heard Abraham's servant describe how he had prayed and how he was 
sure she was the woman God intended for Isaac. God himself had divinely 
orchestrated
the events. Rebekah seemed to have known that and, when asked, answered 
simply, "I will go."

Did Rebekah fully realize God's plan for her? Was she open to following that 
plan? Or was she simply entranced with the romantic notions of a young girl
looking for her knight in shining armor? Whatever her motivation, the events 
were planned by God, and he was able and willing to faithfully continue to
fulfill his promises through her.

God's faithfulness, despite our waywardness and contrariness, is evident 
both throughout Scripture and throughout our lives. He will be faithful; he 
promises.

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
to learn more about Ann's writing and ministry.

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

Available at the Bible Gateway store!

The necessity of daily prayer

(J.R. Miller,
"
Living Victoriously!")

"But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your 
door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who 
sees
in secret, will reward you openly." Matthew 6:6

In the Christian's devotional life, prayer has an essential place. The godly 
men of the Bible were all men of prayer. Jesus, who showed us in Himself the
ideal Christian life--had regular habits of prayer. He who would live the 
Christian life well, must regularly commune with God!

It is important, however, that we understand clearly what it is to pray. It 
is not enough that at stated times we go over certain forms of prayer. We 
only
pray, when we speak to God what is in our heart as a desire, a longing, or a 
burden.

Jesus teaches that we are to pray to God as our Father. We must come to Him, 
therefore, as His redeemed children--with the genuineness, the simplicity,
the confidence of children. When we stand at God's throne of grace and speak 
the name "Father" and ask for a child's blessing--we are sure of instant 
welcome.

Many people think of prayer only as coming to God with requests. They only 
tell Him their needs. They never bow before Him nor speak to Him, unless 
there
is something they wish Him to do for them.

What would you think of a friend of yours who never came to you nor talked 
with you, except when he wanted to ask some favor of you? True friendship 
finds
many of its sweetest moments, when there is no help to ask--but when only 
love's communion fills the happy time. It should be so in our relation with 
our
heavenly Father. If we care to be with Him only when we have a favor to ask 
of Him--then there is something lacking in our love!

We are not to suppose that when Jesus spent whole nights in prayer, He was 
making requests all the time. He went away from the trying, struggling, 
troublesome
life of the busy days among the people--to find shelter, rest, and renewal 
of strength, in sweet converse with His Father. Just so, most of the time we
spend in prayer should be given to communion with God.

A minister relates that one Saturday morning, when he was in his study 
preparing his sermon, his little child opened the door and came in, stealing 
softly
to his side. Somewhat impatiently, the father turned to her and asked, "What 
do you want, my child?"

"Nothing, papa," the child replied. "I only want to be with you."

This is oft-times the only desire of the true Christian when he comes to 
pray. He has no requests to make--he just wants to be with his Father!

The most profitable season of devotion, is that in which there is also 
meditation upon God's Word. It is related of a godly Christian who was known 
to
spend much time in his prayer-closet, that a friend once secreted himself in 
his study to learn something of his devotional habit. The godly man was busy
all the evening at his work. At eleven o'clock he put away his books and pen 
and opened his New Testament. For a whole hour he bent over its pages, 
reading,
comparing, pondering the sacred words. Sometimes he would linger long over a 
sweet verse and his heart would glow with rapture. When the clock struck 
twelve,
he closed the book and sought his bed.

He was not once on his knees during all the hour. He offered no petition in 
words. He had spent the whole time in communing with God in His Word, 
breathing
out his love, his adoration, his longings and desires--and receiving into 
his heart the assurances, the encouragements, the promises, the joys of the 
Father's
love.

There could be no better way of devotion than this!

Praying alone, without meditation on the Word of God, meets only one phase 
of our need. We talk to God when we pray. But it is quite as important that
God talks to us--and He will only talk with us, when we open the Scriptures 
and wait reverently to hear what He will say to us.

What is the HELP that we are to receive from prayer?

First of all, prayer holds us close to Christ. We breathe Heaven's air when 
we commune with Christ. Life in this sinful world is not easy. It has its 
struggles,
its duties, its difficulties, and its sorrows--which exhaust our strength. 
Hence we need continually to return to Christ to have our grace renewed. We
cannot live today, on yesterday's food; every morning we must pray for our 
daily bread. Nor can we be faithful, strong, happy and helpful Christians 
today--on
yesterday's supply of grace. We need to pray daily. Thus our life is kept 
from running down, and we are held near our Master all the while.

The true Christian life also grows--and it can only do so by daily communing 
with God. Our life should never run two days on just the same level. The 
days
should be ladder rungs lifting our heart ever a little higher, nearer to 
God, into purer air, into loftier experiences, into holier consecration.

Prayer brings God down into our life. It was when Jesus was praying, that He 
was transfigured. True prayer always transfigures! One who lives habitually
with Christ, becomes like Christ. Our earthly affairs become means of grace, 
if Christ is with us. Prayer lifts all the experiences of our life and lays
them in the hand of Christ--who makes them all work together for our eternal 
good!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We have just published
J.R. Miller's
very helpful and instructive book, "
Living Victoriously!"
Feel free to forward these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited 
by them!

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Today's Devotional

In The Blink Of An Eye

My daughter had been suffering for quite some time with discomfort and pain, 
and finally, she made an appointment with the doctor to have it checked out.
The day arrived when I drove my daughter to the hospital for surgery. An 
exploratory camera would be inserted into a couple of cuts made in the 
abdominal
area, to search for anything abnormal.

I wondered, What if there is something wrong and the news is not good? I 
thought about her husband and two children as I sat and waited. It is in a 
moment,
in the blink of an eye, that something can happen on the operating table 
that could forever change the life of the individual and everyone who is 
connected.

As I waited, the following verse came to mind:

Philippians 4:6 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and 
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 
(NASB)

It is at times such as these that we can ask God to be with the doctors, to 
direct their hands and minds, and to grant peace to all concerned. All we 
have
to do is ask and trust. God, in His mercy, did hear my prayer and granted me 
peace.

The surgery went well, and my daughter received some good news. She also 
went for a second opinion and received better news.

If you are going through a rough time right now, wondering what the future 
will bring, or if you have just received some bad news about a loved one and
you feel as if you've been hit by a truck and can't go on, remember our 
Lord's promise:

Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and 
through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the 
fire,
you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. (NASB)

Most of us, at one time or another, have gone through or are at this very 
moment facing sickness, a loss, or some other hardship. Remember, we have 
doctors
or nurses, our immediate and church families, and friends whom we can lean 
upon. But above all, we have a Friend who promises to be with us in all 
things.
His name is Jesus.

Isaiah 41:10 – Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about 
you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, 
surely
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (NASB)

Prayer: Lord, provide caregivers and nurses who are compassionate, doctors 
who have a heart for healing the people they encounter, and volunteers who 
are
cheerful and friendly. Each one of us is given a talent or special gift to 
share with the community. Help us to see the way that we should go, and 
direct
us in that way. Amen.

Rosemary Hagedorn <
rosyhagedorn@gmail.com>
Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada

Thought for Today: What we decide about Jesus determines our destiny.

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

Noah's Ark!

(Edward Griffin, "
NOAH'S ARK")

"HE wiped out every living thing that was on the surface of the ground, from 
mankind to livestock, to creatures that crawl, to the birds of the sky, and
they were wiped off the earth! Only Noah was left, and those who were with 
him in the ark!" Genesis 7:23

Finally, the frightful morning began! The heavens gathered blackness. Angry 
tempests conflicted in the skies. The lightnings flashed over the world! 
Word
was spread, that Noah and his family had entered into the ark. The ungodly 
then began to fear!

Before long, floods of water poured from the sky. Some now began to turn 
their eyes towards the ark; others stood doubting; others still dared to 
scoff!

The waters go on to increase. The rivers fill--and start to overflow. The 
waters begin to rise in the streets. Some flee into their houses; others, 
more
intimidated, hasten to the hills! Others are now convinced, and with 
dreadful fright, are seen wading towards the ark!

The fountains of the great deep are now broken up! The waters rise more 
rapidly, and begin to rush with impetuous force. With difficulty they stand 
against
the stream. They struggle for their lives to reach the ark! Thousands 
come--some wading, some swimming, some sinking, some hanging onto the ark 
with the
grasp of death--all screaming for admission!

But it is too late! Time was, when the ark was open and they might have 
entered in--but that time is past! Where are now those tongues which derided 
the
enormous vessel and the man who built it? Now what do you think of him--who 
for more than a century has borne the character of a fool and madman! They
would give a thousand worlds--to be in his condition now!

Those nearest to the ark, cry and plead for admission, but in vain! The 
waters roar! The ark is lifted up! They sink and are seen no more!

By this time, every wretch on earth is thoroughly convinced. Hear their 
cries from the tops of the houses, which are answered by wails from those on 
the
hills. See the multitudes who have fled to the mountains. How like 
frightened sheep they crowd together! Now the waters, roaring and foaming, 
have reached
their feet! They flee up to the highest ridge--but the floods pursue them 
there! Some are able to climb the lofty oaks--and the waves overtake them 
there!
They flee to the highest branches, and for a moment have time to reflect on 
their former madness: "How could I disbelieve the Lord's prophet? Where is
now the ark which I scorned? Where am I going? O eternity! eternity! What a 
dreadful God have I despised!" On the topmost bough, the impetuous torrent
sweeps them away! Their hold is broken--and they sink to rise no more!

The ark floats by--and sails over the heads of the revilers and persecutors! 
Only that blessed family in the ark are safe!

The same terrors will seize an unbelieving world when Jesus comes again! "As 
it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying 
and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew 
nothing
about what would happen until the flood came and swept them all away! That 
is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man!" Matthew 24:37-39

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In the light of the upcoming movie, "NOAH"--you may desire to read the whole 
of Edward Griffin's powerful short article, "
NOAH'S ARK". Also, be sure to listen to the AUDI and watch the VIDEO.

Thank God for hiding the future!

(John MacDuff,
"Ripples in the Twilight" 1885)

There is no more gracious provision for our happiness, than what is 
contained in that brief saying of Scripture, "You do not know what will 
happen tomorrow!"
James 4:14

If we knew in full, in this grief-stricken world, all that would befall us 
in the future--how sad would existence be! It would leave even prosperity 
without
a note of gladness; for the certainty of losing our blessings, would rob us 
of all their enjoyment while we retained them. And thus moments of unbounded
pleasure, would be clouded with the dark characters of anticipated sorrow.

How would the mother's joy be marred, as the object of her tender solicitude 
and affection was sporting by her side, or as she hung over the infant 
cradle--if
she could pry with certainty into the future, and read the mournful sequel 
of that little history--the lingering sickness, the early grave, the 
blighted
hopes, the desolated household, the broken heart. To know the future, would 
convert the few brief years of possession of her blessing, into consecutive
hours of agony--the consciousness and foreknowledge that every moment was 
drawing nearer the fatal one--sitting by Time's sand-glass and marking grain
by grain, as they dropped and fell, until the last grain of the diminishing 
heap announced, "The long-dreaded hour has arrived!"

But, thank God that the future is veiled! The storm and coming wreck are 
concealed, in order that the calm of the present waveless sea may be 
enjoyed.

Yes, we again say, thank God for hiding the future, and allowing us only to 
be conversant with the joys and sorrows of today.

"You do not know what will happen tomorrow!" James 4:14

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We have published another precious 31 day devotional by
John MacDuff,
"
THE MIND OF JESUS".

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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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Grateful for Grace

We must not see grace as a provision made after the law had failed. Grace 
was offered before the law was revealed. Indeed, grace was offered before 
man
was created! "You were bought, not with something that ruins like gold or 
silver, but with the precious blood of Christ, who was like a pure and 
perfect
lamb. Christ was chosen before the world was made, but he was shown to the 
world in these last times for your sake" (
1 Pet. 1:18–20
NCV).

Why would God offer grace before we needed it? Glad you asked. Let's return 
one final time to the charge card my father gave me. Did I mention that I 
went
several months without needing it? But when I needed it, I really needed it. 
You see, I wanted to visit a friend on another campus. Actually, the friend
was a girl in another city, six hours away. On an impulse I skipped class 
one Friday morning and headed out. Not knowing whether my parents would 
approve,
I didn't ask their permission. Because I left in a hurry, I forgot to take 
any money. I made the trip without their knowledge and with an empty wallet.

Everything went fine until I rear-ended a car on the return trip. Using a 
crowbar, I pried the fender off my front wheel so the car could limp to a 
gas
station. I can still envision the outdoor phone where I stood in the autumn 
chill. My father, who assumed I was on campus, took my collect call and 
heard
my tale. My story wasn't much to boast about. I'd made a trip without his 
knowledge, without any money, and wrecked his car.

"Well," he said after a long pause, "these things happen. That's why I gave 
you the card. I hope you learned a lesson."

Did I learn a lesson? I certainly did. I learned that my father's 
forgiveness predated my mistake. He had given me the card before my wreck in 
the event
that I would have one. He had provided for my blunder before I blundered. 
Need I tell you that God has done the same? Please understand; Dad didn't 
want
me to wreck the car. He didn't give me the card so that I would wreck the 
car. But he knew his son. And he knew his son would someday need grace.

Please understand; God doesn't want us to sin. He didn't give us grace so we 
would sin. But he knows his children. "He made their hearts and understands
everything they do" (Ps. 33:15NCV). "He knows how we were made"
 (Ps. 103:14 NCV). And he knew that we would someday need his grace.
In the Grip of Grace
This excerpt is taken from
In the Grip of Grace.

No Stranger To the Rain

By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

SWARTZ CREEK, MI (ANS) -- Seventeen years ago (on the next Valentine Day, 
ironically) my wife Nancy received her heart transplant. For the subsequent 
six
years, until we moved to California, our family conducted a hospital 
ministry at Temple University in Philadelphia. We visited weekly, at least, 
conducting
services, praying with patients and their families, and ministering as we 
could, even to staff.

There were breakthroughs, some healings, conversions to Christianity, and, 
as you can imagine, uncountable emotional moments.

Our services invariably were comprised of the most random assortment of 
people. as random as the population is vulnerable to heart disease. 
Protestants
and Catholics happily sat side-by-side. Hispanics and Asians who sometime 
barely understood the rest of us would attend... and often prayed earnest 
words
that we all somehow understood. Skeptics and Jews were among our most 
faithful attendees. Wives and children of those waiting for hearts... or 
widows and
families of those patients who sadly slipped away while waiting, or after 
unsuccessful procedures. (Even our eclectic music provided surprises. Blacks
usually liked Southern gospel, rural whites appreciated black spirituals. We 
had a Jewish couple who loved, just loved, old Christian hymns. Moved to 
tears.)

Pastors would ask Nancy how she, untrained as a speaker or exegete -- and 
terminally shy, otherwise -- could face the questions, the crises, t he 
cries
and sobs: "Why?" WHY?

Our only answers were consistent with scripture. There is sin in the world, 
and disease; nobody is immune. The Bible does not promise that we will be 
free
of trouble; just that God will be with us through troubles, sometimes 
healing bodies, sometimes healing spirits. And the best answer to the 
burning questions
"Why? Why me?" -- "I don't know."

This answer is not a counselor's sign of surrender; not a loss of wisdom. 
Rather it is the wisest course any of us have through many of life's crises.
We cause some of our own problems; and the devil can bring things upon us. 
But. The mark of a mature Christian is not to load all the Bible verses we 
can
into the knapsack, and whip out the best ones at the best moments. No: it is 
to admit that we need God. To call upon HIS wisdom. To pray without ceasing.
God forbid we ever have the attitude of "OK, God. Take a break. I'll carry 
it from here!"

In fact, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. That is in Psalm 
111:10.

It is a familiar verse despit e its spotty application in many of our lives. 
There were other verses, in our hospital services, that patients and their
families would often quote, to pass wisdom along, or to explain their brand 
of spiritual comfort-food.

"God will never give us more than we can handle." "Into each life a little 
rain must fall." "God helps those who help themselves." These words are 
familiar
to many of us. But would you fail a pop quiz about in which books of the 
Bible they can be found? The maxim about rain was written by the poet 
Longfellow;
the last saying was written by Benjamin Franklin.

God gives us burdens mercifully short of our breaking-points? Probably a 
corruption of I Corinthians 10:13, about God not tempting us beyond our 
powers
to resist.

This is an important point. God surely DOES allow things, and might even 
"give" us things, that are more than we can handle. Why should we kid 
ourselves?
It is an empty sort of security to think that this is not so. It is a false 
conception of God to think that a loving God would allow such things. Tough
to deal with, but true.

Why else would we rely on Him? How can we seek His face otherwise? What 
would be the purpose of a Spirit-led life? Who would we go to, otherwise, in 
times
of trouble? When we are in pain -- emotional, spiritual, not only 
physical -- what instincts should be automatic? Where can we go, but to the 
Lord? As
Andrae Crouch wrote in his great song "Through It All,"

If I'd never had a problem,
I wouldn't know God could solve them,
I'd never know what faith in God could do.

Nancy used to say that she would not choose to go through again everything 
she endured. but she wouldn't trade the journey for anything. Behind those 
words
was a saint who also received a kidney transplant, had diabetes, cancer, 
heart attacks, strokes, eye problems, amputations, dialysis, and more.

January 21 is the one-year anniversary of her death. The testimony of a 
believer whose faith remained strong, and kept looking forward, and trusting 
even
when she didn't understand, is encouraging still. It was the path of a 
Christian.

There are other sayings that come to mind, that we always hear. Vince Gill, 
the singer-songwriter, properly dismissed a discussion about "filling 
someone's
shoes" by just declaring that sometimes they don't make a certain kind of 
shoe anymore. Which mirrors another proper definition: "Some people cannot 
be
replaced. They can only be succeeded." There is no shame or regret in that.

The same Vince Gill wrote a song when his brother died. "Go Rest High" has 
become an anthem in churches and the country-music world, at funerals and 
memorials.
His brother had a difficult life, and the words of the song, with a change 
of tense or nuance, could apply to Nancy and other faithful "Overcomers."

I know your life on earth was troubled,
And only you could know the pain.
You weren't afraid to face the devil;
You were no stranger to the rain.

Oh, how we cried the day you left us.
We gathered 'round your bed to grieve.
I wish I could see the angels' faces
When they heard your sweet voice sing.

+ + +
Thi s clip of Vince Gill's classic song was performed at the memorial 
service of George Jones. Vince shows his emotions during the song -- as he 
frequently still does, and can anyone who watches it do otherwise? -- and is assisted 
by the great Patty Loveless.
Click: Go Rest High
https://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=l11oCvBxnQ0

See all ASSIST News articles at
www.assistnews.net
This story is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily 
reflect the views of the ASSIST News Service or ASSIST Ministries.
Rick Marschall is the author of 65 books and hundreds of magazine articles 
in many fields, from popular culture (Bostonia Magazine called him "perhaps
America's foremost authority on popular culture") to history and criticism; 
country music, television history, biography and children's books. He is a
former political cartoonist, editor of Marvel Comics, and writer for Disney 
comics. For 10 years he has been active in the Christian field, writing 
devotionals;
co-author of The Secret Revealed with Dr Jim Garlow. His biography of Johann 
Sebastian Bach for the "Christian Encounters" series (Thomas Nelson) was 
released
in April, 2011. His history of cartoon Advertising, Drawing Power, will be 
published in July 2011 by the Marschall Books imprint of fantagraphics 
Books.
In October his major biography of Theodore Roosevelt, BULLY!, will be 
publ;ished by Regnery History of Washington DC. He is currently working on a 
One-Year
CDevotional for Tyndale House; and edits the the reissue of Harper's 
Weekly -- the Civil War Ye ars for NOVOink e-books. Rick is a former 
Director of Product
Development for Youth Specialties. He is recipient of the 2008 "Christian 
Writer of the Year" award from the Greater Philadelphia Writer's Conference,
and produces a weekly e-mail devotional, "Monday Morning Music Ministry." 
His e-mail address is:
RickMarschall@gmail.com.
----------------------------------------------------------
** You may republish this story with proper attribution.
Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

Tozer-on-Christian-Leadership

Personal Life: Stay in the Secret Place

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct 
it to You, and I will look up.—
Psalm 5:3

Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it be only the 
bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better 
place).
Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of 
your heart and a sense of God's presence envelops you. Deliberately tune out
the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear 
them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it. Stop 
trying
to compete with others. Give yourself to God and then be what and who you 
are without regard to what others think. Reduce your interests to a few. 
Don't
try to know what will be of no service to you. Avoid the digest type of 
mind—short bits of unrelated facts, cute stories and bright sayings. Learn 
to pray
inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work. 
Practice candor, childlike honesty, humility. Pray for a single eye. Read 
less,
but read more of what is important to your inner life. Never let your mind 
remain scattered for very long. Call home your roving thoughts. Gaze on 
Christ
with the eyes of your soul. Practice spiritual concentration. Of God and 
Men, 128-129.

"Lord, I need all of these practical suggestions. Direct me today to those 
things that would most enhance my walk with you, and enable me to serve You
better. Amen."


Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You

A Word With You
Daily Devotional
Broken Shells - #7054

My wife I were enjoying a wonderful few days of rest on the Gulf Coast of 
Florida. And one of our favorite things to do is to walk the beach, although
we can't seem to agree on how fast to walk. See, I'm Mr. Aerobics and she's 
Mrs. Aesthetics. She loves to walk slowly enough to appreciate the beautiful
sea shells that the tide has deposited on the beach. Well, she finally 
slowed me down long enough to enjoy some of the color and the design that 
God has
put into those shells. I'm glad she did.

Of course we weren't the only ones collecting them. Many people were walking 
along looking for those shell treasures. And my wife made an interesting 
observation.
She said, "You know, no one picks up the broken ones." Well she does. She 
reached into her bag of treasures and produced this pink and white 
cone-shaped
shell. Now the hard exterior had been broken away by the pounding surf, but 
there exposed was the interior which you wouldn't usually see; a beautiful,
expressive pattern of twists and curls, and this intricate network of the 
inner chambers of a shell. I was seeing beauty I never could have seen if 
the
shell wasn't broken.

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

Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Corinthians 12. Paul is 
telling about his thorn in the flesh, and it was so painful and so 
frustrating
it had to break him. And though the breaking was ugly, the result was really 
something beautiful. Three times he'd asked for this to be removed; whatever
this agony was for him. But he says, "The Lord has said to me, 'My grace is 
sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, he 
says,
'I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ' power 
may rest on me. That is why for Christ's sake I delight in weaknesses, in 
insults,
in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am 
strong."

The brokenness of Paul's life exposed the beauty and the grace of God, the 
strength of God, the power of God. My wife said, "No one picks up the broken
ones." Actually Jesus does. Maybe He's done that with you. He uses the pain 
first to create a beauty in you that you could not develop any other way. He
may be trying to do that right now.

When we're at the end of our answers and our resources, we finally throw 
ourselves on God in this total desperate dependency. And that humility gets 
us
out of the way and allows us to experience God's power and God's love on a 
level we may have never touched before. There's nothing left of us so it's 
all
Him, and that produces a beautiful new spirit; one that could never be there 
if we hadn't been broken.

God also uses our pain to give us a deep, new compassion; a new sensitivity 
for hurting people. And that compassion enables us to really make a 
difference
for other people in a struggling world. After Christ creates that beauty 
inside of us, He displays it to a world that desperately needs to know the 
difference
Jesus can make. The pounding breaks open our hard shell and lets the world 
see Jesus working inside.

If you're going through a hurting time right now, all eyes are upon you to 
see how you handle it. You have a unique opportunity to show them Jesus 
through
your brokenness in a way you never could when you were whole. You know, 
Jesus was a broken person. He handed at that first communion to His 
disciples broken
bread and said, "This is My body which is broken for you." He was broken so 
we could be healed.

You know, all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty 
Dumpty together again. But I like to say, "The King can." He puts Humpty 
Dumpty
people together again. I don't know if you've ever met this Jesus. I don't 
know if you've ever personally experienced Him for yourself. But I would 
love
to introduce you to Him. Would you meet us at our website? It's 
ANewStory.com, and let Him move into the broken places in you and heal what 
only He can.

You know, brokenness is beautiful if the love and power of Jesus are exposed 
to people who might not see that beauty any other way.
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If Christ’s work on the cross teaches us anything about friendships, it’s 
that forgiveness and grace trumps all. After all, mere hours before his 
gruesome
death, Jesus was ignored, abandoned, denied, and betrayed by his closest 
friends. He could have equally been speaking of Peter, a man in his inner 
circle,
when he begged on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what 
they do” (Luke 23:34). Yet, even after being left alone and misunderstood, 
Christ
still made the ultimate act of love for his friends (and the world).

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” 
(Romans 12:10).

Work

Often our “good” side is saved for our friends and loved ones, while our 
places of work get the short (or grumpy) end of the stick. As you ponder the 
work
Christ did on the cross, and the glory of his resurrection, remember that 
our work can be a beautiful echo of his perfect work, holy and pleasing to 
God.

“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the 
living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who 
believe.
Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but 
set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in
faith,
in purity” (1 Timothy 4:10-12).

Intersecting Faith and Life: What area of your life needs to come alive in 
honor of Easter? How can you seek Christ daily in your relationships and 
duties?

Further Reading
Book of Titus
Crosswalk.com

The unconscious influences of our lives

(J.R. Miller,
"Evening Thoughts" 1907)

"After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And 
after the fire came a gentle whisper." 1 Kings 19:12

It is not in noise that God usually reveals Himself in greatest power. He 
works silently, without noise.

Jesus was a still small voice in this world. He did not strive nor cry out; 
neither was His voice heard in the streets. He did not break a bruised reed,
so gentle was He in His goings and in His workings. Yet that one sweet, 
quiet life, pouring forth its spirit of love and tenderness, wrought more 
than
has been wrought by all the armies of conquerors since the world began!

In the same way, it is the silent things, the unconscious influences of our 
lives, which make the deepest and most lasting impressions--and not the 
things
which get advertised in the papers, and are most talked about.

If we would be effective in our work, we must learn to work quietly.

The greatest preacher is the one who most deeply impresses men, in matters 
that affect their living and serving, inciting and inspiring them to worthy
deeds and beautiful godly living. The best Christian workers are those who 
make the least noise. We never can do our best work if we have not learned 
to
work quietly, for Christ glory, and not for our own exaltation.


Feel free to forward these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited 
by them!
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Are You in the Belly of a Big Fish?
by Fred Alberti, Salem Web Network Director of Social Media

But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside 
the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah 1:17

Being a homeschool
family
we sometimes have some rather interesting experiments that we get to enjoy 
as a family. George is one such experiment. George is a goldfish whose 
bowl-mate
sadly perished. My son's task was to teach the goldfish to come to the top 
of the bowl when he tapped on the glass. After several weeks of tapping and
feeding and tapping and feeding the fish finally learned to come to the top 
of the bowl.

Big deal right? Right, that is until the fish started to do more. Anytime 
someone would walk by the bowl he would get all excited and start moving his
mouth like he was yelling at whoever it was that was walking by the bowl. 
This became rather normal and we would just ignore him or comment that he 
was
yelling at us in Spanish.

Then one day my kids were listening to an FFH song titled "
Big Fish."
It was then that George decided to really show off what he could do. When 
the song played George would begin to swim around like he was dancing in the
water and would seemingly move his mouth to the words (move over Ashlee 
Simpson).

I particularly like the first verse of the song which goes like this:

Are you in the big fish
Are you sitting in the belly of a world gone mad
Have you turned your back in His wish
On His will for your life, have you made Him sad
Do you want to get out of the big fish
Listen to God and follow His plan
And you won't be part of the main dish
He'll spit you out on to dry land

I've sometimes felt like I was in the belly of a big fish. I had decided to 
do something my way instead of first seeking the Lord's guidance and 
leading.

You, whoever you are, God has a plan for your life. Maybe you feel like you 
are wasting your time at a dead-end job. Or perhaps you have no job but 
would
desperately like one. Maybe you think you have the dream job but the Lord 
has been speaking to you in a still small voice to give it up for something 
else.
Like Jonah, you may not particularly like the mission God has for you but He 
has the intention of making you ideally suited to carry that plan out.

Will you follow His plan or will you turn your back?

Maybe you've already chosen to turn your back and feel that there is no way 
out now. If that is the case I've got good news for you. The Bible has this
to say about Jonah, "From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God" 
(Jonah 2:1). God is the God of second, third, and fourth chances.

Commit your way to the Lord today.
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Women of the Bible Header
Hagar

Her name means: "Fugitive" or "Immigrant"

Her character: A foreigner and slave, Hagar let pride overtake her when she 
became Abraham's wife. A lonely woman with few resources, she suffered harsh
punishment for her mistake. She obeyed God's voice as soon as she heard it 
and was given a promise that her son would become the father of a great 
nation.
Her sorrow: That she was taken from her homeland to become a slave in a 
foreign land, where she was mistreated for many years.
Her joy: To know that God cared, that he saw her suffering and heard her 
cry, and that he helped her when she needed him most.
Key Scriptures:
Genesis 16
;
21:8-21
;
Galatians 4:22-31

Her Story

An Egyptian slave and Sarah's bitter rival, Hagar still had one thing going 
for her that her mistress never enjoyed: a personal revelation of God, who
lovingly intervened on her behalf, not once but twice. It happened when she 
was alone and afraid, without a shekel to her name—but that's getting ahead
of the story.

You may remember that Abraham, whom we honor as the father of faith, showed 
little evidence of that faith when he and Sarah first entered Egypt to 
escape
a famine in Canaan. Certain the Egyptians would kill him once they caught 
sight of his beautiful wife, he advised her to pose as his sister. Soon 
enough,
Pharaoh added Sarah to his harem and rewarded Abraham with an abundance of 
camels, sheep, cattle, donkeys, and servants. But God punished Pharaoh for 
his
unwitting error so effectively that, when he found out that Sarah was 
actually Abraham's wife, he ordered the two of them to leave Egypt with all 
their
belongings. Possibly, Hagar was part of the booty Abraham and Sarah took 
with them—a gift they later regretted.

Still, of the three parties involved in the scheme to make Hagar a surrogate 
mother, she was perhaps the only innocent one, a slave with little power to
resist. When Sarah told Abraham to sleep with her maid, she opened the door 
to spiritual catastrophe. As soon as Hagar discovered her pregnancy, she 
began
lording it over her mistress, hardly a smart move for a young foreigner up 
against a woman entrenched in her husband's affections.

In fact, Sarah made life so difficult for Hagar that she fled into the 
desert, a desperate move for a pregnant woman who was so far from home. She 
hadn't
gotten far before she heard a voice calling, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where 
have you come from, and where are you going? Go back to your mistress and
submit to her." But then, as if to sweeten the order, came a word of 
assurance: "You will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord 
has heard
of your misery."

Remarkably, Hagar didn't argue but returned to Abraham and Sarah. Like a 
stream of water in the desert, God's word had penetrated the wilderness of 
her
heart. Her bondage, her bitterness, her anxiety about the future—God had 
seen every bit of it. He knew about the child in her womb, naming him 
Ishmael,
meaning "God Hears." In the years to come, whenever Hagar would hold her son 
close, watch him play, or worry about his future, she would remember that
God was near, listening for the child's cry. Little wonder that she had 
responded to the voice in the desert by calling the Lord "the God who sees 
me."

Some sixteen years later, Hagar found herself once again in the wilderness, 
this time by force rather than by choice. In a crescendo of bitterness 
against
her younger rival, Sarah had expelled Hagar and Ishmael from their home. 
Dying from thirst, Hagar placed her son under a bush and withdrew, unable to 
witness
his agony.

Her weeping was soon broken by an angel's voice, "Do not be afraid; God has 
heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the
hand, for I will make him into a great nation." With that, the angel of the 
Lord opened Hagar's eyes so that she discovered a well of water nearby that
would save her son's life.

The last we see of Hagar, she is living in the Desert of Paran in the Sinai 
Peninsula, busy securing a wife, and, therefore, a future, for Ishmael. God
had made a way in the wilderness for a single woman and her son, without 
friends, family, or resources to help her. He had seen, he had heard, and he 
had
indeed been faithful.

Her Promise

A thin young woman sits huddled in the front seat of her car. She covers her 
ears to block out the sound of her little son as he whimpers with cold in
the backseat. Her husband abandoned her and the boy two months before. Left 
without resources, she was soon turned out of her apartment. The car is now
their only home. It has long since seen its last drop of gasoline, and its 
worn interior provides little protection from the winter winds outside.

This modern-day Hagar is no further from God's promises than was Hagar 
herself as she poured out her sorrow in the desert. God sees her heartache, 
just
as he saw Hagar's. Though you may not be as desperate as Hagar or her modern 
counterpart, you may have experienced times in your life that made you fear
for the future. Whether you are living in a wilderness of poverty or 
loneliness or sorrow, God's promises, love, and protection are just as 
available to
you now as they were to Hagar.

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

In the Presence of God
Experiencing God's Discipline

I had a football coach who had hands the size of catcher's mitts. When we 
got out of line, he would stand in front of us and place his hands on our 
shoulders.
As he rebuked us, he would begin to squeeze our shoulders. When he did that 
to me, I could hardly keep standing.

During my days in seminary, I went through a difficult period. I went to one 
of my professors, Dr. John Gerstner, for counsel. When I told him what I was
experiencing, he made the simple comment, "The Lord's hand is heavy on you 
right now." I immediately thought of my football coach. I had vivid memories
of a heavy hand on me.

When God puts His heavy hand on me, it hurts far worse than any punishment 
wrought by my football coach. This is not to suggest that God is "heavy 
handed"
in the pejorative sense. But His hand of discipline can be heavy indeed. It 
would be far worse, of course, if I screamed at Him, "Take Your hands off 
me!"
. . . and He did. If God ever took His hands off us, we would perish in an 
instant.

Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God

Thank God for keeping His hand on you.

For Further Study

Psalm 32:4: "For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was 
turned into the drought of summer."

Psalm 94:12: "Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of 
Your law."

Psalm 119:67: "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your 
word."

The mission, passion and purpose of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. R.C. Sproul 
is to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness. For more
information, please visit
www.ligonier.org
© R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved.

The FAX of Life

Title: Church: "Doing" or "Being"?

Date: For the Week of January 13, 2014

It seems to me that more people who claim to be Christ-followers in this 
world are caught up in doing church over being church. Church isn't a place.
It isn't a set of ritual acts. It isn't the performance abilities of 
teachers or musicians. Church is the life of Jesus on display through his 
people -
with Jesus functioning as head and all his people as various parts of his 
body in the world.

Jerry Cook tells a story about Richard Halverson that illustrates the 
contrast between "doing" and "being" as the people who confess Christ.

Dr. Halverson was chaplain of the United States Senate for several years. He 
would occasionally visit the seminary where Cook was a student. After one
of those visits to speak to students, he joined a group of them for coffee 
and made himself available for informal conversation.

"Dr. Halverson," began one of the seminarians, "where is your church?" The 
student was asking about the street location of the Presbyterian Church 
Halverson
served, but he got a deeper and more insightful answer.

"Well, its three o'clock in Washington, D.C. The church I pastor is all over 
the city right now. It's driving buses, serving meals in restaurants, 
sitting
in board meetings, having discussions in the Pentagon, deliberating in 
Congress." He proceeded with a long list of roles and responsibilities where 
his
church was functioning that day. "And periodically we get together at a 
building on Fourth Street," he added, "but we don't spend a lot of our time 
there."

The pastor-chaplain was not naive with his answer. He was brilliant. And he 
had the clear intent to challenge a young would-be pastor to raise his 
sights
above the Sunday event of church as an assembly. Or even church as programs 
and budgets and organization. The church was never intended to be isolated
from the world but to penetrate it as salt does food. Jesus wants his people 
to be "in the world" but not "of the world" - functioning as light to dark
places.

Where will you be today? In meetings? On the phone? Calling on clients? 
Teaching algebra? Cleaning house? Delivering product? Delivering speeches? 
Delivering
babies? Wherever you will be and whatever you are doing there, you will be 
part of the spread-out, scattered-over-the-world church. Your role is to be
a stand-in for Jesus to make the world a better, less-threatening place.

"Whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, 
all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father" (Colossians 3:17
NLT).

For back issues and other resources please visit
www.RubelShelly.com
@RubelsFaxOfLife

The Secret of Forgiveness

We will never be cleansed until we confess we are dirty. We will never be 
pure until we admit we are filthy. And we will never be able to wash the 
feet
of those who have hurt us until we allow Jesus, the one we have hurt, to 
wash ours.

You see, that is the secret of forgiveness. You will never forgive anyone 
more than God has already forgiven you. Only by letting him wash your feet 
can
you have strength to wash those of another.

Still hard to imagine? Is it still hard to consider the thought of forgiving 
the one who hurt you?

If so, go one more time to the room. Watch Jesus as he goes from disciple to 
disciple. Can you see him? Can you hear the water splash? Can you hear him
shuffle on the floor to the next person? Good. Keep that image.

John 13:12
says, "When he had finished washing their feet ... " (NCV)

Please note; he finished washing their feet. That means he left no one out. 
Why is that important? Because that also means he washed the feet of Judas.
Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer. He gave his traitor equal attention. 
In just a few hours Judas' feet would guide the Roman guard to Jesus. But at
this moment they are caressed by Christ.

That's not to say it was easy for Jesus.

That's not to say it is easy for you.

That is to say that God will never call you to do what he hasn't already 
done

This excerpt is taken from
A Gentle Thunder.

Crosswalk the Devotional
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Experiencing LIFE Today - January 9, 2014

I sometimes just say, “Lord Jesus, lovely Lord Jesus!” over and over and 
over slowly, there is nothing better or more healing…. There hath not fail 
one word of all His good promises. All the promises of God are “yea” and 
“amen”, and that’s enough right there to go on. —Dottie, my mother-in-law

Life on this planet can be tough. Jesus never promised otherwise:

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

John recorded that in his gospel, but he doesn’t leave it there. In his 
first letter, John puts it in perspective for those who are born again:

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are 
not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the 
victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that 
overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of 
God. —1 John 5:3-5

The core commandments to love, to trust, to live in Him, and to rest in 
Him—these give us a victory over the world that is so obvious that John says 
it is one of the “signs” that we are born of God. Personally, I know of no 
one whose life speaks as loudly to these truths as my mother-in-law. If you 
remember, when my wife was born, Dottie’s life was a complete mess, ravaged 
by brokenness. Now some forty-odd years later, her body is starting to break 
down. Yet listen to some of the words she wrote
in a letter to us:
list of 4 items
• “It all about His business, I take care of His business, HE takes care of 
my business.”
• “LORD, it’s your body, if this is what you want for your body, be my 
guest!”
• “Jesus is the only true reality in my life. Every word that comes out of 
the mouth of God matters, just like He said. The rest is just a bunch of 
scrambling around and babbling.”
• “He is alive and real in me. How much closer can He get than ‘in’? 
Mercifully, He and I are inseparable. No thanks to me, He did it all. If so, 
I can trust Him, He doeth all things well!”
list end
Yes, MY mother-in-law. (And NO, you can’t have her.) She is an “unburdened 
overcomer” of the world. That characteristic of overcoming the world is one 
of the signs that we have been born again.

Jesus, be the only true reality in my life. I release my worldly burdens to 
You. I take on Your commands which are not burdensome at all when I allow 
You to live them through me in Your strength. Amen.

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

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Should we isolate ourselves from such a world, trying to keep ourselves 
“unstained”? Should we be intimidated by what our secular counterparts 
believe because we feel “out of step”? Then again, maybe we should identify 
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Life is full of Choices

Frightened by Change
Monday, January 13, 2014
“They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed 
sitting down, clothed and in his right mind…they became frightened…And they 
began
to implore Him to leave their region.” – Mark 5:15-17 NASB

A great miracle had taken place. A major problem had been solved. Of that 
there was no doubt.

From his nearby home “among the tombs,” the demon-possessed man had been 
screaming “night and day” and doing irrational things like “gashing himself 
with
stones.” Filled with demonic strength, he could not be controlled.

Then Jesus appeared, and the man was delivered. Everyone could see the 
transformation for themselves. The man was “sitting down, clothed and in his 
right
mind.”

However, instead of rejoicing or feeling relieved, they became frightened 
and implored Jesus to leave their region. Although no one doubted the 
reality
of God’s power, they did not want to change. They simply wanted everything 
to return to “normal.”

Many people are like this today. They may believe in God, go to church, and 
think of themselves as followers of Jesus. They may know that God’s power is
real and understand that He answers prayer. But they are comfortable in 
their lifestyle. They are content, and they don’t want to change. They are 
unwilling
to go deeper in their relationship with God.

As Jesus showed in the country of the Gerasenes, He will not force people to 
change. He will allow them to go on with their lives, never experiencing all
that He could provide for them. Because of their resistance to change, they 
will forfeit their opportunity to experience more of His power and the 
abundance
of His Kingdom.

He offers these kinds of choices to each of us. Do we just want Him to leave 
us alone? Or do we want to receive His power over sin and Satan? Do we yearn
for all of the blessings God offers us in His Kingdom?

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Father, I want to experience more of Your power and victory over sin and 
Satan. Let me know You more intimately. Change me, and use me to reach 
others.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: Mark 5

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Post  Admin on Mon 17 Mar 2014, 10:42 pm

The Revelation of God's Glory
An Uplifting Message to Help Sustain You in the Days Ahead

by David Wilkerson

December 30, 2013

The Bible says it is possible for every believer to see the
Lord's glory. In fact, God says he will reveal his glory to
all who seek him for it. Why is it important for us to see
and understand God's glory? It is because the revelation of
his glory is meant to equip his people for the storms of
life. According to Paul, this revelation "is able to build
you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which
are sanctified" (Acts 20:32).

What exactly is the glory of God? It's not some physical
manifestation, though some Christians believe it is. It's
not an ecstatic feeling that overcomes you or a supernatural
light bursting forth. In simple terms, God's glory is a
revelation of his nature and attributes. When the Lord
chooses to show us his glory, it is a revelation of how he
wants to be known by us.

When the Lord sent Moses to deliver Israel, he told him,
"Go, and say I AM sent you." But he gave no explanation of
who "I AM" was. So Moses cried, "I beseech thee, shew me thy
glory" (Exodus 33:18). Moses had a gnawing hunger to know
who the great I AM was, the essence of his nature and
character.

God answered Moses' prayer. He instructed Moses to hide
himself in the cleft of a rock and wait for the Lord to pass
by. As Moses waited, he saw no thunder, no lightning, no
shaking of the earth. Instead, God's glory came to him in a
simple revelation: "The Lord passed by before him, and
proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious,
longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping
mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression"
(34:6-7).

You see, when God reveals his glory to his people, it is
with a purpose in mind. And he allowed Moses to see his
glory so he might be changed by the understanding of it. The
same is true for us today. God reveals his glory to us so
that we may be reassured in our daily walk.

Jesus Christ is the express image of who God is. The Father
wrapped up all of his character in the Son. When our Lord
became flesh, it was a full revelation of God's nature - his
mercy, grace, goodness and readiness to forgive. "In him
dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians
2:9). "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the
express image of his person [personality, nature]" (Hebrews
1:3).

The same holds true today for anyone who receives a
revelation of God's glory. We who are in Christ are meant to
be changed into an expression of God's loving, forgiving,
merciful nature. Paul said that beholding God's glory had
power to transform the beholder: "We all, with open face
beholding as in a glass [mirror] the glory of the Lord, are
changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by
the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18, my italics).

Paul adds we are to keep seeking this revelation of God's
glory until we become rooted in it: "That ye, being rooted
and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all
saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and
height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth
knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of
God" (Ephesians 3:17-19, my italics). He's saying, in
effect, "Keep seeking God's glory until the revelation
bursts forth in you!"

The first effect of God's glory is a change in our
relationship with him.

When Moses saw the revelation of God's glory - his wonderful
nature and character - he fell to his knees and worshipped.
"Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and
worshipped" (Exodus 34:8). Moses was so stirred by what he
saw - how merciful, patient and loving God is with his
children, even those who grieve him - he worshipped in awe.

Moses worshipped here even though he wasn't full of hope for
Israel. He knew the people were bent on backsliding. At that
very moment, back in their tents they were hiding little
golden idols they had brought from Egypt. Moses must have
thought, "How will I ever be able to hold this people
together? When will God's patience run out with their
idolatry?"

Yet the Lord had no intention of destroying his people. This
was all a "mercy test" for Moses. The Lord was asking him,
"How will you represent me to the people? As a vengeful God
who is full of judgment only? Or as merciful and
longsuffering, always ready to forgive?"

This was the revelation of God's glory! And it set Moses'
heart at ease. He immediately prayed, "Lord, you said you
would forgive the iniquity and transgression of thousands.
Well, here are those thousands before you. We're all
stiff-necked and in need of mercy. Grant us your mercy.
Pardon our many sins!" (see Exodus 34:9).

The revelation of God's glory should be the wellspring of
all our worship. We ought to regularly lay claim to his
glory, testifying, "Lord, I know you're holy and just, that
you don't wink at sin. But I've also seen your glory, and it
makes me know you're not out to destroy me.

"You don't condemn me in my struggles. I've failed so often
I should have been cast aside by now. But you continue to
show me how loving and longsuffering you are toward me."

During years of ministry, I experienced severe times of the
Lord's discipline like a rod on my back. One such time I was
being slandered terribly. After a while I was physically
exhausted from the ongoing battle.

One day God directed me to Jeremiah's prayer: "O Lord,
correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou
bring me to nothing" (Jeremiah 10:24). Jeremiah's words
became my daily prayer through that time of testing. I
prayed: "Lord, chasten me and judge me if you must. But,
please, don't do it in anger. If I hear one more wrathful
word, it will destroy me."

Whenever I voiced this prayer, I heard the Lord's voice
whispering to me: "David, if I choose to correct you, it is
because I love you. This test isn't about my judgment at
all. I am merciful, gracious, loving and longsuffering
toward you. Now, stand still and see my glory."

The knowledge of his glory - his nature and character -
carried me to a place of total rest. Indeed, once we have
this revelation of God's glory, we need never again fear he
will correct us in anger. The Lord carries his rod in a
loving hand, and if he disciplines us it is only in deep
compassion. Beloved, all who truly worship God claim the
blessing of his promises. They see his glory in his love
toward them, and they lay hold of that glory to settle their
troubled souls.

A second effect of seeing God's glory is a change in
countenance.

"The children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin
of Moses' face shone" (Exodus 34:35). A person's countenance
is the outward expression of their heart. In this verse,
Moses' face simply reflected the glory of God in his soul.

You can bask in God's presence all you want. But it is a
wholly different matter for his glory to be revealed in you.
Paul testified, "It pleased God, who separated me from my
mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son
in me, that I might preach him" (Galatians 1:15-16, my
italics).

The revelation Moses received was glorious, but it was only
a fading thing. The radiance on his face and heart was the
result of getting a glimpse of God's nature. Even so, when
the Israelites saw him, they knew he'd had a supernatural
experience.

Today we have something far more glorious than what Moses
had. We actually touch and handle God's glory. "That which
was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have
seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands
have handled, of the Word of life" (1 John 1:1). John is
saying, in effect, "God revealed the fullness of his glory
to us in Christ. We saw his glory embodied in a person. And
we talked with him and touched him."

Today we not only see the fullness of the glory of God in
Christ; it also abides in us - and it shines forth in our
hearts: "God, who commanded the light to shine out of
darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of
the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus
Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

"The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to
all men" (Titus 2:11). Who is this grace? It is Jesus
Christ, full of mercy, kindness and love. "Teaching us that
denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live
soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world"
(2:12). Paul is saying, in essence, "This grace that abides
in us is the revelation of Christ's goodness. If you will
abide in him, his revelation will instruct you in holy
living. It will teach you mercy, grace, tenderness and
forgiveness."

A third effect of seeing God's glory is a change in our
relationships with others.

Once we receive this revelation of God's glory, we can't
continue in our old ways of treating others. It all must
change. Paul warns, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and
anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you,
with all malice: and be ye kind one to another,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for
Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:31-32).

God is saying through Paul, "You've seen my glory and you
know my nature - that I am gracious, longsuffering, ready to
forgive. I want you to express to others who I AM."

When Jesus says, "Be merciful to others, even as God has
been merciful to you," the word "mercy" is from the Greek
word for "misery" (misericordia). The full meaning is "to
take to heart the misery of another with the intention of
giving him comfort and relief." Being merciful means taking
on another person's hurt. That includes those who have hurt
us.

This is just what our Lord does for us. How many times has
Jesus taken on your misery caused by sin, giving you comfort
and forgiveness in return? How often has he wiped away your
tears and spoken kindly to you through his Word? He does
this for us time after time.

I ask you: How can we not find it in our hearts to take on the
misery and pain of someone we know is hurting? The word
"compassion" means "being affected, touched by the misery of
others and determining to do something about it."

If you've had a revelation of the Lord's glory, you know
what it means to taste his love, mercy and forgiveness. And
you are being changed by that glory. Now, Jesus says, "Take
that glory and shine it on the world around you. It is time
to act in love, as your Lord has continually done for you."
Amen______________________________________________
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Post  Admin on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 4:29 pm

Women of the Bible Header
Sarah

Her name means: "Chieftainness" or "Princess"

Her character: Beautiful enough to attract rulers in the ancient world, she
could be strong-willed and jealous. Yet Sarah was considered a loyal wife
who
did what was right and who didn't give in to fear.
Her sorrow: That she remained childless for most of her life.
Her joy: That at the age of ninety, she gave birth to Isaac, child of the
promise.
Key Scriptures:
Genesis 12:1-20
;
16:1-8
;
17:1-22
;
18:1-15
;
21:1-13
;
Galatians 4:22-31

Her Story

Sarah was sixty-five, the age many of us retire, when she began a journey
that would lead her into uncharted spiritual territory. Leaving behind their
homeland, she and her husband, Abraham, moved hundreds of miles south to
Canaan, a land fertile with the promises of God but barren of everything
cherished
and familiar. God had promised the land to Abraham and his offspring. From
him would come not just a family, clan, or tribe, but an entire nation, a
people
who would belong to God as no other people had.

The promise spread like ripples from a stone pitched in water. If Abraham
was to father a new nation, surely Sarah would be its mother. Yet she longed
to give birth, not to a nation, but to one small child she could kiss and
cradle.

At first Abraham and Sarah found it difficult to support themselves in their
new homeland. Soon a famine made life so severe that they moved on to Egypt,
where Abraham, fearful of Pharaoh, suggested a deceptive maneuver to save
his skin: "I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see
you,
they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you
live. Say you are my sister [she was his half sister], so that I will be
treated
well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you."

So Sarah did as her husband asked, and Pharaoh soon added her to his harem
of beautiful women. For the privilege, he paid Abraham in the currency of
the
day—a bevy of sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, and servants. But though the
two men seemed satisfied with their bargain, God was not. He proceeded to
strike
Pharaoh and his entire household with diseases. The Egyptian ruler soon
summoned Abraham, demanding an explanation. As soon as he heard the truth,
he allowed
both Sarah and Abraham to leave, taking with them all the riches they had
gained in Egypt.

So the couple moved home again. By now, several years had passed since
Abraham and Sarah had heard the remarkable promise of God, but still there
was no
child. So Sarah took matters into her own hands. Following a practice common
in the ancient world, she gave Abraham permission to sleep with her Egyptian
maid, Hagar. Sarah's slave would become a surrogate mother for the promised
child.

Before long, Ishmael was born. But the child brought only discord between
the two women.

One day several years later, the Lord appeared to Abraham while he was
sitting at the entrance to his tent.

"Where is your wife, Sarah?"

"There, in the tent," Abraham replied.

Then the Lord said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year,
and Sarah your wife will have a son."

Now Sarah, who had been eavesdropping from inside the tent, laughed and
said, "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this
pleasure?"

But the Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really
have a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will
return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son."

Because Sarah was afraid, she lied and said, "I did not laugh."

But he pressed her, saying, "Yes, you did laugh."

A year later, Sarah gave birth to Isaac, whose name means "Laughter." Of
course the joke was not lost on the ninety-year-old mother, who exclaimed:
"God
has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with
me."

But Sarah's humor was short-lived. Fireworks flared once again between the
two mothers until Sarah forced Hagar and Ishmael from Abraham's household,
leaving
them to wander in the harsh desert. And though God provided for the two
outcasts, it was through Isaac that he would keep his promise of a new
nation and
a deliverer for his people.

Sarah died at the age of 127 and was buried in Hebron. Between Isaac's birth
and her own death lay thirty-seven years, ample time to reflect on her
life's
adventure with God. Was she ashamed of her treatment of the ill-fated Hagar?
Did she remember laughing when God told Abraham she would bear a child at
the age of ninety? Did she appreciate the echoing irony in young Isaac's
laughter? Did she have any idea she would one day be revered as the Mother
of
Israel—indeed, a symbol of the promise just as Hagar was to become a symbol
of slavery under the law? Scripture does not say. But it is heartening to
realize
that God accomplishes his purposes despite our frailties, our little faith,
our entrenched self-reliance.

True, Sarah's pragmatic attempts to help God keep his promise caused plenty
of anguish. (Even in our own day, the struggle between Israel and her Arab
neighbors stems from the ancient strife between two women and the children
they bore.) Still, despite her jealousy, anxiety, and skepticism about God's
ability to keep his promises, there's no denying that Sarah was a risk-taker
of the first order, a woman who said good-bye to everything familiar to
travel
to a land she knew nothing about. A real flesh-and-blood kind of woman who
lived an adventure more strenuous than any fairy-tale heroine, an adventure
that began with a promise and ended with laughter.

Her Promise

How hard it was for Sarah (and is for us as well) to remember God's promises
and to wait for him to fulfill them. God's promises are revealed and
fulfilled
in his own timing, which is often on a calendar far different from our own.

Waiting patiently for God to work may be one of the most difficult
experiences of our Christian walk. We live in an age of the immediate. We
think waiting,
and doing so quietly, is somehow less worthy, perhaps even a bit lazy. We're
great "do-it-yourselfers," but we often get in God's way when we take things
into our own hands.

Do you have something you're waiting for God to do? Have you asked him for
the salvation of your husband? Of a family member? Are you praying for a
rebellious
child to come home? Whatever the circumstances, God's timing is the best
timing. When you're tempted to step in and make things happen on your own,
think
of Sarah. Her attempts to fulfill God's promise of a son through her servant
Hagar had disastrous results. Remember that God has his own timetable, and
rest in the assurance that he loves you and will fulfill his promises to
you.

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

Things I Have Learned
John Piper


Since my father died, I have been looking through his papers. I found a
small sheet with the following fifteen counsels, titled "Things I Have
Learned." He didn't make most of these up. Some of them go back to his
college days when he was absorbing the pithy wisdom of
Bob Jones Senior.
They have again confirmed the obvious: I owe my father more than I can ever
remember. The comment after each one is mine.

Things I Have Learned
1. The right road always leads to the right place; therefore, get on the
right road and go as far as you can on it.
block quote
My father was totally persuaded that wrong means do not lead to right ends.
Or, more positively, he was persuaded that living in the right way — that
is, doing the right things — are means that inevitably lead to where God
wants us to be. This is why he told me, when I asked about God's leading in
my life, "Son, keep the room clean where you are, and in God's time, the
door to the next room will open."
block quote end

2. There is only one thing to do about anything; that is the right thing. Do
right.
block quote
This is what one might say to a person perplexed by a difficult situation
whose outcome is unknown. The person might say, "I just don't know what to
do about this." It is not useless to be told: Do the right thing. That may
not tell you exactly which good thing to do, but it does clear the air and
rule out a few dozen bad ideas.
block quote end

3. Happiness is not found by looking for it. You stumble over happiness on
the road to duty.
block quote
My, my, my. How was John Piper born from this? I would never say this. The
main reason is that the Bible commands us to pursue our joy repeatedly.
"Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say rejoice." "Delight yourself in the
Lord." I think what he meant was: 1) Joy is always in something. Joy itself
is not the something. So we seek joy in Christ. Not just joy in general. 2)
When duty is hard and we do not feel joy in doing it, we should still do it,
and pray that in the doing it the joy would be given.
But what we need to make plain is that duty cannot be contrasted with joy,
because joy is a biblical duty.
block quote end

4. The door to success swings on the hinges of opposition.
block quote
Remarkably, this saying implies that opposition is not just a natural
accompaniment or antecedent of success, but that it is a means by which the
door opens. One can think of many biblical examples. The opposition of
Joseph's brothers opened the door to his leadership in Egypt. The taxing of
the empire opened the door to getting the Messiah born in Bethlehem, not
Nazareth, and thus fulfilling prophecy. The betrayal of Judas opened the
door to the salvation of the world.
block quote end

5. God in the right place in my life fixes every other relationship of life
(Matthew 6:33).
block quote
I wonder if this was tucked away in my mind so that unknown to me it
controlled my analogy of the solar system to our many-faceted lives. If God
is the blazing center of the solar system of our lives, then all the planets
will be held in their proper orbit. But if not, everything goes awry.
block quote end

6. It is never right to get the right thing in the wrong way — like good
grades, wealth, power, position. Don't sacrifice your principles.
block quote
Again, he hammers away at don't use bad means for good ends. Be a
principled, not a pragmatic, person. O how we need to hear this today.
Churches need to be principled, not endlessly adapting to culture. Persons
need to make a promise and keep it no matter how much it hurts.
block quote end

7. It is a sin to do less than your best. It is wrong to do [merely] well.
block quote
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
But be careful. Sometimes the "best" is a B+ sermon and spending time with
your child. In other words, "best" always involves more decisions than the
one you are making at the moment. That one means many other things are being
left undone. So "best" is always the whole thing, not just the detail of the
moment.
block quote end

8. It is wrong to be yoked to one who refuses the yoke of Christ.
block quote
Don't marry an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 7:39). Not all relationships with
unbelievers are ruled out. Otherwise we could not obey Jesus' command to
love them and bless them. But "yoke" implies a connectedness that either
governs where we go or constrains where they go. And you cannot constrain
faith in Jesus. It is free.
block quote end

9. The part of your character that is deficient is the part that needs
attention.
block quote
This is the counterpoint to the advice: Go with your strengths. There is
truth in both. Yes, be encouraged by every evidence of God's grace in your
life, and use your gifts and graces for his glory. But you will become smug
and vain if you do not keep your deficiencies before you and work on them.
block quote end

10. Don't quit. Finish the job. God can't use a quitter.
block quote
Warning: "He who endures to the end will be saved" (Mark 13:13). Promise:
"He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of
Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
block quote end

11. Anything you do that hinders your progress for God is wrong.
block quote
O how thankful I am that this was the dominant way my father pressed me to
pursue my sanctification. He did not mainly impose lists of don'ts on me,
though we had them. And they were clear. Mainly he said: Maximize your
progress in knowing and serving God. That ruled out a hundred foolish
behaviors, some bad and some uselessly innocent.
block quote end

12. Beware of any society in which you feel compelled to put a bushel over
your testimony.
block quote
This implies that you can go into a group of people who are evil if you are
willing to open your mouth and take a stand for Jesus and righteousness.
Nevertheless, 1 Corinthians 15:33 stands: "Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company
ruins good morals.'"
block quote end

13. It isn't enough to be good. Be good for something. The essence of
Christianity is not a passionless purity.
block quote
This is what I have meant in talking about a merely avoidance ethic. Don't
just think of righteousness or holiness in terms of what you avoid, but what
you do. As my father said in another place: Don't be a don'ter; be a doer.
block quote end

14. Positive living produces negative effect.
block quote
This is wise counsel that affirmation of the good always implies negation of
the bad. If you think you can live your life without negating anything, you
have lost touch with reality. "Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is
good" (Romans 12:9). You cannot love without hating what hurts the beloved.
block quote end

15. Learn to be sweetly firm.
block quote
This was what he said to my mother over the phone when she was exasperated
with her one disobedient son: Be sweet and firm. I think she succeeded.
block quote end

With abiding and deep thankfulness for my father's wisdom,

Pastor John

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:
www.desiringGod.org.
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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 37 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 13 Mar 2014, 8:52 pm

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose 
walk is blameless" (Proverbs 2:7)
success

In the eyes of the world I am not seen as much of a success. I have a tiny 
house not a mansion. I don't wear fancy clothes. I don't own an expensive 
car,
or a plane, or a yacht. My bank account is always empty at the end of the 
month. I am not a CEO of a corporation. I haven't made a movie, won a 
Grammy,
or sold a million books. I am not famous. My picture has never been on a 
magazine cover. I have never had my own reality television show. Yet, in 
spite
of all of this there are many times when I do feel like a success.

When my grown up son gives me a hug and says: "I love you Dad", I feel like 
a success. When my big dog walks over to me, puts his head on my lap, and 
looks
up at me with his adoring brown eyes, I feel like a success. When I share a 
laugh with the cashier in the grocery store, I feel like a success. When I
give my smile to a stranger I am walking by and find my gift returned, I 
feel like a success. When I send what few dollars I can to a charity and 
know
that I am helping someone in need, I feel like a success. When I get a 
letter from someone who has been touched by the simple stories I write, I 
feel like
a success. When I remember that God loves me in spite of all my faults and 
failings, I feel like a success.

Perhaps what this world needs is a redefining of what success really is. 
Perhaps this world needs to recognize that fame fades, money is soon spent, 
power
never lasts, and material things always turn to dust. Perhaps this world 
needs to see that the most successful life of all is one where you love God, 
yourself,
and others. Perhaps we all need to realize that a successful life in the 
eyes of the world isn't always a successful life in the eyes of Heaven.

May you always see the success in your own life. May you always be a success 
in loving, giving, caring, and sharing. And may you always succeed in making
God smile.

Joseph J. Mazzella

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my friend. Why don't you come to
Answers2Prayer
and discover the power of prayer for yourself?

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