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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 38 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 12 Mar 2014, 9:58 pm

Love Worth Finding Ministries
God the Father and God the Creator

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“…that we may be partakers of the divine nature.”
2 Peter 1:4

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Have you heard the phrase, “The universal fatherhood of God and the
universal brotherhood of men”? It sounds warm and fuzzy, but it is cold and
barren
of truth. God is not the Father of all people; God is the Father of those
who are born into His family.

But you say, “But pastor, didn’t God create all human beings?” Yes. “And if
God created all human beings, wouldn’t that make God the Father of all human
beings?” No, it makes God the creator of all human beings. There’s a
difference between fatherhood and creation. God created rats, roaches,
buzzards, and
rattlesnakes. He’s not their father. God becomes our Father not by creation,
but by conception when we’re born into His family.

ACTION POINT:
Read the story of creation in Genesis—making the distinction between the
creations of God and the Creator called God. Go on a nature walk and thank
God
that He rules over creation, causing the sun to shine, the rain to water the
earth, and for you to have your next breath.
Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.


challies.com - Informing the Reforming

Head Knowledge = Good. Heart Knowledge = Good.
external link

You have heard the distinction as often as I have—the distinction between
head knowledge and heart knowledge. We learn facts about God, about his
character,
about his Word, but it is not until those facts reach the heart that they
become spiritually beneficial. They say the journey from the head to the
heart
is the longest journey of all.

I’ve never been too comfortable with this distinction between head knowledge
and heart knowledge, and recently Andrew Davis helped me sharpen my thinking
a little bit. In his book An Infinite Journey (see my
review)
he tells about a testimony he once heard.
“I grew up in a Christian home, said the young lady who was sharing her
testimony at an evening church service, “and I learned a lot about the
Bible. But
it was all head knowledge, not heart knowledge. It wasn’t until all that
head knowledge moved down to my heart that my life began to change.” I
watched
as she pointed from her head to the center of her chest, to represent the
movement of this knowledge, almost like the journey food travels through the
esophagus to the stomach.
block quote end

We have all heard people speak like this and we know what they are getting
at. Yet here’s my concern: When we speak in this way, we pit the two kinds
of
knowledge against one another, with head being the enemy and heart being the
friend. It’s like we need to battle the head in order to reach the heart,
or like head knowledge is the necessarily evil we need to endure to reach
the heart.

Now obviously there is a genuine concern that is being addressed in language
like this. I was once much like this young lady. I grew up in a Christian
home and knew facts about God and the Bible and the Christian faith, but
without actually being saved. I think of a man like Bart Ehrman who, though
an
ardent enemy of Christianity, has a vast knowledge of the Bible. In God’s
Word we encounter demons who know that God exists. We encounter apostates
who
once professed the Christian faith and knew a great deal about it before
they wandered away and eventually revoked the faith.

I believe we need to affirm the importance of believing what is true without
disparaging the facts and knowledge necessary to even know what is true.
Head
knowledge is good; heart knowledge is good. More head knowledge is better
than less head knowledge and more heart knowledge is better than less heart
knowledge.
Head knowledge is good because heart knowledge is impossible without it.
Christianity is and must be a faith that involves the mind just as it is and
must
be a faith that involves the heart. The problem comes when there is a
radical disconnect between the two.

Davis says it well:

We must keep growing in knowledge or we will cease making progress in the
Christian life. All of that knowledge begins as head knowledge, concepts
understood
by the mind, before anything else can occur. And we must have as much of
that head knowledge as possible. But woe to us, if through unbelief, we do
not
allow that knowledge to transform us into the image of Christ and change the
way we live our lives.

January 8, 2014

When the Dog Eats Your Company's Dinner
Sharon Glasgow

"If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that
in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory
and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
1 Peter 4:11b
(NIV)

I prayed weeks for this dinner. The couple we invited needed Jesus. I wanted
to roll out the red carpet and treat them like royalty; God knew they needed
a big dose of His love.

But time got away from me—cleaning the house, making the dessert and all. I
still had to run to the store to get the filet mignons. I know they're
expensive,
but I wasn't going to spare any cost for my guests—it would be a feast!

I sat the grocery bags inside the front door and headed back out to light
the fire in the grill. Our company would be there in less than half an hour!
I ran back inside and reached for the steaks, only to pull out an empty
package. Puzzled, I pulled out the other packages, all empty. What in the
world??

About that time my dog walked around the corner with his head cowered. He
wouldn't look at me but took off to hide behind the couch. I followed him
and
didn't find a trace of a steak—just one shamefaced dog. He had done this
kind of thing before, eaten entire pizzas, cakes, and whole plates of fried
chicken
without a crumb left. Yep, "guilty" was written all over his face.

As I stood there shaking my head, I heard knocking at my front door. Our
guests were early! Thankfully I remembered a chicken and dumpling casserole
in
the freezer. I turned the oven on and popped it in, then excused myself to
the restroom, closed the door and prayed, remembering the words of
1 Peter 4:11b,
"If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that
in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory
and the power for ever and ever. Amen" (NIV).

"Jesus, help me. Help me get over my own expectations of what tonight would
look like. I've asked You for weeks to lavish this couple with Your love.
You
don't need steaks to do that. Come and fill this place with Your presence.
Give me Your ability to love and serve. Help me love like You do. Give me
words
to speak and Your strength to do it. I give this night to You. May it
glorify You. Thank You Jesus."

As I walked back to join my visitors, I realized once again hospitality
isn't about the perfect meal, beautiful decorations, a clean house, or our
hostess
skills—it's about loving people the way Jesus loves them—wholeheartedly.
When people feel loved, they don't care what you feed them or what your
house
looks like.

That night turned out to be absolutely wonderful. Not because the chicken
and dumplings tasted good. Or because my living room was tidy. But because
God's
love is powerful.

When we take our eyes off of ourselves and focus on loving our guests, it
takes the stress out of entertaining. Even when we feel inadequate, Jesus
gives
us His ability to love others when we ask Him. It's not about our efforts;
it's about Him.

Dear Lord, help me to invite others to my house. Keep my heart focused on
loving people and not on my home or my cooking skills. Use me for Your
glory.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Dear faithful friends,
Spring is just around the corner and I can't wait to get my hands dirty
planting flowers and pulling weeds. I tell others it's my therapy. :-)
I pray your week is filled with many blessings and please feel free to share
this weekly encouragement with others.
In HIS grip,
Carol

A MATTER OF FAITH

Which Way Are You Living?

“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted”—Job 5:9 (NIV).

For one dollar, I couldn’t resist the small blue book titled “The Gift of
Miracles: Inspiring Modern Day and Biblical Wonders.” It was on the bargain
shelf
at one of my favorite Christian bookstores where I purchased several other
books at that low price.

The 155-page book contains stories of miraculous healings, divine guidance,
divine protection divine provision, divine deliverance, divine intervention
and divine transformations. Packed in this small volume are stories written
by ordinary human beings who have experienced an extraordinary Creator God—a
God who loves His people so much that He still intervenes on their behalf
today.

Many people don’t believe miracles still occur today, explaining them away
as coincidences. In the past, I did the same. Then, when I began to
recognize
God’s fingerprints on my life, I remembered past trials, including a serious
illness that sent me to the hospital when I was only 17. It wasn’t until 10
years later, after another surgery, that a different doctor told me I was
lucky to be alive. Lucky? I don’t think so. Blessed? Yes, that’s more like
it.
A miracle? You bet!

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the primary definition of a miracle is
“an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.”
Synonyms
for miracle are marvel, phenomenon, revelation, surprise and wonder.

R. R. Niebuhr, a Harvard Divinity School professor, said, “It’s not that
modern man cannot believe in miracles; it’s just that he needs to be shown
how.”

While we may expect a glorious parting of the Red Sea to qualify as a
miracle, we need to live with the understanding that life in itself is a
miracle.
We expect miracles to make a grand entrance like a burning bush while God
expects us to see and appreciate the miracles all around us—the miracle of
changing
seasons, the miracle of our complex bodies with all parts working together
to keep us alive and the miracle of each breath we take. The list could go
on.

In an article titled, “Can You Recognize a Miracle?” Dr. John Chirban of
Harvard Medical School said, “The person who is spiritually attuned knows
God.
Soren Kierkegaard wrote, ‘Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who
prays.’ The natural (human) cannot know the supernatural (God), but prayer
is the supernatural medium by which humans can make contact with God—and be
transformed. What do the spiritually attuned accomplish? They exercise their
capacity, their potential to know God, which is the transforming miracle of
their life.”

Maybe we’re too consumed with worry, responsibilities and the distractions
of life to recognize the miracles. Maybe we take for granted the life we
have
been given. But, we haven’t earned life. We have been given life through a
marvelous miracle, a gift from our Creator God.

Albert Einstein once said, “There are two ways to live: you can live as if
nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” Which way
are you living?

Carol Round
Columnist/Author/Speaker

Tozer-on-Christian-Leadership

Personal Life: To Think God's Thoughts

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day
and night.—
Psalm 1:2

To think God's thoughts requires much prayer. If you do not pray much, you
are not thinking God's thoughts. If you do not read your Bible much and
often
and reverently, you are not thinking God's thoughts....

There also has to be a lot of meditation. We ought to learn to live in our
Bibles. Get one with print big enough to read so it does not punish your
eyes.
Look around until you find a good one, and then learn to love it. Begin with
the Gospel of John, then read the Psalms. Isaiah is another great book to
help you and lift you. When you feel you want to do it, go on to Romans and
Hebrews and some of the deeper theological books. But get into the Bible. Do
not just read the little passages you like, but in the course of a year or
two see that you read it through. Your thoughts will one day come up before
God's judgment. We are responsible for our premeditative thoughts. They make
our mind a temple where God can dwell with pleasure, or they make our mind
a stable where Christ is angry, ties a rope and drives out the cattle. It is
all up to us. Rut, Rot or Revival: The Condition of the Church, 42.

"My thoughts aren't adequate, Lord, to enable me to lead Your people through
the quagmire of today's society. Nor are the thoughts of the writers, the
teachers, the preachers, and the psychologists that bombard me from the
pages and the airways. I'm only going to be effective as a spiritual leader
as
I learn to 'think God's thoughts.' Amen."

Ministries of Francis Frangipane
The Ministries of Francis Frangipane
Love Just One
(En Español)

Our discernment comes from knowing the mind of Christ. But let me make this
quest as practical as possible: If we seek to know Christ's motives, we will
soon perceive His thoughts, for thoughts exist to fulfill motives. Christ's
motive for coming to mankind is to reveal the Father's love. If we obtain
His
motive, we will increasingly hear His thoughts.

Thus, Paul wrote, "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and
more in real knowledge and all discernment" (Phil. 1:9). The route to true
knowledge and all discernment is to possess abounding love. Let us learn to
rest our heads upon Christ's breast and listen to His heart. For in hearing
His heart, we can discern His love for those around us.

Yet I acknowledge that, for some, to love others as Christ has loved us
remains an ideal too far to reach. Therefore let's start small and bring
this task
close to home. Rather than attempting to love everyone everywhere, let us
reduce our challenge and make our aim to love just one person. Now I do not
mean
we should stop loving family or those we already love. I mean add just one
person to your heart and release your love to that individual in a more
Christlike
way.

This person may be a lost neighbor or a backslidden friend; he or she might
be a sick acquaintance or an elderly person from church. The individual may
be a child in physical or emotional pain. (I am not suggesting you focus on
an individual of the opposite sex.) The Lord will lead you. He will put one
person on your heart and give you grace to grow in love.

Come to this experiment without seeking to correct him or her, unless they
themselves ask for advice. Pray daily for the person. And as you listen to
the
voice of God's love, something inside you will flower and open naturally
toward other realms of discernment. Inspired by God, impulses and ideas born
of
love will increase and expand to your other relationships as well. In truth,
the knowledge and insights you gain from loving just one will become a
natural
catalyst in loving many. Discernment will grow as you love just one.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The preceding teaching was adapted from a chapter in Pastor Frangipane's
book,
Spiritual Discernment and the Mind of Christ.
This book is currently on sale and can be ordered from Arrow Publications at
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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 38 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 09 Mar 2014, 9:49 pm

Experiencing LIFE Today - January 3, 2014

"If God wants you to do something, he'll make it possible for you to do it, 
but the grace he provides comes only with the task and cannot be stockpiled 
beforehand. We are dependent on him from hour to hour, and the greater our 
awareness of this fact, the less likely we are to faint or fail in a 
crisis." —Louis Cassels

Some time ago my mother shared with me a letter that had been found in the 
office of a young pastor in Zimbabwe, Africa:

"I am part of the Fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit's 
power. The die has been cast and I've stepped over the line. The decision 
has been made. I am a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, 
back away, or be still. My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My 
future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, 
smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving 
and dwarfed goals. I no longer need preeminence, prosperity,
position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, 
first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, 
lean in His presence, walk by patience, I'm uplifted by prayer and labor 
with power. My pace is set, my gait is fast. My goal is heaven and my road 
is narrow. My way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable and 
my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, 
turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch
in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, pander at 
the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity... "

The letter was found by the members of the church he led. They were cleaning 
out his office in the days after his body had been found battered and 
mutilated. Wow, what can you say about something like that? Can we possibly 
have that kind of clarity in a country where we do not face the possibility 
of death for our faith?

The thing I love about this letter is that this young man decided one day 
that he was fully surrendering to Jesus. Our words will be different I 
suspect, our experience will most likely be different too, but we can all 
surrender to Jesus.

My Lord and my God, Your Word says I no longer live, but You live in me. I 
surrender to You now, and ask that in the big things and the little things 
my life would be a reflection of the radical Truth about who I am in You. I 
don't want to make this up. I can't do it in my own strength. I rest in You 
now and simply ask that You would live through me as You see fit. Praise to 
You! Amen.

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

January 6, 2014

Get a Grip
Leah DiPascal

"When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your unfailing love, LORD, supported 
me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy."
Psalm 94:18-19
(NIV)

We had only been married a couple years when my husband Keith surprised me 
with a snow skiing trip to the mountains. Although I had never stepped foot
in snow, the idea sounded exciting and adventurous.

I spent weeks preparing - purchasing warm, waterproof clothes, reading 
"how-to" articles, and daydreaming about us zipping down the slopes 
effortlessly.
It was going to be wonderful. At least that's what I thought.

As it turned out, my winter wonderland daydreams didn't quite match up to my 
wonder-less reality.

Instead of swishing down the mountain together, I struggled in ski school 
with other beginners while Keith skied alone.

I spent more time slipping and falling then standing upright. My bruises had 
bruises, and children were mastering the slopes better than me.

After my first day of defeat, I opted out of ski school, determined to 
overcome my fears and do things my way. Anxiety mounted as I reached the top 
of
the mountain and my skis slid onto the icy snow.

Down to the ground I went–over and over again. Poles, skis, and goggles 
spewed all over the place. I was frustrated, miserable, and ready to give 
up.

As worried tears ran down my face, Keith assured me we would make it down 
the mountain safely. He stayed close by my side. When I'd start to slip and 
fall,
he was right there to hold me up.

Slowly and steadily my confidence grew and when we reached the bottom of the 
mountain, my heart overflowed with joy.

"Are you ready to go again?" Keith asked. While I wasn't immediately ready 
to head back up the mountain, my husband's loving faithfulness gave me the 
courage
I needed that day. I knew he wouldn't leave me alone, that he would be there 
if I fell, and it made all the difference.

It's been years since that trip, but oftentimes I find myself slipping and 
sliding along the tough slopes of life. Challenging circumstances can leave
me frustrated, miserable, and ready to give up—just like that day on the 
mountain.

Maybe you can relate. Are you facing a situation that seems bigger than a 
mountain? Do "what if" worries make you feel overwhelmed and ready to give 
up?
Has life dealt you a powerful blow causing you to emotionally lose your 
footing from what was once a solid stance?

I'm so thankful we have God's promises in Psalm 94:18-19 to securely hold us 
up when we're unsteady: "When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your unfailing
love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation 
brought me joy" (NIV).

When life's circumstances cause us to feel unsteady we can call out to God 
for help. His love for us is unfailing and He is always there to support us
when our feet begin to slip. Challenges and difficult trials can make us 
feel uncertain but God is faithful to hold us up as we trust in Him.

Safe within His loving grip we can have the confidence to keep going down 
the mountain of life. As we pause along the way, let's take time to look 
back
and celebrate how far God has brought us. One faithful moment at a time.

Dear Lord, thank You for holding me up with Your unfailing love when my feet 
slip on the slopes of life. Help me trust You will be there to catch me. May
Your assuring words comfort my soul when I worry and feel unsteady. In 
Jesus' Name, Amen.

Saturated by the Spirit
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
“Of the angels He says: Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a 
flame of fire.” – Hebrews 1:7 NKJV

While a student at Wheaton College, Jim Elliot became hungry to seek the 
things of God and be consumed by His Spirit. As he read the first chapter of 
Hebrews,
he asked himself how committed he really was to the Gospel. He wrote, “Am I 
ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of ‘other things.’ 
Saturate
me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be aflame.”

Grappling for direction, Elliot dedicated his life to serve the Lord. After 
a time of intense prayer, he sensed God’s call to South America. He was 
drawn
to a specific tribe, the Aucas, who had never heard the Gospel. Elliot knew 
that reaching them would involve risk, but he wrote in his journal: “He is
no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

In January 1956, Elliot and four companions landed near the Aucas, on a 
beach of the Curaray River in eastern Ecuador. Their arrival triggered a 
violent
reaction, and on this date in 1956, all five missionaries were killed by 
Auca warriors.

But the impact of Elliot’s life did not end on that beach. A Life magazine 
story about his sacrifice inspired many to commit their lives to Christian 
service.
Elliot’s wife, Elisabeth, demonstrated that she, too, had an intense zeal 
for the Gospel. She wrote Shadow of the Almighty, a book about Jim’s life. 
She
even returned to those same Auca Indians, and, this time, many accepted 
Christ as Savior.

Jim Elliot continues to inspire us today. God looks for people with the same 
commitment, saturated by the Holy Spirit and willing to lay everything else
aside to serve the Lord. Today, ask God to ignite your spirit and give you 
fresh zeal for the Gospel. Be inspired by Jim Elliot’s passion to reach lost
Souls.

C.S. Lewis Daily

Today's Reading

“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.

“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.

“Then drink,” said the Lion.

“May I—could I—would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill 
gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked 
the
whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.

The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

“Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.

“I make no promise,” said the Lion.

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step 
nearer.

“Do you eat girls?” she said.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, 
cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were 
boasting, nor
as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and 
look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

It never occurred to Jill to disbelieve the Lion—no one who had seen his 
stern face could do that—and her mind suddenly made itself up. It was the 
worst
thing she had ever had to do, but she went forward to the stream, knelt 
down, and began scooping up water in her hand. It was the coldest, most 
refreshing
water she had ever tasted. You didn’t need to drink much of it, for it 
quenched your thirst at once.

From
The Silver Chair
Compiled in
A Year with Aslan

The Silver Chair. Copyright © 1953 by C. S. Lewis Pte., Ltd. Copyright 
renewed © 1981 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.

Laying Bricks
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Culture Editor

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,and whoever 
wants to be first must be slave of all.For even the Son of Man did not come 
to
be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Mark 10: 43 – 45

Sometimes, I get restless. I went to college at Taylor University, a small 
Christian school in the middle of Cornfield, Indiana. Though Taylor wasn’t 
very
big, it strove to serve Christ, and encouraged its students to impact the 
world for God. During the January term, when you could sleep all day and 
goof-off
all night, Taylor offered something called Lighthouse Missions. Instead of 
wasting their brief vacation, students became a part of service-learning 
projects
that allowed them to share Christ with a world in need.

When Spring Break came around, and the beaches of Florida were calling, it 
sent students everywhere from Russia to the neighboring town of Grant 
County,
where they engaged in housing projects, orphan care, and outreach. It was 
tough giving up those precious vacation days, but it felt good to know you 
were
serving Christ. Unfortunately, after graduation opportunities like these are 
harder to come by. With a forty to fifty-hour work week, not to mention 
budgeted
money and vacation time, jetting off to some foreign location isn’t 
something you can just do.

I can remember sitting in church, boiling with frustration because I 
couldn't just go do something like I had in college. God clearly has a sense 
of irony,
because at that moment the pastor stood up and asked for volunteers to help 
pack up after the service. My problem? I had become the “wealthy giver.” Not
sure what I mean? Read this story in Mark 12:

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched 
the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people 
threw
in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper 
coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus 
said,
"I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than 
all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her 
poverty,
put in everything--all she had to live on." – Mark 12: 41-44

It’s amazing how serving Christ can easily become something selfish. I was 
only interested in serving if it was on my terms, and because of that I let
a lot of opportunities pass me by. The truth is that volunteering for a 
church nursery could be just as important in God’s eyes as building houses 
in another
country.

An old professor once told my class that the kingdom of God is built on 
willing hearts. When we choose to follow God, we are laying the bricks of 
his kingdom,
and creating a sturdy foundation for others to stand on. So get involved, 
and if you feel God leading you toward a big opportunity, take it. But don’t
be too proud to serve in the small places. Sometimes it’s the little things 
that make all the difference.

Intersecting Faith and Life: What opportunities does your church offer for serving? Take a 
moment to look them over and see if one is good for you. Churches are always 
looking for volunteers to help with children and young adults.

Further Reading
Philippians 2:1-4

Devotions by Christine Caine - Undaunted

Real
Ezekiel 34:16

God promises to seek the lost, bring back those who have been driven away, 
bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick.

Seeking the Lost

It is so natural, after being rescued, to simply go back to your life, to 
business-as-usual. After a harrowing experience, you’re yearning for 
normalcy.
You want to—and sometimes do—forget that hopeless, horrifying moment of 
being forgotten in darkness. Going back there to warn others is hard 
work—and trying
to rescue others in those perilous places sounds risky. It’s true—many of us 
fear the lost, and because of that, we’re reluctant to go out into the world
to seek them.

Why would we fear the lost? Maybe because, often, they’re so needy and 
desperate. We’re afraid that they will attach themselves to us, leech-like, 
and
beg for one thing after another: our time, our money, our emotional support, 
a place in our homes (“just until I get back on my feet”), a ride to 
work—and
on and on.

Or we might fear them because they are so “other” than us. A different 
lifestyle and different life choices. They may have different language and 
clothing
styles, different food and music preferences, and a different sense of 
humor. Will they accept us? Will they laugh at us behind our backs? Will 
they despise
us even as we sacrifice for them? Are they, perhaps, even a danger to us? 
Might they be willing to take by force those things we don’t offer freely? 
Will
we feel uncomfortable, uneasy, in their midst?

When Jesus urged Peter to feed his sheep, he didn’t offer a list of excuses 
he would accept. “Feed my sheep—unless it becomes inconvenient or the sheep
become too demanding. Feed my sheep—unless you’re afraid of the big ram who 
protects the flock. Feed my sheep—unless you’re afraid they’ll charge you,
snatch the food out of your hand, and trample you.” He just asked Peter to 
feed his sheep.

For the desperate, the hungry, the oppressed, for those in pain, no rescue 
can come soon enough. And when the lost call to us for rescue, God doesn’t 
command
us to be supermen. He commands us to be willing. He’ll do the rest.

There are so many who have no way out, unless we rescue them. The words of 
the prophets take on new meaning.
Isaiah 6:8
records a vow that comes from the place of knowing what it means to be 
rescued: “Here I am, Lord. Send me!”

Point to Ponder

Are you willing to say to God, “I remember what it is like to be lost, and I’m 
ready to be sent out to rescue others?” It’s a commitment born of 
thankfulness.
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Experiencing LIFE Today - January 1, 2014

"When the mask of self-righteousness has been torn from us and we stand 
stripped of all our accustomed defenses, we are candidates for God's 
generous grace." —Erwin W. Lutzer

I like asking questions. It's a great way to make people come to conclusions 
on their own, or, at least, lead them in the direction of truth, whether 
they want to end up there or not. I once asked a young woman at a mall the 
following questions:

"Do you believe in heaven?" "Yes," she replied.

"Is heaven a perfect place?" "Yes, absolutely!" she said.

"Do you think you will go there?"

"I think I have a pretty good shot. I've tried my hardest," she answered.

"Have you lived a perfect life?"

"Well, of course not. Who has? But I'm better than most people I know."

"Well," I continued, "if heaven is a perfect place and you have not lived a 
perfect life, what makes you think you can go there without wrecking it?"

(Long pause followed by nervous laughter.)

You know, we need to be willing to ask these hard questions of those around 
us and of ourselves. What we believe makes a big difference. Are our words 
and our lives telling the truth to those around us? Paul really desired that 
they would.

... no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here 
and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of 
people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we 
will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, 
that is, Christ. —Ephesians 4:14-15

Particularly with eternally important issues like heaven and hell, we need 
to let the Word be our standard and the love of the Spirit be our guide. Do 
we really, really believe what the Bible says is true about heaven, hell, 
and us?

list of 5 items
• That without Christ in my life, my "good works" have zero chance of 
earning me a place in heaven.
• That hell is a real place—empty, dark, and burning.
• That Jesus is far too valuable to pass by.
• That the decision to choose Him is urgent.
• That the reward for choosing Him is indescribable!
list end

My Jesus, empower me and motivate me with Your love. Give me a sincere heart 
for those who are bound for a Godless eternity. Equip me and make me willing 
to allow You to use me to destroy myths and share the truth about Your love 
with any and all people that You place in my path. Amen.

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


A God-ward focus

Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens. Psalms 123:1 
(NKJV)

So much of the Book of Psalms is about perspective and focusing our energies 
in the right direction. In this regard, Psalm Chapter 123 cuts right to the 
chase. Right out of the gate, it makes this powerful proclamation pertaining 
to perspective, "Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the 
heavens."

Of all things that the Psalmist could focus on, he chooses to focus on the 
Lord and the fact that He dwells in the heavens. His focus was God-ward, not 
self-ward or man-ward…or even world-ward. And it's this God-ward focus that 
makes all the difference…not just in the Psalmist's life, but in ours, as 
well.

We see the same principle played out in the life of Peter. It was in his 
finest hour of faith, as he stepped out of the boat and walked on the waves 
towards Jesus, that Peter learned a powerful lesson about having a God-ward 
focus. He was overcoming the elements all around him, yet the Bible tells us 
that when he took his eyes off Jesus and started to look at the storm, he 
lost his God-ward focus and began to sink (Matthew 14:30).

That's a powerful picture of what happens to us when we take our eyes off 
the One who dwells in the heavens. We lose our God-ward focus and place it 
on things that invariably cause us to sink and succumb to the storms of 
life.

But equally important to note is that Peter regained his focus as he cried 
out to Jesus, "Lord, save me!" And Jesus did. This shows us that just 
because we lose our focus on the Lord, it doesn't mean it has to stay lost. 
It can be restored when we recognize our error and call out to Him with a 
true and sincere heart.

Lord, save us…not from the storm but from the temptation to take our focus 
off of You.

Think About It…

What does this passage reveal to me about God?

What does this passage reveal to me about myself?

Based on this, what changes do I need to make?
What is my prayer for today?
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BROTHER DUAN’S MIRACLE

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15

Brother Duan was an elderly house church leader in northern China. He was 
travelling with a group of believers today to hear a dynamic Bible teacher, 
Brother
Wang.

Duan asked, “What age is this Brother Wang?” When they told him he was in 
his early forties, a great look of pain swept Duan’s face. He said, “I once 
had
a son. I knew him for only two months. Now he’s dead. But had he lived, he 
would be forty-two today. My wife called him “Christmas’ Child,” since he 
was
born at Christmas time. I called him “Isaac,” because we had despaired of 
ever having a child, but ten years after we were married, along he came.”

All looked at Duan as he continued, “I only saw him for two months.” He then 
told them how he and his wife were greatly persecuted evangelists in the 
1950’s—both
in great danger of arrest. So they offered their child to their enemy, 
two-fingered Wu and his wife who were childless.

Duan never knew what happened until he came out of jail in 1978. His dear 
wife had died in the terrible famine of 1958. Their son had indeed been 
adopted
by Wu, but the entire family had disappeared under the rubble when a 
devastating earthquake hit in 1975. Said Duan sadly as they approached the 
meeting
house, “God judged me for being so irresponsible with my little son.”

There was a crowd of two hundred packed into the house, and many outside at 
the windows. When Brother Wang began preaching, Duan got a terrible shock.
It was like hearing himself. There was a commotion as he clawed his way to 
the window and looked at the preacher.

Hearing the commotion, the preacher stopped. There was minute of shocked 
silence as both men looked at each other. The physical likeness was amazing. 
Duan
began to apologize, “I’m sorry Brother Wang for interrupting your excellent 
message. You see, I had a son, who would be your age now. And if he had 
lived,
he would have looked and sounded just like you.”

Brother Wang began to tremble violently. Suddenly his legs buckled beneath 
him, and someone caught him before he fell down. Tears came into his eyes, 
and
he whispered hoarsely, clutching his pounding chest, “Are you Daddy Duan?”

Everyone wept. Father and son were reunited after forty-two years. Wang had 
indeed been brought up by two-fingered Wu, who had been so impressed by Duan’s
act of giving that he became a strong believer. Wu used to say to him, “I’m 
not your real father. He is a great man of God, full of grace and love. He
gave you to me, and I give you all my love, and the encouragement to put God 
first, just like your real father.” Wang’s adopted parents had moved away
from the earthquake zone before the tragedy, and both died of cancer in 
their sixties. He became an evangelist, and tried to find his real father, 
but
Duan had changed his name so many times to avoid arrest that he had proved 
untraceable, even to his son.

As father and son continued to hug and weep, the elder of the church stood 
up and declared, “It’s December. We have seen our sermon tonight. “Christ 
came
into the world to save sinners” - that is Christmas. Just as Duan handed his 
only son to the care of his enemy, so God handed over his own son to us 
sinners.
Let us rejoice in their reconciliation and ours too.”

RESPONSE: Today I will rejoice in God’s act of reconciliation in sending His 
only Son for me, a sinner.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord that You cared enough to provide a way for my being 
reconciled to You.

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

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission


God keeps a tear-bottle!

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

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your 
bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book!" Psalm 56:8

Tears are sacred in God's sight. The Psalmist said that God keeps a 
tear-bottle, into which He puts the tears of His people. This means that God 
in Heaven
hears the plashing of earth's tears. It means that His people's sorrows are 
sacred to Him, that He cherishes them, keeping them as memorials.

Our tears are precious to God, also, because in our sorrow He brings to us 
blessings which we never could receive but for our sorrow. One of our Lord's
Beatitudes is for the sorrowing: "Blessed are those who mourn." It seems 
strange to us that mourning ones should be put among the blessed or happy 
ones.
The reason is, because only those who suffer can get God's comfort, and this 
is such a blessing that it is worth while to have sorrow just to receive it.

God holds the tears of penitence as most sacred. Those who weep over their 
sins, cause joy in Heaven.

"When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus 
was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume,
and as she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet 
with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured 
perfume
on them!" Luke 7:37-38

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Musalaha
Dec 31, 2013 12:00 am

Today's Devotional

Revelation 22:12 "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me and I will 
give to everyone according to what he has done."

The final chapter of Revelation and, indeed, the final chapter of the Bible 
remind believers that there is but one priority for the church in this age:
the return of the King of kings to rule this world. Paul writes that Christ 
is coming for all those who “long for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). Peter
reminds us to “look forward and hasten his coming” (2 Peter 3:12). How 
different our lives might be if this were actually the way we lived? What if 
we
lived every day with this one priority determining all our decisions? If 
every believer lived this way, we would do all we could to evangelize every 
nation.

Pray that we will have an eternal perspective so we may align our will with 
His.

Today's People Group

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against 
one another (Colossians 3:13). Musalaha means forgiveness and 
reconciliation,
and it is the name of a Jerusalem-based grass-roots ministry that began in 
1990. It provides the opportunity for Palestinians and Jews to dialogue and
learn from one another through seminars and experiences, resulting in 
sincere exchanges of reconciliation. Through the Messiah there is hope for a 
lasting
reconciliation of Jewish and Palestinian believers.

Musalaha’s vision is to create a neutral space for Messianic Israelis and 
Palestinian Christians to meet each other and receive training in 
reconciliation,
which they believe is a four-step process. First there is confession, 
stating the truth and acknowledging unjust or hurtful actions carried out by 
both
parties. Then there is repentance, turning from unloving to loving action. 
Third, there is reconciliation, expressing and receiving forgiveness and 
pursuing
intimate fellowship with previous enemies. Finally there is restitution, 
attempting to restore that which has been damaged and seeking justice.

Musalaha has held many camps for Jewish and Palestinian youths in a neutral 
desert environment. The desert camp environment has been equally effective
with young community leaders. They are currently focusing on fostering 
Christian unity among leaders in the Bethlehem community, especially women’s 
groups.

Pray that true forgiveness and reconciliation between Jewish Christians and 
Palestinian Christians will have far-reaching effects in demonstrating the
power of Christ to reconcile sinners to God.-JS

(See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWuOFX_XXmM and Musalaha.org)

Learn more at Joshua Project. like Musalaha on Facebook
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Experiencing LIFE Today - December 13, 2013

"By day the quiltmaker sewed the beautiful quilts she would not sell, and at 
night the king took them down to the town. There he searched out the poor 
and downhearted, never happier than when he was giving something 
away." —Closing lines to The Quiltmaker&# 39;s Gift

Spirit-led giving takes on special meaning when we observe it from the eyes 
of those on the receiving end. Let Mike, one of the leaders in our church, 
share his angle on it:

"Lynn and I have been teaching young adults for over twenty years now. Our 
college Bible study is called 'Ignite. ' In May 2008 I lost my job and I 
didn't know how long I'd be out of work. One night, Ignite gave us an 
envelope after our study. It contained $400 cash from members of our 
ministry to help us through our struggle. The next day, I found a brand new 
copy of The Shack in my mailbox with $600 cash in an envelope signed simply, 
'Papa.&# 39;

"In February, they gave us another envelope. This time, it contained $1200. 
We were floored, humbled, awed, surprised, and a bunch of other adjectives.

"One Wednesday night in May, I was awakened by what sounded like a voice 
that asked, 'Do you trust me?' I sat up in bed looking for someone in the 
room, but no one was there.

"Once again, I heard, 'Do you trust me?'

"Sitting there in the dark at 3:00 am I replied, 'Yeah, Lord, I trust you.'

"'Then be still and know that I am God.'

"The next night, Thursday, the Bible study called Lynn and me together and 
gave us another envelope. This one was thicker. We counted it. $3,600. I 
sank to my knees. It took all my strength to hold back the tears.

"We entered August and our financial situation was in dire straits. My dream 
car was repossessed. Once again I was awakened at 3:00 am by a voice in my 
head. 'Do you trust me?' I sat up in the bed again. This time I woke up Lynn 
and I asked her if she heard it. Of course, she didn't. She rolled over and 
went back to sleep.

"I answered the voice, 'Yes, Lord, I trust you.'

"'Then, be still and know that I am God.'

"Once again, after the Bible study the next evening, Ignite got Lynn and me 
together and they gave us two stuffed envelopes. This time they contained 
$7,500. I'd never been the recipient of such grace, and I was uncomfortable 
and struggling with this.

"Life continued. Still, no jobs were opening up even though I was getting 
leads every day. At Thanksgiving, Lynn invited her family from all over the 
country for Thanksgiving. One night, we had her family and about 30 folks 
from Ignite for dinner. Later in the evening, a spokesman from the Bible 
study said that they debated on when to give us their current gift. They 
decided they wanted Lynn's family to know how much they love us. They handed 
us another envelope. It was really thick. We took it into
the study and counted it, and I was completely overwhelmed.

"When we came out, someone in the family asked, 'How much did they give 
you?'

"I said, '$10,015. '

"Lynn&# 39;s family, non-believers, was blown away. No one in our families had 
even asked if we needed anything during the last seven months of 
unemployment, yet these young adults were giving us an enormous blessing to 
help us through the hard times. They had no category for these kids giving 
at this scale. These guys had just observed the need, talked to God about 
it, then met that need.

"The following January we moved out of our dream home on a Saturday, lost in 
foreclosure. I went to work the next Tuesday and have been working ever 
since.

"Receiving those gifts was an unbelievable blessing. But Ignite says giving 
was so much more. These kids were growing in their spiritual walk in the 
Bible study before we got into financial trouble. During this trial in our 
lives they seized the opportunity to give and their growth just took off. It 
was tremendously humbling for us and I've never been so thankful. Still, I 
don't know why we went through such loss... except, just maybe, it was for 
the growth and blessing of these phenomenal young
people."

Jesus, solidify in my heart the joyous conviction that we are blessed when 
we receive and we are more blessed when we give. Weave that truth into my 
mind for good. Keep me asking where You want to give, keep me listening to 
Your Spirit, keep me trusting You to do it through me. And then give me 
humble joy when it's my turn to receive. Amen.

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

David's Life in the Minor Key: Is Depression Sin?

If you've ever felt trapped, imprisoned, or helplessly caught by life, then 
you share the emotions of David in the midst of life in the Cave of Adullam.

Things had gotten so bad that David makes a confession that is packed with 
meaning to us today. In the form of an urgent prayer offered to God, and 
captured for us on paper, David explains that his soul is in prison. The 
setting is so graphic, look at it with me in I Samuel 22.

David is in the midst of his life on the run, under immense stress in verses 
1-4:

1" David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. 
So when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down 
there to him. 2 And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, 
and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over 
them. And there were about four hundred men with him. 3 Then David went from 
there to Mizpah of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, "Please let my 
father and mother come here with you, till I know
what God will do for me." 4 So he brought them before the king of Moab, and 
they dwelt with him all the time that David was in the stronghold."

David describes this time as when he felt trapped, with nowhere to escape in 
Psalm 142. Here in this Psalm written from a cave, David reflects on the 
circumstances all around him that made him have:

Imprisoned Emotions

Look down and find the seventh verse. Listen to the insight David gives us 
about what is going on inside of him at this hard time in his life. This 
description is so powerful.

"Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name; the righteous 
shall surround me, for You shall deal bountifully with me." —Psalm 142:7

A more understandable expression of "soul in prison" would be depression. 
David wanted to get out of depressions prison because it kept him for 
praising the Lord.

When we get depressed, life really does feel like an endless pursuit of 
nothingness.

Continue reading
http://www.christianity.com/devotionals/discover-the-book-john-barnett/discover-the-book-nov-29-2010-11641830.html
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Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You

Daily Devotional
Thick Ice - #7034

Let me give you a little weather preference test; as if we get to vote. Why
don't you rank these one, two, three from the best to the worst: rain, snow,
ice. I just gave you my ranking. Rain is no problem. I grew up in the
Midwest; and I lived in the Northeast and so I can handle snow. Even when
you have
to walk or drive, there's at least like something to dig into. But ice? Oh,
man, ice storms can leave some very nice things behind. Every branch, limb,
and home is glistening with this beautiful coating of ice. But it is a pain
if you've got to go anywhere. Reminds me of an old song, "Freeze a Jolly
Good
Fellow."

Well, anyway, we had some major league ice storms this past winter, and I
went out one morning and I found my car entombed with this thick, hard armor
of ice. I could have just tried to chip it away. In fact I started to do
that. But I would have either damaged the car or damaged its' owner. So I
decided
to work smart. I let the car run for a while, and I warmed it up from the
inside. You know what happened. A few minutes later that ice came off pretty
easily.

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

Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Acts chapter 16. It's
kind of about ice around a heart. See, the ice around a car is hard to
penetrate,
but the ice around a person is even harder. Maybe you can think of a person
that you're concerned for right now who's pretty hard. Maybe some person
who's
got an affect on your future or your security, and there's ice around them.

Well, almost everyone has at least one impossible person in their world; one
person whose ice you just can't seem to get through. Let's look at God's way
of getting through the ice. For example, in Acts 16:14, the missionary Paul
comes upon a woman named Lydia, a prominent merchant in her town, and it
says,
"The Lord opened her heart to respond."

Back in the Old Testament Saul didn't want to be the first king of Israel
until it says in 1 Samuel 10:9, "The Lord changed his heart." Proverbs 21:21
it says, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord. He directs it like a
water course wherever He pleases." See, God is in the heart changing
business;
the heart warming business.

Think about the person in your world who's hard to reach. It might be a
defiant or a wandering child, or an unresponsive mate. Maybe you've got a
hard-to-talk- to boss, or employee, or a coworker, or fellow student, or a person who will be
making the decisions that could greatly affect your church or your ministry;
maybe someone who seems as if he or she won't ever give Jesus a chance.
Well, God's method of melting the ice is the same as mine for de-icing my
car.
Warm that person up from the inside, change their heart, soften their heart,
turn their heart your direction.

Malachi 4:6 says, "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children
and the hearts of the children to their fathers." So often we try all kinds
of things to convince people, and nag them, and politic with them, and lobby
them. But recently I've been learning the power of a simple but powerful
prayer,
"Lord, change his heart; change her heart. Warm them on the inside. Turn
their heart your direction, my direction. Move them to be open to what You
want."

Many of us have made getting through human ice a lot harder by under-praying
in this area. Why don't you focus your praying on the hearts of key people?
Ask God to remove the blinders, to give you favor, to neutralize prejudices,
to create openness. We would probably have a lot less conflict and a lot
more success if we'd spend more time talking to God about a person than we do
talking to the person or about the person.

And remember, God is a heart warmer, a heart softener, a heart changer. Pray
as if He is. It works with a frozen car or a frozen person. When they've
been
warmed on the inside it's a lot easier to get through that ice. And believe
me, no one can thaw out a heart like God can.

"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

A STRUGGLE IN THE SNOW

God used an old lady’s struggle through the snow to bring home a lesson to
the author.

Copyright 1999
Leslie A Turvey

A servant of the only true and living God

I saw Jesus struggling through the snow, and never stopped to help him.
Not literally, of course. But the bible says I’m guilty.
It was an old woman I saw, and although the snow only an inch deep, it was
enough to make the going difficult as she dragged her cart full of groceries
toward home. She could use a ride, I thought, as I passed her in my car.
We are not rational people, but rationalizing people. As I drove by I
rationalized, “It’s not a very safe place to stop.” Then I thought, “She
doesn’t
know me, so wouldn’t likely accept a ride anyway.” As the distance between
us increased my rationalizing mind said, “If I go back she’ll likely be
almost
home.” Then, of course, “I’ve got important things to do, and I’m already
behind time.” So on I drove.
I was through with the old woman, but God wasn’t through with me. He
reminded me of the good Samaritan story. You know it well: a man was mugged
on the
Jericho road, and left half dead.
A priest came by, took a look, then continued his journey on the other side
of the road. Then a Levite looked on the man, and went on his way.
I can hear the priest rationalizing, “He’s not from my synagogue. Besides,
it’s getting close to sabbath, and I’ve got to get home before the sun
sets.”
Then the Levite: “Poor devil. He’s so far gone that anything I do won’t
help. He’ll die anyway.”
Yeah. God made sure I recognized myself in the priest and Levite.
But God still wasn’t finished with me. Oh, no. He had another lesson for me.
It’s found in Matthew 25, beginning at verse 34. Jesus related a parable of
a king saying, “I was hungry, and you gave me meat. I was thirsty, and you
gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. Naked, and you clothed
me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.”
The righteous people in the parable asked when they had done these things,
and the king answered, “Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of
these my brethren, you have done it to me.”
I would prefer the parable to end there, but it doesn’t. The king said to
the unrighteous people, “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. I was
thirsty
and you didn’t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger and you left me
out in the cold. I was naked, and you didn’t even give me an old coat to
wear.
I was sick, and even imprisoned, and you didn’t care enough to visit me.”
Then the unrighteous people asked when they didn’t do these things. And the
king answered, “Inasmuch as you didn’t do it to one of the least of these,
you did it not to me.”
I was able to rationalize away the old woman’s predicament. But I could not
rationalize away the fact she was one of the people I didn’t help. And in
not
helping her, there was no rationalizing that I did not stop to help Jesus
Christ struggling through the snow.

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

Feed the Fire
I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the
laying on of my hands. (Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:6, NIV)

God lights a fire within us—
the fire of His Spirit,
the fire of His power and love within.
But starve any fire—
deprive it of oxygen or fuel—
and it will quickly die.

Feed the fire.
Nurture that life-giving relationship.
Respond to Him in faith and obedience.
Listen for His gentle whispers.
Answer when He calls.
Tell Him how much you need Him.
Tell Him how much you love Him.
Give Him top priority every day.
Put to death the old habits and start new ones.
Thank Him every time He blesses you.
Come to Him quickly with every concern.
Serve Him eagerly, with gratitude and enthusiasm.

Read His Word.
Talk to Him.
Trust Him.
Praise Him.
Feed the fire
KenBible.com

God is love!

(James Smith, "
Gleams of Grace!"
1860)

"God is love!" 1 John 4:16

God is love in His nature. As God's nature is love--so His love must be like
His nature.

Is He INFINITE? Then His love must be infinite love; and so it is, for it
not only surpasses expression-- but is beyond conception. "The love of God
which
surpasses knowledge."

Is His nature ETERNAL? Then His love must be eternal, and it is; as He says,
"I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love
I have drawn you to Myself!"

Is He IMMUTABLE? Then His love must be immutable, and it is from everlasting
to everlasting the same. "For I am the Lord, I do not change; that is why
you . . . are not consumed!"

Is He WISE? Then His love must be wisely fixed, wisely exercised, and wisely
displayed.

Is He JUST? Then His love must be just; and it is, for by loving His
redeemed people--He never interferes with the rights of others, or in any
way injures
them.

Is He FREE in the exercise of His perfections and prerogatives? Then His
love must be free, and it is as free . . .
as the shining of the sun,
as the falling of the shower,
as the descent of the dew!
God loves freely, without looking for a cause or reason in man.

Is He OMNIPOTENT? Then His love must be all-powerful; and blessed be His
holy name, His sweet and gentle love always goes hand in hand with His
omnipotence.

Is He HOLY? Then His love must be holy love, and so it is, for while it is
fixed on the sinner--it never, directly, or indirectly, in any manner, or in
any measure sanctions sin.

God is love, and the love of God is God Himself loving, in accordance with
all the glorious attributes, and sublime perfections of His divine nature.

In Christ we were chosen,
in Christ we were blessed with all spiritual blessings,
in Christ we are preserved,
and in Christ we are loved.

To believers, God is love--pure, unmixed love.
All His thoughts of us are loving thoughts.
All His words to us are loving words.
All He does in us, for us, or to us--He does out of pure love!

"Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her!" Ephesians 5:25

Insight for Living
Devotional Library
Insight for Today
A Special 2-Minute Message from Chuck: Listen Now

December 27, 2013

God's Required Course: Forgiveness
by Charles R. Swindoll

Luke 23:34

This is a true story, told to me by a young seminary student I met years
ago. I'll call him Aaron (not his real name).

Late one spring Aaron was praying about having a significant ministry the
following summer. He asked God for a position to open up on some church
staff
or Christian organization. Nothing happened. Summer arrived, still nothing.
Days turned into weeks, and Aaron finally faced reality---he needed any job
he could find. He checked the want ads, and the only thing that seemed a
possibility was driving a bus in the south side of Chicago . . . nothing to
brag
about, but it would help with tuition in the fall. After learning the route,
he was on his own---a rookie driver in a dangerous section of the city. It
wasn't long before Aaron realized just how dangerous his job really was.

A small gang of tough kids spotted the young driver and began to take
advantage of him. For several mornings in a row, they got on, walked right
past him
without paying, ignored his warnings, and rode until they decided to get off
. . . all the while making smart remarks to him and others on the bus.
Finally,
he decided that had gone on long enough.

The next morning, after the gang got on as usual, Aaron saw a policeman on
the next comer, so he pulled over and reported the offense. The officer told
them to pay or get off. They paid . . . but, unfortunately, the policeman
got off. And they stayed on. When the bus turned another corner or two, the
gang
assaulted the young driver.

When he came to, blood was all over his shirt, two teeth were missing, both
eyes were swollen, his money was gone, and the bus was empty. After
returning
to the terminal and being given the weekend off, our friend went to his
little apartment, sank onto his bed, and stared at the ceiling in disbelief.
Resentful
thoughts swarmed his mind. Confusion, anger, and disillusionment added fuel
to the fire of his physical pain. He spent a fitful night wrestling with his
Lord.

How can this be? Where's God in all of this? I genuinely want to serve Him.
I prayed for a ministry. I was willing to serve Him anywhere, doing anything
. . . and this is the thanks I get!

On Monday morning, Aaron decided to press charges. With the help of the
officer who had encountered the gang and several who were willing to testify
as
witnesses against the thugs, most of them were rounded up and taken to the
local county jail. Within a few days, there was a hearing before the judge.

In walked Aaron and his attorney plus the angry gang members who glared
across the room in his direction. Suddenly he was seized with a whole new
series
of thoughts. Not bitter ones but compassionate ones! His heart went out to
the guys who had attacked him. Under the Spirit's control, he no longer
hated
them---he pitied them. They needed help, not more hate. What could he do? Or
say?

Suddenly, after there had been a plea of guilty, Aaron (to the surprise of
his attorney and everybody else in the courtroom) stood to his feet and
requested
permission to speak.

"Your honor, I would like you to total up all the days of punishment against
these men---all the time sentenced against them---and I request that you
allow
me to go to jail in their place."

The judge didn't know whether to spit or wind his watch. Both attorneys were
stunned. As Aaron looked over at the gang members (whose mouths and eyes
looked
like saucers), he smiled and said quietly, "It' s because I forgive you."

The dumbfounded judge, when he reached a level of composure, said rather
firmly: "Young man, you're out of order. This sort of thing has never been
done
before!" To which the young man replied with genius insight:

"Oh, yes, it has, your honor . . . yes, it has. It happened over nineteen
centuries ago when a man from Galilee paid the penalty that all mankind
deserved."

And then, for the next three or four minutes, without interruption, he
explained how Jesus Christ died on our behalf, thereby proving God's love
and forgiveness.
He was not granted his request, but the young man visited the gang members
in jail, led most of them to faith in Christ, and began a significant
ministry
to many others in south Chicago.

He passed a tough exam. And, as a result, a large door of ministry---the
very thing he'd prayed for---opened up before him. Through the pain of abuse
and
assault, Aaron began to get a handle on serving others.

Forgiveness is not an elective in the curriculum of servanthood. It is a
required course, and the exams are always tough to pass.

Forgiving (like giving) improves our serving!

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.

Sabras (Native Born) Israelis
Dec 29, 2013 12:00 am

Today's Devotional

Revelation 22:3 "On each side of the river stood the tree of life ... and
the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations."

The nations are often mentioned throughout the book of Revelation. Like the
first 11 chapters of Genesis, the last chapters of the Bible are very
universal
in scope, speaking of the entire world, including every nation. This tells
us how valuable our diversity is to God. Throughout eternity we will
continue
to be as diverse as we are today, and perhaps more so. The one difference
will be our unity in the midst of that diversity. Because of Christ, we are
linked
together in a powerful bond that has made us all brothers and sisters for
eternity.

Thank the Lord that He allows for our diversity. Thank Him for healing the
nations.

Today's People Group

The world hears daily of conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians. In
border areas such as the West Bank Israeli settlers, heavily armed to defend
themselves,
clash with Palestinian Arabs who resent their presence. We begin to form
stereotypes of the life and attitudes of the Israelis. Unfortunately the
good
stories rarely make the headlines.

Here are examples of good news. A Syrian mother, afraid she would be seen as
a traitor, escaped to the “enemy state,†Israel, with her three-year-old
girl.
The child’s heart condition was so bad that she could not play or walk or
talk. Unable to get medical help in war-ravaged Syria, she found the help
she
needed in Israel. An organization called “Save a Child’s Heart,†a
non-profit organization that provides heart surgery to children wherever
they are, saved
her life.

Music has the power to unite and bond so-called enemies. Micah Hendler, a
recent graduate of Yale University, started a chorus for Jews and Arabs in
Jerusalem,
and they practice in Jerusalem’s YMCA! The 14 Arab and 14 Jewish students
have proved his theory that music can overcome deep-seated prejudices as the
students spontaneously mingle. Dancing works too! “Dancing in Jaffa†is a
new documentary about a mission to bring children together in the mixed
Jewish
and Arab city of Jaffa through ballroom dancing.

Pray that these acts of friendship and compassion will begin to change the
hearts and minds of Israelis and non-Israelis alike.

Learn more at
Joshua Project
Copyright © 2013 U.S. Center for World Mission, All rights reserved.
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Experiencing LIFE Today - December 20, 2013

"You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas." —Davy Crockett

When it comes time to decide how to get off the road to hell and head toward 
heaven many people base their beliefs on myths and not the word of God. A 
lot of people believe that if you're a good enough person, you'll get to 
heaven. I call this the "good-guy mythstake" . The words of Jesus, however, 
destroy this notion.

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees 
before him. 'Good teacher,' he asked, 'What must I do to inherit eternal 
life?' 'Why do you call me good?' Jesus answered. 'No one is good—except God 
alone.' —Mark 10:17-18

By human standards, the man that Jesus was talking to was a "good" man. He 
had kept all the law since he was young—and yet Jesus stopped mid-track and 
said, 'No one is good' (except God of course). Jesus obliterated the 
assumption of being a "good guy" before the conversation even got started.

Here's the problem with the "good-guy mythstake" : We compare ourselves to 
other humans. It's not too tough to find somebody who is more of a scumbag 
than we are. So in our minds we think 'compared to that other guy, I'm a 
pretty good guy.'

Jesus says that if you want to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself 
to God. He is the ultimate standard of what is good. Hmmm, that's a little 
tough isn't it? Compared to God, we are anything but good. "Good guys" are 
just an illusion created by human-to human-comparison.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are 
justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ 
Jesus. —Romans 3:23-24

Listen, if we're honest, we will realize that we are all guilty of this 
mythstake to one degree or another—that's one of the patterns that just 
seems to be built into our flesh. Every day, however, we can replace this 
myth with truth.

Jesus,

I want to break free from this mythstake today! By the power of your Spirit 
in me, replace my tendencies to judge and compare with a profound awareness 
of your grace and the free gift of eternal life that you have given me.

Amen.

Listen to Pete, Jill & Stuart Briscoe on the
Telling the Truth broadcast
at OnePlace.com
The Lord says in the Old Testament that he loved Jacob but he hated Esau, 
and in 1 John, John actually says that if we say we love God but hate our 
brothers,
we're wrong. How can we reconcile these two passages?

God, who created us, has the right to demand of his creatures anything he 
desires; he certainly has the right to demand that we love others. And how 
can
we, who are sinners, hate other people who are sinners for doing the very 
same things we are doing? Loving God, others, and ourselves is the great 
commandment,
given first by God and then echoed by Jesus in the New Testament.

But if we're commanded to love everybody, how do we deal with this statement 
of God: "Jacob have I loved; Esau have I hated"?

First of all, we are dealing with a Hebrew idiom. It is the Hebrew form of 
speech we call antithetical parallelism, whereby the Scriptures speak in 
terms
of direct opposites. To understand it, we have to see that whatever God 
means by hating Esau it means the exact opposite of what it means to love 
Jacob.

We use the terms love and hate to express human emotions and human feelings 
that we have toward people, but in the context in which this particular text
occurs, when the Bible says that God loves Jacob, it means that he makes 
Jacob a recipient of his special grace and mercy. He gives Jacob a gift that 
he
does not give to Esau. He gives mercy to Jacob. He withholds that same mercy 
from Esau because he doesn't owe Esau the mercy and he reserves the right
as he says back then and in the New Testament, "I will have mercy upon whom 
I will have mercy." He displays benevolence. He gives an advantage; he gives
a blessing to one sinner that he does not choose to give to another. The 
Jewish person describes that differential by using contradictory terms. One 
receives
love; one receives hate. Now again, we have to remember that the Bible is 
being written in human terms, the only terms we have, and we can't read into
the text the idea of feelings of hostility or of wickedness toward a human 
being. That's not what the Bible means when it uses that kind of language
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God
Now - That's a Good Question!
by R.C. Sproul

THE BEAUTIFUL BRIDE OF CHRIST

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 
prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud
voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the 
people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God 
himself
will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their 
eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the 
old order
of things has passed away.â€
Revelation 21:2-4

Iraq is probably the last place in the world you’d expect to find an 
illustration of the beautiful bride of Christ. Yet on top of a beautiful 
plateau in
the mountains of Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) a group of Arab Christians 
organized a prayer conference. More than five hundred Christians from all 
over Iraq,
from all kind of churches including twenty local church leaders, came to 
pray for unity and peace in the country. “Oh God, unite our country again, 
bring
peace to the Christians and strengthen your people,†was the common prayer 
on everybody’s lips. “This was a unique and wonderful experience for the 
Iraqi
church,†shares Joyce who was one of the participants.

Teachers and pastors gave lectures on humility and engaged the group in 
seeking the Lord Jesus Christ at first. “There was prayer for the country 
and prayer
for the different pastors. And one of the highlights was the fact that local 
Iraqi pastors washed each other feet and that is a miracle in a country 
where
there is so much division,†Joyce adds. And she continues, “We prayed for 
God to give hope and life for individual Christians again; we prayed for 
individual
prayer requests which were written down on paper.â€

Another pastor taught the group to love their country and to have a passion 
for the country. Joyce says, “Two young leaders from Baghdad were very much
touched by this, since both of them had been victims of violence and 
kidnapping in Baghdad, because of their faith. They had problems in loving 
their country
and the people in it.â€

One pastor shared, “Every six months we lose twenty per cent of our 
believers to the free world, and our main problem is also that so many 
Christian leaders
are leaving. You just finish training young leaders and they leave. It is a 
pity and we are losing so many potential leaders.â€

Another Iraqi Christian shared with tears the experience of his kidnapping 
in Kirkuk. “God was with me and I felt that people around the world were 
praying
for me, although I was amazed about that. God was with me and he brought me 
out.â€

In conclusion a pastor said, “Like Christ, the church in Iraq feels 
afflicted, not comforted and lashed by stones. And yet does the son of the 
king ever
feel powerless? I do not think so; the presence of the comforter is in our 
midst in Iraq, so be brave and continue. The Holy Spirit in us is not just a
power; He is God himself, who is with us. To God the church in Iraq is 
beautiful also; so let us love her and work alongside her to make her more 
so.â€

RESPONSE: I will never lose faith that Jesus is developing His beautiful 
bride around the entire world.

PRAYER: Pray that Iraqi Christians will continue to perceive themselves as 
Jesus’ beautiful bride.

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

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

Day 25 Theme: Evangelism
Having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost…from 
you sounded out the word of the Lord – 1 Thessalonians 1:6, 8

Every church ought to have good acoustics. Not that the music and message 
should just be heard easily inside the building — they should also be 
broadcast clearly out into the neighborhood. But the best amplification will 
not come from a sound system in the building; it will come from sound living 
in the community.

Paul commended the church in Thessalonica for being sounding boards for the 
gospel: they not only received the Word of God, with joy in the midst of 
their afflictions, but they then sounded it out through the entire city and 
surrounding area. They were not content to experience the freedom and 
privileges of the gospel themselves; they were intent on sharing their joy 
in Jesus with others.

What about you? Are you just a receiver, or are you an amplifier, for the 
gospel? When you leave church do you feel like your spiritual work is done, 
or just begun? Are you living for your own pleasure, or for the glory of 
God?

To explore more Bible-based resources
visit our website,
that "your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ
Listen to the
Baptist Bible Hour (BBH)
broadcast on OnePlace.com.
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Dear faithful friends,
Can you believe February is almost over? That means we are also getting 
closer to spring. I can't wait to get my hands dirty in the soil, pulling 
weeds
and planting seeds and flowers. It brings me so much peace--even pulling 
weeds. :-)
Hope your week is filled with many blessings. Feel free to share this week's 
encouragement with others.
Writing for HIS glory,
Carol

When You Don't Feel Loved
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s 
womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”—Psalm 
139:13-14(ESV) .
Have you ever watched toddlers discover their shadow for the first time? A 
video posted on Facebook captured my attention recently and I laughed, along
with the adults who were trying to allay the fears of the youngsters 
frightened by the shadow of their own bodies. Some children cried. A few 
played with
their shadow while most ran away screaming, trying to escape what they 
perceived as a threat to their secure world.
As I watched the video, I recalled a song called “Me and My Shadow,” written 
in 1927 by Ted Lewis. As the song’s title suggests, it is a light-hearted
take on loneliness and disappointment and artists throughout the decades 
since have parodied the song.
Parts of the original lyrics are included below:
Me and my shadow
Strolling down the avenue
Me and my shadow
Not a soul to tell our troubles to
Just me and my shadow
All alone and feelin’ blue.
A 2006 “Christianity Today” article cited a study from the “American 
Sociological Review” as disturbing. “Social Isolation in America: Changes in 
Core
Discussion Networks over Two Decades” noted a “remarkable drop in the size 
of people’s core network of confidants—those with whom they could talk about
important matters.”
While many people have an abundance of friends, others feel isolated. Some 
choose a self-imposed isolation while others withdraw for fear of not 
fitting
in a social situation and/or facing rejection. We can even be in a room 
filled with people and feel lonely. How is that possible?
Mother Teresa once said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the 
feeling of being unloved.” Before I discovered the unconditional love of my
Savior, I was one of those. Oh, I had friends but I never felt as if I fit 
in. I know others who feel or have felt that way at times in their lives. I’ve
come to realize it’s because we only live as a shadow of our real selves 
until we accept God’s grace.
Too many of us spend our lives trying to run away from the past. It doesn’t 
work. You can’t escape your past anymore than you can run away from your 
shadow.
But you don’t have to live in the shadow of your past. German writer Johann 
Wolfgang von Goethe said, “There is a strong shadow where there is much 
light.”
John 8:12 reads, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the 
light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will
have the light of life.’” With Jesus as our light, we don’t need to be 
afraid of the dark, the shadows of loneliness or rejection.
In Psalm 36:7, the writer says, “How priceless is your unfailing love, O 
God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” We can’t fathom God’s 
love
for us. It’s immeasurable and unconditional. It’s who He is.
Carol Round
Columnist/Author/ Speaker

Good-Bye
by Max Lucado

Good-bye. No one wants to say it. And death is the most difficult good-bye 
of all.

After our church had five funerals in seven days, the sorrow took its toll 
on me. I chided myself, “Come on, Max, get over it. Death is a natural 
part of living.” Then I self-corrected. No it isn’t. Birth is. Breathing 
is. Belly laughs, big hugs and bedtime kisses are. But death? We weren’t 
made to say good-bye. God’s original plan had no farewell, no final breath, 
day, or heartbeat. No matter how you frame it, good-bye doesn’t feel right.

God has served notice. All farewells are on the clock. He has decreed a 
family reunion. What a reunion it will be. Revelation 21:4 says, on that 
day, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

This long journey will come to an end. You’ll see Him. And you’ll see them. 
Isn’t this our hope?
From
You’ll Get Through This
YGTT_sm
Listen to
UpWords with Max Lucado
at OnePlace.com
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Where worship flourishes

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me. 
Psalms 27:10 (NKJV)

David was a man who knew what it was like to be alone. Whether it was as a 
shepherd boy out with the flock or as a fugitive hiding in the wilderness 
from Saul’s soldiers, for a great portion of his life, David was on his own.

But here’s an interesting insight: Although David was in the position of 
being alone for long stretches of his life, he was also someone whose heart 
overflowed with praise. How is that? How can a man who is cast aside and 
forsaken to such a great degree be filled with worship? Why isn’t he more 
despondent and depressed?

Here’s the secret to David’s worshipful attitude: He didn’t just sit and 
sulk. He sought after and found the Lord during those times when he was 
alone. And the more time he spent in God’s presence, the more praise was 
produced in his heart. So much so that even when it came to something like 
his own parents forsaking him, David was able to see something praiseworthy 
about the Lord in it.

When it comes to our own worship, it can often thrive and flourish in an 
unprecedented way during our seasons of aloneness. When we do as David did, 
making it a point and priority to seek God in such seasons, something 
precious takes place. Our adoration is refined and purified, we see His 
praiseworthy attributes and aspects with greater clarity, and new songs 
arise in our hearts.

If you find yourself in a situation similar to David’s, don’t allow yourself 
to get introspective or depressed by it. Don’t sit and sulk. Turn your heart 
God-ward and let the alone time become a blessing by being a catalyst for 
praise.

Think About It…
What does this passage reveal to me about God?
What does this passage reveal to me about myself?
Based on this, what changes do I need to make?
What is my prayer for today?

God's mercy is new every day. That's because it's needed daily. So to help 
you walk through a fresh new day, the Active Word has put together this 
second volume of the 365 Devotional. Our hope in creating this series of 
devotionals, is to help you connect with God's Word 365 days a year. And the 
best thing is, you can start any day of the year. Stay in step with God's 
Word, His will, and learn to live out your faith, daily.

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

Essential Truths of the Christian Faith


Heaven

A contemporary ballad declares, "This is heaven . . . when I'm with you." 
Being in close communion with a loved one is indeed a blessing. Yet as there
are no earthly situations worthy of comparison to the misery of hell, so 
there are no earthly joys suitable to serve as accurate analogies of the 
marvels
of heaven.

As we find grim and ghastly biblical images for hell, so we find rich and 
promising biblical images for heaven. It is likened to paradise, to the 
bosom
of Abraham, and to a glorious city that comes down from heaven. The New 
Jerusalem is described in terms of translucent streets of gold, a place with 
walls
of precious gemstones, and a setting of perpetual and everlasting joy.

What is most notable about heaven is what is absent from it as well as what 
is present in it. Things that will be absent include: (1) tears, (2) sorrow,
(3) death, (4) pain, (5) darkness, (6) ungodly people, (7) sin, (8) temples, 
(9) the sun or moon, and (10) the curse from Adam's sin (see
Genesis 3:14-19).

What will be present in heaven includes: (1) the saints, (2) the river of 
the water of life, (3) healing fruit, (4) the Lamb of God, (5) worship, (6) 
the
wedding feast of the Lamb and His bride, (7) the unveiled face of God, and 
(8) the Sun of Righteousness.

Heaven is where Christ is. It is the eternal bliss of communion with the 
God-man. Jonathan Edwards, in trying to give voice to the joy believers will 
find
in heaven writes that the saints will

swim in the ocean of love, and be eternally swallowed up in the infinitely 
bright, and infinitely mild and sweet beams of divine love; eternally 
receiving
the light, eternally full of it, and eternally compassed round with it, and 
everlastingly reflecting it back again to its fountain.

While the saints will delight in fellowship with their God and Savior, there 
is no reason to believe that they will not recognize and fellowship with 
saints
they knew on earth. Heaven is the abode of all good things.

There will be degrees of blessedness in heaven. Paul uses a metaphor of the 
stars of differing brilliance shining in the same heaven to describe this.
There are, however, several clarifying points that need to be made. First, 
all the stars will shine. That is to say, there is no unhappiness in heaven.
All are blessed beyond our most insightful imaginations. Second, the atoning 
work of Christ has the same saving efficacy for all saints. Finally, the 
"works"
of the believer, which "merit" greater or lesser blessedness, are not good 
in themselves. Rather, it is the sovereign pleasure of God to regard these 
works
as meritorious. He does so for Christ's sake only. While the greatest horror 
of hell is its eternality, one of the greatest joys of heaven is the 
assurance
that it will never end. The last enemy, death, will be no more.
Luke 20:34-38
assures the believer that this reward of heaven is everlasting.

The greatest joy of heaven is the beatific vision, seeing the face of God. 
This unspeakable joy, however, comes through the eyes of the soul. God is 
spirit,
and in spirit the elect shall see Him. This is the reward, earned by Christ, 
enjoyed by His children.

list of 6 items
1. Heaven will include the absence of all that brings pain and death.
2. Heaven will be a place without sin and the effects of sin.
3. Heaven will be a place where believers will enjoy the immediate presence 
of Christ.
4. Heaven will include the beatific vision, the glorious experience of 
gazing at the face of God, which is not possible in this life.
5. Heaven will be a place to enjoy God's rewards forever.
6. No earthly knowledge or experience will be able to dim the fullness of 
joy we will have in heaven.
list end
Essential Truths of the Christian Faith
Buy the book this devotional is from:
Essential Truths of the Christian Faith
by R.C. Sproul
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Essential Truths of the Christian Faith

Heaven

A contemporary ballad declares, "This is heaven . . . when I'm with you."
Being in close communion with a loved one is indeed a blessing. Yet as there
are no earthly situations worthy of comparison to the misery of hell, so
there are no earthly joys suitable to serve as accurate analogies of the
marvels
of heaven.

As we find grim and ghastly biblical images for hell, so we find rich and
promising biblical images for heaven. It is likened to paradise, to the
bosom
of Abraham, and to a glorious city that comes down from heaven. The New
Jerusalem is described in terms of translucent streets of gold, a place with
walls
of precious gemstones, and a setting of perpetual and everlasting joy.

What is most notable about heaven is what is absent from it as well as what
is present in it. Things that will be absent include: (1) tears, (2) sorrow,
(3) death, (4) pain, (5) darkness, (6) ungodly people, (7) sin, (8) temples,
(9) the sun or moon, and (10) the curse from Adam's sin (see
Genesis 3:14-19).

What will be present in heaven includes: (1) the saints, (2) the river of
the water of life, (3) healing fruit, (4) the Lamb of God, (5) worship, (6)
the
wedding feast of the Lamb and His bride, (7) the unveiled face of God, and
(8) the Sun of Righteousness.

Heaven is where Christ is. It is the eternal bliss of communion with the
God-man. Jonathan Edwards, in trying to give voice to the joy believers will
find
in heaven writes that the saints will

swim in the ocean of love, and be eternally swallowed up in the infinitely
bright, and infinitely mild and sweet beams of divine love; eternally
receiving
the light, eternally full of it, and eternally compassed round with it, and
everlastingly reflecting it back again to its fountain.

While the saints will delight in fellowship with their God and Savior, there
is no reason to believe that they will not recognize and fellowship with
saints
they knew on earth. Heaven is the abode of all good things.

There will be degrees of blessedness in heaven. Paul uses a metaphor of the
stars of differing brilliance shining in the same heaven to describe this.
There are, however, several clarifying points that need to be made. First,
all the stars will shine. That is to say, there is no unhappiness in heaven.
All are blessed beyond our most insightful imaginations. Second, the atoning
work of Christ has the same saving efficacy for all saints. Finally, the
"works"
of the believer, which "merit" greater or lesser blessedness, are not good
in themselves. Rather, it is the sovereign pleasure of God to regard these
works
as meritorious. He does so for Christ's sake only. While the greatest horror
of hell is its eternality, one of the greatest joys of heaven is the
assurance
that it will never end. The last enemy, death, will be no more.
Luke 20:34-38
assures the believer that this reward of heaven is everlasting.

The greatest joy of heaven is the beatific vision, seeing the face of God.
This unspeakable joy, however, comes through the eyes of the soul. God is
spirit,
and in spirit the elect shall see Him. This is the reward, earned by Christ,
enjoyed by His children.

list of 6 items
1. Heaven will include the absence of all that brings pain and death.
2. Heaven will be a place without sin and the effects of sin.
3. Heaven will be a place where believers will enjoy the immediate presence
of Christ.
4. Heaven will include the beatific vision, the glorious experience of
gazing at the face of God, which is not possible in this life.
5. Heaven will be a place to enjoy God's rewards forever.
6. No earthly knowledge or experience will be able to dim the fullness of
joy we will have in heaven.

Essential Truths of the Christian Faith
Buy the book this devotional is from:
Essential Truths of the Christian Faith
by R.C. Sproul
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Lord, Speak to Me
Saturday, December 14, 2013
“The LORD said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or 
deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now then go, and I, even I,
will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.’” – Exodus 
4:11-12 NASB
A precocious child, Frances Havergal started reading when she was four. 
Inspired by the example of her father, a noted hymn writer, she began 
writing poems
at age seven. Born on this day in England in 1836, she memorized much of the 
Bible as a child, and was committed to reach others with the Gospel.
In 1872, she wrote what she called “a worker’s hymn” at Winterdyne in 
England. It was a hymn that revealed the depth of her commitment to God, and 
her
desire to grow in the faith. She wrote, “Lord, speak to me that I may speak 
in living echoes of Thy tone; as Thou has sought, so let me seek Thine 
erring
children lost and lone.”
She asked God to lead her, strengthen her, and teach her. She prayed, “O 
fill me with Thy fullness, Lord, until my very heart overflow in kindling 
thought
and glowing word, Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.”
She ended this hymn with a prayer of surrender: “O use me, Lord, use even 
me, just as Thou wilt, and when, and where, until Thy blessèd face I see, 
Thy
rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share.”
Today, don’t let the world shape your heart and mind. Allow God to guide and 
direct you. Let Him take away your burdens and fears, fill you with His 
power,
and give you His joy and peace. Surrender your life to Him. Let Him speak to 
you, that you may speak—and that He might use you to impact others with the
Gospel.

Today's Inspiration Prayer
Father, I long to hear Your voice. I seek You. Take away my burdens, and 
give me Your peace. Use me in the lives of people all around me. I dedicate 
myself
to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: Exodus 4
Inspiration Ministries
www.inspiration.org

The Call of Christian Faith

Matthew 11:28

The call of the Christian faith is the gentle word, "Come." The Jewish law 
spoke harshly: "Go, pay attention to your steps as to the path in which you 
will walk. Break the commandments, and you will perish; keep them, and you 
will live." The law was a dispensation of terror that drove men before it as 
with a scourge; the Gospel draws with cords of love. Jesus is the Good 
Shepherd going before His sheep, bidding them follow Him, and leading them 
forward with the sweet word, "Come." The law repels;
the Gospel attracts. The law shows the distance that exists between God and 
man; the Gospel bridges that awful chasm and brings the sinner across it.

From the first moment of your spiritual life until you are welcomed into 
heaven, the language of Christ to you will be, "Come to me." As a mother 
extends her hand to her tiny child and woos it to walk by saying, "Come," 
even so does Jesus. He will always be ahead of you, bidding you follow Him 
as the soldier follows his captain. He will always go before you to pave 
your way and clear your path, and you will hear His life-giving voice 
calling you to follow Him all through your life; in the solemn
hour of death, His sweet words with which He will usher you into the 
heavenly world will be, "Come, you who are blessed of my Father." 1

This is not only Christ's call to you, but if you are a believer, this is 
your call to Christ-" Come! Come!" You will be longing for His return; you 
will be saying, "Come quickly; even so come, Lord Jesus." You will desire 
nearer and closer fellowship with Him. As His voice to you is "Come," your 
response to Him will be, "Come, Lord, and stay with me. Come and occupy the 
throne of my heart; reign there without a rival, and consecrate me entirely 
to Your service."

1 Matthew 25:34

Family Bible reading plan
verse 1 2 Chrnicles 18

verse 2 Revelation 7

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.


HEAVEN AND HELL
Experiencing LIFE Today - December 16, 2013

How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and 
hell. There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for 
any man." —Johnny Cash

To be honest, I really don't like preaching "hell, fire, and brimstone" . It 
always reminds me of red, puffy faced bald men with neckties that are way 
too tight. I wear jeans and T-shirts to work at my church and I would just 
as soon avoid topics that sound judgmental and condemning.

The problem with that is that the Bible teaches "hell, fire, and brimstone" 
and we have to be committed to be seekers of true belief... even when the 
truth is uncomfortable, unpopular, and controversial. And while we can avoid 
the yelling and the red faces and the neckties that are too tight, we can 
live as gracious warnings to those headed in the wrong direction.

Jesus did that. He warned those around him—as in this unnerving story he 
told to the Pharisees and the Disciples:

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in 
luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus... The time 
came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham' s side. The 
rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he 
looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called 
to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of 
his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am
in agony in this fire.'

But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your 
good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here 
and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm 
has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor 
can anyone cross over from there to us.' —Luke 16:19-26

There are many lessons to be learned from this passage, but the blaring 
message is this: There is a heaven, and there is a hell, and after death it 
is impossible to move from one to the other. An eternal barrier is fixed 
between these two places and the decisions we make on earth will determine 
where we spend eternity.

Yeah, serious stuff! Important stuff! Jesus talked about it a lot, and 
thankfully we have an opportunity to absorb his words so that there are no 
surprises in the end.

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for the clarity of Your Word. Thank You for telling us the truth. 
Today and in the days ahead give us grace and mercy and wisdom as we 
contemplate the eternal future of ourselves and those around us.
Amen.

Listen to Pete, Jill & Stuart Briscoe on the
Telling the Truth broadcast
at OnePlace.com
Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List
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OUR SPIRITS BLOSSOM WHEN WE SING

God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; 
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Psalm 68:6

Our Open Doors colleague, Ron Boyd-MacMillan, shares the following insight 
from his teaching, “Why I Need to Encounter the Persecuted Church.”

Chinese evangelist, Mrs Yang, was visited by another full time preacher who 
was very downcast. The preacher wanted to buy a tape player, but had no 
money.
Mrs Yang sat down and just began to sing to him. Her voice was deep and 
scratchy, the tune barely discernible, the words simple: I am a wanderer, my 
home
is in heaven/ Life is fleeting/ Our home is in heaven/ In this world we have 
many trials/ And sadness and sickness/ True happiness is not in this world/
But in heaven.

Mrs Yang sang as if before the Lord himself. Every word poured out from her 
core with total conviction. Tears rolled down her cheeks, her hands clenched
the air, and she beat time on her hip. Soon the visiting preacher had joined 
in, and I watched them, roaring out the hymn together, smiles over both 
their
faces. The preacher left, still with no money for his longed for tape 
player, but refreshed and encouraged.

Then again, I watched one morning as Mrs. Yang went out into the hills to 
pray. I followed her at a discreet distance. First she prayed for twenty 
minutes,
and then she sang, walking around, for another twenty minutes. For the next 
hour she read her Bible, making notes, planning the day’s sermons. After 
that
she sang again, for another half hour.

I confessed I had been spying on her, and asked “Why do you sing so much 
when there is no one to hear?” She said, “My father once told me, ‘One of 
the
sweet things about the Christian life is that you will do things because 
they are commanded, and then you will spend the rest of your life gaining 
deeper
insight into why God’s commands are so good.’ So singing is a command. In 
the Psalms we are constantly exhorted to sing praises to our God. But as for
why, I confess it is one of those wonderful mysteries my father told me 
about. You see, while in prison, I could pray and read scripture, but 
nothing raised
my spirits like singing. Maybe it’s because singing somehow concentrates all 
of the body on the praise of God, but I have found it essential to the 
maintenance
of a positive spirit.”

Then she looked embarrassed. I said, “What is it? You were about to say 
something, but you have gone all reticent.” She replied, “Well, it’s just 
that
an old lady told me something that really sums up the main reason I sing. 
She said, ‘Our spirits are like flowers, and song is the sun. Just as 
flowers
only truly open when the sun shines, so our spirits only blossom when we 
sing.’ I believe that. I don’t know how, but it’s true. Since my prison 
cell,
I cannot do without song, and I am very frightened that as China gets more 
open, and the churches get more organized, we are going to leave the singing
to the professionals. This would be terrible. The only way you can have a 
full blossoming spirit is to sing to it.”

RESPONSE: Today I will make my spirit blossom positively by singing to the 
Lord in the Spirit.

PRAYER: Ask God to impact all Christians with this valuable insight of 
singing praises to Him.

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

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

The hand of Jesus!

(James Smith,
"Gleams of Grace" 1860)

The miracles of Jesus are as marvelous displays of mercy, as they are of 
power. They show His sympathy with man in his sufferings, and His readiness 
to
help him.

On one occasion a ruler came to Him for help, knelt before Jesus and said, 
"My daughter has just died. But come and lay Your hand on her, and she will
live." Matthew 9:18

THE CONDITION. The child was DEAD. Disease did its work, death seized its 
prey before Jesus reached the house. In the same way, how many we have in 
our
homes, congregations, and neighborhoods who are spiritually dead. There are 
no signs of life at all. They can live without prayer, which is the breath
of the soul; and surely where there is no breath, there is no life. They 
have no faith, and faith is the spiritual energy of the soul. They have no 
activity
in God's ways, they put forth no energy in God's cause, nor do they manifest 
any concern for God's glory. Surely such are dead, and in such cases there
is no hope, except Jesus will come and lay His hand upon them.

THE APPLICATION. "My daughter has just died. But come and lay Your hand on 
her, and she will live." The hand of Jesus was a wonder-working hand! It was
the instrument and emblem of almighty power and divine mercy. Many things 
are ascribed to the hand of Jesus in the Word.

It is a life-quickening hand, "He went in and took her by the hand, and the 
girl arose." His touch imparted life, strength, and activity to the dead 
girl.

It is a healing hand, "He laid His hands on the sick, and healed them." His 
hand expels spiritual diseases, and introduces spiritual health.

It is a saving hand, when Peter was sinking in the sea, Jesus put forth His 
hand and caught him, and placed him safely in the vessel. He saved Israel of
old with His right hand--and His hand saves millions now!

It is a devil-dispossessing hand. When a father brought his demon-possessed 
boy to Jesus, the devil threw him down and tore him, "but Jesus took him by
the hand, and lifted him up, and he arose." The hand of Jesus expelled the 
demon, restored him to health, and he went away with his father.

It is a leading hand. He took the blind man by the hand, led him out of the 
town, and restored his sight.

It is a far-reaching hand, hence He says, "Is My hand so short that it 
cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver?" "Behold, the Lord's hand is 
not so
short that it cannot save!"

It is a purifying hand, therefore He says, "I will turn My hand against you; 
I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities." 
"His
winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor."

If therefore we need . . .
quickening or healing,
saving or leading,
deliverance from Satan, or
to be purged and purified--
however distant we may seem from Him, or however difficult the work we 
require to be done--let us go to Jesus, and ask Him to lay His hand upon us, 
and
restore us. In the same way, if any of our families and friends are 
spiritually dead, let our cry to Jesus be, "Come and lay Your hand on her, 
and she
will live!"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We have published
J.A. James'
helpful article, "
Prayer and Practice" .

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Feel free to forward these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited 
by them!
Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)
www.gracegems. org

More In Christ
Today's Reading

TO KEITH MANSHIP: On the slow process of being more in Christ; and on doing 
one’s duty, especially the duty to enjoy.

13 September 1962

You state the problem very clearly, and the fact that you can do so really 
shows that you are very much on the right road. Many don’t even get so far.

The whole problem of our life was neatly expressed by John the Baptist when 
he said (
John, chap 3, v. 30)
‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’ This you have realised. But you are 
expecting it to happen suddenly: and also expecting that you should be 
clearly
aware when it does. But neither of these is usual. We are doing well enough 
if the slow process of being more in Christ and less in ourselves has made
a decent beginning in a long life (it will be completed only in the next 
world). Nor can we observe it happening. All our reports on ourselves are 
unbelievable,
even in worldly matters (no one really hears his own voice as others do, or 
sees his own face). Much more in spiritual matters. God sees us, and we don’t
see ourselves. And by trying too hard to do so, we only get the fidgets and 
become either too complacent or too much the other way.

Your question what to do is already answered. Go on (as you apparently are 
going on) doing all your duties. And, in all lawful ways, go on enjoying all
that can be enjoyed—your friends, your music, your books. Remember we are 
told to ‘rejoice’ [
Philippians 4:4].
Sometimes when you are wondering what God wants you to do, He really wants 
to give you something.

As to your spiritual state, try my plan. I pray ‘Lord, show me just so much 
(neither more nor less) about myself as I need for doing thy will now.’

From
The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, Jack

The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 
1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.
Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual 
Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All 
rights
reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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Make a Plan
by Max Lucado

You can’t control the weather. You aren’t in charge of the economy. You can’t 
un-wreck the car. But you can map out a strategy. Remember, God is in this 
crisis. Ask Him to give you a plan, two or three steps you can take today.

Seek counsel from someone who’s faced a similar challenge. Ask friends to 
pray. Look for resources. Reach out to a support group. Make a plan!

You’d prefer a miracle? You’d rather see the bread multiplied or the stormy 
sea turned to glassy calm in a finger snap? God may do this. Then again, He 
may tell you, “I’m with you. And I can use this for good. Now, let’s make a 
plan.”

God’s sovereignty doesn’t negate our responsibility. Just the opposite. It 
empowers it. Trust God to do what you can’t. Obey God and do what you can! 
You’ll get through this.

From
You’ll Get Through This
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Heaven
There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the
Christian hope of ‘Heaven’ ridiculous by saying they do not want ‘to
spend eternity playing harps’. The answer to such people is that if they
cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk
about them. All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold, etc.) is,
of course a merely symbolical attempt to express the inexpressible.
Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all)
music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly
suggests ecstasy and infinity. Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact
that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendour and
power and joy. Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of Heaven
(gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it. People who take these
symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be
like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs. (Mere Christianity)

(Clive Staples) C. S. Lewis

The daily Christian Quote is a ministry of I Lift My Eyes Ministries
A Ministry of I Lift My Eyes Web Ministries

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

LIFE SENTENCE

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish 
the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of 
testifying
to the good news of God’s grace.
Acts 20:24

In a Sudan prison, Pastor Matta Boush was depressed as he faced thirty years 
on false charges. A visit from an Irish Catholic sister helped change his
outlook. There were others in prison, she said, whose cases were far worse 
than his. She told him never to ask himself why he was there, but instead to
ask for what purpose he was there. From that point Matta Boush began to 
minister to his fellow prisoners.

He began prayer meetings for non-Muslims and numbers grew quickly. One event 
at the prison made an especially strong impact. A prisoner, just prior to
his execution, rather than being fearful, was calm and gave his testimony. 
He said he was not afraid to die because he knew he would go to heaven. This
made such an impression that some of the Muslim guards became Christians.

He was transferred to another prison in the city of El-Obeid. Some Muslims 
objected to his ministry and prayer meetings so he was placed in solitary 
confinement
for several months. Away from his God-given work and with too much time to 
think, depression overtook him again. But the encouragement of friends 
helped
him through the hard times. Returning to the general prison population, he 
helped lead between 150 and 200 people to Christ.

Later Matta Boush was transferred to El-Khobar prison in Khartoum. There he 
was able to help build a prison chapel as well as continuing his ministry.
In the next ten months, 200 people came to the Lord.

His sudden release indicated that the person ordering it had great 
authority. As a free man, he contacted churches and visited Nuba refugee 
camps. He was
reunited with his three daughters. His wife, however, had married a Muslim 
man.

He began providing pastoral care for nine regional churches. He was faithful 
in sharing the Lord both in and out of prison. No sacrifice was too great
to accomplish the goal.

RESPONSE: Today I will sacrifice my comforts to accomplish the most 
important goal – sharing Jesus!

PRAYER: Pray for pastors like Matta Boush in prison today around the world. 
Pray they will lose their own desires and accomplish the Lord’s.

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

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You

A Word With You
Daily Devotional
Those Two Life-Saving Words - #7022

When I fly into Washington D.C., I sort of flash back to an unforgettable 
scene. It's been quite a while, but I can't help but think of it as I see 
that
same bridge. It happened in January of 1982. It was when Air Florida' s 
flight 90 took off in Washington bound for Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. It 
raked the
14th Street Bridge; plunged into the freezing waters of the Potomac River. I 
still can recall the image of the tail section sticking up out of the river
with six survivors clinging to that plane.

And there was that rescue helicopter circling overhead and lowering a 
lifeline to those survivors. And there was this one middle-aged man who was 
unidentified
in the news reports. He kept pushing the lifeline away and passing it to the 
other five passengers. Now, five people had been rescued. When the chopper
went back for that sixth man, he had slipped beneath the water. The pilot 
said later, "I have never seen one man with that much commitment."

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Those Two 
Life-Saving Words."

One man who gave up his life so others wouldn't have to die; does that sound 
familiar? Someone did that for you. Oh yeah, The Someone. Our word for today
from the Word of God comes from Galatians 2:20. It says this, "The life I 
live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave 
himself
for me."

There are two very simple but life-saving facts there. Jesus loves you and 
He gave His life for you. You say, "How? Why?" Well, Romans 6:23 provides 
the
context for that out of the Bible. It says, "The wages of sin is death. But 
the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." There's a 
death
penalty for this series of life-choices that we've made that God calls sin. 
You and I have both lived outside of God's boundaries; we've broken His 
laws.
We've hijacked the life that He was supposed to run and honestly we've run 
it our way.

Somebody said recently, "Oh, I don't believe a loving God would punish sin." 
Well, look at the cross of Jesus. He was carrying your sin and mine. Look
what happened. He was assuming all the guilt, the punishment of my sin and 
yours, and we hear God's one and only Son crying, "My God, My God, why have
you forsaken me?" Because a holy God must turn His back on whom ever is 
carrying my sin or yours. Jesus died so you don't have to carry that penalty 
any
longer unless you reject Him and His offer of eternal life.

The sacrifice of that man in the Potomac is a picture of Jesus giving up His 
life so you can live. But it's a very incomplete picture, because Jesus was
taking eternal death; all our forever suffering, all our forever separation 
from God, all our hell.

And those two life-saving words I mentioned. There was a young man we talked 
to not long ago who was involved in a cult and came back to the church he
had grown up in after becoming disillusioned. And he walked in and said, 
"For the first time I saw that cross. Oh, I've seen the cross many times in 
my
life, but I looked at Jesus dying on the cross and for the first time I said 
these words, 'For me. That was for me, wasn't it?'"

Those are the two life-saving words - for me. To walk up to the cross where 
Jesus was dying and say those two words as you look at Him, "For me, Jesus."
That's exactly what it said, "He loved me and gave himself for me." And so 
you say, "Jesus, I'm taking you for me." Have you ever told Him that? Do it
today. Why would you wait another day to get this settled? "I' m dropping my 
junk at this cross, Lord. I'm putting all my faith in You and in Your 
payment
for my sin."

If you're ready to finally welcome into your life this One who paid such a 
high price for you, His life, His blood to forgive you and erase your sin 
from
God's Book, well then tell Him you want to belong to Him. Listen, let me 
invite you to join me at our website. I'd love to help you get started with 
Jesus.
Just go to ANewStory.com.

No one has ever loved you like Jesus. No one has ever given so much or paid 
so much for you than God's one and only Son. There's no reason for you to 
die.
Someone died so you don't have to - Jesus.

To find out how you can begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, 
please visit:
Yours for Life
or call 1-888-966-7325.

"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.
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Is faith enough?

James 2:14–24

Are we saved by grace through faith alone (see
Eph 2:8–9)
or do we also need good works?

James does not argue that good works are required for salvation. Nor does he 
say that deeds are more important than beliefs. Rather, he insists that 
there
are two kinds of faith—one legitimate and the other illegitimate; “faith … 
made complete” (v. 22) and “faith without deeds” (v. 20). Both are “belief”
in one sense of the word. But legitimate faith goes deeper than “right 
thinking” to “right living.”

Confusion may arise, however, when we recall that Paul writes that we cannot 
earn salvation. He uses Abraham as an example of one who received God’s 
promise,
not through human effort, but through faith (see
Gal 3:6–12).

James also uses Abraham as an example, but his focus and emphasis are 
different than Paul’s. He skips over the futility of human effort to discuss 
the
futility of deficient faith—faith that stops at the intellectual level. Even 
demons have that kind of “faith,” James exclaims (v. 19)!

James’s point, then, is that Abraham exercised authentic faith—demonstrated 
by his actions. Abraham’s deeds earned him nothing, but they proved his 
faith
was genuine: Right faith led to right actions. If he had not trusted God, 
Abraham could never have offered his son—the fulfillment of God’s promise—on
the altar (vv. 21–22). Paul uses Abraham to show that people are justified 
on the basis of real faith; James shows that Abraham’s faith was proven to 
be
real because it worked (compare
Gal 5:6).

So then, we don’t need anything but faith—the right kind of faith—to be 
saved by God. And our behavior will show what our faith is made of, whether 
or not it is legitimate.

Today's reading is from the
NIV Quest Study Bible
by Zondervan

C.S. Lewis Daily

Today's Reading

Aslan turned to them and said: “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you 
to be.” Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have
sent us back into our own world so often.”

“No fear of that,” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed?” Their hearts leaped, 
and a wild hope rose within them. “There was a real railway accident,” said
Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are—as you used to call 
it in the Shadowlands— dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The
dream is ended: this is the morning.”

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that 
began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write
them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly 
say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the 
beginning
of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in 
Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were 
beginning
Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on 
forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

From
The Last Battle
Compiled in
A Year with Aslan

The Last Battle. Copyright © 1956 by C. S. Lewis Pte., Ltd. Copyright 
renewed © 1984 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.


Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Daily Devotional
Not a Lot of Answers But Plenty of Guarantees - #7016

Little Mark is at that stage. He's about three years old. He's the son of 
our friends, and he's cute...for a while. Until he starts asking all those 
questions!
Guess what his favorite one is? (I'll bet you'll know!) "Why?"

Why is good once, twice, or maybe three times. But with little Mark, every 
answer you give provokes another, "Why?" Pretty soon you'll run out of 
answers
to all the "why' s". I only see him occasionally, and the last time I saw him 
I could notice his father across the room with this amused smile. It was if
he was telling me, "Hey, it's your turn, Ron. I get this all the time." 
Listen, can you imagine a day in and day out, "Why, Daddy?" We might say to 
his
father, "Well, he'll outgrow it." But in fact, we haven't even outgrown 
asking "Why?"

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Not a Lot 
of Answers, But Plenty of Guarantees."

Our word for today from the Word of God. We're in the familiar words of 1 
Corinthians 10:13. "No temptation.. ." it says. Which, by the way, in the 
original
Greek word also means trial or testing. "No temptation (or trial, or 
testing) has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful. 
He will
not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but when you are tempted 
(or tested or tried) He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up
under it."

Now, I find nowhere in scripture a promise of answers to our persistent 
question, "Why, Daddy?" When trouble comes we say, "Why is this happening, 
Father?"
God's tapestry is way too complex to understand with only earth eyes. I 
don't know what trouble or trial you're struggling with right now, and I 
sure don't
know why. But I do know four guarantees that God gives you in the middle of 
your struggle.

Number one: never past the breaking point. We just read it. He will not let 
you be tempted beyond what you can bear. He has never taken one of His 
children
past their breaking point. He knows your limits. He'll take you to the 
breaking point to increase your spiritual weight-lifting strength; to 
increase your
faith; to make you more of an emotional winner and champion. But He'll never 
take you past the breaking point. That's guaranteed.

Number two: never without God's signature. Look at what happened with Job. 
Job suffering all kinds of things, he must have said, "Why, Daddy? Why is 
all
this happening?" But God didn't answer him. But we know this; the Devil had 
to get God's permission before he could touch Job. It's still that way 
today.
If there is a trial in your life, it has been Father-filtered. God has 
signed it before it got to you. He said, "This could make you more like 
Jesus or
I wouldn't let it come into your life." Never without God's signature.

The third guarantee: never without a hope door. It looks like there's no way 
out, but this says God will always provide a way out. You can't see one, but
God has supernatural deliverances that you've never even thought about.

And the fourth guarantee, He guarantees never without God's presence. That 
wonderful verse in Isaiah chapter 43 says, "When you pass through the fire,
I will be with you."

Corrie ten Boom had terrible experiences in a German concentration camp. She 
lost her family there. They were there because of helping to save Jews in
the horrible days of WWII. She said, "There is no pit so deep but God's love 
is deeper still." If you're a child of God who is full of questions about
"why" , your Father understands that. You may not even get the answer to that 
question this side of heaven. But you have your Father's guarantees: Never
past the breaking point, never without His signature, never without a hope 
door, and never without God's presence.

It could just be that you've been weathering life's "why' s" and storms and 
troubles, and you don't have this kind of personal relationship where you 
know
the deep love of God. He died on a cross so you could have that kind of 
relationship with Him to remove the sin that's between you and Him. And you 
could
begin that relationship today by saying, "Lord, I've been without your love 
long enough. I'm yours."

You want to know how to begin that relationship? Let me invite you to join 
me at our website ANewStory.com. It could be page one, chapter one of a new
story for you. From the moment you begin a relationship with Jesus, you have 
His promise that has your name on it. "I will never leave you. I will never
forsake you."

WORSHIP FUNCTION OF THE CHURCH

“…Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will 
worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers 
the Father
seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in 
truth."
John 4:23-24

All true believers recognize the privilege and responsibility to worship 
God. This worship begins when the Holy Spirit enters our being and grows and 
continues
throughout our lifetime. Every believer should worship the Lord privately as 
well as gather together with other believers to worship whenever possible.
We can worship the Lord because of who He is, because of what He has done in 
creation and redemption, and because of all that He has done for us 
individually.

Worship in Scripture seems to revolve around praising God. This is an act of 
the will not necessarily related to how a person "feels" or the immediate
circumstances of life. In other words, we should praise the Lord even when 
things seem to be going wrong. This is an act of submission to His divine 
will
and pleases the Lord (
Psalm 67:3
;
Hebrews 13:15
;
Isaiah 12:1).

Worship is evidently a matter of attitude that may be expressed outwardly in 
prayer, various bodily positions (such as kneeling), singing, dancing, 
clapping
etc. Music plays a very important part in the heartfelt worship of most 
believers. The form of worship should reflect the believer’s cultural 
methods of
showing adoration as long as it does not conflict with biblical guidelines.

Worship in the early church was simply an outpouring of thanksgiving from a 
heart that rejoiced in the Lord in complete disregard of circumstances. This
type of worship cannot be stopped by anyone. A group of Christians in 
hostile surroundings can worship in this simple way without being limited to 
a certain
building, a special time, or a prescribed program.

Worship is basically recognizing and declaring God's glory, holiness and 
worth. An act of worship is an expression of this recognition. The New 
Testament
writers seemed to assume that all people knew how to worship. They give us 
few examples of how the early Christians worshipped. Participation in the 
Lord's
Supper appears to have been their highest expression of worship. As they 
prayerfully remembered Jesus and His sacrificial death upon the cross for 
their
sins, they were worshipping.

There are scriptural references to other times of worship such as Peter's 
prayer (
Acts 4:23-28),
and Paul and Silas’ experience in prison (
Acts 16:23-25).
Pastor Jack Hayford enjoys sharing the story about this as told by his 
favourite African-American preacher. Paul and Silas’ prison cell singing was 
heard
all the way to the heavenly throne room of God. He began to tap his toe to 
the music. And since heaven is His throne and the earth is His footstool, 
that
toe tapping created an earthquake!! !

RESPONSE: Today I desire every aspect of my life to declare God’s glory, 
holiness and worth.

PRAYER: Pray today for Christians in countries like North Korea who rarely 
have opportunity to express openly and publically their worship of Almighty
God.

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

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

November 29, 2013

For a Fresh Start
by Charles R. Swindoll

block quote
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin. (Psalm 51:1-2)
block quote end

Our Father, in a dry and barren world, where sin is so rampant and society 
is so filthy, we need a fountain of fresh, clean water full of blessing, 
truth,
and strength. We need water that's never bitter . . . always sweet to the 
taste. Most of all, we need You. "Come Thou fount of every blessing."

In a world that has no song to sing and whose stories are often coarse and 
vulgar, we need a song. Teach us to sing Your songs of praise from our 
hearts,
reengaging our minds to things that are pure and holy and good and right and 
just and lovely and of good report.

We are thirsty today, our Father, for the living water. May it do its work 
in cleansing us. May it wash our minds. May it cleanse our motives. May it 
scrub
away the shameful secrets of our private world so that You can lead us onto 
right paths. Admittedly, we are prone to wander . . . prone to leave the God
we love. And only Your cleansing, fresh water of the Spirit can make us 
clean deep within. Make us clean today, our Father. Dig deeply into our 
lives,
and reveal truth. We pray You will find within us no rival, no resistance, 
no pride, no lies. And we now lay before You our very selves. We give 
ourselves
to Your sacred work, to be set apart for Your best use, for Your greater 
glory. In the name of Jesus, our "fount of every blessing," we pray. Amen.

See also Proverbs 20:9; Jeremiah 33:8; Ezekiel 36:25; 2 Corinthians 7:1.

Excerpted from
The Prayers of Charles R. Swindoll, Volume 2,
Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Just Call Him "Jesus"

It was about to begin – God's plan for humanity, crafted in the halls of 
heaven and carried out on the plains of earth. Only holiness could have 
imagined
it. Only divinity could have enacted it. Only righteousness could have 
endured it.

And once the plan began, there would be no turning back. The Creator knew 
it. The Son knew it. And soon, earth itself would witness heaven's majesty 
alighting
on the planet.

When God chose to reveal himself to mankind, what medium did he use? A book? 
No, that was secondary. A church? No, that was consequential. A moral code?
No. To limit God's revelation to a cold list of dos and don'ts is as tragic 
as looking at a Colorado road map and saying that you'd seen the Rockies.

When God chose to reveal himself, he did so through a human body. The hand 
that touched the leper had dirt under its nails. The feet upon which the 
woman
wept were calloused and dusty. And his tears ... oh, don't miss the tears 
... they came from a heart as broken as yours or mine ever has been.

So, people came to him. My, how they came to him! They came at night; they 
touched him as he walked down the street; they followed him around the sea;
they invited him into their homes and placed their children at his feet. 
Why? Because he refused to be a statue in a cathedral or a priest in an 
elevated
pulpit. He chose instead to be Jesus.

There was not a hint of one person who was afraid to draw near him. There 
were those who mocked him, were envious of him, and misunderstood him. There
were those who revered him. But no one considered him too holy or too divine 
to touch.

There was not one person who was reluctant to approach him for fear of being 
rejected.

Remember that the next time you find yourself amazed at your own failures.

Or the next time acidic accusations burn holes in your soul.

Or the next time you see a cold cathedral or hear a lifeless liturgy.

Remember. It is man who creates the distance. It is Jesus who builds the 
bridge.

God Came Near
This excerpt is taken from
God Came Near.

Have you seen the real Jesus--a working man with dirty fingernails and 
sweaty brow? Travel back in time and relive Christ the Son of God becoming 
man as
God Came Near.
Order God Came Near!

Copyright 2013 Max Lucado. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

C.S. Lewis Daily

Today's Reading

And now we begin to see what it is that the New Testament is always talking 
about. It talks about Christians ‘being born again’; it talks about them 
‘putting
on Christ’; about Christ ‘being formed in us’; about our coming to ‘have the 
mind of Christ’.

Put right out of your head the idea that these are only fancy ways of saying 
that Christians are to read what Christ said and try to carry it out—as a
man may read what Plato or Marx said and try to carry it out. They mean 
something much more than that. They mean that a real Person, Christ, here 
and now,
in that very room where you are saying your prayers, is doing things to you. 
It is not a question of a good man who died two thousand years ago. It is
a living Man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was 
when He created the world, really coming and interfering with your very 
self;
killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self 
He has. At first, only for moments. Then for longer periods. Finally, if all
goes well, turning you permanently into a different sort of thing; into a 
new little Christ, a being which, in its own small way, has the same kind of
life as God; which shares in His power, joy, knowledge and eternity.

From
Mere Christianity
Compiled in
A Year with C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed 
© 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of
HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His 
Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights 
reserved.
Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Follow C.S. Lewis:
CSLewis.com Chronicles of Narnia:

How can we face death with dignity?

Facing the Inevitable

In our society we don't like to talk much about death. After all, our world 
is geared towards entertainment and having fun. Still, every day thousands
of people have no choice but to face the inevitable, and many do so filled 
with fear, which is a common factor among humans wandering on this planet. 
Some
are more than fearful. They are terrified.

Believers aren't immune to this either. A pastor from the other side of 
North America was such an encouragement to my wife when she faced cancer 
last year.
They both had two things in common: my wife's best friend was his daughter 
and they both had cancer. He was a breath of fresh air to my wife, even 
though
he faced the same deadly disease.

The outcome wasn't the same though. My wife was healed, but this faithful, 
devoted pastor faced death, and at one point, he had to admit that he was 
afraid.
How would any of us react when we realize that our organs are slowly 
shutting down?

My mother-in-law also concurred that she was afraid when she was recently 
admitted in a local hospital. But not about death itself. She was afraid 
about
the process of dying, which she would rather skip. This is where we, as 
believers, differ from others. We anticipate going to our Heavenly home, but 
we
are aware of our frailties when going through the process of suffering. 
Death is not was fazes us. It is the suffering that we really don't prefer.

However, we, who are followers of the Most High, have nothing to fear, for 
we know where we are going. Yes, the process may not be quite that 
enjoyable,
but we don't have to face this alone!

Jesus went way out of His way to make certain of this. Born in a manger, He 
was destined to die the goriest death possible: death by asphyxiation. 
Still,
even though He knew about this in advance, He was unfazed by it. Instead He 
concentrated on His ministry of love towards humanity. However even Jesus 
faced
fear. Just moments before his eventual arrest, it is written that: ". . . 
Being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of 
blood
falling to the ground." (Luke 22:44, NIV2)

Jesus truly can identify with what we are going through. Notice that even 
though His own disciples weren't much of an encouragement, as they were 
asleep
while Jesus was facing this terror, He was encouraged from heaven above! "An 
angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him." (Luke 22:43, NIV2)
What humans were unable to do, God did!

Jesus allowed Himself to die on a lonely cross, with the only purpose being 
to defeat death and to open the door to immortality. Being pure, He rose on
the third day, as prophesied in the Old Testament, and confirmed that "Death 
has been swallowed up in victory." (1 Corinthians 15:54b)

Now we can firmly stand facing death and ask ourselves "Where, O death, is 
your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55, NIV2)

Thanks to Jesus, the fear of death is broken: "Since the children have flesh 
and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might 
break
the power of him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free 
those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." 
(Hebrews
2:14-15, NIV2). He stands by us, identifying with us, encouraging us that we 
have truly nothing to fear. We are not alone in this! He stands by our side!
We are going home!

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear 
no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." 
(Psalms
23:4, KJV)

Someone wrote to me recently and shared the following with me: "Thank you so 
much for your prayers for my dad. Today morning at 10:30 AM he left us to
be with the Lord for ever.

I am glad that he is now with the Lord and what died is not him but his old 
age, his pain, his sickness and his suffering. All of this died but my dad
is living with our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of heaven.

I had the privilege of telling him about the Lord and His Kingdom and 
encouraged him to think about heaven before he passed off into eternity. I 
also prayed
with him and as he was gasping in the last stages, he held my hand and slept 
off peacefully to open his eyes in front of our Lord and Savior Jesus 
Christ.
I am at peace with this assurance that I will certainly see him one day with 
the Lord and will be united with him again to enter that land of peace and
praise."

Only Jesus can give us that inner peace and remove the fear that haunts us. 
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and 
petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which 
transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in 
Christ
Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)

We, as Christians, have a task as well. It's our mission to encourage those 
who need someone to stand by them: "But encourage one another daily, as long
as it is called "Today, " so that none of you may be hardened by sin's 
deceitfulness. " (Hebrews 3:13, NIV2)

It's easy to become discouraged, but as long as we focus on the Christ, the 
One who was victorious over death, fear will evaporate into nothingness. 
After
all, Jesus is our peace: "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, NIV2)

Jesus did indeed "overcome the world", and we can too, with His help.

I am assured that I will be able to meet this pastor who was an inspiration 
to my wife. What a great reunion this will be when we gather at the banquet
hall of the Most High Himself.

Are you an encourager? If not yet, you still can become one. Make a 
difference and let God transform you into a bright shining star.

Death is not the end, it is just the beginning. Just like a child in its 
mother's womb, when his time comes, that child gets to meet his mother in 
person.
In the same way, we will meet our Heavenly Father in person as well! Wow!

Rob Chaffart
Do you have a Bible question you would like to see answered? Why not
submit it to us.
We have dedicated volunteers who would gladly take the time to find your 
answers.
©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

"I would rather walk in the dark with Jesus than to walk in the light on my 
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The sweet and quiet influence of your life!

(J.R. Miller,
"Intimate Letters on Personal Problems" 1914)

"God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." 1 Thessalonians 
4:7

I know Christians who are not brilliant, who never do any great things--but 
whose lives are so true, so consistent, so Christlike, that wherever they 
go,
they carry in their very presence a bit of heavenly sunshine.

Concerning one of these, a friend said a few years ago, standing by the 
coffin of the young woman who had been called home, "Wherever she went, 
flowers
grew in her pathway, and the air was always sweeter when she entered the 
room." This is true of certain lives, even apart from what they do. Of 
course,
it is the godly life and character, which makes the pleasant face, and which 
gives to the presence its strange power.

May God give you grace always to be a blessing wherever you go, not only in 
the things you do and the things you say--but still more in the sweet and 
quiet
influence of your life.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair 
and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that
of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which 
is of great worth in God's sight!" 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and 
in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We have published
J.A. James'
challenging article, "
Forgiveness of Injuries" .
Feel free to forward these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited 
by them!

A Word With You
Search A Word With You

Daily Devotional
Young Love, Young Letdown - #7070

On our list of holidays that we all celebrate each year, I have a sneaking 
suspicion there might be at least one of them that was invented by greeting
card companies and florists. In America we call it Valentine' s Day! Florists 
freak out and then they count their shekels the next day. And, of course,
I even did my part by helping some struggling greeting card company. I had 
to of course. I wanted to get one for the woman I love.

And I get to celebrate on that day a lifetime love that God's given me in my 
amazing wife. But occasionally Valentine' s Day gives me a flashback of a 
not-so-happy
romantic memory; back in the day when I was 13 and I knew I was in love. 
Right!

Let's call this junior high heartthrob "Cindy. " I remember combing the 
stores on our little town's main street for the perfect gift for Cindy - 
something
to let her know I had feelings for her. Well, I bought the nicest necklace 
that a few weeks' allowance could afford. It was a heart-shaped necklace. I
wrapped it in this mushy note I wrote, put it in an envelope and I left it 
on her desk in study hall.

The next day she passed by my desk and, as my heart beat loud enough to 
dance to, she silently left an envelope on my desk. There was a brief moment 
of
excited anticipation, followed by one massive letdown. It was the envelope 
I'd given her with my note and my necklace inside. Uh-huh, I was crushed. 
She
had rejected the love gift I'd spent everything on.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Young 
Love, Young Letdown."

You know, God knows how that feels, because He has spent everything on His 
love gift for you and for me. In our word for today from the Word of God in
Romans 8:32, it says, "He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us 
all." And then in John 3:16 it says, "God so loved the world that He gave 
His
one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have 
eternal life."

You know, you can put your name in there. That's how deeply personal this 
love is. For example, for me it goes, "God so loved Ron..." (Or put your 
name
in there) that He gave His one and only Son that if (there's your name) will 
believe in Him, then (there's your name again), will not perish but have 
eternal
life."

God knows the feeling of pouring out His love for us and having us just hand 
it back to Him. "Thanks, God, but no thanks. I'm not interested or I'm not
ready." It's not a necklace we're rejecting. It's what the Bible calls "the 
gift of God (which) is eternal life" (Romans 6:23). In short, we are 
rejecting
heaven. Because there's no way to get there except to have every wrong thing 
we've ever done forgiven. And that took Jesus doing the dying for the 
sinning
we've done. Look what He spent on this gift!

Now, for too many, Valentine' s Day and anniversaries are just reminders of 
how disappointing human love has been. Even a great love fails to fill that
gaping hole in our heart. It's just too big for any human to fill. The hole 
in our heart has Jesus' name on it. Here's what the Bible says, "we were 
created
by Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). And only He has the un-loseable love 
that will anchor us and finally complete us.

It must hurt God a lot to have spent so much and then us care so little. But 
He's a stubborn lover. He's back again today. He's offering His love to 
someone
who's listening right now. Would you respond to His love? Accept the gift 
that He died to give you. Open your heart and tell Him right where you are 
today,
"Dear Jesus, thank you for the price you paid for me; for my sin. Today I 
give me to You."

And let me encourage you to go to our website if you're at a point of 
wanting to be sure you belong to Jesus. Our address is ANewStory.com. I 
think you'll
find a lot of help there; a lot of encouragement. This could be the day that 
you find the love that you've been looking for your whole life!

EVANGELISM FUNCTION OF THE CHURCH

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name 
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
Matthew 28:19

Johan Companjen, President Emeritus of Open Doors International, was 
travelling in the Philippines. Finding it extremely hot in his hotel room, 
he called
for a staff person. “Is the air-conditioning not working?” he asked. “Oh yes 
sir,” the man replied, “It’s working. It’s just not functioning!”

Jesus Christ ordained five functions for His church to be involved in for 
Him. We are to evangelize
(Matthew 28:19
); to disciple or train those who are evangelized (
Matthew 28:20
); to minister or serve people demonstrating God’s love (
Matthew 22:39
;
Ephesians 4:12
); to fellowship together (
Ephesians 2:19
;
Galatians 6:10
); and to worship together (
Matthew 4:10
;
John 4:23).
In the Bible, there is not necessarily a priority order for these five 
purposes. They are all equally important.

Evangelism is one primary function. If we really have come to know Christ as 
Lord and Savior, we will want to share this wonderful experience with those
we love. It sometimes seems hard or embarrassing to share the Gospel with 
our friends and relatives. But if we really love them, and if we really 
believe
that without Christ they will suffer for eternity separated from God, we 
will tell them no matter how oppressive the culture or the political 
situation
may be.

Restrictions on the church cause new creative means of evangelism to arise. 
In a restricted country of Asia, one such creative method is to hire a bus
and invite relatives and friends to a free outing to the beach. Once in the 
bus, the pastor with a hand-held loudspeaker starts preaching to his 
“captive
audience” about the love of Christ. At the beach the sharing and fellowship 
continues…as well as a water baptism for new believers.

In Soviet Russia, a group of Christians took advantage of the funeral of a 
small daughter of one of the members to present a public evangelistic 
witness.
On the way to the cemetery, they stopped every few hundred meters to sing 
triumphant songs of praise. The father of the dead child also gave a clear 
message
of salvation in Christ. Many listeners along the way were deeply touched.

In Vietnam, Pastor Ho Hieu Ha spent over six years in prison for pastoring a 
growing church right under the noses of the unhappy authorities. But he felt
that his imprisonment was not a waste because he used the time to witness to 
others who were also in prison. When he was released, he had led ninety-six
people to Jesus and discipled them.

RESPONSE: I am committed to sharing Christ’s love with others. It is a 
primary function of the church.

PRAYER: Pray for those in restricted environments as they creatively find 
ways to witness about their faith.

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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A Matter of Faith
Are You Searching for True Love?

By Carol Round
Special to ASSIST News Service

CLAREMORE, OK (ANS) -- "For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures 
forever, and his faithfulness to all generations" -Psalm100: 5(ESV).

Illustration from
http://cafefonte.com

"What is love?" was the most searched phrase, according to Google, in 2012. 
Love, the most profound emotion known to human beings, is most often equated
with romantic relationships.

While Valentine' s Day has its origins in Christianity, the custom of sending 
cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts originated in the United Kingdom
in the early 19th century. According to statistics, more than 150 million 
Valentine cards are exchanged annually, over $1 billion dollars worth of 
chocolate
is purchased for Valentine' s Day in the U.S. and approximately 110 million 
roses, mostly red, will be sold and delivered within the three-day 
Valentine' s
Day time period. The day we celebrate romantic love has become a lucrative 
holiday for the card companies, chocolatiers and floral shops.

When I googled the phrase, "What is love," I found articles on the topic, 
ranging from psychology websites to sites on dating. Those were the sites, 
along
with a list of YouTube videos, which came up first in the search results. 
While I found some paid ads at the bottom of each page promoting the love of
Christ, I didn't find any websites or articles concerning biblical love 
until approximately the tenth page of my search results. I wondered what the 
people
who were googling the phrase, "What is love," discovered in their search. 
Did they find the answer they were seeking?

Christian author Phillip Keller once wrote, "Love in a scriptural sense is 
not a soft, sentimental emotion. It is a deliberate act of my will. It means
that I am willing to lay down my life, lay myself out and put myself out on 
behalf of another."

Jesus Praying before His Crucifixion
(www.oliveoiltimes. com)

Isn't that what Christ did for us? Remember the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus 
prayed on the night before His Crucifixion, "My Father, if it is possible,
may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Luke 
22:39). When Jesus went to the cross for us, love became an action, not a 
fleeting
emotion.

I have come to realize humans will disappoint us. Because humans seek to 
love and be loved, we search for meaning and significance in all the wrong 
places.
Only through a personal relationship with our Savior can we experience 
authentic love. Through the priceless gift of God's sacrifice, we can 
finally comprehend
the most amazing truth. We were planned before we were ever conceived in our 
mother's wombs. We were created in His heart. We were wanted. He loved us
before He ever set His eyes on 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" (John 3:16).

You don't have to google, "What is love?" Just read 1 John 4:10. "This is 
real love-not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a 
sacrifice
to take away our sins."

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -
Carol Round is a syndicated columnist, author and speaker. She has been 
writing her weekly column, A Matter of Faith, after retiring from a 30-year 
teaching
career in 2005. Her five books include three collections of her columns: A 
Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and By FAITH Alone. In 2012, Westbow Press 
released
her book, Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God with the 
companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge. All of Carol's books are available 
through www.Amazon.com

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Today's Devotional

The Stretch

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray continually. (NIV)

Remember, before cordless phones, how those old, curly phone cords could be 
stretched and stretched and stretched? In fact, I recall that when my kids
were small, the four-foot phone cord in the kitchen eventually stretched to 
more than three times that length due to the fact that I was always 
stretching
it to its limit. A friend would call, and during our conversation, that 
curly cord would stretch over to the sink as I washed dishes. It would 
follow me
to the washer and dryer on laundry day, to the back door to let the dogs in 
or out, and over to the living room door to check on the kids in the play 
area.

All this stretching occurred because communication between stay-at-home moms 
was invaluable. Sorrows as well as joys were shared. Problems were discussed
and worked through. Decisions were made. Friendships were forged, and 
relationships were strengthened, all because that old, curly phone cord had 
the ability
to stretch and stretch and stretch.

Learning to pray continually is also a stretch. And yet, the forging of this 
discipline is invaluable when it comes to the results that continual prayer
offers. When we stretch ourselves to include God in everything we think and 
say and do, sorrows are more easily borne; joy is multiplied; decisions are
wiser and less stressful; problems are seen from new perspectives; and our 
relationship with Jesus Christ is strengthened as we discover that He is the
best and greatest friend we will ever have the privilege of knowing.

Prayer: Father God, we thank You for the privilege of prayer: being able to 
speak with You at any time, under any circumstance, in any place. Bless us
daily through the prompting of Your Holy Spirit to stretch our times of 
communication with You, more and more, until it becomes natural to pray 
continually.
In Christ's name, we ask. Amen.

Lynne Phipps <
Atlin, British Columbia, Canada
Thought for Today: A clear conscience is a soft pillow.
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

November 23, 2013

For Endurance in Trials
by Charles R. Swindoll

block quote
"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD 
your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you."
(Deuteronomy 31:6)
block quote end

Lord, we all remember times of passing through the waters and going through 
the fire---overwhelming tests and furnace-like trials. And we have the scars
to prove it. As those times return, we trust You that the waters will not 
drown us and the fire will not burn us. How faithful You are, Lord, to meet 
us
at every one of life's contingencies . . . how caring and accepting, how 
full of grace and mercy. It is because of Your mercies that we are not 
consumed.

Now, Lord, do a work deep within our hearts. Provide us with fortitude for 
the trials of life---those we're enduring and those on the horizon. Help us
to come to terms with negative attitudes that have been anchors weighing us 
down and stealing our joy. Forgive us for the sour responses that we have 
expressed
and have encouraged in others. Give us eyes of faith to see beyond the 
predictable, beyond the facts and figures. Open us to a whole world of 
possibilities
because You are the God of the impossible. Encourage us, Father, with 
thoughts that send us into our future with hope and joy. And may our 
attitudes become
encouraging and contagious rather than destructive and poisonous.

In the name of the Lord Jesus we ask these things. Amen.

See also 2 Samuel 10:12; Ezra 10:4; Psalm 27:14; Isaiah 43:1-3; Matthew 
14:27.

Excerpted from
The Prayers of Charles R. Swindoll, Volume 2,
Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Following God is Not an Easy Road

One of Satan's greatest tools is to isolate believers in their minds from 
other believers around them. He makes us think we are the only ones facing 
such struggles.

Beware of Self-Isolationism

When Satan keeps us from sharing our struggles, bearing each other's 
burdens, and encouraging one another—he has pushed our spiritual lives into 
a potential cycle for constant defeat. He plants thoughts like: "no one else 
has ever faced what I am facing" , or "I am so bad and no other Christian has 
ever done what I have done", or "no believer has ever failed as I have 
failed" .

As we read I Corinthians 10:11-13, it is our introduction to how much we 
need to realize we are all weak, frail, and in need of God's grace.

What David faced, we all face; how David struggled, we all struggle. In 
varying degrees an in various flavors of sin, but we are all made of the 
same stuff. There are no super-saints.

"Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written 
for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore 
let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has 
overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will 
not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the 
temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear 
it."

Most of us who grew up in the twentieth century remember the comic books, 
cartoons, and TV shows portraying the exploits of super-heroes. Those 
superheroes had extraordinary abilities to fight a never-ending battle for 
truth and justice. Fans all over the world therefore idolized them—and loved 
hearing stories of their great feats!

In the 21st century many of these superheroes are coming back in the movies. 
As usual, movies often reflect deeper issues that can lurk in the back of 
our minds. It is easy to slip into a Bible-characters- were-superheroes 
mentality.

Those thoughts can lead to many Christians viewing God's choicest servants 
like David, or Elijah, or Paul as Super Saints.

Continue reading
http://www.christianity.com/ devotionals/discover-the-book-john-barnett/discover-the-book-nov-30-2010- 11641937.html

Perspective, Perspective, Perspective

God; enlighten my eyes… —Psalm 13:3 (NKJV)

So much of our lives are based on our perspective. The way we see things 
definitely determines and drives the way we respond to them.

It's like the two shoe salesmen who were sent out to scout the prospects of 
selling their product in a distant land. Upon arriving, they found that 
nobody wore shoes. The one salesman telegraphed his headquarters that it 
would be a useless venture: "Don' t waste your time, nobody even wears shoes 
over here!" His colleague, however, had a more optimistic outlook: "You' ll 
never believe it! Everybody needs shoes, and there's absolutely no 
competition! "

Perspective, perspective, perspective… it makes all the difference.

We don't know the details behind Psalm Chapter 13. We don't even know when 
David wrote it or what was going on in his life at the time. But we can 
surmise that it was a time when circumstances weren't going his way. 
Everything in life was pressing in and distressing him. And then, halfway 
through this Psalm, he lifts this prayer to God: "Enlighten my eyes." In 
other words, "Help me to see things clearly and with proper perspective. "

It's a prayer that God apparently answered, because by the end of the Psalm, 
David is rejoicing in God's mercy and salvation. What changed? David's 
perspective. Instead of looking at the troubles around him, he began to look 
at God, and it made all the difference. Just as He did with David nearly 
3,000 years ago, God can also give us the proper perspective on our lives. 
When things around us seem discouraging, God is always able to move our 
focus to something encouraging…Him.

Almighty God, set our eyes on You at all times and please protect our 
perspective!

Think About It…

What does this passage reveal to me about God?
What does this passage reveal to me about myself?
Based on this, what changes do I need to make?
What is my prayer for today?

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List
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RESPONDING WITH PRAISE

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for 
this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The overflow of singing praises amid great difficulties has tremendous 
spiritual power. Paul and Silas set the biblical pattern in the prison in 
Philippi
(
Acts 16).

Helen Berhane spent almost three years in the shipping container prisons of 
Eritrea. In her book Song of the Nightingale, she shares about the first 
time
she and other women were put in an old metal shipping container that was 
very hot and filled with fleas and lice:

Everyone was very despondent, and many of the women were angry. They asked 
me what we should do and I knew they were expecting me to say that we should
shout or bang the container, to let our captors know that we were not going 
to tolerate this treatment. But I remembered… [reading] about how 
Christians,
like nightingales, could not be prevented from singing even in captivity, 
and I suggested that we sing: “We should praise God in spite of the fleas, 
in
spite of the lice, in spite of the heat. We should thank God despite our 
circumstances.†So I began to sing with them, and pray, and share the Word 
of
God from memory.[1]

Pastor Ung Sophal sat in a filthy Cambodian prison badly beaten. His hands 
and feet were chained for five months. “Only my mouth was unchained,†he 
said.

“...So I sang to God in prison all the time. Another prisoner heard me 
singing through a small hole in the wall, so I taught him the song—a bit at 
a time.
He passed it on and soon eight of us were singing.â€

Archbishop Dominic Tang spent twenty-two years in prison in China for his 
faith. He reports:

“Besides my prayer and meditation, every day I sang some hymns in a soft 
voice: ‘Jesus I live for you; Jesus I die for you; Jesus I belong to you. 
Whether
alive or dead I am for Jesus!’ This hymn was taught to me by a Protestant 
prisoner who lived in my cell.â€[2]

RESPONSE: Today I will respond to all the challenges of life I face with 
praise and thankfulness.

PRAYER: Pray that all Christian prisoners around the world will also respond 
to their circumstances as those documented above.

1. Helen Berhane, Song of the Nightingale, ( Colorado Springs: Authentic 
Media, 2009), pp. 36-37.

2. Tony Lambert, The Resurrection of the Chinese Church (London: Hodder and 
Stoughton, 1991), p 179.

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

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission


November 21, 2013

For Pure Motives in Service
by Charles R. Swindoll
But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as 
He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now 
there
are many members, but one body. (1 Corinthians 12:18-20)

Father, You made all of us with different personalities, with different 
gifts and responsibilities, and yet You choose to mingle us together in the 
same
body of believers, over which Christ is Head. You provide us endless 
opportunities to give of ourselves, to teach others, to guide the confused, 
to help
those in need, and to carry the burdens of others. As we serve Your people 
and touch the lives of those outside the church, we face great temptations 
to
be in charge, to force others to get in line, to make things more uniform 
and rigid, to get narrow and demanding, to set our expectations too high, to
handle the work of ministry and life in general as if they were secular 
enterprises. God, we need You to keep things fresh and unpredictable and 
especially
to keep us authentic, servant-hearted people who are easy to live with. 
Remind us that You are the Potter and we are the clay.

So give us new hope . . . hope beyond religion, hope that motivates us to 
press on, to serve You with pure motives, strong minds, and humble hearts. 
Thank
You for Your grace, our only hope . . . in Jesus’s name. Amen.

See also Acts 2:44-47; 9:31; 1 Corinthians 11:16; Philippians 2:3-4

Excerpted from
The Prayers of Charles R. Swindoll, Volume 2,
Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

© 2013 Insight for Living. All rights reserved worldwide.
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How to Overcome Past Pain and Let Hope into Your Life
Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of 
Pete Wilson's new book,
Let Hope In: 4 Choices That Will Change Your Life Forever
(W Publishing, 2013).

Each new day of your life is a gift from God that He wants you to live 
fully. But if the pain you’ve suffered in your past is still impacting your 
life now, you can’t fully embrace the new life God offers you because you’ll 
be stuck in a frustrating cycle of brokenness that leaves you feeling 
hopeless.

The key to overcoming your past pain is making choices that invite God’s 
hope into your life. Here are some choices you can make to heal from your 
past and enjoy hope from now on:

Transform your pain instead of transferring it. If you don’t find ways to 
learn from your past pain, you’ll likely be doomed to repeat the mistakes 
you made in the past and transfer your pain to everyone with whom you 
interact – from your friends and family members to your coworkers and 
neighbors. So ask God to break the hold that your past has over you and show 
you what useful lessons you can learn from it so you can begin moving 
forward. God is much more powerful than your history, and when you
trust Him, God will start to transform your pain into healing and wisdom in 
your life.

Leave shame behind. Silence the voice of shame in your life so it won’t 
block the healing that God wants to give you. Listen to the Holy Spirit’s 
voice telling you that God loves you completely and unconditionally, 
regardless of what has happened in your past. Even though God knows the 
worst about you, He wants to redeem you anyway. Let go of shame and accept 
God’s invitation to healing.

Overcome your regrets. Holding onto regrets from your past will only lead to 
more regrets unless you break the unhealthy cycle by releasing your regrets 
to God. Realize that it’s pointless to dwell on your regrets, since you can’t 
go back and change your past – all you can do is keep moving forward. Pray 
specifically about each of your regrets while envisioning Jesus on the 
Cross. Leave every one of your regrets at the foot of the Cross as a 
symbolic way of entrusting them to God’s power to redeem
them for good purposes.

Confess that you’re not okay. Don’t waste any more time or energy pretending 
to be fine when you’re really hurting, lonely, confused, or frightened 
because of your past pain. If your pain was caused by some sin of yours in 
the past, confess that to God, repent from the sin, and ask Him to forgive 
you. If your pain was caused by someone else sinning against you, admit to 
God that you need to forgive the person who hurt you, and ask God to empower 
you to do so. Ask God and some fellow believers you
can trust to help you start the healing process.

Pursue healing. Turn to the ultimate Healer, Jesus Christ, to help you heal. 
Seek Jesus’ guidance for every step of your healing journey, knowing that He 
specializes in taking what’s broken and restoring it to how it should be.

Embrace your past. Accept the reality of what happened in your past that has 
caused you pain, without denying it or minimizing its effect on your life. 
Let go of your desire to have life go the way you’d planned it. Surrender 
your past to God, so He will take it and use it for good purposes. Talk 
openly about your past with other people who are struggling with similar 
types of pain, if you sense God leading you to share what you’ve learned 
with them. Doing so can usher hope into their lives as well
as your own.

Choose trusting God over pleasing God. Instead of trying to make up for your 
past failures by working hard with religious rituals you hope will please 
God, choose to trust God’s promise that He loves and accepts you 
unconditionally. Rather than trying to reach God through your own efforts, 
trust in His grace.

Accept God’s surprising gift of radical grace, and be graceful with others. 
Unlike the limited, strings-attached grace that other people (even those in 
church) offer you, God Himself wants to give you completely unconditional 
grace – grace you can count on, no matter what you’ve done in the past. That 
grace is surprising, yet real. God sees past your past sin when He looks at 
you; He focuses on the fact that you’re one of His beloved children. No 
matter how others may label you as a second-class
person due to your past mistakes, God always sees you as a first-class 
person. Express your gratitude to God by following His command to forgive 
the people who have hurt you in the past – relying on God’s help to do so.

Discover the true meaning of God’s will for you. You can free yourself from 
the burden of worrying about aligning your decisions with God’s will when 
you realize that knowing God’s will is simple. God’s will isn’t about 
figuring out specific details about your circumstances, such as which job 
you should pursue or where you should live. Instead, God’s will is simply 
about giving your best effort to loving God and loving people in any 
circumstances. Recognize that God has given you the freedom to make
your own decisions about specifics in your life, as long as you follow the 
basic principle of God’s will, which is to choose the most loving course of 
action while trusting God. Don’t worry that poor decisions you made in the 
past may have caused you to miss out on God’s will for your life. You can 
always get back in line with God’s will for your life when you trust God to 
redeem your mistakes and try to make loving decisions from now on.

Be grateful. Choose to be grateful for all the good gifts that God 
constantly pours into your life. The more you choose gratitude, the less 
power your painful past will have over you.

Overcome fear. You can move past your fear of the unknown and into a hopeful 
future when you ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind each day. Then you’ll 
be able to approach any situation from a faithful perspective. Focus on God’s 
love, which drives out all fear, and you’ll experience more hope in your 
life.

Adapted from
Let Hope In: 4 Choices That Will Change Your Life Forever,
copyright 2013 by Pete Wilson. Published by W Publishing Group, an imprint 
of Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tn.,
www.thomasnelson. com.

Pete Wilson is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in 
Nashville, Tennessee. Pete desires to see churches become radically devoted 
to Christ, irrevocably committed to one another, and relentlessly dedicated 
to reaching those outside of God’s family. Pete and his wife, Brandi, have 
three boys. Visit his website at:
www.withoutwax. tv.

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

Publication date: October 25, 2013
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November 18, 2013
God's Holiness, Our Need
by Charles R. Swindoll

Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones,
And give thanks to His holy name.

---Psalm 30:4

We come before You, our Father, and we acknowledge that it is Your holiness 
that draws us to You. And it is that lack of holiness in ourselves that 
brings
from within us such a hunger to know You better. We affirm with Paul that 
our determined purpose is that we may know Him. That we may progressively 
become
more intimately acquainted with Him. Oh, God, that is what we want. More 
important, that is what we need.

In a culture that's adrift and in a world that's broken, there is something 
about Your character that draws us, warms the coldness of our hearts, breaks
our stubborn wills. And we stand before You, our holy God, acknowledging 
that You are pristine, free of corruption, without a hint of sin or 
transgression.

We are reproved by Peter's words, "'You be holy even as I am holy,' says the 
Lord." The angels acknowledge You by saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord
God Almighty." You are high and lifted up. You have full perspective and 
understanding. Your character is unflawed, and we are lost in the wonder of 
it.
We are caught up in the perfection of Your person.

We've never known a Father like You, as good as our fathers may have been. 
We've never known one so full of compassion and grace and love and mercy. 
Introduce
us again to that this day. Remind us of it again and again, especially when 
we fail and see ourselves so unworthy. Remind us that none of that blocks 
Your
wondrous forgiveness. Thank You. Thank You.

In the matchless name of Jesus, Your Son and our Savior, we pray. Amen.

See also Isaiah 6:1-7; Romans 12:1; Ephesians 1:3-4; Philippians 3:10; 1 
Peter 1:14-16.

Excerpted from
The Prayers of Charles R. Swindoll, Volume 2,
Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Devotions by Christine Caine - Undaunted
Read
Habakkuk 3:17-19

The prophet Habakkuk states his commitment to rejoice in the Lord and gain 
strength even when times are difficult and there seems to be no end in 
sight.

Five Important Tools
God knows when we need to be nurtured and healed, refreshed and sustained. 
He gives us five important tools for the journey tools that will help us and
equip us to help others as well.

list of 5 items
1. Comfort in the Church. When you're hurting, going home is the best thing 
to do, and church is the believers spiritual home.
2. Power in Worship and Praise. The beautiful lyrics of the song, Blessed 
Be Your Name by Matt and Beth Redman goes: Blessed be your name on the 
road
marked with suffering, though there's pain in the offering, blessed be your 
name. The weight of grief and the burden of feeling alone spill out as we
lose ourselves in worship and praise. Peace and confidence in the Lord's 
love and care pour in. We magnify the Lord instead of our disappointment. We 
remember
his mercies more than our hurt.
3. Strength in Choosing the Joy of the Lord. Happiness is based on 
circumstances, while joy is based on God's love and faithfulness. Happiness 
is rooted
in positive emotions, while joy is something more. It's a fruit of the 
Spirit (
Galatians 5:22; 23),
something that God divinely gives us through the power of his Holy Spirit. 
Joy is like a medicine when our hearts are sick and the pain seems 
unbearable.
4. Wisdom of His Word. God's Word is full of his promises to us, and when we 
read it, we're reminded of them. The psalms, in particular, have helped me
through heartache because in them are some of the most pure and honest heart 
cries ever written. God has a plan and purpose for my life, as he does for
each of us, beyond this moment of disappointment. We need not be passively 
resigned to the problems in life. We need not give up and stop fighting for
what we believe in; there is always hope, and as long as there is hope, we 
can move forward and bring others with us.
5. Love of Family and Friends. A friend will help us move forward through 
our disappointment and into God's promises. When we can't see anything but 
the
fog of grief, a friend can help clear the way, help us laugh, bring a 
smile and like medicine the mirth helps us heal.
list end

Point to Ponder
Disappointment is inevitable for you and everyone else. It's part of life. 
But God has given you tools to help you move past the disappointments you 
encounter
and on to a joyous and productive future. You aren't alone in your sadness, 
God has given you something to work with.
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Flower Power

Our yearly vacation to Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada, the largest fresh 
water island in the world, could not come soon enough. The island is so 
welcoming
and beautiful. One day as I was walking along the rock formation by the 
water's edge, I saw something that I have since been pondering: a delicate 
purple
flower growing out of the rock. As I came closer to inspect, I saw the 
flower's stem protruding out of a tiny crack in the rock, and I wondered how 
such
a thing could be possible. The flower seemed to have pierced through the 
rock, an object so hard that no one could break it with their hand. But at 
the
same time, the stem of the flower could easily be broken. I am sure that 
there is a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, but to me, it is a 
miracle
of God's creation and power.

I am thinking that somehow a tiny seed lodged in that very tiny crack and, 
in time, pierced and grew in the rock, and reached its petals towards the 
sun
to capture the rain that made it grow into the beautiful, bell-like flower.

Have you ever noticed how a tiny flower can pierce through asphalt? This 
frequently happens in our driveway: a fragile, wild plant pushing its way 
through
asphalt.

This phenomenon made me think of our individual lives when trials come our 
way. Sometimes, we feel like the burden is too much to carry, just like a 
depth
of asphalt, a heavy rock, or a confining crevice that we find ourselves 
struggling to get out of, longing to breathe some fresh air. It is at times 
like
these that we need to call out to our Creator, Who will help us and save us. 
He may choose to remove the situation that we may find ourselves in, or to
take us away from it. But if not, He will grant us the strength, peace, 
power, and endurance to push through whatever we are going through at that 
moment.
And we, too, with God's help, will pierce through the asphalt, like that 
tiny flower, and grow and shine as God's light illumines us.

James 1:2-4 ? Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, 
consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith 
is tested,
your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance 
is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (NLT)

Prayer: Creator God, You show us miracles every day; grant us to see them. 
Help us to remember to call on You when we are faced with trials that put us
into a depression or a feeling of hopelessness that we can't come out of. We 
thank You for listening and raising us up to shine Your light to others. 
Amen.

Rosemary Hagedorn 
Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada

Thought for Today: Shadows prove that the sun is shining.

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List
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Discarded People

God calls us to change the way we look at people. Not to see them as 
Gentiles or Jews, insiders or outsiders, liberals or conservatives. Not to 
label.
To label is to libel. "We have stopped evaluating others by what the world 
thinks about them" (
2 Cor. 5:16
NLT).

Let's view people differently; let's view them as we do ourselves. 
Blemished, perhaps. Unfinished, for certain. Yet, once rescued and restored, 
we may
shed light, like the two stained-glass windows in my office.

My brother found them on a junkyard heap. Some church had discarded them. 
Dee, a handy carpenter, reclaimed them. He repainted the chipped wood, 
repaired
the worn frame. He sealed some of the cracks in the colored glass. The 
windows aren’t perfect. But if suspended where the sun can pass through, 
they cascade
multicolored light into the room.

In our lifetimes, you and I are going to come across some discarded people. 
Tossed out. Sometimes tossed out by a church. And we get to choose. Neglect
or rescue? Label them or love them? We know Jesus’ choice. Just look at what 
he did with us.

This excerpt is taken from Outlive Your Life.

Does God still free hearts, minds and bodies from the ravages of sin and 
poverty? The answer is yes! He does it through you.


Fools for Christ
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Entertainment Editor

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose 
the weak things of the world to shame the strong. –
1 Corinthians 1:27

I was leaving the grocery store and had just started my car, when I was 
approached by a man pushing a stroller. I assumed he was going to ask for 
directions, but it turned out that couldn’t have been further from the 
truth.

"Hey man, I really need some help. My daughter and I just got evicted from 
our apartment." He proceeded to rattle off his story as I listened 
uncomfortably. He had contacted Social Services but they wouldn’t be able to 
help him until tomorrow. His wife had left when things got tough. He was 
afraid of losing his daughter. He'd found a cheap motel to stay in, but he 
still needed seventeen dollars to pay for the room.

Now, several things began to buzz through my head as he talked. The first 
was how I didn’t trust a thing he was saying. In Asia, I’d seen female 
beggars use their children to garner sympathy from passing strangers. In 
South America, older men would hold Bibles or crosses, not because they were 
Christians but because it encouraged people to give more generously. 
Everything about his story felt rehearsed, staged, right down to the toddler 
in his stroller.

The second thing was that the man had said he needed $17, which was the 
exact amount I had in my wallet. I had been hoping to use that money to grab 
a lunch out or maybe see a movie, but could I really justify being so 
selfish if this guy really needed it? I considered giving him a few bucks 
just to make him go away, but withholding the rest didn’t seem any better 
than giving him nothing. It felt like I was trapped between two choices, 
would I be stupid or heartless. Eventually, I considered what
Christ would have me do, and handed over the money along with my best 
wishes.

I don’t know what became of that man. Maybe he was telling the truth, maybe 
he was lying, and to be honest I don’t really care. God has called us to 
love, and you cannot love others if you are afraid of looking foolish. 
Remember what the Bible says in the book of Matthew,

“’You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I 
tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right 
cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take 
your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one 
mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn 
away from the one who wants to borrow from you.’” – Matthew 5:38-42

Intersecting Faith and Life: Consider this: Love is like dancing, you'll 
never do it well if you're afraid of how you look.

Further Reading
1 Corinthians 4
Crosswalk.com

The Reality of Revelry

Verse:
2 Samuel 22:1-7

Recommended Reading

Exodus 15:1-21
;
Psalms 18
;
Luke 1:46-55
;
Acts 16:16-40

?Music is an outburst of the soul.?

While this expression came from 19th-century English composer Frederick 
Delius, it could easily describe King David?s attitude toward worship.

The people around David probably grew accustomed to his musical outbursts. 
After all, it was King David?much to the chagrin of Saul?s daughter?who 
?[danced] before the Lord with all his might? (2 Samuel 6:14). Moreover, 
David wrote many of the psalms. We can imagine the shepherd-king in his 
bedchamber at night strumming his harp and composing another song to the 
Lord. Yet David was hardly a soloist in the family of God.

The whole Bible reverberates with the songs of people so enraptured by God?s 
work that their day-to-day lives gave way to melody. Moses and Miriam 
harmonized praise after God had led his people out of Egypt (see Exodus 
15:1?21). Solomon crooned his way through Song of Songs, celebrating the 
marriage relationship between a husband and wife. Isaiah offered a prophetic 
song from the coming choir of the new Jerusalem (see Isaiah 26). Mary, when 
told that she would give birth to the Son of God, lifted
a song to the child?s Father in heaven (see Luke 1:46?55). Paul and Silas 
shouted their praise, and God split the walls of their cellblock (see Acts 
16:25?26). The Bible is full of the songs of God?s people.

What does this Biblical legacy of song say about us? We sing, as Moses, 
David and Mary sang, because God is worthy of song. When David opened his 
song (see 2 Samuel 22), the attributes of God came streaming out of the king?s 
mouth so quickly that he barely formed sentences?my rock, my fortress, my 
deliverer, my shield, my salvation, my stronghold, my refuge.

Like David, may we be so overcome by the knowledge of God that our natural 
response is to burst forth in song. May we sing from a heart-knowledge of 
God?longing after him with our greatest affections and deepest desires.

To Take Away

? When in your life have you so keenly sensed God?s presence that you could 
have burst forth into song?
? How would you describe or rate your heart-knowledge of God?
? What steps can you take to deepen your delight in the character of God?

This devotion is from the
NIV New Men's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan. Used with permission.
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November 15, 2013

Overcoming Unfair Treatment
by Charles R. Swindoll

The LORD is righteous within her;
He will do no injustice.
Every morning He brings His justice to light;
He does not fail.
But the unjust knows no shame.

---Zephaniah 3:5

Dear Lord, we want You to find a yielded and quiet spirit within us. To make 
that happen, we need You to come in like a flood. Occupy us like water 
filling
empty spaces. Occupy reserved portions of our lives where anger is festering 
and the secret places where grudges are being stored. Sweep through the 
houses
of our hearts . . . don't miss one room or a single area---cleanse every 
dark closet, look under every rug. Let nothing go unnoticed as You take full 
control
of our motives as well as our actions. Deep within our hearts, sweep us 
clean of blame and revenge, of self-pity and keeping score. Enable each one 
of
us to be big enough to press on, regardless what unfair treatment we've had 
to endure. Take away the scars of ugly treatment and harsh words. Keep us 
from
licking our wounds. Forgiveness comes hard . . . but it's essential. Help us 
forgive, even those who never acknowledge their wrongdoing toward us. Give
us peace over turmoil, and erase the memories that keep us offended. We need 
fresh hope to go on! We ask this in the name of Him who had no sin and did
no wrong but died, the just for the unjust: Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

See also Leviticus 19:15; Romans 12:19; Colossians 4:1; 1 Peter 2:20-24.

Excerpted from
The Prayers of Charles R. Swindoll, Volume 2,
Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
© 2013 Insight for Living. All rights reserved worldwide.
Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

Look Up!
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

Recommended Reading
Psalm 5
The phrase "look up" occurs four times in the Bible (NKJV), and it conveys 
four different truths. In Psalm 40:12, the writer was so discouraged by 
looking
around him that he found it difficult to look up: "Innumerable evils have 
surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to 
look
up." But Mark 8:25 says Jesus helps us look up, even when we can't see 
straight. Referring to the blind man of Bethsaida, Jesus put His hands on 
the man's
eyes "and made him look up." Our Lord offers the same encouragement to us, 
especially in these Last Days, for in Luke 21:28, Jesus said, "When these 
things
begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption 
draws near."

So we can say with the psalmist: "My voice You shall hear in the morning, O 
LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up." Whatever
is happening in your life today, look up. When we turn our eyes heavenward 
and celebrate what we see, our hearts will overflow with joy.

"Behold the Lamb of God," and always behold Him. Look to Him; look up to 
Him, and follow where He leads the way.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read-Thru-the- Bible
Romans 4-7
David Jeremiah' s Website info@davidjeremiah.org
TURNING POINT WITH DR. DAVID JEREMIAH

The Widow with the Two Coins

Her character: Though extremely poor, she is one of the most greathearted 
people in the Bible. Just after warning his disciples to watch out for the 
teachers
of the law, who devour widows' houses, Jesus caught sight of her in the 
temple. He may have called attention to her as a case in point.
Her sorrow: To be alone, without a husband to provide for her.
Her joy: To surrender herself to God completely, trusting him to act on her 
behalf.
Key Scriptures:
Mark 12:41-44
;
Luke 21:1-4

Her Story

With Passover approaching, the temple was packed with worshipers from all 
over Israel. The previous Sunday, Jesus had created a sensation as he rode 
down
the Mount of Olives and into Jerusalem, mounted on a donkey. A large crowd 
had gathered, carpeting the road with palm branches and shouting: "Hosanna 
to
the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna 
in the highest."

Some of the Pharisees, scandalized that Jesus was being hailed as Messiah, 
demanded, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"

"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

Stung by his words, the teachers of the law began to plot how they could 
break the law by murdering him at their first opportunity.

Days later, after warning his disciples to watch out for the teachers of the 
law who preyed on widows for their money, Jesus sat opposite the temple 
treasury,
in the Court of the Women. The place was crowded with people dropping their 
offerings in one of the thirteen trumpet-shaped receptacles that hung on the
walls. But Jesus had eyes for only one of them. He watched as a widow 
deposited two small copper coins, less than a day's wages.

Quickly, he called to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow 
has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of 
their
wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live 
on."

No one else would have noticed the woman. But Jesus, with eyes that

penetrated both her circumstances and her heart, recognized the astonishing 
nature of her gift. Her gesture was a sign of complete abandonment to God.

Without faith, she wouldn't have offered her last penny, believing God would 
care for her better than she could care for herself. But there is yet 
another,
more subtle aspect to Her Story. How easy it would have been for her to 
conclude that her gift was simply too meager to offer. What need had God for 
two
copper coins anyway? Surely they meant more to her than they would to him. 
Somehow she must have had the grace to believe in the value of her small 
offering.

Maybe God, in a manner of speaking, did need what she had to offer. Perhaps 
her gesture consoled Jesus a short time before his passion and death. She 
had
given everything she had to live on; soon, he would give his life.

The story of the widow and her two copper coins reminds us that God's 
kingdom works on entirely different principles than the kingdom of this 
world. In
the divine economy, the size of the gift is of no consequence; what matters 
is the size of the giver's heart.

Her Promise

God's promise of provision is nowhere more evident than in this story of the 
widow who gave all she had. She had no one else to rely on—only God. That's
true of us as well, isn't it? Regardless of our financial situation, whether 
we are financially well off or constantly skimming the bottom, we have no
one else to rely on. Our true security is not in our belongings or our bank 
accounts, but in God alone. And he has promised to provide.

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.

MORE AND MORE LIKE JESUS
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]

“The children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face
shone: and Moses put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak
with him” (Exodus 34:35). A person’s countenance is the outward expression
of what is in his heart. When the revelation of God’s glory was made real to
Moses, it changed his very look!

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).

Paul was saying, “I have within me much more than some doctrine somebody
thought up, more than just a head knowledge of Christ. I have a revelation of
who Christ is—a revelation of His grace, mercy and love. And this revelation
has become the very source of all I am and do. It’s the very essence of my
life!”

The revelation of God’s glory is indeed wondrous. Yet many have turned that
very revelation into a license to sin. Jude describes people “turning the
grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our
Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).

According to Paul, such people sin “that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1).
They are saying, in essence, “If God loves to express Himself through mercy
and forgiveness, then I’m going to give Him every opportunity. I’m going to
sin and let Him keep loving me, so that grace will flow. What a testimony to the
world that will be. I’ll be an object of all that love coming down from
heaven.”

Such people are easy to spot. Their countenance gives them away. Isaiah spoke
of Israelites who “provoke the eyes of his glory. The [look] of their
countenance doth witness against them” (Isaiah 3:8-9). The prophet was
saying, “Your sin witnesses against you in your very look. Whatever is in
your heart is going to reveal itself in your countenance.”

On the other hand, even the rankest of sinners can tell when you have “been
with Jesus.” How can they tell? You look like no one else to them! They say,
“You’re different. You carry yourself with a humble assurance and nothing
about you seems hidden. You’ve got no secretiveness and you don’t seem to
carry any grudges or bitterness. If you did, I’d know it. Your life is an
open book!”

Sin, however, wears a certain look. No smile can cover it up and its voice has
the sound of emptiness—the echo of a sounding brass, a tinkling cymbal.

Those who have appropriated the glory of God are being changed every day. Their
countenance is becoming more and more like that of Jesus!
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