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This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.
Lord God, we come before you and ask you to turn our hearts and minds to you alone, to you who have power over the whole world and who can do everything in our hearts according to your will. Let there be light in our time. Hear and answer the many prayers that have already come to you, rising for centuries before your throne, prayers for your kingdom and for your will on earth. This earth has become the prey of evil. We are poor and needy, and you alone can help us. Help us, O Lord, our God and Father. After this misery let your day come, your great day over all the world and over all peoples. Amen.
Caffeine for your conscience
We are comforted because we are heartbroken. We are comforted because we need a blessing. We are comforted because God loves us. We are comforted to comfort others. While each of the above statements is true, the last is the most crucial one. There is something about comfort that cannot be fully realized until it is shared with someone else. It is that final step in the healing process of grief, disappointment, hurt, and loss. Until we share the comfort we have received, until we pass it on to another, our comfort is weak and shallow and limited. Comfort — pass it on!
O LORD, God of heaven and earth, Creator of the universe, thank you for knowing my heart, caring about my concerns, and comforting me when I am wounded. Help me to share your grace, mercy, and comfort with someone else today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Read Colossians 3:1-17…
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10. and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
After the rescue, Unser said, ”Every decision we made had to be right.” He and his friend had experienced a terrifying struggle with the elements they couldn’t control as they did everything possible to stay alive.
As Christians, we are living in a world that is hostile to our spiritual survival. Every day we go up against forces that could destroy us. Some are internal -our pride and selfish desires. Some are external forces- ungodly media influences, acquaintances who don’t support our faith, the stresses of life. Wrong decisions as we face these ”blizzards” can lead to destruction.
Every move we make -each word and action- must be done in Jesus’ name (Col. 3:17). We must live according to God’s principles and act as we think Jesus would. That will make every move count.
Peter Grasps the Wideness of God’s Mercy
OUR SACRIFICES, NOT OUR ACHIEVEMENTS
…now God is building you, as living stones into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ.1 Peter 2:5
An Open Doors colleague, Ron Boyd-MacMillan, shares the following insight from his teaching, “Why I need to encounter the Persecuted Church.”
When I lived in Los Angeles, I was always stressed about one key question—am I fulfilling my potential? Everywhere I drove, I was surrounded by advertisements telling me that I was not earning enough, that I needed to have an “attitude transplant.” I worried about whether I should take more courses in the elusive search for more success. My friends were actors and actresses desperate to attract the attention of some film producer, and working a couple of part-time jobs in the vain hope that someday, they will be discovered. I too always felt unfulfilled.
But is the purpose of my life really to maximize my potential? A visit to the persecuted soon cured me of that idea. This fact becomes clear—fulfilling one’s potential cannot possibly be the purpose to life because so few actually get the opportunity to do so!
Look at the millions of Christians in China’s house churches. All of them live lives in which—for want of a better term—they are trapped. They do not have choices. Because of their Christianity, many are denied access to education, or are barred from developing promising careers. I sat in a house church of 70 peasant Christians, and wondered, “How many great scientists, violin players, or philosophers could be in here, but they and the world will never know, because they never had the chance to study, learn algebra, or hold a musical instrument.”
Would God really make a world where only a tiny minority could fulfill their life’s purpose, and doom the rest of us to a lifetime of frustration?
We were studying 1st Peter one night, and suddenly I had an insight while reading chapter 2 verse 5. It struck me; God makes each life that is yielded to him a living stone in building his temple.
That’s why we are alive. That’s the purpose of it all. We are all made to become a stone in his spiritual temple, his eternal kingdom. And everybody gets the opportunity to become a “living stone” just by virtue of giving our lives to him. We are priests because we offer a sacrifice. That sacrifice is the only one we can make—that of our lives. And so we find the purpose for which God made the world—to build a kingdom of worshippers for himself. That old man in the house church whose back is bent double from a life in the rice paddies is a living stone. That woman whose baby was taken away during the Cultural Revolution because she was a Christian is also a living stone. No one wastes their life who gives it to Jesus. They are placed into an eternal structure—the kingdom of God, and will rejoice forever in that status.
No one goes unfulfilled because God builds his kingdom on our sacrifices, not on our achievements.
RESPONSE: TodayI will be fulfilled as a “living stone” for God and offer Him the sacrifice of my life.
PRAYER: Thank you Lord, that I don’t need to spend my life seeking fulfillment other than in You!
Quote of the Day
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17
The Responsibility of Freedom in Christ?
In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul tells Christians that freedom in Christ is a serious responsibility. Yes, we can eat what we want, spend our time as we please, and pursue activities we enjoy. However, as believers, we are inseparably joined to Christ’s church. This means that when we die, we are raised up to live with Him forever. And even before that time, while we live on this earth, our bodies and souls are united with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:14-15). Simply put, they are not our own.
As temporary owners of these bodies, we have the responsibility to find out what is and what is not good for them. We must exercise discipline with our God-given liberties because there is no value in “freedom” that spiritually cripples believers or causes pain, shame, and guilt.
Notice the distinction that Paul makes between freedom in Christ and reckless abandon: God’s grace and forgiveness cover our sins, but that doesn’t give us permission to engage in harmful behavior. As followers of Jesus, we’re to give ourselves over to the pursuit of godly living, not to self-serving pleasures. Christians are “earthen vessels,” created by God to fulfill His purpose and bring honor and glory to Him (2 Corinthians 4:7). Therefore, anything that violates the human body is not permissible for us.
True freedom means living without the chains of sin and destructive behavior. Jesus Christ paid a price to release you from those bonds. Therefore, do not put your body into slavery to damaging habits. Glorify God with your whole self—heart, mind, soul, and body.
Taken from “Freedom in Christ” by In Touch Ministries (used by permission).
I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.–GEN. xvii.I.
Consecrate yourselves to-day to the Lord.–EX. xxxii. 29.
Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days;
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
F. R. HAVERGAL.
I have noticed that wherever there has been a faithful following of the Lord in a consecrated soul, several things have inevitably followed,
sooner or later. Meekness and quietness of spirit become in time the characteristics of the daily life. A submissive acceptance of the will of God as it comes in the hourly events of each day; pliability in the hands of God to do or to suffer all the good pleasure of His will; sweetness under provocation; calmness in the midst of turmoil and bustle; yieldingness to the wishes of others, and an insensibility to slights and affronts; absence of worry or anxiety; deliverance from care and fear;–all these, and many similar graces, are invariably found to be the natural outward development of that inward life which is hid with Christ in God.
H. W. SMITH.
Known by Name
The bird also has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself… even Your altars, O LORD of hosts. PSALM 84:3
I heard the story recently of a couple who, by their tenth anniversary, had been unable to conceive any children. Those of you who have experienced this heartbreak can readily relate to the frustration they felt, the void that remained so senselessly empty in their lives.
On days when they allowed themselves to think about it, they’d ponder what they might name a child if they were ever to have one. They had always been able to settle on a boy’s name, but they both had a different favorite for a girl. The wife liked the name Autumn; the husband preferred Amanda.
But still, no child came. Boy or girl. So they went to Plan B and decided to adopt siblings.
You can imagine how they prayed for this opportunity to develop. They asked God to work His perfect will, to bind their hearts with just the right children from just the right situation. One day the adoption agency called with the news that two sisters–ages three and five–had been relinquished by their mother. Though she wasn’t a believer herself, the woman had requested that her daughters be placed with a Christian family. That had moved this couple’s name to the top of the list.
When they asked the social worker to tell them more about the girls, here’s what she said: “They’re both green-eyed blondes. The five-year-old is named Autumn. The three-year-old is named Amanda.”
How amazing it is when God mends a broken heart and parts the curtain at times, showing us beyond the shadow of a doubt that He hears our prayers and knows our hearts. If you’ve been praying for a similar answer to your need, know that He never loses sight of you, that He knows where you are… that He knows your name.
Be honest about where your faith level is right now. Are you discouraged? Fearful? Encouraged?
Even when it seems and feels like it’s getting you nowhere, keep praying. Keep praying.
From The Joshua Code by O.S. Hawkins
KEEPING LIFE IN FOCUS
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Focus. That single word holds the key for success in so many different endeavors of life. This was at the heart of Paul’s own interest when he challenged us to “set our minds on things above” in the Colossian letter (3:2).
It was also at the heart of his message to the Philippians when he said, “This one thing I do” (KJV). The powerful Federal Express company, headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, exploded into worldwide prominence by simply bringing focus to one thing—overnight deliveries. Southwest Airlines is one of the nation’s leading air carriers today primarily because of its single focus on low-cost coach travel with on-time performance. And who could talk about the element of focus without mentioning the Starbucks coffee chain. When all other coffee shops were busy dispensing all types of food services,
Starbucks simply developed coffee shops with a focus on, of all things, coffee! Focus is fundamental to spiritual success as well as business success. Keeping the main thing the main thing in the midst of a multitude of other things is always a challenge for a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the key elements to spiritual growth is the ability to obtain and then maintain focus in the Christian life.
©2012 by O.S. Hawkins
On the Defense
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. – >Ephesians 2:8-9
When my friend was in college he walked right-of-way property for a gas pipeline company one summer. In many ways, it was a great job. Lots of sunshine and exercise, walking through the countryside over a large buried pipeline. There were, however, the inevitable bulls, bees. . . and a few ornery farmers.
One day his journey took him through the field of a farmer who didn’t like anyone on his land, right-of-way or no right-of-way. After testing an electrical fence to make sure it was disarmed, my friend prepared to step over the barrier. While he was straddling the wire, he saw out of the corner of his eye the farmer running for the barn. The farmer was running for the power switch!
Are you sometimes like the farmer? Quick to turn up the power and heat when someone’s in a vulnerable position? It’s not what Jesus did–remember the woman caught in adultery? Jesus extended grace. You should, too.
“Hot heads and cold hearts never solved anything.” – Billy Graham (1918- )
Bible Fun Fact: II John has the fewest number of verses of any book in the Bible.
A cheerful heart makes good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 WEB
Health tip: Don’t worry. Be Happy. You can add years to your life, and health to your body by simply being joyful and happy. No one should be able to control your joy for it should come from the inside of you.
People, places, and things can cause problems, but how you react to it is completely under your power. You can choose to turn the other cheek, or to become angry and turn theirs. Yes, we have a part to play in our life, and regardless of what people may tell you today, you are responsible for your own actions.
There are so many attacks that come against us daily that it is easy to get discouraged. That is their purpose, but true happiness is not found in things, jobs, or success. It is not even in people. Your relationship with Jesus is what can bring an unshakable peace to your life.
Paul said that he had learned to be content in whatever his circumstances were (Philippians 4:11). Whether he had been beaten, shipwrecked, or in prison, Paul was content. He wrote much of the New Testament from behind prison walls. If he had not been imprisoned, he may not have had the time to do so.
Paul learned to detach his emotions from his circumstances and to be at peace. He focused on the invisible and the eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16). He found the will of God in every situation and kept close fellowship with Jesus. Nothing else was more important to him. We can behave the same way. The same grace and peace that Paul had then, is still available to us.
The Joy of the Lord is your strength. Remember when you were first saved how you felt so light, so happy, filled with joy? That is what happens when you lay your burdens down at the cross. Too often we pick them back up again and the heaviness returns. Leave your baggage at the cross. Pray and let God worry about it.
Prayer: Heavenly Father please send me grace and peace for my life. Help me to see past the circumstances and to learn to detach my emotions from my situation. Give me strength and guide me today, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.
For the love of Christ controls us.
2 Corinthians 5:14
How much do you owe to my Lord? Has He ever done anything for you? Has He forgiven your sins? Has He covered you with a robe of righteousness? Has He set your feet upon a rock? Has He established your goings? Has He prepared heaven for you? Has He prepared you for heaven? Has He written your name in His Book of Life? Has He given you countless blessings? Has He laid up for you a store of mercies, which eye has not seen nor ear heard?
Then do something for Jesus that is worthy of His love. Do not give a mere wordy offering to a dying Redeemer. How will you feel when your Master comes if you have to confess that you did nothing for Him but kept your love shut up, like a stagnant pool, neither flowing out to the poor nor to His work? Be done with that kind of love! What do men think of a love that never shows itself in action? Why, they say, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.”1Who will accept a love so weak that it does not stir you to a single act of self-denial, generosity, heroism, or zeal?
Consider how He has loved you and given Himself for you! Do you know the power of that love? Then let it be like a rushing, mighty wind to your soul to sweep out the clouds of your worldliness and clear away the mists of sin. For Christ’s sake let this be the tongue of fire that sits upon you: For Christ’s sake let this be the divine excitement, the heavenly empowerment to bear you up from earth, the divine spirit that will make you bold as lions and swift as eagles in your Lord’s service. Love should give wings to the feet of service and strength to the arms of industry. Fixed on God with a constancy that is not to be shaken, determined to honor Him with a zeal that is not to be turned aside, and pressing on with a passion that doesn’t waver, let us display the constraints of love for Jesus. May the divine magnet draw us toward heaven itself.
Saturday, October 21, 2017
O Lord God, grant us your Spirit, that we may comprehend your peace. As we pray, help us to recognize what must come from you alone, for you are mighty and holy and your will is peace on earth. Your will is peace beyond all understanding, your peace in heaven and on earth and under the earth, your peace that opposes all sin and death and takes away every evil that can be named. We await you, O Lord our God, and you will hear us. No matter how long the battle lasts, we hold out in patience, for we are your children. We shall never lose the faith that your name shall be honored and that all things shall come into harmony with your will of peace on earth, your peace. Amen.
Caffeine for your conscience
God has promised a closing time, a reckoning where human power and influence cannot buy out the truth and where each person will have to face up to what he or she has done. Evil will overtake those who have been partners with evil. Those that hate good people, righteous people, will be condemned in their own hate. God’s righteousness, truth, and justice will not be short-circuited!
Father, thank you for making clean and whole by the purifying work of your Holy Spirit. Teach me to be righteous. Help me develop a revulsion for what is sinful and evil. Use me to help someone caught in the evil one’s work to find deliverance. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Read Romans 16:1-16…I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. 2. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me. 3. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. 4. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. 5. Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. 6. Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. 7. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. 8. Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. 9. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. 10. Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. 11. Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. 12. Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. 13. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. 14. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them. 15. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them. 16. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.
v1-16 Paul recommends Phebe to the Christians at Rome. It becomes Christians to help one another in their affairs, especially strangers; we know not what help we may need ourselves. Paul asks help for one that had been helpful to many; he that watereth shall be watered also himself. Though the care of all the churches came upon him daily, yet he could remember many persons, and send salutations to each, with particular characters of them, and express concern for them. Lest any should feel themselves hurt, as if Paul had forgotten them, he sends his remembrances to the rest, as brethren and saints, though not named. He adds, in the close, a general salutation to them all, in the name of the churches of Christ.
A Heart Full of People…
Paul’s letter to the Romans is considered the theological centerpiece of the New Testament. Yet this grand statement of doctrine concludes with a personal greeting from the apostle to a host of people, 27 of whom are mentioned by name. He also refers to ”our sister,” ”servant,” ”helper,” ”fellow worker,” ”beloved,” ”countrymen,” ”fellow prisoners,” ”brethren,” and ”saints.”
I read a letter recently, a tribute to a Christian man who has personally influenced thousands of people over the past 50 years. He loves and teaches the Word of God. He welcomes everyone with open arms, shows his appreciation for them, and offers the gift of friendship. Many who met him when they were not followers of Christ are now among his brothers and sisters in the faith.
The apostle Paul’s keen mind was filled with doctrine, but his heart was full of people. He wrote to the Thessalonians, ”What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Th. 2:19-20).
This combination of commitment to truth and compassion for people is the hallmark of everyone who, like Paul, reflects the mind and heart of Christ.
-David C. McCasland
Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.–ISA. xlviii. 17.
I seek Thy aid, I ask direction,
Teach me to do what pleaseth Thee;
I can bear toil, endure affliction,
Only Thy leadings let me see.
Of all paths a man could strike into, there is, at any given moment, a best path for every man; a thing which, here and now, it were of all things _wisest_ for him to do; which could he but be led or driven to do, he were then doing “like a man,” as we phrase it. His success, in such case, were complete, his felicity a maximum. This path, to find this path, and walk in it, is the one thing needful for him.
Every man has his own vocation. There is one direction in which all space is open to him. He has faculties silently inviting him thither to endless exertion. He is like a ship in a river; he runs against obstructions on every side but one; on that side all obstruction is taken away, and he sweeps serenely over a deepening channel into an infinite sea.
R. W. EMERSON.
Quote of the Day
“I am so thankful that the Mighty God is there for me to give me the strength to do what He wants me to.”
– Greg Laurie (from So Many Names: What Do They All Mean?)
Why Did Jesus Teach in Parables?
Compared to His earlier teaching during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’s turn to parables might seem odd. He’d used clear instruction to teach His followers how to live and about the Kingdom of God, and He’d exhibited the Kingdom in a tangible way through His miracles. But suddenly, when the crowds come to hear Him, He hops into a boat and speaks in parables, stories about sowing seeds and gathering wheat (Matthew 13).
When the disciples ask Him why, since they obviously noticed the change, His answer may seem even more astonishing: “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been granted” (Matthew 13:11). In other words, the parables are meant to divide the crowd. While this may seem as if Jesus denied some people access, the difference He means is not in the message—but in the response.
The parables themselves present clear stories from everyday events that many in the crowd would recognize. Jesus did not code His teaching to prevent some people from understanding, since all equally would understand the imagery. All those gathered there certainly comprehended the aspects of the stories related to their everyday lives. Instead, His teaching divided the listeners into two groups based on their own responses.
His miracles had attracted many, and others had perhaps been astonished by His earlier teaching. But the parables themselves, just as in the story of the seed falling on various places (Matthew 13:3-9), revealed the true nature of their responses and their real decisions. Those committed to the Kingdom of God would seek and find further understanding. But those uncommitted—perhaps listening only because of the initial excitement—would reject the teaching as unintelligible.
Adapted from The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim (Book III, Chapter XXIII).
LIVE EACH DAY AS YOUR LAST
[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4
On that fateful Sunday morning in January 1996, Joy Dimerin’s beloved fiancé, Severino Bagtasos, was killed when a lone gunman stormed into the church that he pastored and shot him twice. Severino was killed on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in the predominantly Muslim town of Alat on Jolo island, in southern Philippines. He had zeal in reaching Muslims for Christ. Joy and Severino were supposed to get married in May 1997. They looked forward to serving God together.
“By the grace of God, I am doing well and still enjoying the ministry,” testifies Joy. She admits that feelings of loneliness and emptiness were the most difficult things she faced after her beloved Severino died. “I was afraid that I wouldn’t find a godly man like him again,” confides Joy. “I learned to see God’s purpose in my life,” Joy added. “I learned to accept whatever circumstances come my way and look at them as God’s instruments in molding me and in making me a better person. Through [Severino’s] life I learned commitment to the ministry and to prayer. Through his death, I learned to always be prepared to face the Author and Finisher of my faith. Through this tragedy, I learned to live each day as though it were my last.”
Severino’s killer was a Tausug. “God had intended it to be so,” she says. As a Tausug she feels compassion for her people because they are blinded by their beliefs. She now serves the Lord by reaching out to them and the Sama Muslims of southern Philippines. “I have forgiven the one who killed my beloved. It’s hard to live with the hurt, the pain, and an unforgiving spirit, especially as I work with Muslims. I have learned to look at them the way God does. It’s only through the Gospel that they will change,” said Joy with no trace of bitterness in her voice. The people who wanted Severino dead had the opportunity to hear the Gospel during Severino’s funeral service, perhaps the only time they would hear the love of Christ preached openly.
Joy received thousands of letters from all over the world through Open Doors, giving her words of comfort and assuring her of prayers being said for her. In a letter to her encouragers, she wrote, “Two years of being broken-hearted led me to spiritual wholeness.” This was one of the paradoxes in her life. “I learned to be independent but dependent upon God, especially with regards to my daily walk with Him. I learned to be courageous and tough, but soft-hearted to the needy and suffering Christians.” Perhaps, only those who have suffered can truly understand those who are suffering. And those who have experienced healing can truly empathize with those who are hurting.
Four years later, God brought Joy on staff with Open Doors. “I never thought that God would call me to minister to the suffering church through Open Doors. God had allowed the great pain in my life for me to understand those who are in pain. He allowed me to suffer that I may best minister to the suffering.”
RESPONSE: I will live today as though it were my last: loving, forgiving, serving!
PRAYER: Pray for Joy in her important ministry in the Muslim areas of the southern Philippines.
Saul Sees the Light
With the huge explosion of prophets today, what do the Scriptures say about whether they’re from God or not?
Prophets, the Freedom of God, and Hermeneutics, a Westminster Theological Journal (52.1), by Dr. Willem A. Vangemeren from Prophets, the Freedom of God, and Hermeneutics is an essential as far as relating to those who believe that they either have the gift of prophecy or they know someone who is a self-proclaimed prophet. One recent example was a young lady who was considering marriage with her boyfriend who was battling pornography. At the time that this young woman contacted me, she stated that her boyfriend needed help in overcoming his addiction to pornography. He just couldn’t seem to quit, and it was affecting their relationship in negative way. Then she told me that someone that nearly broke my heart. She said someone in her church had prophesied that they were to be husband and wife, and she was confused as to whether to marry this man or not. I tried to explain to her that the age of the prophets, as with the cannon of Scripture, is closed. We have no need of any new revelation today. We already have the sufficiency the Bible, where it says, “Thus says the Lord.” It was clear that this woman received a false prophesy from a false prophet because she had prophesied over her that she was to be married, despite the young man’s ongoing, unrepentant addiction to pornography. A year later, this prophetess’ “prophecy” would utter fail.
To be a prophet of God is a narrowly defined office, and rightly so, because someone who had been called by God spoke the words of God, directly from God, but they also spoke in His name, and that’s one of the weightiest responsibilities there are. The prophets of old were nearly always an Israelite, and they primarily spoke primarily, though some to other nations, but that was in the context of their direct contact and relations with Israel. If someone claims to be a prophet, they stand in the tradition of the Mosaic covenant and which encourages loyalty to the Lord and condemns apostasy while authenticating their office with “signs” (81), so what agreement is there with this self-proclaimed prophet’s prophecy to this woman and the fact that a year later, the man would marry another woman? Dr. Vangemeren says that false prophets encourage “a selective lifestyle…and the ability to adapt to the cultural changes” (82). In this young woman’s church, this “prophetess” apparently “enjoyed popular support” because she “represented the theological perspective of [their] contemporaries” (83). This false prophet failed to live up to what God’s Word says that a true prophet says, and whether it comes true or not, so her prophecies depended on things working out between this couple, which they did not. Just like their “appeal to Moses,” this self-proclaimed prophetess enjoyed a large support base in her church (84), and in this woman’s church, failed prophecies or not, this prophetess is popularly accepted by this church and many other churches (83) today. This church is deceived because it will not look at the criteria for a prophet, and so, they lose the help they need “in discerning the true from the false” (85). I see that this so-called prophet is unlike those of the true prophets in the Bible because her prophecies are always accepted and highly popular, however the prophets of old came with messages that were mostly rejected and the prophets were treated with disdain, and many were killed. From a biblical viewpoint, this self-proclaimed prophet did not have the qualifications to be a prophet because she soundly rejected what Scripture teaches regarding prophets.
According to Dr. Vangemeren, the problem with this woman “prophetess” or self-proclaimed prophetess was that there was no “adherence to…ethics [or] regulations pertaining to holiness,” since her boyfriend’s refusal to counsel about his ongoing addiction pornography, were not seen as impediments for them to have a “blessed marriage” (in her own words). This false prophet did not see the application of “God’s warnings, judgments, and conditions to the people of God,” to live a sanctified, holy life (85) as God commands (Lev 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7; 1st Pet 1:16). Instead of speaking the “whole counsel of God,” she spoke her own counsel by “advocating a…human response…to fix whatever [appeared] wrong, so as to perpetuate the human power” (86). She thought, once the couple was married, he would lose the desire for pornography, but rarely do marriages fix addictions, but no one was about to rebuke this woman because of the power and popularity she held (85). Dr. Vangemeren writes that false prophets have ruled out any “change in God’s relation with His people,” like their striving for holiness, so false prophets like this woman have actually often have “undermined the purposes of God” (87)! These prophets teach human-centered ethics as interpreted by popular conceptions, so just like in the Old Testament, false prophet’s base their prophecies on good things that people love to hear. Rarely is it a call to change. Pragmatism is the prophet’s doctrine; they assess their theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application. If it works, it must be right. If it draws people to church, then it must be right.
Maybe someone in that church should go up to that prophetess, and say, “I have a ‘word from God’ for you: “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him” or her (Deut 18:22). This so-called “prophet” was wrong because the man ended up marrying another woman (and later, divorcing her) so the woman’s prophecy of her being happily married within the year was wrong…now, seven-years wrong (and counting). The Bible allows prophets one strike and they’re out. God does not send prophets who get 9 out of 10 right. They are always right or they are not a prophet, so the counsel this woman received from this “prophet” is not authoritative in the sense that she spoke for God. Did this prophet actually believe that a marriage would solve this man’s addiction to pornography? Jeremiah’s test for prophecy is the same as others; “when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet” (Jer 28:9). This prophetess had once chance, and she blew it…and the subsequent other failed prophecies now label her, according to Scripture, as a false prophet.
Deuteronomy 18:22 and Jeremiah 28:9 have certain conditions affixed to them, and there is only one of two options; one is true prophet and one is false prophet. Moses wrote, “when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him” or her (Deut 18:22). In Jeremiah’s day, Hananiah was a false prophet and he was uttering all sorts of wonderful things for the people of Judah to hear. They couldn’t hear enough from him, but “Jeremiah the prophet said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the Lord’” (Jer 28:15-16), and “The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms” (Jer 28:8), so prophets today who prophecy that your mortgage will be paid off, your bank account will double, and other such nonsensical things, had better swallow the truth that “the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet” (Jer 28:9).
I doubt very seriously whether these self-anointed prophets ever read Deuteronomy 18:22 and Jeremiah 28:9 when they’re teaching or preaching. Maybe they’re afraid to since only the true prophets of God never missed…even once. Soo what harm is there? Many of these false prophets leave in their wake, hurting people, ruined relationships, and hopes and dreams dashed to the ground. We know that the Scriptures are now closed (Heb 1:1-2; Jude 1:3; Duet 4:2; Rev 22:18), so these so-called prophet’s enter dangerous territory when speaking for God. God warns, “if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Rev 22:19), so “Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar” (Prov 30:6), and even in the time of Moses, it was understood that “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you” (Deut 4:2). Has this woman, and other “prophets” considered that in the Bible, what a prophet spoke was considered Scripture? Is she (and others) willing to believe that prophecies are considered part of the Word of God? In the Old Testament, when the prophets uttered prophecies, they became part of Scripture…every time! I wonder if they’ve ever thought about that.
When this young lady asked me about this woman’s prophecy about her engagement, an engagement to a boyfriend that was addicted to pornography, I used Jeremiah 28:9 and Deuteronomy 18:22 to show here that prophesying for God is speaking for God, and speaking for Him means speaking what God would speak. The Bible itself gives evidence of whether a prophet is actually speaking the words of God, and if the words are from God, and several descriptive Bible verses reveal that we have no need for further or newer revelation because we already have all the revelation necessary in the written Word of God (Heb 1:1-2; Jude 1:3; Duet 4:2; Rev 22:18). Don’t we think that’s enough? Do we really need more from God outside of Scripture? And finally, the church was built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles, and Jesus Himself was the Chief Cornerstone (Eph 2:20, so it seems foolish to me, even dangerous, to try and place more prophets, meant for the foundation, on top of a building which God has been building for over 2,000 years. A foundation belongs at the bottom, doesn’t it? Isn’t a foundation laid at the very beginning? I’ve never seen my own grandchildren build a block tower with another foundation at the top. Even they knew it would fall!
Jesus Christ has not stopped teaching His church and God’s Spirit is still illuminating Scripture, but I don’t think we need new revelation from a source other than God. I believe God will illuminate what has already been written. I see no evidence in the Bible that God is going to give us a “new Word.” God speaks to us now, beginning in Genesis 1:1 all the way to Revelation 22:21. He will not use human imaginations, human divination, nor will He use man-centered ethics, popular interpretative conceptions, pragmatism, human schemes, counsel or plans. I prayed that this so-called prophet would come to the realization that prophets of God spoke words that were considered as part of the Word of God itself, and that the fatal price that Aaron’s sons paid in bringing a strange fire before the Lord (Lev 10:1-3). This is ground where even angels would fear to tread, so how much more fearful for those who proclaim themselves to be prophets of God. Believe it or not, this false prophetess is still in that church, at this writing, and despite her many failed prophecies, she is more popular than ever. I guess this church loves having their own prophet in the congregation. It gets attention and draws others to the church, but tragically, that’s not a good reason because Jesus rebuke those who sought after “signs and wonders” (Matt 12:39, 16:4; Mark 8:12; Luke 11:29). Yes, she’s a prophet, a false one, and clearly many of these prophets are in it for the profit, so my question is, if they’re a prophet, they’re a prophet from where? And from whom? Answer me that? And remember, you can only be wrong once.
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.
In the Spirit, I heard the Father say, “Columbus discovered the physical land of America, but there is ‘spiritual’ territory that is yet to be discovered!”
I saw heaven releasing a Columbus Day anointing upon the earth, with a fresh call to certain pioneers to loose themselves from their moorings and to venture out beyond where few people have dreamed to go. I sensed the Father saying. “I will need those few upon the earth now who were born to risk, dare and ‘throw the “spiritual dice!’ They will appear to many that they are seemingly about to go over the edge, but these ones were born to be ‘edge pushers’— to push the edge back. These fearless ones will appear foolish, following Me as though they are headed to unmapped destinations. These are not normal pilgrims—they are wired differently. What worries most people excites them. But these few sold out to Me will prove once again that the world is round and not flat, and that I sit upon the circle of the earth. These chosen ones, willing to say goodbye forever to the past and present, will not return until they discover new, unseen spiritual land and territory upon the earth that has been hidden and soon to be found by their spiritual eyes. And when many of them discover this new land, they will never return to their own.”
America’s Ships Are Coming In
In the Spirit, I saw many leaving other nations, setting sail toward America with the revelation that “not all of America has been discovered!” There is a spiritual land awaiting to be awakened and raised from the dead! Many ships were destined to drop anchor in the harbors of our nation. I heard the Father saying. “Tell America her ships are coming in!
I heard another call come fresh to our nation of America to widen her scope of the harvest fields, to lift up our eyes to the nations of the earth. A call to the “land of the free and the home of the brave” was being extended to the “free indeed” in Christ, who were being summoned to other parts of the world to shine brightly in dark places for short pilgrim journeys as well as lengthy stays.
The Father was turning many hearts towards His homeland: Israel. A nation the size of a belly navel in the earth but filled with “spiritual riches untold—a land flowing with milk and honey” for all who pursue to cross her borders to explore. An urgent pleading call was coming forth from the heart of the Father concerning Israel. “Those who come to bless and help My people to find their spiritual inheritance in a land flowing with milk, honey and Me —will find Me personally visiting their homeland and nation in return, with great mercy and abundant blessings.”
I saw pilgrims arriving upon the shores of Israel, proclaiming, “Oh Israel, your anchor holds. Though your ship is battered, your anchor holds—in spite of the storm, and it grips the solid rock.”
If you hear this clarion call, sail on!
Bill Younthas been a member of Bridge of Life in Hagerstown, Maryland, for the past 36 years, where he is now an elder and a home missionary. He is currently an adviser at large for Aglow International. Bill faithfully served in prison ministry at Mount Hope for 23 years and now travels full-time, both in the U.S. and internationally, ministering in churches and Aglow circles. Humility and humor characterize his ministry as he brings forth a fresh word that is “in season,” proclaiming the word of the Lord. The shofar, or ram’s horn, is often used in his meetings, breaking the powers of darkness over regions, churches and households. The shofar represents God’s breath blowing into the nostrils of His people, reviving them and awakening the lost. Many of God’s messages, which Bill ministers prophetically, come out of his everyday life with his family and friends. Please visit Bill’s website atbillyount.com.
The Old Testament lies worlds away from the modern reader, and its wrathful God seems even farther. Crossing from the Old Testament to the New often results in a feeling of unease because of this difference. How can the God that locked mankind out of paradise and destroyed cities be the same God who loved the world so much that He sacrificed His son for our everlasting salvation?
These two versions of God certainly seem incompatible to the secular world. Consider this quote from outspoken atheist, Richard Dawkins.
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
These words may be harsh, but God, in the Old Testament, did destroy cities. He did destroyed entire peoples. He destroyed babies and children. This is a far cry from the ministry of Jesus, who loved and served the same enemies that the Old Testament God might have destroyed, who healed and comforted, and gently taught, where the Old Testament God might have brought down pillars of flame.
The writer of Hebrews 13:8 declares that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Clearly, this verse tells us that we cannot simply forget the Old Testament. So what, then, are we to think? Can we reconcile these two opposing aspects of God?
Yes—we can. But first, we have to make three realizations.
Consider your parents. There were times, when you were a child, that they punished you, and they did so not because they were megalomaniacal, not because they were sadistic or bullies, but because they wanted the best for you—because they loved you.
Consider the doctor who, upon seeing an injured limb that threatens the life of the patient, amputates that limb. It is a terrible option—yes. But it is the only option.
These considerations give us a glimpse of God’s mind. The Old Testament is all about God’s plan to use Israel to bless the entire world, to bring His Word to everyone through their prophets and missionaries—they were to be the nation that pointed all others toward God. This was an important mission—the very fate of the world depended upon it.
Scripture states God’s love for His creations over and over. The very nature of mankind is to be with its creator. Each man and woman feels it in their very bones, whether they attribute that longing to God or not.
When we sin and stray from God, we separate ourselves from Him. And on death, that separation is permanent and acutely painful for all eternity—because that’s what Hell really is, separation from God.
He doesn’t want that for any of us.
But God doesn’t directly control mankind. He doesn’t want automatons. So he guides, like the example of the shepherd and his sheep that appears and reappears throughout the Bible.
And sometimes, as we’re about to see, that guidance takes on the form of wrath.
The very idea of the God of the Old and New Testaments being different from one another comes from a critical misunderstanding of what God’s wrath really is.
God’s wrath is God’s mercy. It is love, believe it or not.
God only goes to war when necessary—there is “A time for war and a time for peace,” as Ecclesiastes 3:8 says. Although God punishes evil, He would rather all repent, and He has “no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” as Ezekiel 33:11 says.
Sounds pretty New Testament, doesn’t it?
When God’s wrath does come down, it is, as we’ve learned, like the surgeon’s scalpel, cutting away the disease before it can spread—only instead of bacteria or viruses, the nature of this disease is sin, and its effect is worse than death. If Israel had been destroyed, if the one bulwark against sin and disbelief had been taken down, the message of Christianity might not have made it out into the world, dooming everyone, everywhere.
So God, in His mercy, poured out His wrath, allowing things to happen throughout the Old Testament that we now have a hard time understanding, but that were necessary, nonetheless, to stop this doom.
But believe this—God mourned over every lost life in the way that only a parent can.
Today, the world seems much different from that of the fire-and-brimstone, plague-filled Old Testament. But it isn’t God that has changed.
It’s the context.
Where, before, His corrections came down at the national level, things are a lot more personal now. It’s no longer just Israel spreading God’s Word against a handful of rival nations—it’s billions of Christians all over the world individually living out God’s plan. Each of us now feels the tug of God’s “wrath” on the small scale, through a multitude of things that make us just uncomfortable to change our path—no more. God is not the author of pain, but He does use it as a tool of loving guidance, even in our contemporary world.
The effects simply aren’t as large-scale and dramatic as they once were.
The God of the Old Testament and that of the New are one and the same. There is no difference. God’s wrath was always love.
The Bible is a story, and like any story, it has a plot that is constantly progressing. It is a tale of God’s love for His creations, of Him teaching us how to best live in a way that will result in our ultimate good. Whether God is being wrathful or comforting, angry or loving, His goal has always been the same, and will always remain the same—to save His people, to bring them into the relationship they were created to be in, and to grant them peace and happiness for all eternity.
That is the true nature of god, and the lens through which we might gain some understanding of the events of the Old Testament, even in our New Testament world.
A Prayer for When You Face Change
By Katy McCown
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (ESV)
The sound of my steps bounced off the walls as I moved from room to room. Though this place sat empty, my hopes and dreams seemed to saturate every corner.
This home would be my very first place with my husband, Luke. Just a few weeks before, two major life moments unfolded. First, my husband began his career in professional football. Second, Luke and I held hands and shared vows before God and each other.
So, with our dog and our dreams, we packed the trunk with wedding gifts and headed north.
The fall brought news of yet another change: We learned we’d be adding our first child to the family. By springtime, nursery prep was in full swing. After a long weekend of work, I plopped down in the rocking chair.
I envisioned raising my boy in this room. Oh, the stories we’d read and lullabies we would sing. The hugs and snuggles we’d share. I shut my eyes happy that night with a heart brimming with expectation.
If only I could press the pause button right there. But life doesn’t have a pause button, does it?
The next morning I opened my eyes to the news we’d be moving … effective immediately. Less than one year after our future felt so full, we packed all those expectations into boxes and sealed them with packing tape.
We scrambled to relocate and rebuild in a city on the other side of the country. But just as we hit our stride in this new city, we found ourselves facing the same reality again. A late-night phone call bore the news, You’re moving again … tomorrow.
Fourteen years, six teams and six kids later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable.
Those first years of football taught me how quickly a game can rise and fall. A score’s only exciting until a mistake positions the other team to tie the game. A mistake’s only disappointing until a score puts your team right back in the game.
At first, I watched Luke’s games on pins and needles. I soared with successes and fell apart at failures. Whether we won or lost, I left every game exhausted from the roller coaster ride of emotions I experienced.
I think life can be like a football game. Rises and falls, highs and lows, sometimes every day. In the midst of these uncertainties and surprises, we have two options. We can filter our view of God through our ever-changing circumstances, or we can filter our circumstances through the unchangeable character of Christ.
Today’s key verse reminds us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Our circumstances may rise and fall, but we don’t have to go with them. When we cling to the unchanging character of Christ, we can weather the winds of change.
I’ve started to watch games differently now. Sure, I celebrate the successes. But I don’t hang on the high points and assume it’s all smooth sailing from there. I also don’t dwell on the low moments. I might sigh. I might even scream. But I don’t let the low moments determine the next moment.
Let’s celebrate the highs in our lives, but not let them soften us to hard work and perseverance. Let’s learn from the low points, but not let them sour us to expectation and anticipation.
Most of all, let’s choose to fix our eyes on the One who never changes, the One who steadies our souls, no matter what we face.
Thank You, God, that You are sure. I can always count on You, because You will never change. Thank You for a safe place to fix my eyes when everything else seems unstable. Only You are my Rock and my Fortress. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail. (Amos 8:4)
How do you treat the poor? It is important for us to realize how God feels about the poor of this world. I have experienced being poor. My dad died when I was fourteen, and it was up to me to support my mother and sister. I had to secure a special permit to get a job. Then, after I was converted and felt called to the ministry, some folk took an interest in me and helped me get through school.
In the days of Amos, God accuses them of even making “the poor of the land to fail.” That is, the poor were brought down to such a low poverty level that they never could escape from it. The poor always suffer more acutely in a godless nation – I don’t think that statement can be successfully contradicted.
Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? (v. 5)
God knew what was in their hearts. “The new moon” and “the sabbath” were holy days on which business was not transacted. God is saying that even when the rich went to the temple to praise God, they were so greedy and covetous that they were thinking about business the next day and how they could make more money by cheating their customers. They not only practiced their sin during the week, but they carried it into the temple. What a picture this gives us of Israel in that day – and of modern man as well.
That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat? (v. 6)
The poor even had to sell themselves into slavery. That was permitted in that land under the Mosaic system. They would buy the needy for a pair of shoes – that’s how cheap they were! And they would sell the poor the refuse of the wheat. That means they got the “seconds,” the leftovers which an honest dealer throws away. I have never felt right about giving old clothes to help the poor in the church. I have never felt they should be given the leftovers of anything. Remember how David said, “… neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing …” (2 Samuel 24:24).
It is no accident that the Lord Jesus, when He was here on earth, satand watched how the people gave in the temple. Was that His business? Yes. And He is interested in how much we give to Him and how much we keep for ourselves.
Maybe the reason I love this man Amos so much is that he talks my language. He was a poor man himself, and he says the thing that I understand. You see, Amos is explaining why Israel was like a basket of summer fruit. The goodness of Israel was just as perishable and just as soon deteriorated as summer fruit. One evidence of this was the way they treated the poor.
Dr. J. Vernon McGee began teaching Thru the Bible in 1967. After retiring from the pastorate, he set up radio headquarters in Pasadena, and the radio ministry expanded rapidly. Today the program airs on over 400 stations each day in the United States and Canada, is heard in more than 100 languages around the world and is broadcast worldwide via the Internet. Listen to him now at oneplace.com.
From Catch of the Day by Jimmy Houston
Happy are those who respect the LORD and obey him. –Psalm 128:1
I have many rules of thumb in fishing. These are rules I follow wherever we are fishing. One simple rule is, bigger baits catch bigger bass. Another rule is to fish a spinner bait at a depth just before it goes out of sight. You need to have your very own set of “rules” to fish by. They can be quite a bit different from mine, but they must have a foundation of facts and experience. Follow those rules and you’ll catch more fish. Although the Bible is more than a book of rules, God has given us commands and instructions in it that we must follow to be happy. My rules of thumb help me catch more fish. God’s rules of thumb are designed to give us a fuller, richer, more complete life.
©2005, 2012 by Jimmy Houston
Living a Positive Legacy
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. – >2 Timothy 2:2
Did you know the Nobel Peace Prize is named after Alfred Nobel, the Swedish industrialist who invented dynamite? How did this come to be?
When Alfred’s brother died, a newspaper mistook him for Alfred. It printed his obituary with the headline, “The Merchant of Death Is Dead,” describing Alfred as a man who made his fortune helping people kill one another.
He was cut to the heart and vowed to change his legacy. When Alfred really died eight years later, he left $9 million to fund awards for people whose work benefited humanity–thus, the birth of Nobel Peace Prizes.
Alfred Nobel was given a rare gift: the opportunity to read his own obituary, and make changes before it was too late. What might you do if given the same opportunity?
“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. -Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)
Bible Fun Fact: III John has the fewest number of words of any book in the Bible.
For you will light my lamp, Yahweh. My God will light up my darkness. For by you, I advance through a troop. By my God, I leap over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect. Yahweh’s word is tried. He is a shield to all those who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:28 WEB
Total darkness is the complete absence of light. In scripture it is associated with gloom, despair, and terror as well as the normal meaning of no light. When you remove all light, what you are left with is darkness. Humans cannot distinguish color when it grows dark and as the light fades, colors become gray, and eventually black.
One of the curses on Egypt was a darkness that could be felt. It was an oppressing, heavy, thick darkness, and no one even moved out of their spot for three days, but there was light in the houses of God’s people (Exodus 10:22). This darkness was the complete absence of light.
‘Let there be light’ was one of the first things that God did in Genesis (1:3). Jesus told the people: ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12).
Life is fragile. As people, we like to think that we have it all under control, but I have been on top of the world one day, and under it the next, feeling crushed.
One phone call, and a darkness like this can settle over us, one that can be felt. The light of God’s presence will drive away the darkness, just as turning on a light in a dark room. When the Lord lights your lamp, the darkness flees.
If your life is in a dark place today, look to the Lord Jesus. When you cannot seem to move out of it, it is He who will bring the light into the darkness. He can meet you right where you are, and His light can drive away the darkness and restore the color to your world. Jesus is the answer.
Prayer: Heavenly Father I look to You today. Please bring Your light into my life and drive away the darkness. Fill me with Your presence, restore my hope, and give me a fresh vision for my life, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.
Infants in Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:1
Are you mourning, believer, because your spiritual life is so weak, because your faith is so small, your love so feeble?
Cheer up because you have reason to be grateful. Remember that in some things you are equal to the greatest and most mature Christian.
You are like the faintly burning wick; a rougher spirit would say, “Put out that useless flame; it fills the room with an offensive odor!” But the feeble wick He will not quench. You are like a bruised reed, and any less tender hand than that of the Chief Musician would tread upon you or throw you away; but He will never break the bruised reed. So instead of being downcast by reason of what you are, you should rejoice in Christ. Am I but small and feeble in the vast company of believers? Yet in Christ I am made to sit in heavenly places. Am I poor in faith? Yet in Jesus I am heir of all things. I do not need to boast or elevate myself; even as an infant in Christ I will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the God of my salvation.
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13)
Thoughts for Today
Children abandoned by one or both parents often harbor resentment and unforgiveness toward those parents. And they become victims of their own unforgiveness.
The Bible has much to say about forgiveness. We need to start by understanding the forgiveness God offers us. The Bible teaches that we have all sinned. Every one of us. And with sin in our life, we cannot spend eternity in heaven with our holy God. But God found a way . . . He sent His only Son, Jesus, to earth to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (Romans 5:8-11 NLT)
“While we were yet sinners” Christ suffered and died on the cross so we could be forgiven. His forgiveness is a gift. We could never earn it or deserve it. All we need to do is reach out and take it by trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Consider this …
Maybe a parent abandoned you. Maybe the parent lived under the same roof with you but neglected you. Whatever happened . . . God calls you to forgive. Not because they deserve it. But because Jesus is willing to forgive you even when you don’t deserve it. How can you do less?
In fact, Jesus calls us to love those who have wronged us . . . and to pray for them.
“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45 NLT)
Your life will never be whole . . . you will never be healed from the scars of abandonment . . . until you take this step. Are you ready?
Father, I’ve had such bad feelings toward my parent(s) so many years. I believe that because of Jesus you have forgiven me though I certainly don’t deserve your forgiveness. I receive your gift of forgiveness. Help me to extend that same kind of forgiveness to my parent(s). In Jesus’ name . . .
Are You Salty?
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
October 19, 2017
“Everyone will be salted with fire.” Mark 9:49
Jesus used parables to communicate principles of the Kingdom of God. He said each believer’s life should have the same impact on his or her world as salt has on food. Salt gives food flavor and brings out the best, while at the same time it serves as a preservative.
What allows a Christian to become salty? Fire. God knows that each believer needs a degree of testing by fire in order for Christ’s fragrance to be manifested. We cannot become salty without this deeper work of the Holy Spirit’s fire in our lives. Fire purifies all that is not of Christ. It takes away all the impurities that prevent His nature from being revealed in us.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:6-7). Are you a salty Christian? If not, pray a prayer that the immature are unwilling to pray. Pray that God makes you a salty Christian. It will result in praise and glory at the throne of God.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
And so I am feeling tonight….in fact, every night……but it’s especially tough tonight, since I reread my daughter’s cruel words……..they keep playing over and over in my mind…..and it makes me feel so damn worthless! She has always been ashamed of me as her mother……I have known this……and now, I’m ashamed of myself……her saying that I’m bitter because I never worked to make something of my life….this truly has hit me hard! Can it be true? I lay here, wondering…….what sort of legacy am I leaving behind?
Yes, this is what I do…it’s what I have always done……shut down, sleep, wish that I would never wake up……..I close my eyes, but the thoughts and despair follow me, into my dreams………Right now, my head is aching so badly that it feels about ready to explode! When will it end? When will the pain stop?
And that’s what I was ready to do…….I was tired and sick of being ignored and disrespected, so when my granddaughter made her snide comment, it was just too much………but my daughter thinks it’s okay for her children to show NO RESPECT? Why not? My daughter shows none….her children are only doing as she does! I used to be proud of all of them, but I am starting to see that all their so-called “accomplishments” and “work” is for one purpose: to make them feel more important than the “little people”……to enable them to walk among the high class folks…..my daughter always had this attitude….I just managed to ignore it……I had hoped she’d grow out of it as she got older……..
She has never minded, or cared, how much or how often she hurts me…….and, obviously she has forgotten how much I did for her and John and the kids……..I stayed out of her life because she demanded that I keep out……then, when she was diagnosed with her cancer, she calls me….this totally surprised me! She said she was “scared”……I went to her as soon as I could……my beautiful girl……again, her beautiful hair was gone……..how this upset me! But, she was still gorgeous in her Mother’s eyes!
I wonder how I’ll go on, this time…….I told Duane, my guy, that now I truly have no one to turn to if something should happen to him…….and then I wonder, “Could I have turned to any of them before?” After the way they treated their brothers, I have to assume they really don’t care……I got some of the same treatment….or, at least, I got the feeling that I was no longer wanted there……..
My head hurts so bad!!
How do I even start to do this???
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37–39, NIV
Lord our God, through your Spirit help us to live in love to you. Open our eyes to see your goodness and truth surrounding us your children, even in this troubled world. We look to you, Almighty Father. Protect us in these difficult times. We plead for our country, entrusting it to your care so that love to you may be awakened. Where shall we turn except to you? Where shall we find help except in Jesus Christ, whom you have sent to us to win the victory, to subdue and end all evil in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and to become Lord, to the glory of your name? Amen.
Caffeine for your conscience
When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of “No answer.” It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though he shook his head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, “Peace, child; you don’t understand.” Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask – half our great theological and metaphysical problems – are like that.
We know that the righteous can have troubles, but how do we understand that God delivers us from them all? How do we understand that he protects all our bones, especially in light of recent tragedies and the persecution of believers in many places in the world? Paul demonstrates the answer: whatever happens to him will turn out for his deliverance — whether it is through his death to be with God or whether it is through his release from prison to continue ministry (Phil. 1:19-23). Our deliverance is secure. We are conquerors in Christ. Nothing Satan can do to us can steal us away from God’s love, not even death (Romans 8:32-39).
Father, please give me the faith I need to believe that whatever happens in my life will not steal me away from your love and deliverance for me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Read Romans 3:19-26…
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. 21. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24. and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood- to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished- 26. he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
“Just, and the justifier of him which believeth.”
Being justified by faith, we have peace with God. Conscience accuses no longer. Judgment now decides for the sinner instead of against him. Memory looks back upon past sins, with deep sorrow for the sin, but yet with no dread of any penalty to come; for Christ has paid the debt of His people to the last jot and tittle, and received the divine receipt; and unless God can be so unjust as to demand double payment for one debt, no soul for whom Jesus died as a substitute can ever be cast into hell. It seems to be one of the very principles of our enlightened nature to believe that God is just; we feel that it must be so, and this gives us our terror at first; but is it not marvellous that this very same belief that God is just, becomes afterwards the pillar of our confidence and peace! If God be just, I, a sinner, alone and without a substitute, must be punished; but Jesus stands in my stead and is punished for me; and now, if God be just, I, a sinner, standing in Christ, can never be punished. God must change His nature before one soul, for whom Jesus was a substitute, can ever by any possibility suffer the lash of the law. Therefore, Jesus having taken the place of the believer— having rendered a full equivalent to divine wrath for all that His people ought to have suffered as the result of sin, the believer can shout with glorious triumph, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” Not God, for He hath justified; not Christ, for He hath died, “yea rather hath risen again.” My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, He is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me. On the lion of justice the fair maid of hope rides like a queen.
The Way of Peace—
Evangelist G. F. Pentecost told of a man who came to see him at a meeting because he was under deep conviction of sin. His conscience was continually condemning him. He was very angry with Pentecost, and with D. L. Moody, who had preached the previous week.
”I wish you and Moody had never come to this city!” he shouted. ”Before you came, I wasn’t troubled about my sins. You talk of peace and joy, but you have turned my soul into a living hell. I can’t stay away from the meetings, and to come to them only makes me feel worse. You promise salvation, but all I find is torment. I wish you would leave, then I’d get back my old peace.”
Are you plagued with a load of guilt? Does listening to sermons, attending church- even reading Our Daily Bread- only add to your sense of guilt and make you even more upset? The relief of being forgiven of your sins and the peace of a clear conscience do not come by simply hearing the gospel. You must believe it and personally place your trust in Christ (Rom. 3:21-24).
Accept God’s free gift of salvation today! It’s the only way of peace.
Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.–MATT. v. 20.
The freedom from all wilful sin,
The Christian’s daily task,–
Oh these are graces far below
What longing love would ask!
Dole not thy duties out to God.
F. W. FABER.
You perhaps will say that all people fall short of the perfection of the Gospel, and therefore you are content with your failings. But this is saying nothing to the purpose: for the question is not whether Gospel perfection can be fully attained, but whether you come as near it as a sincere intention and careful diligence can carry you. Whether you are not in a much lower state than you might be if you sincerely intended and carefully labored to advance yourself in all Christian virtues.
We know not exactly how low the least degree of obedience is, which will bring a man to heaven; but this we are quite sure of, that he who aims no higher will be sure to fall short even of that, and that he who goes farthest beyond it will be most blessed.
Quote of the Day
“One reason people fall away from the faith is because they have built their faith on the wrong foundation.”
– Greg Laurie (from Building Faith on the Wrong Foundation?)
Romans: When, Where, and Why?
Paul did not establish the church in Rome, nor had he visited it by the time of his letter, though he was well aware of its growth and impact (>Romans 1:8-13). Perhaps the church at Rome began shortly after Pentecost (Acts 2), as Roman Jews returned from Jerusalem to their city with the fire of the gospel still burning in their hearts. The good news then spread to Rome’s vast Gentile population.
Concurrent with the Roman church’s growth was the success of Paul’s missionary efforts to the east. By the time Paul wrote to the Romans, he had been evangelizing, planting churches, and training leaders from Judea to Macedonia for about 10 years. The time had come for him to take the gospel to new territories.
So he set his sights on Spain. From the city of Corinth, he planned to deliver a monetary gift to the church in Jerusalem, given by the Gentile churches in Achaia and Macedonia. Then he would sail from Jerusalem to Spain, stopping at Rome, the capital of the empire, to encourage the Christians there in their walk with Christ.
In Corinth, probably in the winter of AD 57, Paul dictated a letter to his personal scribe, Tertius, telling the Roman Christians about his plans. But this letter is no mere itinerary. Paul saw his correspondence as an opportunity to ground the Romans in the essentials of the faith, for the church there had no definitive statement of Christian truth. They needed a “constitution” to go by, not just so they could learn, but so they could be a light to the rest of the empire.
The letter unfolds in a logical fashion as Paul argued his case that God provides for us what God requires of us – perfect righteousness. Through faith in Christ alone, a “righteousness from God” is granted to sinners, which removes God’s holy wrath toward us and brings us into loving relationship with Him forever.
Excerpted from “Romans: Cornerstone of Christian Living” by Insight for Living (used by permission).
REAL LIFE FORGIVENESS
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.Luke 6:37
Alexander Puerta has seen more than his share of tragedy. Raised on a small farm in Urabá region of northern Colombia, he was 17 when his father was murdered by an angry neighbor.
At 19, Alex nearly died of malaria. He called on a Christian evangelist to pray for him and experienced a miraculous recovery. That convinced him to accept Christ. He soon became a fervent evangelist himself and took a job at the Rancho Amelia banana plantation in Urabá.
A guerrilla army operating in the area mistakenly believed Rancho Amelia harbored a paramilitary squad. One morning in September 1995, they ambushed a bus carrying plantation employees, tied them up and threw them face down into a gully. The guerrillas then opened fire with machine guns on the helpless workers.
In the midst of the shooting, a bullet struck Alex Puerta at the base of his left eye, fractured his skull from the inside and exited, destroying his right eye and cheekbone. Amazingly, Alex did not lose consciousness, despite the excruciating pain and nearly suffocating in his own blood.
“The guerrillas came down the rows to find those who were still moving, finishing them off with a machete blow to the neck,” he recalls. “They reached me and I told them that Christ loved them. ‘This one’s alive!’ they said, and hit me twice very hard. They broke two teeth and cut off an ear lobe, but the machete did not penetrate my neck. Then they left.
“At that moment I heard a voice say, ‘Fight for your life.’ I felt such a strength and vitality that I succeeded in breaking my bonds. It hurt, but God gave me strength. When help arrived, they found me sitting up.” Alex was the only victim to survive the massacre. Twenty-five of his Rancho Amelia co-workers, including several women, lay dead in the gully.
Survival has been difficult. Alex underwent five surgeries to rebuild his shattered face. Doctors told him that he would never see again. He remembers the long months of convalescence with nothing to do but sit at home with only the family dog.
Today Alex serves as a voluntary chaplain of Prison Fellowship, preaching in chapel services at the Bellavista National Penitentiary and counseling inmates. Some of the prisoners with whom he has shared the gospel are former guerrillas. At least one, he has learned, was involved in the massacre at Rancho Amelia.
Alex let it be known that he has forgiven each of the assailants who blinded him and killed his friends. “If one decides to follow Jesus, the foundation is forgiveness,” he says. “Without it, there is no real Christian life.”
Recently, Alex accepted an invitation from Open Doors to become a regular trainer for Standing Strong Through the Storm seminars offered throughout Colombia. Feedback from seminar participants indicates that Alex is particularly effective in teaching about forgiveness.
RESPONSE: Today I will obey the Lord and forgive everyone who has hurt me.
PRAYER: Pray for Alex as he teaches SSTS seminars in Colombia. Pray his students will also forgive.
Stephen Presents His Defense: Part Two
As someone who writes often about Christianophobia, I often hear conservative Christians complain about increasing levels of anti-Christian hatred. I have no doubt that this represents their current perception of reality. But that does not mean that they are right. Indeed many people look at their complaints as simply the reality that Christians are no longer the dominant group in our society. Thus their perception of increased anti-Christian animosity may be simply tied to the fact that they no longer have unfair power in society.
As Christians lose relative power in society, it is possible that in the past those who hated conservative Christians may have been scared to verbalize that hatred or try to use laws to go after conservative Christian businesses or ministries. But today they do not fear Christians and can make their complaints known. There may not be any more anti-Christian hatred than in the past, but that hatred may be more public than ever. Nevertheless, whether there is an increasing level of anti-Christian hostility is an empirical question and one that I investigated in a recently available peer-reviewed article.
There are three possibilities. First, it is possible that those Christians are right and we have seen an increase in hostility towards conservative Christians. Reasons for this increase may vary, such as the increase of the nonreligious in our society or political activism from conservative Christians. Second, it is possible that those Christians are wrong and there is no increase, or possibly a decrease of hatred towards conservative Christians. Thus, conservative Christians who complain about an increase in hatred may be just playing the victim card. Third, there is not an increase in the overall level of hatred towards conservative Christians, but who has that hatred may be changing. If those who hate Christians have gained more social or political power and/or were former allies of those conservative Christians, then the experience of conservative Christians would reflect less social support. This experience may influence the complaints of conservative Christians.
To look at this issue, I used data from the American National Election Surveys (ANES) from 1980 to 2016. During the years of presidential elections, there is a thermometer question used to assess the feelings of respondents towards several social groups. Respondents were told to rate each group between 0 and 100. The meaning of those ratings were described as such:
“Ratings between 50 and 100 mean that you feel favorable and warm toward the group. Ratings between 0 and 50 mean that you don’t feel favorable toward the group and that you don’t care too much for that group. You would rate the person at the 50 mark if you don’t feel particularly warm or cold toward the group’’
So respondents were asked to indicate if they feel warmly or coldly to a group. I would interpret feeling warmly towards a group as evidence that a person likes a group and feeling coldly as evidence that they do not like a group. Since this question was used over the past thirty-six years ago to assess conservative Christian groups (either evangelicals or fundamentalists), I can see if there has been a lowering of the “thermometer” scores over that time.
There are some issues about how the groups evangelicals or fundamentalists are used in the research, but the bottom line is that we are not seeing a great deal of deterioration of warmth towards conservative Christians over the past thirty-six years. There are some fluctuations over those three and a half decades. There has been a little bit of a dropoff since 2008, but it is not enough for me to have confidence that it is not the normal movement of ratings that go on over time. Indeed in 1988 and 2000 the rankings of Christian fundamentalists were not much lower than they were in 2016. Since the thermometer questions are only asked on presidential election years, I will be interested to see if the low scores stay in 2020 and 2024. Perhaps they will even go lower. At that point I would be willing to say that we have seen an increase of anti-Christian hostility. But up to this point, I do not see that trend over the past thirty years.
The next question is who has this hostility? In my previous work on Christianophobia, I documented that white, male, wealthy, highly educated politically progressive and non-religious individuals are more likely to have anti-Christian hatred. Has it always been that way or have those with that animosity changed over time? To look at that, I used a statistical technique (OLS regression analysis) to see who is most likely to give conservative Christians a low ranking. This technique allowed me to see which variables are still important in the ranking of conservative Christians even when I control for all other variables. Generally those who rank them low were the same thirty-six years ago as they are today with one big exception. Recently income has become a significant predictor for who has emotional coolness towards conservative Christians. In 2012 and 2016 I found that those with higher incomes were ranking conservative Christians relatively low. So while those who hated Christians in the late 20th and very early 21st century were not necessarily very wealthy, this seems to be changing in our current society.
So here is my takeaway based on these findings. The overall level of hostility towards conservative Christians is not much more today than it was in the past. But those with that sort of hostility have more income than they did in the past. Since those with such income can express their hatred in more impactful ways for conservative Christians, it should not surprise us that many of them feel that there is more hostility directed towards them. Those with that hostility have much more power to do them harm.
Let me put it this way. About 20 years ago, there was hostility towards conservative Christians. But given that the profile of those with that hatred were irreligious, progressive, well-educated but relatively poor, I am thinking that we are looking at people who look a lot like graduate students. Those students had a voice but no real power (I know, I used to be one). Today you throw in the income component, and now we are looking at some of the most powerful people in our society. Their political progressiveness leads me to believe that many reside in cultural institutions such as the arts, academia and media. Powerful people in those institutions are able to change cultural attitudes, and such power definitely can contribute to perceiving oneself as facing more hostility.
Furthermore, it is a mistake to think that the expression of the power of those with Christianophobia is limited to cultural institutions. It is quite possible that many of those graduate students of a few decades ago went into business and run many of our major corporations today. This may account for the increasing likelihood of business to boycott attempts to increase religious freedom when that freedom may benefit conservative Christians. Such boycotts are also a reason why some conservative Christians feel an increase of hostility towards them over the past several years.
So while the absolute level of hostility directed at conservative Christians has not increased, the power level of those with that hatred appears to have increased. This means that those conservative Christian leaders who have been complaining about increased hatred are not completely wrong. I am only able to measure the attitudes of Americans in general and not the effects of anti-Christian hatred. Conservative Christians are more likely to feel the consequences of this hatred. If there was a way to get an objective measure of the effects of anti-Christian hatred, I would bet that the effect of that hatred has changed over the past few years. It is not simply that those who hate Christians speak up more. It is also the fact that they have the power to back up their words with harmful actions.
From the point of view of conservative Christians, it may matter less that the actual percentage of those with anti-Christian animosity has not changed than that effect of that hatred may have increased. In this way they are correct in that they experience more Christianophobia today than they have in the past even though the percentage of those with that Christianophobia has not dramatically increased. It is also worth noting that I did see a slight downtick of warmness towards Christians over the past decade or so. While I am not prepared to make an assertion about whether this downtick is indicative of a larger pattern of increasing Christianophobia, it is reasonable to suspect that this may be the case.
When powerful individuals have animosity towards a given group, it becomes quite plausible that the members of those groups will face lessening support from the rest of society. We would rightly be concerned if powerful individuals showed a great deal of antipathy towards Jews or Muslims. We should have the same level of concern that they appear to have this antipathy towards conservative Christians.
Think of it this way. If those who control the major cultural institutions in our society are becoming more likely to have Christianophobia, then we can expect a lot of anti-Christian bigotry to come out in the cultural messages they will send. Over time such cultural messages will influence those who do not yet have Christianophobia and make such religious bigotry more commonplace. I have previously documented anti-Christian academic bias, and I am currently working on a project about the biases in the media. The early results of that work also indicate evidence of bias against conservative Christians. Are we to think that what is taught in our schools and what comes out in our media will not influence the ideas of future generations?
Indeed it may have been such cultural influences that have convinced the management of companies such as the NFL, Angie’s List, Disney, Marvel and others to engage, or threaten to engage, in boycotts that take away the religious freedom of conservative Christians. One would expect such corporate leaders to have been in the sort of college classes and consume the type of media that may have been shaped by Christianophobic biases.
Thus if I am asked whether I expect more anti-Christian bigotry in the future, then my best guess is yes. Of course I guess this with incomplete knowledge. Any human guessing the future does so with incomplete knowledge. And if anti-Christian bigotry does significantly increase, it will do so among those with the greatest power in society. So my findings that anti-Christian hostility has not significantly increased over the past few decades should not be interpreted as a reason for Christians to stop being vigilant in their desire to deal with anti-Christian bigotry.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
In the last days we are seeing God’s Spirit convict His children of the lack of unity among His Church. We are seeing God move between blacks and whites, ethnic groups, denominations, and parachurch groups. There is much work to be done. The walls of division and competition among His Body are a stench in God’s nostrils. He sees the competition and the pride of ownership and weeps for the lost who cannot come to Him because they cannot see Him in His Body. When His Body is one, the unbelieving see that Jesus was sent by God. It is like a supernatural key that unlocks Heaven for the heathen soul. The key is in the hand of Christ’s Church. When there is unity, there is power. Scripture tells us five will chase 100, but 100 will chase 10,000 (see Lev. 26:8). There is a dynamic multiplication factor in unity of numbers. We are a hundred times more effective when we are a unified group. Imagine what God could do with a unified Church.
Jesus prayed that we all might be one, as the Father and He are one. He wanted the same love God has for Jesus to be in each of us. When this love is in us, we are drawn to each other with a common mission. The walls fall down. The independent spirit is broken. Competition is destroyed. Satan’s accusations are thwarted. Our love for each other is manifest to the world around us. Lost souls begin to seek this love that is so foreign to them.
Have you contributed to an independent spirit within His Body? Are you seeking to break down walls of competition among Christians, churches, denominations, and ethnic groups? Until we walk in the spirit of unity, we will hinder those in whom God has reserved a place in Heaven. Pray for His Church to be unified.
“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.” – (Proverbs 14:29 NLT)
Thoughts for Today
Anger is physiological. Think about what often happens to our body when we are angry: facial expressions change, heart rate increases, arms tremble, lips tighten, voice is raised, fists clench. We may even grind our teeth.
Dr. Richard D. Dobbins defines anger as “unexpressed energy.” A physiological response occurs when “a biochemical reaction is triggered which results in the creation of unusual amounts of energy for your use in facing a perceived threat.”
Consider this . . .
You become angry. That anger creates pent-up energy that has to go somewhere. At this point, you feel angry, but you’ve not yet done anything about the anger. You have not sinned . . . yet.
You are at a crossroads. You must choose how to use that energy. Will you use it to do something positive? It can be a trigger to help you realize you need to work on that relationship or an attitude. Or you can choose to let the anger take control and use the energy in destructive ways. At this point, you have chosen the sinful path.
Because anger is often connected to sinful thoughts or actions, we may think if we simply feel angry, we have sinned. However, it’s what we choose to do with the anger that determines whether it is sinful. God wants us to use our emotional energy for good, but it’s our choice.
Father, help me to pray and think before I act on my anger. Help me to choose positive ways to release the energy it gives me. In Jesus’ name . . .
Your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
Many of the Lord’s tracks overflow with abundance, but a special one is the track of prayer. A believer, who is often in private prayer, will not need to cry, “My leanness has risen up against me.”1 Starving souls live at a distance from the mercy-seat and become like the parched fields in times of drought. Consistent wrestling in prayer with God is sure to make the believer strong–if not happy. The nearest place to the gate of heaven is the throne of heavenly grace. Often alone, you will have plenty of assurance; seldom alone with Jesus, your faith will be shallow, polluted with many doubts and fears and not sparkling with the joy of the Lord. Since the soul-enriching path of prayer is open to the very weakest saint, since no high achievements are required, since you are not invited to come because you are an advanced saint but freely invited if you are a saint at all, see to it, dear reader, that you are often in the place of private devotion. Be regularly on your knees, for in this way Elijah drew the rain upon Israel’s famished fields.
There is another special track overflowing with abundance to those who walk in it. It is the secret walk of communion that affords the delights of fellowship with Jesus! Earth has no words that can convey the holy calm of a soul leaning on Jesus. Few Christians understand it; they live in the lowlands and seldom climb to the top of the mountain; they live in the outer court and fail to enter the holy place; they do not take up the privilege of priesthood. They see the sacrifice from a distance, but they do not sit down with the priest to eat the meal and enjoy the overflowing abundance.
But, reader, learn to sit under the shadow of Jesus; come up to that palm tree, and take hold of its branches. Let your Beloved be to you as the apple tree among the timber, and you shall be satisfied with goodness and abundance. Come, Lord Jesus, and visit us with Your salvation!
Bible Fun Fact: In Old Testament times the Mediterranean Sea was called the Great Sea.
He said to him, ‘O Lord,* how shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’ Yahweh said to him, ‘Surely I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.’ Judges 6:15 WEB
Gideon was the least in his family, who was the poorest clan in the tribe of Manasseh. God chose him to lead a group of three hundred men and defeat a vast Midianite army, whose camels could not even be counted.
Gideon was scared and hopelessly outnumbered. Outside of God, he had nothing going for him. No one else thought so either. Even his hometown wanted to kill him for destroying baal’s altar. Gideon was the least of the least. Yet with only God on his side, it was more than enough.
When the battle started, the enemies became confused and started killing each other, then ran away. They were completely defeated. After the battle, there were forty years of peace. Gideon, with the help of God, made it happen. God likes to show His power strong in the weak and humble.
Moses was the most humble man on the earth during his life (Numbers 12:3), David was the least of his family (1 Samuel 16:11). Even Jesus of Nazareth was born in a stable (Luke 2:7). Yet they were world changers.
As a child, I was the youngest of thirteen children and not even one of them, for I was a step child from a previous marriage. On top of that my mom told me that I was not exactly ‘his’ either. Nevertheless, God has shown me that it is not who you are born as, but who you live for that matters. And it is not what we do for Him, but what He has done for us that makes us righteous.
God can fix everything, and if all that you have is Him, He is more than enough. He has taken me from sweeping the floor to being the manager in a few months. There have been times when I was out of work and flat broke, I would open my Bible and find that someone had secretly put money in it. I have seen the sick and hurting be instantly healed. I have watched Him take life crushing situations and turn it completely around for our good. Things that would make you pinch yourself to be sure that you are awake.
Today you may be the least of the family and feel the weakest, but God can make a hero, out of a zero. If you follow His leading, no thing or no one can hold you back for He is more than enough. So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’ (Hebrews 13:5).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, my life is Yours. Please lead me into all that You have for me. Provide for me in the desert and lead me out the other side. I choose to put my trust in You. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray.
Note: Good morning, just a reminder that our Wednesday RHM Live worship service is happening tonight! This special time includes live music, a video teaching, as well as interactive prayer and fellowship in our RHM Live chatroom. All members are invited to join us at 7pm EST (we recommend that you arrive about 15 minutes beforehand for fellowship and to make sure the streaming is working for you). The page where it will happen is here: RHM Live Page
Learning Through Suffering
Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. – >Romans 8:17
Like many other Christians, my parents thought that if they honored God and dedicated their children to the Lord, they’d somehow be shielded from pain, suffering, and life’s difficult realities. Learning that their son–my brother Jerry–was dying of AIDS helped them to see that this belief was false.
My parents wrestled not only with losing Jerry but also with their own feelings of guilt. They wondered what they could’ve done differently to keep their son from a homosexual lifestyle. Sorrow and regret consumed them.
Yet God used that terrible incident to mold and deepen my parents’ faith. Suffering brought them face-to-face with change they’d never anticipated. It was in that dark and painful crucible that my parents learned about compassion, courage, forgiveness, and repentance. Their hearts were truly broken, but they were also truly changed.
You, too, can and should learn from suffering. Don’t be angered by it. Don’t come out the other side a bitter person. Look at your suffering as an intimacy with Christ–a time to sense his love and compassion, and to grow to trust Him and grow closer to Him.
“Complete success alienates a man from his fellows, but suffering makes kinsmen of us all.” – Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)
From Dear Jesus by Sarah Young
Bearing your circumstances bravely—even thanking Me for them—is one of the highest forms of praise. This sacrifice of thanksgiving rings golden-toned bells of Joy throughout heavenly realms. On earth, also, your patient suffering sends out ripples of good tidings in ever-widening circles.
You have been training me in the discipline of thankfulness for a long time. Yet I still find it quite challenging to thank You for suffering—my own or others’. Sometimes, though, I am able to thank You for painful circumstances. This seems unnatural at first, but it is actually quite freeing. When I am able to do this, I find that I relax and feel closer to You. Please help me endure my circumstances bravely—with gratitude.
Thanking Me for adversity requires a deep level of trust: in My goodness, My mercy, My Love. People who are leaning on their own understanding cannot achieve this depth of trust. So, handling difficulties courageously involves relinquishing your demand to understand.
You have experienced personal benefits from thanking Me for hard situations, but there is more—much more! Your grateful acceptance of adversity has major repercussions far beyond yourself: in heaven as well as on earth. Joy-bells resound in heavenly domains when suffering believers trust Me enough to give thanks. Also, your sacrifice of thanksgiving has divine Power to weaken spiritual strongholds of evil. Moreover, your patient endurance of suffering can strengthen and encourage My people on earth. Sacrifice thank offerings to Me. Tell of My works with songs of Joy! (Psalm 107:22)
Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
–2 Corinthians 10:3–4
©2007 by Sarah Young
There is NO Place God is Not
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5, nkjv
Praise God that you and I can be where Jesus is–now, and for all eternity–because He lives within us and has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us!
When your parents forsake you through death or abandonment, or your spouse forsakes you through divorce, you have His presence. (Ps. 27:10)
When the fire of adversity increases in intensity, you have His presence. (Dan. 9:1–25)
When you are overwhelmed by burdens or depression, you have His presence. (Isa. 43:2)
When you and I follow Jesus, He promises that we will be where He is. And there is not one place in the entire universe, visible or invisible, where He is not! What a blessing!
My Heart’s Cry
(c)2004 Anne Graham Lotz. All rights reserved.
If you ever feel at a loss for what to pray, there’s no better guidebook for petitions to our Heavenly Father than the very book He wrote—the Bible. Almost every book in there contains a plea or request, and page after page points to another reason we need a Savior. So, when you feel like you just don’t have words, turn first to the Word.
Although we could list hundreds of prayers, we plucked out five of our favorites to show just how filled to the brim the Bible is with ways to call upon our great God.
When the author of Chronicles dutifully provides us with a list of Judah’s descendants, he can’t help but stop himself. Right in the midst of all these names, he comes to Jabez, a man he wants us to notice, a man of true honor. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve caused pain or if you’ve ever wanted to believe that God can do more than you can ask or imagine, this prayer is for you:
“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”
This prayer is the true classic. Most of us have said this prayer and could likely recite it right now. But there’s much more to this model that Jesus gave us than rote recitation. This is a prayer with real power: God’s kingdom coming, God’s will being done, all that we need for the day. It’s truly power packed. So, take a closer look at what it teaches:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
We may never be swallowed by a great fish, but we can still experience the shame and regret that Jonah felt after he ran from God. The prophet’s plea to the Father provides a poignant scaffolding for our own prayers of repentance. And remember that God heard and answered this humble, honest prayer:
“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
“When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
“Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
This one was a tough choice because the Psalms are stuffed full of cries and petitions. If you ever want a primer for prayer, you can’t go wrong with this wisdom book. But we chose Psalm 3 because it provides a concise portrait of crying out to God in the midst of great stress. David’s words are no less relevant to our modern workplace and lifestyle as they were to his battles:
Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
From the Lord comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.
When Hannah received the child she begged God for, her first instinct is to praise the One who provided. She wants to thank Him for His greatness and His deliverance. Too often we pray before receiving, but then forget to pray after God answers. Let this prayer guide you in thanks:
“My heart exults in the Lord;
my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
“There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.
“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
A Prayer for When You’re Going Through Life’s Valleys
By Darlene Sala
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” Psalm 23:4a (NLT)
In life, we all certainly like mountaintop experiences better than valleys — the air is clean, the sun is shining, and the view is amazing. But the truth is, we’re going to go through valleys. It’s inevitable. You’ve observed that, haven’t you?
Jesus didn’t want us to be surprised by difficult times, so just before He died on the cross, He warned us, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows” (John 16:33b, NLT). “You will have …” means it’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that you can’t plan valleys or schedule them. Who’s ever had a flat tire or a root canal at a good time?
But be encouraged that valleys are temporary; they do have an end. And valleys have a purpose. God never wastes our pain.
The apostle Peter wrote, “There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:6b-7, NLT).
When God assured Moses He would be with him as he led the Israelites to the Promised Land, God said, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest — everything will be fine for you” (Exodus 33:14b, NLT). I love Moses’ reply: “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place” (Exodus 33:15b, NLT).
Amen, Moses — that’s exactly how I feel about going to strange, new places too.
What encourages me is that God never asks me to go through a valley alone.
Notice in our key verse that David, the one who wrote Psalm 23, refused to be filled with fear in the dark valleys, because God was with him in a very real and personal way: “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” (Psalm 23:4a)
Earlier in this psalm, David’s comments about God are in the third person — the LORD is my shepherd … He makes me lie down … He leads me… He refreshes my soul … He guides me.
But when David gets to the dark valley, he switches to second person: “for you are with me” (v. 4). That’s oh so personal. It’s as if David sees the darkness ahead, and he reaches out for God’s hand. What a comfort to put our hand in God’s hand, as we take a step into the dark!
Pastor, writer and Bible teacher Andrew Murray once encouraged us to say: “I am here —
1. By God’s appointment.
2. In His keeping.
3. Under His training.
4. For His time.”
Thank You, Lord, for that truth!
Lord, help me keep my eyes on You, not the painful circumstances I’m facing — not on my problem but on Your power. Thank You that You are with me and will never leave me. Here’s my hand. Please hold it tightly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
“Begin by thanking Him for some little thing, and then go on, day by day, adding to your subjects of praise…until you see in everything some cause for thanksgiving. ”
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– Priscilla Maurice
Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to guard our hearts, but constructing healthy boundaries among the family God has placed us with is extremely challenging. In the gap between fresh hurt and restored peace, the words with which we choose to express our emotions can be critically wounding, or soul restoring. To process emotion as our Savior would, it’s best to talk out our conflicts with Him in prayer.
Father, praise You for family. You tell us that it’s not good for us to be alone, and therefore have placed people around us that impact our lives and move us away from the loneliness of solitude. “The Lord is my strength and my song,” Exodus 15:2 reminds. We must remember that the family we live with is not responsible for our happiness. They are not charged with the status of our hearts and souls. And they cannot control how we feel, nor leap into our minds in an effort to understand the depth of our emotions.
When we are misunderstood, or a family member misunderstands us, we feel hopeless to plead our case. Help us to hold onto Exodus 15:2. You are our strength. The inability to filter our thoughts is a cue to hand them over to You. In the moments when silence is Your answer, help us to be patient. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, inspire us to recall who You say we are. Loved. Forgiven. Saved. Purposed. Unique.
Thank You for the comfort of family. The warm embrace of a mother and father, siblings, and extended family. There is something about being related that earns our trust easier other relationships. When and if that trust is broken through abuse and/or abandonment, we pray for your protection physically, and Your guardianship of our hearts and minds. Empower us to seek help and counsel from You, and from others trained to help us remove ourselves from danger and harm. Anyone intending to harm us or treat us abusively is never someone You intend us to linger with.
We confess all of the words we wish we could take back. Because of Adam and Eve’s mistake in the garden, our sinful nature can lead us down paths that we know are wrong, and into mistakes that we had no intention of making. Yet because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are forgiven over and over again when we confess to You in our Savior’s name. Help us to pass the same compassion on to others who wear on our hearts and patience. Bless us to be patient and wise, to seek You first, and speak kindness. Convict us when we are wrong, and strengthen our resolve to apologize.
Jenni ( last message) 9/26 (My darling Daughter??)
Boo fucking hoo. You have been saying shit for days. She said one thing and deleted it. You are publicly bashing
her on facebook. She isnt doing that to you. You do make it seem like personal attacks. You should be ashamed of
yourself for bashing your goddamn grandchild on facebook. That is so childish. Grow up. You have gone too far this
time. And having your crazy stupid fucking friends bashing us when they dont know us. Fuck all of you. You dont
even know how pissed off I am right now that you are treating my child this way. Who the hell do you think you are.
I dont need to control what my children do or say because they are smart educated hard working contributing
individuals. How dare you say that or question my parenting. I did a pretty good job if i dont say so myself. My
kids are the most caring and understanding people i know. Mariah works with spevial needs school children and gets
beat up by them. Sge gets paid shit but she likes what she does and cares about those kids!! You dont have to worry
about being done with us because i am so done with you. Dont contact me again. And especially dont talk about me
or my children on facebook or refer to us at all. Stop the harrassment and just leave us the hell alone. Act like
we dont exist and we will do the same! And stop trying to guilt me and talk about dying. Grow the fuck up already
and stop hating everyone. Including your sister nan. You are just a bitter person. Dont hate everyone else because
you never wanted to work hard to make a good life. AND AGAIN PEACE OUT!
One more thing. Please delete everyone you have requested that are mine or my childrens friends because i know they
never sought you out as a friend and there is absolutely no reason for you to be friends with them
Is this how a daughter speaks to her Mother? She calls this “decent”? Is this the example she sets for HER children??? I just hope that, one day, HER children don’t treat HER this way……it’s all lies, too…I did NOT bash her daughter “for days” on Facebook……it was TWO comments I made and I mentioned NO NAMES……As for my friends doing any bashing? HA! They did NOT! They have wild imaginations up in good old Scranton, Pennsylvania…….I almost forgot what the people up there are like……..putting importance on THINGS…….and MONEY………not willing to help a person in need……especially when that person is FAMILY……..go ahead, daughter of mine……..you tore my heart out and you act as if this is okay? I hope your cancer doesn’t come back……..I pray God doesn’t use it again to try to teach you………..and, I hope you read this…..or, maybe your pal CindyAnn will and tell you about it……another hypocrite!
In a perfect world, family would be your soft place to fall. The place you turn to when times are tough. The place to cheer you on when times are good. Unfortunately, this world is far from perfect. And the sad truth is that sometimes family isn’t what it’s intended to be.
When you are repeatedly hurt by someone in your family, it’s well within your right to protect yourself. Whether they are hurting you emotionally, physically, or mentally, you are not called to ignore it for the simple fact that you are related to them by blood. The truth is, family members know us the best—which means, they have an insider view of what would hurt us the most.
Here are steps to take to get yourself grounded and take control:
Acknowledge Your Own Feelings
Your feelings matter. Acknowledging how you truly feel about a situation and the way you are being treated—not what someone has suggested you have the “right” to feel—is crucial to finding a solution. Spend time thinking through your feelings and the emotions that arise when you are in the situation. Think about your natural reactions and actions when this person is around you. Consider how you feel before and after each time you are with this person. Get familiar with your own feelings and face the truth about them, then make decisions about how to move forward based on those truths.
Yes…I truly NEVER expected it from my once-favorite granddaughter, Mariah……..I was once the buffer between her and her Mommy and Daddy….the words they would constantly say to her…..my daughter always telling her to “stop eating too much” and telling the dear, little girl that she would “get fatter”……I’ll bet my daughter forgets all THIS! She always favored Mindy, because Mindy was the “pretty one.” So, I favored Mariah……….
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
We can’t walk through this life without pain and heartache, even Jesus said so. Sometimes the struggles of life are a result of our own doing, sometimes it is circumstantial, and sometimes we are hurt by our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s face it, when we walk into our church buildings week in and week out, we are walking into a melting pot of broken, abused, suffering, prideful, selfish people… people like you and me. We are all broken and in need of the love and forgiveness of Christ. I love the picture of the church being a hospital, don’t you?
Learning how to extend that love and forgiveness when others have hurt us is hard. Sometimes very hard. It can feel impossible. But, remember, we can only love because He first loved us.
We are called to forgive. We are called to love. But what does it look like to forgive those who have hurt us in ways that are beyond comprehension? Their words and their actions have broken our hearts. How can we move past the hurt and brokenness to forgiveness and love for the offender?
Forgiveness is a bit like love. It’s hard. And it’s a choice, not a feeling. We all know that our feelings are not truth tellers. Our feelings tell us lies about ourselves and about who God is. Our feelings will not allow us to love or forgive. We must continually preach the gospel to our own hearts, choose to not trust our feelings but to trust Christ. We must choose to not listen to the lies of the enemy, but the truth of God’s Word. The truth of the matter is, forgiveness is a choice; we simply must choose forgiveness if we want to continue to walk in the light and love of Christ and grow in Him.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4
Choosing to love and choosing to forgive involve intentionality and pursuit. We must pursue Jesus, not let our hearts grow bitter. We must pursue God’s Word as a treasure, not allow unforgiveness to build. Setting our hearts on things above and fixing our eyes on Jesus takes intentionality, but it’s the only way to take the focus off of ourselves and put it back on Jesus where it belongs.
And only when we are gazing at Jesus can we begin to choose forgiveness. I’m not saying this makes it easy. I’m saying this makes it possible. Christ in you and Christ in me is the hope of glory. Nothing I can muster up on my own is going to help me to forgive and then love others. Nothing I can complete in 3 easy steps. But, instead, to trust Christ in me. To lean not on my own understanding. To humble my heart before God so that He can do His thing in me. Remember, in Christ we are all new creations! He is doing a new work — He is giving us HIS strength and HIS power and HIS love and forgiveness. In turn, we can go and forgive. Because of Christ, not because of anything we’ve done.
Once we have chosen forgiveness, what then? Now, on to the blessing. We must bless those who curse us. We must choose to bless regardless of our feelings.
3 Ways to Bless Those Who Have Hurt Us
1. Take your eyes off of the hurt and the person, put your gaze on Christ.
We can’t keep looking at the hurt and the situation and replaying it over and over in our minds. We must fix our eyes on Jesus. We must dive into His Word. Turn on praise music. Do not dwell on the problem or the feelings you have about the situation. As hard as it is, choose to think on things lovely, noble, true and right.
2. Pray for the person who has hurt you.
There is no better way to bless someone than to intercede for them. Pray for God to bless them, pray for God to grow their love for Him, pray for God to do good things in their lives. Pray, pray, and pray some more. When words don’t come, ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for you. When you are hurt, mad, and broken, take your brokenness to the cross. Ask Jesus to fill you with His supernatural love and power.
3. Extend grace.
Remember the grace you’ve been shown. Ponder your own life and how you’ve been shown grace upon grace. Now, go and do likewise. What does this look like? Letting the other person off the hook. Showing kindness to the person. Not ignoring the person. Not returning evil for evil. Bestow kindness and grace.
When we don’t forgive, the bitterness and the grudge take ahold of us. We carry the bitterness into every aspect of our lives. We grow weary and begin to die spiritually. I know when we begin to look at it in that way, we can begin to choose forgiveness. Surely not many of us would choose spiritual death and a turning away from Christ.
Turn to Christ, beloved. Turn to Christ and be forgiven so that you can now walk in a life of forgiveness and love for others.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Candace Crabtree is just a broken mama thankful for grace and new mercies every morning. She and her husband live in East Tennessee where they homeschool their 3 kids. Candace also enjoys teaching piano, coffee, good books and blogging at His Mercy Is New. On her blog she shares encouragement for weary women from God’s Word along with resources for learning to pray the Scriptures.
Yes, it’s my last thought at night, and my first thought in the morning! HOW….WHY……I ask myself these things……yesterday, as if I needed to pour salt in my wounds, I looked up that final message from Jenni, my daughter, and I read it, AGAIN…….oh, the awful words she spoke! She sounds just like my baby sister did at our Mother’s gravesite!! And my Mariah……she started it all……..I really think she hated having me back in their lives! She made that comment and then didn’t have the courage to back it up!! No wonder her Mommy has to defend her!!
Well, I forgive them all…..BUT! I will NEVER forget……and I will learn from this…..I will learn that family hurts you most! I will learn that children should NEVER use foul language on their Mothers…..and grandchildren should show respect to their grandparents, NO MATTER WHAT!
For now, I still have 5 children……..but I only trust my three youngest sons…..Joe, Steven, and Charles………
Amen and God bless you all!!!!
Father in heaven, we thank you for giving us light. We thank you for the great hope for a day whose light is not of our making, whose source is in you, a day to come that can touch our lives already today. Keep our hearts steadfast, free of all human wavering. May we always hold to the love you have given through your grace, and may we find joy in your love, which is full of light and understanding. Amen.
Caffeine for your conscience
Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,– Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,– let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.
The LORD is… …near! …present! …close! How do I know? He came close in the manger. He walked among us in ministry. He suffered with us and for us at Calvary. We know that in tragedy, trial, heartbreak, and brokenness he is near to us to save us. So, will our hearts be open to him and will we be seeking him to come near? Don’t let troubles or heartache lead you to pull away from God or doubt his nearness. Let him draw close to you.
O LORD, please be near me today. Make your presence known in my life. Father, I also ask that you bless those I know who are struggling with their faith, and with broken and disappointed hearts. Please be active in their lives and make your presence known in their lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Read Psalm 16…”Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. 2. I say to the Lord, ”You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” 3. I say of the holy people who are in the land, ”They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” 4. Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. 5. Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. 6. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10. because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
This psalm begins with expressions of devotion, which may be applied to Christ; but ends with such confidence of a resurrection, as must be applied to Christ, and to him only.
David flees to God’s protection, with cheerful, believing confidence. Those who have avowed that the Lord is their Lord, should often put themselves in mind of what they have done, take the comfort of it, and live up to it. He devotes himself to the honour of God, in the service of the saints. Saints on earth we must be, or we shall never be saints in heaven. Those renewed by the grace of God, and devoted to the glory of God, are saints on earth. The saints in the earth are excellent ones, yet some of them so poor, that they needed to have David’s goodness extended to them. David declares his resolution to have no fellowship with the works of darkness; he repeats the solemn choice he had made of God for his portion and happiness, takes to himself the comfort of the choice, and gives God the glory of it. This is the language of a devout and pious soul. Most take the world for their chief good, and place their happiness in the enjoyments of it; but how poor soever my condition is in this world, let me have the love and favour of God, and be accepted of him; let me have a title by promise to life and happiness in the future state; and I have enough. Heaven is an inheritance; we must take that for our home, our rest, our everlasting good, and look upon this world to be no more ours, than the country through which is our road to our Father’s house. Those that have God for their portion, have a goodly heritage. Return unto thy rest, O my soul, and look no further. Gracious persons, though they still covet more of God, never covet more than God; but, being satisfied of his loving-kindness, are abundantly satisfied with it: they envy not any their carnal mirth and delights. But so ignorant and foolish are we, that if left to ourselves, we shall forsake our own mercies for lying vanities. God having given David counsel by his word and Spirit, his own thoughts taught him in the night season, and engaged him by faith to live to God. Verses Ps 16:8-11, are quoted by St. Peter in his first sermon, after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Ac 2:25-31; he declared that David in them speaks concerning Christ, and particularly of his resurrection. And Christ being the Head of the body, the church, these verses may be applied to all Christians, guided and animated by the Spirit of Christ; and we may hence learn, that it is our wisdom and duty to set the Lord always before us. And if our eyes are ever toward God, our hearts and tongues may ever rejoice in him. Death destroys the hope of man, but not the hope of a real Christian. Christ’s resurrection is an earnest of the believer’s resurrection. In this world sorrow is our lot, but in heaven there is joy, a fulness of joy; our pleasures here are for a moment, but those at God’s right hand are pleasures for evermore. Through this thy beloved Son, and our dear Saviour, thou wilt show us, O Lord, the path of life; thou wilt justify our souls now, and raise our bodies by thy power at the last day; when earthly sorrow shall end in heavenly joy, pain in everlasting happiness.
In his book The Best Is Yet To Be, Henry Durbanville recalled that as a boy, when the shadows of evening lengthened and darkness fell, he would hear his mother call, ”Henry, it’s bedtime!” Typical of all small boys, he resisted the idea of leaving his friends, putting his toys away, and going to his room for the night. Yet deep within his heart he knew very well that sleep was necessary.
Durbanville made this spiritual application for the Christian who senses the end of life drawing near: ”Death is both affectionate and stern. When the right moment comes, she says to us, ‘It’s your bedtime.’ Oh, we may protest a little, but we know very well that the hour for rest has come, and in our hearts we are actually longing for it.”
The thought of dying can fill even a Christian’s heart with mixed emotions. When we think of leaving our loved ones, it may cause the tears to flow. The breaking of close human ties does hurt. On the other hand, there is the anticipation of resting from our labors and being in the presence of the Lord.
If we have placed our faith in Christ, we can look forward to the joy and release that will be ours when we hear the evening call, ”Come Home. It’s bedtime!”
For the Christian, dying is the last shadow of Earth’s night before heaven’s dawn.
Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.–I SAM. XV. 22.
Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show to you to-day–EX. xiv. 13.
The folded hands seem idle:
If folded at His word,
‘Tis a holy service, trust me,
In obedience to the Lord.
It is not the multitude of hard duties, it is not constraint and contention that advance us in our Christian course. On the contrary, it is the yielding of our wills without restriction and without choice, to tread cheerfully every day in the path in which Providence leads us, to seek nothing, to be discouraged by nothing, to see our duty in the present moment, to trust all else without reserve to the will and power of God.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
Godliness is the devotion of the soul to God, as to a living person whose will is to be its law, whose love is to be its life. It is the habit of living before the face of God, and not the simply doing certain things.
J. B. BROWN.
Quote of the Day
“No doubt Peter loved Jesus more after his fall than before. No one loves like that the one who has experienced God’s grace firsthand.”
– Ray Pritchard (from Do You Love Me?)
Did Jesus Descend into Hell?
We know from Jesus’ statement to the thief that when one dies they enter the presence of God immediately. Luke 23:42 states, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” This statement also tells us that Jesus went to His Father upon death.
Beyond this we know very little about where Jesus was for three days. One must be careful not to read too much detail into a parable or story….
The passage of Scripture most referred to by those holding to the hell theory is 1 Peter 3:18-20. “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.” The words they point to are “in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison.” Supposedly, Jesus descended to hell and preached to lost souls. But why? Nowhere in the Bible is there any statement that a lost soul who has died can have a second chance. Did Jesus go to hell just to torment the lost souls more? There is a more reasonable interpretation of this passage.
Jesus was put to death in the flesh, but was made alive by the Spirit. The word “made alive” is passive, meaning that someone other than Jesus made Him alive. Either Jesus was made alive by the Spirit, or in His spirit. Either way the Spirit must have been involved. Then the passage continues by telling us who these souls in prison are, they are those who did not listen to Noah (who was preaching repentance in the Spirit’s power to the world at the direction of God). Thus, the same Spirit who raised Jesus as a testimony “in order that He might bring us to God” also had spoken in Noah’s day to those souls now in prison; and they are in prison because they did not listen at the time of the preaching. In fact, only eight people listened and were saved—”brought safely through the water.” The idea of “prison” is figurative. The Bible does indicate that lost souls are removed and restrained in>Luke 16:26: “And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.”
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus went to hell during the three days. Actually, very little is said about what went on. The normal assumption is that Jesus’ fleshly body remained in the tomb, just as ours will remain in the grave. He went to the presence of the Father, and three days later the Spirit resurrected His body (in the same way that our bodies will be resurrected—the first-born from the dead in Col. 1:18). The difference is that God did not allow Jesus’ body to decay….
Taken from “What happened after Jesus died?” by Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries, 39085 Pioneer Blvd., Suite 206, Sandy, OR 97055, 503-668-5200, http://www.epm.org
GOD ANSWERS PRAYER
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7
In the mid-1990’s, my Canadian co-worker, Paul, and I were leading a ministry trip of Canadians and Americans to Iran. This was the first trip with a sizable group of Americans so there was a lot of excitement about it. And as expected, it took us right to the wire (two hours before our air flight) to secure their visitor visas.
As we finally relaxed on the long air flight, we realized we’d been so busy with travel details we’d had no time to shop for gifts for the brothers and sisters we’d be meeting. So on the plane we bought every box of chocolates that were on the duty-free carts.
On arrival in Iran, our women were all conservatively dressed in their black chadors allowing them to travel anywhere in the country and be accepted. It also enabled many discussions with other women on the street. Their shoes gave them away as westerners.
One of our tasks was to deliver funds for widow support for the several Christian widows of martyred pastors in the country at that time. We channeled this through Sister Takoosh who was the widow of well-known Pastor Haik, the leader of the evangelicals in the entire country until his untimely murder.
We sent our group of chador-covered ladies to meet Takoosh at night at her home. They were received with the traditional great hospitality of the Persian culture and Christian community. They drank tea together and enjoyed wonderful fellowship in Jesus after sharing the financial and other gifts they brought.
Just before leaving, one of the Canadians remembered something. She reached into her large purse and pulled out a box of chocolates. She handed it to Sister Takoosh and said, “The two Paul’s sent this as a gift for you.”
Unexpectedly, Takoosh began to weep. She then wiped her tears and said, “I really love chocolate. And when I get any, I cut it into small pieces to make it last as long as possible. Just yesterday I ate my last piece. And I said to the Lord, ‘I know this is a very selfish request, Lord, but would You please bring me some more chocolate!’”
God is concerned about even the small things in our lives. Talk to Him about them.
RESPONSE: TodayI will talk to God about every detail of my life and trust Him with the answers.
PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, that You care about my every need. I will Trust You to take care of every detail.
STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM (SSTS) -A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks
© 2010 Open Doors International. Used by permission
“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” Proverbs 10:25
Stephen Presents His Defense: Part One
When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it-lest you even be found to fight against God.”
In light of the flood of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the left’s extreme reaction to Vice President Pence’s personal morality guidelines now seems even more absurd. Mothers and fathers of America, who would you rather have your daughters work for: Weinstein or Pence? Young ladies of America, for whom would you rather work and with whom would you feel safer, Weinstein or Pence?
According to a Washington Postarticle, “In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.”
Sounds reasonable and wise to me. Nothing extreme or unusual from my point of view or in the circles in which I travel, especially if you are a powerful leader or a person of influence.
But that’s not how many on the left saw it. As I noted in April, “The left’s bizarre and almost hysterical reaction to Vice President Pence’s personal marital guidelines is not only totally off point. It actually misses the most essential point of all, namely, that it is Pence’s high esteem for women—specifically, the most important woman in his life, his own wife—that fuels his moral choices. At the same time, the leftist response reveals a glaring blind spot when it comes to self-awareness.”
Yes, the response from the left was an outright denial of human nature. The fact is that we humans can do all kinds of creepy, ugly things, things that are despicable and shameful. It’s embarrassing, but it’s true.
Vice President Pence, being aware of his humanity, knows all too well how easy it is to fall. That’s why he made it his habit to take certain precautions—in the best interests of his marriage, his own life, and the women he worked with. Again, it makes perfect sense to me.
Now, with more and more women saying, “Me too! I’ve been sexually abused,” we realize just how epidemic this problem is in our culture. In other words, it’s not just the Harvey Weinsteins who are allegedly guilty. There are many other abusers out there, from rapists who prey on strangers to adults who abuse children to bosses who abuse their employees.
And this is nothing new. It’s as old as the human race, which is why the Bible addresses sexual sin from Genesis to Revelation, exposing even some of Israel’s most famous leaders (including Samson and David and Solomon).
That’s why Paul also puts sexual sin at the top of his lists of sins of the flesh (see, for example, 1 Cor. 6:9-10), and that’s why the book of Proverbs (the book of wisdom par excellence) contains so many lengthy warnings about the dangers of sexual sin (see especially Prov. 5 and 7). That’s also why Jesus warned against it so strongly (see Matt. 5:27-30).
As Paul so wisely wrote, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).
When our daughters were growing up, I would explain to them how teenaged boys would try to check them out and how lust-filled they could be. Our girls first reacted with shock and protest, thinking this was gross and impossible. “No way, Dad!” But it wasn’t long before they realized I was telling them the truth. Boys will be boys! (And all too often, in the bad sense of the word, men will be men—including dirty old men.)
It’s true that most men are not sexual predators. But I’m pretty sure that if the secret thoughts of most men could be revealed, they wouldn’t be all that wholesome. And in a sexually charged culture like ours today, where women are expected to wear suggestive and skimpy attire (and some love to do so), where seductive images greet you on countless websites, where your junk folder is filled with invitations to chat rooms, where prostitution and stripping are glorified, where 8-year-olds access porn on their cell phones, we need to be all the more vigilant.
Let us, then, encourage sexual purity and marital fidelity. And rather than mock the Mike Pences of this world, we should commend them.
(For more practical steps that can be taken, see the chapter, “From Playboy to Purity: Reversing the Sexual Revolution” in Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation.)
Dr. Michael Brown(www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.
A Prayer of Encouragement for Your Work
by Theresa Ceniccola
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17).
What do you pray for? I pray for my family, my marriage, my health… for friends and total strangers who are going through a difficult experience… for abandoned children and prisoners of war. Those are probably some of the same things you pray for. But I also talk to God about my business. I ask for divine direction and wise counsel.
If God has blessed you with a business or ministry, you should remember to pray for it as well. May this prayer help you remember to keep the faith in the work environment.
Lord, thank you for the blessing of my business or ministry. I am grateful that you planted a seed in my heart and gave me the resources and opportunity to use my gifts to serve others.
Lord please show me what you want me to do next with the gift of my work. Teach me to make wise decisions and keep my eyes focused on the path you set before me. Help me avoid temptations and distractions that lead me astray.
Lord, please help me to be a better steward of the many blessings you have bestowed on me. Teach me to be financially responsible and generous with my time, talent and treasure.
Lord, give me the courage and faith to follow your call – even when it means taking risks. Protect me from the doubts and fears that prevent me from fulfilling your purpose for me. Help me to trust in you and feel your never-ending love and presence.
Lord, when I’m filled with doubt about my abilities or qualifications, please cover me with your peace and fill me with confidence. Help me to remember that I am serving you through my work and that you will equip me to fulfill your call.
Lord, please fill me with faith and resolve to keep moving forward when I feel like giving up. Remind me of your will for me and give me the patience and endurance to stay the course, despite the many obstacles I face.
Lord, this business or ministry is a wonderful learning experience for me. Please teach me everything I need to know in order to succeed in your plans. Give me wisdom, knowledge and understanding, so that I may please you and glorify you through my work.
Editor’s Note: Content adapted from the article “10 Simple Prayers to Encourage the Heart of the Working Mom” by Theresa Ceniccola. You can read that piece in full here. All rights reserved.
No one enjoys suffering, but suffering is a necessary, normal part of the Christian life. In fact, the Scripture says we can expect hardships and suffering to increase (2 Tim. 2:3; 3:1-4, 13), so we must be prepared.
We learn from the book of 2 Timothy that we may experience suffering as a result of our testimony, our godly living, or our stand for truth (2 Tim. 1:8; 2:8-9, 17-18; 3:6-8, 12). We may also experience suffering when we are rejected or left alone (2 Tim. 1:15; 4:9-11; 4:16), or as a natural consequence to our fleshly, worldly desires (2 Tim. 2:22).
Suffering will indeed come, but God can give us grace and power to overcome every trial and to fulfill our purpose and mission in His kingdom. In his second epistle to Timothy, the Apostle Paul shares some important truths about how we can endure suffering.
Ten Principles for Enduring Suffering
1. Don’t forget why you are suffering. Remember your purpose and Whom you serve! The Apostle Paul said he was willing to suffer for the proclamation of the Gospel, for the sake of the elect, and for the glory of God. Our suffering, big or little, can be used to bring about the same purposes. (2 Tim. 2:8–9)
2. Remember that you are a prisoner of Christ, not of your circumstances or other people. (2 Tim. 1:8)
3. Keep going back to the things you know to be true from God’s Word. Don’t doubt in the dark what you have seen in the light. Remember what you received as a result of your salvation in Christ (2 Tim. 1:5). Remember your calling and the grace of God (2 Tim. 1:1, 9-13).
4. Keep doing whatever God has called you to do.Persevere, stay the course, and be faithful, regardless of any opposition or hardship. (2 Tim. 4:1-5)
5. Trust God to deal with those who oppose the truth.Don’t take matters into your own hands or become bitter and argumentative. (2 Tim. 2:23–26)
7. Rely on the resources God has given you:
8. Remember that you are not alone in your suffering.
You already have:
Cultivate these to help you endure:
9. No matter how difficult things are today, you can face the future with hope. Trust the truth of Scripture.
The Truth is:
10. In all your suffering, remember Jesus Christ.
Expect suffering—it is inevitable—but don’t forget the powerful resource that you have in Christ. Entrust your life to His ever-present care and control. He loves you, and He will help you endure.
Through the Fire
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. – (Isaiah 43:2)
Years ago my wife was cooking a steak, and as she often does, she threw it on and then went and did something else. But on this particular occasion, she forgot about the steak. Then she said, “Something is burning. What’s that smell?”
Let’s just say it was well done.
I’m glad that when we go through fiery trials as believers, God doesn’t get distracted, forget about us, and leave us there.
David wrote in Psalm 23, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me” (verse 4 nkjv).
We must remember to cast our problems on the Lord, turning them over to Him in times of need.
When the people were griping and complaining about Moses, the Bible tells us that Moses cried out to the Lord. When Hezekiah received an intimidating letter from a king who was threatening to destroy him, he spread the letter out before the Lord. When Mary and Martha saw that their beloved brother Lazarus was sick, they sent word to the Lord.
When trouble comes your way, cast it on Him. Spread it out before Him. Call on Him. As the Scriptures say, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 nkjv).
Most of us would like to avoid the valleys of life, so to speak, but there are some lessons we learn there that we cannot learn anywhere else.
God doesn’t promise to keep us out of all trouble. But He does promise to be with us in the midst of it. It’s a great thing to know that when the Lord lets His children go through a fiery trial, He always keeps an eye on them and an eye on the thermostat.
Copyright (c) 2017 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
From Sanctuary by David Jeremiah
Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God.
When we meet people for the first time, frequently in addition to stating our name we will identify our occupation or profession. Our identity is closely linked to what we do.
Paul introduced himself in the book of Romans by stating, “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God.”
Paul saw everything in his life through the lens of his slavery to Christ. Outwardly, he wrote as a slave of Caesar, but inwardly he considered himself a bondslave to Jesus Christ. To Paul the termservant w as a title of dignity and humility. There was no greater position than to be a servant of Jehovah God.
We all would do well to remember that God did not save us to become sensations, but rather to become servants.
©2002, 2011 David Jeremiah
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. – >1 Timothy 6:12
In the Bible, the word “confess” means “to speak the same thing.” So when it tells us to confess, it means we’re to say the same thing God says–to agree with Him–about the attitudes and actions of our lives.
As you can see, then, confession has two aspects: speaking the truth about ourselves and the truth about God.
For example, if we’re confessing greed, we can also confess God’s promise to supply our needs. The Bible says the same God who takes care of you will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to you in Christ Jesus.
“We own up to minor failings, but only so as to convince others that we have no major ones.” – La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680)
Bible Fun Fact: The word eternity is mentioned only once in the KJV: Isaiah 57:15.
This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant doesn’t know what his lord does. But I have called you friends, for everything that I heard from my Father, I have made known to you. John 15:12 WEB
Once while having dinner at a friend’s house, there was a lady there that we met for the first time who was an in-law to an in-law. She was extremely nosey, and began prying into everyone’s business at the table and giving them ‘life tips.’ Eventually she turned her attention to Sylvia and I.
After being thoroughly questioned about our relationship and family members, I began to feel like we were being interrogated. She was apparently farming fresh gossip to use later. I ended the conversation as politely as I could, because this stranger was not my friend, they had no stake in my life, and I had no reason to answer their questions.
So does the Lord with His truths. He will not cast His pearls before pigs (Matthew 7:6). He does not share His precious, life giving truths with unbelievers or mockers. When they read the Bible, they will find exactly what they expect to find. That is why so many people just don’t get the Bible. The servant does not know what the Master is doing, but the friend does. Jesus said that we are His friends, if we follow His commandments.
It all begins with a relationship with Jesus. As you focus on drawing close to God and talking to Him everyday, your understanding will grow. You can read the same verse seventy times and not understand it, then suddenly one day it will click and make perfect sense. Grow in your prayer life and relationship, and you will also grow in your understanding of His word. Understanding His word, depends on how well you know Him.
Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for sharing Your wisdom and knowledge with me. I look to You Lord, my help comes from You. Grow my understanding of Your word. Guide my steps and help me make the right decisions, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.
Note: Good morning! For those how may have missed the announcement in our newsletter, we have a new book available called “Forty Days of Fasting”. It contains a detailed teaching on the principles of fasting, along with a forty-day devotional that you can follow along during a fast, or to inspire you. The book includes both Biblical stories about fasting as well as personal testimonies. Here is the link to find the book: Forty Days of Fasting
Then David said in his heart, ‘Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul.’ 1 Samuel 27:1
The thought in David’s heart at this time was a false thought, because he certainly had no ground for thinking that God’s anointing him by Samuel was intended to be left as an empty, unmeaning act. On no occasion had the Lord deserted His servant; he had often been placed in perilous positions, but not one instance had occurred in which divine intervention had not delivered him. The trials to which he had been exposed had been varied; they had not assumed one form only, but many–yet in every case He who sent the trial had also graciously ordained a way of escape. David could not put his finger on any entry in his diary and say of it, “Here is evidence that the Lord will forsake me,” for the entire course of his past life proved the very reverse. He should have argued from what God had done for him that God would be his defender still.
But is it not in the same way that we doubt God’s help? Is it not mistrust without a cause? Have we ever had the shadow of a reason to doubt our Father’s goodness? Hasn’t His loving-kindness been marvelous? Has He ever once failed to justify our trust? Our God has never left us at any time. We have had dark nights, but the star of love has shone out amid the blackness; we have been in tough battles, but over our head He has held high the shield of our defense. We have gone through many trials but never to our detriment, always to our advantage; and the conclusion from our past experience is that He who has been with us in six troubles will not forsake us in the seventh.
What we have known of our faithful God proves that He will keep us to the end. Let us not, then, reason contrary to the evidence. How can we ever be so ungenerous as to doubt our God? Lord, throw down the Jezebel of our unbelief, and let the dogs devour it.
Recently the Lord has been speaking to me about the kingdom of God, breakthrough and increase. The Lord has been saying to me that kingdom people are about to receive kingdom increase that is designed for kingdom breakthrough. The Lord is setting us up to be able to go get the harvest and bring them in to disciple them. We are about to see pioneers and forerunners lead ministries that will bring in a harvest and then bring Reformation to them. The Lord has been stirring my heart to preach and teach the exact message Jesus taught which was the kingdom of God.
Luke 4:43 says, “But He said to them, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also, for this is why I was sent.'” It is time that we start preaching the same message Jesus and the apostles taught. They walked in great power and authority and brought breakthrough and increase everywhere they went. They preached the kingdom of God for kingdom purposes.
Many people in this next season will receive an increase in their life spiritually, physically, financially and emotionally. These increases are for kingdom breakthrough and kingdom purposes. Yes God loves you and wants you healed and set free! But don’t just think this increase in your life is for only you. Everything God is doing and will do is to advance His kingdom in and through your life in this hour. Jesus prayed in Matthew 6:10, “Your kingdom come;
Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Jesus is at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and I! We must find out what Heaven is saying over our lives, ministries, businesses, churches, cities and nations. Now is the time for kingdom Increase! We must make sure we steward the increase properly.
Proverbs 4:25-27 says, “Let your eyes look right on, and let your eyelids look straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or to the left; remove your foot from evil.”
In this upcoming season, we need to be laser focused on the things of the Lord. Do not allow circumstances or situations to get you off track. When breakthrough comes, we must make sure we are ready to walk in the breakthrough and steward it well. Don’t wear yourself out worrying. Your breakthrough is coming. Be confident in the faithfulness of God so that when your breakthrough comes, you’re no too tired to walk in it! Remember, you don’t get stronger in the good times; rather, you grow the most during seasons of trials, tests and tribulation. Warfare seasons are meant to strengthen us so we can receive our breakthrough.
Sometimes the breakthrough is simply the end of a process God was taking you through toward a certain destination! You must learn to endure and learn from the process. Don’t sit around and cry or complain. You won’t learn what God needs to teach you for your next level assignment. If you don’t break, you will have your breakthrough! God will equip you in the hard times, these times will be full of pressure, but you will come out ready for your next season. Your breakthrough is at hand!
Don’t look at where you are; look at where you’re going. Make sure you are connected to the right people in this season. Surround yourself with only those who will help you walk in the purposes and plans God has over your life. Hebrews 6:12 says, “So that you may not be lazy, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” The hour we are in is a special time for the body of Christ. We must make sure the people around us are spiritually strong. Grow close to the ones who have been through hard times and followed God all the way through until they got their breakthrough. Align yourself with people who stay in the battle until they inherit the promises and the purpose that God has designed for them!
Second Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the Lord move about on all the earth to strengthen the heart that is completely toward Him.” Whenever God finds someone who has made their relationship with Him the most important thing, He will show Himself strong to that person. These are the ones who are usually on the cutting edge of what God is saying over regions. These are the people who always have a fresh song or word that is being released. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” So many people are not tapping into the promises God has for them because they really don’t have a proper understanding about the miraculous power God has given us. We must understand that heaven is the place of creation, and Earth is the place that it’s manifested. When we get our hearts in proper alignment with what the Lord is saying, we will start to see this kingdom breakthrough flood every part of our lives.
John 15:4 says, “Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, neither can you, unless you remain in Me.” The Lord is looking for the ones who will receive a word from Him and hang on to that word no matter what comes. We must hold tightly to the word of God, not what the critics may say and ignore the situations that are trying to destroy your purpose. The Lord longs for the person whose heart is dependent on Him. Psalm 143:9 says, “Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; I flee unto You for my protection.”
I feel strongly in my spirit that we are about to start walking in the fullness of God. As believers, we are about to understand the authority and power that is available to us. Ephesians 3:19-20 in the Passion Translation says this, “And [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself]. Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us.”
Luke 10:19 (MEV) says, “Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you.” What are we doing with this great authority and power that God has given us? We have delegated authority to change and shift every atmosphere that we walk into. Luke 9:1-2 says, “Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” When we, the children of God, can truly grasp the power that is available to us, we will start to see breakthrough and an extreme increase over people’s lives for the advancement of the kingdom of God.
Ephesians 6:10 in the Passion Translation says, “Now finally, my beloved ones, be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. Stand victorious with the force of his explosive power flowing in and through you.” God brings His explosive power into us so that we can understand the authority that has been given to us. Then we are supposed to let the power within us leak out into every single part of our lives and onto every person we come in contact with.
The apostle Paul understood the power of walking in the fullness of God. Romans 15:29 (MEV) says, “And I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.” Paul was completely convinced that when he visited a group of people, the gifts of the Spirit would be manifested. No matter what the people needed, Paul felt confident in his walk with God that the fullness of God would be present to minister to the people. Paul’s life was one that was 100 percent completely devoted to God. Romans 1:11 says, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be strengthened.”
Paul had such a relationship with the Lord that when he went to minister, the impartation of the gifts of the Spirit of God would manifest themselves in the lives of the people he ministered to. Paul knew they would receive these gifts and keep them until the end. We must understand that this delegated authority and power that God has given us is so real and necessary for today. Activate the kingdom of God that is already inside of you, and let it bring the kingdom increase into your life for kingdom breakthrough!
Joe Joe Dawsonis the founder and apostle of ROAR Apostolic Network and ROAR Church Texarkana. Joe Joe is married to the love of his life, Autumn Dawson, and they have three children, Malachi, Judah and Ezra. The Dawsons live and teach a lifestyle of revival and awakening. Their desire is to see every believer fulfill their God-given destiny and live life to the fullest in God. Joe Joe is also the author of Living Your God-Sized Dream and Recipe for Revival. To connect with Joe Joe or for more information, visitjoejoedawson.net.
“And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:18 NLT)
Thoughts for Today
Abandonment may not appear to be a form of family violence, but the impact it has on children and the grief and pain that often result prove that it is.
A parent’s absence leaves a hole in the children’s hearts . . . a hole that is difficult to heal. And when one parent is absent, the remaining parent tends to be overwhelmed and unavailable because raising a family is more work that one person can handle. This often leaves the child without the nurturing and intimacy of either parent.
On top of this, abandoned children usually wonder what they did to cause the parent to leave. Although reality clearly places the responsibility for the abandonment on the parent, abandoned children believe differently. They think they are responsible for everything.
Consider this …
We need our parents’ love. We need to know them and know about them so we can understand how they have influenced and affected us. Robert McGee says that without this kind of relationship, we develop an emotional hunger that is in many ways like physical hunger. It is compelling and demands satisfaction.
When we cannot meet this need through healthy channels, we sometimes use sin and self-destruction as a substitute. We must learn to turn to our heavenly Father to fill the void. He is our Father and His love is greater than the natural affections of a loving parent.
Did you experience abandonment as a child? Do you sense a “hole” in your life? An emotional hunger? There is only One who can satisfy that hunger. Turn to your heavenly Father. He loves you unconditionally. He will never leave you. He will never disappoint you. Trust in Him. Let Him fill you with healing and hope.
Father, I do sense an emotional hunger. I’ve tried to fill it in so many ways . . . but they have only been temporary solutions. And some made matters even worse. I believe you love me. I believe Jesus died on the cross for me and wants to meet all my needs. I’m ready to place my trust in Him. In His name . . .
Join us on the new C-Pop podcast where Taylor and Jessilyn discuss, debate and sometimes deride pop culture with a strong sense of humor and a focus on Christ. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.
Today’s culture has seen the denial of biology’s concept of sex and gender, with California going to the level of passing a law to punish caregivers who use incorrect pronouns. There are those who have suffered through hormone treatment, lied to in the name of access to what their doctors saw as “care.”
Two men, who are named on The Federalist as Paul and Taylor, recently shared their stories in the aptly titled “What Two Former Trans Men Want You To Know About All The Lies.”
Paul, who is now 38, worries about if he will even live to old age, and says that he’s “been forced into celibacy.” His detransition, which doctors told him he could not actually do, was full of physical and emotional pain.
The Benefits of Obedience
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
October 17, 2017
“This is what the Lord says-your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.'” Isaiah 48:17
My career has been in marketing and advertising. Early on, I learned to distinguish the difference between features and benefits. Features represent characteristics of a product or service. Benefits are those things that directly profit or benefit me by using the product or service. For instance, my new computer has incredible speed and lots of memory (feature). This allows me to do things more quickly and easily (benefit). People are more concerned about the benefits than the features.
God tells us in the above verse that there are some direct benefits to the features of His nature. He is a God who is committed to teaching His children in the way they should go. What is the real benefit of His teaching? He answers this in the next verse. “If only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Is. 48:18). The Lord tells us that the benefit of allowing God to teach us and lead us in the way is peace and righteousness. Here is a guaranteed promise from God. I often use guarantees in my advertising claims. Here is God’s immutable guarantee: You will have peace like a river and righteousness like the waves of the sea! What a great promise!
Are you trusting God with the very details of your life so that He can lead you in the way you should go? Are you allowing Him to teach you? Seek the Lord today for what He wants to teach you and allow Him to lead you, and you will ensure peace and righteousness in your life.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Lord our God, we thank you that you are so near to us that we may feel and know we are your children, your children who are in your hands with all that belongs to our earthly life, all our needs and temptations, all our efforts and pain. We come together to thank you, and our thanksgiving wins a victory over everything that makes life difficult for us. In this thanksgiving the harshness, crookedness, and injustice on earth cannot harm us. Protect us with your light, which gives us wisdom for all situations and which lifts us above everything that is base and meaningless and must pass away. Amen.
Caffeine for your conscience
Deliverance! A great theme of the Bible is that God is a God of deliverance who keeps his promises and faithfully shares his grace, mercy, and justice. Let this promise stir you to righteous living and then to cry out to God in all your troubles. One way to do this is to read through the Psalms regularly, letting these inspired words from so long ago offer a rich topography of prayer from which you can call to God. Whether you use the Psalms or not, however, cry out to God with the praises, questions, and wounds that life brings. Let his presence be real to you and your heart open to him.
Father, our world needs your deliverance. In your majesty and power, please destroy the plans of the wicked. In your mercy and grace, please raise up your people who find themselves facing hardship and trouble. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Read Ecclesiastes 5:9-20…
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. 11. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them? 12. The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep. 13. I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners, 14. or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when they have children there is nothing left for them to inherit. 15. Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands. 16. This too is a grievous evil: As everyone comes, so they depart, and what do they gain, since they toil for the wind? 17. All their days they eat in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger. 18. This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them for this is their lot. 19. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil- this is a gift of God. 20. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.
Work & Its Rewards…
In a conference for Christians who were 50 and older, we were talking about work. After we studied the last few verses of Ecclesiastes 5, one person said, ”I wish that someone had explained these verses to me when I was younger. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been so driven in my work. Maybe I would have relaxed more and let myself enjoy life.”
There is virtue in honest, hard work- no one would argue with that. But some Christians have the idea that work is all there is to life. To relax, to enjoy life, to spend a little of their hard-earned money somehow makes them feel guilty and lazy. So they keep driving themselves till they are stopped�often for health reasons.
The author of Ecclesiastes learned that it is ”good and fitting” for us to enjoy the benefits of our work (5:18). When he spoke of eating and drinking, he was talking about a joyous feast- a banquet with plenty of good food available and all the family gathered around to enjoy the festivities.
The Bible clearly teaches that God expects us to work (2 Th. 3:10). He also wants us to enjoy some of its rewards. Whether the Lord has blessed you with great riches or just enough to pay the bills, take time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
-David C. Egner
A Fatal Consequence Brings Great Fear
Some murmur if their sky is clear,
And wholly bright to view,
If one small speck of dark appear
In their great heaven of blue:
And some with thankful love are filled,
If but one streak of light,
One ray of God’s good mercy, gild
The darkness of their night.
R. C. TRENCH.
Habitual sufferers are precisely those who least frequently doubt the Divine benevolence, and whose faith and love rise to the serenest cheerfulness. Possessed by no idea of a prescriptive right to be happy, their blessings are not benumbed by anticipation, but come to them fresh and brilliant as the first day’s morning and evening light to the dwellers in Paradise. With the happy it is their constant peace that seems to come by nature, and to be blunted by its commonness,–and their griefs to come from God, sharpened by their sacred origin; with the sufferer, it is his pain that appears to be a thing of course, and to require no explanation, while his relief is reverently welcomed as a divine interposition, and, as a breath of Heaven, caresses the heart into melodies of praise.
Quote of the Day
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Get Ready for Spiritual Warfare?
When it comes to the Christian life, we will either gain or lose ground. We will either win or lose. But we have to be involved in the spiritual battle. Spiritual pacifists will be knocked down, because the Christian life is not a playground, but a battleground.
It is up to us to fight the good fight of faith. So we need to suit up and learn the principles from God’s Word that teach us how to be more than conquerors in Jesus Christ.
First, we need to put on the full armor of God as we engage in the spiritual battle.Ephesians 6:11 tells us, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (NKJV).
The phrase “put on” carries the idea of doing something once and for all. It speaks of permanence. The full armor of God is not something we put on and then take off again. We are to keep it on all the time.
Second, we need to be aware of the fact that Satan is not the equal of God. The devil would like us to think that whatever God can do, he can do, as though they were two sides of the same force.
Although Satan is a powerful spirit being, he is far from God’s equal. You see, God is omnipotent. God is omniscient. God is omnipresent. God can do anything that He wants to do, anywhere and anytime.
Satan is none of those things. He has limitations as to what he can do.
Third, we need to realize that the devil will primarily attack us in the realm of the imagination. The apostle Paul mentioned this in 2 Corinthians 11:3: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (NKJV).
The devil knows that if he can get us to think about something, we are only a step away from actually doing it. He knows that our minds are “command central.” It is here that we reason. It is here that we remember. It is here that we dream.
Our minds are the hard drive, the place where everything originates. Satan knows that it is only a short step from a thought to an act.
Last, we need to understand that the devil works with two very close allies: the world and the flesh. “The world” is the world system that is hostile toward God. It is living for personal gratification, our own will above all else.
Then there is the flesh. When the Bible speaks of the flesh, it speaks more of the depraved, fallen human nature in which we are gratifying sensual appetites.
PROJECT PEARL PERFUME BIBLES
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.Psalm 19:10
In 1977, Peter Xu became the leader of the Born-Again Movement—a large house church network today in China. Ten years ago he was visiting in the United States and shared a devotional at the Open Doors-USA office. When he saw a sample of a Project Pearl Bible on the shelf, he became very animated. Then a long story developed:
After Project Pearl Bibles were stored in depositories in southern China in the early 1980s, Peter Xu sent three men every month by train to the depository contacts to bring back about 1,000 Bibles per trip for his growing house church movement. One month the three men were discovered with their Bible load by the local police of the depository city. The police threw the 1,000 Project Pearl Bibles into the cesspool of the public latrine and the three men were interrogated and jailed for the weekend.
Monday they were released and commanded to return straight home and never return. Instead they waited inside the latrine until darkness fell. Then they climbed down into the filthy cesspool of human waste carefully retrieving each of the foul smelling books. They washed them off under the local water tap and carried them home. There they dried them out, sprayed them with perfume and circulated them through their network. Such was the hunger and importance of every copy of God’s Word.
Project Pearl certainly had an impact on the future printing of Bibles inside China which continues today. Shortly after the project was completed, China’s Three Self Patriotic Movement announced the first official printing of Bibles inside the country. Noted author and China watcher, David Aikman, wrote in his book, Jesus in Beijing, “[Project] Pearl had a major long-term impact on the overall availability of Bibles in China.”
But more important are the personal evaluations from Chinese believers; “These gifts are more precious than gold!”
RESPONSE: Today I will treasure God’s Word as more valuable than any precious metal or gem.
PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, that Your precious Word is being made available in countries where it is not valued by those in authority.
Please help me to understand something. I’m not a Muslim, but I can speak about Islam. I’m not gay, but I can address LGBT issues. I’m not an atheist, but I can address atheism. Yet when I weigh in constructively on racial issues in America, I’m told I have no right to speak or, worse still, I’m accused of racism. Why is that?
Why do I get comments like this on YouTube after taking issue with Trevor Noah’s TV commentary about the NFL protests? “Disrespect the flag please!!! Dr Brown police disrespect Black Lives Everyday. So please hand in your doctrate [sic].” Seriously?
Lest you misjudge the purpose of this column, I’m not whining and complaining, and I’m not portraying myself as the victim. (Yes, I can feel the hostile comments coming already!) Rather, I’m calling out a dangerous blind spot, challenging my critics to look in the mirror before they throw out charges of racism.
A dear black friend of mine sent me the Noah video, saying it expressed the frustrations of many black Americans who feel that white Americans tell them when it’s OK to protest. So, I watched it ready to learn and be informed, but I was shocked by the gaping holes in Noah’s presentation and decided to do a video response. In that response, I also suggested that there was a better way to draw attention to grievances than protesting during the anthem.
What’s so ugly about doing that? And what in my response to Noah merited a response like this, from a black American? “Dr Brown is a CINO…..christian in name only…” (on Facebook, also in response to the same video). What, sir, were you watching?
Or what provokes comments like this? “Once again white Christians supporting racism just the same way their ancestors did during slavery and how their fathers did during the civil rights era.” Supporting racism? Are you kidding?
And what about this? “I have noticed a pattern of Brown getting frothy and slobbery over almost all issues that pertain to systemic racism against blacks, including the disproportionate incarceration rates and instances of police brutality. Interesting indeed.”
Did this viewer forget that just a few days before posting the Noah video, I had drawn attention to these inequities in our criminal justice system? Has he forgotten my other articles raising similar issues?
It is because I want the concerns of African-Americans to be heard that I have stated that protests during the anthem create more hostility than sympathy. What is racist and unchristian about this?
I’m not claiming to be the voice of black America (obviously), nor am I claiming to be the spokesman for victims of social injustice, whatever their race or ethnicity may be. But I’m an ally and a friend. I’m a fellow American. And, within the faith, I’m a fellow believer. Why must I be silent when it comes to African-American issues?
As someone who appreciates positive revolutionary movements, I often quote the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and I have learned much from the strategies of the Civil Rights movement. I also have dear friends and coworkers in the African-American church with whom I share great solidarity. Why, then, am I not allowed to give constructive input into issues concerning black Americans?
For years I have denounced the black genocide (speaking of the high percentage of abortions in the African-American community, which many trace back to Margaret Sanger’s philosophy of eugenics). When there have been accusations of police brutality or unfair treatment of blacks, I have used my radio show as a platform for discussion, with many African- American callers providing valuable commentary. Why, then, must I withhold my own viewpoint? Why am I not allowed to speak?
A black friend of mine with direct involvement in the NFL anthem controversy has come to me for counsel, wanting my input on the best strategies for players to adapt. Yet when I share my thoughts in public—the same thoughts I have shared with him in private—I’m blasted as anti-black or racist or speaking out of turn. Is not this a form of racism—the criticism of another’s viewpoint based on the color of their skin?Claudette Colvin, who previously refused to give up her seat on a bus.
We know that the Civil Rights movement was calculated and tactical. That’s why Rosa Parks was chosen as the face of the fight against segregation rather than 15-year-old Claudette Colvin, who previously refused to give up her seat on a bus.
That’s why college-aged blacks protesting the segregation of Nashville lunch counterswere given instructions on how to dress and behave. All negative stereotypes had to be crushed. Why, then, should these lessons be discarded with today’s protests?
I’m not saying the protests should stop, and I’m not saying that there are no reasons for concern. I’m simply suggesting that there’s a better way to get the message across.
In response, comments like this are posted: “Wow, you come off like a stereotypical right-wing echo chamber.”
Really? Read my recent articles on the protests, watch the Noah video again, and tell me if there’s a shred of truth to this claim.
How about this? “Stick to Christian issues or at least political issues that have a more direct Christian implication. You spend far too much time acting on behalf of the Republican party and not what you’re actually good at.”
What? Concerns about social injustice are not “Christian issues”? And I’m acting on behalf of the party that I frequently criticize and fault for compromise and inaction?
A black pastor wrote, “Videos like this is the reason I don’t listen to or support this show anymore. He is always anti-black in almost all his videos. He more identifies with being a white American than being a believer. (I know he’s Jewish.)”
My dear brother, I challenge you to take the time to watch my relevant videos again, which are posted as an ally and friend, and then ask yourself if there’s not bias in your own heart.
But this pastor is not alone. Consider these comments:
“I’m bigoted against white racists, especially the cowardly ones who hide behind statements like ‘they should find another way to protest.’ I’m OK with that.” (So, I’m a ” cowardly white racist” if I offer constructive advice to make a protest more effective?)
“If you take a collection of all his videos on the matter, he never takes a non-bias approach. Just one that supports a republican or conservative view point.” (In other words, I’m biased if I take issue with extremists in Black Lives Matter and say, “Separate the value of black lives from the extremes of the Black Lives Matter movement.”)
“Don’t talk to me about disrespecting the flag when you support a president who is cool with people protesting while holding the American flag next to the Nazi and Confederate flag chanting Jews will not replace us.” (You actually think that, as a Jew myself, born and raised in New York, not Virginia, that I would tolerate for a split second the president approving of something like this?)
“I bet if players were taking a knee in protest of how bad Jewish people are treated by the Muslim world ‘Dr’. Brown would have a different take. He is becoming a joke.” (Actually, I’d give the same advice: Find a better way to protest, one that creates solidarity rather than anger and hostility.)
And on and on it goes.
So, here’s my challenge to all those accusing me of racism because of my constructive input on the NFL protests: Check to see if you’re judging me through racially tinted glasses. I assure you I’ve done the same thing many times over, and I’ll continue to do so as long as I’m in this world.
Dr. Michael Brown(www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.
What a roller-coaster ride! While on a ministry trip to Singapore in March 2014, for no known reason, I was hit with horrible pain in my lower back and intense pain in my legs. This resulted in a microscopic disc surgery between L5 and S1 the following June due to a herniated or ruptured disc. Months passed by as I diligently engaged in physical therapy, people prayed and together, we were trusting for a full recovery. But roadblocks persisted, pain levels increased and my condition deteriorated.
This resulted in a “decompression and fusion surgery” on Feb. 1, 2016. I worked very diligently with a personal trainer and added other alternative healing approaches. Despite all my many efforts, the sciatic nerve inflammation continued. The neurosurgeon eventually stated that there was no cure and that the nerve damage would require pain management for the rest of my life. In 2016, I was forced to cancel my traveling public ministry for six to seven months. This was quite a lifestyle change and dramatically impacted the usual income streams of our ministry. Mercy! It was an unexpected twist and turn on the roller-coaster ride of recovery and restoration.
Being persevering and prayerful, I set another goal of springing back into action at the beginning of 2017. Month by month slow progress was being made as I gave myself to an anti-inflammatory diet and introduced other alternative approaches. But then toward the end of August, the bottom seemed to fall out.
Transparently, these past few weeks have been one of the darkest periods of time I have ever known. A recent CT scan was somewhat inconclusive but continued to reveal inflammation of the sciatic nerve and some additional complications that must be addressed in the next few weeks.
The “Come Back Kid” in me just keeps getting shoved back down. The accumulation of persistent pain, side effects of medications, and the impact of delayed answers to prayer have taken a toll. With screaming pain and very little energy reserves left, I have wiped all public ministry for the months of September and October off the screen. I do not know what comes next.
I am not a quitter, but I must make significant changes in my life and ministry. Through prayer and consultation with my board and team, I am still determining what those changes need to look like. But I am seeking the Lord and believe that God still has a wonderful plan for my life (just like He does for yours).
My core values are still in place. Prayer make a difference. On the cross, Jesus declared, “It is finished.” The Word of God declares, “By His stripes, I am healed.” Yes, I am one day closer to my miracle. And a miracle is what I need.
Please keep praying for me, for my family and for the staff of God Encounters Ministries to have provision, clear direction and wisdom for each situation. Please agree with me in the following prayer points and declarations:
Agree in these Five Declarations:
Agree in these Five Practical Prayer Points:
While the financial need for our ministry is substantial, we are not suggesting a specific financial contribution or asking for a certain number of donors. I simply believe that together in Jesus, we make a great team!
Would you pray and ask the Lord what you are to contribute to the James Goll Personal Support Fund? All donations from this appeal are tax-deductible contributions in the United States and will go both towards my personal salary, health insurance and on the going medical expenses. As a statement of gratitude, for any gift we will send you a free copy of my Understanding a Radical Faith in a 4 MP3 downloadable format.
So, please just listen and obey Him.
Recovery is a marathon not a sprint. I must keep this in mind as I gaze into to my immediate future and the direction of this dear ministry. I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I look over my 42-plus years of full time vocational ministry. What a blessing! What a privilege to be an ambassador for Christ Jesus!
As I observe the times and the seasons, what I realize, is that I have never been able to accomplish the Lord’s assignments without the prayers and support of people just like you. Thanks for your love, prayers and support. Remember, together in Jesus, we make a great team!
Dr. James Gollis the founder of Encounters Network, Prayer Storm and helps carry on the work of Compassion Acts. For information on his online school visit: geteschool.com. James continues to live in Tennessee and is a joyful father and grandfather today.
The conductor raised his baton, then nodded toward the orchestra. As the melodies of Bach’s Oratorio filled the cathedral, I waited for our cue. In the soprano section, we stood in matching black concert dresses, voices raised with joy.
As we sang, I thought about my dad. How he would have enjoyed hearing such a beautiful production! One year before, he had stepped into eternity. At 85, he had lived a full life; yet I still missed him and the musical connection we shared.
Then the still small voice whispered, “He’s here, up in the balcony, on the left.”
I could not see him. But as tears filled my eyes and the music swelled to its crescendo, I knew Dad heard me, sitting in that empty chair, balcony left.
Can our loved ones look down on us and occasionally visit? I believe the answer is yes. Not just from my experiences, but also from others who have reported similar incidents. We are told about the thin veil between heaven and earth, and scripture bears witness to the possibility of movement from one to the other.
In the Old Testament, we read the story of King Saul, who asked to speak to the prophet Samuel. Granted, Saul made the connection through the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28), but God allowed that experience. Samuel asked, “Why have you summoned me?” He and Saul discussed the kingdom and Samuel critiqued the embattled king. Saul asked for advice and God allowed it through his deceased servant, Samuel.
We are cautioned in Deuteronomy 18:10 not to seek out sorcerers and witchcraft. But the passage in First Samuel shows it is possible for someone who has passed to revisit earth and even speak to us.
Reverend Stella Ruiz, an ordained minister and bereavement coordinator for Hospice, writes, “I have listened to many family members share how they have experienced the presence of their loved one. After a loved one dies, many family members yearn for just a touch, a scent, a sign, to know their loved one is alright: the soft smell of the loved one’s perfume, physically feeling the loved one’s arms around the family member, or lights turned off without any reason. The experiences are precious and unique, but can also be painful after the special moment has ended.”
Several years ago, I met a remarkable woman in a nursing home. In her 80s, Cora loved reminiscing about her life during World War II, the Depression, and the rebuilding of the United States.
Cora shared with me that her son, Buddy, loved his dog. They often played in the backyard, cavorting around the perimeter of the yard, jumping over a tree stump, and playing peek-a-boo under the sheets drying on the clothesline.
Cora’s precious Buddy died in the flu epidemic of 1918. She grieved long and hard. Then one day she heard the dog barking. She looked in the backyard and saw something that had not happened since Buddy became ill: The dog cavorted around the perimeter of the yard, jumped over the tree stump, then played peek-a-boo under the sheets drying on the clothesline. Cora knew the dog was playing with her invisible son, and a piece of her fractured heart began to heal.
A common argument asks, “Why would someone in heaven watch what is happening on earth? That would simply make them sad.”
But what if God protects the deceased from the sadness and allows only what brings them, as well as us, joy?
We all need to be encouraged. God is faithful in providing that boost of encouragement exactly when we need it. Can’t the God who knows our hearts determine when and how to send a message of hope? Can’t he “save” our souls with a glimpse into his beautiful world and the affirmation that our loved ones are with him?
“We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1).
The use of the word “cloud” implies a different entity – possibly above us and enveloping us. Within that cloud stands those gone before, cheering us on, praising God for our progress as we “run with endurance the race set before us.”
Since we are told guardian angels walk with us and minister to us (Hebrews 1:14), is it not possible that the spiritual realm around us might also include those who have passed?
On the Desiring God website, John Piper addresses the topic: “God will give the saints whatever measure of knowledge they need for the greatest experience of happiness in God. If they need to know something for their fullest experience of joy in God, they will know it. He won’t withhold what is needed for their happiness in him.” http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/do-loved-ones-in-heaven-look-down-on-us
In the New Testament, we read about the rich man and Lazarus. Luke 16:22-26records the story of how the rich man looked up and saw the poor man, Lazarus, at peace in heaven. The rich man realized too late his mistake in not believing and not caring for the poor folks who journeyed through his life. He asked Abraham to send Lazarus as witness to his family, to warn them before it was too late. Abraham declined the request, but this passage underscores the fact that a deceased Abraham conversed across the spiritual divide.
If those who suffer in hell can look upward, is it not also possible – under God’s tutelage – for the reverse direction?
In Matthew 17, the Transfiguration account underscores how deceased saints may suddenly appear on earth. Jesus is joined by Moses and Elijah, who talk with the Son of God. It is a moment of instruction for Peter, James and John, as well as a reminder to us that the saints in glory – when God wills it – can travel back to earth.
This July, my best friend suffered a sudden illness and left for heaven. After the funeral, I holed up for a while, journaling through my grief and trying to find some sense in my world without Deb.
One night, I sat on my bed with my Bible open, crying out the raw emotions of grief. Then I sensed Deb behind me, her hand on my shoulder – letting me know she was okay.
I did not actually see Deb or feel her in the physical sense; yet somehow just knowing she was in the room reminded me that our friendship continued into eternity and beyond what I could physically experience. As in life, so in death, her presence was a comfort.
We can’t know everything that happens after death – and truthfully – we probably don’t want to know everything. Yet I believe God is so loving, he sometimes allows us to “see” or “feel” into another realm to remind us he is omnipresent and always caring.
Years ago, I read an anonymous quote that still encourages me today: “Since God is with us, and our loved ones are with Him – then they’re not very far away.”
RJ Thesman is an author and a certified writing coach. She writes from the heartland of Kansas where she lives with her adult son and an elderly cat. You can follow RJ at https://rjthesman.net/.
A Prayer for Keeping Family Memories Alive
By Liz Curtis Higgs
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 (NIV)
Every time we visited my in-laws’ home, overflowing with family heirlooms, my mother-in-law reminded me, “Someday all this will be yours.”
I always smiled, assuring her that day was very far away.
But that day finally came. My mother-in-law, Mary Lee, and then my father-in-law, Harold, passed away one after the other, leaving little time for our hearts to recover.
The certainty that Mary Lee and Harold are at peace in their heavenly home is a great comfort to our family. But in the midst of our grief, we still had the matter of their earthly home to deal with. Not just the house itself, but all the stuff inside it.
My husband is an only child, which means no arguing with siblings over who gets what. But it also means everything is his, along with the burden of deciding where it’s all going to go.
Some items were easily handled. Harold’s collection of canvas belts — all 55 of them — were donated to a local thrift store. The bird clock that tweeted on the hour ended up at a friend’s house. Two karaoke machines went to Goodwill.
When we watched the home inventory video my in-laws had recorded, I got teary seeing Mary Lee on camera and hearing Harold’s voice behind the lens, as together they walked through the house, describing their most prized possessions and the stories behind them.
There was Great-great-grandmother’s big kitchen spoon, nearly rusted through, and Aunt Sudie’s wooden butter paddle. “These things ought to stay in the family,” Mary Lee said firmly, her accent from the eastern hills of Kentucky punctuating each word.
I was honored to be entrusted with such treasures, and I knew right where I’d display them in our old farmhouse. The oak desk inherited from Aunt Punch would fit nicely in our guestroom, and even the low chair “where Grandmother sat to trim her toenails” would find a worthy spot.
But as the video continued, the refrain “This should stay in the family” began to weigh on my heart. Glass candy dishes. Painted vases. Place settings for twelve. Formal silverware. Kitchen flatware. Table linens.
“I remember my grandmother pouring milk out of this pitcher,” Mary Lee said fondly, pointing to something she clearly cherished. I confess, the simple plate for their wedding cake was dearer to me, though I was hard-pressed to think of where I would put it.
Mary Lee waved her hand across her collection of antique salt cellars. “I don’t know what you’re going to do with these when we’re gone.” I sighed, agreeing with her completely.
What were we going to do with it all?
We already had enough of our own stuff, and had toyed with the idea of downsizing. How could we possibly incorporate their furnishings too? The bedroom set? The dining room table with matching chairs?
Still, these were my husband’s parents. We loved them and wanted to honor their memory, just as the Bible urges us, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12) Did that mean bringing everything they loved into our home?
As I watched my in-laws on the video, sharing tender recollections from their past, I realized what they were truly saying: “Keep our family memories alive.” That’s the point. It’s never about the stuff, not in any generation.
So, we’re choosing each keepsake with care, knowing wherever their household goods land, we’ll always have the far richer inheritance they passed on to us: their hard-earned wisdom, their faithfulness to their marriage vows, and their deep and abiding love for God.
Heavenly Father, we’re grateful for the generations who’ve gone before us and even more grateful for their enduring influence on our children. Help us honor their memories in ways that matter. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
It’s Time for You To Start Confessing ‘Good Things’ About Yourself!
That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
What kind of things do you say about yourself? Do you speak well of yourself, or are you hyper-critical of your appearance, your weight, your intelligence, your talents, your skills, and every other aspect of who you are as a person?
I used to be so hyper-critical of myself that one day the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “How dare you continually talk so badly about yourself after the good work I’ve done inside you. Don’t you know how marvelously I created you to be in Jesus Christ? Quit speaking so negatively of yourself, and start acknowledging every good thing that is in you.”
I didn’t realize how badly I was speaking of myself until the Holy Spirit brought it to my attention. But after He spoke to me, I started noticing every time something evil slipped out of my mouth about myself. I was stunned to see how many times I did it! I became painfully aware that my own mouth had become one of my greatest enemies. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I made a decision to quit speaking such foul things and to start aligning my mouth with what God’s Word declared me to be.
Paul said we need to speak good things about ourselves! In Philemon 1:6, he said, “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” Today I want to especially draw your attention to the part of the verse that says, “…May become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.”
Even though God has done great things in you and has planned a powerful future for you, it is up to you to activate His blessings in your life! This is why Paul says, “That the communication of your faith may become effectual….”
The word “effectual” is the Greek word energeo. It is where we get the word energy. However, in this verse, the word energeo carries the idea of something that has suddenly become energized or activated. Paul’s words could actually be rendered, “That the communication of your faith may become energized and activated….”
Let me give you an example to help you understand what this word energeo means in the context of this verse. An automobile may be filled with enough fuel to drive a long distance, but it won’t go anywhere until someone puts the key into the ignition and then turns the key. The moment that key is turned, the spark plugs are sparked, which fires up the engine. Once the engine has been activated, the potential in that car is ready to be unleashed.
The car always has the capability of moving, but if it is never activated, it sits silent in the driveway. No matter how much fuel is in the tank or how much horsepower that car possesses, its power and potential will never be realized until someone turns the key in the ignition.
Now let’s apply this to you. In Philemon 1:6, the apostle Paul writes that “every good thing” has been placed in you by Jesus Christ. Think of it – He saved you, healed you, redeemed you, and protected you. He has given you a sound mind; He has given you the mind of Christ; He has imparted gifts and talents to you; and He has planned a future for your life that is simply glorious. You are loaded with phenomenal potential that is just waiting to be activated!
You may say, “Yes, well, I know that the Bible says I’ve been given all those good things, but I don’t feel like any of that is true about me! I feel like such a defeat. Even though the Word says I’m healed, the reality is that I feel sick. Even though God’s Word says I have a sound mind, I continually feel like I don’t have control of my thought life. And in spite of the fact the Bible says God has blessed me with gifts and talents, I feel like a dope who has nothing to offer to this world. There is a big gap between what the Bible says about me and what I feel about me!”
My friend, you are like a car that is loaded with enough fuel and horsepower to get anywhere you need to go. But for that potential in you to be released, you have to hold the right key in your hand.
Furthermore, it isn’t enough for you to just possess the key. You have to put that key into the “ignition” and turn it so the latent potential that resides inside you will be ignited. When you turn the key in the ignition, suddenly the potential you possess in Jesus Christ is supernaturally ignited, activated, energized, and released inside you!
Paul says, “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” The word “acknowledging” in this verse holds the answer to the questions above. This word is from the Greek word epignosis, which describes a well-instructed, intensive, deep knowledge of the facts.
The word epignosis pictures a person who knows his facts like a professional. This is a person so sure of his information that when he speaks, he does so with confidence and boldness. He has no reason to be ashamed or to fear that others may accuse him of being incorrect because he is well instructed and has an intensive, deep knowledge of the facts.
But how did he obtain such knowledge of the facts? No one becomes this knowledgeable accidentally.
For example, consider the book you hold in your hands. The information contained in this book didn’t come to me while I was sleeping. It is the result of many years of study and very hard work. I have passionately applied myself to understanding the Greek New Testament so I could share these truths confidently and boldly with others.
To become astute requires study, meditation, digging deep into truth, and applying oneself to know the facts inside and out. The result of this hard work is such a thorough knowledge of the facts that a person has a strong confidence regarding what he says or writes.
In my case, I am confident of what I have written in this book because I have put so much study into it. You could say that I have an epignosis of this information.
Now Paul uses this same idea when he says we are to “acknowledge” every good thing that has been placed in us by Christ Jesus. Of course, this means we are to confess the truth about ourselves – but before we can confess the truth, we must first know the truth!
Because the word epignosis depicts a well-instructed, intensive, deep knowledge of the facts, Paul is letting you know that it is essential for you to possess:
If you don’t know the facts of who you are in Jesus Christ, it’s time for you to get serious about digging into the Bible until you know these truths like a professional. The truth about who you are in Jesus Christ is the key to your victory. You should study, read, listen to teaching material – in other words, you should use every available resource to discover what God’s Word says you’ve been given in Jesus Christ. This knowledge is the key that will set you free. However, merely possessing the key won’t activate these realities in your life. You must put the key into the ignition and turn it, sparking these truths into manifestation in your life!
A key in the ignition switch does no good unless it is turned. Likewise, the truth in your life does no good until it is spoken! The moment you open your mouth and start confessing the good things that are in you by Jesus Christ, a supernatural connection is made between your faith and all that Jesus has deposited inside you. At that moment, the gifts and treasures God has placed inside you become supernaturally activated. The confession of your mouth – your acknowledgement of the truth – is what sparks these spiritual blessings and causes them to become operative, activated, and manifested realities.
Sadly, many people who know the truth remain in bondage because they never align their mouths with the truth. Instead of speaking what God says about them, they ridicule themselves, put themselves down, and speak badly of themselves. They possess all the potential that God has placed inside them, but they never experience that potential because their mouths have never sparked and activated those spiritual blessings into becoming manifested realities.
To make these truths real in your life, you have to put the key in the ignition switch.
You see, it’s time for you to stop speaking so badly about yourself. Instead, you need to open your mouth and start acknowledging who you are in Jesus Christ! By acknowledging the basic truths of what you have been given in Jesus, you will release so much divine energy that it will radically transform your life. The recognition of these spiritual treasures that reside within you will pick you up, lift you high, and carry you right over into the realm of victory you desire!
So quit talking negatively about yourself, and begin to bring the words of your mouth into agreement with the truths God has deposited in your life.
You turn the key in the ignition by getting your mouth into agreement with God’s Word. And as you start speaking what God says about you, all your potential will start becoming a manifested reality!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I know I have been speaking badly about myself. When I hear my own words, even I can tell it’s wrong for me to speak so lowly about myself. You have done a great work in me, and I have kept myself bound by the words of my mouth. Forgive me for speaking so wrongly and for allowing myself to remain imprisoned in self-defeat. I am truly repentant for these actions, and I ask You to forgive me and to give me the power to change my behavior. Holy Spirit, I can only do this by Your power, so I am asking and expecting You to empower me to make these changes in my life and in my mouth!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I speak well of myself. I don’t batter myself with wrong or negative words. I agree with all that God’s Word declares me to be, and I speak these truths about myself. Every day I am getting more positive and more faith-filled, and my mouth is speaking what God says about me. As a result, I am getting better, freer, and I am stepping upward more boldly into the plan God has for me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
From One Year Devotional Prayer Book, Vol. II
Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Is the Cross of your Christianity offensive, or is your Christianity offensive to the Cross? There is a difference between sharing in the offense of the Cross and being offensive as a Christian. As we seek to follow Christ, we are going to be criticized. We will have enemies. When Jesus ministered to the least, the last, and the lost, He was criticized. The apostles had opposition everywhere they traveled. Jesus told His followers they could even expect to have enemies in their own family (Matthew 10:36).
Paul taught that believers are to “be of the same mind toward one another,” meaning that they ought to live their lives together. It means sharing the burdens and blessings of everyday life, not just exchanging friendly smiles and handshakes at church. If we are not able to get along with each other, how are we going to treat our enemies the right way? We need to be humble like Jesus, willing to share life with ordinary people. Believers are called to live on a higher plane and not return evil for evil. This higher plane requires love, because naturally we want to fight back. This life of peace requires faith, believing God can right every wrong. Lastly, this life requires hope, knowing that God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Reach for the higher plane. Ask God to make your heart like Christ’s—humble, loving, and peaceful.
©2010 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Order your own copy of One Year Devotional Prayer Book, Vol. II
Clarity Versus Trust
Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. – >Isaiah 50:10
When the philosopher and professor of ethics, John Kavanaugh, went to work for three months at the “house of the dying” in Calcutta, he was seeking an answer about how to spend the rest of his life. His first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him. “What do you want me to pray for?” she inquired.
He voiced his pressing burden: “Pray that I have clarity.” Mother Teresa firmly refused! When the bewildered Kavanaugh asked why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”
When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”
Are things in your life so clear that there’s no room to trust God?
“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. ” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Bible Fun Fact: A chariot imported from Egypt cost around 600 shekels of silver (1 Kings 10:29). That would be about $77,000.
Then his lord called him in, and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt, because you begged me. Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?’ His lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him. So my heavenly Father will also do to you, if you don’t each forgive your brother from your hearts for his misdeeds. Matthew 18:32 WEB
Mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm. Basically, it is not punishing them, even though they deserve it, even when they have really earned it, and it is well within your power to make them pay for it. It is turning the other cheek, when you would like to slap theirs.
Someone hurt me very badly once and I had to forgive them every day for a few years. Anytime that it came to mind, I forgave them again until one day, it no longer bothered me and I no longer thought about it. This one took a long time. Each time they came to mind I would say ‘Father, I forgive them for what they did.’ Eventually, it became real and I no longer comforted myself by thinking of their demise like Esau did with Jacob (Genesis 27:42).
Sitting right on top of the Ark of the Covenant was the mercy seat (Exodus 25:21). That is where God spoke from. Mercy is a big thing to the Lord and all through out the Bible you read about it. The Lord promises us that if we will show mercy, we will in turn be shown mercy (Matthew 5:7). It is an amazing promise, and it allows us to choose what is coming in our own life.
Forgiveness does not make you a doormat, and repeat offenders need to be dealt with in a peaceful manner. Who we allow to be a part of our lives is a choice that we make. Some people belong on this side of our door, others should be outside of it, with the door locked. Forgiveness does not mean that you are weak. It is a calculated, intelligent choice to recognize that someone deserves punishment, but so do we all.
God Almighty who created the universe, all powerful, holds our very life in His hands and can take it away instantly. He shows us mercy by forgiving us of our mistakes, but He did say that we have to forgive others, or that we would not be forgiven. Keep a clean slate. If you get the chance today to let someone off the hook, do so. The Lord will reward you by letting you off yours.
Prayer: Heavenly Father I choose to forgive those that have wronged me. I loose them and let them go free. I choose to show them mercy today because You told us to. Forgive me of my own sins and set me free from the chains that bind me, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.
Note: Happy Monday! The highlighted group of the week is the Haven of Hope, a place of refuge for anyone who is suffering from the effects of abuse. Abuse can come in various forms including physical, sexual, mental, and spiritual. The highest priority is your safety and that you feel the warmth of our Heavenly Father””s love while you rest, share, and connect with others who are walking a similar road. The group is set as private, which means only group members will see your posts. ALSO, the Creation Photographers fun theme is “If You Love It, Take a Picture of It”! As always, you are free to post anything else that inspires you, too! FINALLY, for those following along with our RHM Bible Study, the newest installment is available, covering Luke Chapter Six. For links to all of these areas and more, please see the Announcements at the top of our home page here: Announcements}
Jesus said to them, ‘come and have breakfast.’
In these words the believer is invited to enjoy a holy nearness to Jesus. “Come and eat” implies the same table, the same food, and perhaps it means to sit side by side, and even lean our head on the Savior’s shoulder. It is being brought into the banqueting-house, where the banner of redeeming love waves in welcome.
This invitation gives us a vision of union with Jesus, because Christ Himself is the only food that we can feast upon when we eat with Him. What union is this! It has a depth that reason cannot fathom. Ponder His words: “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”1
It is also an invitation to enjoy fellowship with the saints. Christians may differ on a variety of points, but they all have one spiritual appetite; and if we cannot all feel alike, we can all feed alike on the Bread of Life sent down from heaven. At the table of fellowship with Jesus we are one bread and one cup. As the loving cup goes around, we commit our lives to one another. Get nearer to Jesus, and you will find yourself linked more and more in spirit to all who like yourself are supported by the same heavenly manna. If we were nearer to Jesus, we would be nearer to one another.
We also see in these words the source of strength for every Christian. To look at Christ is to live; but for strength to serve Him, you must eat what He provides. We work too often in a sense of unnecessary weakness because we neglect this perception of the Master. None of us need to put ourselves on a low diet; on the contrary, we should fatten ourselves in the Gospel so that we may derive strength from it and extend every power to its limit in the Master’s service. Then if you would realize nearness to Jesus, union with Jesus, love to His people, and strength from Jesus, “come and have breakfast” with Him by faith.
“God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:5-6 NLT)
Thoughts for Today
Abandonment is a form of family violence. This week we will look at some of the problems it can cause. We will also look at the healing and hope that are available to its victims.
Mothers and fathers are both capable of abandoning their children. Although more fathers leave, more and more mothers are abandoning their family. “Though there are no hard numbers, reports would seem to indicate that the number of moms who actually do run away-or at least walk away-is increasing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of single fathers has been rising steadily, from more than 600,000 in 1982 to more than 2 million in 2011.” (CNN Opinion: Peggy Drexler)
In Father Hunger, Robert McGee suggests three types of absent parent:
Consider this …
Have you seen or experienced any of these situations in your life? Even as an adult, you may be suffering from the scars of childhood abandonment.
Though a parent may have abandoned you . . . perhaps even both parents . . . you are loved. You are valuable because you are loved by Jesus. And He promises that He will never leave you nor forsake you.
This week we will look at the healing and hope that only He can bring. He loves you unconditionally and wants to help you.
Father, though it was long ago, I still feel the pain of rejection and guilt because my parent left me. I need your help. In Jesus’ name . . .
When Insecurity Turns Evil
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
October 16, 2017
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.Romans 12:15
Saul was the King of Israel. David was in Saul’s army and beginning to build a reputation as a great warrior. One day when David came back from a battle, the women danced and sang: ” ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’ ” (1 Sam. 18:7).
Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” (1 Samuel 18:8)
This statement caused something to snap in King Saul. From this point on, Saul was never the leader God intended him to be. He allowed insecurity to drive his every decision. Insecurity leads to the need to control people and circumstances. The need to control leads to anger once we realize we are unable to control the circumstance. King Saul could not accept, much less rejoice, over David’s success. David’s life would never be the same, because Saul sought to kill David every chance he had. Saul had a choice; he could have seen David as an up-and-coming general in his army who could have become an important part of his team and made the kingdom of Israel even stronger. Instead, he looked at him as a threat. When you hear good news about fellow workers or associates, do you rejoice with them? If you find yourself comparing your life’s circumstances to others and don’t feel you measure up, recognize that this is one of satan’s greatest ploys to destroy you.
Christ has given you all things in Him. He has a unique plan for you that cannot be compared to another. He alone is your security. Trust in the purposes He has for your life. And remember, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19 KJV).
Monday, October 16, 2017
Dear Father in heaven, we come into your presence as imperfect, sinful children, who do many foolish things and who are involved in much that is evil and corrupt. We come to you, Father, knowing that your fatherly love is with us through all eternity. Be gracious to us and free us from all the harm and injury we are bound to suffer in this earthly life. May the grace your kingdom brings on earth finally blot out the sins of all people, so that as your children they may rejoice because you have helped them. May your name be praised among all people. Amen.
Caffeine for your conscience
God hates violence and demands that we not admire those who are violent or share in their violent lifestyle. (Prov. 3:31) God abhors those who do evil. God not only opposes them when they are alive, he also mitigates their influence after they are gone. He helps them be seen for what they really are. Far from being viewed as heroes, their legacy of hate and wickedness is spurned, shunned, scandalized, and forgotten.
In our own time of terror and wickeness, O LORD, please make worthless the threats of the wicked and make their memory a foul stench in the nostrils of those they are trying to deceive and co-opt to do their evil will. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Read 1 Samuel 12:6-25…
Then Samuel said to the people, ”It is the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of Egypt. 7. Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the Lord as to all the righteous acts performed by the Lord for you and your ancestors.
8. ”After Jacob entered Egypt, they cried to the Lord for help, and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place.
9. ”But they forgot the Lord their God; so he sold them into the hand of Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hands of the Philistines and the king of Moab, who fought against them. 10. They cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned; we have forsaken the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ 11. Then the Lord sent Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel, and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around you, so that you lived in safety.
12. ”But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us’- even though the Lord your God was your king. 13. Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you. 14. If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God- good! 15. But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.
16. ”Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes! 17. Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call on the Lord to send thunder and rain. And you will realize what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the Lord when you asked for a king.”
18. Then Samuel called on the Lord, and that same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the Lord and of Samuel.
19. The people all said to Samuel, ”Pray to the Lord your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.”
20. ”Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. ”You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. 22. For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. 23. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 24. But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”
Economists aren’t the only ones who sometimes refuse to change their thinking. For example, we may live by the theory that we have no reason to be afraid of God, even though the Bible reminds us that we should fear Him (1 Sam. 12:24; Prov. 1:7).
The solution to this problem is to adjust our faulty theory to fit the facts. We must admit that there are reasons both to be afraid of the Lord and not to be afraid of Him. We should have a healthy fear of His rod of correction when we refuse to honor, obey, trust, and love Him. Yet we should not fear what He will do when we admit our sins and accept His offer of life, love, and fellowship with Christ. We should not be afraid to believe Him, to trust Him, and to cling to Him. This, I believe, is what Samuel was trying to teach God’s people in today’s Bible reading.
Instead of redefining the word fear, we must adjust our ideas about God to fit His revelation of Himself in Scripture. And that includes a reverent fear, which is ”the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10).
Jail Time for Peter and John
Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
Sin shall not have dominion over you.–ROM. vi. 14.
O Thou, to whose all-searching sight
The darkness shineth as the light!
Search, prove my heart; it pants for Thee;
Oh, burst these bonds, and set it free!
Yes, this sin which has sent me weary-hearted to bed and desperate in heart to morning work, that has made my plans miscarry until I am a coward, that cuts me off from prayer, that robs the sky of blueness and the earth of springtime, and the air of freshness, and human faces of friendliness,–this blasting sin which perhaps has made my bed in hell for me so long,–this can be conquered. I do not say annihilated, but, better than that, conquered, captured and transfigured into a friend: so that I at last shall say, “My temptation has become my strength! for to the very fight with it I owe my force.”
W. C. GANNETT.
PROJECT PEARL WET BIBLES
All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.Psalm 104:27-28
There are stories and reports of “wet” Bibles and “perfume” Bibles from Project Pearl that continue to be shared to this day. Four hours after we left the beach that night of delivery of the one million Chinese Bibles on June 18, 1981, a patrol of Chinese police came by and found some boxes of Bibles stashed under the trees. They had not yet been transferred to the storage areas. The police tried unsuccessfully to burn the Bibles and then in frustration threw them into the water.
The next morning, fishermen plucked these floating volumes out of the sea and put them on the roofs of their homes to dry. Later they sold them to Christians in the area. I personally treasure a sample of one of these “wet” Bibles that was used by a Chinese believer for 15 years. One of the leading house church network leaders in China acknowledges receiving “wet” Bibles from Project Pearl.
Chinese Sister Ling shares the poignant story of how she pleaded with God for a Bible as a young evangelist. She found believers without Bibles doing unusual things—like carrying extra oil around so they’d be ready like the five wise virgins.
At the time of Project Pearl, she heard of a woman who had received “wet” Bibles and dried them. When Ling asked her for a Bible, the woman required her to quote the Lord’s Prayer without a single mistake to prove she was a believer. Ling memorized it from a handwritten copy of the Bible and passed the test. She received one “wet” Bible.
The woman apologized for being so overly careful but then explained, “After our brothers collected these Bibles from the shore, they began to distribute them about China. It was very dangerous and some paid with their lives. Remembering their sacrifice, I treasure these Bibles even more.” Ling went on to experience much suffering for her leadership role in the house church movement but now aware that suffering in the will of God has meaning and purpose.
RESPONSE: Today I recommit to living the principles of God’s Word and not be ashamed of publicly sharing them.
PRAYER: Thank God for the number of Bibles you have and ask Him to provide for those still without even one copy.
STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM (SSTS) -A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks
© 2010 Open Doors International. Used by permission
Would anyone be able to pick you out of the crowd, at your place of work or in your neighborhood, and identify you as a Christian? Can people definitively say, “I know he/she is a Christian,” or “I know he/she is a follower of Jesus?” What makes you look, act, think and speak differently than those whom you work and live with? Today, the Christian faith has not only come under attack, but many Christians themselves have become complacent and too willing to compromise their beliefs. Unfortunately, Christians are known more for what they are against than what they are for. In the U.S. in particular, we have adopted for the most part a barely recognizable form of Christianity that almost completely ignores the teachings given by the Bible by the man we say we want to follow and be like: Jesus. Here are six teachings of Jesus that followers of Jesus should be taking more seriously.
Our lack of obedience leads to our constant need for forgiveness. Scripture tells us, “Be gentle and ready to forgive never hold grudges. Remember the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others (Colossians 3:13). But forgiveness is a concept many Christians struggle with. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Our inexcusable behavior has been forgiven by God, so if we are to have the stamp of Christ on our lives, that would include forgiving the inexcusable behavior of other towards us. We must be honestly repentant and truly sorry for the hurt we have caused God and others. We must not as for forgiveness just because the Bible tells us. While this is a good starting place, we have to know and feel in our hearts that we need to be forgiven and to forgive.
The Bible tells us, “love your enemies and bless those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). While Jesus encourages us to sacrifice ourselves and speak kind words of blessings to those with disagree with most, for many Christians, that isn’t always how we respond to others. There is always new controversy taking place in the Church. This can involve one group of Christians disagreeing with another group of Christians and the outcome of this situation ends with those taking to the internet to write slanderous posts about the other. This is not Jesus’ way and is absolutely contrary to what He would do. Instead of cursing those who offend us or we don’t agree with, Jesus calls us to speak blessings over them, even if the only thing we want to do is curse them out.
One of the key elements of Christianity is being open and willing to share your faith with others, but the practical way of doing that is often a struggle. Many Christians don’t share their faith out of fear of being ridiculed, disapproved and persecuted by the world. We hesitate to share and fear-based thoughts begin to show up. How do we tell others about God in a way that is effective? Some people think of sharing their faith as a commandment enforced by knocking on doors and throwing Bibles. Fortunately, this is not what God commands. We serve a loving God who didn’t design sharing your faith as a way to condemn others. We can witness to others by spreading God’s love and approaching witnessing with the right attitude and state of mind.
Many Christians spend a lot of time addressing the people that God is opposed to and who He condemns. They also spend time addressing how to shift from a place of condemnation before God to a position of grace through believing the right things about Jesus. They will also talk about those who disagree or live contrary to their understanding of what is “righteous” as those who are under condemnation from God. But when you take a close look at Jesus’ life and teachings, we see that He not only befriended, loving and affirming some of societies most despised and vile people, but also chastising the religious leaders who condemned for their sin. Jesus said, “I have not come into the world to condemn it but to save it” (John 3:17). It appears that Jesus spends very little time telling sinner they’re wrong or speaking words of condemnation over them, but rather extending love and grace to those who have steered off path and need God most.
Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours” (Matthew 11:24). As Christians, we know that prayer is a key part of our relationship with God but it isn’t always a part of our regular practice. Many Christians struggle with making adequate time for God, through prayer and communication. We live in a fast-paced world and while many Christians say God is most important their life, many struggle with fitting God into their daily agendas. Our lives don’t always reflect that God is at our center. What’s special about a solid relationship with God is that when we face struggle, we know where our help comes from.
One of the clearest messages throughout all four Gospel accounts is the way that we enter the Kingdom of God is through living in obedience to the Law of Christ. Throughout the Gospel, Jesus makes very clear statements that condemn those who think they will be saved because they say the right things or do the right religious rituals. Jesus responds to those who believe they are religious and deserve Heaven by saying that their outward religiosity is detestable and the only thing God desires is that they exercise their faith is by obeying the command of God – to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly. We enter His Kingdom by doing God’s will, through loving God and neighbor. Looking or acting religious isn’t a qualifier.
In the Bible, God tells us, “Simply let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’. Anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 537). On your faith journey, you will take more than one detour from Jesus. But in spite of those situations, your stubbornness, your self-righteous arrogance and a litany of other short comings, God loves you. If you don’t feel as close to Him as you once did, it isn’t God that has moved, but you that has moved.
A Prayer for When You Feel Burdened
By Glynnis Whitwer
“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22 (NIV)
When we adopted our two daughters from Africa, we didn’t expect it would be easy. But we couldn’t have imagined how hard it would be.
Our family of five (my husband, our three boys and I) clearly heard God’s call. We knew our family was supposed to grow to seven. And as we looked at the picture of two little sisters standing in a dirt lot strewn with trash, our hearts confirmed these were our children.
The joy of bringing these precious girls to their forever home was overflowing … for about a week.
Then reality set in.
What we could not see from the initial picture, and what the orphanage couldn’t tell us, was the wounding that had happened in one of their hearts during her early years. The neglect and abuse caused deep gouges in her heart that wouldn’t be healed easily.
Our days were filled with challenges that took their toll on everyone. Days turned into years, and the issues we hoped would receive healing only got worse. Our house was like a tinder box, ready to explode at any minute. And it did. Often.
Multiple counselors and treatment centers didn’t seem to touch the underlying issues, and I began to feel hopeless. I couldn’t help my daughter, and I couldn’t seem to protect my family. Guilt overwhelmed my husband and me. Surely there was something we were doing wrong, or not doing right. And how could we manage the intense emotions?
It truly seemed too much to bear.
Before that, I’d never understood what it meant to get to the end of yourself. Life had been relatively easy, and problems seemed fixable. But at that point, I faced a situation beyond my abilities. I needed the Lord like I’d never needed Him before.
That’s when Scriptures like Psalm 55:22 took on a new meaning: “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”
I had to give this situation to the Lord, or I would fall apart with the burden of it. My desperation took me to a new place of dependence. If the Lord didn’t sustain me, my heart felt like it would crumble to pieces, and I was afraid of how my body was reacting to the stress.
There was no lightning bolt moment, but bit by bit, I felt more peace. A big part of that peace came when the Lord showed me I’d done all He’d asked me to do. We weren’t to “fix” our daughter; that was His job. We were to be a part of her journey and show her God’s love as best as we could. That truth sustained me through the most difficult times.
Today if your burdens feel too much to bear, there is hope. Pour out your heart in prayer to our Heavenly Father — hold nothing back. And when you feel your burden lightening even the slightest bit, thank Him for His faithfulness. He’s been there all the time, just waiting to help.
Lord, thank You for being ever-present in my life. And thank You for the hard times. I might not have said that then, but I see now how faithful You were (and are) to meet my needs. Help me walk so closely with You that I never return to my independent self. I love You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Today‘s Thoughts: A Message from Isaiah
I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel. Isaiah 45:2-3
One morning a few years ago, I woke up with the word “Isaiah” in my mind. I personally do not know anyone named Isaiah so I wondered why this name was on my heart. As I opened my Bible that morning, I literally turned to the first page of Isaiah. I immediately began wondering what message the Lord might have for me in this book. Since then, God has given me more messages from the book of Isaiah than I can count, and Isaiah now holds some of my most treasured sections of Scripture. One of my personal favorites is chapter 45.
When I first read that the Lord will make my “crooked places straight” and will “cut the bars of iron,” I knew these were messages of freedom. Then to hear that the Lord calls me by my name, this made the message even more personal, as if He was speaking to me directly. I have come to understand that He isspeaking to me directly. I took Him at His word and I began to pray:
Lord, please go before me and straighten out those parts of my life that are out of order or where I do not see the path before me. And please break the gates and cut the bars that keep me locked up, that have held me captive. I desire those treasures You have for me in the freedom that You want to give me. You are God and there is none other. I need You to be my God today and forever.
These verses are just a snapshot of this great book. Through Isaiah I learned how to pray God’s Word back to Him and through praying God’s Word, I have seen His personal touch on my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Maybe today is the day for you to open your Bible to the book of Isaiah. Who knows how many messages God has for you there? He knows and you will soon find out. May God go before you and bless you.
Our mission is to evangelize the lost and awaken the saved to live empowered lives by the Work of God and His Holy Spirit. Daily Disciples Ministries makes a difference for the kingdom of God by teaching and training believers how to be in God’s Word, how to pray and how to walk with Jesus every day, as His daily disciple.
Daily Disciples Ministries, Inc.
From Jesus Calling Kids by Sarah Young
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
I died a criminal’s death to buy you the gift of Peace. But instead of accepting My gift, it sometimes seems that you’re ignoring it. You hold on to your worries, fears, and loneliness so tightly that you can’t receive My Peace. It hurts Me to see you all tied up in anxious knots. This is not what I want for you.
You feel you are too busy and stressed to bring your problems to Me. But here’s the truth: The busier and more stressed you are, the more you need to spend time with Me. Take a deep breath, and then take another one—and another. Be still in My Presence. Let My Peace grow inside you as you trust Me with all your worries. Hold on to My gift of Peace like the treasure that it is.
Read On Your Own
Psalm 46:10; Numbers 6:25
©2010 by Sarah Young
Order your own copy of Jesus Calling Kids by Sarah Young
God Plus One
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever–do not abandon the works of your hands. – Psalm 138:8
In his book The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn tells the story of his family’s trip to Egypt. While driving through the hot and dusty streets of Cairo, they passed a graveyard for American missionaries and decided to go see it. One sun-scorched tombstone in particular caught their attention. At the top it read: William Borden, 1887-1913.
What makes Borden so interesting is that he was a Yale graduate, and the heir to great wealth. Yet he rejected a life of ease in exchange for the life of a missionary in Egypt. He gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to missions, and after only four months of ministry in Egypt, he contracted spinal meningitis and died at age twenty-five.
At the bottom of William Borden’s tombstone, it says, “Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life.”
If you are a follower of Christ, you can expect that in obedience to that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, you will do some things that make no earthly sense but are spiritually significant.
Even those who resist Him carry out His will without realizing that they are doing so. – Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
Bible Fun Fact: Almonds and pistachios are the only nuts mentioned in the Bible.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 NIV
I had a different childhood growing up. My Mom divorced nine times, and my Dad three. Everyone in my life was temporary. At one point I was the youngest of thirteen children, ten of which were step siblings that despised us being there. It was not uncommon to see them fist fighting in the yard, sometimes in the house with us.
I had my head beat against the wall more than once. You learned to stay out of the way and to keep a low profile. I was the least of them all, and an outsider anyway. This began when I was one year old, so I grew up thinking that this was normal family behavior. It wasn’t.
By the time that I was an adult, I had developed a heart of stone. There were about three people on earth total that I cared anything about, and I had enough ex-family members to populate a small city. When some of them died, I felt joy. I developed a shell where no one could hurt me and I really had no feelings left for anyone. I learned that when you can no longer feel the pain, you can no longer feel love.
After I came to know the Lord, He started melting this stony shell little by little. I actually started to care for people and it seemed strange at first. Finally at about thirty-five, I actually fell head over heels in love, got married and have lived happily ever since. I cry at the movies. God gave me a new heart.
There is healing for a heart of stone. God can give you a new one, and you can feel love just like you were meant to. Keep pursuing God. The more time you spend with Jesus, the softer your heart will become.
Prayer: Father, soften my heart and show me Your love. Remove the heart of stone and give me a new one. Give me a fresh start, in the name of Jesus.
Note: “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf” Romans 15:30 If you would like us to join with you in prayer, please always feel free to send your private requests to our Prayer Network. Of course, if you are not concerned about privacy, you are also free to post any requests on our home page :). We are here for you! Here is the link: RHM Prayer Network
But who can endure the day of his coming . . . ?
Christ’s first coming was without external pomp or display of power, and yet in truth there were few who could endure its test. Herod and all Jerusalem with him were stirred at the news of the wondrous birth. Those who supposed themselves to be waiting for Him showed the fallacy of their professions by rejecting Him when He came. His life on earth was like a winnowing fan that sifted the great heap of religious profession, and only a few could survive the process.
But what will His second coming be? What sinner can endure to think of it? “He shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.”1 In Gethsemane when He said to the soldiers, “I am he,” they fell backward. What will happen to His enemies when He will reveal Himself more fully as the “I Am“?
His death shook earth and darkened heaven. What will be the dreadful splendor of that day when as the living Savior He will summon the living and the dead before Him? O that the terrors of the Lord would persuade men to forsake their sins and kiss the Son in case He is angry!
Though a lamb, He is still the lion of the tribe of Judah, tearing the prey in pieces; and though He does not break the bruised reed, yet He will break His enemies with a rod of iron and dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel. None of His foes shall stand before the tempest of His wrath or hide themselves from the sweeping hail of His indignation.
But His beloved blood-washed people look for His appearing with joy; in this living hope they live without fear. To them He sits as a refiner even now, and when He has tested them they shall come forth as gold. Let us examine ourselves this morning and make our calling and election sure, so that the coming of the Lord may not be the cause of fearful expectations. O for grace to discard all hypocrisy, and to be found of Him sincere and without rebuke on the day of His appearing.
The God of the Valley
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
October 15, 2017
“The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord’.” 1 Kings 20:28
Whenever we stand on the mountain, we are able to see clearly. It is the best vantage point to see what lies ahead. Wouldn’t it be great to live on the mountain all the time in order to anticipate what is ahead? God allows us to experience the mountaintop at times. Joseph’s first mountaintop experience was as a young man. He had the favor of his father, Jacob. He was given a fine coat and even had a dream about his future. As a young man, Joseph had a sense of destiny about his life. God often gives us a picture of our future so that we will remember this picture when we are being tested to trust Him in the valley. This picture usually does not reveal how God intends to bring about the visions for our life.
However, none of us really derive the character qualities God desires for our lives while we are on the mountain. It is in the valley where the fruit is planted and harvested. It cannot grow on the mountain; it must grow in the valley. God is a God of the mountain, but he is even more a God of the valley. In the valley, it is more difficult to see ahead; the clouds often cover the valley and limit our sight. Joseph was thrust into a deep valley that left him wondering if the God of his father had forsaken him. Jesus hoped that He might be able to avoid the valley that caused Him to sweat blood. There is a valley that each of us must enter, usually unwillingly, in order to experience the God of the valley-and to experience His faithfulness in the valley. Once we have spent time in this valley, we come out with something we would have never gained if we had not entered it. The valley brings much fruit into our lives so that we might plant seeds into the lives of others. God does not waste valley experiences. If we are faithful in the valley, we will enter a new dimension with God that we never thought possible. There is a harvest of wisdom and virtue that can only be grown in the valley.
Has God brought you into the valley? Know that the valley is a place of fruitfulness; it is a place of testing. It is where God brings what you know in your head into your heart. The only value of knowledge is when it becomes part of your heart. Look for God in the valley today.
Sunday, October 15, 2017