I’m Following Him…

Prayer2

TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER

a grape vine curl with three small purple berries“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.” Jeremiah 33:14, NIV

Lord our God, may your grace rule in our hearts and your love come to us in glorious fulfillment of your promise, so that in our time we may have community with one another to praise and worship you. Then we will be a people belonging to you and receiving help from you. Bless your Word within us, we pray. Teach us again and again how to keep your Word, how to be your children in deed and in truth. May we be given strength of heart whenever great sorrow comes to us. Let your will be revealed everywhere. Let all of humankind know that you rule, that you help us and will remain with us into all eternity. For our names are recorded with you, and we want to stay with you, Father in heaven. We want nothing else but to be your children in this world, to be children in your care for all eternity. Amen.

 

Daily Dig

Caffeine for your conscience

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

Nut halvesJesus would rather let himself be called a sinner among sinners, a prostitute and wrongdoer, a glutton and a drunk, than to set himself apart from human misery (Mat.11:19). When we read, “He is the firstborn from among the dead” (Col. 1:18), it means that Jesus appeals to the dead. Tell those who feel as if dead that Jesus is theirs. To those who feel worthless, whose life seems of no value, say: “Your life must be worth something, since Jesus has come into it. Yes, from out of the world of the dead, new life can be born in you.”

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Romans 14:4

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Paul is talking about passing judgment on folks in matters that are not central to our faith. He reminds us whose job it is to judge these sorts of matters. He also reminds us that the person we are judging actually belongs to the Lord and what right do we have to pass judgment on that person. So often we can find fault with others, pass judgment on them about some inconsequential matter, but then never deal with the blatant sin in our own life. Let’s remember that we will answer to God for what we do every bit as much as someone we are wrongly passing judgment upon.

My Prayer…

Father, forgive me. I confess that I have wrongly passed judgment on others when I had no right or authority to do so. I know Jesus died to redeem them. I know you love them and have a plan for each of them. Please use me to be an encouragement, never a stumbling block, to your children. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

BIBLE STUDY BUDDY

Follow1

Read Matthew 4:18-23…

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19. ”Come, follow me,” Jesus said, ”and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20. At once they left their nets and followed him.

 

21. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22. and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

 

23. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
Matthew 4:22

v18-22 When Christ began to preach, he began to gather disciples, who should be hearers, and afterwards preachers of his doctrine, who should be witnesses of his miracles, and afterwards testify concerning them. He went not to Herod’s court, not to Jerusalem, among the chief priests and the elders, but to the sea of Galilee, among the fishermen. The same power which called Peter and Andrew, could have wrought upon Annas and Caiaphas, for with God nothing is impossible. But Christ chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Diligence in an honest calling is pleasing to Christ, and it is no hinderance to a holy life. Idle people are more open to the temptations of Satan than to the calls of God. It is a happy and hopeful thing to see children careful of their parents, and dutiful. When Christ comes, it is good to be found doing. Am I in Christ? is a very needful question to ask ourselves; and, next to that, Am I in my calling? They had followed Christ before, as common disciples, Joh 1:37; now they must leave their calling. Those who would follow Christ aright, must, at his command, leave all things to follow him, must be ready to part with them. This instance of the power of the Lord Jesus encourages us to depend upon his grace. He speaks, and it is done.

Follow the Right Leader…

”Follow me!” That was the invitation given by Marshall Applewhite, self-appointed leader of the Heaven’s Gate cult. He promised to those who would become his disciples that he would teach them how they could move on to a higher level of life in a new world. Sincere but gullible men and women heeded his call. They left families, friends, homes, and jobs to live and work together and to obey their leader’s teachings.

 

Those 38 disciples followed him even when he told them to commit suicide. He said they would be liberated from terrestrial bondage and enter into an exalted state of being. In March 1997 they followed their leader to death and eternal loss.

The true Leader, Jesus Christ, gives the invitation, ”Follow Me” (Mt. 4:19). But He is the opposite of Marshall Applewhite. After Jesus’ death on Calvary’s cross, He arose from the grave and is alive forevermore (Mt. 28:6; Rev. 1:18). When we respond to His call to follow Him as our Savior, our Master, our Lord, He forgives all our sins (Col. 2:13) and promises an abundant life of joy and hope (Jn. 10:10). And someday we will live with Him eternally in the glory of heaven (1 Jn. 5:11-13).

Be sure to follow the right Leader!

 

Quote of the Day

“The Epistles have played a major role in the formation of doctrine and Christian theology throughout church history precisely because they expound on the great themes of God’s saving work on the cross.”
~The ESV Study Bible (from “why were the epistles written?“)

Today’s Answer

On What Day Did Jesus Die?

Speculation about the timing of Christ’s crucifixion stems from the lack of direct day-to-day correlation in the gospel accounts. In the present world, dates have become imperative for adequate news coverage. But the gospel writers concerned themselves with the events themselves and not the specific timing. They aimed to present Jesus to various audiences and not provide a detailed biography.

To uncover the day of the crucifixion, we must assemble the evidence from the four Gospels and what we know of the culture at the time. Over the years, scholars have produced several models of what events happened during the days of the week leading up to the cross. These models variously propose that Christ died on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

While a Wednesday crucifixion allows Jesus to have been buried for three full days and nights, this would also mean He rose on the fourth day. In addition, the Triumphal Entry would have happened on Saturday, the day of Sabbath rest. A Thursday crucifixion moves the Triumphal Entry to Sunday, which makes more sense, and eliminates the need for a “silent day” (a day during the Passion Weekwhen no events were recorded). However, we know that the Pharisees rushed to have Jesus in the tomb on the day of preparation (John 19:34), which is Friday, and before the Sabbath began at nightfall (the Jews measured days from nightfall to nightfall).

When we examine the evidence, Friday fits best with the gospel accounts and the historical context. For example, the new testament says that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day—not necessarily after three days (e.g., Matthew 16:21Acts 10:40). As mentioned above, Jesus had to be rushed into the tomb on the day of preparation. While a Friday crucifixion would necessitate a “silent day” (probably Wednesday), this day allows time for the Sanhedrin to plan for Jesus’s arrest and the subsequent trials. So, the day is only “silent” because we have nothing specifically recorded.

 

November 14

Thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.–ISA. xliv. 21.

Oh, give Thy servant patience to be still,
And bear Thy will;
Courage to venture wholly on the arm
That will not harm;
The wisdom that will never let me stray
Out of my way;
The love, that, now afflicting, knoweth best
When I should rest.
J. M. NEALE.

Supposing that you were never to be set free from such trials, what would you do? You would say to God, “I am Thine–if my trials are acceptable to Thee, give me more and more.” I have full confidence that this is what you would say, and then you would not think more of it–at any rate, you would not be anxious. Well, do the same now. Make friends with your trials, as though you were always to live together; and you will see that when you cease to take thought for your own deliverance, God will take thought for you; and when you cease to help yourself eagerly, He will help you.
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES.

Ah, if you knew what peace there is in an accepted sorrow!
MADAME GUYON.

 

November 14

A Letter Written on Tablets of Human Hearts
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.
For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth. Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.
But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?
And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.
Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech-unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 1:1-14, 23-24; 2:1-4, 12-17; 3:1-18
WORSHIP
Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble.
LORD, I hope for Your salvation,
And I do Your commandments.
My soul keeps Your testimonies,
And I love them exceedingly.
I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies,
For all my ways are before You.
Psalm 119:165-168
WISDOM
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of correction will drive it far from him.
Proverbs 22:15

BROTHERLY LOVE

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.Hebrews 13:1

As we see in Hebrews chapter 12, once we “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus,” we will be aware of how we should then live. The writer now turns to the issue of brotherly love and he uses the verb form of repeated action. Keep on loving…over and over. Jesus Himself said that this would be the sign to the world of true discipleship – love for one another.

In China a house church network leader was being pursued by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) due to his active ministry. He had to be on the run and couldn’t go home because the PSB were waiting for him at his house.

His wife went through much emotional suffering since she didn’t know where her husband was. Other believers were afraid to come to the meeting held at the house and even other co-workers didn’t come near due to fear. The wife had no money and eventually ran out of food. That was the hardest time in her life.

In spite of the PSB officers standing outside, an elderly Christian lady approached the house and boldly entered. The wife was surprised and asked the elderly woman why she was willing to take the risk. The lady said she wasn’t afraid because she knew the woman’s husband was serving the Lord and she was also serving the same Lord. The old lady prepared some noodles for young wife and her child. The young wife was really impressed with this love. Also the old lady told her that many outside were praying for them so this also brought tremendous strength and encouragement as they continued to suffer isolation.

Another house church leader in China spent time in prison. He wrote to his fellowship, “It is because of your prayers that I could go through the most difficult times while in prison. My mother, who also prayed for me every day, knew that there were many brothers and sisters who did the same for her son and that she was not alone. She too, would like to express her thanks to those who prayed for me.

“Following my release, I spent two weeks with my whole family. My daughter shared that she thought I was a bad person because she had seen the policeman arrest me right before her eyes. She was very angry with me until the day she received a card from a fellow Christian. In the card were the words, ‘Your father is a hero for he has suffered for Christ.’ Immediately all her anger dissipated and she became very proud of having a father who is a hero and willing to suffer for Christ.”

RESPONSE: Today I will make an extra effort to show love to any needy Christian brothers and sisters.

PRAYERHelp me, Lord, to make love for the brethren a daily repeated action…for Your glory!

 

 

In the Line of Fire, with Michael Brown

The man, who was given the name Adam at birth but goes by Ja Du, "said he's part of a growing 'transracial' community in which people are born one race, but identify with another."
The man, who was given the name Adam at birth but goes by Ja Du, “said he’s part of a growing ‘transracial’ community in which people are born one race, but identify with another.” (10News/YouTube)

Speaking at Oberlin College in 2001, transgender activist Lynn Hyckman stated that, “The basic assumption of transgenderism is the transgressing of gender norms. Whether that means completely passing from one end to the other, or finding a space that combines or defies the binary in our society, it comes down to exploring outside of the norm you were assigned because of the discomfort that you feel in it.”

This prompted me to ask in 2011, “But why stop with combining or defying sexualcategories? Why not create self-identified categories of race or color or nationality? How about, ‘Even though I was assigned the ethnic identity of a white American at birth, I identify myself as a black Viking.’ Why not? Perhaps on the inside I really am a black Viking! Or why limit our self-identification to earthly categories. Why should that boundary be sacrosanct? Why not identify yourself as an extraterrestrial (or maybe ‘interterrestrial,’ combining both earthly and alien identities)? Are ridiculous concepts such as these all that different from ‘the transgressing of gender norms’ and ‘def[ying] the binary in our society’?”

Of course, I understood the parallels were real but inexact, because of which I added, “I do realize, of course, that there are people who truly struggle with their sexual identity, and I’m fully aware that others are born with indefinite (or dual) sexual identities. In no way do I intend to minimize those struggles. Given the choice, however, of embracing the philosophy behind this transgender, genderqueer, omnisexual rhetoric seriously or of raising my voice to saying that something is seriously amiss, I take the latter choice.”

Well, as outlandish as these words may have sounded in 2011, they can hardly sound outlandish today.

Not with the massive strides made my transactivism in the last few years.

Not with a white woman (Rachel Dolezal) identifying as black, hence transracial.

Not with some people (allegedly hundreds of thousands) identifying as part animal (just look up otherkin or therian), hence transspecies.

And not with the headline news that, “A man in Florida who was born white now identifies as Filipino as part of a reportedly growing ‘transracial’ community.”

Note the last three words of that sentence carefully: “a growing ‘transracial’ community.”

The man, who was given the name Adam at birth but goes by Ja Du, “said he’s part of a growing ‘transracial’ community in which people are born one race, but identify with another.”

He explained that “he truly identifies with the Filipino culture, adding that when he’s around its music and food, ‘I feel like I’m in my own skin.’

“I’d watch The History Channel sometimes for hours, you know, whenever it came to that, and you know nothing else intrigued me more but things about Filipino culture,” and this is part of the reason he now identifies as Filipino.

But why not? If Bruce Jenner is a woman and Rachel Dolezal is black (remember that she, too, has her supporters), why can’t a Caucasian-American be a Filipino?

As I and others have stated over and again, if perception is substituted for reality, there is no end to the social madness that follows. (This video on The Man Who Became a Woman Then a Dragon documents some of the more extreme examples.)

There are even medical professionals who affirm the possibility of being transracial. After all, if it makes you happy, why not?

In the words of psychologist Dr. Stacey Sheckner, “If someone feels that they feel at home with a certain religion, a certain race, a certain culture, I think that if that’s who they really feel inside, life is about finding out who you are. The more knowledge you have of yourself, the happier you can be.”

She added, “If that’s who they are, and they want to celebrate it and enjoy it, then you have to think what harm is it doing? All they want to do is throw themselves into that culture and celebrate it.”

But it’s one thing to enjoy a culture and throw yourself into a culture and celebrate a culture. It’s another thing to imagine that you are biologically part of that culture. Is there no such thing as “reality check” anymore? In many circles, the answer is no.

That’s why there are women’s schools accepting male-to-female transgenders and male-to-female athletes breaking women’s sports records and women’s prisons housing biological males who identify as women (but are still attracted to women). Is it that far of a leap, then, to imagine blacks identifying as whites or Asians as Caucasians?

And since transgender identify—technically known as gender dysphoria (formerly called gender identity disorder)—is determined by psychological evaluation alone (there is no biological test), why not something similar for being transracial? If I can convince the doctor that I really identify as a black Viking, why not?

Again, I do not mean to minimize the pain of those who struggle with gender identity confusion, nor do I mean to denigrate Ja Du’s love for everything Philippine. I’m simply saying this has got to stop somewhere, and it has got to stop soon. Otherwise, we might all have to identify as Martians and go populate Mars. Unless, of course, we actually are Martians … 

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.

 

 

 

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A Prayer for When You Don’t Feel God’s Presence

Dr. James MacDonald

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” (Psalms 34:8, ESV)

Sometimes we find ourselves in seasons of life when God’s goodness is hidden, when it’s either invisible to us or we’re blind to it. Let’s be honest enough to admit that those are real struggles. We’ve been in those times, and perhaps you’re in one of them right now. If you’re in such a season and can’t bring yourself to shout “hallelujah,” you don’t need to feel bad about it. I would never want to lay a guilt trip on someone for not feeling like shouting hallelujah at that moment.

But if we’re to walk in faith—if we’re to be people who truly live by faith—we must believe God is good even at times when we can’t see anything tangible pointing to it or giving evidence of it. Faith is believing the Word of God and acting upon it, no matter how we feel, because God promises a good result.

Here’s what you may be tempted to do during times when you don’t feel His goodness: you may wonder whether you should take care of things yourself. You might be inclined to conclude what you suspected all along—If I want good things to happen, I’d better go out there and get them, because God sure isn’t guaranteed to do it . . . because He’s not good “all the time.”

And that’s just not true. He has promised us good, based upon His own goodness. God is good, He’s always been good, and He’ll always be good. Check out how consistently this is established in Scripture: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). In every situation, even in our darkest situations, we “give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” (Psalm 136:1). In fact, “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

Father God, I know You are good. Even when my heart wavers and I don’t feel it, I know You are good. Thank You for being bigger than my feelings. Thank You even for entrusting me with these times when believing is hard, when faith requires looking without seeing. You have never failed, though I often fail. You have never proved untrustworthy, though I have proved so fickle and forgetful. So today, I put no trust in my emotions but only in what You have shown me through Your Word to be true—that You are good, all the time. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

The Sacrifice of Thanks-sharing
Glynnis Whitwer

“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:15-16 (NASB)

Enough. That’s what I have. Really, more than enough.

More than enough clothes in my closet. Food in my fridge. Shoes spread on the floor. Cans in the cupboard.

My children have books, warm jackets, tennis shoes, pencils, and opportunities for more. I have clean sheets, soft pillows, a kitchen table, and indoor plumbing.

My husband and I have never taken our provisions for granted. Every day we are thankful for the blessings of our home and family. Yet eight years ago we were increasingly aware of whatLuke 12:48b tells us, “When someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” (NLT) We felt an obligation to do something more with our blessings.

So in 2005 our family of five put a plan in place to share what we had. We had enough home, enough time, and enough love. Our gratitude to God for His blessings couldn’t be kept to ourselves any more. We started with some rearranging. Two of our three sons moved furniture around so they could share a room, Then we bought two little white beds, pink curtains, and some dolls. I bought matching calico comforters and guessed at sizes of dresses.

After months of planning to share what we had, two little orphaned sisters stepped off a plane gripping the hands of their new daddy and walked into our hearts and homes.

They wore “African suits” bought from the place of their birth, brightly colored dresses that hung on tiny bodies. So proud they were to own their first new pieces of clothing, wanting to greet their new family in their best. As we wrapped our arms around these little girls, our family of five became seven.

As weeks turned into months, and typical family issues mingled with trauma from our daughters’ pasts, we learned God’s call to share isn’t always easy. Oh, at first it was great, before the first blush of excitement wore off. But the magnitude of sharing our lives with two wounded little girls was harder than we ever imagined.

When worry about the future threatened to overwhelm me, God quietly reminded me that He didn’t ask me to have the answers. That’s His job. My job is just to share what He has given me–my love, my home, my life–with two not-so-little girls now who call me Mama. With a heart of thankfulness, and an open hand of generosity. That’s all He’s asking me. That’s what blesses Him.

God’s Word confirms what pleases Him. Hebrews 13:15-16 teaches us that we must link thanksgiving with sharing. But it also says it will be a sacrifice: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (NASB)

As we walk together as a family, we continue to learn that showing thanks to God involves sharing, and sharing involves sacrifice. God still calls us to share out of our abundance, and it still involves sacrifice. But when we share our lives, our homes, our money, our hearts, our skills, and our time as an outpouring of thanksgiving, God is pleased.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your generosity with me. I don’t deserve Your favor, and my heart overflows with thanksgiving. Help me to show my gratitude through words and actions that are pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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4 Signs of True Contentment

Founders Ministries Blog

As fallen men, even redeemed fallen men, we will never be entirely content in this life. Our hearts are too prone to wander, far too apt to flirt with idolatry, for us to be completely content in Christ. As Calvin famously put it, the human heart manufactures idols day and night every day. Still, we pray for contentment and, like Paul in Philippians 4:11, we seek to learn the secret to contentment in Christ.

If we are content in Christ, what shape will our lives begin to take? What is the contented heart drawn to? When my contentment is in Christ, then four things ought to be true of me.

  • I will exhibit a deeper love for God’s Word. Because my contentment is in Him, I will want to know Him more. We know Him more through His Word. Contentment is a plant that must be tended daily, as Spurgeon said in his inimitable style: “Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated. It will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in it.” One of the primary means is by hiding His Word in our hearts and having it on our person as a constant reminder that apart from our Lord, we can do nothing.
  • I will exhibit a deeper and more mature love for God’s church. When your satisfaction is found in Christ, then you will want to be in His church and with His people. It will also transform the way you see the church. This building is not the church; you are. And when your contentment is in Christ, you will love God’s people, all of God’s people, not just those people with whom you are comfortable. And you will love His church, even though it is imperfect and stained with sin. If I am content in Christ, then it will set me free from false expectations in others and will set me free to love people who come from a different background than do I.
  • I will not fall apart when adversity comes. I will rest in the absolute sovereignty of God and in His prerogative. You and I have a very limited ability to exegete our circumstances. Because we are weak and lack omniscience (though we crave it), there will be many moments in life when we simply do not understand what is going on. We will face moments when the God whom Scripture calls good brings or allows things into our lives that will not seem good. They may even seem very bad: The doctor said it was cancer. Stage four. The boss said my position has been cut. Your son continues to reject the God I taught him to love. ISIS beheaded another Christian. Your daughter admits same-sex attraction. There will be times when all you have is Christ, but if you are content in Him, He will be enough. When we our content in Christ, we can say with Paul, in Phil. 3:7–8, “But whatever gain I had, I counted loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss for because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” When it pleases the Lord to take away some earthly blessing I cherish, then I should be able to say with Job, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
  • I will want others to know the great gain that comes from godliness with contentment. I will want my friends, neighbors and family members to find the peace that passes understanding. Thus, I will not be embarrassed to proclaim to them the only path that leads to the Celestial City.

I have written this series, not because I am always content or am an expert in the doctrine of contentment. Actually, I have written this because I am an expert in discontentment and am seeking contentment in Christ. May it please God to grant it. So far, I must say, it comes and goes. I have to repent much of discontentment.

I close out this brief series with memorable words from Spurgeon on the absurdity of discontentment for the follower of Christ:

“Permit me to remind you again, that you should be contented, because otherwise you will belie your own prayers. You kneel down in the morning, and you say, “Thy will be done!” Suppose you get up and want your own will, and rebel against the dispensation of your heavenly Father, have you not made yourself out to be a hypocrite? The language of your prayer is at variance with the feeling of your heart. Let it always be sufficient for you to think that you are where God put you. Have you not heard the story of the heroic boy on board the burning ship? When his father told him to stand in a certain part of the vessel, he would not move till his father bade him, but stood still when the ship was on fire. Though warned of his danger he held his ground. Until his father told him to move, there would he stay. The ship was blown up, and he perished in his fidelity. And shall a child be more faithful to an earthly parent than we are to our Father, who is in heaven? He has ordered everything for our good, and can he be forgetful of us? Let us believe that whatever he appoints is best; let us choose rather his will than our own. If there were two places, one a place of poverty, and another a place of riches and honour, if I could have my choice, it should be my privilege to say, ‘Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.’” (Spurgeon’s entire sermon from Phil. 4:11 simply titled “Contentment” is available here.)

 

 

Devotionals Daily: A Year with Jesus

Forgiveness
By Matthew West

Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom. -Luke 23:42

We never find out where he came from. There are no pages, not even a single paragraph, telling of his younger years or what his family was like. The final chapter of his story is the only one recorded. We never even learn his real name. We know him only as the thief on the cross, one of the two guilty criminals crucified next to the innocent Jesus.

But surely this man must have seen better days. Even the most evil of criminals who commit the vilest offenses start out as defenseless, innocent children who have their whole lives in front of them. No one can pick out a future criminal by looking at baby photos. Maybe this criminal loved to run and play. Maybe he had freckles on his face and a smile that could light up any room. Maybe he always knew how to make his brothers laugh. Perhaps he loved to follow his dad to work or cuddle up next to his mommy before bedtime.

Sure, we know who he became, but we know nothing of how he got there. Did a traumatic experience in his youth send his life spinning out of control? Was he orphaned as a child and forced to fend for himself at a young age? Or did he simply make one bad choice after another, eventually slipping further and further away from the innocence he once knew? He now bore absolutely no resemblance to that freckle-faced kid with a bright future. Three nails and a cross had sealed his fate; he was paying the ultimate price for the crimes he had committed. And those crimes must have been awful because crucifixion was the form of punishment reserved for the worst of criminals. This man hanging next to Jesus was the equivalent of today’s death row inmates waiting to die for what they have done.

I am sure you have heard someone who, after narrowly escaping a potentially dangerous or fearful situation, exclaim, “I just saw my whole life flash before my eyes!” Maybe you’ve said that yourself. It’s a common cliché we hear spoken when someone faces what is felt to be a near-death experience. I wonder if the thief on the cross experienced that. Perhaps in the midst of his excruciatingly painful punishment, his mind wandered back to those days of innocence.

Back to the feel of his mother’s lips on his cheek.

Back to the laughter of his siblings.

Back to the proud embrace of his father after a chore done well.

I imagine that, in his mind, this criminal retraced all that had led up to his first mistake, his first crime, his first taste of guilt and regret. I imagine that, as he hung dying on his cross, he wished more than anything that he could go back and undo all the wrong he had done. I imagine this because of the way he chose to spend his final breaths. Speaking to the other criminal hanging next to him, this man said, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong” (Luke 23:40).

This thief stood up to the other criminal who was hurling insults at Jesus. Quite out of character, don’t you think? This man who had done so much wrong in his life was now finishing the final chapter of his story in a different light. But why? Perhaps, as his whole life flashed before his eyes, he wondered, What happened to me? How did I get here? Where did my innocence go? I know right from wrong. Oh, how I wish I could go back.  Perhaps seeing an opportunity to prove that he did indeed know right from wrong, he took up for Jesus and, in doing so, offered a brief glimpse of the innocence that his earlier chapters may have known.

Then he made this request of the Messiah: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Pretty bold, don’t you think? I mean, did this thief actually believe he could skate into heaven at the very last moment? Was it realistic to think this single honorable gesture to defend Jesus could blot out the laundry list of offenses that had landed him on a cross in the first place? Yes. That is exactly what he hoped for—but what he received was so much more.

In Jesus’ presence, the thief on the cross became a different man. His hardened criminal’s heart softened. He took up for Jesus—and then he dared to ask Jesus to take him up. The Scriptures encourage us to “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16). Never had the thief on the cross needed grace more than during his last dying breaths. And Jesus gave it to him: “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

© 2013 by Matthew West

 

Lunch with a Friend

Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. – >Hebrews 13:18

Only the good news of Jesus Christ encourages us to honestly think about who we really are and to address our shortcomings in a way that won’t cause us to wrongly rely upon our own efforts.

Let me explain with this example: A while back I had lunch with a non-Christian friend. As we ate, we began discussing spiritual things. I made reference to the prodigal son, and no sign of recognition crossed his face. He’d never heard the story; he knew nothing about the Bible.

As the conversation progressed, he got around to stating his theology: namely, good people make it to heaven. He considered himself a kind, loving, and good person. And without a doubt, he’s one of the nicest people I know. But as we talked longer, he discussed his internet relationships with women ready to leave their husbands to live with him.  His “goodness,” as he called it, gave these women new hope about men.

I felt compelled to challenge his thinking. “What would these ladies’ husbands think of your so-called goodness?” I asked. “Has this ‘goodness’ ever prompted you to call one of these men and ask if he minded that you were having an internet relationship with his wife?” As it turned out, his “goodness” wasn’t as good as he thought it was.

Rely upon God’s goodness. As good as you think you might be, that goodness is nothing next to His.

“Reason often makes mistakes, but conscience never does.” – Josh Billings (1818-1885)

 

Watchman on the Wall, with Jennifer LeClaire

Bishop Bill Hamon in his office.
Bishop Bill Hamon in his office. (Taylor Berglund)

“This is a first of its kind.” That’s how bishop Bill Hamon described this week of prophetic gatherings in Dallas.

This is my first year as part of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, led by Cindy Jacobs. It’s an especially significant moment to join the group.

Hamon told me this week, which includes The Global Prophetic Summit, is important for the same reason Christian International’s first conference of prophets in 1987 was important.

“It was the first conference in the history of the church conducted for the purpose of recognizing and promoting the restoration of the fivefold ministry of prophets back into the church,” he says. “It was a demonstration that God’s prophets are alive and active in the 20th century church. It was the year we did intercession for birthing of the prophetic movement. The following year, at our October Conference, the prophetic movement was officially birthed.”

As Hamon sees it, this international gathering of the prophets in Dallas will bring international recognition of God’s 21st century prophets, combined revelation and witness of God’s timing and purpose about to take place in the church on planet earth.

We all know there are challenges in today’s prophetic movement. Hamon told me he sees the challenge is raising up prophets who have their 10 Ms—manhood, ministry, message, maturity, marriage, methods, manners, money, morality and motives—in order and have more specific and accurate words for the church and nations and God’s timing for His purposes to be fulfilled.

Many are asking the question: How do we overcome the challenges we see in the prophetic movement. Hamon has some wisdom:

“Have more communication between prophets and church with each other before putting out a word that has national or world events. It’s not enough to get a word; we need counsel and wisdom for presentation and some idea of the timing. We have seen words of world events or catastrophes to happen,” Hamon says.

“In my 64 years [of ministry], I have heard many such prophecies but few have come to pass at that time. Like in the Old Testament, many prophecies took centuries before fulfillment. Such as Messianic prophecies and judgments to nations. Younger-arising prophets need to be trained and mentored like Elisha was by Elijah.”

Jennifer LeClaire is senior leader of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, founder of the Ignite Network and founder of the Awakening Blaze prayer movement. She is author of over 25 books. Find her online at jenniferleclaire.org or email her at info@jenniferleclaire.org.

 

 

NOV14

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

1851

Moby-Dick published

On this day in 1851, Moby-Dick, a novel by Herman Melville about the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod, is published by Harper & Brothers in New York. Moby-Dick is now considered a great classic of American literature and contains one of the most famous opening lines in fiction: “Call me Ishmael.” Initially, though, the book about Captain Ahab and his quest for a giant white whale was a flop.

Herman Melville was born in New York City in 1819 and as a young man spent time in the merchant marines, the U.S. Navy and on a whaling ship in the South Seas. In 1846, he published his first novel, Typee, a romantic adventure based on his experiences in Polynesia. The book was a success and a sequel, Omoo, was published in 1847. Three more novels followed, with mixed critical and commercial results. Melville’s sixth book, Moby-Dick, was first published in October 1851 in London, in three volumes titled The Whale, and then in the U.S. a month later. Melville had promised his publisher an adventure story similar to his popular earlier works, but instead, Moby-Dick was a tragic epic, influenced in part by Melville’s friend and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, neighbor, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose novels include The Scarlet Letter.

After Moby-Dick‘s disappointing reception, Melville continued to produce novels, short stories (Bartleby) and poetry, but writing wasn’t paying the bills so in 1865 he returned to New York to work as a customs inspector, a job he held for 20 years.

Melville died in 1891, largely forgotten by the literary world. By the 1920s, scholars had rediscovered his work, particularly Moby-Dick, which would eventually become a staple of high school reading lists across the United States. Billy Budd, Melville’s final novel, was published in 1924, 33 years after his death.

 

 

The Daily Word of Hope Devotional

Bible Fun Fact: The span of time between Joseph being sold into slavery and seeing his brothers again was just over 20 years.

Saddling Up Anyway

They told Esther’s words to Mordecai. Then Mordecai asked them to return this answer to Esther: ‘Don’t think to yourself that you will escape in the king’s house any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent now, then relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows if you haven’t come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ Esther 4:12 WEB

John Wayne once said that ‘Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.’ A young woman named Esther was once faced with a decision like that, and it could have led to her execution. A law was passed in the land to exterminate all the Jews that were living in Persia.

Esther, who was Jew, had hidden her family’s identity and she was safely living in the royal palace when her uncle Mordecai sent her word to go and speak with the king. He wanted her to try and obtain mercy for her people. But if Esther went into the king’s chamber without being summoned, it was an automatic death sentence, unless the king chose to pardon her by extending a golden scepter.

When Esther hesitated to take the message to the king, her uncle Mordecai told her that if she did not go, the Lord would send someone else, but she would miss out. Esther was just a young girl and very scared, but she pulled herself together and said: ‘If I perish, I perish.’ After fasting and praying for three days and nights, she went in to meet the king and ended up saving her people. There is a Jewish holiday called ‘Purim’ that commemorates the event.

It is easy to be strong when there is nothing to be afraid of, but faith is tested in the furnace like refined gold. Do not cower back from whatever you have to face today, for you are here for a purpose, for such a time as this. If God is for you, who can stand against you? If you withdraw, God will send someone else, but you will miss out on what He has in store for you. So stand strong, know that God is with you, and that you are well able to face whatever comes your way.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for bringing me to Your kingdom for such a time as this. It is no accident that I am living here today and I know that You have a plan and a purpose for me. Fulfill Your will in my life, guide my steps, and draw me into a deeper relationship with You, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

 

Today’s Scripture

“Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and carry on our business and make money. Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that [thing]. But as it is, you boast [falsely] in your presumption and your self-conceit. All such boasting is wrong.” James 4:13-16 AMP

Thoughts for Today

The “I can do it myself” mode can creep up on us. You might have started out recognizing your need for God in all areas of your life. You focused on him and he began transforming you and guiding you and helping you grow and mature. With that growth, came success–perhaps in a ministry or a career or in some area of your life. People praised you and a subtle change began to take place. You began to look at what you had done, instead of remembering that God enabled you to be successful. Your self-confidence and “me-focus” grew and you began to depend less and less on God. Today’s scripture reminds us that “you boast falsely in your presumption and your self-conceit. All such boasting is wrong.”

The fact is–we do need God. And sooner or later when we try to do things our way, instead of seeking him for his way, we will fail.

Consider this …

Take a step back from your busyness and examine your life. Is there an area where you are operating in this “I can do it myself” mode? If so, are you willing to recognize your need for God and trust him to guide you and mold you into the person he wants you to be, accomplishing those things he has called you to do? Are you ready to stop trying to do things in your own strength and wisdom? Are you ready to praise him for your successes?

Prayer

Father, I think I’ve been a little carried away with self-importance in this area of my life. Please forgive me and help me refocus on you. I know that all my gifts and talents and successes come from you. Help me to honor you in all I do. In Jesus’ name …

 

Charisma Media

(1)

And So the Internet Crackdown Begins

The co-founder of Christian website Desiring God believes that an obsession with “material prosperity” is “at least as dangerous as porn” in our modern era.

READ: After 3,557 Days of Intense Prayer and Disappointment, Singer Christy Sutherland Has a Joyous Announcement

Jon Bloom wrote in an op-ed published last month that he believes materialism should “frighten” Christians to a degree, considering what the Bible says about it.

Bloom appealed to Jesus’ claim that it is “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And, he noted that Paul also said, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.”

He continued:

Think about the testimonies you’ve heard of people’s powerful encounters with God. Ask yourself how many of those stories of powerful, transformational, life-altering, love-producing, sanctifying encounters with God were the result of being lavished with worldly prosperity. If you’re like me, you come up empty. But if you know any, you can probably count them on one hand with fingers left over.

On the other hand, how many of those stories involve people in some way being, as we say, brought to the end of themselves? Let that sink in for moment: we tend to encounter God more profoundly in our places of need than in our places of prosperity.

Bloom went on to question why Christians don’t have accountability groups for the love of wealth as they do for other stumbling blocks, and questioned the impact of desensitization on people living in a culture that is immersed in money.

And he said that Christians must come to see abundance as potentially posing problematic issues just as many see facing financial constraints as posing trials that can yield important lessons.

“How desensitized are we — especially in light of the fact that, according to the Bible, prosperity is at least as spiritually dangerous as pornography?” Bloom asked….

Article by

Staff writer, desiringGod.org

When you think of the kind of trials that test your faith (James 1:2), do you ever think of material prosperity as one of them? Most of us don’t. We tend to think of suffering, adversity, and loss that put us in places of significant need.

And we try to avoid experiencing such needs if at all possible. If such experiences come, we really want, and therefore pray, for God to deliver us from the needy seasons as soon as possible. For surely a God who loves his children would not want them experiencing need, right? He’d want to bless us, right? Right. Unless need happens to hold greater, richer spiritual blessings than plenty. In that case, needy seasons would be greater gifts to God’s children than plenteous seasons.

“We need as much of God’s strength in abundance as we do in need, and very likely more.”

Think about the testimonies you’ve heard of people’s powerful encounters with God. Ask yourself how many of those stories of powerful, transformational, life-altering, love-producing, sanctifying encounters with God were the result of being lavished with worldly prosperity. If you’re like me, you come up empty. But if you know any, you can probably count them on one hand with fingers left over.

On the other hand, how many of those stories involve people in some way being, as we say, brought to the end of themselves? Let that sink in for moment: we tend to encounter God more profoundly in our places of need than in our places of prosperity.

At Least as Dangerous as Porn

In fact, if we take the Bible seriously, material prosperity should frighten us, in some sense, because the Bible says frightening things about it:

  • Jesus: “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:24–25)
  • Paul: “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.” (1 Timothy 6:10–11)
  • James: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire.” (James 5:1–3)

Not to diminish the dangers of sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:9–11), but have you ever noticed that the New Testament issues more dire warnings against the spiritual dangers of material prosperity than sexual immorality? Jesus didn’t say it’s harder for a sexually immoral person to get into heaven than a camel to squeeze through a needle’s eye. He said it about rich people. And most people who read this live in one of the richest nations in the history of the world.

“Prosperity is at least as spiritually dangerous as pornography.”

Do we tremble? Why is it that prosperous Christians aren’t forming accountability groups like crazy to help us keep our lives free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5)? We know that desensitization to sexually immoral images or videos is dangerous to our souls, but are we at all in touch with the effects of wealth after many decades of being immersed in a prosperous culture? How has it affected us? How desensitized are we — especially in light of the fact that, according to the Bible, prosperity is at least as spiritually dangerous as pornography?

Trial of “Facing Abundance”

Another thing to notice: listen to how Paul speaks of abundance when writing his thank-you letter to the Philippian Christians for providing for his needs in prison:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11–13)

Does it strike you as strange that Paul speaks of abundance in the same way he speaks of need? He speaks of both as requiring faith, which means both are distinct kinds of faith-trials. Over years of trial and testing, he learned the secret of facing both circumstances.

“Abundance obscures our vulnerability, giving us a misleading sense of security and a false sense of independence.”

We know that being materially “brought low” is a trial. But do we think of materially “abounding” as a trial? If we don’t, it may be that we are too accustomed to it, too comfortable with it — desensitized to it. And if this is the case, we’re in a dangerous place.

Abundance easily obscures our vulnerabilities, giving us a misleading sense of security, and often a false sense of independence. The danger lies precisely in the fact that it doesn’t feel dangerous. We tend to like the feeling it gives. Being people whose sinful, self-centered pride is far more pervasive and powerful than we are usually aware of, we love the sense of autonomy and indulgent opportunities wealth affords. We love not feeling needy. We consider that normal.

But according to Jesus, we are completely needy. We need him like branches need the vine (John 15:5). The problem is that prosperity has a tendency to mask that need. And this is why for most people, abundance is spiritually harder to face faithfully than need. In need, we are likely to be more in touch with our true need before God. Need has a way of humbling us. But in abundance, we are less likely to be in touch with our true need and it has a way of fueling our pride.

Strength to Abound

If we live in prosperity, we must take the Bible’s warnings earnestly to heart. For the sake of love, we must help each other keep our lives free from the love of money and what that means for us. We must be as vigilant to be prosperously pure as we seek to be sexually pure. Both money and sex are gifts from God, but both can also destroy us if we are not careful.

“We tend to encounter God more profoundly in our places of need than in our places of prosperity.”

It takes tremendous spiritual strength to not be seduced by material wealth, to not transfer our trust in God to the material abundance wealth affords. Stay alert for prosperity’s seduction. It promises happiness and security and independence, but without the grace of God — without a mature, wholehearted faith in God — it will lead to many pangs (1 Timothy 6:10). For money is as seductive as sex, perhaps more so.

Remember Paul’s lament over those whose love of money caused them to wander away from the faith (1 Timothy 6:10). Remember Jesus’s lament over the rich man who could not follow him because he owned many possessions (Mark 10:21–23). And remember Paul’s example:

In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12–13)

We need strength to abound. We need strength to resist prosperity’s siren song. And therefore, we need as much of God’s strength in abundance as we do in need, and very likely more.

Passion for Praise: ‘Interrupted by the Praise’

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.

Old Ways
And so I must strive to follow His guidance!  I must watch my tongue…… I must be grateful for His instructions… I must learn to lean on Him for strength and will to go on…
17-best-short-christian-quotes-on-pinterest-faith-in-god-quotes-44877
Struggle
This is true!!  I have found a new strength within myself… it is HIM!  It is His Spirit!!  Through me, living IN me!!!  Thank You, Lord… I love You so much!!!

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