TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER
Lord our God, we come to you poor and yet rich, weak and yet strong, with the prayer that your promise may be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our dear Lord and Savior. Let the time come when the heavens open and a new light shines over the earth, a time when people will praise and thank you and receive everlasting peace and happiness with you. Remember the many people who come into need these days. Remember our nation and all who work for the good of our country. Bless them and help them. And help the dying, O Lord our God; grant that they come to you, for they are yours. Your help will bring life out of death, joy out of grief and need. May your name be honored, dear Father in heaven, may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
Caffeine for your conscience
TODAY’S DAILY DIG
Verse of the Day
Thoughts on Today’s Verse…
“Make every effort!” That’s quite a challenge. But notice where that exertion is to be focused: peace and mutual edification. Both sides of this exhortation are two way responsibilities. I must pursue and share peace if I am going to have it myself. I must edify, and be open to being edified, if mutual edification is going to happen. In other words, we live with other people in God’s family. He wants us to be responsible for making relationships work in our spiritual family. He reminds us it will require strenuous effort. But, isn’t that true in every family relationship? Love means sacrifice, effort, and concern for others. When we share our love willingly, however, we’re much more likely to see it coming back to us!
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for my impatience and selfishness. Defeat the bad attitude of competitiveness that I often display in arguments and disagreements with others in your family. Energize me by your Spirit to see areas where I can be a blessing and an encouragement to others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
BIBLE STUDY BUDDY
Read Romans 5:1-11…Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2. through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4. perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10. For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11. Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Christ died for sinners; not only such as were useless, but such as were guilty and hateful; such that their everlasting destruction would be to the glory of God’s justice. Christ died to save us, not in our sins, but from our sins; and we were yet sinners when he died for us. Nay, the carnal mind is not only an enemy to God, but enmity itself, chap. Ro 8:7; Col 1:21. But God designed to deliver from sin, and to work a great change. While the sinful state continues, God loathes the sinner, and the sinner loathes God, Zec 11:8. And that for such as these Christ should die, is a mystery; no other such an instance of love is known, so that it may well be the employment of eternity to adore and wonder at it. Again; what idea had the apostle when he supposed the case of some one dying for a righteous man? And yet he only put it as a thing that might be. Was it not the undergoing this suffering, that the person intended to be benefitted might be released therefrom? But from what are believers in Christ released by his death? Not from bodily death; for that they all do and must endure. The evil, from which the deliverance could be effected only in this astonishing manner, must be more dreadful than natural death. There is no evil, to which the argument can be applied, except that which the apostle actually affirms, sin, and wrath, the punishment of sin, determined by the unerring justice of God. And if, by Divine grace, they were thus brought to repent, and to believe in Christ, and thus were justified by the price of his bloodshedding, and by faith in that atonement, much more through Him who died for them and rose again, would they be kept from falling under the power of sin and Satan, or departing finally from him. The living Lord of all, will complete the purpose of his dying love, by saving all true believers to the uttermost. Having such a pledge of salvation in the love of God through Christ, the apostle declared that believers not only rejoiced in the hope of heaven, and even in their tribulations for Christ’s sake, but they gloried in God also, as their unchangeable Friend and all-sufficient Portion, through Christ only.
Have you seen the W.W.J.D. bracelets? They remind us to ask ”What Would Jesus Do?” A few years ago, a Holland, Michigan, youth group was reading the classic In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. One person came up with the idea of making W.W.J.D. bracelets to remind believers of the key question in that book: What would Jesus do in any given situation? Those bracelets have prompted thousands to pause and ponder that question.
As I think about the importance of this question in living a God-pleasing life, I wonder how many people need to ask a more basic question: W.D.J.D. – What Did Jesus Do?
Before contemplating the W.W.J.D. questions of life, we must first understand what Jesus did. He died on the cross to provide a sacrifice for us. Although innocent of any wrongdoing, He was crucified, taking upon Himself the punishment for our sin. He provided the only way to establish a relationship with a holy God.
What did Jesus do? He gave His life to give us life. Even if we were to live perfectly by the maxim W.W.J.D., we could never be good enough to reach heaven without Jesus’ sacrifice. For that, we have to depend on what Jesus did.
Have you put your faith in what Jesus did?
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.–JAMES i. 26.
I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue.–PS. xxxix. I.
No sinful word, nor deed of wrong,
Nor thoughts that idly rove;
But simple truth be on our tongue,
And in our hearts be love.
Let us all resolve,–First, to attain the grace of SILENCE; Second, to deem all FAULT-FINDING that does no good a SIN, and to resolve, when we are happy ourselves, not to poison the atmosphere for our neighbors by calling on them to remark every painful and disagreeable feature of their daily life; Third, to practise the grace and virtue of PRAISE.
HARRIET B. STOWE.
Surrounded by those who constantly exhibit defects of character and conduct, if we yield to a complaining and impatient spirit, we shall mar our own peace without having the satisfaction of benefiting others.
T. C. UPHAM.
PERSECUTION AND CHURCH GROWTH
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:1
Pastor Samuel Lamb from southern China celebrated his 87th birthday in October, 2011. A quarter of his life was spent imprisoned for his faith. He still preaches several times on Sunday in his large house church and most week nights in Biblestudies. His brilliant smile shines from a slight body suffering chronic disability resulting from 15 years confinement in a coal mine. “God gives me the strength I need,” he says. He has never left China, fearing that if he traveled, the authorities would not let him return.
Lamb credits God for the faith to accept what has happened in his life. It has deepened his ministry. Lamb believes that sometimes God is more glorified through sickness and poverty than through health and wealth. Christians travel thousands of miles to discuss house church ministry with Pastor Lamb and visitors from around the world seek out his house church in Guangzhou, China, which gathers 3,000 members each week.
Pastor Lamb often refers to persecution and growth as intertwined. He is known for his quote, “Remember the lesson of the Chinese church; more persecution, more growth.” As the pastor explains, “Before I was put into prison in 1955, this church’s membership was 400; when I came out in 1978, it built up to 900 in a matter of weeks. Then after 1990, when everything was confiscated here and the church briefly closed, we re-opened and in a matter of weeks we had 2,000 members. More persecution, more growth—that’s the history of the Chinese church, that’s the history of this church.”
Though the two are related, persecution in other parts of the world has not necessarily always brought church growth. North Africa is an example.
But the Bible, especially in the book of Acts, is clear that church growth will likely bring persecution. Each time the Gospel made advances in Acts, persecution would break out. And in Acts 8:4, the persecuted and scattered believers went everywhere preaching the word.
RESPONSE: Today I will accept the principle that sometimes God is more glorified through sickness and poverty than through health and wealth.
PRAYER: Thank You Lord that You use all situations to grow Your church. Help me to be an active and eager participant.
Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness…Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: ‘You are accepted.’
|The Absence of Thanks
“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan.” Luke 17:15-16 (NIV)
It was a typical scene at a kids’ birthday party.
Boys and girls lined up for food and brought their plates to the table to eat. There was nothing really wrong with that. One child looked up from his full plate and said, “Thank you” to the adult serving the meal.
I challenge you to think of two more beautiful words.
That was one well-mannered, grateful and considerate child.
It’s easy to breeze through life without stopping to say thank you. Whether you’re facing a clerk at the store, a bus driver, restaurant employee or family member, we can move on quickly instead of pausing to give thanks.
Apparently people moved along quickly in ancient times, too.
The story behind our key verse is only recorded in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, and as He entered a certain village, ten men who had leprosy standing far away called upon Him for mercy. He told them to go and show themselves to the priests. The priest was the one who could issue a life-giving paper, a certificate of release indicating they were disease-free, and therefore allowed to return to their homes and public life once again.
Jesus didn’t heal the men on the spot. They were healed on the way. As they followed and obeyed Jesus’ orders, they were healed of their leprosy. Imagine their disbelief and joy as they saw their skin repair itself and look like new again. That was impossible apart from God’s power!
One of these 10 returned and thanked Jesus: “when he saw he was healed, [he] came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan” (Luke 17:15-16).
Jesus completely, supernaturally, wonderfully changed 10 lives … but only one person came back to say thank you.
Ten people had the same experience, but one responded differently than the rest.
“Jesus asked,‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’” (Luke 17:17-18, NIV).
Do you hear the surprise and disappointment in these questions? The nine Jewish men kept their blessings to enjoy but didn’t return to acknowledge the giver. The most unlikely to return — the Samaritan who knew the least about God — was the one to receive not only a physical healing, but a spiritual one.
Jesus said to him in verse 19, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” The power of God cleansed him outwardly in his body as he went in obedience, then cleansed him inwardly from sin when he returned to give thanks.
He would have missed out on that blessing if he hadn’t returned to thank Jesus. Gratitude paved the way for a double blessing — healing for the body and restoration for the soul.
Today, gratitude still paves the way to blessing in both body and soul.
It’s easy to look down on the nine Jewish men who didn’t bother to say thank you. But maybe you and I would have done the same thing. Maybe they were so excited about being healed and getting that certificate of release, and seeing their wives and children again that they could hardly wait to go home! After all, if they traveled back to Jesus, maybe Jesus wouldn’t be there anymore so why bother with the trip?
Yet the trip to thank Jesus wasn’t only the appropriate response; it would have been a journey to unbelievable wholeness for those nine Jewish men.
As we celebrate a national day of Thanksgiving in the United States, let us all learn from these 10 men and the little boy at the birthday party. Although it may take some effort, it’s always best to pause … and say thank you.
Lord Jesus, forgive me for not saying “Thank You.” I repent of focusing on the things I don’t have, instead of the blessings You have given me. I want to be like the one who returned to express gratitude. Thank You for saving me, forgiving me and providing for my needs each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Chronicles 29:12-13, “Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.” (NIV)
Psalm 100:4, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (NASB)
Gratitude is something we want our children and grandchildren to practice. Arlene Pellicane writes about appreciation in her book co-authored with Gary Chapman, Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World.
It’s the people in your life who can make you feel right at home during the holidays. Whether you’re with your family or you feel lonely in a new town this season, our new holiday products will help you spend meaningful time with the people God has placed in your life throughout the year. Click here to learn more and shop our holiday products!
Find five ways to cultivate a thankful heart in your child today when you stop by Arlene’s website.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Do you identify more with the one who returned to say thanks, or the nine who moved on with their day? Would those who know you best describe you as a grateful person?
© 2017 by Arlene Pellicane. All rights reserved.
Scriptures: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
I’ll never forget the night my dad died.
He left like he had lived. Quietly. Graciously. With dignity. Without demands or harsh words or even a frown, he surrendered himself–a tired, frail, humble gentleman–into the waiting arms of his Savior. Death, selfish and cursed enemy of man, won another battle.
As I stroked the hair from his forehead and kissed him goodbye, a hundred boyhood memories played around in my head.
- When I learned to ride a bike, he was there.
- When I wrestled with the multiplication table, his quick wit erased the hassle.
- When I discovered the adventure of driving a car, he was near, encouraging me.
- When I got my first job (delivering newspapers), he informed me how to increase my subscriptions and win the prize. It worked!
- When I mentioned a young woman I had fallen in love with, he pulled me aside and talked straight about being responsible for her welfare and happiness.
- When I did a hitch in the Marine Corps, the discipline I had learned from him made the transition easier
From him I learned to seine for shrimp. How to gig flounder and catch trout and red fish. How to open oyster shells and fix crab gumbo . . . and chili . . . and popcorn . . . and make rafts out of old inner tubes and gunny sacks. I was continually amazed at his ability to do things like tie fragile mantles on the old Coleman lantern, keep a fire going in the rain, play the harmonica with his hands behind his back, and keep three strong-willed kids from tearing the house down.
That night I realized I had him to thank for my deep love for America. And for knowing how to tenderly care for my wife. And for laughing at impossibilities. And for some of the habits I have picked up, like approaching people with a positive spirit rather than a negative one, staying with a task until it is finished, taking good care of my personal belongings, keeping my shoes shined, speaking up rather than mumbling, respecting authority, and standing alone (if necessary) in support of my personal convictions rather than giving in to more popular opinions. For these things I am deeply indebted to the man who raised me.
Certain smells and sounds now instantly remind me of my dad. Oyster stew. The ocean breeze. Smoke from an expensive cigar. The nostalgic whine of a harmonica. A camping lantern and white gas. Car polish. Fun songs from the 30s and 40s. Freshly mowed grass. A shrill whistle from a father to his kids around supper time. And Old Spice aftershave.
Because a father impacts his family so permanently, I think I understand better than ever what the Scripture means when Paul wrote:
Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us . . . just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:8, 11-12)
Admittedly, much of my dad’s instruction was indirect–by model rather than by explicit statement. I do not recall his overt declarations of love as clearly as I do his demonstrations of it. His life revolved around my mother, the darling and delight of his life. Of that I am sure. When she left over nine years earlier, something of him died as well. And so–to her he has been joined and they are, together, with our Lord. In the closest possible companionship one can imagine.
In this my sister, my brother, and I find our greatest comfort–they are now forever with the Lord–eternally freed from pain and aging and death. Secure in Jesus Christ our Lord. Absent from the body and at home with Him. And with each other.
That night I said goodbye. You’d think it would have been easy, since his illness had persisted for more than three years. How well I remember the Sunday he suffered that first in a series of strokes as I was preaching. God granted him several more years to teach many of us to appreciate the things we tend to take for granted.
He leaves in his legacy a well-marked Bible I treasure, a series of feelings that I need to deepen my roots, and a thousand memories that comfort me as I replace denial with acceptance and praise.
I await heaven’s gate opening in the not-too-distant future. So do other Christians, who anxiously await Christ’s return. Most of them anticipate hearing the soft strum of a harp or the sharp, staccato blast of a trumpet.
Not me. I will hear the nostalgic whine of a harmonica . . . held in the hands of the man who died that night . . . or did he? The memories are as fresh as this morning‘s sunrise.
My greatest comfort? That I will one day be free from death, forever with the Lord.
— Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This
Excerpt taken from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, copyright (c) 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. For additional information and resources visit us at www.insight.org.
The One Year Devotional Prayer Book, Vol. II
By Johnny Hunt
God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. –Hebrews 6:17, 18
I have three precious grandsons, and I always love it when they are around me. I wantto pour only good things into their lives. When they want me, I am there, no questionsasked. If they need something, I want to give them the most and best that I can.They love their Poppa, and they know their Poppa loves them. They never have to wonderhow much I love them, because I show them every chance I get.
When God does something on our behalf, He doesn’t just do the minimum required. He goes exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond what we can imagine. I have heard it said that just one sacrificial drop of Jesus’ blood would have been enough to pay the full price for every sin ever committed. God made sure that we saw the extent of His love for us. He was determined to show more abundantly His covenant with us through His unchanging Word. He also confirmed that covenant by an oath that involved the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus. Because of these “two immutable things,” we can know without a doubt that God loves us with an everlasting love and, as we run to Him for refuge, we can confidently lay hold of the hope set before us.
© 2010 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Defusing the Anger Trap
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. – >Philippians 4:11-12
Would you like to hear one of life’s great paradoxes? The more we learn to be satisfied with what we have and stop comparing our financial score card and trophies with those around us, the better we feel about ourselves. In other words, the biblical discipline of learning and practicing contentment shows the myth of “I-Am-What-I-Earn” to be a lie.
Learning to be satisfied is a good indication that we’ve learned that God is God, and that His fatherly care and infinite wisdom can be trusted.
Furthermore, those who learn to be satisfied and thankful for what they’ve been given will have more time and energy for the kinds of friendships and relationships that will meet their basic needs and honor God. If you think about it, you’ll find that your attitude toward money and possessions either fuels or cools your anger. If you have trouble living within your means, you really have two options: you can push harder to make more, or you can promote an atmosphere of contentment for what you have, and in so doing, relieve the pressure on yourself.
“Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.” – Socrates (470-399 BC)
The Daily Word of Hope Devotional
Bible Fun Fact: God caused the sun to stand still in the sky so that it provided light for 24 hours straight (Joshua 10:12-14).
The Weed Eater
Out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send out from the same opening fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, yield olives, or a vine figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh water. James 3:10 WEB
Out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send out from the same opening fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, yield olives, or a vine figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh water. James 3:10-12 WEB
Hot and tired, I pulled the starting rope on the weed eater for the fortieth time. Once again it sputtered, ran a second, and died. After being primed, choked, and pulled until I had blisters that had rose up and then busted, the stubborn little torture device still refused to run for more than a second at a time.
As Esau with Jacob, I comforted myself with the thought of destroying it. Thoughts ran through my mind of bending it around a nearby tree. Though completely frustrated, I felt a tiny inkling to pray. I finally paused and simply said:
‘Lord Jesus, please help me with this.’
With a deep breath, I pulled the start cord one more time. It started and ran perfectly. I finished cutting the grass without any more problems, wishing that I had prayed sooner. The help that we need is just a prayer away, but so many times we struggle on in our own strength.
Be sure to involve God in your life today on every level. He cares about the little things that upset us. I have found that if it matters to you, it matters to Him. That does not mean that you will never have to endure something, but it does mean that you do not have to endure everything, if you will only take the time to ask. He helped me start the weed eater when I stopped and asked Him, but not before.
Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for being there for me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I choose to put my trust in You. Remind me to call on You instead of becoming frustrated today, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.
Are You a Romans 8:14 Christian?
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
November 19, 2017
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. – Romans 8:13-14
Joshua and Caleb are described in Scripture as men who had a different spirit. They were two of the 12 spies sent into the Promised Land to determine if it could be taken, as God had promised it to them. The other ten gave a bad report that instilled fear in the people, which ultimately caused a rebellion. This resulted in an entire generation dying in the desert. Joshua and Caleb were the only two who were led by the Spirit of God, versus the spirit of fear. They were the only ones to enter the Promised Land from their generation.
Are you a person led by the Spirit? The verse above tells us that those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. “But because My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” (Num. 14:24). Caleb was a Romans 8:14 man! The Spirit led him. He was not led by fear.
Many of us have failed to enter into our own Promised Land because we have failed to be led by the Spirit rather than by fear. Fear prevents us from entering into what God has promised for each of us. God has reserved an inheritance for us that is exceedingly good. God described the Promised Land as a land of milk and honey. Our own Promised Land is the same. But you must be led by the Spirit to enter in. You cannot be led by fear, reason and analysis, or even skill. The Spirit must lead you.
Commit yourself to being a Romans 8:14 man or woman. Then you will enter into the land God has promised for you.
Passion for Praise: ‘Praise for our Rescue!’
Sunday, November 19, 2017