Holidays…

Pray6

TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER

a milkweed seedpodI assure you that the man who believes in me will do the same things that I have done, yes, and he will do even greater things than these, for I am going away to the Father. John 14:12, Phillips

Lord our God, we call to you, “Abba, dear Father!” because your Spirit draws us to Jesus Christ the Savior and to his gospel. We call to you for we belong to your kingdom. Give us strength to remain steadfast through all the troubles of our lives. Let your hand remain over us and over the warring nations. Your hand directs, your hand carries out the thoughts of your heart. May the time soon come when you will bring everything to fulfillment and give peace on earth. In expectation we praise your name, for you will bring this time and you will bring it soon. For your kingdom must come, your will must be done on earth as in heaven, and everything must go according to your plan. Amen.

Daily Dig

Reflections for Advent and Christmas

a branch with red berriesInto this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it – because he is out of place in it, and yet must be in it – his place is with those others who do not belong, who are rejected because they are regarded as weak; and with those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, and are tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst.

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Philippians 1:29

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Suffer! How is suffering a privilege? It’s not unless it is for Jesus. Remember how the early apostles were joyful because they were counted worthy to suffer for the name? (cf. Acts 5:41) You see, he suffered for us so we could be saved. When we face suffering for the cause of Christ and his Kingdom, we help inspire others to live faithfully in adversity and show to all the genuineness of our faith. So few have anything worthy of their living, dying, or suffering. We have reason for all three: our lives will be caught up in Jesus’ victory! (cf. Rom. 8:32-39; 1 Cor. 15)

My Prayer…

Make me courageous, O God! Help me to be faithful in times of trouble and strong in times of persecution, hardship, and suffering. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

BIBLE STUDY BUDDY 

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Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3. because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

6. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7. For we live by faith, not by sight. 8. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

When Jesus Is Glad…

A woman wrote to RBC Ministries about her mother who went home to be with the Lord. She was much loved and a blessing to everyone who met her. The writer shared what her 7-year-old son said about the homegoing of his grandmother. Expressing his great love and admiration for her, he remarked with childish glee, ”I’ll bet Jesus was glad to see Grandma!”

I heartily agree. I’m sure the Lord welcomes home all whom He has redeemed. When we think about the death of a Christian, our minds are usually taken up with the joy that a believer must experience when he first sees the One who saved him. What a thrill to behold Christ for the first time! Yes, we’ll be happy to see Christ, but He who loved the church so much that He gave His life for her surely rejoices each time one of His redeemed ones arrives home. I’m confident that when we who have trusted Him as Savior pass through the gates of glory, our Redeemer will find great satisfaction in receiving us into His presence.

So, believer, whether you are facing death yourself or are grieving over the loss of a loved one, think of that boy’s words, ”I’ll bet Jesus was glad to see Grandma.” I’m sure He will be glad to see you too!

 

 

November 29
Paul Creates Confusion in Jerusalem
And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.
Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut. Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. He immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done. And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another.
So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks. When he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, “Away with him!”
Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?”
He replied, “Can you speak Greek? Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?”
But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.”
So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,
“Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.” And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent.
Then he said: “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.
“Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
“And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.
“Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’
“Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’ So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.'”
And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!”
Acts 21:17-22:22
WORSHIP
For Your servant David’s sake,
Do not turn away the face of Your Anointed.
The LORD has sworn in truth to David;
He will not turn from it:
“I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body.
If your sons will keep My covenant
And My testimony which I shall teach them,
Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore.”
Psalm 132:10-12
WISDOM
As the heavens for height and the earth for depth,
So the heart of kings is unsearchable.
Proverbs 25:3

Quote of the Day

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:11

Today’s Answer

Why Weren’t the Jewish Leaders Looking?

Greg Laurie 

When King Herod heard that one had been born King of the Jews, he summoned the chief priests and scribes to inquire where the Christ was to be born (see Matthew 2:4). They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet . . .'” (Matthew 2:5-6).

Not only did these religious leaders know the answer, but it appears as though they knew it right away. “The Messiah? Bethlehem is where He will be born.” Then why weren’t they looking for Him? Doesn’t it seem a little unusual that foreign dignitaries had come from the East, claiming to have been led to that very area by some star, and were looking for one who is called the King of the Jews? Certainly that must have piqued their curiosity a little bit. Yet these theological experts could not even bother to walk a few miles to Bethlehem to find out whether the Messiah had indeed been born.

They knew the Word of God, yet they did nothing in response. They were too busy with themselves to be concerned about Jesus. In fact, when His public ministry began, they were Jesus’ principal adversaries. They were looking for a different kind of a Messiah. They were looking for someone who would support their religious system and their chosen way of living, someone who would cater to their whims and conform to their wishes.

A lot of people today want Jesus, but they want Him on their own terms. They want the kind of Jesus who will not challenge them. These religious leaders were like that. They knew Scripture – they could quote it verbatim. Yet they did nothing to meet the living Savior

Taken from “a different kind of messiah” by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).

 

 

REJOICE IN THE LORD

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord!  Philippians 3:1

We’ve been learning personal lessons from prison from Pastor Okok Ojula in Ethiopia as he shared them with Jim Cunningham.

He says, “The fourth lesson is to Rejoice in the Lord always in the prison.

“Prison means cutting off almost all your freedoms from the previous life. The devil is more pressing in the prison than anywhere in life, preaching negatives things to us. The most powerful tool for victory in our Christian lives in the midst of negatives is to preach positives to defeat the devil of negatives. In other words, it is to develop a positive attitude in a hostile situation like in the prison.

“In Philippians 3:1, it says, Rejoice in the Lord! Rejoicing in the Lord always enables us to approach the burning bush for a release from the prison. Let our prayer contain; “Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

“I hope this kind of prayer can discipline us, and help make us approach the Lord very closely in the burning bush—the very place where we can hear a distilled voice from Him for the deliverance of many in their misery. The burning bush does not burn us up, but it makes us remove our sandals when we approach it.”

Pastor Okok was released after three and a half years and God has rewarded his ministry, even his family. One of his daughters was chosen as Miss Ethiopia which paid for her education. He continues to minister in freedom but with new perspectives based on his prison life.

Prison experiences are very personal and very impacting. I think that must be why I enjoy reading memoirs of Christians who have been in prison. They are so positive and uplifting compared to those of non-Christians.

I especially remember the prayer of a Christian brother who was in prison for years in Romania during the difficult years of the cold war. He prayed:

“Lord, I look forward to the great day I see you and your family in heaven. I look forward to seeing the great evangelists standing before you. I look forward to the day I see all the missionaries coming home rejoicing with their sheaves. I look forward to hearing all the great singers of the world praising you. I look forward to seeing the great preachers of the ages standing before you. But Lord, I have one special request. When that day comes, allow me to be there in the clothing of a prisoner. I want to praise you throughout eternity in my prisoner’s clothes to always remind me that I was a prisoner for you.”

RESPONSE: Today I will rejoice in the Lord in the face of all the negatives that Satan tries to throw at me.

PRAYER: Lord, You are worthy of my praise and joyfulness no matter what circumstances I am in.

 

November 29

My sons, be not now negligent: for the Lord hath chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him.–2 CHRON. xxix. 11.

Bright be my prospect as I pass along;–
An ardent service at the cost of all,–
Love by untiring ministry made strong,
And ready for the first, the softest call.
A. L. WARING.

There are many things that appear trifles, which greatly tend to enervate the soul, and hinder its progress in the path to virtue and glory. The habit of indulging in things which our judgment cannot thoroughly approve, grows stronger and stronger by every act of self-gratification, and we are led on by degrees to an excess of luxury which must greatly weaken our hands in the spiritual warfare. If we do not endeavor to do that which is right in every particular circumstance, though trifling, we shall be in great danger of letting the same negligence take place in matters more essential.
MARGARET WOODS.

The will can only be made submissive by frequent self-denials, which must keep in subjection its sallies and inclinations. Great weakness is often produced by indulgences which seem of no importance.
M. DE MOLINOS.

 

love and family

A Better Christmas

The Holiday Slump “It’s almost that time of year again. The shopping, the family get-togethers, the Christmas office party, the decorating, the memories of loved ones who are no longer with us,” writes Pastor Steven Estes. “What should be the happiest time of the year often becomes a stressful, anxiety-ridden, and emotional season for those seeking perfection and trying to fulfill unrealistic expectations. But December doesn’t have to get the better of us. Here is some hope and encouragement from Proverbs to help us get through the holiday chaos.”

Wisdom from Long Ago “About 3,000 years ago, the wisest man who ever lived wrote a huge bestseller,” writes Estes, author of A Better December. “The funny thing is, Christmas was still 1,000 years off. His name was Solomon, king of Israel. He called it Proverbs. It’s helpful in an everyday, tie-your-shoes, common sense way … and very Christmasy. Not sure you can picture Solomon in a green and red sweater? Think about it. Any writer who pens: The coolness of snow … refreshes the spirit, (Proverbs 25:13) is all about December. Rummaging through his Book of Proverbs, you’ll find he knows Christmas.”

Gifts. So how can proverbs written thousands of years ago help us today? Take a closer look a Proverbs and you’ll see it full of advice to help us at Christmas. “Two things I ask of you, O Lord … give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you … Or I may become poor and steal.” (Proverbs 30:7–9.) “Go ahead and prowl the mall, he’s saying – shop the net, wrap a few gifts, pencil a wish list yourself,” Estes explains. “But keep it simple, and remember what’s important.

Children. “December’s pressures can besiege Mom and Dad into saying, ‘Aw, heck, I’m too tired to make them behave,’” writes Estes. “You want folks to respect your son, to like your daughter. You hope for the little sprigs to swell you with pride someday. But getting there needs to start now … even on Christmas morning. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)”

Perfectionism. “We want everything to be just right during the holiday season – picture-perfect decorations, scrumptious feasts, and presents to please all,” notes Estes, “But life often doesn’t go according to plan. Solomon foresaw that many of our designs for Christmas would go awry. “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21) “God has bigger plans for you than the perfect dinner. That’s why he lets things go wrong. He’s saving your appetite for the perfect eternity. The true holiday magic is reserved for heaven. Every delight down here is a mere taste and teaser.”

 

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A Prayer for Faithful Dependence
By Pete Briscoe

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” – Isaiah 41:13

Jesus doesn’t work harder for those who try harder. So if you’ve been busy muscling up some stellar faith, hoping someday you’d have just enough to have just a little more Jesus, you can stop. Jesus isn’t concerned about the quantity or quality of your faith. He just desires to be the object of your faith.

The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God…. (Galatians 2:20)

When we depend upon someone other than Jesus, we are going to be disappointed. Our society offers a buffet of choices: health and wellness, dead people, spouses, careers, IRAs, and even pastors. All of them are imperfect and totally unqualified to become the object of your faith.

How about today’s gurus? They’re simply preaching secular legalism – teaching a different list of rules, but rules all the same. Rules can’t hold you up.

I remember my elementary science teacher explaining the human skeleton. If all went well, I’d never see my own bones; but without them, I’d be nothing more than a blob of flesh and muscle on pavement. Same goes with faith. People are always looking for a visible object of faith. Yet, it’s the ascended Christ and the invisible but indwelling Spirit who hold us up in this faith journey.

In fact, Scripture teaches that faith is produced by God’s Spirit in us. We have no control over its volume and quantity in our lives. But we do get to choose whom we trust.

What are you facing today? In whom or what will you put your faith?

Almighty God, renew our hearts so that we may give your words to others. Hold us up in faith and lead us in righteousness. Father, as we begin each day, remind us to place our full dependence on you. You are the author of all things, and through you we are blessed. Amen.

 

The Reality of Immanuel

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!” —Benjamin Franklin

I have to be honest, I really do love the holiday called Christmas. Our church is a beehive of activity. Our home is a menagerie of laughter and friends and family. I love the food. I love the decorations. I love the way Christmas smells. And who can argue with a couple of cool presents under the tree with my name on it!? Not a bad way to observe Someone’s birthday.

Yes, the holiday works for me… IF I stay mindful of the core precept behind its observance AND if I’m willing to put that precept into practice. In that sense, Christmas is really just another day. It’s one more special day to revel in the wonderful mystery of Emmanuel, God with us. The fact is, God is with us, and the command given to Joshua is the command to us as well:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:9

So yeah, I’m looking forward to the holiday. It’s another day to release my battles and my fears and my self-righteousness. It’s just another day to embrace the incredible love of God and celebrate the reality of His presence in my life. Yes, Emmanuel, “God is with us.” That truth makes every day a celebration!

Jesus, thank you for this holiday. I praise You for one more day to experience the promise of Your presence. Because You are in me, I trust You to be strong; I trust You to be my courage. Thank you that You are with me wherever I go. Amen.

 

Thanksgiving: A Story of Persistence
This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 3:12-14 

Here is a part of the Thanksgiving story you may not know. While the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in October of 1621, it was not until October of 1777 that all 13 colonies celebrated Thanksgiving, for the first time. At one point, our first president, George Washington, proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving, but conflict and difficulties among the colonies put an end to its observance.

It was a magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, whose work led to the celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday we observe today. Hale wrote letters to governors and presidents, and editorials in magazines, books and newspapers, promoting the observance of Thanksgiving. In 1863, after 40 years of letter writing and campaigning (that’s not a typo, she really wrote letters for 40 years), Hale’s persistence paid off and President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving. Since then, every president has supported Thanksgiving. Forty years of dedication, persistence and passion, all to make sure that this country would celebrate a National Day of Thanksgiving each year. Impressive.

We can learn from Hale’s perseverance. It took her 40 years to accomplish what she set out to do. Just like her story, the Christian faith is often described as a marathon, not a sprint. Each day of our life is another day to choose between right and wrong, to help someone in need, to read our Bible and pray. As Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:12-14, Christians are called to persevere, to press on. Sometimes it can feel like an unrewarding task. It is hard, but important, to look to God for the BIGGER plan. What if Hale had chosen to give up after one year or ten years? Her goal would have been left unfinished. Press on towards the call of Christ! Endure! But be forewarned, just like Sara Josepha Hale, it may take 40 years to see the fruit of your labor!

GOING DEEPER:

1. What are some areas in your life that require perseverance?
2. Why is it important we don’t base our faith on feelings?

FURTHER READING:

Deuteronomy 29:2Matthew 4:1James 1:22 Peter 1:3  

 

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6 Keys to Responding when Someone Sins against Us

How successfully do you handle the sins of others? Observation suggests that the Christian family too often reacts with either hot indignation or cold indifference, without a proper sense of biblical responsibility.

Sometimes we seem as bad at handling others’ failures as we are at overcoming our own. No doubt these two things are related. Yet, given the nature of the gospel, would we not expect that the church should be vastly different from the world on this point?

Scripture gives several principles which should govern our response to the sins of others.

1. Grief. A life has been marred. Christ’s name has been shamed. Perhaps others’ lives have been invaded by the consequences of sin. Things can never be quite the same again. Hearts will have been hardened, making repentance the more difficult. Knowing this, we will weep with those who weep.

2. Realism. Conversion does not deliver the saints from the presence of sin. We may have died to sin, but sin has not yet died out in us. The regenerate man is only in the process of being healed. Sin dwells in him still, and is deceitful still.

This does not excuse the believer’s sin, but it underlines that it is possible for Christians still to sin. Scripture encourages us that there will be no fatalities, but warns us that we can still be critically wounded.

The strong-stomached authors of the Westminster Confession caught this balance when they wrote that “sanctification is throughout in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war . . . In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome . . .” (XIV,ii,iii)

Such knowledge does not protect us from grief over others’ sins, but it does help us to see that a single wound is not the end of the war, and thus preserves us from despair of ourselves or others.

3. Self-examination. We too are frail, we too may fall. Our sins may not have produced the same public consequences as those of our brethren, but may be no less horrible. We may have been spared the combination of sinful desire, the pressure of temptation, and the opportunity to act that has brought another to fall. Only those who know that they too are “subject to weakness” will be “able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray” (Heb.5:2).

4. Mutual confession. We are to confess our sins to each other, and to pray for one another (Jas.5:16). Why? Because mutual confession breaks the grip of Satan over the guilty heart.

Satan’s paralyzing stranglehold depends on our acceptance of his winsome lies:

1) No other Christian could have sinned as you did.

2) No other Christian will accept you and love you now, so you must disguise your sin by any means you can.

But in mutual confession we discover and overcome his lies, and break the blackmailing grip that Satan has gained over us. It brings us back into the fellowship from which we have withdrawn out of guilt and a fear of discovery.

5. Forgiveness and reconciliation. Those whom Christ welcomes we must welcome. He grants grace and forgiveness in order that there may be amendment of life. We dare not reverse that gospel pattern by demanding rigorous rehabilitation before we extend forgiveness and reconciliation.

6. New discipline. Brothers and sisters who sin are to be restored gently (Gal.6:1). There is a twofold emphasis here, on discipline and grace. Those who have failed need to drink long and deeply from the fountain of grace, learning again and again that we are not justified by our sanctification but by God’s grace. They will need to be protected from Satan’s efforts to overwhelm and cripple them with guilt, or to drive them to a sense of despair.

Moreover, they have sinned, as we ourselves have, and together we must help them to remodel and rebuild their Christian lives and testimony. The foundations must be strengthened, the ruins must be reconstructed.

It appears from our Lord’s teaching that all this may normally be accomplished informally by fellow Christians, long before it becomes necessary for formal discipline to be inaugurated. Such discipline is for the intractable only (Matt. 18:15-17).

We must never lose sight of the fact that the New Testament church contained one who, after his regeneration, denied Christ with blasphemies. Christ prays for those whom Satan seeks to sift like wheat. He loves them still.

Who knows to what usefulness a brother or sister may be restored by those who have learned how to handle the sins of others as well as their own?

This article was previously published in Eternity Magazine.

 

GUILT OFFERING

And though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering,

he will see his offspring and prolong his days.

>Isaiah 53:10

FROM THE FATHER’S HEART
My child, if there had been another way to cover your guilt, My Father would have chosen it. But it took My life, a willing sacrifice, to pay for the sins of all My children. No longer would the high priest lead the scapegoat outside the tent to appease a Holy God. Instead, I became the once and for all guilt offering. I was led “out of the camp,” to the outskirts of Jerusalem where I was crucified for you. Just for the love of you, My child.

A GRATEFUL RESPONSE
You were the scapegoat for my failures, Lord, the guilt offering sacrificed on my behalf. You, who knew no guilt; You, who were never tainted by sin; You, whose very name spelled purity and holiness–You gave Your very life for me. Can I ever thank You enough?

SIMPLE TRUTH

We’re a special part of God’s own heart.

 

 

Devotionals Daily: A Year with Jesus

A Charles Dickens Devotional

“A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken . . . “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family . . . !”

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend . . . and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits . . . and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!

—A Christmas Carol

About Perspective

Three spirits visited Scrooge and accompanied him on a journey through his past, present, and future. After seeing how dismal the end would be for him, Scrooge changed his ways and vowed to always “keep Christmas well.” Dickens assures us that the old gentleman kept his promise. You might say that Scrooge had a change of perspective.

Jesus taught about perspective in the Beatitudes. He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3–10).

We have a choice about the way we view the events of our lives. Our goal as Christians should be the view that God is in all circumstances. The apostle Paul had that kind of heavenly perspective. Even during his trials—a shipwreck, persecution, imprisonment—he wrote about the joy that came from his faith. Choosing to have a heavenly perspective can make all the difference in life. A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance. -Proverbs 1 5:13

© 2012 by Thomas Nelson®, Inc.

 

Living with Limitations

“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” – >Mark 9:23

It is almost as presumptuous to think you can do nothing as to think you can do everything. In other words, be honest about your limitations, but don’t exaggerate them, or use them as an excuse to keep from being a productive person.

Joni Erikson Tada embodies this truth well. Paralyzed below the neck as a result of a diving accident, she has ministered to millions through her speaking, singing, and painting (she holds a paintbrush in her mouth!)  What an inspiration she is!

Helen Keller who also embodied this truth expressed such an attitude in this beautiful statement: “I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Be hopeful of a man whose limitations are not yet known; maybe he won’t reach them – Unknown

 

The Daily Word of Hope Devotional

Bible Fun Fact: Moses threw a tree into bitter water to make it sweet (Exodus 15: 24-25).

Cheap Sunglasses

One of the criminals who was hanged insulted him, saying, ‘If you are the Christ, save yourself and us!’ But the other answered, and rebuking him said, ‘Don’t you even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? Luke 23:39 WEB

Three men were crucified together at a place called Golgotha. The One in the center was Jesus, the Son of God. There was a convicted criminal on His left, and another His right. One of the criminals ridiculed Jesus, while the other defended Him. Both criminals had been caught, convicted, and crucified together, but yet there were differences between them.

One of the criminals saw himself as redeemable, while the other felt that it was too late. Even though the Son of God was only a few feet away, and would have forgiven them both, one could not see it through his pain filled past. He thought that he was just human trash and not worth saving. That God could never forgive him for all of the things that he had done. He was wrong.

Each time that I have been hurt in my life, or hurt someone else, I grew a little more calloused. I grew a little thicker shell to protect me. It became a little more difficult to believe that God cared about me, that He still loved me. I was looking at my future through cheap sunglasses and thinking that the future, would only be more of the past. Bad lenses will distort your vision.

What you have done wrong, can be forgiven. What you have broken, can be repaired. What you have lost, can be found. The things that you used to dream about, can still come to pass in your life. The end of one thing, is only the beginning of another. It is important that you realize that whatever you have done, it is not too late, and you can have a fresh start. You are the one that makes the difference, and you are the one that has to make the choice.

One thief was saved, and one was not because that was the choices that they made. Have hope. God loves you, and He still has a plan for your life. Do not let the pain of the past keep you from seeing the open arms of Jesus today. He chose you, now choose Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father please forgive me, a sinner. Without You, I am nothing. Help me put my life back together. Come into my heart and lead me from this day on. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, guide my steps, speak to me and through me, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

 

Today’s Scripture

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15 NIVT

Thoughts for Today

As we become more mature in our faith, we will become more Christlike. And we will be more able to manage our anger. One of the most important ways to mature in our walk with God is to spend consistent quiet times with him. Cultivate a quiet time each day that will help you develop God’s character in your life.

There is no set pattern for our times alone with God. Let the Holy Spirit guide you. Your time should include prayer. One mistake we often make in prayer time is talking too much. When two individuals are building a relationship, they have conversations. Both talk. Both listen. And that’s the way it should be during our times with God. He wants to hear from us–but he also wants to speak. Maybe not in an audible voice, but through His Word, through our thoughts. And spend time meditating on Scripture. Maybe you will sing praises to the Lord. Perhaps you will journal. This will become the most precious time of your day.

Consider this …

To meet the demands of today’s stress, we need quietness. Being quiet in God’s presence will supply confidence. He can help us control our anger as we let him provide strength to deal with difficult people and situations. Quiet time with God will help us be calm rather than lashing out in anger. His strength will help us overcome self and sin.

Quiet time. In quietness and trust is our strength.

Prayer

Father, I know I have not been faithful in spending daily quiet time with you. Please forgive me. As I begin to spend more time alone with you, teach me to listen. Teach me to be sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit. Enable me to walk in peace . . . and not in anger. In Jesus’ name …

 

A Heavenly Strategic Planning Session
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
November 29, 2017

“And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ One suggested this, and another that. – 1 Kings 22:20

There are few times we get a glimpse of what goes on in Heaven. Here is one instance when the angels were conferring with the Lord about the judgment of King Ahab for his sin and who was going to set up Ahab for this judgment.

If God wanted to use you to impact your world for Jesus Christ, what circumstances would have to be created in order for you to respond to His call? Would prospering you materially encourage you to this end? Would a major change in what you are presently doing be necessary? What would your response be should God and the angels conclude that the only way to move you into a position of fulfilling God’s purposes was to remove some things that might be very dear to you? Would you agree with their plan if you knew this would be the only way you would achieve the purposes for which God made you? Hard questions, aren’t they?

This is the very thing God does in many who have been called for a special mission. Moses had to be stripped of his royal position in the family of Egypt and sit in the desert for 40 years. The apostle Paul had to be knocked off his horse, blinded, and receive a personal visitation from Jesus. The 12 disciples had to leave their jobs for three years to follow Christ. Imagine what kind of disruption this had on their lives. There are many examples of God bringing major upheaval in the lives of those He called for His purposes. Why?

The reason is that we do not seek God with a whole heart in times of prosperity and comfort. Prosperity and comfort tend to breed complacency and satisfaction. It is rare to find the man or woman who seeks God with a whole heart who does so simply from a grateful heart. We often must have pain or crisis to motivate us. Eventually, that crisis bridges us to a new calling, and we embrace that calling if we are open to the Holy Spirit’s work in us. We can actually thank God for the change that was required to get us to this place, but it is not without anguish of heart.

Would you be willing to sit in the strategic planning session for your life and agree with the plans God has for your life? Could you give God complete freedom to implement that plan, no matter the cost? Ask God to give you the grace and trust in His love for you to say “yes.”

 

Passion for Praise: ‘Outsiders and Insiders, Rejoice Together!’

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do! For instance: Then I’ll join outsiders in a hymn-sing; I’ll sing to your name! And this one: Outsiders and insiders, rejoice together! And again: People of all nations, celebrate God! All colors and races, give hearty praise!

Fall
And this is exactly what I do, every time!
Holiday season is here again…..my son, Steven, put up the tree, and wants to decorate the outside…..he’s trying his best to lift my spirits…..he’s such a dear!
I have hazy memories of past Christmases……..all the gifts!  Sometimes I wish I could go back…….I’m torn between two worlds, it seems…….the old and the present……In the old world and times, it was all materialistic……in the present time, it’s the thought that counts…..just “Best Wishes” sent to people make them feel cared about!
i-am-confident-admit-who-i-am-life-quotes-sayings-pictures
GodApproved
GodsWill
Ministry
Mirror
God bless everyone!!!

 

 

 

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