Ping Pong…..

Let Us Pray1

TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER

a branch from a scotch pineRejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4–7, NIV

Dear Father in heaven, let your joy be always in us, your children. Let your joy bring light and peace to our lives, no matter what happens around us. May we serve you in joy, aware of your peace at all times, so that something of this peace may go out from us to grieving hearts and to regions of the world that are in darkness. Father in heaven, how many unhappy people look up without knowing where to find help! But you will come to them. We beseech you, come to those who mourn, and let them find joy and trust for their redemption in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Dig

Reflections for Advent and Christmas

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

star and hollyThe Miracle

When all the winds were mild,
Mary came to me apart
and laid the Holy Child
here inside my heart.

My heart was made the manger,
and my body was the stall.
And now no man is stranger:
my life goes out to all,

To bring to each of them
this Child of heaven’s light,
to let them enter in, like flames
of candles to the holy night.

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Luke 2:4-5

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

For the next few days, let’s journey with Joseph and Mary as they experience the incredible grace of God. These verses give us the basics: they took a trip south from their home, they went to Bethlehem which was King David’s city, they were “betrothed” or pledged in marriage but not yet fully married, Mary was pregnant, and they were going there to register with the Roman government. Intrigue and scandal ripple between the lines of this straightforward account. Promise and fulfillment are strongly suggested with the connection. Faithfulness through the midst of storm is demonstrated. A real historical context for everyday people is made with the presence of a Roman census. Scandal, promise, faithfulness, and history collide. Jesus enters our world very much in a place where we find ourselves — a place of hope and dreams marred by scandal and disappointment. He will be a people’s Messiah. We know it before he is even born. It makes us love him and appreciate him more. God has chosen to enter our world as one of us, not as some pristine and untouched alien from beyond. This is a Messiah we can reach and follow. This Jesus is one of us.

My Prayer…

Holy and loving God, thank you for the gift of Jesus. Thank you that he entered our messy world with all its contradictions, ironies, and conflicts. Thank you for not being aloof or immune to our struggles. Thank you for Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

 

 

BIBLE STUDY BUDDY 

Read Ephesians 1:1-14…

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5. he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- 6. to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8. that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9. he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10. to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment- to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12. in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14. who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession- to the praise of his glory.

Image result for Birth of Jesus

The Gift of Love….

Nathan, age 8, was working hard (with a little help from his grandfather) to build a birdhouse for his mother for Christmas. He referred to it as his ”secret project.” He gave it careful thought and poured all his energy into it. Most important, he was motivated by love.

Before Nathan started, he calculated the number of hours he thought it would take to make it (7 1/2), and he decided what colors it should be painted (yellow with a blue roof). On Christmas morning he insisted that it be the first gift opened, and he beamed when Mom said she really liked it.

Nathan’s gift was given in the true spirit of the Gift whose birth we celebrate on Christmas. God the Father, moved by His great love, ”gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (Jn. 3:16-17).

Think of the love of the Father that led to the priceless gift of His Son, which was part of His eternal plan (Eph. 1:4-5; 3:11). God’s gift of love should fill us with deep gratitude and joy. Let’s together proclaim, ”Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15).

 

The Essential Message of Christmas

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’ ” —Matthew 1:23

At this time of the year, we say, “Merry Christmas.” I prefer that to “Happy Holidays,” but I don’t get confrontational about it. Instead, I want to be gracious. After all, Christmas isn’t always a happy time for everyone. For someone who has lost their job, this is not the most wonderful time of the year, because so much emphasis is placed on a merry Christmas being a materialistic one.

There are also those who have lost loved ones. I am one of those people, and things that once made me happy at this time of year now make me sad. Those things that once brought happiness are now things that bring sadness, because they evoke memories of times we spent together. Therefore, Christmas becomes a difficult time for some.

There are many who are in need of encouragement at this time of year. They don’t need a Christmas present; they need His Christmas presence. They need to be reminded of what this season is all about. It is not about things. It is not about presents.

These things have their place, but we need to remember the essential message of Christmas, which is Immanuel—God is with us. And for the hurting person, the lonely person, the sorrowing person, this is the time of year to bring the gift of encouragement to them and say, “The message of Christmas is: God will be with you. God will help you. God will strengthen you.”

So look for opportunities to share the love of God during this season, because it is a time when we seem to be more open to engaging in conversation with others. Now is a great opportunity for you to bring encouragement to someone who is struggling. Who needs your encouragement today?

Copyright © 2011 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

The Devil’s Seeds of Doubt

As we saw yesterday, Satan will seek to attack when we are on the verge of a major breakthrough.  I believe there are three distinct areas of attack in this battle.  Today I want to cover the first with you.  It is found in Matthew 4:3-4,

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”  But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”

The devil’s first area of attack will be to try to get you to doubt your calling.

Notice that just prior to this encounter the voice of God the Father said to Jesus, “This is My beloved Son!”  And that is the first thing the devil challenges, “Well, if you are the Son of God….”

He will do the same thing to you.

What is it that God has spoken to you about that He wants you to do with your life?  Has He told you that He wants to use you to funnel vast resources into the gospel?  Or maybe God said you are to be a teacher, or that you are going to impact the entertainment industry, or that you are going to be a prayer warrior and tip the spiritual scales in critical times.

Whatever it is, the devil will saddle up next to you and say, “Who do you think you are?  What God has told you is just a pipe dream.   It’s just your own head speaking to you.”  He will try and get you to doubt what God has said to you and to doubt what God has called you to do.

When that happens, you need to go back to that word that God has spoken to you in order to keep your focus and direction right.

 

December 22

I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him.–ISA. viii. 17.

What heart can comprehend Thy name,
Or, searching, find Thee out?
Who art within, a quickening flame,
A presence round about.

Yet though I know Thee but in part,
I ask not, Lord, for more:
Enough for me to know Thou art,
To love Thee and adore.
F. L. HOSMER.

Stand up, O heart! and yield not one inch of thy rightful territory to the usurping intellect. Hold fast to God in spite of logic, and yet not quite blindly. Be not torn from thy grasp upon the skirts of His garments by any wrench of atheistic hypothesis that seeks only to hurl thee into utter darkness; but refuse not to let thy hands be gently unclasped by that loving and pious philosophy that seeks to draw thee from the feet of God only to place thee in His bosom. Trustfully, though tremblingly, let go the robe, and thou shalt rest upon the heart and clasp the very living soul of God.
JAMES HINTON.

 

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Theology at Midnight

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).

You discover your theology at midnight.

Until then, it’s all theoretical. When midnight comes, you discover the difference between theory and reality. I used to think that I learned my theology during the four years I spent at seminary. But that’s not quite true. For one thing, I already knew what I believed before I went to seminary. Those four years of systematic theology, Greek, Hebrew, Bible exposition, church history and world missions gave me depth and breadth and perspective. I suppose looking back, I would say that in seminary I learned how much I didn’t know, and I was given the tools to learn more when I was out on my own.

When I graduated from seminary I felt like most graduates do – that I could answer any question that came my way. Back then I had very definite opinions about everything, including many areas where my knowledge was actually quite shallow. I say that with a smile because it’s good for young people to think they can conquer the world. Where would we be without some young bucks to challenge the status quo, to make us feel uncomfortable, and to push the envelope? I like it when I meet young folks with big dreams about what they want to do for God. In this fragile, unpredictable world, we need the fire of optimism that cries out, “Let’s take that city for God!” So God bless the young men and women who believe that all things-yes, all things!-are possible, and who have no time or patience for those who ask questions or say, “Perhaps we should think about that for awhile.”

Not an Easy Road

Paul seems to have been that sort of man. Perhaps it was inevitable that a man who had been zealous against Christ before his conversion would be equally zealous for Christ afterward. Armed with nothing more than the gospel of Jesus, he spearheaded the Christian movement through Turkey into Greece and on to Rome, the capital of the Empire and the greatest city in the world. He was, it seems, a force of nature. A man possessed by one great idea (“this one thing I do”), he proceeded to preach Christ wherever his name had not been preached so that those who had never heard might come to saving faith.

But it wasn’t an easy road. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 he enumerates some of his hardships:

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

When he mentions being in prison frequently, he perhaps did so with a bit of a wry smile because it was while he and Silas were in prison in Philippi that God worked a wonderful miracle on his behalf. The story as told in Acts 16 goes like this. After casting an evil spirit out of a slave girl, Paul and Silas were thrown into prison for what we today would probably call disrupting the peace. The two men were beaten, thrown in jail, put under close guard, and placed in the inner cell with their feet bound in stocks.

It was not a pleasant situation.

So what do you do when you have been arrested, beaten, imprisoned, placed under guard, with your feet bound in stocks, for nothing more than preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ?

If you are Paul and Silas and it’s midnight, you start praying and singing hymns of praise to God. Acts 16:25 says that the other prisoners were listening to them. No doubt these two strangers looked like a mess after being severely beaten. The fact that they were in stocks and under close guard told the other prisoners that Paul and Silas were not ordinary criminals. So I ask again, what do you do at midnight?

The answer is, it all depends on your theology, which you generally don’t discover until midnight. At that point you can’t walk over to your library to pull out some book on theology, and you can’t rifle through that big stack of notes from your Greek class to see what it says to do when you’ve been arrested. You don’t have access to a computer so you can’t send an email or update Facebook or Twitter your friends.

In that lonely moment, you discover your theology. You find out what’s real and what’s purely theoretical.

Recently I read a short story about Major Ian Thomas, founder of Torchbearers International, that mentioned a saying that was fundamental to his understanding of the Christian life:

Go where you’re sent,
Stay where you’re put,
Give what you’ve got.

The wisdom of that advice struck me, and as I meditated upon it, I began to consider what great biblical principles it represents. It throws light on the darkness of that prison cell in Philippi where Paul and Silas were singing and praying at midnight.

I. Go Where You’re Sent.

If you consider that statement by itself, it may seem to have mainly a geographic component. Abraham was called by God to go to a land that he would later receive as an inheritance (Genesis 12:1-3). So he went out from Ur of the Chaldees by faith, not knowing where he was going (Hebrews 11:8). For him the “where” was definitely a location, one particular place. He was always on the way to the Promised Land. If we examine Paul’s case, we can see that God definitely called him from Turkey to Greece (Acts 16:9-10), and when he crossed the Aegean Sea, he ended up at Philippi and began to preach the gospel, winning men and women to Christ, and proceeding to establish a church in that city. Paul’s one great calling was to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The “where” depended wholly on the Lord. That’s why he wasn’t thrown for a loop when he ended up in jail, notwithstanding the very great physical ordeal of enduring a beating by the authorities. While we don’t need to sensationalize that, we shouldn’t downplay it either. When Paul years later told Timothy to “endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3), he knew what he was talking about.

There was nothing easy about being accused of disturbing the peace, being publicly disgraced, derided, maligned and vilified. Nor was it pleasant to be beaten or thrown in prison alongside men who were truly criminals. Certainly having your legs in stocks not only meant you could hardly move, it also meant you would have great difficulty lying down. So what do you do in that situation?

It all depends on your theology. If you don’t believe in the sovereignty of God, then you’ll probably be bitter and angry and very discouraged. If you don’t believe in a God who numbers the hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30), then you may think that something terrible has happened to you. But if you believe in the sovereignty of God, then you know that nothing can happen to you by accident. In that case, your reaction is likely to be quite different.

You pray and sing hymns at midnight.

We find the key to the phrase “Go where you are sent” in the wordsent. It means that in every situation of life, Higher Hands are at work, leading you on from where you are at this moment to where you are supposed to be next. Many times those Higher Hands will seem to lead you in ways that make no sense, and you may not see any purpose in the things happening to you.

Several weeks ago I received an email from my friend Andy McQuitty, senior pastor of Irving Bible Church in Irving, Texas. When I call Andy my friend, that doesn’t quite do justice to the situation. Back in the 80s, he we served together at Northeast Bible Church in Garland, Texas. Often I would go back to his office and we would kibbutz together, dreaming about new ideas for the church. Because we lived in the same subdivision and had young children, we became very close. I can still remember when he came into my office and said he felt called to move to the other side of Dallas and take the pastorate of a small church that had fallen on hard times. That was in the fall of 1987. In the years since then, under the good hand of God, Andy has led Irving Bible Church through many building programs, a major relocation, and in the process it has become a mighty powerhouse for the Lord, attracting thousands of people every Sunday.

I say that simply to mention that Andy and his wife Alice are dear friends of ours. The email came out of the blue with some bad news. Following a routine physical exam Andy was diagnosed with colon cancer. That led to surgery which led to a pathology report revealing that the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, which means it might be elsewhere in his body. Not good news at any time, but especially when you are only 53 years old.

So what do you say to that? How does the godly man respond to such a turn of events? The answer is, it all depends on your theology. Remember, you don’t learn your theology at midnight. You discover it. You find out what you really believe. Here are some quotes from two emails he sent to his congregation after the news broke.

After discussing his medical situation, he put it in this context:

I’m not looking forward to all this and truly wish it wasn’t on my plate, but it is what the Lord has teed up for me and I’m at peace with that. After all these years shepherding other people through these situations, it’s my turn now! Alice and my family are confident and trusting and a huge bulwark of strength for me, and I think the Lord has much to teach me in these days. So we go forward.

My doctors are very hopeful that we will have a very good outcome to this surgery and that the procedure itself will be curative. Ah, but that’s where the Great Physician comes in. We’re just putting it all in His hands.

The Lord is my Shepherd, and yours too. . . we shall not want!

And certainly he is praying for healing and trusting that that is what the Lord has in mind. But there is always a deeper reality when you face something like colon cancer:

God truly is the strength of my heart. I kind of look at this fight with cancer in the same way I look at riding motorcycles. If God is finished with me, nothing can save me. If He’s not finished with me, nothing can touch me. Just so you know, I’ve given Him all kinds of reasons not to be finished with me and I think I made an adequate case. We’ll see.

Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns. Andy is bearing witness to his faith in Almighty God.

That’s the true meaning of “Go where you are sent.” You go even though it probably wasn’t in your plan, and you go singing and praying and testifying to the goodness of the Lord.

II. Stay Where You’re Put.

That just means that you go and serve the Lord wherever you happen to be, even though it may not have been your first choice. That’s why Paul and Silas were singing at midnight. They knew that God had sent them to the jail to bear witness for their faith. As Paul and Silas sang and the prisoners listened, they had no idea of the earthquake that was about to set them free (vv. 26-28). Nor did they know that soon they would lead the Philippian jailer and his whole family to the Lord (vv. 29-34). That was all hidden to them. As far as they knew, they would stay in prison a few days or a few weeks or a few months, and then they would go on trial. After that, no one could say what might happen.

My point is, Paul and Silas weren’t praying and singing in prospect of some great miracle. They simply bore witness to the goodness of the Lord in a most difficult situation.

That’s God’s call to you and me too. “Stay where you’re put” doesn’t mean passively accepting all the bad circumstances of life, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to change things if you can. But it does mean that you believe down deep in your soul that you are where you are because God wants you there, and that when he wants you somewhere else, you’ll be somewhere else.

III. Give What You’ve Got.

Evidently Paul and Silas weren’t trying to be quiet in the jail. Evidently they prayed and sang loud enough that a crowd of prisoners listened to them, amazed that two men in stocks, having been beaten and roughed up, no doubt a sight to behold, would seem so cheerful and full of faith.

In jail!
At midnight!

How could this be? They discovered their theology and it carried them through the darkness of the night.

When Andy McQuitty got the further news of lymph node involvement in his colon cancer, he wrote at some length about a Hebrew word that pops up often in the Old Testament, especially when God calls someone to a special task. The word is hinnainee (hin-nay’-nee), which means “Here I am.”

Here I am.
Ready to serve.
What do you want me to do?
What may I do for you?

It’s what a servant says to the master.
It’s what little boy says to his father.
It’s what believers say to the Lord God.

Hinnainee. Here I am.

Abraham said it in Genesis 22:1.
Jacob said it in Genesis 31:11.
Moses said it in Exodus 3:4.
Isaiah said it in Isaiah 6:8.

Andy goes on to quote E. Stanley Ott who offers this insight:

“In every case, the person whom God called simply replied with the Hebrew word hinnainee (hin-nay’-nee), the word of the servant – which means “here I am” – available – ready to serve – what may I do for you?”

When God calls, we can always find excuses to make: “Not me, Lord.” “Go ask someone else.” “I’m busy.” “I’m happy right where I am.” For all of us, the issue is not our personal desires but our response when the call comes. In the truly tough stuff of life, we rarely get a choice in advance, which is probably a good idea because if we did, we would be sorely tempted to run the other direction. But it is in moments like this that we discover our theology.

I’m not surprised that Paul and Silas sang in prison. Some of God’s best work gets done in prisons.

John Bunyan went to prison for preaching the gospel and wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. Dietrich Bonhoeffer went to prison in World War II and died testifying to God’s grace. Chuck Colson went to prison and God gave him the vision for Prison Fellowship.

I wonder what Paul and Silas prayed at midnight? I wonder if it was something like what Paul wrote several years later in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

When Eugene Peterson gave us his version in The Message, he started back in verse 15 and came up with this:

So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.

I like that. “Take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high.” We all need that, don’t we? And at midnight we’ve got to keep a tight grip on what we know to be true. If it’s true in the bright sunlight of noon, it’s just as true at midnight. So perhaps they prayed for courage and a “fresh heart” and to be made strong so they could bear witness to the Lord.

John Piper said, “The universe exists so that we may live in a way that demonstrates that Jesus is more precious than life.” That truth does not answer all our questions, but it does provide the framework for an answer that will prove true and strong in the worst moments of life. When tragedy strikes, when life caves in, when your plans are dashed on the jagged rocks of reality, when you find yourself in a place you never wanted to be, that’s when you discover what you really believe. As long as things are going good, you don’t really know what you believe. It’s all theoretical. You discover your theology at midnight.

Anyone can sing “Shout to the Lord” when life is good, you’ve got money in the bank, your marriage is strong, your kids are doing well, you’re happy in your job, you love your church, and all is right with the world. If with Paul and Silas you can sing praise to God at midnight in jail, then what you’ve got is real.

Not only will you discover what you believe in times of trouble, that’s also when the world discovers what you believe.

Either God is enough or he isn’t. Either Jesus is more precious than life or he isn’t.

The truth comes out, always. And in those moments, when you rest your weary soul on the God of the universe, when you cry out to Jesus and discover that he really is there after all, then you discover he was there all along, everything he said turns out to be true, and the people who watch you know that you really believe what you say you believe. And having seen the difference that Jesus makes in the worst moments of life, that’s when they want what you have.

Lord, you are so good. Your mercies endure forever. We thank you that you know what you are doing in every situation. We are glad about that because many times we are clueless. We rest our weary souls on you, the Rock of Our Salvation.

Give us confidence to believe that the God who started a good work in us will bring it to completion, and even today is bringing it to completion. Grant us grace to say “Here I am” when you call us to bear witness at midnight. Help us to stand fast, never moved, trusting in you, now and forevermore, until the day comes when we see Jesus face to face. Amen.

[Content provided by Keep Believing Ministries.]

 

WILL YOU MAKE THE CHOICE?

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in
the God of my salvation.
” 

Habakkuk 3:17-18

On Thursday, December 7, I went under the knife for a total hip replacement.  Although I felt I was too young to have this much arthritis in my hip, the x-rays did not lie… nor did the pain.  As I quietly dreaded this major surgery (anytime the bone saw is utilized, it is a major surgery!), I was determined to be a blessing to every doctor, nurse, orderly, and physical therapist.  Regardless of the pain or discomfort, I was going to choose to rejoice, give thanks, and trust God to make something good from something totally unwanted.

As of this writing, I am one week post-op.  I am progressing nicely, and should be off the morphine drip any day now (just kidding).  Many people have been praying for me to have a full and speedy recovery… and God has been gracious to answer those prayers.

IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING

As I reflect on things in my life right now, my current trial is my right hip.  However, next month it will undoubtedly be something else.  Life is just that way.  All of us are either entering a trial, in the midst of a trial, or just coming through a trial.  Trials are part of the human experience.  They are inescapable and unavoidable.  Jesus said that we would have trials and tribulations in this world (John 16:33).  But in every challenge we face, the Lord says, “My child, trust Me and rejoice.”

Habakkuk 3:17 paints a bleak and dismal financial picture for any agrarian society.  The crops failed miserably.  The flocks and herds are gone, and food is scarce.  What is left to do?  Get bitter, cynical, sour, and fatalistic?  Throw in the towel on life?  Curse God and die?  NO!  The right response when the bottom drops out is to “exult in the Lord” and “rejoice in the God of my salvation!”

Did you notice that Habakkuk said, “I will…” in verse 18?  Rejoicing is not an issue of the emotions, it is an issue of the will.  I don’t have to feel joyful to rejoice.  I don’t have to feel thankful to give thanks.  The successful Christian life is not led by your feelings, it is led by your faith.  When you and I choose to praise the Lord regardless of the circumstances, God is glorified and people notice.

The greatest witnesses for Jesus Christ are not those who are rejoicing in the Lord while on the mountain top.  They are those who are rejoicing in the Lord while facing the valley of the shadow of death.  Nothing gets an unbeliever’s attention faster than a grateful, praising Christian still trusting Jesus even though plagued with the worst of trials.  While circumstances change frequently, God never does.  Our focus must always be HIM!  Come what may, you and I can rejoice in Him… in His unfailing love, His wonderful presence, and His constant faithfulness.  No trial or tribulation can alter who He is to us.

THE CHOICE IS YOURS

I don’t know what difficulties you are facing today.  No doubt, many are facing trials far worse than I have ever faced.  Whether your trials are mild or severe, the question is always the same:  Will you choose to rejoice in Jesus, the One who is over every test and trial?  Will you look to Him and trust Him, no matter what?

One of my favorite verses is found in Revelation 2:10 where Jesus said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”  To be sure, life does not always turn out the way we want it to.  All of us face detours, dead-ends, and dry holes on the road to heaven.  There are many things we face in life that we cannot control.  But, we do control our response to circumstances.  We can make the choice to be faithful, grateful, and thankful, until the day we die.

Love,

Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries

P.S.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Direct questions and comments to pastorjeff@fromhisheart.org.


Dr. Jeff Schreve believes that no matter how badly you may have messed up in life, God still loves you and has a wonderful plan just for you. From His Heart provides real truth, love and hope on over 700 radio stations each day, in 182 countries each week on TV, and is always available online.  Pastor Jeff takes no income from this ministry. All donations go to furthering the broadcast outreach. As a listener/viewer supported ministry, we thank you for joining with us to help speak the truth in love to a lost and hurting world. Go to www.fromhisheart.org for more information.

Devotionals Daily: A Year with Jesus

From Jesus Lives by Sarah Young

His Faithfulness

My compassions never fail; they are new every morning. You can begin each day confidently, knowing that My vast reservoir of blessings is full—to the brim. This knowledge helps you wait for Me, entrusting your long-unanswered prayers into My care and keeping. I assure you that not one of your prayers has slipped past Me, unnoticed. I want you to drink deeply from My fountain of limitless Love and unfailing compassion. As you wait in My Presence, these divine nutrients are freely available. You may drink without cost from the spring of the water of Life.

Although many of your prayers remain unanswered, you can trust inMy great faithfulness: I keep all My promises in My perfect way and timing. Among other things, I have promised to give you Peace that displaces the trouble and fear in your heart.

If you become weary of waiting for answers to your prayers, remember that I also wait: so that I may be gracious to you and have mercy on you. I wait till you are ready to receive the things I have lovingly prepared for you. Blessed are all those who wait for Me—expectantly, longingly, trustingly.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

—Lamentations 3:22–24

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.”

—Revelation 21:6

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

—John 14:27

Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and . . . that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him. —Isaiah 30:18 NKJV

©Jesus Lives 2009 by Sarah Young

 

Delight in the Lord

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. – >Deuteronomy 11:18

Psalm 37:4 tells us to delight in the Lord and He’ll give us the desires of our hearts.  What does that mean?  It sounds like some magic formula, like rubbing the genie’s lamp to get what we want. That’s not the way it works.

It’s hard to believe until you’ve experienced it, but if you’re desiring something sinful, destructive, or something you can’t afford, and you’re truly delighting yourself in the Lord, He’ll change those desires and replace them with new ones.  Don’t get trapped into thinking of God as a magician who provides things that would only distract you from Him.

So then, what does it mean to “delight in the Lord?”  Consider what it means to delight in a friend’s company.  Whenever you have opportunity you spend time with that person.  You talk openly and honestly with him or her; you look forward to your time together; you seek ways of knowing that person more fully and intimately; and you guard yourself from doing anything that would hurt, disappoint, or bring open shame upon your friend.

Well, that’s very much what it’s like for us to delight in the Lord. We delight in Him by reading His Word; by trusting what He says is true, by spending time in prayer and meditation; and by seeking to honor Him in every area of our life.

“A Brother may not be a Friend, but a Friend will always be a Brother.” – Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

 

The Daily Word of Hope Devotional

Bible Fun Fact: A talent of gold was about $24,000.

The Mighty Warrior

Yahweh’s angel appeared to him, and said to him, ‘Yahweh is with you, you mighty man of valor!’ Judges 6:12 WEB

Dust and chaff drifted through the air as Gideon threshed the wheat. He was hiding inside of a winepress so that the Midianite raiders would not come and take the little that they had. With no breeze at all, it was dirty and hot.

While he was working, the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and called him a mighty warrior, a mighty man of valor. Though in reality, Gideon was the least in his family, who was the least in his tribe. Gideon was the least, of the least.

The Lord saw something inside of Gideon, that Gideon did not know was there. There was more to Gideon than the normal eye could see. God used Gideon and three-hundred men to defeat thousands of Midianites without lifting a sword, just because Gideon believed God. Even though he was scared, he did what the Lord told him one step at a time, and he won the battle. Gideon went from a zero, to a hero.

God knows what He put inside of you, and you are well able to do what He calls you to do. Even if you are the least of the least, the smallest of the small, God has a plan for you and He will enable you to complete it. He sees something in you that no one else does. If you will spend sometime alone with Him and get in tune, He will take your life to a new level, and He will make the smallest, into a mighty warrior.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for equipping me with all that I need to do my part here. I choose to trust You even when I feel under qualified, like I don’t belong, like I am not the one that should be doing this. I know that if You bring me to it, You will bring me through it, and I am holding on to You today. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

 

 

 

Dont React1

But, just for this moment, let me…………………….

My sons, the one especially, were put through terrors……I was put through terrors…..I’d just like to know WHY?
Also, these so-called MEN who did the terrorizing…..well, man up, admit you lied and were wrong, and apologize…..
It’s what MY sons were raised to do, and have done many times………I’m sorry…….yes, I forgive, because I have
to, but I do NOT have to forget………………..you’re NOT men……you are WIMPS…scared little weasels……..
……you have NO morals…….and, as far as the one who carries the gun…..tell me, WHY do you need to?  Are you lacking in other areas?  I have an older son, just about 5′ tall only……I have seen what he can do with his BARE FISTS…….and, believe me, YOU, NONE of you, would be a threat to HIM……in fact, his uncle is President of the Outlaw bikers…….you like to act all mobster-bossy……….I also have a cousin, Italiano, who knows REAL mob…….shall I invite some “friends” to Oklahoma?  Until my sons and I all get apologies and restoration, stay away from OUR place……….Duane will be fine……..I have taken care of him for 19 years……I’ll go on caring for him……stay OUT of the business down here, ALL of you………………and, if Duane decides to side with you, then well, he is making a bad choice……he is siding with the demons…because that’s what you all are!!!!!

 

God-is-the-reason-why-even-in-the-sadness-we-smile-in-confusion-we-understand-in-betrayal-we-trust-and-even-in-fear-of-pain-we-love.-1

 

Even-though-I-walk-through-the-darkest-valley

 

Your Page1

 

Dont-Hold-Grudge (1)

 

Beloe You1

WAY BELOW………………………………………………

 

God bless everyone…………………………

 

 

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