Make A Grouch Smile Sunday!

Daily Prayer for February 16

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:12, NIV

Dear Father in heaven, open the door for us, we pray. Grant that we may come to you in spirit. Grant that in you we may find peace and courage for our whole lives. Lead us always by your Spirit. Help us to find your will on earth and grant us access to your heavenly powers, for alone we can do nothing. Strengthen our faith so that we can always serve you. Bless your Word in us. May our hearts be opened, for we are your children, O Lord our God, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

 

Daily Dig for February 16

Eberhard Arnold

We believe that all people, however deeply they may have sunk into darkness, still have a spark of light in the depths of their hearts. This spark is the sense, no matter how deeply hidden, of belonging to a greater whole. And we believe that this spark will one day, through its innate edifying and socially constructive power, draw them to one another, so that they are all gathered in an ocean of light – fellowship with one another, and with God.

Source: An Embassy Besieged

Ready for Lent?

Ash Wednesday is February 26: supplement the Daily Dig with Bread and Wine, our Lent devotional. See a preview here.

 

 

Verse of the Day—

Image result for animated Malachi 2:16

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

For some, hearing the mere mention of this verse wrecks their soul because of what they have endured from an abusive spouse. God hates the pain, damage, loss, sorrow, and physical damage that lies behind many who must leave their marriage for spiritual and physical protection. In a throw-away world, God wants us to know that he hates it when we throw away people unnecessarily and break lives through our unrighteousness behaviors. Let’s call each other to God’s standard, to God’s holiness. Let’s not let our spirits be corrupted by selfishness and resentment. Let’s not break faith with God by treating those closest to us with contempt, neglect, or abuse. And in a world where people get broken by what causes divorce, and the consequences of divorce, let’s go find them, include them, and bring them home to God’s family for healing.

My Prayer…

Almighty God, please make our words strong, our commitments lasting, and our lives faithful to the promises we make to you and to each other. Bless those whose hearts have been shattered by spouses who have treated them unfairly or abusively or unfaithfully. Thank you for the great example of so many of your people who have had incredibly strong marriages. Bless me and my house with a legacy of faithfulness that lasts for generations to come. In addition, dear Father, please use me to comfort, bless, and welcome those who have been broken and disheartened in marriages that were hurtful, harmful, and life-shattering. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Morning, February 16
I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content. Philippians (4:11)

These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man. “Ill weeds grow apace.” Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth: and so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education. But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care. Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us. Paul says, “I have learned … to be content;” as much as to say, he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mystery of that great truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had attained unto it, and could say, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” he was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave–a poor prisoner shut up in Nero’s dungeon at Rome. We might well be willing to endure Paul’s infirmities, and share the cold dungeon with him, if we too might by any means attain unto his good degree. Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented without learning, or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush that murmur, natural though it be, and continue a diligent pupil in the College of Content.

~~~Charles H. Spurgeon

 

 

InspireMore

Make Some Smiles!

Father And Daughter Put Hilarious Spin On Rock, Paper, Scissors.

You don’t need fancy toys to have a great time with your kids.

A recent video is the perfect example! In it, we see a dad from Vila Velha, Brazil, playing with his young daughter at their kitchen table. They’re having so much fun it’s almost hard to believe that all they’re using for their game is their hands — and a big bowl of flour.

Antonio João Silva Marques and his daughter are speaking Portuguese in the clip, but we can still understand what’s going on because of their laughter, the truest universal language!

As Antonio plays the classic Rock, Paper, Scissors game with his little one, everything seems to be pretty standard until she loses her first round. That’s when we figure out why the flour is there: This family has a very unique rule. Basically, whenever they lose a round, they have to dip their face in the bowl!

Antonio can’t stop laughing as his daughter emerges from the flour pile with her face caked in white powder. At first, she seems stunned as she blinks particles from her eyelashes, but then she too bursts out laughing when she sees herself on-screen.

The game continues, and it doesn’t take long for the pendulum of chance to swing the other way. Now it’s dad’s turn for a dip in the flour bath!

There’s something so wholesome about seeing a dad and his daughter have such a good time because of a simple game. What a great reminder that we don’t need fancy, expensive things to find joy!

 

 

   —Dion Todd

Ready For A God Time

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards to the throne will I be greater than you. Genesis 41:39’40 ESV

Joseph had to pinch himself to be sure that he was awake. A few hours ago, he was a slave in prison serving time for a false attempted rape charge. Now he was the second-in-command and over all of Egypt. Could this really be happening? This is really a God time.

Once, after I was laid off from my job as a supervisor, I had to take another job at a plant sweeping the floor and driving the fork lift. I needed to make the house payment somehow and just made the best of it. I prayed and listened to the Bible all day. One day the manager got fired and when the owners came down to appoint another, they made me the manager. They passed over dozens to pick me. It was a God time.

Sometimes the Lord will show you such divine favor that there is nothing like it. You have to pinch yourself to see if it is real. Can this really be happening? This is to good too be true! A good time cannot compare with a God time.

Prayer: Father, bring the God times to my life. Let your presence fill my day. Stir me, strengthen me and put me where I need to be, in the name of Jesus.

Bible Fun Fact: The Apostle Paul wrote 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament.

 

Unstoppable! ‘The Powerful Testimony of a Transformed Life’

All the people saw [the man who had been lame] walking and heard him praising God. When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.

Key Thought

Don’t you love Luke’s phrase, “absolutely astounded”? I would have been bewildered and amazed, too! A man who had sat for years at the same gate with withered feet and ankles begging for a few loose coins now was jumping, leaping, praising God, and entering the Temple on his own two feet. Praise God! How does such an astounding miracle happen? It was Jesus, the Messiah from Nazareth, who gave full healing in an instant to this former lame beggar (Acts 3:6). Who could argue with his testimony? He was transformed in every way — spiritually, he was jubilant; physically, he was healed; and interpersonally, he was no longer a helpless beggar and was now leading a horde of people to learn the story of Jesus. So, here’s a question for each of us. Since Jesus could produce so many changes for the man who met Peter and John at the Beautiful Gate and was healed by Jesus, what can he do for you and me? But wait! If we have been saved by grace through faith, hasn’t he already done something even greater in us? Absolutely! And that means, dear friend in Christ, we also have a testimony to share.

Today’s Prayer

O Father, your grace has reached me, transformed me, and empowered me through your Spirit. I pray that my life will be a living display to others of what Jesus can do. I also pray that I can lead people to Jesus, too. I ask this in Jesus’ name, so I can share your grace. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Proverbs 16:9 — In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

Passion for Praise: ‘The Eternal King’

Illustration of 1 Timothy 1:17 — Glory and honor to God forever and ever. He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

A Year with Jesus: ‘Reason to Celebrate’

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

What’s with all those somber faces among those who claim to follow Me? Yes, seriousness is demanded at certain times. Yes, My call for you to follow Me is a life-changing call that demands commitment. Yes, there are times of pain, grief, and persecution that touch My people during their time on earth. On the other hand, what happened to the passion, excitement, and joyous fellowship that you see Me have in My earthly ministry and that should be a central part of your lifestyle? How do you expect to invite others to follow Me if you do not share My joy with them?

Please don’t buy into the old religious affliction of false, self-imposed seriousness — the feeling that a Christian life must always be sad, serious, and somber. In My earthly ministry, I was quite often criticized for running around with the “wrong” people, going to the “wrong” parties, and being someone Who enjoyed food and wine.

While I know you will face some very difficult times in your life, I don’t want you to miss the exhilaration of My coming:

  • My coming to earth as the Son of God,
  • My coming into your presence when you are gathered together to worship Me,
  • My coming into your life in moments of laughter and food and friendship,
  • My coming to you in every moment of life, and
  • My coming at the end of time to bring you to the greatest celebration that will ever occur!

These are things that can give you peace and contentment no matter what the external circumstances are in your life.

So read this story today and be reminded that there are religious folks who don’t get it — they feel that everything religious needs to be serious, sad, and somber. Also, remember that is NOT the way I want things. I came to bring true shalom — peace, joy, fellowship, wholeness, and life. You frequently find Me — the One, Who brings you peace, joy, fellowship, wholeness, and life — at the center of a celebration.

Verses to Live

Invite Me into your life and let’s share the celebration with others!

Pharisees:

Explain to us why You and Your disciples are so commonly found partying [literally, eating and drinking] like this, when our disciples — and even the disciples of John — are known for fasting rather than feasting, and for saying prayers rather than drinking wine.

Jesus:

Imagine there’s a wedding going on. Is that the time to tell the guests to ignore the bridegroom and fast? Sure, there’s a time for fasting — when the bridegroom has been taken away. Look, nobody tears up a new garment to make a patch for an old garment. If he did, the new patch would shrink and rip the old, and the old garment would be worse off than before. And nobody takes freshly squeezed juice and puts it into old, stiff wineskins. If he did, the fresh wine would make the old skins burst open, and both the wine and the wineskins would be ruined. New demands new — new wine for new wineskins. Anyway, those who’ve never tasted the new wine won’t know what they’re missing; they’ll always say, “The old wine is good enough for me!”

(Luke 5:33-39)

Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for reminding me that You came to bring Me life and that when You are present, You are not only the reason for the celebration, but You are the center of the celebration! Father, thank You for sending Your Son to give me life. Holy Spirit, thank You for filling me with Your presence and bringing me a deep wellspring of love, joy, and peace! Amen.

 

 

Godinterest logo august 2019

You Belong To The Family Of God

We all go through times when we feel lonely, or wonder where we belong. God designed family to always be a place of love and acceptance. Maybe you didn’t come from an environment like that, or maybe you’ve been away from your family. Maybe they are no longer around. God still desires to meet that need for family. He says, “He is the Father to the fatherless, and He places the solitary in families.” God wants to give you a circle of people you can trust, who will embrace and accept you.

If you are lonely or in need of a family today, ask God to meet that need and show you where you belong. Or, maybe you are the one who can open your home and heart to someone who is alone. The point is that God loves family. He designed family for a purpose. Jesus said in Matthew 12 that those who do God’s will are His family.

Today, if you are part of the family of God, you are never alone! He promises to never leave you nor forsake you. He promises to fill you with His peace and joy, so that you can live as an overcomer all the days of your life!

“God places the solitary in families…” (Psalm 68:6, NKJV)

Pray With Me

Yahweh, thank You for making me a part of Your family. Father, thank You for diminishing my loneliness and being my Father. Thank You for accepting and embracing me always, even when I embarrass You with my sinful behaviour. God, show me how I can reach out and be an example of family in someone else’s life, in Christ’s Name! Amen.

 

David Bryant Celebrates
His 75th Birthday
With YOU!

Reflections on a 75-year journey with Christ.
Expectations about the adventures that lie ahead.
All of it powerfully relevant for every Jesus follower today!

Thanks to one and all who expressed your loving wishes to me as I reached this landmark day in my life journey: my 75th birthday.

For me, it truly is only that—just a number.

Maybe I should call this instead my benchmark day—another mile marker for my lifetime walk with Christ.

Yes, it is a road that I have traveled for many miles. I see that at this time especially. But I’m certain what stretches out before me has many more twists and turns before the mission is fulfilled—before the race is run, before the finish line is reached, before I see the Church truly awakened to the full extent of the supremacy of Christ as its great reviving reality.

That is what my life is really all about.

In that regard, it was on my birthday just a few days ago—February 10, that’s 2/10—when the Holy Spirit so clearly took me to Ephesians 2:10. From it, I found a fresh perspective that I must carry with me into the adventures that still lie ahead—reflections that have stirred me up again and stoked the fire in my heart.

But all of this is true for you too—and every Jesus follower!

Here’s what it says:

For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus
for good works,
which God prepared beforehand,
that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10)

I sent an email to my extended family and team at ChristNow with these insights. But I decided I wanted to share with you what the Lord showed me from Ephesians 2:10 the morning of my birthday that is as much about you as it is about me. It is my birthday gift to you!

(1) Created. All that I am and all I have to give simply reveal the superb craftsmanship of the One who began shaping me 75 years ago. And he has never ceased to mold me so as to bring out of me all of the strengths, abilities, capacities, and passions he placed within me from the moment I was conceived.

Even within my mother’s womb, I was never a “potential human being;” I was always a “human being with potential.”Actually, it is HIS potential that’s to be revealed through me.

But all of this is true for you too—and for every Jesus follower!

(2) Re-Created. However, beyond my natal stage, and infinitely more glorious, is what the Father has remade of my life because I am IN CHRIST JESUS.

Even after all the books I’ve written about him, involving thousands of pages focused on what being in Christ Jesus really means for believers, my vocabulary remains totally inadequate to express ALL that my Redeemer, Lord, and Friend means to us and to me. He is so much more than I have yet seen!

Equally impossible is my ability to effectively declare to others the truths of all we have become as those who have been re-created in Christ Jesus. And because we have been born again as a new creation with a brand-new life, and because we are in union with the King of Glory, we have so much to give to the world.

And yet, celebrate and proclaim him I must. I will. For the rest of my life. Forever.

But all of this is true for you too—and for every Jesus follower!

(3) Purpose. Yet this transforming encounter with Christ was never meant to be an end in itself—never for my sake alone. My creation and re-creation took place in order to unleash a river of “good works” through me. Kingdom works. Eternal works. Redemptive works. Life-giving works. Love-spreading works. Christ-exalting works. For the blessing and reclamation of many, many others.

So it has been the past 75 years. So it shall continue to be in the years ahead. From the beginning—before anything ever existed, in the counsels of heaven—my life was destined to be at the center of who Jesus is, where Jesus is headed, what Jesus is doing, and how Jesus gets blessed. God has a wonderful plan for his Son, to sum up everything under him as Lord, and he has given me a place in it.

But all of this is true for you too—and for every Jesus follower!

(4) “Prepared beforehand.” This awesome phrase from Ephesians 2:10 reinforces the depths of my life purpose! My past, my present, my future—all of it has already been wrapped up in the Father’s plan, all of it is meant for the Son’s glory, and all of it is being carried out right now by the Spirit’s power.

Beforehand—before I drew my first breath. Beforehand—before I ever knew about the saving work of the Savior. Beforehand—before I entered into this extraordinary life in Jesus. Beforehand—before today, as I begin my 76th year.

Prepared for me before I even dared to say YES to his call on my life. Prepared for me so that this “upward call of God in Christ Jesus” will be fulfilled.

Prepared beforehand. It cannot fail because it comes from the eternal counsels of the Father, because it focuses on the glories of the Son, and because it is implemented by the power of the Spirit.

But all of this is true for you too—and for every Jesus follower!

(5) Onward. Consequently, my one assignment is to walk out all of these wonderful truths. Daily. Practically. Consistently. Intentionally. Enthusiastically. Expectantly. Joyfully. Unflinchingly. And ultimately, victoriously in Jesus.

One step at a time. One moment at a time. Through every trial. With every tear. Knowing that the best is still ahead. “Those who hope in Christ will not be disappointed.”

Hallelujah! What an extraordinary journey with Jesus this is as it continues to unfold before me with every new birthday. With every new morning. With every new breath.

However, just as I’ve repeated above,
Ephesians 2:10 is not about me only!
It is also about YOU!

These truths are yours to claim too,
no matter which “mile markers” you’ve reached so far.
Today is not the “end.”
The “end” awaits us at Jesus’ feet.

So, come with me.
Together, let’s pursue this unparalleled journey with him.

About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com.

 

 

How to Love Your Neighbor

A reflection on the Good Samaritan of the Jericho Road

Simone Weil

FEBRUARY 14, 2020
Christ taught us that the supernatural love of our neighbor is the exchange of compassion and gratitude which happens in a flash between two beings, one possessing and the other deprived of human personality. One of the two is only a little piece of flesh, naked, inert, and bleeding beside a ditch; he is nameless; no one knows anything about him. Those who pass by this thing scarcely notice it, and a few minutes afterward do not even know that they saw it. Only one stops and turns his attention toward it. The actions that follow are just the automatic effect of this moment of attention. The attention is creative. But at the moment when it is engaged it is a renunciation. This is true, at least, if it is pure. The man accepts to be diminished by concentrating on an expenditure of energy, which will not extend his own power but will only give existence to a being other than himself, who will exist independently of him. Still more, to desire the existence of the other is to transport himself into him by sympathy, and, as a result, to have a share in the state of inert matter which is his.

Such an operation goes equally against the nature of a man who has not known affliction and is ignorant of its meaning, and a man who has known or had a foretaste of affliction and whom it fills with horror.

It is not surprising that a man who has bread should give a piece to someone who is starving. What is surprising is that he should be capable of doing so with so different a gesture from that with which we buy an object. Almsgiving when it is not supernatural is like a sort of purchase. It buys the sufferer.

Whatever a man may want, in cases of crime as in those of the highest virtue, in the minutest preoccupations as in the greatest designs, the essence of his desire always consists in this, that he wants above all things to be able to exercise his will freely. To wish for the existence of this free consent in another, deprived of it by affliction, is to transport oneself into him; it is to consent to affliction oneself, that is to say to the destruction of oneself. It is to deny oneself. In denying oneself, one becomes capable under God of establishing someone else by a creative affirmation. One gives oneself in ransom for the other. It is a redemptive act.

The Good Samaritan, Theodule Ribot, oil painting

The Good Samaritan, Theodule Ribot
Public domain

The sympathy of the weak for the strong is natural, for the weak in putting himself into the place of the other acquires an imaginary strength. The sympathy of the strong for the weak, being in the opposite direction, is against nature.

That is why the sympathy of the weak for the strong is pure only if its sole object is the sympathy received from the other, when the other is truly generous. This is supernatural gratitude, which means gladness to be the recipient of supernatural compassion. It leaves self-respect absolutely intact. The preservation of true self-respect in affliction is also something supernatural. Gratitude that is pure, like pure compassion, is essentially the acceptance of affliction. The afflicted man and his benefactor, between whom diversity of fortune places an infinite distance, are united in this acceptance. There is friendship between them in the sense of the Pythagoreans, miraculous harmony and equality.

Both of them recognize at the same time, with all their soul, that it is better not to command wherever one has power to do so. If this thought fills the whole soul and controls the imagination, which is the source of our actions, it constitutes true faith. For it places the Good outside this world, where are all the sources of power; it recognizes it as the archetype of the secret point that lies at the center of human personality and is the principle of renunciation.

Love for our neighbor, being made of creative attention, is analogous to genius.

Even in art and science, though second-class work, brilliant or mediocre, is an extension of the self; work of the very highest order, true creation, means self-loss. We do not perceive this truth, because fame confuses and covers with its glory achievements of the highest order and the most brilliant productions of the second class, often giving the advantage to the latter.

Love for our neighbor, being made of creative attention, is analogous to genius.

Creative attention means really giving our attention to what does not exist. Humanity does not exist in the anonymous flesh lying inert by the roadside. The Samaritan who stops and looks gives his attention all the same to this absent humanity, and the actions which follow prove that it is a question of real attention.

“Faith,” says Saint Paul, “is the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). In this moment of attention faith is present as much as love.

In the same way a man who is entirely at the disposal of others does not exist. A slave does not exist either in the eyes of his master or in his own. He who has absolutely no belongings of any kind around which social consideration crystallizes does not exist. A popular Spanish song says in words of marvelous truth: “If anyone wants to make himself invisible, there is no surer way than to become poor.” Love sees what is invisible.

God thought that which did not exist, and by this thought brought it into being. At each moment we exist only because God consents to think us into being, although really we have no existence. At any rate that is how we represent creation to ourselves, humanly and hence inadequately of course, but this imagery contains an element of truth. God alone has this power, the power really to think into being that which does not exist. Only God, present in us, can really think the human quality into the victims of affliction, can really look at them with a look differing from that we give to things, can listen to their voice as we listen to spoken words. Then they become aware that they have a voice, otherwise they would not have occasion to notice it.

Difficult as it is really to listen to someone in affliction, it is just as difficult for him to know that compassion is listening to him.

The love of our neighbor is the love which comes down from God to man. It precedes that which rises from men to God. God is longing to come down to those in affliction. As soon as a soul is disposed to consent, though it were the last, the most miserable, the most deformed of souls, God will precipitate himself into it in order, through it, to look at and listen to the afflicted. Only as time passes does the soul become aware that he is there. But, though it finds no name for him, wherever the afflicted are loved for themselves alone, it is God who is present.

God is not present, even if we invoke him, where the afflicted are merely regarded as an occasion for doing good. They may even be loved on this account, but then they are in their natural role, the role of matter and of things. We have to bring to them in their inert, anonymous condition a personal love.

God is longing to come down to those in affliction.

That is why expressions such as to love our neighbor in God, or for God, are misleading and equivocal. A man has all he can do, even if he concentrates all the attention of which he is capable, to look at this small inert thing of flesh, lying stripped of clothing by the roadside. It is not the time to turn his thoughts toward God. Just as there are times when we must think of God and forget all creatures without exception, there are times when, as we look at creatures, we do not have to think explicitly of God. At such times, the presence of God in us has as its condition a secret so deep that it is even a secret from us. There are times when thinking of God separates us from him. Modesty is the condition of nuptial union.

In true love it is not we who love the afflicted in God; it is God in us who loves them. When we are in affliction, it is God in us who loves those who wish us well. Compassion and gratitude come down from God, and when they are exchanged in a glance, God is present at the point where the eyes of those who give and those who receive meet. The sufferer and the other love each other, starting from God, through God, but not for the love of God; they love each other for the love of the one for the other. This is an impossibility. That is why it comes about only through the agency of God.

 

 

How Can We Mirror God's Heart?

Do we…can we…mirror God’s heart? Valentine’s Day is all about love. How can we love more like God? How can we reflect our Father God’s heart?

LOVE LIKE THE FATHER’S HEART

By

Rebecca Barlow Jordan

If you can love your brother with true unselfishness,

living not just for yourself, but for his happiness;

If you can treat your neighbor with kindness, pure and sweet,

Not looking for reward or gain, not bent on fame or greed;

If you can lift one heart that’s down, or touch another life;

refrain from judging motives, avoiding needless strife;

If you can try to understand a little more today

and help a weaker brother again to find his way;

If you can smile when trouble comes knocking at your door;

and glean from every problem a lesson that’s in store;

If you can live your life each day as if it were your last,

forgiving every debtor, forgetting all the past,

If you can offer grace to those so desperate for love—

You’ll find your life’s a mirror of the Father’s heart above.

Is Your Desire to Mirror God’s Heart?

That’s certainly my desire. How about you? Most of the time I fall very short! Only God can love through us. We can’t do it ourselves!

I wrote this poem several years ago, (with apologies to Rudyard Kipling) and it was first published by Warner Press.

My Personal Prayer for You

Father God, teach us more about how to love like You do. Clean the smudges off our “mirrors” so we can reflect You more accurately. Thank you for sending Jesus so we can see what Your heart looks like.  Jesus, we want to look more like You–and love more like You! You are the perfect Valentine–and our perfect model for love.

Day-votedly Yours,

Rebecca

(This is a revised, reposted blog for Valentine’s Day.)

*You might also enjoy the post, The Perfect Valentine. And if you need help with a valentine for your spouse, read last week’s post, A Valentine Prayer Letter to My Spouse – Husband and Wife.

Don’t forget to encourage someone today! Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s Your Turn

Do you have a personal relationship with God? Through Jesus Christ, you can. I’d love to hear from you anytime. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the e-mail will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.

 

Charisma

Prophecy: The Lord Says, ‘This Is My Boomerang Against Your Enemy’

Author Andrew Towe

boomerang-image

I heard the Lord say, “The enemy has been stirring demonic attacks against many in hopes to thwart the promises that I have decreed through my prophets for this new decade. He has used discouragement, strife, misunderstandings, envy and numerous other tactics to try to impede what I am doing.

“My miracles are already in motion. Angels have been dispatched and all of the ingredients for a movement are now boiling over. What the adversary does not understand is the fire of opposition is only causing my burning ones to blaze even greater. Satan has recognized that I am quickly stirring the formulation for a great awakening. Everything I have spoken will come to pass.

“Don’t be dismayed by the threats of the enemy. My promises are greater than his threats. War with your prophecies and the words that I have spoken to you. Stand steadfast, refusing to move to the left or right. Keep your eyes focused on me. I am your help. Remember, your enemy is defeated and My Word will be accomplished, just as I promised!”

The Lord showed me a vision of fiery darts being sent by the enemy, purposed to cause great harm and destruction. But, instead of them penetrating their target, they ricocheted off, hurling back to the direction from which they came.

The Lord spoke to me and said, “This is My boomerang against your enemy!” I quickly researched the definition of the word. Dictionary.com defines “boomerang” as “something, as a scheme or argument, that does injury to the originator.

Did you see that? Can you hear what God is saying by using this word? God is causing every plan, plot and scheme to trigger injury to the originator. The enemy meant it for evil, but God is turning it for your good.

God brought me to the book of Esther. It begins with the story of Queen Vashti refusing to display her beauty for the King of Persia. Her actions caused her to be stripped from her title, which led the king to search for a new queen.

Don’t miss the prophetic symbolism in this text. The Lord revealed to me that the king’s bride having been summoned to display her beauty before him and his guests was like the bride of Christ (the church), who has been summoned to display His glory before Him and all the earth.

Queen Vashti was rejected because she refused to answer the call of the king. We are on the edge of a move of God unlike any that we have ever seen. God is calling His church to move into the glory realm. God is sounding the alarm to awaken His bride. Will you answer the call? The time is now! Will you display your beauty that He has bestowed upon you so others may see?

During this time, a Jewish beauty, who had been orphaned at an early age and raised by her older cousin, was chosen to be among many women in the king’s harem. The Bible tells us that the king loved Esther more than all of the other women.

Haman, the Agagite, was promoted to the position of grand vizier by the Persian king. It was required that the entire court bow down before him, but Moredcai, the Jewish Benjamite, refused to bow, for he would not honor the enemy of King Saul, Agag. This enraged Haman, and he vowed to not only make Mordecai pay, but to take revenge on all of the Jewish people. In his pursuit of vengeance, he persuaded the king to decree the death of all of the Jews on a set day. Moreover, Haman was thrilled and had gallows built that would be used to kill his nemesis, Mordecai.

However, before the decree was carried out, the king could not sleep one night and asked for the royal chronicles to be read to him. Unwittingly, he discovered that Mordecai had exposed a plot to kill him and had never been rewarded for stopping the assassination. He asked Haman’s advice on how he could honor a man in whom the king delighted. Haman arrogantly thought the king was referring to him. He proposed to the king that a gift of fine clothes and a royal procession be given to the man in whom he delighted.

Then, Haman learned the king was not speaking about him at all, but instead he spoke of Mordecai as the man with whom he would show veneration. God had moved behind the scenes and placed Haman in a position where he had to honor Mordecai!

That night Queen Esther held a banquet and invited the king and Haman; at the banquet she revealed her Jewish nationality to her husband, the king, and also exposed the plot of Haman to kill her people. Haman threw himself at the feet of Esther and begged for his life.

The king came in and thought he was attacking her and ordered Haman to be hung on his own gallows. This was a divine reversal! That which Haman had planned for God’s servant, Mordecai, instead boomeranged upon him, and the destroyer suffered the fate of his own plan. Furthermore, it did not stop there! All of Haman’s estate was given to Mordecai, including the king’s signet ring. The signet ring indicated that Mordecai was empowered with authority to act on behalf of the king.

This was the perfect example of God’s boomerang! The enemy meant to destroy the Jewish people, but God caused it to boomerang back to the originator. It caused promotion for Mordecai and the Jewish people. This is what He is doing for you.

The enemy is going to wish he would have never sent the waves of opposition against you. Because now God’s boomerang has turned the tide back to him. I hear the Lord say, “My boomerang will cause your Haman to be hung on his own gallows. The supernatural turnaround is already in motion and you will see it swiftly.”

Andrew Towe is an emerging prophetic voice to this generation. Andrew preaches the Word of God with fire, inviting God’s manifested presence to fall, with signs and wonders occurring in his services. Andrew and his wife, Brooke, are the lead pastors of Ramp Church Chattanooga, and they reside in Chattanooga, Tennessee, along with their two children. Andrew travels extensively, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Wherever he ministers, lives are changed, faith is strengthened and expectation is ignited.

 

 

NATIONAL DO A GROUCH A FAVOR DAY – February 16

 

 

Humor…

 Gary Varvel for 2/13/2020

 Momma for 2/16/2020

 Aunty Acid for 2/16/2020

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 Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee 2/16/2020

 The Lockhorns for 2/15/2020

 

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Sunday Musings and Thoughts of God…

 

 Daily Prayer for November 17

What answer shall be given to the envoys of that nation? “The Lord has established Zion, and in her his afflicted people will find refuge.” Isaiah 14:32, NIV

Lord our God, you are our refuge. We wait for you, for your purpose will never fail and your promise will be fulfilled. This we may firmly believe, and from this we may draw strength every day. Even when our life brings sorrow, we do not want to grieve. We want to hope and believe and endure until your day comes. Your kingdom will come on earth, and in the meantime you are watching over your people. In the midst of the world’s daily affairs there will be people who hope in you, who belong to you, and who are firmly rooted in the grace of Jesus Christ until the time is fulfilled. Amen.

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Daily Dig for November 17

Blaise Pascal

We do not grow tired of eating and sleeping day after day, because hunger and fatigue return; without them, we should be bored. It would be the same without hunger for spiritual things; we should be bored.

Source: Pensées, as quoted in A Third Testament

 

A Love Stronger than Fear

Rachel Pieh Jones

Amid a volatile mix of disease, war, and religious extremism in the Horn of Africa, what difference could one woman make? Annalena Tonelli stayed anyway – and found a way to beat history’s deadliest disease.

Ibrahim, a three-year-old Somali boy, suffered from both malnutrition and spinal tuberculosis. Policemen had found him in the desert in northeastern Kenya, dying of hunger. He clung to anyone willing to hold him and pressed his head against that person’s chest. Annalena Tonelli, an Italian working as a teacher in Wajir, Kenya, took him home from the hospital; she wanted to keep him close through the nights too, so he wouldn’t die alone.

When Annalena first stretched Ibrahim out on a bed, he pulled her down to lie beside him and rested his head over her heart. “Who knows how much he has suffered. Now he just wants comfort, peace, and the security of a mother’s heartbeat,” she remarked to another caregiver.

Life was harsh in the 1970s in Wajir, a remote region populated primarily by Somalis. A UNICEF survey declared the water unfit for human consumption. Lions attacked isolated nomads and snakebites were common. Temp-eratures soared to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and there was no electricity. Rain, on the rare occasions when it did fall, could lead to catastrophic flooding. The hospital lacked sufficient staff, equipment, and supplies. Tuberculosis, malaria, typhoid, cholera, and dengue fever raged.

Annalena moved to Wajir in 1970 to teach, but during a cholera epidemic her work shifted to caring for sick children like Ibrahim. Eventually, she turned all her attention to treating tuberculosis, an infectious disease that carried a powerful stigma among Somalis (and still does). People wouldn’t use the word tuberculosis and insisted they only had a cough. If a community found out a member had TB, the sick person was often ostracized or even abandoned. Many would rather die than be labeled with the diagnosis.

In the developed world, many still assume that TB no longer exists. Dr. Paul Farmer, who battled TB in Haiti, put it bluntly: “The ‘forgotten plague’ was forgotten because it ceased to bother the wealthy.” That only began to change in 2016 when cases increased in the United States for the first time in decades, and in the following year, when drug-resistant TB started killing people in Minnesota. Around the same time, South Korea announced new laws requiring that every citizen be tested twice in his or her lifetime. Media reports contained elements of shock that this Victorian-era disease was still among us.

Dr. Onkar Sahota, chair of London’s Health Committee, said in 2015, “We think TB is a disease of developing countries or of days gone by, but TB is a disease of today. It certainly was a disease of yesterday and we need to make sure it isn’t a disease of tomorrow.”

Annalena hadn’t known much about tuberculosis when she moved to Kenya, but since her youth she had been drawn to the sick, the poor, and the outcast. In her hometown of Forlí, Italy, she had founded an organization called the Committee to Fight World Hunger. But to her, that hadn’t been enough. She discovered a slum known as Casermone, and started spending more and more time there. She took children from Casermone to medical appointments, paid school fees, and even clipped their toenails. The phone at her house would ring, someone would demand wood or coal, and off Annalena would rush.

She urged her friends and siblings to join her and they would, drawn in by her persuasive charisma. One friend, Maria Teresa, became Annalena’s lifelong partner in her vision to serve. When later asked what inspired Annalena, who was raised Catholic and had a deep love for Jesus, Maria Teresa said, “Gandhi, Gandhi, Gandhi.” She added, “She learned from Gandhi that to love one must willingly and deliberately strip away self and restrict one’s own needs.” Annalena referred to the Indian independence leader as her “second gospel.”

During the early 1960s, while Annalena was reading Gandhi, there were also radical shifts in Italian Catholicism. The Second Vatican Council encouraged dialogue with other religions and challenged lay people to live out missionary vocations both locally and globally. Believers wouldn’t have to become nuns or priests, or even work under the auspices of the church, to serve the poor or play a meaningful role in the spiritual life of their communities. This suited Annalena’s independent streak, as did the renewed emphasis on social action as a valid form of the vocation to mission. Her experiences in Casermone led her to search for a place where she could live and serve among the poor for the rest of her life. Inspired by a friend, Pina Ziani, who worked among lepers in east Africa, Annalena settled on Kenya. Pina helped her secure a teaching contract and Annalena left Italy in 1969.

The ways of service are infinite and left to the imagination. Let us not wait to be instructed in how to serve.

“The poor are waiting for us,” Annalena said in one of her few public statements. “The ways of service are infinite and left to the imagination. Let us not wait to be instructed in how to serve. We invent and we live the new heavens and the new earth each day of our lives. If we don’t love, God remains without an epiphany. We are the visible sign of his presence and we make him alive in this infernal world where it seems that he is not. We make him alive each time we stop next to a wounded person.”

Once in Kenya, Annalena became independent from the limitations and structures of the Catholic Church. Yet she knew she needed a supportive community around her. Soon Maria Teresa and five other women had joined her. They prayed and read scripture together in the mornings and spent their days caring for the sick. They built a physiotherapy facility and called it the Farah Center, or Center of Joy.

Maria Teresa and the other women provided therapy for those with disabilities caused by polio and other childhood diseases. Annalena was consistently drawn to the poorest and most outcast. At that time, due to the lack of medical care, superstitions, and stigma, this meant her focus turned to Somali nomads with tuberculosis.

One young woman, her name lost to sand and history, was typical of those she served. The woman had suffered polio and now hovered near death from tuberculosis. Annalena sat by her side in the final hours of her life. Though they couldn’t communicate in any shared spoken language, Annalena said she and this woman understood one another.

The woman’s legs were limp, thin as sticks, her body so emaciated it was frightening – a rice sack filled with bones. But her face was filled with expression, an awareness. According to the dictates of her clan, she wore the black veil of a married woman, dignified in its modesty. Even though she was now divorced, she still bore the pride of a woman who had been married, once chosen.

She asked Annalena, with hand gestures and her eyes, to spend the coming night in the room with her. The woman coughed incessantly. Annalena sat beside her. Here was one of “God’s sparrows” – one of Annalena’s favorite terms for describing the sick – falling to the ground, known by her Creator and neglected by her people.

Annalena grew drowsy, the heat pushing her head down toward her chest, urging her to sleep. She prayed to keep herself awake. The heat and fever weakened the sick woman. Annalena wrote that she “loved her with an infinite tenderness.” Even that love couldn’t keep Annalena’s eyes open for the nightlong vigil.

When her head drooped and her body collapsed in sleep, the woman took the dirty pillow from behind her own head and offered it to Annalena. Annalena didn’t refuse, though the pillow was full of infection.

Around five o’clock in the morning, Annalena woke, took the woman’s hand, and smiled at her. “Maybe at the end of my life I can say that all I did was pass through this world, holding the hand of the dying, smiling tenderly,” she said later. The light of the kerosene lamp illuminated the woman’s face. She fought to speak. “God is … in the name of God, gracious, merciful … go!” And she died.

“These people must have an extraordinary reward in heaven,” Annalena wrote, “because they have suffered so darkly on earth.”

Despite the infected pillow and ongoing close contact with the sick, Annalena rarely got sick. Occasionally she battled malaria or exhaustion, but she never tested positive for tuberculosis. At Wajir’s hospital, Annalena started to oversee TB medication. Friends in Italy sent her books and articles about TB control and combination therapy. She traveled to Spain, then London, to take medical courses. She learned about a recent experimental exploration of short-course therapy, which could theoretically cut the time of care from eighteen months to six. Given its 33 percent success rate, she felt, it shouldn’t be difficult to do even a little better. Treatment was simple and straightforward but had to be followed with precision: patients had to take the right pills at the right time.

That, Annalena believed, was something she could make sure would happen.

Annalena Tonelli with a Somali mother and her children

Image courtesy of the author

The trouble was getting nomads to stay in one place long enough for the cure to take hold. Eighteen months? Impossible. But six months? Maybe, just maybe, for a good reason, a nomad could be convinced to stay. But not in a hospital, beneath a roof, or inside the prison of four cement walls. Not without their animals or families. Not without some sense of autonomy, dignity, and productivity.

If the right context of care could be created, the right combination of medicine and relationship established, a nomad might stay. Annalena had been in Wajir long enough to know what Somalis valued most highly: Islam, community, and independence.

Her idea was to invite nomads to the prop-erty around the Farah Center, where they could build their huts on her land. They could bring some of their animals and a family member or two. She would have them sign an agreement that they would not leave until their six months of treatment were completed and their sputum test came back negative. She would oversee every single pill dosage and provide meals. She planned to build a mosque and a school. She would create jobs for patients. Above all, she would know them: their names, their families, their stories. She would listen to their voices and hold their hands and kiss their cheeks, even while they exhaled tuberculosis bacteria. She would tend their wounds and their hearts.

Before Kenya could actively promote the new short-course treatment, the country needed to run a trial, to make sure patients were actually cured and that the treatment wouldn’t contribute to drug resistance. In April 1976, Annalena proposed to the Kenyan Ministry of Health that she manage a tuberculosis control test project in Wajir. She received permission to launch her project, with funding from the World Health Organization and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

In naming her new project, Annalena was careful not to use the word tuberculosis – she never would in her centers. Instead she named it the Bismillah Manyatta, the Village in the Name of God.

The sick came with their camels and the canvasses, ropes, and bent sticks for building their huts. Soon dozens were scattered across the sand near the Farah Center. There was no real wall, so beyond a small row of trees and a welcome sign, huts expanded outward as more and more people were drawn to the village.

Patients signed an agreement to stay at the center; in fact, they had to designate a relative who could chase them down if they left early.

Each patient was started on the new short-course therapy. Somalis presented so sick and at such late stages of TB that their dosages had to be adjusted almost weekly as they gained weight from the therapy and the nutritious diet provided. Once the huts were built, people had slightly more motivation to stay put, but still Annalena had to enforce compliance. Patients signed an agreement to stay at the center; in fact, they had to designate a relative who could chase them down if they left early.

Beyond this one promise, Annalena put pressure for compliance on herself, rather than on the patient. Part of her task involved directly overseeing the administration of the medications, down to the actual ingestion and swallowing of them. Annalena kept meticulous records and direct observation became central to her treatment.

People lined up at a table where she set out their pills and small cups of water or the orange drink she despised as too sweet, and her stack of medical charts. One by one, they swallowed the medicine. If someone was too sick to come to the table, she visited their hut. Sometimes she placed the pill on their tongues. She managed these pills around the clock, on a four-hour rotation.

A somali hut called aqal in the desert, Togdheer region, Burao, Somaliland

A somali hut called aqal in the desert, Togdheer region, Burao, Somaliland
Photograph by Eric Lafforgue on Flickr

TB pills were large and hard to swallow. If someone refused, Annalena sat with them until they swallowed the medicine. If someone vomited, she brought a glass of water, sometimes a slice of cake to settle the stomach.

“I was with them every day,” she said. “I served them on my knees. I was beside them when they were getting worse and did not have anybody to take care of them, to look them in the eyes, to give them strength.” Over her thirty-four years in the Horn of Africa, Annalena would achieve a remarkable 93 percent cure rate.

She found the work was both invigorating and exhausting. A Muslim elder in Wajir donated land so Annalena could build a hermitage, a place of retreat where she could be spiritually rested and renewed. She dreamed of spending a year in the hermitage, but a backlog of work heaped up on her desk. She had so many guests at the Manyatta that she read her Bible and prayed at five o’clock in the morning to avoid interruption. New patients, old patients, hungry children, everyone wanted to see her or ask her for something. Maria Teresa called it a “lacerating dichotomy between silence and the sick. The poor called her back from the hermitage, back to their hell, but she knew it was God who took her to the poor and the poor who took her to God.”

People who sensed death’s nearness turned their beds to face Mecca, then called for Annalena.

She tried to only go to the hermitage when she was sure no one was about to die. People who could sense death’s nearness turned their beds to face Mecca, then called for Annalena. “They wanted one hand held by the sheikh and one hand held by Annalena,” Maria Teresa told me. “The sheikh prayed the Koran and Annalena prayed silently, and together they accompanied the person to the door of eternity. So interesting, that a pure Muslim would want an infidel.”

Annalena remained in Wajir until 1985, when her role in exposing a massacre jeopardized her safety and ability to continue. The Kenyan government kicked her out and refused to renew her visa. She moved to Somalia, where she established more tuberculosis treatment centers. Again, she found herself caught up in violence, this time the civil war. She moved to the relatively stable and peaceful region of Somaliland, northern Somalia, and continued her work with the sick.

Most people loved her, but some grew resentful of her presence: a foreigner, a Christian, and a humanitarian whose work drew attention to the weaknesses of the medical care system and local prejudices. In 2003, Annalena won the prestigious Nansen Refugee Award, which increased her profile in Somalia and internationally.

On October 5, 2003, after three decades of serving Somalis with TB and AIDS, Annalena was gunned down by Islamic extremists as she made the evening rounds of her patients in the TB hospital she had founded in Borama, Somaliland.

I was living a few blocks away when Annalena was murdered, having moved to Somaliland in early 2003 with my husband and two children. My husband had taken a job at Amoud University in Borama. Though I never met Annalena, learning about her changed how I wanted to live my life.

Annalena Tonelli administering to a TB patient in a hospital.

Photograph @ UNHCR/e. Parsons

The hermitage still stands in Wajir. It is a plain, simple structure; a patch of dirt surrounded by a wall, two small rooms, and a two-story tower with a terrace. Weeds have grown and scraps of garbage pile up in the corners. The Kenyan nuns who work in the Farah Center sometimes come here to pray, but not often. The iron rungs leading to the tower remain firmly implanted in the wall. Retracing Annalena’s footsteps, I scramble up them and perch on the ledge, gazing out over Wajir.

When Annalena stood here, she saw an expanse of open desert and the occasional acacia tree. The town has grown since then and my view is hampered by houses and buildings. Minarets puncture the sky. Camels lumber over dirt trails through town, led by young herders with sticks slung over their shoulders. The wells once on the outskirts of Wajir are now in the center. Where marabou storks once stepped between camels and nomads at the watering holes, truckers use generators to pump water and wash their vehicles.

Behind me, across the dirt road, is the Bismillah Manyatta, still used to house and treat nomads with tuberculosis. Inside the hermitage, down below, is a well with an inscription, “My soul is thirsty for God, the God of my life.” Here, in this place provided by a Muslim for use by Christians, surrounded by stark desert beauty and the vibrant life of a growing town, I feel the possibility of peace, of a world not torn asunder by hatred, fear, and isolationism. I understand why Annalena lingered here.


This article is adapted from Stronger Than Death: How Annalena Tonelli Defied Terror and Tuberculosis in the Horn of Africa

 

 

      —Dion Todd

Most of us have been challenged by problems in life that have seemed insurmountable: unexpected bills, health surprises, and more. If you struggled with worry and fear at these times, read today‘s message for a blessing.

The Final Countdown

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me; declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure; Isaiah 46:9 WEB

During a sci-fi night at our house, we watched some heroes frantically trying to disarm a bomb that was quickly counting down to zero. 10, 9, 8, 7, it looked like certain death for our friends, but suddenly the timer stopped at one. Then I thought, ‘Ah, it always stops at one!’ All of the drama, fear, and panic was a waste of energy, though exciting while it was happening.

We often wrestle with things like this in our mind, silently. Even while others are talking to us, we will be mulling over the pending disaster that we just know is coming and is right around the corner. God is the only one that sees your end from the beginning. He knows what is coming and how to prepare you for it.

So many times in my life, I have worried about what was coming. I could see the timer counting down to the deadline and the closer that it got, the more nervous that I became. Every single time, God came through. The timer never got to zero, and most of the time it turned out to be a lot of worry for nothing.

Once after being out of work for several months, when we could no longer pay the utilities, we were packing to move out of our home. On that Tuesday morning He spoke to me. By the end of the week I had the best job that I ever had, and someone suddenly stepped in and paid all of our bills for the month. Once again, the countdown never reached zero.

That fear that we carry in the back of our mind, the one that will destroy everything that we know, is not gonna happen. Though it looks terrifying and there appears to be no way to avoid it, the timer will stop at one. It will never happen. It will not take place. God will defuse the situation. Don’t give up yet, and don’t trade your faith for fear, for He will come through before the countdown reaches zero.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I pray that you bring a peace over my mind today. Touch me with Your presence and let me know that I am not alone. I look to You for protection and provision. Please remember me today Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: Only two nuts are mentioned by name in the Bible: almonds and pistachios.

 

What Jesus Did! ‘They Got Mad!’

Jesus looked at them and said, “Then what does this Scripture mean? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ Everyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.” The teachers of religious law and the leading priests wanted to arrest Jesus immediately because they realized he was telling the story against them — they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the people’s reaction.

Key Thought

There are three ways to respond when Jesus speaks the truth about your sin. First, you can ignore it and pretend it doesn’t apply to you. Second, you can do what the religious leaders did here: You can become enraged at the truth and try to get rid of the truth-teller. Third, you can be convicted in your heart and change your life. While the events in which we face these three choices are not as significant as what was happening with Jesus in Jerusalem, they do happen to us. So what are we going to do with the truth about our sin?

Today’s Prayer

Father, when I hear the truth, please convict my heart and help me change my life. I don’t want to ignore or rationalize my sin away. I don’t want to let Satan harden my heart to the truth. Help me be convicted of my sin and commit to living your truth no matter the personal cost to me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Galatians 6:2 — Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Passion for Praise: ‘Kneeling, Facing God’

Illustration of Romans 14:11-12 MESSAGE — Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture: "As I live and breathe," God says, "every knee will bow before me; Every tongue will tell the honest truth that I and only I am God."

Spiritual Warfare: ‘Make the Choice to Serve God Faithfully’

God’s Power for Our Battles

So now, revere the Lord. Serve him honestly and faithfully.Put aside the gods that your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt and serve the Lord. But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the Lord.

— Joshua 24:14-15 CEB

A Year with Jesus: ‘The Foundation’

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

The foundation for everything you hold dear as a Christian and as My disciple is this one fundamental truth: I came as God, in human flesh, Jesus the Christ, the Anointed One, the Son of the only true and living God. Peter confessed something very similar to this at a vital turning point in My ministry and in his life (Matthew 16:16).

Over the centuries, many have tried to make Me less than God come in human flesh, but for Me to be the Son of the Father meant no less than this. When I identified Myself as the Father’s Son, My Jewish opponents wanted to kill Me for “making himself [Myself] equal with God” (John 5:16-18 NLT). To come as the Son of God meant, and still means, that I was God in human flesh. I was God come in human flesh from conception through the cross to the resurrection and the ascension!

People have speculated trying to determine someone specific who is the evil antiChrist. However, John reminded My disciples that they needed to be seriously concerned about those among them who were obviously antiChrists: the many religious people who were (and still are) trying to separate My identity from the Father. They want to make Me less than God in human flesh. Some even claim that I was a created being — that I was not always in existence and not really God. These false doctrines and notions undermine the power of My cross (1 Corinthians 1:17-18Colossians 2:15Philippians 2:5-11). They discount the incredible grace of My full humanity in My incarnation (John 1:1-18). They dispute what it means for Me to be the true, living, and complete Word and Message of God (Hebrews 1:1-3). I was with the Father at creation. Not only did I make all things, but I continue to hold them together by My will and power (John 1:1-3Colossians 1:15-19).

I sent you the anointing, the Holy Spirit, to be with you. The Spirit will guide you into all truth so that you will not be led astray by the antiChrists in your day (John 16:12-15). You don’t need to fear these false teachers; just test the spirit of these teachers to see if they bring the truth about Me (1 John 4:1-6). If they do not, don’t associate with them. Those who do not hold to My genuine identity undermine Who I AM and what I did to bring you salvation.

If you hold to My true identity, if you believe in Me as Peter did, you can rest assured of this one certainty: you can be sure of your salvation!

Verses to Live

What follows is a collection of John’s strong words about the antiChrists who seek to undermine My identity. They existed in the early days of My church, and they exist in your day. Please know this: you must heed John’s words of warning, but not in fear. Trust in the Holy Spirit Whom I poured out on you when you were born into the Father’s family (John 16:5-11Titus 3:3-7). The Spirit is your anointing, your assurance that you have the truth and that you belong to the Father. So believe in Me and trust what I say to you: your anointing will guide you into all truth and will confirm what John says about Me!

My children, this is the final hour. You have heard that the antiChrist, the greatest enemy to His kingdom, is coming, but in fact, many antiChrists are already here. This development tells us how late it really is. A group has left us, but they were not part of our family. If they were truly our brothers and sisters, they would have remained for the duration with us. When they left, they made it ever so obvious that they were not part of us.

You have been given an anointing, a special touch from the Holy One. You know the truth. I am not writing to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it. You know that no lie belongs to the truth. The liar is the one who says, “Jesus is not really the Anointed One.” This is the antiChrist, the one denying both the Father and the Son. Anyone who denies the Son does not know the Father. The one affirming the Son enjoys an intimate relationship with the Father as well.

Let the good news, the story you have heard from the beginning of your journey, live in and take hold of you. If that happens and you focus on the good news, then you will always remain in a relationship with the Son and the Father. This is what He promised us: eternal life.

I also am writing to warn you about some who are attempting to deceive you. You have an anointing. You received it from Him, and His anointing remains on you. You do not need any other teacher. But as His anointing instructs you in all the essentials (all the truth uncontaminated by darkness and lies), it teaches you this: “Remain connected to Him.”
(1 John 2:18-27)

There is a sure way for us to know that we belong to the truth. Even though our inner thoughts may condemn us with storms of guilt and constant reminders of our failures, we can know in our hearts that in His presence God Himself is greater than any accusation. He knows all things. My loved ones, if our hearts cannot condemn us, then we can stand with confidence before God. Whatever we may ask, we receive it from Him because we follow His commands and take the path that pleases Him. His command is clear: believe in the name of His Son, Jesus the Anointed, and love one another as He commanded. The one who follows His teaching and walks this path lives in an intimate relationship with God. How do we know that He lives in us? By the gift of His Spirit.
(1 John 3:19-24)

Any person who drifts away and fails to live in the teachings of the Anointed One, our Liberating King, does not have God. But the person who lives in this teaching will have both the Father and the Son. If any person comes to you with a teaching that does not align with the true message of Jesus, do not welcome that person into your house or greet him as you would a true brother. Anyone who welcomes this person has become a partner in advancing his wicked agenda.
(2 John 1:9-11)

My loved ones, I warn you: do not trust every spirit. Instead, examine them carefully to determine if they come from God, because the corrupt world is filled with the voices of many false prophets. Here is how you know God’s Spirit: if a spirit affirms the truth that Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, has come in human flesh, then that spirit is from God. If a spirit does not affirm the true nature of Jesus the Anointed, then that spirit does not come from God and is, in fact, the spirit of the antiChrist. You have heard about its coming; in fact it is already active in the world. My children, you have come from God and have conquered these spirits because the One Who lives within you is greater than the one in this world. But they are of this world, and they articulate the views of the corrupt world, which the world understands. We come from God, and those who know God hear us. Whoever is not from God will not listen to us. This is the way we discern the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.
(1 John 4:1-6)

How can we be sure that He truly lives in us and that we truly live in Him? By one fact: He has given us His Spirit. We have watched what God has done, and we stand ready to provide eyewitness testimonies to the reality that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone unites with our confession that Jesus is God’s own Son, then God truly lives in that person and that person lives in God. We have experienced and we have entrusted our lives to the love of God in us.
(1 John 4:13-16)

Everyone who trusts Jesus as the long-awaited Anointed One is a child of God, and everyone who loves the Father cannot help but love the child fathered by Him. Then how do we know if we truly love God’s children? We love them if we love God and keep His commands. You see, to love God means that we keep His commands, and His commands don’t weigh us down. Everything that has been fathered by God overcomes the corrupt world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.

Who is the person conquering the world? It is the one who truly trusts that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus the Anointed is the One Who came by water and blood — not by the water only, but by the water and the blood.

The Spirit of God testifies to this truth because the Spirit is the truth. So there are three testifying witnesses: the Spirit, the water, and the blood. All three are in total agreement. If we accept the testimonies of people, then we must realize the testimony of God is greater than that of any person. God certified the truth about His own Son. Anyone who trusts the Son of God has this truthful testimony at the core of his being. Anyone who does not trust God calls God a liar because he ignores God’s truthful testimony regarding His own Son. And this is the truth: God has given us the gift of eternal life, and this life is in His Son. If you have the Son, you have eternal life. If you do not have the Son of God, you are not acquainted with true life.

I am writing all of this to you who have entrusted your lives to the Son of God — so you will realize eternal life already is yours. We live in the bold confidence that God hears our voices when we ask for things that fit His plan. And if we have no doubt that He hears our voices, we can be assured that He moves in response to our call.
(1 John 5:1-15)

Response in Prayer

Father, I don’t claim to comprehend all that it means for Jesus to be fully divine and fully human, to be Son of God and Son of a woman. But, dear Father, I do believe it even though I don’t fully understand it. I recognize that this truth is part of Your divine grace to share our humanity as one of us to redeem us and bring us to Yourself. So thank You for Jesus, my Savior, my Lord, and Your Son. Thank You for the Son of God Who walked among us and was God with us. I am astounded by both Your unfathomable love and this gracious mystery that has made me Your child. In Jesus’ mighty name, I praise and thank You. Amen.

 

 

kindredkggrace

How to Respond to Correction from Other Believers

I was confronted not long ago by a fellow Believer.

She questioned my actions in a situation and then gave me Scripture references to back up her words. She wasn’t mean, or spiteful in any way, but of course it still hurt.

This wasn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, over the course of my life as a Christian there have been multiple times when I have been confronted. It’s a good thing, one of the best parts of being in community, but also one of the very hardest. It’s painful to have your faults (real or imagined) pointed out to you.

And yet, we are instructed in Scripture to do this. Matthew 18:15 tells us to go to the brother who sins against us. Galatians 6:1 reminds us to restore, with gentleness, anyone who is caught in transgressions. 2 Timothy 3:16 explains that all Scripture is useful for teaching, reproof, and correction. Luke 17:3 says that if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. Ephesians 4:15 is a reminder to speak the truth in love, so we can grow up into Christ.

There is no doubt that in the community of believers, we are told to be in deep relationship with each other, which requires conversations that are specific not only to praising the way the Lord is using our brothers and sisters, but also to rebuking or correcting when there is an issue.

While I learned early in my walk with the Lord that this was good and to accept it with humbleness, there were some parts of how to deal with confrontation in a healthy way that I didn’t understand for many years. 

Here are four truths about confrontation that have transformed how I respond:

1. Displaying humbleness in confrontation does not mean you have to agree that the other person is correct in their assessment.

When I was in college I had a professor who confronted me about sharing my decision to fast and how that was in contrary to Scripture (Matthew 6:1). For years I carried guilt over that conversation. Eventually, the Lord revealed to me that I wasn’t able to free myself from the guilt, no matter how many times I repented, because there wasn’t anything for me to have guilt for! I hadn’t shared about fasting to praise myself or to be seen as righteous. I had mentioned it because I was talking about my excitement over writing a paper on the passages in Isaiah 58 that talk about true fasting. My focus in the conversation was on what I wanted to learn and grow in, not any kind of boasting.

Looking back, what I didn’t understand at that time was that the opposite of defensiveness and pride (our natural human response to confrontation) is not agreement, it is humbleness.

Displaying humbleness means:

  1. Listening to the correction with a respectful attitude.
  2. Offering grace to the person speaking.
  3. Having a willingness to learn.

These three things can, but do not necessarily, have to include agreement with the person confronting.

2. God is ultimately our Judge, and He alone knows our hearts.

Accepting correction from someone does not mean applying their judgment of the situation to your life. Confrontation is a gift that is meant to reveal your heart and your position toward God. Sometimes it will reveal you to be face-to-face with the Father, as you should be, and other times it will reveal that your back is turned to Him in a specific area.
Think of it this way: I’m visiting you and I feel like the water at your house is a little off. I love you and I want you to be healthy so I purchase a water filter and gift it to you.

Now, you can do any number of things with this filter. You can be offended that I didn’t like your water and throw the gift back in my face. You can argue with me about the merits of your water and why I’m wrong. You can decide that I’m only giving you this because I want to judge you and make you feel bad.

Or, you can accept the gift, even if you feel hurt that I didn’t like your water, and choose to show grace and respect because I cared enough to take the time to bring you this gift.

But don’t just rush home and install the filter. Because my judgment of the situation may, or may not, be accurate.

Instead, get your water tested. If the filter is needed, apply it! If not, you can return the filter gently, explaining that the water was tested and is fine, or simply set it on a shelf in case you need it at another point, or haul it out with the trash later.

This illustration is pretty self-explanatory but let me spell it out for a second… God is our water tester. He is the ultimate Judge on our heart’s condition. We know His requirements from Scripture but it is His Spirit in us that testifies to our true state. If we are in Christ, then we know if we are hiding from Him or facing Him.

Confrontation in the Body is our revealer. Whether the judgment from our brother or sister is correct, or incorrect, our job is to allow the Spirit to test our hearts and see our condition for what it is so we can be transformed more into the likeness of Jesus.

So by all means, if your water tests off, apply the filter! I have been in this position many times and I am so thankful for the way my heart has been healed, little by little, as I have dealt with underlying sin patterns and bad habits. I know there will be many more times in the future and all I can say is Praise the Lord that He is faithful.

3. Sometimes God uses a rebuke in one area to open our eyes to an issue somewhere else.

The confrontation that I mentioned at the beginning of this post was about the content of one of my books. The person felt that something I included was not acceptable for a follower of Jesus.

When I took this to the Lord (and my husband, because sometimes we need help to discern when our emotions are involved!) I felt released from any guilt. I still took the time to study and meditate on the verses given to me (how can you go wrong if you’re spending time in the Word, right?) and became more and more convinced that what I had chosen was the right course of action.

But something else happened while I was studying those verses. A truth was revealed to me that showed an issue in my heart that did need to be corrected.

Even though this confrontation was painful, and even though I ultimately disagreed with the person, I am still so thankful they were faithful to give me this gift. If they hadn’t, I would have continued in a destructive pattern in my life in this other area. As it was, my heart was revealed and an area that was wounding me is now being worked on.

4. Every confrontation will bring emotions that will take time to process.

When I was a younger believer, I had this idea in my head that if I was mature in Christ then I would be able to accept confrontation without experiencing hurt.

I mean, if I was doing something wrong and someone confronted me, obviously I should be able to acknowledge the wrong, accept responsibility, and change–without feeling anything.

(Sometimes spelling out a belief in words helps us acknowledge the ridiculousness of it, eh?)

My belief in this area was actually this twisted idea that maybe someday I could get to a place where I could avoid pain. As my husband would say, “I hate to break it to ya, honey, but that ain’t gonna happen.”

I will probably cry every single time someone points out a fault of mine. Which, quite honestly, could be a lot because I have a lot of them. Add in the times when people will misunderstand and whew, that’s a whole lot of tears.

But it’s okay. I’m a human being and I have emotions and I will always need a little time to process them. And tears, for me, will probably always be a part of that experience.

Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your emotions. God didn’t give us these instructions because He wanted us to become robots that just compute new information and move on…Instead, we are to be the iron that sharpens iron. We are being shaped into His image and the process will sometimes be painful, but also good.

Facing correction will always bring out emotional responses. It’s okay. We don’t need to allow our emotions to control us, but they will still be a part of us. Give yourself some grace as you process them.

What are some things that you have learned about accepting correction from the Body of Christ?

Natasha Metzler
Natasha lives with her husband and two children on a farm in Northern New York. She homeschools the kiddos, blogs, and writes books. Pain Redeemed tells the story of her journey through infertility, Counting Grains of Sand tells of how God built her family from splintered pieces, and WordSnacks is devotional encouragement for every day.
Understanding Redemption
  Someone asked me recently, “Why didn’t God simply forgive Adam and Eve after they transgressed in the garden?” I told them I did not know if God forgave them or not, but if He did, it did not change the result of what they had done. Even if God forgave Adam and Eve, sin would still have dominion over them; Satan would still be the God of this world; their children would still be “conceived in sin” and “shapen in iniquity;” Psalms 51:5 and the death sentence (condemnation) would still hang over the head of every person from that day forward. Maybe they were forgiven, but what they needed was redemption.

Forgiveness is not redemption. Forgiveness deals with your past. Redemption is the act of recovering something that was lost.  To understand redemption, there are four questions we must answer.

1. WHAT WAS LOST? We are what was lost. Adam’s transgression sold all humanity into the bondage of sin and Satan. The prophet spoke of this saying, “For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.” Isaiah 52:3 The apostle Paul confirms this when he speaks of trying to please God by the Law before he came to Christ. He said,  “…but I am carnal, sold under sin.” Romans 7:14 In Adam, we were all “sold under sin” into the kingdom of darkness Colossians 1:13 from which we could never redeem ourselves.

2. WHO WAS IT LOST TO? We were lost to God. He created mankind in his image and for his glory. Mankind was to be a flesh and blood manifestation of the invisible God. In Adam’s transgression, we lost the image of God and took on the image of the serpent. John wrote, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning” and “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God…” I John 3:8, 10 When Jesus said He came “…to seek and to save that which was lost,” he is speaking of us as being lost to God. Our redemption restores to God that which was lost to him. John wrote, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation…” Revelation 5:9 In redemption, the image and glory of God is restored upon those who are restored to God. Romans 8:29-30  As He was in Christ, so now in the redeemed, God is once again “manifested in the flesh.” I Timothy 3:16

 3. WHO TOOK POSSESSION OF WHAT WAS LOST? Sin and Satan became the lords over all humanity. They became possessors of what belonged to God. Just as God sent Moses to deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt, God sent his own Son to deliver us from slavery in sin. Jesus said, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant (slave) of sin.” John 8:34 Redemption delivers us from that bondage. Paul wrote that Christ “…gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:14 Notice that Christ redeemed us “from all iniquity,” and “unto himself.” This is why the angel told Joseph “thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 Calvary was not about paying a debt for sin. It was about delivering us from sin itself.

4. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO RESTORE WHAT WAS LOST TO THE ONE IT WAS LOST TO?  The final part of understanding redemption is to recognize what was required to redeem that which was lost. This is called the “ransom.” It is the cost of redemption. The scripture is clear that Christ “…gave himself a ransom for all…” I Timothy 2:6 A ransom does not necessarily speak of a payment to someone, but it does always speaks of what it cost to redeem something. In World War II, millions of Allied soldiers died on the battlefield fighting the Nazis. Their blood was the ransom required to deliver the world from Hitler’s tyranny. Even so, the blood of Christ was the ransom required to destroy Satan and deliver us from all sin and iniquity. It was not paid to anyone. His death was the great cost it took to destroy Satan! No one has to be a slave to sin or Satan any longer, because Christ shed his blood to make us free. We are redeemed! “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;” Psalms 107:2

Finally, there is a mistranslation in the KJV and some other versions of the Bible which blind many people to the truth of redemption. When the apostle tells us “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins…” Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14, the word he used that was translated as “forgiveness” is the Greek word “aphesis” which actually means “freedom.” “Aphesis” is the word Jesus used for both “deliverance” and “liberty” when he read the prophecy “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19 “Aphesis” always means freedom. “We have redemption through his blood, the freedom from sins…”  Jesus came not to only forgive sins, but to redeem from sin and restore us to God.

God Bless,
Pastor Keith Surface
Calvary Outreach Ministries
Charisma

Prophecy: 2 Sets of Christians Are About to Cross Over Into a New Season

The other day while I was driving in my car, Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Momentum is building again.”

I’ve sensed over the past few weeks that many people in the body of Christ have seen areas in their lives where it’s seemed like their progress has stalled and their strength has weakened. There’s been a complete reliance upon the Lord regarding obstacles in the roadway of their destinies, where assigned adversity has afforded the people of God new levels of faith and a new resilience for the long haul. Where many believers have found themselves growing weary with the pace of their race, I saw the Lord sending times of refreshing to restore discouragement, hope deferred and unexpected delay.

Who Is Crossing Over?

Holy Spirit showed me two sets of people in the body of Christ who were preparing to cross over into their new season. There was one group of people who God had opened new doors of access to because they were ready and prepared to go to next-level assignments in their authority, gifting and anointing. Then there was a second set of people who were being refined in the fire for carrying new power, new realms of glory and a greater measure of faith to heal the sick, set the captives free and walk in new dimensions of miracles, signs and wonders like never before.

Both groups of people endured the threshing floor of preparation for carrying the fresh oil needed at this hour. These ones paid the price, endured the cost and surrendered their all while passing through the narrow place of transition. The mountaintop has positioned you, and the valley floor has anointed you.

I hear the Spirit of God say, “It’s not by might nor by power but by My Spirit that these ones have been raised up and brought to the forefront at this time. Make no mistake about it, I have chosen the time and the season where the momentum of their days would meet with the fruit being manifested through the fulfillment of My promises. This is not an hour to shrink back and despair. This is an hour of new power to be demonstrated through My servants, the prophets.”

Convergence: Where the Training Ground of the Past Meets Destiny

There’s a convergence happening in the body of Christ at this hour where our training ground from the past has positioned us for what we were created and formed to do by the hand of God from conception. A merging of where many have been and where it’s been prophesied that many are going is creating an atmosphere conducive to the winds of momentum, ushering the saints of God into higher and weightier realms of glory.

I see a thrust of God-ordained promises beginning to explode in the spiritual realm to lift the saints of God into kairos moments orchestrated by the hand of the Lord.

The Lilies of the Field

The other morning I heard the Spirit of God say, “Watch Me move amongst the lilies of the field to array My sovereignty upon you in all its splendor.”

The lilies of the field are mentioned in Matthew 6:28 as a place where the glory of God dwells without effort or striving. When the sovereignty of God comes upon us, His supreme power, authority and attributes rain down and rule in our midst.

Ride with the Wind!

We are entering realms of glory as sons and daughters of God to blow the lid off any other move of God that’s come before us. The Spirit of God is roaming the earth and marking the pure in heart who are spotless and blameless in the eyes of Father.

While the church is being purged of perversion, sin and gross compromise, a remnant of Holy Ghost glory-carrying, authority-wielding vessels of power is beginning to emerge for such a time as this!

A new momentum is building at this hour! Ride with the wind! God has positioned you for such a time as this.

“See, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not be aware of it?” (Isa. 43:19a).

Holly Watson is a prophetic voice throughout the body of Christ, called to share the Father’s heart to His church. Her passion is to equip the saints of God to be kingdom-minded and prepared. The prophetic word through Holly’s blog, Kingdom Revelations, is read across the nation and around the world. She resides with her husband and family in Southern California.

 

 

ChristNOW

Who’s Really in Charge Here?

Is It the Donkey, the Elephant, or the Lamb?

Starting Wednesday morning, the House of Representatives opens to the public the inquiry hearings on the potential impeachment of President Trump, aired gavel to gavel on all major networks.

Will you be watching along with a hundred million other Americans?

Commentators, historians, political and social scientists—as well as the average citizen—agree on this (even if we can’t agree on anything else): As we enter into these serious deliberations this week, we find our nation to be more divided, more polarized, more entrenched and inflexible, more paralyzed domestically and internationally than at any time since the great Civil War.

It appears we’ve moved beyond simply being “partisan” to being “tribal”—tribes identified as Democrats vs. Republicans, liberals vs. conservatives, big government vs. small government, coastal elites vs. the flyover states, white collar vs. blue collar, red states vs. blue states, Trumpers vs. Never Trumpers.

On and on, the shattering of our society continues. Battle lines appear permanently locked in everywhere.

With what is shaping up to be possibly the most hotly-contested and consequential presidential election in our nation’s history—in the face of dire warnings that the very fabric of our society is being ripped asunder, that our major institutions are being stressed to a breaking point, that our culture as a whole is in an ethical and moral freefall—we would do well to ask ourselves some crucial questions. And many Americans are doing just that.

Questions Every American Should Ask:

 

  • At this collision of convictions and cultures, who’s really in charge here?
  • Who’s able to rescue us from our deepening, deadly nightmare?
  • Who’s positioned to start the healing process we so desperately need at every level?

But as Christians, there are follow-up questions we should be asking.

Additional Questions Christians Must Ask:

 

  • As everything seems to be collapsing around us, where is Jesus Christ? How involved is he? Or is he involved at all?
  • Christ, who is titled the King of kings—is he truly supreme over the dynamics and destiny of this nation?
  • If so, has the time come for us to refuse to cast our lot with either the donkey (Democrats) or the elephant (Republicans) and instead to choose to turn wholeheartedly in total dependence on the ascended Lamb of God?
  • Do we dare to make Jesus, seated on the throne of heaven, our exclusive hero and our only hope for genuine recovery?
  • Is the World’s Redeemer the one true answer to all the other questions everyone needs to be asking?

Such issues should occupy our full attention right now. Here’s how I would approach them.

First of All:
How Much of What We’re Witnessing Involves
the Judgments of the Lamb?

I’m convinced that many aspects of the disintegration around us—whether in our communities, in our politics, in our climate, in our infrastructure decay; whether by natural disasters, by gun violence, by ethical scandals on every side, by spiritual famine in the land—show signs that they are fundamentally the judgments of the Lord of Glory.

On the one hand, for sure somewhere in the mix of all of this, it’s clear that our nation is under enemy invasion from the principalities and powers and rulers of the domains of darkness (see Eph. 2:1-3; Eph. 6:10-18; Rev. 12).

On the other hand, let’s not forget that in God’s dealings with the nation of Israel, he often used their enemies to further his judgments upon the generations that rebelled against his righteous ways. Even so today, though set on the destruction of our land, Satan’s minions must perform the bidding of the One who is able to exploit them to help serve the fulfillment of his divine decrees concerning our land.

Clearly from Scripture, we also see God’s judgments upon a nation arriving in the form of natural disasters and plagues (Noah’s flood, Pharaoh’s Egypt, locust swarms in Joel); international conflicts (from Edomites to Assyrians); through the confusion of social, religious, and political chaos (see the whole book of Jeremiah).

Hands Off!

But in the New Testament, the primary evidence of God’s wrath upon the nations—upon our nation—is clearly laid out as involving something more troubling: God simply takes his hands off of us, letting us suffer the consequences of our rebellion. For example, we read:

What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives . . .


So, God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.”
 It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen . . .


Worse followed.
 Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either . . . oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.


Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose:
 rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. (Romans 1, MSG, emphasis added)

Be honest with me: Doesn’t that whole scene remind you a lot of what we’re seeing all around us in America today?

The process described in Romans 1 reminds me of what we read in 2 Thessalonians 2 concerning what will precede the coming of the antichrist before the return of Christ. In principle, similar spiritual dynamics can play themselves out in preliminary forms in any generation—including our own—and come out looking like this:

Don’t let anyone deceive you by any means whatsoever. That day will not come before there arises a definite rejection of God and the appearance of the lawless man . . . the product of all that leads to death . . .


You will probably also remember how I used to talk about a “restraining power” which would operate until the time should come for the emergence of this man. Evil is already insidiously at work, but its activities are restricted until what I have called the “restraining power” (of God) is removed. (PHILLIPS, emphasis added)

Again, let me ask you: Does it not feel to you these days that more and more the restraining hand of God is being removed from our land on every side? Does it not seem that we are currently reaping what we’ve sown as God gives us the freedom to pursue and embrace the works of the flesh in every arena of our lives? And the outcome is ultimately the way of death.

The Lamb of God Is in Charge.
That Means He’s Our Only Way Out.

God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven,
in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments,
no name and no power exempt from his rule.
And not just for the time being, but forever.
He is in charge of it all,
has the final word on everything.
At the center of all this, Christ rules the church.

(Ephesians 1, The Message, emphasis added)

Therefore, I suggest, for Christians these questions listed above need to be answered at this critical hour in a way that forces us back to the LAMB OF GOD as our only way out of our long, intractable, national nightmare—that grows more ominous daily, especially as on this very day the House Judiciary Committee launches the public phase of its investigation into possible presidential wrongdoing.

Whatever your current position on the historic drama unfolding this week in Washington, DC, the fact is this: If you belong to God’s Son, our Redeemer King, then you already know that the only exit from this intensifying horror show is found not in any political party’s agenda or campaign nor in which candidates end up in office.

Ultimately, liberation from disintegration rests in the Lord Jesus Christ—“the name that is above every name in this age and in the age to come” (Eph. 1)–who is both Savior and Judge for all peoples, for all eternity.

As Jesus said, the Father has placed all judgment at his disposal forever (John 5). As we read in the poetic, apocalyptic language of Revelation 6 (emphasis added):

They cried to the mountains to crush them. “Fall on us,” they pleaded, “and hide us from the face of the one sitting on the throne, and from the anger of the Lamb . . . who can survive it?”

Or again, in Revelation 19:

He was named Faithful and True . . . His eyes were like flames, and on his head were many crowns . . . In his mouth he held a sharp sword to strike down the nations; he ruled them with an iron grip . . . On his robe and thigh was written this title: “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” (emphasis added)

John summed up Jesus’ supremacy best when he declared in Revelation 1 (emphasis added): “Jesus Christ is the Loyal Witness, Firstborn from the dead, Ruler of all earthly kings.”

And that includes the leaders up on Capitol Hill meeting during these watershed weeks of testimonies.

But let’s be sure we always proclaim them to be “SAVING judgments.” That’s because in all of the actions Jesus takes as he rules among the nations—even when he removes his restraints and allows people to taste the dregs of their own human depravity—his one desire even then is that by bringing a person or a whole nation to the end of their ingenuity and strength, they will be compelled to turn to him so he might extend his salvation to all who believe. That applies to our people as well as all others on planet earth.

Peter put it this way (2 Peter 3, emphasis added):

The Lord is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent. However, the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief.

The overarching reality is that at this hour, primarily Christ employs his saving judgments to accelerate the spread and impact of his redeeming gospel. This is what inspires the multitudes in Revelation 5 to fall down and worship him, declaring that the “slain Lamb” is worthy to receive all glory and honor and dominion and blessing.

Let’s Exult Again in Christ’s Rightful Place—
Both in Our Lives and in Our Nation

In the months ahead, whatever the outcome of President Trump’s impeachment proceedings, our nation will remain under the judgments of the Lamb of God—who alone can deliver us from their tragic afflictions.

As you know from all I have shared with you through ChristNow.com—as well as in my writings, such as my book Christ Is NOW! or on my podcast, Christ Today—I am convinced that the one great promise of deliverance by a spiritual and moral renovation of America lies in a sovereign work of God that I call a “nationwide Christ Awakening movement”—as God’s Son becomes increasingly the central hope and passion of our life together as God’s people and, as a result, increasingly for the country as a whole.

The Bible is unequivocal: Jesus alone is able to bring about the fulfillment of our national motto; he alone can make America become “one out of many” as he does so by bringing us together to himself (see Colossians 1:18-20).

However, this Christ Awakening miracle must begin among God’s people, first of all.

As Peter reminds us:

For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? (1 Peter 4, emphasis added)

Remember how Jesus said to those in the church in Ephesus (and to all of us through them): “If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.” (Rev. 2)

Or again, to the church in Pergamum: “Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” (Rev. 2)

Or again, to the church at Thyatira: “All the churches will know that I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.

To what degree have Christians in America substituted human leaders for the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of our political (and other) strivings and machinations?

To what extent have we failed to give Jesus the supremacy in all things—but instead turned to solutions the world offers (which are all failing us miserably right now)—and in that dereliction committed acts of idolatry?

Well, to that measure, we should stand in the fear of God—the fear that our light for Christ to the nation is being snuffed out; the fear that the sword of his living word is slaying us; the fear that the fiery penetration of his holy eyes will lay bare the shallowness of our affections for him and our obedience to him.

It’s Time to Raise Up a New Kind of Repentance Praying
in Pursuit of a Nationwide Christ Awakening

The only hope for our nation at this crucial moment is that the Christians of our nation come back to the reigning Lamb and repent of all we have done to him and against him—especially by our neglect of him.

That is a kind of repentance praying most Christians have never even heard of, let alone experienced.

But truly it is the only recourse that we have in this desperate hour.

What would such prayers of repentance sound like? Let me close by offering some examples.

Maybe you’d like to make them your own prayers before you close this blog post.

Maybe you’d like to pass them along—pass this blog post along—to your Christian friends and ask them to join you in this kind of praying.

I believe the spiritual reclamation of our nation under the righteous reign of Christ depends on such deliberate, sincere, consistent prayers of repentance by hundreds of thousands of believers across our land. We must become broken over our sin before the slain Lamb on the throne—and then from now on, look to HIM ALONE!

Will you be one who bows before the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and complete surrender? Will you persuade others to do the same?

As others try to impeach, will you strive to reach—to reach up to our victorious Sacrifice, King Jesus, and reach up for all the promises of God that are flowing from his throne in his name?

Dear Father, WE REPENT — individually and on behalf of all your people.

  • We repent . . . for how we have diminished your Son, regarding him more like a Christian mascot than the Monarch over our churches and our country, regarding him as the guarantee of our efforts to make our nation what we think it should look like.
  • We repent . . . for how we have manipulated your Son, coming to him only as far as we think we need to come in order to get him to do what we want him to do—that far and no more; often using him to advance our social and political agendas, claiming we are speaking in his name and representing his desires, but really just reshaping him to sound like the rest of our tribe.
  • We repent . . . for how we have hoarded your Son, seeking his blessings for ourselves, with little thought about bringing those blessings to others. We’ve assumed that he was there only for us. We’ve acted as if he were not Lord of neighbors and nations—or of our nation and of our life together in him.
  • We repent . . . for how we have resisted your Son, withholding our affections from him because we were afraid of what it would cost us to surrender our lives completely to him—and thus we have denied his supremacy, not only in our lives but also over everything and everyone else.
  • We repent . . . for how we’ve replaced your Son with creeds, programs, organizations, political parties, culture wars, and moral renewal campaigns—often performed in his name but without the consuming passion for his glory and the advance of his Kingdom at all times. We’ve failed to give him the preeminence he deserves as the Center and Circumference of everything, both for us and for all peoples.
  • We repent . . . for all the ways we have sinned against your Son, defaming his wonderful name among the peoples of our nation by how we have diminished him, manipulated him, hoarded him, resisted him, and replaced him.

O Lamb of God,
Forgive us! Cleanse us! Purify us!
O Lamb of God,
Resurrect us! Reconvert us! Restore us!
O Lamb of God,
Refill us! Recommission us!
Dear Lamb upon the throne,
by your incarnation, by your crucifixion,
by your resurrection, and by your ascension
we are yours forever!

 

About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com.

 

 

Humor Time…….

 Momma for 11/17/2019

 Aunty Acid for 11/17/2019

For Better or For Worse

 For Better or For Worse for 11/16/2019

Dennis the Menace

 Dennis the Menace for 11/16/2019

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Rainy Sunday Travelers

 

 Daily Prayer for June 23

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:14–l5, NIV

Lord our God, grant your peace in our hearts. Grant that we may be your children, allowed to serve you in true peace through the forgiveness of sins. Turn your eyes to the world and its sin, that something new may come for all who are deeply unhappy, groaning under the anguish of their lives. Your mercy is great, your compassion is beyond measure. For Jesus Christ’s sake you will bring into the world the salvation that is promised. You will bring the great day of Jesus Christ the Savior, who has shed his blood for us. He can come to those now in need and misery, bringing his peace and his power into their hearts so that even death turns into life and everything serves your praise and glory, Lord our God and Father in heaven. Bless us and bless our nation. May life from heaven grow in those who understand you and who are to be your people. May your will be done, Lord God, until your kingdom comes in its fullness and all the world may see that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to your glory, O God
our Father. Amen.

 

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Daily Dig for June 23

J. Heinrich Arnold

Jesus came as a physician for the sick and a shepherd for the lost – not only for the just and righteous. He is God’s love at work on earth. If we really understand this, we will realize that following Jesus means suffering. It cannot be a comfortable way.

Source: Discipleship

 

 

Today’s Verse:

Illustration of Luke 4:43 — But he [Jesus] said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

When you think about the large cities of our modern world, what do you think about? Jesus sees them, and passionately yearns for the lost people in those great cities to be saved!

My Prayer…

Most holy and loving God, revive in us, your Church, a passion to reach the lost people of the world’s great cities with the gospel and grace of your Son. In the name of the world’s only true Lord and Savior, Jesus, I pray. Amen.

 

Passion for Praise: ‘Solid Rock’

Illustration of Psalm 18:30-31 — God's way is perfect. All the LORD's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the LORD? Who but our God is a solid rock?

 

with Jesus: ‘Growing through Problems’

Illustration of  —

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

The apostle Paul spoke the truth about Our — Father, Son, and Spirit’s — desire for Our new covenant people when he wrote:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:26-28 NIV)

However, it often takes time for social reality to be brought into conformity with My will. So My disciples must always seek to live the values and ethics of My kingdom even if the world doesn’t appreciate those values.

Almost everyone in the earliest days of the church was Jewish. Prejudice was a significant problem. Sometimes that prejudice manifested itself toward non-Jews coming into My spiritual family — the dominant problem addressed in Acts chapters 10-15. However, prejudice was also an issue between sub-groups within the Jewish community. In the verses below, Grecian Jews who were in Jerusalem and who had become My disciples made an accusation of discrimination. Their widows who did not speak the native language in Jerusalem were being overlooked and were going hungry while the native-speaking widows were receiving better care and more ample provision as the early Christians shared their possessions (Acts 4:32-35).

Rather than denying the accusation of prejudice or ignoring this charge of discrimination, My apostles acted very wisely. Notice what they did:

  1. Openness
    The apostles brought all the community of disciples together to discuss this issue — no secret meetings and no sweeping the problem under the rug!
  2. Calling
    The apostles pointed out that their primary calling was to proclaim the message they had received from God.
  3. Involvement
    The apostles called on the church family to be involved in the solution to this problem — more than just being open with the communication, the apostles were asking for help in selecting men to find a solution.
  4. Direction
    The apostles gave clear criteria for selecting those who would be part of the ministry team to the Grecian widows and asked the whole congregation to put forward leaders who fit this description.
  5. Participation
    The congregation of believers selected seven men who fit the criteria of being full of the Spirit and wisdom.
  6. Empathy
    The congregation recognized the need for those who could understand both the language of the Grecian widows and also their plight as hungry foreigners in the homeland of their ancestors. So they chose men who had Greek names — one was even a non-Jewish proselyte — and who would be familiar with the Greek language these widows spoke.
  7. Appointment
    The apostles publicly commissioned or ordained these men for service and publicly prayed for their ministry.
  8. Growth
    The problem was overcome, the message continued to spread, and many came to faith in Me.
  9. Equipping
    Some of these men selected to serve the widows later became very important leaders in other ways.
  10. Focus
    The apostles devoted themselves to their calling — prayer and sharing My message — while encouraging and equipping others to engage in ministry.

Before you read the verses below, review the ten principles of great leadership and congregational problem-solving that are listed above. These are great principles to put into practice among My people today. Every problem has a potential for disaster or development. Led by the Holy Spirit, the apostles turned this potentially crippling problem into an opportunity for the development and growth of My disciples.

Verses to Live

Imagine how unaddressed prejudice could have wrecked the growth of My early church. However, the Spirit’s guidance through Godly leaders turned around this potential disaster. Instead of disaster, the actions of My leading disciples became the springboard for greater growth. It also provided a new group of leaders the opportunity for development and service.

Things were going well, and the number of disciples was growing. But a problem arose. The Greek-speaking believers became frustrated with the Hebrew-speaking believers. The Greeks complained that the Greek-speaking widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. The twelve convened the entire community of disciples.

The Twelve:

We could solve this problem ourselves, but that wouldn’t be right. We need to focus on proclaiming God’s message, not on distributing food. So, friends, find seven respected men from the community of faith. These men should be full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom. Whomever you select we will commission to resolve this matter so we can maintain our focus on praying and serving — not meals — but the message.

The whole community — Greek-speaking and Hebrew-speaking — was very pleased with this plan, so they chose seven men: Stephen (a man full of faith and full of the Holy Spirit), Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (a Greek-speaking convert from Antioch). These men were presented to the apostles, who then prayed for them and commissioned them by laying their hands on them. The message of God continued to spread, and the number of disciples continued to increase significantly there in Jerusalem. Even priests in large numbers became obedient to the faith.
(Acts 6:1-7)

Response in Prayer

O Father, please bless our leaders in Your church today. Give us the courage to select leaders based on their Spirit-led wisdom and their ability to serve, with empathy, those who need to be served. I pray that Your leaders can be open and courageous in dealing with problems like prejudice, division, and hunger among Your people. Help us, O LORD, to demonstrate Your love for all people in the way we treat each other. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

 

The Daily Word of Hope Devotional

—Dion Todd

When You Cannot Face the Wind

Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. Acts 27:13 ESV

Paul was now a prisoner and being carried by ship to eventually witness to Caesar, but on the way they were caught in a terrible storm. They could not face the strength of the wind and were driven by the storm for two weeks, completely out of control.

However, they were completely in God’s control because He controlled the wind that drove them. They finally landed on a beach, and the Holy Spirit used Paul to heal all the diseases on the entire island of Malta. They all came to know the Lord. It was just a side trip on his journey.

Sometimes in life we face winds like this, and no amount of prayer, or giving, or crying seems to change our course. Just remember that when a storm blows you off course that God is controlling the direction of the wind. We will be driven right to where God wants us to be.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I know that You control the wind and that this will pass. I will come through this and have a testimony of Your greatness in the name of Jesus I pray.

 

Bible Fun Fact: There are 180,552 words in the New Testament (KJV).

 

 

What’s Your Quarrel?

What’s Your Quarrel?

“The one who is patient calms the quarrel” (Prov. 15:18).

Stay patient today. Don’t offer railing for railing.

Blessings,
Dr. Steve Greene

 

 

 

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Now Some Humor…

 Momma for 6/23/2019

 Aunty Acid for 6/23/2019

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Well, family members began their road trip this morning and it is RAINING!  I wish them safe and fun travels…..may God watch over them and protect them……….Have a good time, guys!!!!  We love you!!

 

 

 

Not Too Late?

 

 

My prayer for you is that you may have still more love – a love that is full of knowledge and wise insight. I want you to be able always to recognize the highest and the best, and to live sincere and blameless lives until the day of Christ. I want to see your lives full of true goodness, produced by the power that Jesus Christ gives you to the praise and glory of God. Philippians 1:9–11, (Phillips)

Lord our God, we thank you for filling our hearts with such great trust. We thank you for all we are given in our lives, above all that we can come to know Jesus Christ. We thank you that over and over we can draw strength and life from his life. Praise to your name, for our life has a goal and we may find strength and certainty during our time on earth. You will reveal what we hope for, and even now you allow us to keep something of this goal before our eyes. We praise you that your name may become great in our midst and that again and again new life can well up from us, who are poor and weak. May your name be praised for setting this goal before us to strengthen us. Amen.

 

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Daily Dig for January 27

T. S. Eliot

We praise thee, O God, for thy glory
displayed in all the creatures of the earth,
In the snow, in the rain, in the wind, in the storm;
in all of thy creatures, both the hunters and the hunted…
They affirm thee in living;
all things affirm thee in living;
the bird in the air, both the hawk and the finch;
the beast on the earth, both the wolf and the lamb;…
Therefore man, whom thou hast made
to be conscious of thee,
must consciously praise thee,
in thought and in word and in deed.
Even with the hand to the broom,
the back bent in laying the fire,
the knee bent in cleaning the hearth…
The back bent under toil,
the knee bent under sin,
the hands to the face under fear,
the head bent under grief,
Even in us the voices of the seasons,
the snuffle of winter, the song of spring,
the drone of summer,
the voices of beasts and of birds,
praise thee.

Source: Murder in the Cathedral

 

 

 today‘s verse

Logos.com

 

 

The Wedding Day

I heard something like the voice of a great multitude, and like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of mighty thunders, saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns! Let us rejoice and be exceedingly glad, and let us give the glory to him. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready.’ Revelation 19:6 WEB

I have a great wife and we have been through a lot together. Through famine and through abundance, through happy times, and through sad times, through sickness, and health. If there is one thing on earth that can set me off, it is for someone to say something bad about my wife. Instead of turning my other cheek, I want to turn theirs. I admit that I could use the Lord’s help in this area.

The Lord cares even more about His bride. The bride of Christ is the Church, which is made up of His people, including You and me. Regardless of how you view yourself, God Almighty adores you, picked you, and is preparing you for a wedding day. When people put you down and point our your flaws, the Lord hears it. He knows you better than they do. Just because nothing immediately happens does not mean that it goes unnoticed. When all is said and done, and the curtain closes on our life, we will join Him in heaven forever.

Lift up your head today and smile, for you are loved, adored, and God Almighty Himself has chosen you to be a part of the bride of Christ. The work that He began within you will be completed, and your best days are still in front of you, because the wedding day is still to come.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I look forward to all that You have for me. I grant You permission to work in my life and to draw me closer to You. Guide me today and help me make the right decisions. Speak to me and through me, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: The hairs on your head are numbered (Matt. 10:30).

 

 

(1)

Daily Wisdom: Proverbs 27:1

“Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

We know not what a day may bring forth. This does not forbid preparing for to-morrow, but presuming upon to-morrow. We must not put off the great work of conversion, that one thing needful. Pr 27:2. There may be occasion for us to justify ourselves, but not to praise ourselves. Pr 27:3-4. Those who have no command of their passions, sink under the load. Pr 27:5-6. Plain and faithful rebukes are better, not only than secret hatred, but than love which compliments in sin, to the hurt of the soul. Pr 27:7. The poor have a better relish of their enjoyments, and are often more thankful for them, than the rich. In like manner the proud and self-sufficient disdain the gospel; but those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, find comfort from the meanest book or sermon that testifies of Christ Jesus. Pr 27:8. Every man has his proper place in society, where he may be safe and comfortable. Pr 27:9-10. Depend not for relief upon a kinsman, merely for kindred’s sake; apply to those who are at hand, and will help in need. But there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother, and let us place entire confidence in him. Pr 27:11. An affectionate parent urges his son to prudent conduct that should gladden his heart. The good conduct of Christians is the best answer to all who find fault with the gospel. Pr 27:12. Where there is temptation, if we thrust ourselves into it, there will be sin, and punishment will follow. Pr 27:13. An honest man may be made a beggar, but he is not honest that makes himself one. Pr 27:14. It is folly to be fond of being praised; it is a temptation to pride. Pr 27:15-16. The contentions of a neighbour may be like a sharp shower, troublesome for a time; the contentions of a wife are like constant rain. Pr 27:17. We are cautioned to take heed whom we converse with. And directed to have in view, in conversation, to make one another wiser and better. Pr 27:18. Though a calling be laborious and despised, yet those who keep to it, will find there is something to be got by it. God is a Master who has engaged to honour those who serve him faithfully. Pr 27:19. One corrupt heart is like another; so are sanctified hearts: the former bear the same image of the earthly, the latter the same image of the heavenly. Let us carefully watch our own hearts, comparing them with the word of God. Pr 27:20. Two things are here said to be never satisfied, death and sin. The appetites of the carnal mind for profit or pleasure are always desiring more. Those whose eyes are ever toward the Lord, are satisfied in him, and shall for ever be so. Pr 27:21. Silver and gold are tried by putting them into the furnace and fining-pot; so is a man tried by praising him. Pr 27:22. Some are so bad, that even severe methods do not answer the end; what remains but that they should be rejected? The new-creating power of God’s grace alone is able to make a change. Pr 27:23-27. We ought to have some business to do in this world, and not to live in idleness, and not to meddle with what we do not understand. We must be diligent and take pains. Let us do what we can, still the world cannot be secured to us, therefore we must choose a more lasting portion; but by the blessing of God upon our honest labours, we may expect to enjoy as much of earthly blessings as is good for us.

 

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Passion for Praise: ‘So Merciful, This God of Ours’

Illustration of Psalm 116:5-7 — How kind the LORD is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! The LORD protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. Let my soul be at rest again, for the LORD has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.

(3)

‘For Some Folks, Miracles Aren’t Enough!’

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

My words in yesterday’s Scripture (Luke 11:14-26) were hard. The folks I spoke them to didn’t like them. So, they challenged Me to do another miracle for them to prove that I had a right to say the things I was saying.

Let’s be real. If they wouldn’t believe in Me for the exorcisms I performed or the miracles I had already done, they weren’t going to believe in Me if I did a few more powerful acts to satisfy their curiosity and jump through a few more of their hoops! For many people in the crowd, miracles weren’t enough. They simply didn’t want to believe, so they wouldn’t believe.

That’s why I pointed them to a couple of stories from the Hebrew Scripture — you call it the Old Testament. These stories talk about two great figures (Jonah and Solomon) who captured the hearts of outsiders and pointed them to the truth and wisdom of God. I challenged those hearing Me to believe that I AM greater than either of these two heroes. The only sign I would give these skeptics was the sign of Jonah! If My life of ministry, miracles, teaching, and compassion and My death on the cross and resurrection wouldn’t convince them, then nothing would.

Thankfully, if you read the story about the birth of My church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-47), you will see that many people responded to the sign of My triumph over death and sin.

As one who has come to believe in Me, one who recognizes My triumph, I want to challenge you to trust that I AM the “One far greater than Jonah” and the “One greater and wiser than Solomon.” I AM the wisdom and truth you must follow, believe, and obey, and you will find life in Me!

Verses to Live

Even after all the miracles I had already done, the religious leaders in the account below wanted more to prove I had the right to say what I said to them. Don’t miss My point. I have the right! The real question is this: Do you have the heart to follow someone greater than all those other religious heroes you’ve heard about?

Scribes and Pharisees:

Teacher, we want to see some miraculous sign from You.

Jesus:

You wicked and promiscuous generation — you are looking for signs, are you? The only sign you will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah. Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish, as the Son of Man will spend three days and three nights in the belly of the earth. One day, the people of Nineveh will rise up in judgment and will condemn your present generation — for the Ninevites turned from sin to God when they heard Jonah preach, and now One far greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will also stand in judgment and condemn this generation — for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom. And today One greater and wiser than Solomon is among you.

(Matthew 12:38-42)

Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, You are greater than Jonah and Solomon. You are superior to Moses and Elijah. The law and prophets find their meaning, their fulfillment, and their goal in You. You are the One I choose to hear and obey. Jesus, You are Lord. I choose You to be my Lord! To You, I offer my life and my all because You not only conquered death and the grave through Your resurrection, but You also won my heart and my allegiance! Amen.

 

 

Bless Your Persecutors

Johann Christoph Arnold

This article is excerpted from Johann Christoph Arnold’s book Why Forgive?  (2010).

After more than thirty years working with lepers in India, Gladys Staines, a nurse, and her husband Graham, a missionary, had seen plenty of death and dying. But nothing could have prepared her for the night in January 1999 when her husband and their two sons, Philip (10) and Timothy (6) failed to return home from a religious retreat – or for the day after, when news came that their bodies had been found in the family jeep, burned beyond recognition. Nor were the friends who stood with her that harrowing morning prepared for her response. According to a report in The New York Times:

Mrs. Staines shook with grief and, for a time, moved very slowly, as if struggling to part her way through the air. She seemed to be impaled in the middle of a thought, which finally, with quavering voice, she shared. “Whoever did this, we will forgive them,” she said.

That sentiment – that example of her living faith – has been widely praised in India, a nation often rent with religion-based violence, most frequently between Hindu and Muslim. D. P. Wadhwa, a Supreme Court judge heading an inquiry into the deaths, and their link to a wider outbreak of anti-Christian attacks, commended Mrs. Staines. “By her conduct, she has put to shame, if they have any shame, not only the perpetrators of the crime but all those who directly or indirectly may have sympathy for them,” he said.

Mrs. Staines… has decided to carry on her husband’s work, running a home for leprosy patients here in Baripada, a dusty, traffic-clogged city in the eastern state of Orissa. And she will continue to tell people the “good news,” as she confidently calls it, that … God is fair and just, and that divine purposes exist in all that goes on, even if those purposes are at times elusive.

“Whoever did this, we will forgive them.”

Indeed, she has yet to fathom why God has taken her sons and husband. Questions leap into her mind – a tumble of thoughts – but she tries to set them aside rather than pursue answers. “I ask myself, do I dwell on the type of death they had? Were they killed first or burned alive? Am I angry? Am I not? I don’t know. I cope by not allowing myself to do much thinking. At times I am overcome with sadness. They’re not here. I can’t play with my boys. Day by day, I start with the Bible, reading prayers. Previously, I could talk to my husband before going to bed. Now I talk to God, pour out my heart to Him, and He gives me the strength and wisdom to go on.”

Of those who murdered her husband and boys, she went on, “I can forgive their deeds, but I cannot forgive their sins. Only Jesus can forgive their sins. And they will have to ask.”

After the funeral, which was attended by thousands, Mrs. Staines and her 13-year-old daughter, Esther, the family’s two survivors, faced the throng that had accompanied them to the cemetery and sang a favorite hymn. “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,” the words went. “Because He lives, all fear is gone.”

Though unfathomable to many, Gladys Staines’s understanding of forgiveness is not unheard of. It has been embraced by countless persecuted minorities throughout history, from the earliest Christian believers, to the Anabaptists of the radical Reformation, to our century’s followers of Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King. It is probably best explained in this passage from King’s book Strength to Love:

Probably no admonition of Jesus has been more difficult to follow than the command to love our enemies. Some people have sincerely felt that its actual practice is not possible. It is easy, they say, to love those who love you, but how can one love those who openly and insidiously seek to defeat you…?

Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, the command to love one’s enemy is an absolute necessity for our survival. Love even for our enemies is the key to the solution of the problems of our world. Jesus is not an impractical idealist; he is the practical realist…

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction…

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy by getting rid of enmity. By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up. Love transforms with redemptive power.

King’s commitment to love as a political weapon grew out of his faith, but there was a good streak of pragmatism in his thinking as well. He knew that he and other African-Americans involved in the civil rights movement would have to live for decades to come with the same people they were now confronting. If they let their treatment embitter them, it would soon lead to violence, which would only lead to new cycles of repression and embitterment. Rather than breaking down the walls of racial hatred, it would build them higher. Only by forgiving their oppressors, King said, could African-Americans end the “descending spiral of destruction.” Only forgiveness could bring about lasting change:

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. Whoever is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. It is impossible even to begin the act of loving one’s enemies without the prior acceptance of the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflict evil and injury upon us.

It is also necessary to realize that the forgiving act must always be initiated by the person who has been wronged, the victim of some great hurt, the recipient of some tortuous injustice, the absorber of some terrible act of oppression. The wrongdoer may request forgiveness. They may come to themselves, and like the prodigal son, move up some dusty road, their heart palpitating with the desire for forgiveness. But only the injured neighbor, the loving father back home, can really pour out the warm waters of forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning…

To our most bitter opponents we say: We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you.

We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws, because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer.

One day we shall win our freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.

 

May They All Be One

J. Heinrich Arnold

 

These thoughts on unity in the church were compiled from the talks and personal correspondence of Bruderhof pastor J. Heinrich Arnold after his death.

In Matthew 23:37 Jesus says, “How often have I wanted to gather you to me as a hen gathers her chicks, and you would not.” This plea, along with the plea in Jesus’ last prayer – “May they all be one, Father, even as I am one with thee” – is a decisive and constant challenge to us. It calls us to a way of complete brotherly love and oneness in Jesus, and it calls us to follow him in unity so that the world may recognize we are his disciples.

Nothing binds or unites people more deeply than having the same hope, the same faith, the same joy and expectation. It is very sad, therefore, when individual believers stand alone. There have always been people who had to stand alone on account of their faith – some of them in prison, for years. But where there is true expectation, people are usually drawn together; their common faith leads to community, and they can strengthen and encourage one another. Standing for God always has a unifying power. Let us pray that we may be gathered together with all those who live in expectation of him.

From a letter: Jesus’ first commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, and being, and then to love our neighbor as ourselves. In this individualistic age more than ever, a church of people committed to one another in such love and faithfulness is an absolute necessity. Jesus stresses the importance of love and absolute unity – unity such as he has with the Father – again and again. I do not think we have ever reached this ultimate state of unity, even in our holiest moments; only God knows. Yet we want to live as a witness to it. We cannot separate dedication to Jesus from dedication to our brothers and sisters.

From a letter: It is true that Jesus can be served anywhere. But what a special gift it is when through him two or three or more people become of one heart and one soul! This cannot be manufactured; it is a gift.

God does not contradict himself. He does not say to one, “Thou shalt go to war,” and to another, “Thou shalt not go to war;” or to one, “Thou shalt be faithful in marriage,” and to the other, “Thou art free to divorce.” If we are open to the truth – if we listen to God in our hearts – we will find that he says the same thing to all, also in practical matters. We do not believe in the rule of a majority over a minority. We believe in the unanimity brought about by Christ, who wants to speak the same truth in every heart. This unity is a grace and a miracle we experience again and again. But if we are unfaithful to God and to each other, it can be taken from us.

The unity of all believers is the only criterion for truth. When true unity is lacking, charisma – the power of individual persons or personalities over others – takes its place. People listen in a human way to others merely because they are strong personalities or leaders. Charisma is not only the wrong foundation for community; it is altogether dangerous ground.

The attempt to reconcile different churches and confessions is without any doubt good. But true unity – the unity that breaks down all barriers – starts with repentance. When the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost, people asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?” They were deeply struck in their hearts, and they repented for their sins and became of one heart and one soul. Unfortunately, in today’s ecumenical movement barriers or fences often remain, and people shake hands over them. But we must testify to the possibility of true unity among men. It comes only through repentance and through personally facing Jesus – as man, as living spirit, and as Lord.

Jesus said more than once that a tree is recognized by its fruits. We must never forget this. All of us can see what kind of tree today’s society is: its fruits are murder, injustice, impurity, unfaithfulness, and destruction.

What were the fruits Jesus wanted to see? The first fruit is unity. How else shall the world recognize his disciples? Jesus said, “May they all be one, Father, even as we are one.”

 

Dangerous Unselfishness

With Dr. King in Haiti and America

Edwidge Danticat

Some years I celebrate my birthday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Though he was born on January 15, and I on January 19, depending on the year’s calendar we might end up with kind words being said about both of us on the same day. This year, though, was not one of those times. The Monday of the King holiday fell on his actual birthday and mine followed, just as it should, four days later.

For nearly a decade now, my birthday has been rather complicated. On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck my native Haiti, nearly destroying most of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and a few other cities nearby. That earthquake killed a reported three hundred thousand people and left one and a half million homeless. Léogâne, the town where my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were born, was near the epicenter, and many people I knew there died.

Since the earthquake, January has been an agonizing month, though it begins gloriously with the commemoration of Haitian independence on January 1. On that day, in my family and many others, we drink a delicious squash soup, which was previously considered too luxurious for the enslaved and was consumed only by those who had enslaved us. On January 2 we celebrate Jours des Anciens or Jour des Aieux – Heroes and Ancestors Day – a day on which we honor those who came before, particularly the ones who fought and died for our independence.

When I was a girl, on Heroes and Ancestors Day, I and the other children in my family would dress in our finest clothes and visit our relatives, who would treat us to a piece of cake and a small dose of a bright red syrupy liqueur (likè) then hand us a few coins (zetrenn) which, after many such visits throughout the day, would end up in a windfall that would make us feel rich. January 6 was Les Rois – Three Kings Day or the Feast of the Epiphany – which honors the day the Magi arrived with their gifts for the baby Jesus. January 6 also meant the end of the Christmas season and a return to school or work. By then many people in Haiti would already be thinking about carnival, which would follow in a few weeks.

King’s life and death are about our bearing witness to one another’s survival.

January 12, like the King holiday, falls between those observances and my birthday, turning the first weeks of the first month of the year into a series of life-affirming celebrations mixed with commemorations of deaths. Both January 12 and 15 are days when I now stop to honor the dead. My cousin Maxo and his son Nono are the closest relatives of mine who died in the earthquake, but I also lost many friends as well as more distant family members. It might not seem fitting to put Maxo and Nono on the same plane as Dr. King – Maxo and Nono were not internationally known and they were killed by Mother Nature rather than men – but Dr. King’s life and death and the King holiday are not just about him. King’s life and death are also about the demise of thousands who came before him, his own heroes and ancestors, as well as those who fought alongside him, those whose blood also soak this land, which immigrants like me now call home.

The first King holiday was observed on January 20, 1986, the day after I turned seventeen. On that birthday, I went to church with my parents and three brothers, and afterwards we went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. The following morning, in spite of it being the holiday, my mother went to her job at a handbag factory, while my father went to his as a freelance or “gypsy” cabdriver. My parents rarely had any time off, except on Sundays.

My brothers and I watched the first King holiday observances on television. There were marches in many cities around the United States. In Atlanta, after laying a wreath on Dr. King’s grave with Coretta Scott King, ­then–Vice President George H. W. Bush attended services at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr. King’s home church, alongside Bishop Desmond Tutu, who received the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Prize for fighting apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid had not yet ended in South Africa and Nelson Mandela was still in jail.

“We are going to be free,” Bishop Tutu declared. “We know we are going to be free. When we are free, we will remember who helped us to become free.”

Dr. King was certainly one of those who wanted to see South Africa free. In a December 10, 1965 address at Hunter College, he said:

Africa has been depicted for more than a century as the home of black cannibals and ignorant primitives. Despite volumes of facts contraverting this picture, the stereotype persists in books, motion pictures, and other media of communication. Africa does have spectacular savages and brutes today, but they are not black. They are the sophisticated white rulers of South Africa who profess to be cultured, religious, and civilized, but whose conduct and philosophy stamp them unmistakably as modern-day barbarians.

In April of that same year, the United States had invaded the Dominican Republic over fears of communist expansion in the region. “We inundated that small nation with overwhelming force, shocking the world with our zealousness and naked power,” Dr. King said of the invasion of Haiti’s closest neighbor. “With respect to South Africa, however, our protest is so muted and peripheral it merely mildly disturbs the sensibilities of the segregationists, while our trade and investments substantially stimulate their economy to greater heights.”

He called for the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and other nations to boycott South Africa: “No real national interest impels us to be cautious, gentle, or a good customer of a nation that offends the world’s conscience.”

The world’s conscience, he seemed to suggest, should be offended by all types of injustice, no matter the victim nor the source. As he said in December 1965, “The struggle for freedom forms one long front crossing oceans and mountains.”

Yvan Lamothe, 14 Miles to Market, oil on canvas, 1989

Yvan Lamothe, 14 Miles to Market, oil on canvas, 1989 Painting reproduced by permission of the artist

I thought of those words on January 11 of this year, on the eve of the eighth anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti. I might not have been thinking of that particular speech, had the president of the United States not been reported to have called El Salvador, Haiti, and countries in Africa “shithole countries.” A few weeks before that, the president was reported to have said that all Haitians have AIDS and that forty thousand Nigerian visa recipients would never “go back to their huts” after seeing the United States. On a day when we were supposed to be mourning our dead, Haitians and Haitian-Americans found ourselves responding to the president on whatever platform was available to us – radio, television, newspapers, the streets, and social media.

On January 12, an earthquake commemoration procession starting in a square with a statue of the Haitian independence hero Toussaint L’Ouverture in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood turned into a demonstration with Haitian men, women, and children decrying the president’s alleged racist remarks. Haitian Ambassador Paul Altidor, who just weeks earlier had published an opinion piece in the New York Times titled “Our Country Deserves Your Respect, Not Your Pity,” made several television appearances reminding American viewers that Haiti and the United States were the first two republics in the Western Hemisphere, that the two countries had strong historical ties, and that Haitian soldiers fought alongside American troops in the Revolutionary War. Ambassador Altidor also highlighted the contributions of Haitians and Haitian-Americans to today’s America, as hotel workers, taxi drivers, teachers, politicians, artists, entrepreneurs, and medical and military personnel. He mentioned that the first non-Native American settler of Chicago, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, was of Haitian descent. As was W. E. B. Du Bois, the African-American intellectual and founder of the NAACP. During an address at Carnegie Hall on February 23, 1968, on what would have been Du Bois’s hundredth birthday, Dr. King called Du Bois “one of the most remarkable men of our time.” “Dr. Du Bois was not only an intellectual giant exploring the frontiers of knowledge, he was in the first place a teacher,” Dr. King said that night. “One idea he insistently taught was that black people have been kept in oppression and deprivation by a poisonous fog of lies that depicted them as inferior.”

My uncle died shackled to a bed five days after arriving in the United States.

I happened to be at a conference with a group of writers and intellectuals from the Caribbean when the president’s statement was reported, and a few of them thought that his words were too contemptible to merit a response. Other friends, who were not at the conference, thought it a complete waste of time to exalt Haiti’s revolutionary past – including the fact that France’s defeat during Haiti’s battle for independence was what led to the Louisiana Purchase – or to laud Haiti’s great visual art, music, and literature, arguing that it would neither lead the president to change his mind about Haiti nor prompt him to apologize. They thought it was useless to try to prove our humanity to someone who’d referred to white supremacists as “very fine people” while denigrating others whose only crime was being born in countries whose human and natural resources had, in many cases, been plundered by a string of colonizers, imperialists, and invaders, including the United States.

I did not plan to respond directly to the president. I felt that the ambassador had done that, along with many other prominent Haitians, Haitian-Americans, and Haiti-philes. I wanted to write something that my nieces and nephews who were US-born and had never been to Haiti, as well as my own two daughters, who have traveled to Haiti many times and hold their own version of Haiti within them, would have to counter what the president had allegedly said about their parents’, grandparents’, and great-grandparents’ homeland.

I was also seeing how the president’s remarks about Haiti formed part of a particularly sinister immigration policy. In November 2017, the Trump administration ended ­Temporary Protected Status for nearly sixty thousand Haitians, leaving them open to deportation as early as 2019. Soon after, a quarter of a million Salvadorans faced the same fate, all while the president was allegedly bemoaning the fact that the United States was not welcoming enough immigrants from Norway. A few days after the president’s belittling remarks, the Department of Homeland Security announced that ­Haitians would no longer be eligible for H-2A and H-2B visas, which are available to low-skilled migrants, including seasonal agriculture workers. The president’s views were not simply being expressed but were being acted upon.

I also wanted to respond because in October 2004, my eighty-one-year-old uncle Joseph, a cancer survivor who spoke with a voice box, died in immigration custody after fleeing Haiti following a brutal United Nations forces attack on his neighborhood. My uncle had a valid US visa, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement at Miami International Airport detained him after he requested asylum. They took away his medications and, as his health deteriorated, accused him of faking his illness. Eventually he was taken to a local hospital’s prison ward, where he died shackled to a bed, five days after arriving in the United States.

Perhaps I am fooling myself, but I imagine: Is it possible that everyone my uncle encountered on the way to his death – from the United Nations forces who shot at his neighbors from the roof of his house, to the immigration officer who ordered that he be detained – is it possible that these people would have been empathetic, would have proved to be good Samaritans, if they had been more informed about both my uncle and his country? Perhaps then his life might have been saved.

Roberson Joseph, Refugees, acrylic on canvas, 2016

Roberson Joseph, Refugees, acrylic on canvas, 2016. Painting reproduced by permission of the artist

This year, on the King holiday, the president’s derogatory remarks were on many people’s minds, including Dr. King’s children.

“When a president insists that our nation needs more citizens from white states like Norway, I don’t even think we need to spend any time talking about what it says and what it is,” Dr. King’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III, told the Associated Press.

“Our collective voice in this hour must always be louder than the one who sometimes does not reflect the legacy of my father,” Dr. King’s daughter, Reverend Bernice King, told the congregation at the Ebenezer Baptist Church.

That same day, thousands of Haitians marched. In New York, hundreds gathered for a rally in Times Square. In Miami, Haitians walked on the Martin Luther King Boulevard during the Martin Luther King Day parade, a festive pageant full of local dance troupes and high school marching bands that I have often attended with my family.

In West Palm Beach near Mar-a-Lago, where the president was spending the long weekend, about five hundred Haitian and Haitian-American demonstrators demanded an apology. According to the Florida Sun Sentinel, the organizer of the protest, a Haitian-American radio-show host named James Leger, said, “If Dr. Martin Luther King were alive today, he’d be here marching with us.”

Putting America first means openly stepping on the bodies, souls, dignity, and dreams of others.

I don’t know that Dr. King, if he were alive, would have had the energy to show up at every protest or march, but he most likely would not have remained silent in the face of such an insult to the continent of Africa and members of the African diaspora. This is also why I responded to those alleged remarks in two radio interviews and a lengthy Facebook post, denouncing what was said and exalting the virtues of the country of my birth and those of my heroes and ancestors.

My uncle Joseph who died shackled to a bed was, like Dr. King, a Baptist minister. My uncle was not world famous, but in Bel Air, the poor neighborhood where he lived for fifty years, he ran a church, a health clinic, and a school. He was born in Léogâne in 1923 when Haiti was, along with the Dominican Republic, under US control, and he also died under US control, as a prisoner of the Department of Homeland Security.

One of my uncle’s favorite Bible stories was about the Good Samaritan. It is a story that appeals to a lot of preachers, both the less political ones and the more radical, because it is one of the best illustrations we have of the Golden Rule: to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. These days, America’s golden rule – as stated by the current president – is to put America first. Perhaps this was always the case, but in my thirty-seven years of living in the United States, I have never heard it stated, implied, and flaunted as often and as clearly as now: that putting America first means openly stepping on the bodies, souls, dignity, and dreams of others. It has never been so clear to me that in the realm of immigration, it means having no qualms about separating spouses from each other, and children from their parents. Families are considered “chains”– as in “chain migration” – a term reminiscent of the slave trade, during which our ancestors were transported against their will from our mother continent to others, in, yes, chains.

When I think of my uncle and Dr. King together as two ministers I respect, I think of both their Good Samaritan sermons. My uncle, who died for lack of a Good Samaritan in his path, had often preached about this traveling stranger who was beaten, robbed, and then left for dead, a man who was first ignored by some passersby but who then was rescued by the compassionate Samaritan who took him to a safe place and paid for his shelter. My uncle used to stress that we should all be Good Samaritans because we are just as likely to be in the place of the traveling stranger, and if we act as if those who are considered outsiders, or have fallen on hard times and are in need of help, are vile, guilty, or underserving of empathy, then we have also reduced our own humanity. Dr. King’s Good Samaritan sermon echoes my uncle’s somewhat, but goes even further in a way that I find as radical as choosing to love under impossible circumstances.

I often return to this vision of empathy, sympathy, and compassion for one’s neighbors and the courage it takes to not only declare ourselves our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers but to actually act with what Dr. King called “dangerous unselfishness.”

Dr. King delivered his final version of the Good Samaritan sermon as part of his “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” speech in support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968, the day before he died. This was a speech in which he also advocated for economic boycott and encouraged black people to support black-owned institutions and businesses.

“Be concerned about your brother,” he urged. “You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.”

In the Good Samaritan story, those who had not stopped to help the injured man might have been asking themselves a whole series of questions, Dr. King said.

They had found the traveler on a dangerous road. What was he doing there? Might he have been faking being hurt in order to trap them? The ones who did not stop to help might have asked themselves, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the Good Samaritan asked himself, “If I do not help this man, what will happen to him?”

Roberson Joseph, Hurricane, acrylic on canvas, 2017

Roberson Joseph, Hurricane, acrylic on canvas, 2017. Painting reproduced by permission of the artist

It’s hard to know exactly what will happen to the most vulnerable of immigrants now, the ones from the countries the president has disparaged, as well as those being shut out by the president’s ban on refugees, particularly those from predominantly Muslim countries, and those who are already in the United States, the thousands who can no longer count on Temporary Protected Status, and the youth who were brought to the US by their parents as children, and whose DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) safeguards are in limbo. Let us not forget the eleven million undocumented immigrants who have been living in the shadows for so long that they might be too afraid to accept help from good Samaritans, for fear that they might be reported and deported.

As long as this assault of words and actions continues, we, like Dr. King and those who fought alongside him, might soon be put in the position of having to be dangerously unselfish and to offer even our bodies as sanctuary, especially as more local municipalities are turning undocumented people over to immigration officers. Or as men, women, and children are being dragged out of cars, buses, trains, or out of their own homes, or are being followed and seized while walking down the street. Will we find the courage to be the Good Samaritans who ask what will happen if we do not help? What will happen to them? But also, what will happen to us, and to our humanity?

 

 

 

January 27: Revenge Isn’t Sweet
Genesis 42:29–43:34, Hebrews 5:11–7:28, Ecclesiastes 10:10–20

It’s easy to revel in vigilante justice, be joyful in the irony of someone getting “what’s coming to them,” or feel satisfied when “bad Karma comes back around” to others. The colloquialisms around the subject alone demonstrate our infatuation with justice. Joseph is similarly impassioned; he schemes against his brothers who sold him into slavery. At the beginning of Gen 43, Joseph’s brothers must go back to Egypt to request food from him—their younger brother, whom they do not recognize. Joseph waits for the youngest, Benjamin, to join them. What Joseph intends to do when he does, we’re not told.
When Benjamin and the other brothers arrive, Joseph is either moved with empathy or chooses to act upon his original plan of revealing himself in front of all his brothers (Gen 43:16, 29). Joseph even helps them financially, signaling that he somehow still cares for them (Gen 44). Yet it doesn’t seem that Joseph has forgiven them yet, because in Genesis 44, more evil schemes emerge.
The thought of others feeling the same kind of pain they have inflicted can cause us to feel remorse. But we’re always aware of the choice; we can choose to fight our instincts. We can recognize that instead of lashing back, the best answer is turning the other cheek. This may be easy for some, but for others—especially those who have been deeply hurt—abandoning the urge to inflict injury will require spiritual strength, prayer, and self-control.

Whom do you currently desire to see hurt? How can you let that feeling go? How can God help you release the situation to Him?

JOHN D. BARRY

 

 

Image result for animated Sunday humor

Image result for animated Sunday humor

Image result for animated Sunday humor

 

 

 

 

Time For God….

sunday-wishes-sunday-greetings

 

 

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Daily Prayer for January 20
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Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt
Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10, RSV

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that you are our Father and that we may have you with us. We thank you that we can know you are leading us by your hand. Give us your Spirit of understanding so that we may always see your mighty and powerful hand guiding us on all our ways. Help us where we fall short. Help us, for we are weak and are often in situations where we cannot help ourselves. But you are strong. You give light to our hearts. Through the Savior, Jesus Christ, we can direct our lives cheerfully, joyfully, and patiently toward the great goal set before us your children, and before the whole world. Amen.

 

Daily Dig for January 20

Howard Zinn

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something, if we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

Source: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train

 

 

SUNDAY, JANUARY 20, 2019 | EPIPHANY
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
YEAR C

Old Testament Isaiah 62:1–5
Psalm Psalm 36:5–10
New Testament 1 Corinthians 12:1–11
Gospel John 2:1–11
Index of Readings
OLD TESTAMENT
Isaiah 62:1–5

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
Until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness,
And the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
2 And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness,
And all kings thy glory:
And thou shalt be called by a new name,
Which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
3 Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD,
And a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
4 Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken;
Neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate:
But thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah,
And thy land Beulah:
For the LORD delighteth in thee,
And thy land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marrieth a virgin,
So shall thy sons marry thee:
And as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride,
So shall thy God rejoice over thee.
PSALM
Psalm 36:5–10
5 Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens;
And thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains;
Thy judgments are a great deep:
O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.
7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house;
And thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
9 For with thee is the fountain of life:
In thy light shall we see light.
10 O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee;
And thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

NEW TESTAMENT
1 Corinthians 12:1–11
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
GOSPEL
John 2:1–11
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, fwhat have I to do with thee? gmine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

 

January 20: While You Are Waiting
Genesis 32–33; Matthew 24:29–25:13; Ecclesiastes 7:22–29

Jesus’ instructions to His disciples about His return have inspired many to incorrectly predict His second coming. But if we read His parables, we find that they’re not so focused on the future. Jesus prepares His disciples for His absence, and for the end times, because He wants them to be hopeful, expecting His return. He wants them to be ready and watchful. But He wants them to do all of these things by being fully engaged in the present, readying His kingdom.
Jesus’ parable of the Wise and Wicked Servants demonstrates this attitude. While the faithful and wise servant provides for the master’s household during his absence, the wicked servant uses the time flippantly: carousing and beating his fellow servants. When the master returns, the faithful servant is promoted for his service, and the wicked servant is punished. The parable presses the disciples to use their time wisely during Jesus’ absence by doing the work they were called to do.
The same exhortation goes out to us. Will we act like lone Christians—content to live life disconnected from God’s kingdom? Instead, we should be filled with hope, expectation, and overflowing with the good news. We should be willing to build up those around us, and attract those who have no hope.
As easy as it is to forget the eternal in our everyday lives, we can just as easily forget what God’s work right now means for eternity. Being actively engaged in the present means spreading the good news, and being involved in His work—using our gifts to nurture His coming kingdom.

Are you busy and active in God’s kingdom now? If not, what is keeping you from becoming so?

REBECCA VAN NOORD

 

 

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
Proverbs 20:1
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

v1 It seems hard to believe that men of the greatest abilities, as well as the ignorant, should render themselves fools and madmen, merely for the taste or excitement produced by strong liquors. Pr 20:2. How formidable kings are to those who provoke them! how much more foolish then is it to provoke the King of kings! Pr 20:3. To engage in quarrels is the greatest folly that can be. Yield, and even give up just demands, for peace’ sake. Pr 20:4. He who labours and endures hardship in his seed-time for eternity, will be properly diligent as to his earthly business. Pr 20:5. Though many capable of giving wise counsel are silent, yet something may be drawn from them, which will reward those who obtain it. Pr 20:6. It is hard to find those that have done, and will do more good than they speak, or care to hear spoken of. Pr 20:7. A good man is not liable to uneasiness in contriving what he shall do, or in reflecting on what he has done, as those who walk in deceit. And his family fare better for his sake. Pr 20:8. If great men are good men, they may do much good, and prevent very much evil. Pr 20:9. Some can say, Through grace, we are cleaner than we have been; but it was the work of the Holy Spirit. Pr 20:10. See the various deceits men use, of which the love of money is the root. The Lord will not bless what is thus gotten. Pr 20:11. Parents should observe their children, that they may manage them accordingly. Pr 20:12. All our powers and faculties are from God, and are to be employed for him. Pr 20:13. Those that indulge themselves, may expect to want necessaries, which should have been gotten by honest labour. Pr 20:14. Men use arts to get a good bargain, and to buy cheap; whereas a man ought to be ashamed of a fraud and a lie. Pr 20:15. He that prefers true knowledge to riches, follows the ways of religion and happiness. If we really believed this truth, the word of God would be valued as it deserves, and the world would lose its tempting influence. Pr 20:16. Those ruin themselves who entangle themselves in rash suretiship. Also those who are in league with abandoned women. Place no confidence in either. Pr 20:17. Wealth gotten by fraud may be sweet, for the carnal mind takes pleasure in the success of wicked devices; but it will be bitter in the reflection. Pr 20:18. Especially we need advice in spiritual warfare. The word and Spirit of God are the best counsellors in every point. Pr 20:19. Those dearly buy their own praise, who put confidence in a man because he speaks fairly. Pr 20:20. An undutiful child will become very miserable. Never let him expect any peace or comfort. Pr 20:21. An estate suddenly raised, is often as suddenly ruined. Pr 20:22. Wait on the Lord, attend his pleasure, and he will protect thee. Pr 20:23. A bargain made by fraud will prove a losing bargain in the end. Pr 20:24. How can we form plans, and conduct business, independently of the Lord? Pr 20:25. The evasions men often use with their own consciences show how false and deceitful man is. Pr 20:26. Justice should crush the wicked, and separate them from the virtuous. Pr 20:27. The rational soul and conscience are as a lamp within us, which should be used in examining our dispositions and motives with the revealed will of God. Pr 20:28. Mercy and truth are the glories of God’s throne. Pr 20:29. Both young and old have their advantages; and let neither despise or envy the other. Pr 20:30. Severe rebukes sometimes do a great deal of good. But such is the corruption of nature, that men are loth to be rebuked for their sins. If God uses severe afflictions, to purify our hearts and fit us for his service, we have cause to be very thankful.

 

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of 1 John 4:18

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

While I approach God with reverence and awe because he is the holy and majestic God, I don’t have to fear his presence. Because of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I know God is my Abba Father. He longs for me to draw near him. He has shown me his heart by sending Jesus. He has shown me his love by having Jesus die for me. If he loves me that much, then I can trust that his desire is to save and bless me. I don’t have to fear his presence or his judgment. As his child, his love has driven fear from my heart and replaced it with love from his abiding presence, the Holy Spirit.

My Prayer…

Holy and Righteous Father, I thank you for your overwhelming love demonstrated to me in Jesus. I thank you for providing the atoning sacrifice for my sins and for adopting me into your family. Father, please cast all fear from my heart and help me walk confidently with you and for you, with character and purpose. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Finishing the Job

“…being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”   Philippians 1:6 WEB

It was late Saturday night and we were both exhausted. A simple job that should have taken us a couple of hours, had now taken a couple of days, but we had chosen to honor the price that we had originally quoted them. That is one of the perks of being self-employed. As the night wore on, it was just us, God, and a lot of hard work for they soon left us the keys to the office, and went home.

Sometimes doing the right thing hurts. That job cost us twice as much as we planned and took five times as long to complete, but we did it because it was the right thing to do. We are to do unto others, as we would have them do unto us.

You can measure someone’s character, by what it takes for them to bail out of a commitment. Make your decisions intentionally, say what you mean, and mean what you say. Our God is not flippant in His decisions, and He does not waver. Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). Sometimes we have to endure.

God who began a good work in you, will see it completely through to the end. Even when the cost is double, when it takes twice as long as planned, when things didn’t turn out as expected, when it is just you, God, and a lot of hard work: He will still complete the job.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for all that You do for me. Please give me the grace to complete the things that I have promised others. Help me grow in character and always honor my word. Help me reflect Your presence on this earth in a positive way, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

 

 

Heartlight

What Jesus Did! ‘What Will This Child Be?’

Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened [about baby John] spread throughout the Judean hills. Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.

Key Thought

Speculation about a newborn is nothing new. Parents, family, and friends have looked down on a sleeping newborn and wondered, “What will this child turn out to be?” It was natural that people had this question about John. However, they went beyond the normal speculation because they had reason to believe he was special. John was special because he was conceived in Elizabeth’s old age. Also, Elizabeth’s pregnancy occurred right after Zechariah had served in the Temple and lost his ability to speak. Then came the surprising name for the baby — John. And, finally, Zechariah’s speech returned upon the baby being named. That’s quite an amazing and unforgettable pregnancy and birth. The people’s wonder and amazement came from recognizing that “the hand of the Lord was surely upon [John] in a special way.” God was at work in John to do something spectacular. Just as with John, we need to remember that God is at work in each child, from the moment of conception, to do something spectacular. Let’s commit to pray for and to bless each child that God puts into our circle of influence!

Today’s Prayer

O glorious God, you alone are Creator of the universe and giver of life! Please use me to bless your precious children. Work in the hearts of our people so that we will value each child as you do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

 

Daily Wisdom: Proverbs 8:13

Illustration of Proverbs 8:13 — To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

 

Passion for Praise: ‘My Youth is Renewed’

Illustration of Psalm 103:1-5 — Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle's!

 

‘Don’t Be a Show-Off!’

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

I have a question: Why are you doing spiritual things? Are you trying to impress someone and prove you are religious? Are you trying to honor the Father? For whom are you doing all your “spiritual stuff”?

Yes, I know that the last question is a bit abrupt. However, I want you to think through the question carefully. The Sermon on the Mount is challenging to understand. (You can find this teaching in Matthew chapters 5-7 in your Bible.) My teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is even more challenging to put it into practice. I know because this teaching reflects the life I chose to live as I sought to honor the Father! So my teaching today will ask you to examine why you do what you do for God and for others. What’s your motivation for doing good things?

Here’s the important point to notice. When you do good things for others to notice them, then you’ve already received your reward. When you do them to honor the Father, He sees even the secret things done to honor Him and will never forget those things. On top of that, your heart will begin to resonate with the Father’s will and the Spirit will help conform your life to be like Mine.

We’ve all had enough of religious show-offs who talk about all the great things they have done for God. Just remember, the Father keeps track of the things that you do to honor Him but that most folks never know about.

I guess the question is really pretty simple: Do you want the applause of heaven or are you satisfied with a fleeting pat on the back at church?

Verses to Live

Faith without good deeds, spiritual service, and worship is simply talk. Also, doing religious things to be noticed by others so they will think you are special and holy is actually unholy. Please hear what I say in these words from My Sermon on the Mount!

Jesus:

But when you do these righteous acts, do not do them in front of spectators. Don’t do them where you can be seen, let alone lauded, by others. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to the poor, do not boast about it, announcing your donations with blaring trumpets as the play actors do. Do not brazenly give your charity in the synagogues and on the streets; indeed, do not give at all if you are giving because you want to be praised by your neighbors. Those people who give in order to reap praise have already received their reward. When you give to the needy, do it in secret — even your left hand should not know what your right hand is doing. Then your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you.

Likewise, when you pray, do not be as hypocrites who love to pray loudly at synagogue or on street corners — their concern is to be seen by men. They have already earned their reward. When you pray, go into a private room, close the door, and pray unseen to your Father Who is unseen. Then your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not go on and on, excessively and strangely like the outsiders; they think their verbosity will let them be heard by their deities. Do not be like them. Your prayers need not be labored or lengthy or grandiose — for your Father knows what you need before you ever ask Him.

Your prayers, rather, should be simple, like this:

Our Father in heaven, let Your name remain holy.

Bring about Your kingdom. Manifest Your will here on earth,
as it is manifest in heaven.

Give us each day that day’s bread — no more, no less —
and forgive us our debts as we forgive those who owe us something.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

But let Your kingdom be, and let it be powerful and glorious forever. Amen.

If you forgive people when they sin against you, then your Father will forgive you when you sin against Him and when you sin against your neighbor. But if you do not forgive your neighbors’ sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

And when you fast, do not look miserable as the actors and hypocrites do when they are fasting — they walk around town putting on airs about their suffering and weakness, complaining about how hungry they are. So everyone will know they are fasting, they don’t wash or anoint themselves with oil, pink their cheeks, or wear comfortable shoes. Those who show off their piety, they have already received their reward. When you fast, wash your face and beautify yourself with oil, so no one who looks at you will know about your discipline. Only your Father, Who is unseen, will see your fast. And your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you.

(Matthew 6:1-18)

Response in Prayer

Abba Father, the LORD God Almighty, please accept the things I do to Your glory. Help me guard my heart against doing them for the applause of others on earth. If You are pleased with what I do for others in Your name, give me satisfaction in knowing that You have seen those things. I want Your Name to be glorified and Your Kingdom to come in my life and through my efforts to Your glory! Through Jesus and with the intercession of the Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.

 

 

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NATIONAL CHEESE LOVER’S DAY – January 20

NATIONAL CHEESE LOVER’S DAY

Don’t feel bleu, throw a feta or act capricious. January 20th is a gouda day to kummin over and have some cheddar or asiago or fontina! It’s National Cheese Lover’s Day.

There is no firm evidence how cheese making was discovered, but legend tells us it was likely chance that the first cheese was created. Thousands of years ago, milk was transported and stored in sheep stomachs. Left to sit a few days the proteins would separate into curds and whey.

From there, preserving the solids with salt may have seemed a logical next step. Salt was a highly valued preservative in ancient times.

The earliest record of cheese making dates back to 5,500 BCE in what is now Poland.  Today there are over 1,400 varieties of cheese.

The basic principles behind making cheese are quite simple. Let the milk sour (or scientifically, coagulating the casein protein). Then separate the curds (solids) from the whey (liquid). The curds are then salted and left to age.

Bacteria, enzymes or fungi may be added at various stages. These along with the type of milk, temperature, time and moisture are all controlled to produced the desired taste, color and texture. Herbs and spices may also be added.

The nutritional value of cheese varies depending on the variety. Cottage and mozzarella cheese are at the lower end of fat and calories per serving while mascarpone and cream cheese pack it on. Marscapone makes desserts like tiramisu rich and creamy.

For cheese lovers who think one day is just not enough to celebrate cheese, National Day Calendar has you covered for the entire year. There are 18 other cheese specific holidays on the calendar from National Cheese Doodle Day (March 5) and National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day (April 12) toCheese Souffle Day (May 18), National Cheese Day (June 4), National String Cheese Day (September 20) and Moldy Cheese Day (October 9).  Let’s also not forget; cheese makes excellent desserts. National Cheesecake Day is July 30, and there are three other flavors on the calendar along withNational Cream Cheese Brownie Day just around the corner on February 10.

By celebrating National Goat Cheese Month in August, cheese lovers can celebrate 10 out of 12 months of the year.  The last two months of the year do not celebrate cheese specifically but cheese there will be!  National Nacho Day (November 6) just isn’t the same without the queso.  On National Sangria Day (December 20), cheese lovers will enjoy serving a variety of cheeses with all their guests!

HOW TO OBSERVE

Enjoy some cheese with your lunch or as a snack.  Use #CheeseLoversDay to post on social media.

HISTORY

Within our research, we were unable to find the creator of National Cheese Lover’s Day.

 

 

 

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Share the Magic!

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Daily Prayer for July 30

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7, NIV

Lord our God, we are your children. Hear all our concerns, we pray, for we want help from you, not from men, not from anything we can think or say. May your power be revealed in our time. We long for a new age, an age of peace in which people are changed. We long for your day, the day when your power will be revealed to poor, broken humankind. Be with us, and give our hearts what will remain with us, the strength and mercy of Jesus Christ. Amen.

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

DragonflyYour joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.…When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

Source: The Prophet

Effective Prayers when seeking a job, employment

1. Praying for the right job:

(Please share with someone who is seeking employment or a better job!)

I ask that you provided a job suited for my needs this day. Lead me to a job that will accommodate me without hesitations. You are the rock on which I stand I ask that You provide me with a job that is stable and without shaky grounds.

I ask that my talents, skills, abilities and education will be put into practical use, so that I can have sufficient to pay my bills and place bread on my table for myself and my family and even to give back what is due to You, Father.

Lord You command blessings upon me in my barns and in all that I put my hands to do, and You will bless me in the land which You give me. Right now, I proclaim that I will receive many job opportunities that will allow me to perform at my best, remembering You in all that I do.

I speak that doors will be opened to me in every direction I turn, because Your light shines upon me. I decree and declare that unemployment is that of the past and will be no more. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen!

2. Rebuking the enemy

Lord for too long I have waited and I am weary of being unemployed. Today, I cast my anxiety and worry unto You because You are the God that cares. I am tired of being unwanted. Lord, let my race, gender, faith, family background and status be irrelevant to the employer. Let them choose me because Your goodwill is upon my life.

No more will I beg of bread but it will be given abundantly to me in the name of Jesus. Lord Your word says that the same God who takes care of me will supply all my needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

This I believe and I rebuke all racism, unfairness, injustice, favoritism and prejudice in the name of Jesus and I speak prosperity in my life. I pray against the devil who came to kill steal and destroy; Satan has kept me back from my blessings for too long and I say no more!

No more will his hands tamper with my mind but I will trust in the Lord of heaven and earth for my breakthrough in only in His mighty wonderful name.

Lord You have done it all on the cross for me and no longer will I suffer the trouble of unemployment in Jesus name.

3. Prayer when applying, seeking employment

Heavenly father, I come before You seeking Your help in this time of desperate need. Lord, You said to ask and it shall be given to me, seek and I will find, knock and doors shall be opened for me. Lord, this day You know my needs, You know my struggles, You know the crisis I face each day and you are not a God of confusion but a God who hears and answers.

You are Jehovah Jireh, my provider and you will never let Your children go a day without bread. I plead for a breakthrough in my life and I trust in You because victory is mine, in Jesus name.

As I am about to apply for a job, I pray for your four favor upon these resumes. I pray that you would cover and shield it under your blood so that whoever reads this will acknowledge it, and not only acknowledge it but I will be hired.

Through You Lord, these applications will be highly considered and favor will be mine. Your blessing upon me this day so that wherever my applications go, it will not be rejected but will be acknowledged. My resumes will not be void but I will get many opportunities for You are the God who gives.

I plead your light upon these resumes and I receive your blessings and believe it is already done. In no other name but in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!

4. Worry arise:

Psalm 90:17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us, yes, establish the work of our hands.

We all need a job to survive. Without it, we feel worried because we cannot provide our basic needs. It is important to put your trust in God.

In times like these when the world is becoming so difficult to live in, all we can do is pray. Also, we know that children of God are highly favored, so why worry?Put your trust in God and not man.

5. Praying for a great job interview:

Jesus Christ who died for me. I bow before you begging for your guidance in my job interview. I pray for your protection and covering over me with your blood.

Lord, when I walk through that door, they will see your light shining in me. There will be no doubts in their mind that I am the desired person for the job. They will see only decency and ambition, honesty and integrity, determination and perseverance in me because you are the head of my life and I choose to do the right things.

Lord, help me to wear your amour so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Help me stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round my waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, help me take up the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God so that if I do these things, they have no choice but to take me because You are all they see.

I pray that I will speak only as you lead and nothing shall be on my own. Let my conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Lord, help me to say the right things at the right time pleasing you in every way. Lord I pray that my appearance, speech, attitude, and behavior be in a manner of humbleness and not greed.

Guide my steps today lord as I prepare for this interview in Jesus name.

6. Prayer when Waiting:

Lord I will trust in you, acknowledge you and know that you are working out big great plans for me. Your timing is the best timing and I will wait for the time when you bless me with a job.

I thank you, Jesus for answering my prayer. I believe the job is already waiting for me and it is only possible through you. Whatever is for me will be for me. It does not matter if I don’t see a way out right now. I know that I serve a big God that is working things out for me.

You are a God of Your word and, as I pray, I know that no prayer of mine will be unanswered.

Wherever you lead me I will follow Jesus. I thank you because my job will be soon coming in Jesus name. Amen.

7. We serve a big God:

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Jobs may be difficult to find in times like these. The world is getting harder to survive in. Many times there is unfair selection of employees and this causes us to become victims of unemployment.

Many times your status and appearance influences if they choose you or not. Racism and religion are factors that contribute to whether you get a job or not.

Deuteronomy 10:17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and does not take a bribe.

Enough is enough! No more my friends!

We serve a bigger God. A god that is bigger than any company/organization. He’s bigger than any employer. Our God is greater than those who want to bring you down.

He is a just God and not unfair. If you believe in Jesus Christ, then all things are possible.

 

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Matthew 5:14-16

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Our life will not be neutral. We will either point others away from God or show them that allegiance to God is important. Let’s make an intentional effort today to shine the light of God’s holiness and grace in all we do and say.

My Prayer…

O God, may the words of my mouth, the actions of my life, and the influence of my deeds show others your holiness and grace and lead them to acknowledge your majesty and might. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Charisma Magazine Newsletter

Recently, I have been praying about multiplication. I’ve been praying that we wouldn’t just see addition but instead we would see multiplication in the church. I’ve also been praying that I wouldn’t see people just adding a few things into their life, but that there would be multiplication and quick growth in people’s lives and in the body of Christ.

As I was praying about multiplication, the Lord gave me four areas that He is going to bring multiplication in and they all start with the letter D. The 4 words were dreams, destiny, doors and dimensions.

The first word the Lord spoke to me about was “dreams.” This is the season that so many are going to start living their dreams. Each time the Lord spoke to me about this, He did not say, “dream,” as in just one dream. Instead every time I heard it, it was “dreams”—more than one dream, as in multiplication.

Many people do not think God pays attention to the details of their lives. If you are believing for God a new house, you can’t just pray for a new house. Start dreaming about what you want the kitchen to look like, about what kind of light fixtures you want. Get specific. This is a season where God wants to multiply your dreams. You may have a dream job, a dream vacation; you may have dreams about specific things you want to do with your children. You have many dreams in your heart, and now is the time to get specific with those dreams. The Lord is saying, “There is a multiplication that is coming to the dreams.” Don’t limit God; allow God to dream through you. And dream big!

I recently shared this, but think about Hannah in the Bible. She was crying out to God to give her a baby, a baby boy. But God wasn’t just interested in giving her one child. He wanted to multiply her by giving her several children.

The second thing the Lord spoke to me about was “destiny.” Destiny is the deep thing God has placed inside you. Destiny is like a seed the Lord has planted deep inside you, and it will not go away. Someone recently asked me, “Joe, how do you do what you do? You have a great marriage and kids; your family life seems great. You also have a great church, apostolic network and you write tons of material. You’re always doing videos and traveling all over America. How do you do all of this?!”

My simple answer was, “Destiny.” When you start going and flowing with God, your destiny begins to be multiplied. You don’t do just one thing; you do multiple things. As God multiplies your destiny, He will empower you to do multiple things. Don’t limit God in your destiny. It’s much bigger than you think.

The third word the Lord spoke to me was “doors.” Not a door but doors. Many people are waiting for God to just open one door. God doesn’t just want to open up one door for you; He wants to open up multiple doors. I recently had a vision where I was walking down a hallway and there were doors all along its sides. I kept walking straight ahead and came to a door directly in front of me. I opened the door, and as I walked through it, I came upon another door. I opened it and walked through the next door, and another door opened to me. This happened many times. What God was showing to me in this vision is this is a season of multiplied doors. God is sending open doors to you, one right after another, after another. You don’t have to look for doors of opportunity; open doors will find you. You don’t have to ask for favor; the favor of God will find you. If you are faithful to stay in the secret place of fasting, prayer and seeking, the Lord God will open doors for you. You won’t have to go looking or knocking on doors. As you stay humble and walk in humility, God will open up doors for you that you can’t even imagine.

And finally, the fourth word was “dimensions.” A dimension is when someone jumps at least two levels. Moving into a new dimension is not just if you move up one level. I received a prophetic word recently that I was going to jump dimensions. I was excited by this word but didn’t understand how powerful this actually was. As I stepped into a new level of favor in my life, I experienced a jump into greater dimensions. We suddenly made incredible connections; we met the right people with the right equipment that we needed to move forward. We also experienced an influx in our finances. I felt as if the goodness of God was overtaking me. I asked the Lord, “God, I’m thankful for what is happening, but what is this?” And I felt the Lord tell me, “Did I not tell you that you were going to jump dimensions?” This is a season where God is going to move people into a multiplication of dimensions. Expect to jump up several levels in the spirit.

Many people ask my wife, Autumn and me how we have so much joy and why we seem so happy and peaceful all the time. It is because we are living out every dream and every calling God has placed upon us. We have peace and joy because we know God has us in a season of multiplication and because we trust that He has us. We never try to make anything happen for ourselves. We always trust God to make a way and to multiply us as we walk with Him. Get ready, my friends, you’re about to experience multiplication in your dreams, destiny, doors and dimensions! 

Joe Joe Dawson is the founder and apostle of ROAR Apostolic Network and ROAR Church Texarkana. Joe Joe is married to the love of his life, Autumn Dawson, and they have three children, Malachi, Judah and Ezra. The Dawsons live and teach a lifestyle of revival and awakening. Their desire is to see every believer fulfill their God-given destiny and live life to the fullest in God. Joe Joe is also the author of Living Your God-Sized Dream and Recipe for Revival. To connect with Joe Joe or for more information, visit joejoedawson.net.

 

 

 

Venerable Solanus Casey Shrine | Saint Mary Magdalen Church, Brighton, Michigan | photo by Nheyob

Blessed Solanus Casey

Saint of the Day for July 30

(November 25, 1875 – July 31, 1957)

https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul30.mp3

 

Blessed Solanus Casey’s Story

Barney Casey became one of Detroit’s best-known priests even though he was not allowed to preach formally or to hear confessions!

Barney came from a large family in Oak Grove, Wisconsin. At the age of 21, and after he had worked as a logger, a hospital orderly, a streetcar operator, and a prison guard, he entered St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee—where he found the studies difficult. He left there, and in 1896, joined the Capuchins in Detroit, taking the name Solanus. His studies for the priesthood were again arduous.

On July 24, 1904, Solanus was ordained, but because his knowledge of theology was judged to be weak, he was not given permission to hear confessions or to preach. A Franciscan Capuchin who knew him well said this annoying restriction “brought forth in him a greatness and a holiness that might never have been realized in any other way.”

During his 14 years as porter and sacristan in Yonkers, New York, the people there recognized Solanus as a fine speaker. James Derum, his biographer writes, “For, though he was forbidden to deliver doctrinal sermons, he could give inspirational talks, or feverinos, as the Capuchins termed them.” His spiritual fire deeply impressed his listeners.

Father Solanus served at parishes in Manhattan and Harlem before returning to Detroit, where he was porter and sacristan for 20 years at St. Bonaventure Monastery. Every Wednesday afternoon he conducted well-attended services for the sick. A co-worker estimates that on the average day 150 to 200 people came to see Father Solanus in the front office. Most of them came to receive his blessing; 40 to 50 came for consultation. Many people considered him instrumental in cures and other blessings they received.

Father Solanus’ sense of God’s providence inspired many of his visitors. “Blessed be God in all his designs” was one of his favorite expressions.

The many friends of Father Solanus helped the Capuchins begin a soup kitchen during the Depression. Capuchins are still feeding the hungry there today.

In failing health, Solanus was transferred to the Capuchin novitiate in Huntington, Indiana, in 1946,  where he lived for ten years until needing to be hospitalized in Detroit. Father Solanus died on July 31, 1957. An estimated 20,000 people passed by his coffin before his burial in St. Bonaventure Church in Detroit.

At the funeral Mass, the provincial Father Gerald said: “His was a life of service and love for people like me and you. When he was not himself sick, he nevertheless suffered with and for you that were sick. When he was not physically hungry, he hungered with people like you. He had a divine love for people. He loved people for what he could do for them—and for God, through them.”

In 1960, a Father Solanus Guild was formed in Detroit to aid Capuchin seminarians. By 1967, the guild had 5,000 members—many of them grateful recipients of his practical advice and his comforting assurance that God would not abandon them in their trials. Solanus Casey was declared Venerable in 1995, and beatified on November 18, 2017.


Reflection

His biographer James Patrick Derum writes that eventually Father Solanus was weary from bearing the burdens of the people who visited him. “Long since, he had come to know the Christ-taught truth that pure love of God and one’s fellowmen as children of God are in the final event all that matter. Living this truth ardently and continuously had made him, spiritually, a free man—free from slavery to passions, from self-seeking, from self-indulgence, from self-pity—free to serve wholly both God and man” (The Porter of St. Bonaventure’s, page 199).

The Beatification of Solanus Casey

“God knows best, and, while we’ll still hope for a favorable surprise, we can hardly do better than not only being resigned to whatever God permits but even beforehand to thank Him for His loving designs.”
Solanus Casey

 

 

 

What Jesus Did! ‘Wake Up Call’

Finally, [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”

Illustration of John 11:7-15 NLT — "Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I'm glad I wasn't there, for now you will really believe. Come, let's go see him."

Key Thought

For those of us who die before Jesus returns, he will awaken each of us that belong to him. Death does not sever our relationship with the Lord, and he will return one day and summon those of us who have died from our graves. His victory over death at the empty tomb and his triumph over death for Lazarus in this story remind us that at its worst, death is just a restful sleep. He will call us and bring us unto himself in glory and victory. We will hear his wakeup call and rise for death does not keep us. We died with Christ in baptism so that sin and death no longer have a claim over us. We await the full realization of his resurrection in our lives but know it will come. We have a wakeup call!

Today’s Prayer

Father, thank you for a hope that cannot be destroyed by death. Stir the urgency and passion in my heart to live victoriously because of that hope. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

 

 

 

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A Permanent Promise

Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
John 6:37

There is no expiration date on this promise. It does not merely say, “I will not cast out a sinner at his first coming,” but “I will never cast him out.” The original reads, “I will not, not cast out,” or “I will never, never cast out.” The text means that Christ will not at first reject a believer, and that as He will not do it at first, so He will not to the last.

But suppose the believer sins after coming? “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”1 But suppose that believers backslide? “I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.”2 But believers may fall under temptation! “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”3 But the believer may fall into sin as David did! Yes, but He will “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”4

Once in Christ, in Christ forever,
Nothing from His love can sever.

Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”5 What do you say to this, O trembling, feeble mind? This is a precious mercy. Coming to Christ, you do not come to One who will treat you well for a little while and then send you about your business, but He will receive you and make you His bride, and you shall be His forever! Live no longer in the spirit of bondage to fear, but in the spirit of adoption, which cries, “Abba, Father!” Oh, the grace of these words: “I will never cast out.”

1) 1 John 2:1 
2) Hosea 14:4
3) 1 Corinthians 10:13
4) Psalm 51:7
5) John 10:28

 

 

Bad Alliances
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
July 30, 2018

“Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not Mine, forming an alliance, but not by My Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting Me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge.” Isaiah 30:1-2

Have you ever entered a business relationship with someone you knew you were not supposed to? Throughout the history of Israel, the people were called to come out of an old way of life. Egypt represented that old way; when things got tough, the Israelites reverted to what was comfortable. They always knew they could take a trip to Egypt and find what they lacked. Perhaps this was their reasoning: “If we can’t get it accomplished under the new way, why not go back to the way we used to do it? At least we know we can get it there.”

When God calls us into a walk of faith, we can expect to be tested in this walk. If we enter into alliances that God has not ordained, it will only bring heartache. Such was the case for Israel. “But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace” (Is. 30:3).

Beware what you perceive as an alliance that may advance your business. It may actually bring you great distress if God has not directed you to align it. Ask yourself what the motive is behind this possible alliance. Make sure that it is not based on fear or a quick fix. Get confirmation that God is leading you to make such an alliance. Then you will not end up in the way of Israel, experiencing shame and disgrace.

 
Your Position Is a Result of Your Actions
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2 by Os Hillman
July 30, 2018

“Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right” (Prov 20:11).

In the marketplace companies and products are known by their position in the industry they represent. Lexus and Mercedes hold the top position among luxury automobiles. They are known for their high quality. Nike is a sports merchandise company known for its products serving those who play sports and they own the number one position in their industry. Coca-Cola is a soft drink company that currently has the number one position in the world among soft drinks. Companies spend millions trying to gain the number one position.

You also are called to achieve a certain position in what and how you do it. Your position is often a result of your actions taken over several years. Usually when your name is mentioned, your position is revealed. It is the most distinguishing attribute of your life and work and people associate you with your perceived position.

In the workplace you are known more by what you do and what you achieve. Your reputation is often built either around productivity or the lack of it. Years of productivity in an industry can allow you to own the number one position in your industry.

Do your actions line up with the position God desires for your life? Are you modeling the fruits of the Holy Spirit in all aspects of your life? Paul prayed that “you would live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God?”( Col 1:10-11). Paul desired that we all have a position of a person who bears fruit from our knowledge of God.

May each of us strive to have an excellent position for the benefit of the Kingdom.

 

Listening to the Father’s Heart – July 30 
by Os Hillman

Son, I made fruit trees to bear fruit. Each tree bears fruit in its own time. For some it only requires one year, for others it may take many years. So it is with my sons and daughters. There is a time for fruit-bearing in every life. The problem is that you cannot determine when that season is to be. Only I do that. When you try to bear fruit for my kingdom before your time, you make a mess. You become frustrated. Remember the words of my Son: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” Moses began bearing fruit at 80. David and Joshua’s fruit-bearing began at 30. Samuel began bearing fruit as a child. There is no “right age” for you to begin. Your job is to abide in me. My job is to produce fruit through your life. Do not fret if you are not bearing fruit when you think you should be. The fruit must come in my season for it to be the kind of fruit that nourishes others.

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. Psalms 1:3

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. John 15:4

 

 

National Cheesecake Day July 30

NATIONAL CHEESECAKE DAY

National Cheesecake Day is observed annually on July 30th.  Cheesecake is a delicious dessert that is loved by millions around the country.  It is a sweet dessert that is a mixture of soft fresh cheese, cream cheese or cottage cheese, eggs and sugar on a crust made from crushed graham crackers, crushed cookies, pastry or sponge cake.

Cheesecakes can be prepared baked or unbaked, can be flavored and are often served topped with fruit, fruit sauce, chocolate or whipped cream.  There are many flavors in which cheesecakes can be prepared, some of which are blueberry, strawberry, pumpkin, chocolate, key lime, lemon, orange, raspberry or toffee.

It is possible that an ancient form of cheesecake may have been a popular dish in ancient Greece.  It has been found that the earliest attested mention of a cheesecake is by Greek physician Aegimus, who wrote a book on the art of making cheesecakes.

James Kraft developed a form of pasteurized cream cheese in 1912.  In 1928, Kraft acquired the Philadelphia trademark and marketed pasteurized Philadelphia Cream Cheese which is now the most commonly used cheese for cheesecake.

North America has several different styles of cheesecakes:

  • New York-style cheesecake
  • Pennsylvania Dutch-style cheesecake
  • Philadelphia-style
  • Farmer cheese cheesecake
  • Country-style cheesecake
  • Lactose-free cheesecake
  • Cheesecake Kludys
  • Chicago Style cheesecake
  • Savory cheesecake

HOW TO OBSERVE

Enjoy this New York Cheesecake.  Post on social media using #NationalCheesecakeDay and encourage others to join in.

HISTORY

Within our research, we were unable to find the creator and the origin of National Cheesecake Day.

 

 

 

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Magical Monday!

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Daily Prayer for July 16

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. Micah 7:7–8, RSV

Dear Father in heaven, as your children we stand before you and lift our eyes to you. We are poor, needy people, often wretched and tormented. Let your eyes rest upon us. Grant us the help we need. Bless us when we gather in the name of Jesus Christ, that we may be a people who learn to serve you on all the paths we follow, even if it proves bitterly hard. Give us true faith for every moment. May we have joy and confidence that you are with your children, that you remain with them forever, until the great time of redemption when we will rejoice with all past generations and with all who are living today. Amen.

 

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

new ornamental leavesIt matters notwhat my abilities may be then, provided that I possess you, Lord. Do what you will with this insignificant creature. Whether it be that I should work, or become inspired, or be the recipient of your impressions, it is all the same. Everything is yours, everything is from you and for you.…It is for you, Lord, to regulate everything: direction, humiliations, sanctification, perfection, and salvation – all are your business.

Source: The Joy of Full Surrender

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Colossians 2:9-10

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

If you had known Jesus’ address in Nazareth along about A.D. 20, you could have gone to that house and said, “God lives here!” While the doctrine of Jesus being fully God and fully man — fully God yet having emptied himself of all of his divine privilege (Phil. 2:5-7) — is nearly impossible to fully understand, it is the awesome reality of grace. God chose to be like us because we could not be like him. God came down to us because we could not ascend to him. In Jesus, God came to us in fullness so we could be full in him.

My Prayer…

Almighty God, I acknowledge that you are too great for me to comprehend. Yet as marvelous and mighty and majestic as you are, your greater than my mind can grasp. And your grace, O God, amazes me. Thank you for sending Jesus so I can know you. Thank you for sending Jesus so I could be forgiven. Thank you for sending Jesus so I can go home to you and live forever. Thank you Jesus, for coming to redeem me and then returning back to the Father so I can speak to him through you. In your name Jesus, and because of your grace, I pray with boldness before our Father. Amen.

 

 

 

<em>The Virgin of the Carmelitas</em> | unknown

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Saint of the Day for July 16

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul16.mp3

 

The Story of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Hermits lived on Mount Carmel near the Fountain of Elijah in northern Israel in the 12th century. They had a chapel dedicated to Our Lady. By the 13th century they became known as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” They soon celebrated a special Mass and Office in honor of Mary. In 1726, it became a celebration of the universal Church under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For centuries the Carmelites have seen themselves as specially related to Mary. Their great saints and theologians have promoted devotion to her and often championed the mystery of her Immaculate Conception.

Saint Teresa of Avila called Carmel “the Order of the Virgin.” Saint John of the Cross credited Mary with saving him from drowning as a child, leading him to Carmel, and helping him escape from prison. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus believed that Mary cured her from illness. On her First Communion day, Thérèse dedicated her life to Mary. During the last days of her life she frequently spoke of Mary.

There is a tradition—which may not be historical—that Mary appeared to Saint Simon Stock, a leader of the Carmelites, and gave him a scapular, telling him to promote devotion to it. The scapular is a modified version of Mary’s own garment. It symbolizes her special protection and calls the wearers to consecrate themselves to her in a special way. The scapular reminds us of the gospel call to prayer and penance—a call that Mary models in a splendid way.


Reflection

The Carmelites were known from early on as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” The title suggests that they saw Mary not only as “mother,” but also as “sister.” The word sister is a reminder that Mary is very close to us. She is the daughter of God and therefore can help us be authentic daughters and sons of God. She also can help us grow in appreciation of being sisters and brothers to one another. She leads us to a new realization that all human beings belong to the family of God. When such a conviction grows, there is hope that the human race can find its way to peace.


Mary, under the Title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is the Patron Saint of:

Chile

 

 

What Jesus Did! ‘His Sheep’

[Jesus said,] “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.”

Key Thought

Will God run? Yes, he will run to meet us when we return to him from rebellion! Will Jesus run? No, he will not run away from us when we are in danger or face hardships and attacks. They both love us intensely and want us safe and home with them and will do anything and everything we will let them do to make sure that happens. Don’t let the evil one make you doubt God’s love. Human shepherds are fallible and will sometimes stumble, fall, and let us down. Our heavenly shepherd, however, will not fail us, will seek and find us, and has already paid the horrible price required to ransom us from sin, death, and destruction.

Today’s Prayer

O Father, may I never ever outlive my love for you. May I never doubt your love and steadfast care. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Morning & Evening: Morning Devo, Jul. 16th

Illustration of Exodus 16:21 — "They gathered manna every morning."

Morning Thought

Labour to maintain a sense of thine entire dependence upon the Lord’s good will and pleasure for the continuance of thy richest enjoyments. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus, or thou art undone for ever. Old anointings will not suffice to impart unction to thy spirit; thine head must have fresh oil poured upon it from the golden horn of the sanctuary, or it will cease from its glory. To-day thou mayest be upon the summit of the mount of God, but he who has put thee there must keep thee there, or thou wilt sink far more speedily than thou dreamest. Thy mountain only stands firm when he settles it in its place; if he hide his face, thou wilt soon be troubled. If the Saviour should see fit, there is not a window through which thou seest the light of heaven which he could not darken in an instant. Joshua bade the sun stand still, but Jesus can shroud it in total darkness. He can withdraw the joy of thine heart, the light of thine eyes, and the strength of thy life; in his hand thy comforts lie, and at his will they can depart from thee. This hourly dependence our Lord is determined that we shall feel and recognize, for he only permits us to pray for “daily bread,” and only promises that “as our days our strength shall be.” Is it not best for us that it should be so, that we may often repair to his throne, and constantly be reminded of his love? Oh! how rich the grace which supplies us so continually, and doth not refrain itself because of our ingratitude! The golden shower never ceases, the cloud of blessing tarries evermore above our habitation. O Lord Jesus, we would bow at thy feet, conscious of our utter inability to do anything without thee, and in every favour which we are privileged to receive, we would adore thy blessed name and acknowledge thine unexhausted love.
Illustration of Psalms 102:13, 14 — "Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time is come. For thy servants rake pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof."

Evening Thought

A selfish man in trouble is exceedingly hard to comfort, because the springs of his comfort lie entirely within himself, and when he is sad all his springs are dry. But a large-hearted man full of Christian philanthropy, has other springs from which to supply himself with comfort beside those which lie within. He can go to his God first of all, and there find abundant help; and he can discover arguments for consolation in things relating to the world at large, to his country, and, above all, to the church. David in this Psalm was exceedingly sorrowful; he wrote, “I am like an owl of the desert. I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.” The only way in which he could comfort himself, was in the reflection that God would arise, and have mercy upon Zion: though he was sad, yet Zion should prosper; however low his own estate, yet Zion should arise. Christian man! learn to comfort thyself in God’s gracious dealing towards the church. That which is so dear to thy Master, should it not be dear above all else to thee? What though thy way be dark, canst thou not gladden thine heart with the triumphs of his cross and the spread of his truth? Our own personal troubles are forgotten while we look, not only upon what God has done, and is doing for Zion, but on the glorious things he will yet do for his church. Try this receipt, O believer, whenever thou art sad of heart and in heaviness of spirit: forget thyself and thy little concerns, and seek the welfare and prosperity of Zion. When thou bendest thy knee in prayer to God, limit not thy petition to the narrow circle of thine own life, tried though it be, but send out thy longing prayers for the church’s prosperity, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” and thine own soul shall be refreshed.
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God’s Generosity

You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is the time to favor her;
the appointed time has come.
For your servants hold her stones dear
and have pity on her dust.
Psalms 102:13-14

A selfish man in trouble is exceedingly hard to comfort, because the springs of his comfort are entirely within himself, and when he is sad all his springs are dry. But a large-hearted man full of Christian generosity has other springs from which to supply himself with comfort beside those that lie within. He can go to his God first of all and there find abundant help; and he can discover arguments for consolation in things relating to the world at large, to his country, and, above all, to the Church. David in this Psalm was exceedingly sorrowful; he wrote, “I am like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.”1 The only way in which he could comfort himself was in the reflection that God would arise and have mercy upon Zion. Though he was sad, yet Zion should prosper; however low his own estate, yet Zion would arise.

Christian man, learn to comfort yourself in God’s gracious dealing toward the Church. That which is so dear to your Master, should it not also be supremely precious to you? Although your path be dark, can you not cheer your heart with the triumphs of His cross and the spread of His truth? Our own personal troubles are forgotten while we look not only upon what God has done and is doing for Zion, but on the glorious things He will yet do for His Church.

Try this approach, O believer, whenever you are sad of heart and in heaviness of spirit: Forget yourself and your little concerns, and seek the welfare and prosperity of Zion. When you kneel in prayer to God, limit not your petition to the narrow circle of your own life, tried though it be, but send out your longing prayers for the church’s prosperity. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,”2 and your own soul shall be refreshed.

1) Psalm 102:6-7
2) Psalm 122:6

 

 

 

God’s Selection Process
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
July 16, 2018

“So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, ‘Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.'” Judges 7:5

Would you ever take on an army of 100,000 with only 300 men? Sound preposterous? I agree. However, this is exactly what happened with Gideon. It was bad enough that he began with 10,000 against 100,000, but this was too many men according to God. He would not allow Gideon to fight with this many soldiers, because the temptation would still remain to believe that it was the strength of his army that won the victory. God told Gideon to pare down his army to a mere 300. This would ensure that God would receive total credit for the victory. This is a law in the Kingdom of God. All glory must go to Him. “Announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained” (Judg. 7:3).

Now there are 10,000 men left but that was still too many. God gave Gideon an interesting selection method for the 300 as he took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink” (Judg. 7:5b). What was the significance of this? Those soldiers who lapped water like a dog were soldiers who were more aware of the enemy around them compared to those who kneeled to drink. The lappers were men who were on constant guard to the danger around them, keeping their eyes up and looking about them. The others could be easily picked off.

If you and I are going to be one of God’s elite, we must be battle ready. We must be sensitive to the spiritual dangers around us. We must be trained to go about our business while, at the same time, discern when the enemy of our souls is prowling about seeking to destroy us. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Beware of the spiritual dangers around you.

Getting Refueled 
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2 by Os Hillman
July 16, 2018

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed”(Mark 1:35-36).

How do you get refueled? When our cars run low on fuel, we simply drop by the local filling station to get more fuel. When our bodies are hungry, we feed them. How do we refuel our spiritual lives? We can learn from the example Jesus modeled in His life.

In the New Testament we see that Jesus had a very demanding schedule. He traveled from town to town, often walking many miles between the towns. He spent a lot of time with people. As a speaker and teacher I can tell you that it is very draining to minister for extended periods. Your body and your spirit becomes fatigued.

The day before the above scripture was recorded, Jesus had a full day of ministry healing the sick, delivering people from demons and walking to different cities (Mark 1:29-37). The following day it says Jesus got up before the sun rose and went to pray. The disciples were wondering where He was.

When Jesus was on earth, He was fully man. Everything He did was based upon receiving specific directions and power from His father to do them. He was not operating as God, but as a human being with the same limitations you and I have. So, Jesus knew one of the key ways to refuel His mind, body and spirit was by spending time in prayer to His Heavenly Father.

This is a critical discipline for every follower of Jesus if you expect to have power and victory in your Christian walk. We each need to find a solitary place to focus upon the Lord, His Word and His input for our lives.

If this is not a part of your daily experience, why not start tomorrow with a few minutes of focused time of reading and prayer. You will be encouraged with the new spiritual focus you will have by making this a priority.

Listening to the Father’s Heart – July 16 
by Os Hillman

Son, you must be proactive in repelling the arrows of the enemy. He is always at your ear, whispering deceptive messages designed to take you into a spiritual ditch. Unless you train yourself to ask “Who said that?” each time a voice speaks to you, the enemy will prevail. I give you a shield; use it! It does you no good if it is lying on the ground. My Son repelled the same attacks by citing my words when Satan came to him. You must do the same to repel his attacks. You know how relentless he is. Be particularly sensitive after great victories. He usually comes at you hard after you have inflicted heavy damage to his kingdom. He will bring reinforcements against you. Build a deep foundation of intercession to withstand his attacks. Do it now, son. And remember, compromise always leads to deceit, but you are more than a conqueror if you remain in me.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:14-15

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

 

 

National Corn Fritters Day July 16

NATIONAL CORN FRITTERS DAY

July 16 is National Corn Fritters Day! Corn fritters are tasty bites of fried or baked corn batter.

These bright crispy morsels make great additions to summer barbecues and backyard gatherings.  The main ingredients include corn, meal, egg, milk, and butter. While they may have originated in the south, corn fritters can easily be changed up with peppers, onions or herbs to give them regional and seasonal flair.

When paired with other vegetables and a pan-fried fish filet, these versatile cakes can be added to a lightly toasted bun for a unique fish sandwich.  Don’t look at this dish as just a side, but a functional part of a complete meal.

HOW TO OBSERVE

Head to your local Southern-style restaurant or grab your frying pan to whip up some homemade fritters! Here are a grilled corn fritter and a fresh sweet corn fritter recipe for you to try.  Post on social media using #NationalCornFrittersDay.

HISTORY

Within our research, we were unable to identify the creator of National Corn Fritters Day.

 

 

 

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Just Another Monday??

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Daily Prayer for July 2

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Proverbs 4:11–12, NIV

Dear Father in heaven, you are our God. You rule and guide us, and our trust remains in you even when many needs pull at our hearts and try to draw us into their whirlpool. Protect us, we pray. May your divine hand govern us so that we remain aware of the calling we receive from you and always have a light shining into our lives to show us how to serve you. Let your power work wherever hearts respond to you on this earth, wherever the strength of Jesus Christ is revealed, so that people acknowledge his deeds to your honor. Be with the lowliest and least noticed of your children. Keep them in your hands and enable them to be fellow workers who persevere courageously and confidently until the time when you reveal yourself to all peoples on earth. Amen.

 

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

feather 17The marks life leaves on everything it touches transform perfection into wholeness. Older, wiser cultures choose to claim this wholeness in the things that they create. In Japan, Zen gardeners purposefully leave a fat dandelion in the midst of the exquisite, ritually precise patterns of the meditation garden. In Iran, even the most skilled of rug weavers includes an intentional error, the “Persian Flaw,” in the magnificence of a Tabriz or Qashqai carpet…and Native Americans wove a broken bead, the “spirit bead,” into every beaded masterpiece. Nothing that has a soul is perfect. When life weaves a spirit bead into your very fabric, you may stumble upon a wholeness greater than you had dreamed possible before.

Source: My Grandfather’s Blessings

 

 

Prayer: Ask, Seek, Knock!

Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord who sets us apart), redeem our hearts today. Open our eyes and help us to realize you are the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father, except through you. Bless us and keep us safe as you lead us through life’s journey.

We give you all the glory, the honor and the praise. We worship you, Mighty Redeemer, none can compare to your glorious name.

We give you all the glory, the honor and the praise. We worship you, Mighty Redeemer, none can compare to your glorious name.

Luke 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Whatever We Ask For in Faith

Jehovah Jireh, we know that you said that whatever we ask for, through faith we shall receive. If we seek, we will surely find. And if we knock, doors will swing open that no man can shut, at the sound of your mighty name.

Heavenly Father, on this precious day, we request bodily healing, abundant blessings, and for our lives to be saved.

Lord, we seek you with all our hearts today. We just want to be wrapped in your loving arms and warm presence.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 Then shall you call upon me, and you shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.
And I will be found of you, says the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, says the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

Seek the Blesser, not the Blessing

El Shaddai, help us to seek the blesser, not the blessing, and the healer, not the healing. We will set our love upon you, our master and allow you to fill us with the Holy Spirit and we know we will receive the things we ask for: love, joy, peace and happiness in life.

Adonai, knocking involves persistence. Help us, give us strength to pray even when we feel like surrendering.

Help us to remember you are the door and you will make a way where there seems to be no way, for You are The Way, hallelujah!

Psalm 91:14-15 Because he has set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he has known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.

The Door is Open!

As we continue to knock, help us to use our eyes of faith and realize that the door is open. Help us to not only see it, but enter it.

Lord, we want to see the new horizons opening up to us, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour who is worthy to be praised! Amen!

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<em>Oliver Plunket</em> | Edward Luttrell

Saint Oliver Plunkett

Saint of the Day for July 2

(November 1, 1629 – July 1, 1681)

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Saint Oliver Plunkett’s Story

The name of today’s saint is especially familiar to the Irish and the English—and with good reason. The English martyred Oliver Plunkett for defending the faith in his native Ireland during a period of severe persecution.

Born in County Meath in 1629, Oliver studied for the priesthood in Rome and was ordained there in 1654. After some years of teaching and service to the poor of Rome he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland. Four years later, in 1673, a new wave of anti-Catholic persecution began, forcing Archbishop Plunkett to do his pastoral work in secrecy and disguise and to live in hiding. Meanwhile, many of his priests were sent into exile, schools were closed, Church services had to be held in secret, and convents and seminaries were suppressed. As archbishop, Plunkett was viewed as ultimately responsible for any rebellion or political activity among his parishioners.

Archbishop Plunkett was arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle in 1679, but his trial was moved to London. After deliberating for 15 minutes, a jury found him guilty of fomenting revolt. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered in July 1681.

Pope Paul VI canonized Oliver Plunkett in 1975.


Reflection

Stories like that of Oliver Plunkett seem to fit history. “Things like that don’t happen today” is often our thought. But they do. False accusations, prejudice, anti-Catholic sentiments, racism, sexism, etc. are still an active reality in our day. Maybe a prayer to Saint Oliver for peace and justice may be appropriate.

 

 

 

What Jesus Did! ‘Bending Reality to Fit Our Theology’

Then [the people questioning the man who had been healed of his blindness took him] to the Pharisees, because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them. Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?” The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.”

Key Thought

Isn’t it interesting how we can “bend” reality to make it fit faulty theology? This man was healed. He was healed on the Sabbath. But, in the theological wrangling of the Pharisees, that “work” of healing was a violation of the Sabbath. So either Jesus was bad, or the man hadn’t really been healed. Some disagreements on obscure or much-debated minor theological points are inconsequential. However, when we use disagreements to wall out and condemn people, or we use them to make God’s good work appear to be something bad, then those theological positions become evil. That misuse of theological principles doesn’t mean we water down the plain teaching of Scripture on morality or the nature of Jesus; it does mean that we should be a lot more humble and generous when it comes to the value of people.

Today’s Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me for the times that I have wrongly used your word to hurt other people. Empty me of my theological and doctrinal arrogance that could blind me to your work in the people around me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

 

 

 

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Cry to the Lord

To you, O Lord, I call;
my rock, be not deaf to me,
lest, if you be silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
Psalms 28:1

A cry is the natural expression of sorrow, and a suitable utterance when all other modes of appeal fail us; but the cry must be alone directed to the Lord, for to cry to man is to waste our entreaties upon the air. When we consider the readiness of the Lord to hear and His ability to aid, we shall see good reason for directing all our appeals at once to the God of our salvation. It will be in vain to call to the rocks in the day of judgment, but our Rock attends to our cries.

“Be not deaf to me.” Mere formalists may be content without answers to their prayers, but genuine suppliants cannot; they are not satisfied with the results of prayer itself in calming the mind and subduing the will—they must go further and obtain actual replies from heaven or they cannot rest; and those replies they long to receive at once—they dread even a little of God’s silence.

God’s voice is often so terrible that it shakes the wilderness; but His silence is equally full of awe to an eager suppliant. When God seems to close His ear, we must not therefore close our mouths but rather cry with more earnestness; for when our note grows shrill with eagerness and grief, He will not long deny us a hearing. What a dreadful case we would be in if the Lord should become forever deaf to our prayers. “Lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.” Deprived of the God who answers prayer, we would be in a more pitiable plight than the dead in the grave and would soon sink to the same level as the lost in hell. We must have answers to prayer: Ours is an urgent case of dire necessity; surely the Lord will speak peace to our agitated minds, for He never can find it in His heart to permit His own elect to perish.

 

 

SpiritLed Woman PowerUp!

Have you fallen for a counterfeit? (Photo by Jennifer Chen on Unsplash)

How many times have you heard the saying “opposites attract”? Do you believe that or do you think it’s just a catchphrase? I’m sure there is some truth to it because several of my friends are married to men whose personalities are the opposite of theirs. They say their husbands’ differences actually complement the marriage and don’t hurt it, and if they had to do it all over again, they would gladly marry the same man.

However, I have prayed with enough hurting couples to know that being married to someone who is very different can be challenging. Dr. Neil Warren, a clinical psychologist and founder of the popular online dating website eHarmony, encourages dating couples to proceed with caution if they have opposite characteristics. “I don’t discount how hard it is to find someone who is a lot like you,” he says. “It has always been difficult, and it’s become even more so, as diversity increases. But when two people come from similar backgrounds, they operate from a position of strength. Their relationship is made significantly easier by all the customs and practices they have in common.”

What to look for in a husband isn’t the main focus of this, but it is the perfect segue to this next unthinkable character. Her name is Abigail. She was a beautiful woman whose wisdom saved her fool of a husband, Nabal, from certain death after he insulted David, who was later crowned king of Israel.

Yes, I called Nabal a fool but you don’t have to take my word for it. He and Abigail are introduced to us in 1 Samuel 25:1-3, where we learn a lot about them in just a few sentences.

From the moment we meet Nabal we know he’s trouble. He was wicked, foulmouthed, and mean-spirited. In fact, his name literally means “foolish” and “stupid.” Then out of nowhere Caleb is mentioned. When I first read “a descendant of Caleb,” it seemed out of place to me. But after rereading about this great man of faith, I realized the text fit perfectly.

Nabal was able to build a lucrative sheep shearing business because he owned prime property that had been passed down to him from his famous ancestor, Caleb, who had been among those who wandered in the wilderness after the great exodus from Egypt. When God told Moses to handpick 12 men to scout out the land of Canaan, Caleb was one of the spies. When he returned to Moses with a good report based on his faith in God and not fear, God rewarded him with the very land Nabal now possessed.

Nabal was the beneficiary of someone else’s blessings, but his life is proof that godly character cannot be inherited. Abigail, however, is described as a sensible, beautiful woman with great understanding and a joyful spirit. Her name even means “cause of joy.” In this story it is clear that sometimes opposites don’t attract; they distract.

I don’t know how Abigail became the wife of a fool. Perhaps her father agreed to give his beautiful daughter to Nabal in exchange for a handsome bride price. Whatever the case, I know that when she was confronted with a life-or-death situation, Abigail responded with a rare weapon: wisdom. Her wisdom saved their lives.

First, when she heard that David was going to kill Nabal for being condescending and disrespectful to him, she didn’t go yelling and screaming at her husband. Had that been many women today, they would have told Nabal, “Because of your big mouth, every man in this family is going to die, including you!”

But Abigail must have known that it doesn’t pay to argue with a fool, because she did the opposite. She didn’t even tell Nabal that she knew about all the ugly words he had spoken to David’s messengers. Sometimes wisdom requires that we measure our words carefully and use them to calm a situation and not make matters worse.

I don’t know Abigail prayed or if she prayed at all, but when she got the news about David, she prepared a peace offering. She gathered hundreds of pounds of food and gave the man of God what he requested, despite Nabal’s selfishness.

The Bible says there are two types of wisdom, earthly and godly. Earthly wisdom is this: “But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom” (James 3:14-15).

The text goes on to say that where there is jealousy and selfish ambition, every evil imaginable is also there.

Now, juxtapose the definition of earthly wisdom with godly wisdom in James 3:17: “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds.”

Do you know anyone who fits this description? I wish I could say that I have perfected all six of these qualities, but I am a work in progress, as we all are. To have wisdom, though, we must first ask for it, and God will “generously” give it to us according to James 1:5. This brings me to my next point: I believe it is impossible to live a lifestyle of godly wisdom without help from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will tell us when and how to respond in every area of our lives. He is the Paraclete, the One who gives us counsel, and He is our helper. The Holy Spirit will prompt you if a response is needed, and He will let you know if nothing at all needs to be said or done.

Abigail had godly wisdom, was humble and was prepared for the challenge she faced. You can do the same.

unthinkableAdapted from Unthinkable by Mia K. Wright, copyright 2018, published by Charisma House. This book will show you what happens when you get out of your comfort zone and trust in God alone to take you beyond your status quo into His dreams for you. To order your copy click on this link.

Prayer Power for the Week of July 1, 2018

This week, ask God for godly wisdom every day and thank Him when He provides it. Pray that the Lord will give our president and all those in leadership the wisdom they need to make decisions affecting our nation and the world. Pray concerning the selection of our next Supreme Court judge and ask the Lord for His choice to fill the position. (James 1:5; 1 Samuel 25:32-34; James 3:17)

 

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Jeremiah 17:9-10

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Jesus told us that what is in our heart ultimately works its way out into our public life. The great wise man of Proverbs told us to guard our heart because it is the well spring of our life. Jeremiah wants us to know that God knows our heart. At Heartlight, we want to stress the importance of what goes into our hearts because it really makes a difference in what goes on inside our heart. Invite the Lord into what you do and think and read and watch and hear. Ask him to remove deceit and help you see if what you are doing is really worthy of your time and interest.

My Prayer…

Righteous Father, please help me guard my heart and be wise enough not to place things into it that would rob it of its devotion to you. I want to be pure through and through. Please search me and help me remove everything that would steal my devotion from you and that would ruin my influence with others for you. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

National Anisette Day July 2

NATIONAL ANISETTE DAY

On July 2nd we observe National Anisette Day.   Anisette is an anise-flavored liqueur that is made by distilling aniseed and sometimes adding a sugar syrup.  Anisette is popular in Spain, Italy, Portugal and France.

Pure Anisette should not be drunk straight as its alcoholic content is high enough to cause irritation to the throat. However, mixing it in with coffee, gin, bourbon or water will bring out a bit of a sweet flavor. To enjoy this sweetness without drinking, you can make Anisette cookies!

If you are one to grab all of the black jelly beans at Easter, you will surely enjoy this day and the drink that makes it unique, Anisette. Although Anisette does not contain licorice, it does have that sort of distinct flavor.

HOW TO OBSERVE

To celebrate, mix some anisette into a favorite drink to enhance the sweetness. You can also make anisette cookies. Post on social media using #NationalAnisetteDay.

HISTORY

Within our research, we were unable to identify the creator of National Anisette Day.

 

 

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Another Magic Monday…

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Daily Prayer for June 18

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. 2 Timothy 1:8–9, NIV

Lord our God, radiant, light giving, and almighty God through all the ages, be with us in our time too. Strengthen the grace we have received from Jesus Christ, and let it be known over all the world so that your name may be honored everywhere. Bless us, we pray, and let your blessing spread from us to others, to the glory of your name. Grant that the good may be strengthened in us, the good you have let us hear about for so many years. May everything that belongs to your Word come alive in us and in the world. May your blessing be on our actions, for we want to remain under your blessing, to the glory of your righteousness and truth. Amen.

 

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

bfly3Those who know the Lord are never alone. Solitary times are opportunities to know him in greater depth. In order to be free for this new level of being, all self-pity must be conquered. Our self-centeredness must be reckoned for the enemy it is. God cannot squeeze into a self-centered heart.

Source: So Who’s Afraid of Birthdays

 

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Ephesians 6:4

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Mothers have such an inside road with children that it is interesting that God commands fathers to be about the work of spiritual nurture. I don’t believe he means to exclude mothers. No, I think he assumes they’ll do their part. But the father’s influence and intentional training is so essential.

My Prayer…

Abba Father, may my children come to find you in me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Faithfulness in Our Calling
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
June 18, 2018

“He went out to meet Asa and said to him, ‘Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.'” – 2 Chronicles 15:2

Asa was the king of Judah from 912-872 B.C. He reigned for 41 years and was known as a good king who served the Lord with great zeal. He reformed many things. He broke down idol worship to foreign gods; he put away male prostitutes and even removed his own mother from being queen because she worshiped an idol. The Scriptures say that as long as he sought the Lord, the Lord prospered his reign.

However, Asa was not totally faithful in his calling. There came a time in his life when he made a decision to no longer trust in the God of Israel. He lost his confidence in God as his deliverer. The prophet Hanani came to Asa to inform him that God’s blessing was no longer on his life because of an ungodly alliance he had made.

Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war (2 Chronicles 16:8-9).

There are no guarantees that if we began well we will finish well. The life of Asa tells us this. It is only through God’s grace that we can be faithful to our calling. Each of us is capable of falling away from God. Pray that God will keep you faithful to the purposes He has for your life. He strengthens those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

 

 

SpiritLed Woman PowerUp!

(Unsplash/Marina Vitale)

Waiting isn’t a curse. It’s a blessing. Patience is a gift from God. Your life would be so much more joyful if you learned how to wait with patience. King David said in Psalm 40:1-4:

I waited patiently for the Lord, and He turned to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet on a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God; many will see it, and fear, and will trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who places trust in the Lord.

Earlier he said: “Wait on the Lord; be strong, and may your heart be stout; wait on the Lord” (Ps. 27:14).

When you wait patiently on the Lord, you gain access to His ear. God hears the prayers of those who wait patiently for Him. When you wait on the Lord, He will come to your rescue. He will deliver you to safety. When you wait patiently on the Lord, your worship will go to a whole new level. When you wait patiently on the Lord, people will see what He has done for you. Your time of waiting will turn into a testimony, and all who witness your deliverance will come to fear and trust in the Lord. When you wait patiently on the Lord, you will be blessed, and your heart will be strengthened. Your patient waiting shows God that you trust Him with your whole life, and He rewards faith like that in big ways. Listen, you can’t tell me that waiting on God isn’t worth it.

Prepare your heart to begin to wait knowing that God is going to take care of you. Get ready to understand what it really means to trust God with your when.

As I have said before, we are all in the same boat when it comes to waiting. We all need something. We can also be in the same boat of victory, if we learn that waiting is always worth it.

If you’ve previously testified to having a struggle with waiting, my prayer for you is that your perspective on why you’re waiting will change. Don’t see the answer to your prayer as denied, believe that it’s only delayed. Delayed means that something has been released and it’s on its way, and at that perfect time—on God’s clock—you’ll be able to celebrate your answer’s arrival.

Many of us have such a hard time waiting on God because we haven’t asked Him to give us that characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit called longsuffering. Join me in prayer right now to ask God to give you this gift.

Father, I thank you for this time in my life. I pray that You would give me limitless strength to endure this waiting season. I don’t want to live without Your anointing for longsuffering. I pray that you will empower me to wait on You with a joyful heart, knowing that Your best is being prepared for me right now. Thank You for causing me to win because I choose to trust You. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.

Don’t get discouraged during your waiting season. God has a plan to bless you in His perfect timing. The blessing may not look the way you thought it would or come the way you expected, but it will be just what you need. Don’t quit! God has a miracle with your name on it, and it’s worth the wait.

Adapted from Everybody Wants to Win but Nobody Wants to Wait by Marcus Gill, copyright 2017, published by Charisma House. This book encourages you to trust God’s timing by helping you discover why God makes us wait, why we can trust His timing, why we must have a vision, goal and plan while we wait and why we must worship to see breakthrough. To order your copy, click on this link.

Prayer Power for the Week of June 17, 2018

This week, thank God that He is working the virtue of patience in your life by allowing you to wait for His timing concerning certain answers to your prayers. Declare by faith that you trust Him in all areas. Use the Word of God to make declarations of faith concerning trust. Continue to pray for worldwide revival; ask God for more laborers for His harvest and to show you what part you should play in expanding His kingdom. Continue to pray for the nation and its leaders, allies, first responders and those in the military. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 1 Timothy 2:8 and James 5:17.

Deborah, Esther and Anna carried a profound anointing. Become a Godly woman of boldness, power and strength. Get the Anointing Bundle.

The Holy Spirit wants to lead you into a deeper, more intimate experience with God. Everything changes in His presence. Enter His Presence.

Summer Reading Bundles + FREE GIFTS! These bundles include prophecy, health, prayer, and the supernatural. Grab your Favorite.

 

 

 

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The Garden of Christ

I came to my garden, my sister, my bride.
Song of Songs 5:1

The heart of the believer is Christ’s garden. He bought it with His precious blood, and He enters it and claims it as His own. A gardenimplies separation. It is not the open field; it is not a wilderness; it is walled around or hedged in. If only we could see the wall of separation between the church and the world made broader and stronger. It is sad to hear Christians saying, “Well, there is no harm in this; there is no harm in that,” and by this approach getting as near to the world as possible. Grace is at a low ebb in the soul that is always inquiring about how far it may go in worldly conformity.

A garden is a place of beauty; it far surpasses the wild uncultivated lands. The genuine Christian must seek to be more excellent in his life than the best moralist, because Christ’s garden ought to produce the best flowers in all the world. Even the best is poor compared with what Christ deserves; let us not disappoint Him with withering and feeble plants. The rarest, richest, choicest lilies and roses ought to bloom in the place that Jesus calls His own.

The garden is a place of growth. The believer must not remain undeveloped, just mere buds and blossoms. We should grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Growth should be rapid where Jesus is the gardener and the Holy Spirit the dew from heaven.

A garden is a place of retirement. So the Lord Jesus Christ would have us reserve our souls as a place in which He can show Himself, in a way that He does not to the world. As Christians we should be far keener to keep our hearts closely shut up for Christ! We often worry and trouble ourselves, like Martha, with much serving, and like her we do not have the room for Christ that Mary had, and we do not sit at His feet as we ought. May the Lord grant the sweet showers of His grace to water His garden today.

 

 

Statue of Venerable Matt Talbot | flickr

Venerable Matt Talbot

Saint of the Day for June 18

(May 2, 1856 – June 7, 1925)

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun18.mp3

 

Venerable Matt Talbot’s story

Matt can be considered the patron of men and women struggling with alcoholism. He was born in Dublin, where his father worked on the docks and had a difficult time supporting his family. After a few years of schooling, Matt obtained work as a messenger for some liquor merchants; there he began to drink excessively. For 15 years—until he was almost 30—Matt was an active alcoholic.

One day he decided to take “the pledge” for three months, make a general confession and begin to attend daily Mass. There is evidence that Matt’s first seven years after taking the pledge were especially difficult. Avoiding his former drinking places was hard. He began to pray as intensely as he used to drink. He also tried to pay back people from whom he had borrowed or stolen money while he was drinking.

Most of his life Matt worked as a builder’s laborer. He joined the Secular Franciscan Order and began a life of strict penance; he abstained from meat nine months a year. Matt spent hours every night avidly reading Scripture and the lives of the saints. He prayed the rosary conscientiously. Though his job did not make him rich, Matt contributed generously to the missions.

After 1923, his health failed, and Matt was forced to quit work. He died on his way to church on Trinity Sunday. Fifty years later, Pope Paul VI gave him the title venerable. His Liturgical Feast Day is June 19.


Reflection

In looking at the life of Matt Talbot, we may easily focus on the later years when he had stopped drinking for some time and was leading a penitential life. Only alcoholic men and women who have stopped drinking can fully appreciate how difficult the earliest years of sobriety were for Matt.

He had to take one day at a time. So do the rest of us.


Venerable Matt Talbot is the Patron Saint of:

Alcoholics
Sobriety

 

 

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Will We Recognize Family and Friends In The Kingdom Of Heaven?

When believers finally reach heaven, will they know family members and friends?

Lazarus and the Rich Man

Does the Bible tell us that we can know our lost family members and friends once we enter the kingdom of heaven? Not exactly, but there are strong indications that we will know those we’ve lost once we see them again and they will now us. One of Jesus’ most powerful stories is that of Lazarus and the Rich Man. Let’s read the account to see if this gives us any help as to whether we will recognize people on the other side of eternity. It is found in Luke 16:19-31 where Jesus said, “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores” (Luke 6:19-21), then “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side” (Luke 16:22-23). Abraham responded by saying, “’Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment’” (Luke 16:25-28). The point to all this is that after death, we will still have feelings, we will be aware of our surroundings, and we will remember those who are still living after we’ve been judged, but we’ll have no place of escape from hell. The rich man wanted his family to know that there truly is a hell. He wanted to go back to warn them, so after death, the rich man (as with all of us) had memories, recollection, feelings, love for his family, and senses (he thirsted), so there is an awareness after death, but the thing is, there is no possible escape for those who’ve rejected Christ.

Mount of Transfiguration

When Jesus revealed his glory to Peter, James, and John, they immediately recognized Moses and Elijah even though they had never seen them before. How did they know them by sight? Did they know enough about them that they recognized them? Jesus never introduced them or told the disciples who these men were, but the disciples already knew them. Let’s read the account of the Transfiguration in Matthew 17:4 where Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” We don’t know how Peter, James, and John knew who Elijah and Moses were by seeing them for the very first time…we only know they knew them, and I believe that gives us some indication that we will know others in the kingdom whom we’ve never met, particularly the heroes and heroines of the faith. Jesus spoke to these men after they had died, indicating that there is life after death. For example, Jesus said in Matthew 8:11, “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” Even in ancient times, God told Moses that “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3:6), meaning these men still existed beyond this life.

After Death

Notice that “Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people” (Gen 25:8). Also, “Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people” (Gen 25:17). Jacob was explicit in his instructions about his burial in Genesis 49:29-33, saying, “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.” Clearly, Jacob knew that he was going to be buried with his fathers and his relatives and “gathered to his people.”David also knew he would recognize his son who died in infancy when he sees him again someday, saying, “But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam 12:23). There is no doubt David will recognize his own son for he spoke expectantly of seeing him again and “going” to him. This “going to him” is obviously where the child is at now. In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Think about those you’ve shared the gospel with who are no longer here. Surely they’ll recognize you when they see you and they’ll rejoice with you, no doubt.

Cloud of Witnesses

Some believe that the “cloud of witnesses” is those saints who are now with the Lord and are watching us. The “cloud of witnesses” is mentioned in Hebrew 12:1, but these are witnesses left for us, not spectators. There is no Scriptural evidence that our lost loved ones can see us from heaven. By the way, Hebrews 12:1 is a conclusion of what was just said in Hebrews 11:39-40 that “all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Jesus said that “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matt 22:30), which some misconstrue to mean that we’ll be like or become angels. I don’t know why or where this myth ever got started, but in fact, someday, we are to judge the angels (1 Cor 6:3) but not become angels.

Conclusion

The very next moment after you die, you are with the Lord; that is if you are saved. Paul wrote that “to be absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8), which also means that “while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord” (2 Cor 5:9). When Paul says “in the body,” he means here on earth and when he speaks of “with the Lord,” we know that He means present with Christ. Jesus is presently seated at the right hand of the Father, because after His death and resurrection, the Scriptures say that God “seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:20). This is where He directs His own church today as He gathers a people unto Himself. He is coming again for those who’re repented and trusted in Christ. Then, we’ll be with those we’ve lost and recognize them immediately. Again, that is only if they have trusted in Christ. That is the hope of the resurrection…and the hope of every believer in Christ.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

 

 

 

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