Peace…

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TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER

red oak leafBe patient, then, my brothers, until the Lord comes. See how patient a farmer is as he waits for his land to produce precious crops. He waits patiently for the autumn and spring rains. James 5:7, TEV

Lord Jesus, hear our prayer and reveal your hand in our days. May those things be done that bring your future nearer and that let the world see you as the Savior who can lead us to our Father. Bless your Word within us. May our hearts be strengthened, and may we always live in your presence. We draw our life from your Word, from your promise, and we set our hope on you, our Lord and Savior. Show your might, Lord Jesus, and carry out the will of God over all the world, so that we may rejoice when we see God’s glory appear and his will being done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Dig

Reflections for Advent and Christmas

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

line of gray pebblesThe frightened shepherds become God’s messengers. They organize, make haste, find others, and speak with them. Do we not all want to become shepherds and catch sight of the angel? I think so. Without the perspective of the poor, we see nothing, not even an angel. When we approach the poor, our values and goals change. The child appears in many other children. Mary also seeks sanctuary among us. Because the angels sing, the shepherds rise, leave their fears behind, and set out for Bethlehem, wherever it is situated these days.

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of 2 Corinthians 7:1

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

God has blessed us with so many wonderful promises. He has secured them through the sending of his Son “to conquer death and bring life and immortality to life.” He will “transform our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body.” He will take us home to be with him eternally, but until that day, he will live inside us and reveal himself to us. He will make us more than conquerors and will not allow anything to separate us from his love. So what should our response be? Yes, sure we should offer him praise. But, we must not limit our praise to words. God wants our lives to be pure, staying away from what is evil, vile, putrid, and corrupt. He wants us to do this, not so we can claim some moral superiority, but so that we can show him our adoration and reverence. In our desire to offer God praise, let’s not forget that one of the greatest ways to praise him is to seek him in purity and holiness!

My Prayer…

Forgive me, Heavenly Father, for my sins. Purify my heart and cast out any foothold the devil may have in me because of my sin. Empower me to holiness and accept my life as an offering of praise and thanks to you. In the name of Jesus, I offer you my heart, my life, and my all. Amen.

 

 

BIBLE STUDY BUDDY

Read Romans 12:17-21…

Image result for Romans 12:17-21.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
v17-21 Since men became enemies to God, they have been very ready to be enemies one to another. And those that embrace religion, must expect to meet with enemies in a world whose smiles seldom agree with Christ’s. Recompense to no man evil for evil. That is a brutish recompence, befitting only animals, which are not conscious of any being above them, or of any existence hereafter. And not only do, but study and take care to do, that which is amiable and creditable, and recommends religion to all with whom you converse. Study the things that make for peace; if it be possible, without offending God and wounding conscience. Avenge not yourselves. This is a hard lesson to corrupt nature, therefore a remedy against it is added. Give place unto wrath. When a man’s passion is up, and the stream is strong, let it pass off; lest it be made to rage the more against us. The line of our duty is clearly marked out, and if our enemies are not melted by persevering kindness, we are not to seek vengeance; they will be consumed by the fiery wrath of that God to whom vengeance belongeth. The last verse suggests what is not easily understood by the world; that in all strife and contention, those that revenge are conquered, and those that forgive are conquerors. Be not overcome of evil. Learn to defeat ill designs against you, either to change them, or to preserve your own peace. He that has this rule over his spirit, is better than the mighty. God’s children may be asked whether it is not more sweet unto them than all earthly good, that God so enables them by his Spirit, thus to feel and act.
The Trouble With Revenge…
Years ago a man who didn’t like having smoke blown in his face developed a way for nonsmokers to fight back. He called his product ”Revenge.” It was a foul-smelling disinfectant that came in a pocket-size spray can. The spray gave cigarette smokers a dose of their own medicine-bad air.

Many resented the idea. Some got a laugh out of it. Still others purchased some of the stuff. Its manufacturers were capitalizing on the feeling that I’m sure all of us have experienced: If we don’t counter insult for insult, we’ll get stepped on.

For the Christian, however, there are problems with trying to ”get back” at someone. We lower ourselves to the level of the person who irritates us. This makes us vulnerable because we violate the principles of faith and love. Revenge appeals to our lower instincts rather than to the high strategy of goodness found in Christ.

The Word of God is clear: Getting even is never the answer. ”’Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). So what are we to do when someone offends us? We must continue doing good, and let God handle vengeance in His perfect time and way. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (v.21).

 

 

November 22
Justification By Faith Deals a Blow to the Sin Problem
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned-(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 5:1-6:14
WORSHIP
When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us,
And we are glad.
Psalm 126:1-3
WISDOM
Buy the truth, and do not sell it,
Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.
Proverbs 23:23
November 22

Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of.–MATT. vi. 8.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these hings shall be added unto you.–MATT. vi. 33.

Thy kingdom come, with power and grace,
To every heart of man;
Thy peace, and joy, and righteousness
In all our bosoms reign.
C. WESLEY.

God bids us, then, by past mercies, by present grace, by fears of coming ill, by hopes in His goodness, earnestly, with our whole hearts, seek Him and His righteousness, and all these things, all ye need for soul and body, peace, comfort, joy, the overflowing of His consolations, shall be added over and above to you.
E. B. PUSEY.

Grant us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, always to seek Thy kingdom and righteousness, and of whatsoever Thou seest us to stand in need, mercifully grant us an abundant portion. Amen.

Be content to be a child, and let the Father proportion out daily to thee what light, what power, what exercises, what straits, what fears, what troubles He sees fit for thee.
I. PENINGTON.

CHOOSING NOT TO HATE

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

Rami Ayyad was assassinated a few years ago for his work as the head of the BibleSociety in the Gaza Strip. His murder left his wife, Pauline, burdened with three young children and a heart full of hatred for his killers.

While Rami was locking up the bookstore owned by the Palestinian Bible Society in Gaza, a vehicle pulled alongside him, and several men forced him in the back seat. Rami, remaining calm and trusting in the Lord, was allowed to call his wife. “I’m going with some young men somewhere, but I’ll be home soon,” he tried to reassure her. That was the last time Pauline would hear her husband’s voice.

Hours later, his body was found. He had been brutally tortured and shot twice, a bullet in the chest, and one in the head. A spokesman for the Palestinian Bible Society said, “He’s a martyr for Christ.”

Pauline recalls, “I was so broken after the death of my husband, and I hated the people who did it.”

There has been no progress in the hunt for Rami’s killers. A local Christian commented, “Many of the Muslims believe that Rami was evangelizing people so it was OK to kill him.”

In such an environment of hatred, Pauline’s resentment festered. However, the Holy Spirit in His gentle but insistent way kept whispering to her until she could carry the hatred no further. “It was then,” she recalls, “that the Lord poured over me forgiveness for those who killed Rami and those who I used to blame.” Her heart was set free and she heard the Lord say, “It’s not everybody who gets to be called a martyr’s wife.” Deep in thought, she reflected, “That’s a great honor.”

Brother King from International Christian Concern (ICC) writes, “Pauline’s experience reflects that of the persecuted church in general. Abused, spat upon, beaten, tortured, raped, and killed, these believers suffer as Jesus did. Sometimes they respond in very human ways, but when they listen to and follow the Holy Spirit, a great power comes into them and they possess what they could not have imagined previously – peace, love for their enemies, and forgiveness for those who delivered only pure evil to their lives…This is the gift of the persecuted Church. In the furnace of affliction, the Spirit of God is set ablaze in their hearts. In turn, their hearts become a beacon to all they come in contact with.”

RESPONSE: Today I will thank God for the gift of His Holy Spirit. I will listen to Him and follow Him.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for the example of Pauline. Strengthen her as she raises her children.

 

 

Quote of the Day

“There are many things we know and many things we don’t know about the future. This much is certain: Jesus is coming again.”
~Ray Pritchard (from “What Will be the Sign of His Coming?“)

Today’s Answer

Why Does Matthew Use “the Kingdom of Heaven“?
R.C. Sproul

If we were to look for one single theme that seems to be the most central and most important theme of the entire gospel of Matthew, it would be the theme of the coming of the kingdom. We see in the first instance that the termgospel refers to the gospel of the kingdom — the good news of the announcement of the breakthrough of the kingdom of God. In Matthew’s case, he uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” rather than the terminology “kingdom of God.” He does this not because he has a different view of the meaning or content of the kingdom of God; rather, out of sensitivity to his Jewish readers, he makes common use of what is called periphrasis, a certain type of circumlocution to avoid mentioning the sacred name of God. So for Matthew, the doctrine of the kingdom of heaven is the same kingdom that the other writers speak of as the kingdom of God.

Matthew talks about the breakthrough of the kingdom and the arrival of Jesus in His incarnation. He announces the coming of the kingdom at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, and at the end of the book Matthew speaks about the final consummation of the coming of that kingdom in the Olivet Discourse. So from the first page of Matthew to the last page, we see the unifying theme of the coming of the kingdom of God in the appearance of the king Himself, who is the Messiah of Israel and the fulfillment of the kingdom given to Judah.

The gospel of Matthew is rich in detailed information about the teaching of Jesus and particularly in His parables, which are not always included in the other gospels. Again, the central focus of the parables of Jesus is the kingdom, where He introduces parables by saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto this…” or “the kingdom of heaven is like unto that….” If we are to understand the significance of the appearance of Jesus in the fullness of time to inaugurate the kingdom and the whole meaning of redemptive history, we see that focus come into clear view in the Gospel According to Saint Matthew.

Excerpted from “The Witness of Matthew” by Ligonier Ministries (used by permission).

 

 

Giving Thanks

 Charles E. Moore

 As a child, I could never put the holiday and the purpose of thanksgiving together. Aunt Dorie would come drunk and weep at the table. No one ever knew why, and no one asked. Grandpa refused to speak to Grandma. My older brother showed his face only at the meal. Otherwise, he was conspicuously absent. In trying to make everything perfect, Mom would always have a migraine, and Dad would be steaming because Mom didn’t feel well. All the while, the Detroit Lions stormed our living room, making it impossible for anyone to do anything except sneak as many hors d’oeuvres as possible.

Oddly enough, Thanksgiving was the one time Dad said his “own” grace before dinner. Throughout the rest of the year it was the standard, “Our father, we thank thee…” At Thanksgiving, he quietly, almost tearfully, thanked God for the many blessings that had been bestowed upon us. I always waited anxiously for something more, something of love to break in after the prayer. Some hidden secret in Dad’s heart was trying to reveal itself to us. But with the “Amen,” the silence was broken and the business of carving and passing dishes swung into full swing. The moment of grace had slipped away.

Our Thanksgiving feast never lasted long. And despite the lavishness of everything, I always felt a gnawing emptiness. How could everything be so good and right on the outside when I felt so isolated and estranged on the inside? Why were we so afraid of showing love to one another?

I wonder whether all the feasting at Thanksgiving is more an escape, a kind of therapy or narcotic, than a meal of celebration. I wonder because I see so little thanksgiving going on. When was the last time you or I sat down with someone and really thanked them—for who they are, for all the deeds of kindness they have shown to you and to others, for being there? When did you last look into the eyes of your son or daughter, mother or father, wife or husband and express gratitude for his or her life? What about your employer or employee, or even your neighbor?

Expressing a heartfelt thank you isn’t as easy as it seems. As a parent, I know that getting a child to say a simple thank you—and meaning it—doesn’t always come naturally. But when children are truly thankful, they not only say it, they show it.

A few years ago I had a chance to spend time with my dad. Though I had written him letters and spoken with him on the phone from time to time, I hadn’t been with him for ten years. Dad can barely walk now, and he struggles to remember things. And though I had expressed my love to him in the past, before we said goodbye I just had to say it one more time: “Thank you, Dad, for being my dad.”

When we give God the Father thanks I wonder if we really know what we are doing. Is it enough to just say thank you or say a prayer before a meal? And when we give thanks, are we thanking Him or are we just glad to be alive and well and to have an excuse to have a good time? The Apostle Paul writes: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you.” Giving thanks, in the most profound sense, involves far more than counting one’s blessings. This is little more than selfishness with a smile. Giving thanks is about acknowledging with joy God’s will—despite circumstances.

But more than this, offering thanks is a matter of showing it, both to God and to those with whom we are connected. “No one has seen God; but if we love each other, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us,” writes the Apostle John. If we fail to show one another our thanks, what good is a meal of thanksgiving? A truly thankful heart knows that things pale in comparison to people. We are created for relationship, not riches. Sharing a table full of food is wonderful, but it is whom we share it with that counts.

This year’s Thanksgiving could be different, but only if our focus is on our fellowship, not the feast; on giving thanks, not on getting full. We must get beyond the tradition of the meal and meet each other heart-to-heart.

Though many of us won’t be able to spend Thanksgiving dinner with our families, or with our best friends, all of us can still give thanks. We can each give ourselves. The question is: Will we?

 

 

christiancrier

Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayer?

Why God even said “No” to Moses, Hannah, and Paul many others in their prayer requests.

Praying in Vain

Have you ever felt like your prayers are just bouncing off the ceiling? Does it feel like they just leave your mind void and return empty? In truth, God said no to several biblical heroes and heroines in the Bible. These include Moses, Hannah, Paul and even Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, so if you can overcome these three major barriers to prayer, then your prayers will not only be heard by God, but they will be answered, however we must accept God’s answer if it is no, not yet, or there’s something better for you, so here are three reasons our prayers might fail.

Sin

Prayers, including our prayers of thanksgiving, go directly to heaven and are heard by the Father because of our access into the Holy of Holies made possible by Jesus Christ. Our prayers are described to God as a sweet savor, like incense, but more important than giving thanks is living in obedience because obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22), so sin may cause us from being heard by God, so even a ton of good works is useless when there is willful, unrepentant sin in our life. Sin can also make us feel unworthy to prayer, so ongoing, unconfessed sin inhibits prayers. If my children ask me for something and I know they are being disobedient during the time they’re asking, then I first address the issue of their disobedience before answering their request. Unless this is taken care of, their requests aren’t going to be fulfilled, and in a similar fashion, why would God reward us with answered prayer when we are sinning knowingly, and without repentance? The fact is, He won’t. Psalm 66:18 states that “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” First, go to God and take care of that sin and confess it (1 John 1:9), and then, and only then, begin your prayer requests.

Selfishness

If you pray and the first and foremost words that come out of your mouth are “me,” and “I,” then this is obviously a prayer that is only concerned about self and not about others. If I only pray for my needs, my desires, my wants and my wishes, then I am the central focus of that pray, and God is under no obligation to answer it. In the Lord’s Prayer, which is really Jesus’ model prayer, He starts off with adoration and praise of God, by giving Him thanks, but Jesus also prays for God’s will to be done, so I must ask myself, “Are my prayers more about glorifying Jesus or about getting glory for myself…or getting things only for me?” What is my real intent? Am I more interest in what I want than in what God’s wants? For example, God wants us to share the Gospel, but if I am witnessing by slamming unbelievers, my motives are not sincere and in their best interests.

Un-Forgiveness

I have caught myself praying as a hypocrite. What I mean is, I was praying but had not yet forgiven another person who I had an issue with. There I was, asking for God’s forgiveness, yet still holding on a grudge against someone else, but how can I ask God to forgive me when I am not forgiving others? It’s like me asking for your forgiveness, but I refuse to forgive you. A spirit of un-forgiveness can exist in many forms: jealousy, anger, revenge, grudges, gossiping, and avoidance. Jesus tells us what to do in a situation like this. He says, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt 5:23-24). Imagine what this looks like to God: we want to be forgiven, yet refuse to forgive others. No wonder our prayers are blocked in such cases.

Moses

Moses wanted to go into the Promised Land with Israel, but Moses was disobedient when God asked him to speak to the rock to provide water for Israel. Instead of speaking to the rock, Moses struck the rock twice with his staff (Num 20:11). The water still came out, but he directly disobeyed God, so Moses’ request to cross the River Jordan into the Promised Land was denied. Disobedience prevents prayers from being answers or it produces a no answer.

Hannah

Hannah desired more than anything to have a child. Her womb was barren. In fact the Lord was said to have closed Hannah’s womb (1 Sam 1:6). This occurred during the time of the judges when Israel had no king, and a time that the Bible describes as “every man did what was right in their own eyes, (Judges 21:25), so God’s answer to Hannah’s prayer for a child was delayed because God wanted so much more for Hannah and her soon-to-be-born son. She prayed so desperately and passionately that she even told God that He could use her child in His service, and maybe this was what God had been waiting for. Hannah would later have a child that would change the history of Israel and the world with the birth of Samuel. Samuel would later become a mighty prophet of God and he would anoint Israel’s first king, Saul, and later David, the greatest earthly King that Israel ever had. It would be through David’s seed that the Messiah would come, which is Jesus Christ. God delayed answering Hannah’s prayer, perhaps because God wanted to do more than Hannah was asking for. If God delays answering our prayer, perhaps it’s because He wants much more for us than we are even asking for.

Paul

Paul desperately wanted the thorn in his side to be removed, praying three times to God, however, God’s answer to Paul’s prayer was no. God knew that Paul might become prideful because of all the revelations he had seen, so God allowed that thorn to remain. Apparently Paul knew this was the reason, as he wrote, “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited” (2 Cor 12:7). God intended that this thorn in the flesh would keep Paul humble and in need of God’s grace; and it did! Paul’s prayer for healing was answered with a decisive “No,” even though Paul prayed three times over it. God knew His greater plan must override that of Paul’s.

Jesus

I think part of the reason Jesus prayed for this cup to pass is because it represented every heinous, wicked sin that humanity has ever sinned, and since Jesus is completely holy and without sin, it is contrary to His nature to take upon Himself the sins of the world, so I don’t believe it was the suffering of Calvary that Jesus dreaded…but bearing the sins of humanity, so he prayed three times saying, “Oh My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39). Jesus repeated this prayer request three times, the other two in verse 42 and 44, however, Jesus’ request was secondary to His desire to follow the Father’s will. That’s how we should pray too.

Conclusion

When we have sin, this blocks our access to the Father’s throne. If we have not sinned but ask only for our own selves, and not for the will of God, then the answer may be no as well. When we still have un-forgiveness in our heart, this hinders our prayers, however, sometimes our prayers are delayed for a very good reason. What we ask for in prayer may not be what God wants for us. He knows better than we do and won’t answer a prayer with something He knows will hurt us. Besides, He may want something much, much greater than what we are asking for. For example, if we ask for a new job and don’t get it, He might have a job that is closer to our hearts desires. God knows best, so delayed pray might be “No,” “not yet,” or “wait for the best timing my child,” but it could also be, “I have something better for you.” God may have bigger plans for you than what you’re praying for. In fact, to glorify Jesus’ name, He may even give you something far greater…something that greatly surpasses even your own imagination.

About the Author

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.

 

 

The Flaming Herald, from Bert Farias

Thanksgiving is not a spiritual exercise.
Thanksgiving is not a spiritual exercise. (Lukka_Richie)

Thanksgiving is not a spiritual exercise. It’s not just a commandment to be obeyed or a duty and obligation. It is not a worldly holiday tradition or religious activity, but it is the outflow of a heart that is filled with God’s goodness and has learned to see God in every circumstance of life.

Although contrary to human nature, thanksgiving is to be the song of believers. And the true test of whether it is more of a duty or obligation than a lifestyle is evidenced in the hard times.

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:18).

We are not to give thanks for bad things happening to us, but we are to be thankful regardless of the circumstances. A heart full of gratitude frees us from strife and stress and allows the Lord to intervene and engage in our affairs. Supernatural forces are activated and unleashed on our behalf when we remain grateful in all circumstances, especially in hardship and in adversity.

Most people’s lifestyles rule them to such an extent that they have no focus toward God. They live so much in the flesh and in the natural realm that they become a very soulish and mechanical person who may even quote the Word, but they never learn to abide in the Lord. A grateful heart helps you to abide in the Lord and to sanctify Him in your heart (1 Pet. 3:15).

The Key to a Life of Thanksgiving

What does that mean? It means that you’ve got to cultivate an ability to see God in everything. Most Christians only see God in the good things, but not the bad. This greatly affects the condition of their hearts and their thanksgiving. It’s a compartment mentality.

In other words, many believers recognize that God wants them to have a full, abundant and prosperous life (John 10:10). When good things are not happening in their lives, God is there, but in difficult moments, they can’t see Him. It has to be the devil. The problem with that mentality is that it stops you from being able to see God in every circumstance. Most believers’ ability to see God has to do with their environment and their circumstances, so their faith is very limited. We as believers have to grow past that.

Like every believer does, I’ve always rejoiced in the Lord when everything was calm and good. And I might rejoice in the Lord when things were not so good, but I used to do it from a heady knowledge because I knew I should. It was more mechanical than a natural outflow from the heart, because it did not include the ability to see God at that moment. I saw the kingdom of darkness, and I saw the kingdom of light. It was almost as if God appears one day and then all hell breaks loose, and in my mind, He’s not there anymore. It’s the devil and me having a fist fight. The devil got in, and I had to get him out. And in my thinking I had to break through that hell to find God again.

Then I started thinking differently in that God is always present, and He doesn’t change. Yes, life and circumstances change, but God is still omnipresent. God is still immutable. When your faith becomes developed to such an extent that you’re able to recognize that God is here—He’s always here—you’ll start looking for Him even in difficult moments.

When I say “looking for Him in difficult moments,” I’m not talking about looking for Him to get you out of difficult moments. Of course, you don’t expect difficult moments, but the Lord makes it very clear that we’re going to have trials, and we’re going to have hardships.

I don’t expect difficult moments, but I’m not going to set myself up for false expectations to believe that the day is going to be absent of potential trials. I already have an understanding that I’m going to experience those things perhaps today, tomorrow, or a week or a year from now. Those things are going to come my way, but the great news is that God is with me. Again, it’s developing a moment by moment consciousness and awareness of God, and learning to abide in Him even in rough times.

Most believers are always looking for God to resolve their problems. And of course we want God to resolve our problems, but we’ve got to learn to love God even in the midst of them. I want to learn to enjoy God in the midst of my problems and difficult circumstances.

When I enjoy God in my circumstances, the circumstances become different. They have a whole different flavor. They no longer represent defeat. They no longer represent fear. This fresh perspective can help many believers learn to abide in the Lord and to stay full of thanksgiving.

Most Christians rightly believe that God is good and the devil is bad, so they fight the bad and believe for the good. But we rarely ever have any rest in the bad, do we? And the reason we don’t have rest in the bad is because we don’t have the kind of faith we need in the bad.

The faith we need to enjoy life is to see Him. The real faith is when we see God in everything. It’s not so much what He does for us, which is wonderful and worthy of praise. Thank God, He is forever taking care of us, but it goes beyond that. When I can see Him, and when my faith is developed to see Him in all circumstances, it brings me to a great place of rest and thanksgiving.

“Let the peace of God, to which also you are called in one body, rule in your hearts. And be thankful” (Col. 3:15).

Bert M. Farias, revivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries, has authored several books with an emphasis on helping to restore the true spirit of Christianity in the Church today, including the newly released, Passing on The Move of God to The Next Generation and the highly sacred book, The Journal Of A Journey To His Holiness. An anointing of fire marks his ministry with frequent demonstrations of the Spirit and power of God. He ministers interdenominationally and cross-culturally in nations, churches, conferences, on the streets and in homes. He and his wife Carolyn also host The Holy Ghost Forum – a school of the Spirit. Follow him at Bert Farias and Holy Fire Ministries on Facebook and @Bertfarias1 on Twitter.

 

 

Thanksgiving 2017: Best Bible Verses, Quotes to Help You Practice Gratitude

This Thanksgiving, practice gratitude by reflecting on these Bible verses and Christian quotes.

Remember – thankfulness, practiced everyday, opens the door to the presence of God and grants us the power to shift our hearts towards God in every circumstance.

This Thursday, November 23, millions across America will celebrate Thanksgiving Day with food, family, and fellowship. For Christians, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the many blessings God has given us throughout the year.

While Thanksgiving is a one-day event, the Bible talks about the importance of giving thanks in every season – “… stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at evening … 1 Chron 23:30.”

Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, take a moment to reflect on these Bible verses and quotes that remind us to thank God for His many blessings, care, and beneficence.

Bible Verses

Here are ten verses – in no particular order – that can help you express your gratitude to God for His protection, grace and faithfulness.

1. Psalm 46:1-2: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the Earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea …”

2. 1st Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

3. Colossians 3:15: “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

4. Hebrews 12:28-29: “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”.

5. Colossians 2:6-7: “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”

6. Psalm 28:7: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.”

7. Phillipians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

8. Psalm 31:19: “How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.”

9. 2nd Corinthians 4:15: “All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.”

10. Psalm 100:4: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving  and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”

Thanksgiving Quotes

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”

–C.S. Lewis

“The best helps to growth in grace are the ill usage, the affronts, and the losses which befall us. We should receive them with all thankfulness, as preferable to all others, were it only on this account, that our will has no part therein.”

–John Wesley

“When the Christian praises and gives thanks to God, this not only pleases God, but it enriches the Christian’s life with joy. It is a reciprocating transaction between God and man.”

–Rick Warren

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you?'”

–William A. Ward

“A thankful heart is one of the primary identifying characteristics of a believer. It stands in stark contrast to pride, selfishness, and worry. And it helps fortify the believer’s trust in the Lord and reliance of His provision, even in the toughest times. No matter how choppy the seas become, a believer’s heart is buoyed by constant praise and gratefulness to the Lord.”

–John MacArthur

“True thanksgiving means that we need to thank God for what He has done for us, and not to tell Him what we have done for Him.”

–George R. Hendrick

“Our knowledge of God is perfected by gratitude: we are thankful and rejoice in the experience of the truth that He is love.”

–Thomas Merton

TODAY‘S

Christian Quote

The best gifts to give: To your friend, loyalty; To your enemy, forgiveness; To your boss, service; To a child, a good example; To your parents, gratitude and devotion; To your mate, love and faithfulness; To all men and women, charity.

– Oren Arnold
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A Prayer for Gratitude and Thanksgiving
By Debbie McDaniel

“O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”  Ps. 95:1-3

We have so much to be grateful for in this life. Each and every day. But reality is that sometimes constant life demands, struggles, and worries give more room to defeat than to a heart of thanks. Or we forget, in the midst of busyness and pressures, just to pause and give thanks, for all that God has done, and continues to do in our lives.

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Sometimes it really is a sacrifice to offer praise and thanks. We may not feel like it. We’re struggling. We’re weary. Or maybe, we feel like He let us down. We think God seems distant, like he’s far away, or doesn’t really care about what’s troubling us. Painful life blows and losses might have recently sent us spiraling.

But here’s what can make a lasting difference. We have a choice, every day, to give him thanks. And with a heart of thanksgiving, we realize that no matter what we face, God doesn’t just work to change our situations and help us through our problems. He does more. He changes our hearts. His power, through hearts of gratitude and focused minds on Him, releases the grip our struggles have over us. We’re strengthened by His peace, refueled by His joy.

Dear God, 

Thank you for your amazing power and work in our lives, thank you for your goodness and for your blessings over us. Thank you that you are Able to bring hope through even the toughest of times, strengthening us for your purposes. Thank you for your great love and care. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Thank you that you are always with us and will never leave us. Thank you for your incredible sacrifice so that we might have freedom and life. Forgive us for when we don’t thank you enough, for who you are, for all that you do, for all that you’ve given. Help us to set our eyes and our hearts on you afresh. Renew our spirits, fill us with your peace and joy. We love you and we need you, this day and every day. We give you praise and thanks, for You alone are worthy! 

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

 

 

A Prerequisite for Giving Thanks

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!(2 Corinthians 4:17)

To give thanks, we must realize as Christians that God is in control of all circumstances that surround our lives, both good and bad.

In 2 Corinthians 4:17–18 we are told, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

The apostle Paul also wrote, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38). God loves you, and He is always looking for your eternal benefit. God is wiser than we are. And if He tells us to not do something, He does so for good reason.

Now, the Devil doesn’t want you to believe that. He would whisper in your ear, “God hates you. God wants to ruin your life. All those rules in the Bible are just there to make life miserable. You Christians serve an oppressive God who doesn’t want you to have any fun.”

What a bunch of nonsense. I’ve lived apart from Christ. I’ve had the so-called fun this world has to offer, and it wasn’t fun at all. I’ve also found that a life with Christ is a life of fulfillment and purpose.

We must realize that God loves us and is always looking out for our eternal benefit, even if what we are presently going through is difficult.

Social Media summary: God is always looking out for our eternal benefit, even in difficulties.

 

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Evangelizing in a World Drowning in Sexual Problems

Randy Newman

When people ask me what major lessons I learned while conducting interviews of new converts, my first thoughts go to the reality of pain. Many of these students talked about struggles, hurts, and wounds. And most of those difficulties pointed to sex. This generation has a lot of sex, watches a lot of porn, experiences a horrific amount of abuse, and can’t quite figure out how to think about this ever-present-but-seldom-joyous issue of sex.

Lesson 5 of my 21 evangelism lessons:

Evangelism today occurs in a world that is drowning in sexual problems, misunderstandings, and a hardening against the gospel as a result.

During the sexual revolution of the 1960s, when people rebelled against the “traditional” view of sex (i.e., it was to occur only within lifelong, heterosexual marriage), people knew they were rebelling! They thought the old ways were constrictive, repressive, and boring. They saw their experiences as liberating, avant-garde, and revolutionary. But, somehow, they still considered their practices as non-normative.

Today’s college students are so far removed from that time, they think their hooking up culture is the norm. They can’t imagine why or how anyone would or could wait until marriage for sex. There’s no reason they shouldn’t take birth control pills, carry condoms, and know where to get an abortion if an “accident” should occur. The ones having sex on the first, second, or third dates (certainly no later than that!) think they are the norm and would feel guilty if they weren’t in bed that early in a relationship.

And yet the painful expressions on their faces, the shameful tones in their voices, and their bewilderment at how such a “natural” act has delivered such pain haunts me even a year or more after concluding my face to face interviews.

They had sex because they felt they had to, even if they didn’t always feel like they wanted to. A few men expressed profound disappointment that sex left them feeling “empty,” “lonely,” and “aching.” Women freely offered confessions of doing things they wish they hadn’t. Some said they now realize they were raped, even though they didn’t think so at the time. And several said they “wondered what was wrong with me” if they didn’t want to join in the “hook-up-with-as-many-people-as-possible” culture.

Both men and women told me they felt relieved when they became a Christian, met a group of peers who thought sex should be postponed until marriage, and didn’t feel pressure to repeat things they now regret. In a few interviews, I said they didn’t need to tell me things they didn’t want to and, in most cases, they said they felt better after confessing out loud what had haunted them for a while. Quite a few of my interviews required tissues.

How does this impact our evangelism efforts? Here are a few reflections, but I think the church needs to do a lot of brainstorming about ways to alter our pronouncement of the good news to an audience involved in, pressured by, and damaged by sex outside of God’s parameters.

For a host of reasons, the church has sometimes thought shallowly about sex, going no further than “thou shalt not.” That hasn’t served us or the people we want to reach very well. We now need to reflect deeply about the beauty of God’s gifts and the power of cleansing offered through the gospel to those who need it so desperately.

Randy Newman has been with the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ since 1980 and currently serves with Faculty Commons, their ministry to university professors. Randy is a Jewish Believer in Jesus and is the former editor of The Messiah-On-Campus Bulletin. He is the author of numerous articles and books including Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did and Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well.

 

Devotionals Daily: A Year with Jesus

Sanctuary
By Dr. David Jeremiah

Paying the Piper

Be sure your sin will find you out. –Numbers 32:23

The great news of the gospel is that we have a forgiving God. When we come to Him, open our hearts, and confess our sins, God does hear us and forgive us. He’s just waiting for us to come and ask Him. God puts confessed sins behind His back as far as the east is from the west. He buries them in the deepest sea.

God forgets what He forgives. Yet there’s a postscript: the Lord won’t erase history. Some consequences may be set in motion while we are out of fellowship with God, and we must reap what we sow. Even when we have been restored to fellowship through the forgiveness process, sometimes we have to “pay the piper.”

It is impossible to get away with sin. You can’t do it. Numbers 32:23 says it this way: “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Just as surely as you can’t get away with sin, you can’t get away from God’s love. No matter how evil your conduct, God loves you. The reason you have that hurt in your heart right now is because you’re God’s, and He doesn’t want you out of fellowship with Him.

© 2002, 2011 David Jeremiah

 

Finding a Confidant

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – >John 1:9

God is always our first and primary audience for confession. But He isn’t our only audience. Scripture tells us also to confess our sins to fellow believers. This is an extremely important and beneficial aspect of spiritual growth and health, if conducted wisely.

First, let me say that this type of confession isn’t an all-encompassing command. That is, it isn’t “spilling your guts” to anyone and everyone nosey enough to listen. Never confess to anyone who isn’t spiritually mature.

Second, confession to fellow believers is an act of trust, and this makes you highly vulnerable. The person to whom you confess must be able to keep your confession confidential. If you can’t trust your confidant, he shouldn’t be your confidant. To be of value, confession must be honest and complete – you must feel safe in your selection of confidant.

So, stay true to God’s instruction to confess our sins to one another, but be wise and be cautious.

The worst of my actions and feelings do not seem to me so offensive as the cowardice of not daring to admit them.  -Montaigne (1533-1592)3

 

The Daily Word of Hope Devotional

Bible Fun Fact: When Elizabeth became pregnant with the baby John The Baptist, she went into seclusion for 5 months (Lk 1:24).

Draw Me Close To You

Therefore Jesus answered them, ‘Don’t murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day. John 6:43 WEB

I could see from the look on their face that if they could have just one wish granted in the entire world, that it would be for me to stop telling them about Jesus. At other times, I have seen people come to me of their own accord, and shakily say: ‘I want what you have.’ I have witnessed to people and tried my best to convince them that Jesus is real, and just got a dismal gaze of pure boredom, while others could not wait for me to pray with them.

Why the inconsistency? It is because the Lord draws some and not others at that same moment. He may draw them later, and I believe that we can help by praying for them to be drawn to Him. The Lord has to open their hearts and minds for them to understand the truth, or it will remain veiled from them. Here are two examples:

‘He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven’ (Matthew 16:15’17).

Peter recognized that Jesus was the Son of God, then Jesus told him that this was revealed to him by the Father. Most of the people could not see that.

‘A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one who worshiped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened to listen to the things which were spoken by Paul’ (Acts 16:14).

Lydia understood what Paul was preaching because the Lord opened her heart to understand it, while many others around them, though they heard the same words, did not.

If you have people you want to come to the Lord, pray for them to be drawn to Him, for their hearts to be opened. You will not have to give long-winded speeches, or persuade them to believe when the time comes.

When the Father draws them, they will soon be witnessing to you about the goodness of God and they will be inviting you to go to church with them. I also believe that we can pray for the Lord to draw our hearts to Him as well, for no one comes to Jesus except the Father draws them.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I pray that You draw my family and I to You. Open our hearts to understand the gospel, help us to see beyond the natural, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit. May we all come to know You and be saved, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

 

Today’s Scripture

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.“Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

Thoughts for Today

Real Christianity is about loving God, which is a different agenda than the rest of the world lives by. One aspect of a loving relationship with God is learning to depend on him.

The world teaches us it’s good to be independent. Don’t depend on anyone else. Have an “I can do it myself” attitude. But God wants us to rely on him, not ourselves. Why? Because he sees the whole picture. He knows what is best for us. And he is our loving Father. His power, his wisdom, and his strength are so much greater than ours – and he wants to help us.

Consider this … 

It’s not weakness to depend on God. It’s wisdom. He loves us unconditionally. One way we can return that love is to show him we trust him by depending on him for guidance, for strength, for comfort. And what a privilege to be able to do that!

Are you fearful about the future? Are you facing a challenge that seems overwhelming? Are you struggling with financial issues, family conflict, illness . . . or any other problems life brings our way? God didn’t promise us a problem-free life. In fact, Jesus said we would have trouble (John 16:33). But he also said to take heart because he overcame the world – and with his help, we can too. Remember, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13 NLT).

Prayer

Father, I thank you I don’t have to face life alone. Thank you for loving me and promising to be with me. Help me to be more open to receiving your help. Help me to trust you. To depend on you and not myself. In Jesus’ name . . .

 

A Question of Ownership
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
November 22, 2017

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” – Matthew 10:39

Otto Koning was a missionary in New Guinea. He worked among a native tribe that had known only their village ways. One of those village ways was stealing from others. When Otto and his wife arrived and moved into a hut, the natives often came by to visit. The Konings would notice that after the natives left the missionaries’ home, various household items had disappeared. They saw these items again when they went to preach in the natives’ village.

The only fruit Otto could grow on the island was pineapples. Otto loved pineapples, and he took pride in the pineapples he was able to grow. However, whenever the pineapples began to ripen, the natives would steal them. Otto could never keep a ripe pineapple for himself. This was a frustration, and he became angry with the natives. All during the seven-year period in which this took place, Otto preached the gospel to these natives, but never had a conversion.

The more the natives stole, the angrier Otto became. Finally, one day Otto had a German Shepherd dog flown in from another missionary to protect his pineapple garden after other frustrated efforts failed. This only further alienated the natives from him.

Otto took a furlough to the United States and attended a conference on personal rights. At this conference, he discovered that he was frustrated over this situation because he had taken personal ownership of his pineapple garden. After much soul searching, he gave his garden to God. Soon the natives started having problems among their tribe. They discovered that Otto was the reason for their problems because he gave his garden to his God. The natives saw a correlation between what Otto had done and their own lives being affected by calamities in their village. When Otto gave his garden to God, he no longer got angry and was free from worry. The natives started bringing him fruit from the garden because they didn’t want any more calamities to come into their village.

The light came on one day when a native said to Otto, “You must have become a Christian, Otto. You don’t get angry anymore. We always wondered if we would ever meet a Christian.” They had never associated Otto with the kind of person he was preaching about because his message did not line up with his life. Otto was broken in spirit when he realized he had been such a failure.

At the end of seven years, he witnessed his first conversion, and many began coming to Christ once he fully gave his garden to God. The fruit grew so abundant that Otto began exporting it and growing other types of fruit, such as bananas. His village became the most evangelized in the whole region, yet for seven years he had not one convert.

Otto realized something each of us must realize: To gain your life you must lose it, along with your possessions. It was only when he gave all his possessions to God that he became free from them. God measured back to him manifold once He had complete ownership.

Do you have some possessions that you need to give up to God today? Let God have all that you have. Become a steward, not an owner. You will be surprised at how well God can take care of His possessions.

 

Passion for Praise: ‘Rejoice, O Heavens!’

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Illustration of Revelation 12:10-12 NLT — Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, "It has come at last — salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth — the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!

 

 

 

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Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day……a day to give thanks for what we have…..for our loved ones, our relationships with God…….

I’d like to recall, with fondness, childhood Thanksgivings…….

Our Mom and Grandma would make both a turkey and a ham……candied yams (I didn’t eat these), mashed potatoes and mashed rutabagas (yummy!), Greek-style broccoli: cooked and seasoned with salt and pepper, olive oil and lemon juice, and then served chilled (mmm)…cauliflower, served hot and buttered…….turkey gravy in Mom’s good gravy bowl…….stuffing, baked in a pan outside the turkey…….baked apples that Grandma made……hot rolls all buttery…….cranberry sauce and apple sauce…….lastly, a big, tossed salad with our Dad’s homemade Italian dressing….Mom would get out her best China dishes and her linen napkins, her best silverware and utensils, and we’d each set the big dining room table, with its three leaves inserted to hold all that delicious food……then we would say a special Grace and dive into all that food!  After dinner, Mom and Grandma would clean up, with the help of us older girls, and we would wait for our Parish Pastor’s visit…….if we were lucky enough to have been chosen for his visit…..He would come, bless our entire home, and then share some dessert and coffee with the grown ups.  Then, finally, the day was ending………leftovers stored away, baths taken, our hair set with rag curlers, and off to bed we would go!!

Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude!  This year, I am grateful, even though my heart hurts because my daughter isn’t part of my life……all of them up in Scranton will enjoy their Thanksgiving without thinking of me, I guess……..I would so like to send them my best wishes but can’t……..

Thank You anyhow, Lord, for all of them…………

 

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God bless everyone and Happy Blessed Thanksgiving!!!!!

 

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Develop Gratitude…

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TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER

a twig of yellow leavesAccept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people. Ephesians 6:17–18, TEV

Lord God, whose might is over all the world, over heaven and over earth, we want to find strength in you, for you have given us thousands of proofs that you are with us, helping in all that happens. And when we meet with difficulties, we want all the more to find strength in you, we want all the more to hope in you and await your victory. Let your light shine into everything, in life and in death. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Dig

Reflections for Advent and Christmas

tan and navy blue mothFrom the beginning, writers of the Christmas story have been bothered by the inn, with the stable and manger close at hand. That is where we find ourselves: not by the shepherds, whose poverty and simplicity we lack; and not by the wise men, whose watchfulness and decisiveness we lack. We are, at best, guests at the inn. We sleep, we follow our own plans and dreams. Can we be awakened by the angels’ news? That is the question.

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Ephesians 3:20-21

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

What grand “Kingdom dreams” do you have for God’s glory? What incredible ideas can you imagine requesting that God would bring to fruition? What are your expectations of heaven with God? Now that you have stretched mind, challenged your imagination, and loaded up your expectations, are you ready for some down to earth truth straight from the Marvel of heaven? God is able to do far more than any of that. His power is at work in us to do his glorious will and accomplish his eternal purposes. So let’s not set our sights too low and expect too little. Live for his glory and expect to see it at work in your life.

My Prayer…

O LORD, God of heavens and earth, my Abba Father and loving Shepherd, please stir my thoughts by your Spirit to dream bigger dreams and have higher hopes than my earthbound and selfish brain can imagine. Give me a sense of wonder and expectation as I live for your glory. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

 

 

BIBLE STUDY BUDDY

Image result for Psalm 33:21

Read Psalm 33:1-22…

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. 2. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. 3. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. 4. For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. 5. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. 6. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. 7. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. 8. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. 9. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. 10. The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. 12. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. 13. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; 14. from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth- 15. he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. 16. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. 18. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19. to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. 20. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. 21. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotional
“Our heart shall rejoice in Him.”

Blessed is the fact that Christians can rejoice even in the deepest distress; although trouble may surround them, they still sing; and, like many birds, they sing best in their cages. The waves may roll over them, but their souls soon rise to the surface and see the light of God’s countenance; they have a buoyancy about them which keeps their head always above the water, and helps them to sing amid the tempest, “God is with me still.” To whom shall the glory be given? Oh! to Jesus—it is all by Jesus. Trouble does not necessarily bring consolation with it to the believer, but the presence of the Son of God in the fiery furnace with him fills his heart with joy. He is sick and suffering, but Jesus visits him and makes his bed for him. He is dying, and the cold chilly waters of Jordan are gathering about him up to the neck, but Jesus puts His arms around him, and cries, “Fear not, beloved; to die is to be blessed; the waters of death have their fountain-head in heaven; they are not bitter, they are sweet as nectar, for they flow from the throne of God.” As the departing saint wades through the stream, and the billows gather around him, and heart and flesh fail him, the same voice sounds in his ears, “Fear not; I am with thee; be not dismayed; I am thy God.” As he nears the borders of the infinite unknown, and is almost affrighted to enter the realm of shades, Jesus says, “Fear not, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Thus strengthened and consoled, the believer is not afraid to die; nay, he is even willing to depart, for since he has seen Jesus as the morning star, he longs to gaze upon Him as the sun in his strength. Truly, the presence of Jesus is all the heaven we desire. He is at once
“The glory of our brightest days;
The comfort of our nights.”

Smiling In Church…

My wife and I visited a church in another city not long ago. As we were returning home, she asked, ”Did you notice anything unusual about the people in that church?” I couldn’t say that I had. So she explained, ”No one was smiling.” As I thought about it, I agreed. A tone of rather grim seriousness pervaded the music and message. Even the foyer afterward was unusually quiet.

This experience reminded me of a newspaper column written by Erma Bombeck a few years ago. She told of sitting in church a few rows behind a little boy and his mother. He was looking over the back of the pew and smiling at everyone behind him. And they were smiling back. Suddenly his mother realized what he was doing. She turned his head around and whispered in a voice everyone could hear, ”Stop that grinning. You’re in church!”

If any people ever had a right to be joyful, it’s believers in Christ (1 Pet. 1:3-8). He died for us, forgave our sin, sent us the Holy Spirit, and walks with us daily. Whenever we get together, we ought to be rejoicing in those truths.

If we’re experiencing day by day the grace of Jesus, we have every reason to be smiling- especially in church. ”Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous!” (Ps. 33:1).

-David C. Egner

 

 

November 21
Justification By Faith Explained and Illustrated
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justifiedby works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”
Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed-God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
Romans 3:21-4:25
WORSHIP
Those who trust in the LORD
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the LORD surrounds His people
>From this time forth and forever.
For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
On the land allotted to the righteous,
Lest the righteous reach out their hands to iniquity.
Psalm 125:1-3
WISDOM
Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day;
For surely there is a hereafter,
And your hope will not be cut off.
Proverbs 23:17-18

Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare

Then he [angel] continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.  Daniel 10:12-13

There is considerable interest and teaching today about “territorial spirits,” that is, spiritual warfare waged against high-ranking principalities and powers assigned to a locale. The Scripture passage here indicates that a particular evil spirit was assigned to Daniel’s human government or territory. But what we lack biblically is any example of or injunction to engage these spirits directly or by name. Daniel only prayed to his God who sovereignly directs angels to war against the territorial rulers. The Apostle Paul taught that demonic emissaries who attack the church and hinder its mission can be overcome only through reliance on the power of God.

That same power of God is much needed in the world today. For example, witchcraft is being used as a strategic weapon by traditional Indian authorities in western Colombia in an attempt to weaken and even stamp out the faith of indigenous Christians. Sorcerers or witchdoctors, called te walas by the indigenous peoples, have started sending messengers to sit in the back during church services, rather than going directly themselves. When the pastors invite listeners to receive Christ, these messengers say, “No, we have just come to listen.” But while Christians are praying, the te walas’ messengers sprinkle the cursed waters around the church.

If their incantations bring no results, the te walas themselves come to the church, surrounding it with occult rites to cause the believers to lose their desire to pray and read the Bible. In some recent night-time visits by these traditional “healers,” the witchdoctors made pacts with animal blood as well as sprinkled their cursed waters on the church.

A 17-year-old girl in one church was induced to participate in these practices, despite having Christian parents. She actually made a pact of witchcraft, her pastor said, to give over one of her relatives to Satan. Discouraged, her parents cannot understand how this could happen in their home, where she learned to know and love God. Church leaders and the pastor have united with this family to intercede for urgently for this young girl’s deliverance. The pastor admitted that he feared that more such cases are happening that have yet to be discovered. They need our prayers.

RESPONSE: Today I’ll not underestimate the power of God to defeat all that Satan throws against me.

PRAYER: Lord, may Your mighty power overcome the evil united against Your Church in Colombia.

 

 

November 21

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.—MATT. iv. 4.

A man’s life conisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.—LUKE xii. 15.

  Whate’er God does is well,
Whether He gives or takes!
And what we from His hand receive
Suffices us to live.
He takes and gives, while yet He loves us still;
Then love His will.

B. SCHMOLCK.

Is that beast better, that hath two or three mountains to graze on, than a little bee, that feeds on dew or manna, and lives upon what falls every morning from the storehouse of heaven, clouds, and providence?

JEREMY TAYLOR.

For myself I am certain that the good of human life cannot lie in the possession of things which for one man to possess is for the rest to lose, but rather in things which all can possess alike, and where one man’s wealth promotes his neighbor’s.

B. SPINOZA.

Every lot is happy to a person who bears it with tranquillity.

BOETHIUS.

 

Quote of the Day

“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
~Ephesians 3:6

Today’s Answer

Has Your Passion Cooled?
Charles Stanley

What was the greatest moment of your life? For some people, the answer might be their wedding day, the birth of a child, or an important promotion. But for believers, the best experience is salvation, when their eternal destiny was changed.

New Christians often have a fervor to share their faith. In time, however, many find their hearts cooling as they focus less on their relationship with Jesus Christ. Hebrews 2:1 tells us to “pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.”

Salvation is God’s amazing solution to man’s sinful condition: it is His gift of rescue — through the death of Jesus — from the penalty for our transgressions. Before Christ entered our life, we were all sinners existing, as Paul says, “in the lusts of our flesh” (Ephesians 2:3). No matter how good our behavior may have seemed, we were spiritually dead and separated from God. Receiving Christ’s forgiveness breathed life back into our spirits so that we could go before the Father’s throne.

We must not forget what Jesus did for us.

We have the balm to soothe the hurting hearts we come in contact with every day. But if excuses crowd our minds before passion fills our hearts, people will never hear. Thankfully, we can rediscover the passion of our early christian days. Take time today to praise God for His salvation, which delivered you from a path toward disaster. Then commit to carrying out your part in the Great Commission by talking about jesus with someone in your life (Matthew 28:19).

Taken from “our great salvation” by In Touch Ministries (used by permission).

 

Prophetic Insight newsletter

The mindset we need to have for this new year is: “We do bears, we do lions, and we do giants. That’s what we do.” (Pixabay/odovolenkesk)

I sense 2018 will be a year of ‘everything at once’. All hell will break loose and all of heaven will break loose, but heaven is greater than hell. I sense the presence of a great cloud of heavenly witnesses, including family members, standing to cheer us on this coming year. The eyes of heaven are upon us, waving checkered flags in the distance.

The heavens are shouting, “Don’t lose your excitement for what God has called you to do. Your excitement excites Him and activates the angels among you. Excitement is a powerful weapon against the enemy, as it ties his hands.”

A challenging year is ahead. It will seem like everything is happening at the same time. People will be saying, “It’s always something. It’s always something,” in a negative tone. On the other hand, if we stay focused on the Lord, we will be saying, “He’s always doing something. He’s always doing something good, in spite of the situation.”

The mindset we need to have for this new year is: “We do bears, we do lions and we do giants. That’s what we do.” For they will come this year to find out what is in us. These will be distractions to keep us from focusing on the Lord and worshipping Him no matter what. I sense the enemy saying, “I hope you don’t feel like worshipping the Lord this year with what I have in mind. If you do, it will bring Him down into your situation, and if He shows up, I’m out of here, for He doesn’t know how to lose. Defeat is not in Him.”

Extreme Trials and Extreme Victories

It will be a year like Houston being hit by a hurricane and winning the World Series. Extreme testings and extreme victories. Testings will bring them on. Priorities will change as these challenges show up.

I hear the Father saying, “Batten Down the Hatches.” I sense this means the prayer closet will become a very important place in our lives. “Batten down the hatches,” I sense, refers to closing the door on distractions as we not only pray but listen to him speaking to us.

2018: I See Bear Rugs, Lion Furs and Giants’ Heads on Gold Platters

This will be a year when mighty men and mighty women will rise up because they’ve killed a bear, a lion or a giant, for these have come to make us strong. God says, “They will be your nourishment, your bread, your sustenance.”  We will get to eat honey out of the belly of the lion. We will see what a lion’s fur looks like hanging in our house,.and we will see the heads of giants on gold platters. I see bear rugs, lion furs and giants’ heads laid all over the place in your house. These will be trophies awarded to those who didn’t give up the good fight of faith.

Giants Are the Breakfast of Champions

I hear the Father asking, “How hungry are you? When you get hungry enough, you get to eat giants! The giants aren’t showing up to take you out, they’re showing up so you can eat them. Eat your giants today. They are your nourishment. They are your bread and sustenance. Giants are the breakfast of champions.”

“Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of th land because they are btread for us. Their defense i sgone from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them” (Num. 14:9).

I have wondered why it’s still my favorite No. 1 song going into this new year. “I’m no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God.” Why is “Do Not Fear” mentioned so often throughout the Bible? Because God knows there will be times and reasons why we will be afraid, but He is with us. He has already slain every bear, every lion and every giant we will ever face, so we can too. Remember: Jesus lives in us, He is not afraid and He doesn’t worry about anything. 

Bill Younthas been a member of Bridge of Life in Hagerstown, Maryland, for the past 36 years, where he is now an elder and a home missionary. He is currently an adviser at large for Aglow International. Bill faithfully served in prison ministry at Mount Hope for 23 years and now travels full-time, both in the U.S. and internationally, ministering in churches and Aglow circles. Humility and humor characterize his ministry as he brings forth a fresh word that is “in season,” proclaiming the word of the Lord. The shofar, or ram’s horn, is often used in his meetings, breaking the powers of darkness over regions, churches and households. The shofar represents God’s breath blowing into the nostrils of His people, reviving them and awakening the lost. Many of God’s messages, which Bill ministers prophetically, come out of his everyday life with his family and friends. Please visit Bill’s website atbillyount.com.

 

 

christiancrier

What Is Apostasy? Bible Verses Describing Apostasy

The Bible says a lot about apostasy, even in the Old Testament, so what Bible verses give us the best definition of apostasy?

Secret Infiltrators

One sign or evidence of apostasy is that it comes in under cover. It is sometimes cloaked within a biblical doctrine, but subtle differences can have huge implications. The Apostle Paul wrote that apostate teachings were already entering the church, “because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you” (Gal 2:4-5). Of course, this “slavery” is referring to the Jews who were trying to convince believers that they must keep the law. Even though we shouldn’t be lawbreakers, keeping the law is not how we’re saved. We must uphold the law, but this was not the law that the Jews were insisting on. Rather than referring to the Ten Commandments, the Jews were insisting that the Gentile believers must be circumcised, and be put under the Mosaic Law, so Paul asks them, “how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years” (Gal 4:9-10). Apparently the Jews insisted they keep the Jewish feast days and Sabbaths, which were only shadows of the fulfillment in Christ, so they wanted to make the Mosaic Law part of the requirement of being saved, however God is concerned with the circumcision that takes place in the heart (Deut 30:6; Jer 4:4), and not on the outside.

Unsound Doctrine

The Apostle Paul was already dealing with false teachers in his day, and near the time of his departure from this life, he warned Timothy that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4). I believe that time has come, but it was still a problem, even when Jude wrote his epistle. He wrote, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:3-4). First of all, the faith that Jude refers to, has already been delivered, meaning it’s completed, and just as this is in the past tense, so it what the author of Hebrews writes; “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb 1:1-2). God has already spoken, and most clearly through Jesus Christ, and the faith has already been delivered, once and for all, and the reason that Jude had to contend for the faith is because others were still delivering it, but these “deliveries” were not the faith that was once delivered. It was another, but false, gospel.  There’s no need for more truth, is there? Is the Bible sufficient for us and efficient for all? If we believe we are still receiving new revelations from God, or that we need new revelation from God, we’re saying, “Sorry God…your Word is good, but it’s just not enough.” By proclaiming new revelation from God, there is a danger of adding too or taking away from God’s Word. The implications of receiving new revelation from God is that they presume to speak for God, but that’s clearly adding to what God may not have said at all, or been just the opposite of God’s will, and therein lies danger (Deut 4:2; Prov 30:6; Rev 22:18-19).

Evil for Good

Just a few decades ago, what society considered acceptable on TV, is now almost called evil, and what was then called evil (like public nudity on TV), is now considered acceptable, and for some, even called “good,” however, God’s ways are not our ways. King Solomon wrote, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD” (Prov 17:15), including those things done by those who will not inherit the kingdom (1 Cor 6:9; Rev 21:8), but now even, “both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil, declares the Lord” (Jer 23:11), but the day of His judgment is coming. Isaiah the Prophet wrote, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter”(Isaiah 5:20)! This shouldn’t surprise as, as Paul had written that “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared” (1 Tim 4:1-2), and how that has come true. Jesus saw this coming too when he said “false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” (Matt 24:24-25).

Conclusion

Apostasy can be defined as abandonment or defiance of what was previously held to be true and practiced, and choosing to rebel against those same beliefs and practices, but also, renouncing or disassociating oneself from a particular religion or certain religious beliefs. Those who do such things are considered apostate, however, this should not make them our enemy. We should pray for them, but also expose their false teachings if they’re contrary to the gospel that Jesus Christ brought (Mark 1:14-15), so a last bit of advice from the Apostle Paul in recognizing apostasy is, “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed”(Gal 1:8-9). If someone claims Jesus is not God, Mary was not a virgin at Jesus’ birth, or that we are not saved by grace alone but also by works (Eph 2:8-9), then you’ve got another gospel, which is no gospel at all. The Apostle Peter warned us that “false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Pet2:1-2). Yes, many, not a few.

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.

 

TODAY‘S

Christian Quote

Feed on Christ, and then go and live your life, and it is Christ in you that lives your life, that helps the poor, that tells the truth, that fights the battle, and that wins the crown.

– Philips Brooks
IMG_3636.JPG
Your Daily Prayer Devotional Banner

A Prayer to Look Beyond Life’s Interruptions
By Boyd Bailey

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” John 4:29 (NIV)

Early one morning as I sat in my prayer chair at home, my precious 7-year-old grandbaby Lily caught me reading and praying the Psalms.

Instead of being glad she saw her Pop reading the Bible, I was a little annoyed my time with God had been interrupted. As she crawled into my lap, my heavenly Father spoke words that warmed my heart as He reminded me, “My dear son, this is not an interruption, but an illustration of My love, care and affection for you.”

As she sat in my lap I couldn’t help but notice several bruises, scratches, bug bites and a matted band aid on her legs. To which the Holy Spirit whispered, “Boyd, you are bruised and broken — and I Am — your Comforter and Healer.”

Peace, joy, confidence, hope, faith and love all at once erupted in my heart, moving me closer to Christ. My heavenly Father illustrated through an interruption what I was seeking all along: His loving presence.

One day an unnamed Samaritan woman, going about her daily business, was interrupted by a stranger who asked her for a drink of water: “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water’” (John 4:9-10, NIV).

He asked her for a favor — a drink of water — but what was Jesus’ bigger idea for stopping by the well? To give a gift. He offered it to this searching, hardworking woman who needed living water for her thirsty soul. The Messiah she’d heard about was in her presence to offer her

His forgiveness and love.

So she couldn’t help but tell everyone what Jesus had done: “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” (John 4:29)

Our lives are full of interruptions.

Traffic, a sick child, a financial surprise, a long line, a needy neighbor, a complaining customer, a co-worker in crisis, unfaithfulness, divorce, illness and death. These all look, sound and feel like interruptions. However, with eyes of faith we have the ability to look beyond life’s interruptions and instead see illustrations of God’s love.

Interruptions can be appointments for compassion. Life may feel unfair, but in your everyday routine recognize the Lord in the little things and love like Jesus. Interruptions represent people to love and are opportunities for you to be loved!

Loving people is the business of Jesus’ followers. It may be a person in your immediate presence, or it could be an individual in your peripheral vision, such as a restaurant server who needs to be included in your mealtime prayer.

A doctor or nurse who cares for you, a loved one who needs to be encouraged, or a critic who doesn’t have the full story — they too need the gifts of your patience and grace. Look for illustrations of God’s hand at work, home, vacation and especially during the holidays. Let interruptions slow you down, so you can better focus on receiving and giving God’s love.

Has your life been interrupted? How can you turn this into an opportunity to love and be loved?

Lean into God and learn of His love for the person who may have interrupted your life, then go share your story. Today, settle into the lap of your Lord, rest secure in His comfort and compassion. He beautifully illustrates His story of love for you, written with grace by His Son and your Savior, Jesus.

Heavenly Father, open my eyes of faith to see Your illustrations of love in the interruptions of my life today. Lord, help me see these moments as opportunities to love and to accept Your love and the love of others. Help me share the good news of Your great love with everyone I know. Slow me down, so that I can receiving and give to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

NOV
21
THIS DAY IN HISTORY

1980

Millions tune in to find out who shot J.R.

On this day in 1980, 350 million people around the world tune in to television’s popular primetime drama “Dallas” to find out who shot J.R. Ewing, the character fans loved to hate. J.R. had been shot on the season-ending episode the previous March 21, which now stands as one of television’s most famous cliffhangers. The plot twist inspired widespread media coverage and left America wondering “Who shot J.R.?” for the next eight months. The November 21 episode solved the mystery, identifying Kristin Shepard, J.R.’s wife’s sister and his former mistress, as the culprit.

The CBS television network debuted the first five-episode pilot season of “Dallas” in 1978; it went on to run for another 12 full-length seasons. The first show of its kind, “Dallas” was dubbed a “primetime soap opera” for its serial plots and dramatic tales of moral excess. The show revolved around the relations of two Texas oil families: the wealthy, successful Ewing family and the perpetually down-on-their-luck Barnes family. The families’ patriarchs, Jock Ewing and Digger Barnes, were former partners locked in a years-long feud over oil fields Barnes claimed had been stolen by Ewing. Ewing’s youngest son Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and Barnes’ daughter Pam (Victoria Principal) had married, linking the battling clans even more closely. The character of J.R. Ewing, Bobby’s oldest brother and a greedy, conniving, womanizing scoundrel, was played by Larry Hagman.

As J.R. had many enemies, audiences were hard-pressed to guess who was responsible for his attempted murder. That summer, the question “Who Shot J.R.?” entered the national lexicon, becoming a popular t-shirt slogan, and heightening anticipation of the soap’s third season, which was to air in the fall. After a much-talked-about contract dispute with Hagman was finally settled, the season was delayed because of a Screen Actors Guild strike, much to the dismay of “Dallas” fans. When it finally aired, the episode revealing J.R.’s shooter became one of television’s most watched shows, with an audience of 83 million people in the U.S. alone—a full 76 percent of all U.S. televisions on that night were tuned in—and helped put “Dallas” into greater worldwide circulation. It also popularized the use of the cliffhanger by television writers.

The shooting of J.R. wasn’t “Dallas’”only notorious plot twist. In September 1986, fans learned that the entire previous season, in which main character Bobby Ewing had died, was merely a dream of Pam’s. The show’s writers had killed the Bobby character off because Duffy had decided to leave the show. When he agreed to return, they featured him stepping out of the shower on the season-ending cliffhanger, and then were forced the next season to explain his sudden reappearance.

The last premiere episode of “Dallas” aired on May 3, 1991. A spin-off, “Knots Landing,” aired from December 27, 1979 until May 13, 1993. “Dallas” remains in syndication around the world.

 

An Attitude of Thankfulness
This devotional was written by Jim Burns

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus—1 Thessalonians 5:18

There is always a reason to be thankful. Notice that today’s Scripture doesn’t say to be thankful for all things but to be thankful in all things. Even in the most difficult of circumstances, you can find a reason for a thankful heart. I like the phrase that says, “I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” No matter what your circumstances, I believe there is a reason to be thankful. Your situation may never change, but your attitude can change and that will make all the difference in the world.

Terry Fox was a Canadian distance runner who started a run from one side of Canada to the other. He ran at least 26 miles each day to raise money for cancer research. He was a cancer victim himself. He ran every mile on one leg, since his right leg had been amputated above the knee. Almost every day, a television announcer or radio newscaster would put a microphone in front of Terry and ask him how his run for cancer was going. Often exhausted and losing valuable strength, Terry would say, “I don’t know about tomorrow, but God gave me another day to live and I’m thankful for each day I’m alive.”

Terry didn’t finish his run across Canada because he died of the dreaded disease. Yet even to the end, he remained thankful for each day and considered each one God’s gift to him. With an attitude of thankfulness, he made the most of a difficult situation.

GOING DEEPER:

1. What is the difference between being thankful for all circumstances and being thankful in all circumstances as prescribed in 1 Thessalonians 5:18?

2. What are your circumstances right now? Is it time for you to begin developing a greater attitude of thankfulness in your life?

FURTHER READING:

1 Chronicles 16:8; Psalms 136:1

 

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Why You Can’t Make a Deal with God

Theologically Driven

by Ben Edwards

We’ve all heard it, and most of us have either thought it or even prayed it. “God, if You [do this thing I currently want], then I’ll [do something I probably should do but haven’t].” We find ourselves in a situation we don’t like or lacking something we crave, yet we feel incapable of attaining our desire. Thus, we turn to someone we believe is capable of accomplishing what we want and hope God will show us favor.

But we understand how life works. People don’t just give away favors. They want something in return. So we begin to barter with others when we are seeking their favors. We started doing this when we were young (e.g., trading your sandwich for your friend’s crackers). The other person has something we want—either an item (good) or the ability to accomplish something (service)—so we offer him something we think he wants. In our society the most common bartering item is money—you give me something and I give you money in exchange. But we occasionally offer other goods or services (e.g., housing and food in exchange for childcare; use of vehicles in exchange for professional work, etc.). In each situation, the offer is successful only if both parties have something the other lacks or needs.

But there’s a problem when we try to barter with God. He doesn’t lack or need anything! The truth that God does not need anything is part of a larger truth of God’s self-sufficiency or aseity. This means that God’s existence comes from Himself, thus He is not dependent on anyone or anything else. We as humans derive our existence from God and live continually in dependence on Him (Col 1:17), but God exists in Himself and needs nothing (Exod 3:14Acts 17:24-25).

Most pagan gods respond to the barter system. You offer sacrifices to a god, and he responds to help you in the way that he can. Thus, you worship the god of travel, and he in return gives you safe travel; you bring a sacrifice to the god of fertility, and he makes you fruitful; or you give to the god of war to make your army successful.

The Christian God is nothing like these pagan gods, which means we have nothing to offer God that would make Him respond by giving us a favor.

Why does it matter whether or not we can barter with God? Because if we can’t barter with Him, that means we have to accept His terms. We can’t entice Him with our offers. We can only accept His offers. He is not impressed by our promises of service or obedience and will not respond to them. But He, of His own will, determined to offer us a relationship with Him as a gift on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ. We must submit ourselves fully to Him, offering our lives to Jesus as Lord. And He promises to give us eternal life—a relationship with Him.

God is the one who establishes what He will do and what we will do, and we either accept or reject those terms. But we can’t try to change the terms to something we prefer—you can’t barter with God.

 

Devotionals Daily: A Year with Jesus

Jesus Calling for Kids
By Sarah Young

No Matter Where I Lead

You keep your loving promise. You lead the people you have saved. With your strength you will guide them to your holy land. —Exodus 15:13 (ICB)

Follow Me. No matter where I lead you, just follow Me. Don’t worry about how everything will turn out. Just trust Me, and I’ll show you the way.

Think of your life as an adventure, with Me as your Guide and Companion. Don’t worry about where our path will lead tomorrow— just live in the adventure of todayKeep your mind on staying close to Me.

If our path takes us to the bottom of a steep cliff, don’t be afraid. Just hold tightly to My hand, and take a deep breath. I’ll help you climb all the way up to the top. And when we come to a peaceful resting place, stop there a while and rest with Me. You already know where our journey will end. Someday I will take you into heaven—to live with Me there forever. But for now, just follow Me as I guide you along today’s path. And enjoy the adventures you share with Me—your faithful Guide.

© 2010 by Sarah Young

 

Consumed by Lust

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. – >Titus 3:4-5

Radio personality Paul Harvey once told of how an Eskimo kills a wolf. The Eskimo coats his knife with animal blood and lets it freeze.  Another layer of blood is added, then another, until the blade is completely concealed. The hunter then fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. A wolf follows the scent, finds the source, and begins licking. Aroused by the taste, it licks the blood-covered blade progressively faster and harder.

Amidst the wolf’s frenzy, it doesn’t notice the eventual sting of the exposed blade on its own tongue, nor that it’s now consuming its own warm blood. The wolf simply craves more–until it falls dead in the snow.

It’s a grisly story, but a poignant illustration of how we too stand in danger of being consumed by our own lusts.

“My will was perverse and lust had grown from it; and when I gave in to lust, habit was born; and when I did not resist the habit it became a necessity. These were the links which together formed what I have called my chain, and it held me fast in the duress of servitude.” -St. Augustine (354-430)

 

Refreshing Hope Ministries

And God Laughed

Though I walk in the middle of trouble, you will revive me. You will stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies. Your right hand will save me. Yahweh will fulfill that which concerns me; your loving kindness, Yahweh, endures forever. Don’t forsake the works of your own hands. Psalm 138:7 WEB

They say that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. While this sounds strange, I have found it often to be so painfully true. It is not ‘our’ plans and purpose that the Lord fulfills, it is His. When our plans and purpose align themselves with His, they work out gracefully as intended.

Often we dream too small and His plans are bigger than that. Sometimes its because He has something better right around the corner and He does not want us to settle for something mediocre now. Other times we just need to get in ‘tune’ with Him and what He is doing today. Take a risk and pray ‘Lord, make what is important to You, important to me.’ When His plans become our plans, then our life becomes amazing.

I never planned to be a pastor. Over twenty five years ago He told me that one day, I would be in the ministry and to begin to prepare myself. So I thought what anyone else would have thought: ‘Go through Bible college, get a degree, get ordained, and then you will preach in a church somewhere.’

So I did all of that, except the last step. When I got out of seminary, every single door in ministry was closed. I began to work on computers and was soon pushed into my own computer business full time. I spent the next twenty years working on computers and networks, until we hit a time when that suddenly dried completely up.

The week that we were packing to move out of our home, a job as a pastor opened up. A couple of years later, we began to build an online church using the skills that I had learned along the way. Now we are connecting people to Jesus right where they are, all over the world.

His plan for preparing me included more than I had originally thought, and His vision for ministry was outside of the normal box. He is the Boss, I just try and do what He says. The Lord knows what He is doing in all of this. The best that we can do is to get in step with Him and what He is doing on the earth today. Don’t worry about others are doing as that may not be what He has for you. Let’s just make sure that our plans, align with His plans.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I ask that You make what is important to You, important to me. Share Your thoughts with me and fulfill Your plans in my life. Don’t forsake the work of Your hands, but remember me today. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Note: For those traveling this week for Thanksgiving, we pray that God blesses you with traveling mercies and with His protection! 

 

Today’s Scripture

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me–just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.“John 10:14-16 NIV

Thoughts for Today

Unfortunately, Christians are often seen through caricatures. A caricature is an image rooted in reality but distorted in a way that drastically overemphasizes some features of that reality. “No Fun Nellie.” “Ignorant Irving.” “Willie the Wimp.” Christians are often seen as close-minded, hypocritical, judgmental, or extreme.

Most of these images have to do with the practice of religion. Although Christianity is thought of as a religion, that’s not what real Christianity is all about. It’s about relationship. A personal relationship with a loving Father (God the Father). A relationship with someone who was willing to give his life for us – Jesus (God the Son). A relationship with the Holy Spirit (God the Holy Spirit), who guides and comforts and helps us in our day-to-day living.

Consider this … 

In today’s Scripture, Jesus is talking about relationship. He is our Shepherd. Because of his devotion to the Father and his love for us, he died on a cross to pay the penalty for our sin. Through that unimaginably great sacrifice, he is offering us a relationship with God. All we have to do is say yes. To choose to be a part of his flock. To receive his love, his forgiveness, and his help throughout our life on earth. Our problems may not disappear, but when we enter this relationship with Jesus and follow him as our Shepherd, we’ll never have to face them alone. And we have the promise of eternity with him.

Prayer

God, I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me for all the wrong I’ve done. I choose to follow Jesus and thank you for allowing me to have a personal relationship with you. In Jesus’ name .

 

 

Charisma Media

Roma Downey with Della Reese Lett.
Roma Downey with Della Reese Lett. ( REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

Join us on our podcast each weekday for an interesting story, well told, from Charisma News. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.


Touched by an Angel star Della Reese has died, co-star Roma Downey says.

“On behalf of her husband, Franklin Lett, and all her friends and family, I share with you the news that our beloved Della Reese has passed away peacefully at her California home last evening surrounded by love. She was an incredible wife, mother, grandmother, friend and pastor, as well as an award-winning actress and singer. Through her life and work she touched and inspired the lives of millions of people,” her co-star Roma Downey confirmed to PEOPLE in an exclusive statement.

“She was a mother to me and I had the privilege of working with her side by side for so many years on Touched by an Angel. I know heaven has a brand-new angel this day. Della Reese will be forever in our hearts. Rest In Peace, sweet angel. We love you.”

In addition to her acting, Lett was an American nightclub, jazz, gospel and pop singer. She founded the Understanding Principles for Better Living Church.

Her congregation was part of “New Thought Christianity,” a philosophy that dates to the 1800s and emphasizes the teachings of Jesus, practical principles of a liberal form of Christianity and an openness to metaphysics and other philosophical thought, according to the Religion News Service.

“I love God,” Lett said in 1996. “I love Jesus. I love the truth. I love peace, joy and happiness, and my ministry gives me all that.”

Of her church, Lett says:

Understanding Principles for Better Living Church (UP Church) started in my living room as a small group of eight Christians seeking to gain more divine knowledge of how to bring about change in their lives. Using the Holy Bible as our inspiration and the Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon as our guide, we studied, read and prayed. Soon we were too big for my home, and we started moving to larger facilities. The benefit of those moves has provided us with a wonderful cross-section of people who have benefited from our teaching ministry.

We teach to fill that spiritual hunger of those who are unhappy with the way they are living their lives, and need to reacquaint themselves with God’s principles for achieving the Good Life, which is the God Promised Life.

At UP Church, we do not attempt to teach you what to think, but rather how to think on a higher level. And that level of thinking will immune you from the doubt and fear that causes us not to see the best in ourselves and others; immune you from magnifying our mistakes; immune you from procrastination, and immune you from failure.

Immunizing yourself from negative thinking and actions allows the God qualities of confidence, diligence, compassion, forgiveness and most importantly Love to fill your life. This is how we achieve a healthy spiritual outlook … eliminate the negative and hold on to the positive.

A daily prayer to help you do this is, “God promised me that I am whole, perfect and complete. I believe it!”

Jessilyn Justice @jessilynjustice is the director of online news for Charisma.

 

 

A Business Problem Leads to a Call
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
November 21, 2017

Now the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.” – 1 Samuel 9:3

The people of Israel wanted a king. God finally agreed. Samuel was the prophet of Israel who was to anoint the man God had chosen. God selected a young man to be the first king of Israel-his name was Saul.

It is interesting to look at the circumstances in which God called Saul into his new vocation. It seems that Saul’s father had a business that used donkeys. During these times, donkeys were often used for commerce. It was obviously important to the father to find these lost donkeys, so he sent Saul and his servant out to find them.

They went from region to region, unable to find the donkeys. Finally, Saul told his servant that they should go back. He thought that his father would be worried.

But the servant replied, “Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take” (1 Samuel 9:6).

Saul took his advice. Near the town they met some young girls who told them that Samuel had just come to their town that day.

When they arrived, they met Samuel who told them that the donkeys were safe and he would also tell Saul the next morning all that was in his heart. He then informed Saul of his new calling to be the next king of Israel.

Can you see what circumstances led to Saul’s receiving his call? It started with a business problem – lost donkeys. It led to connecting Saul with Samuel through a number of divine appointments and circumstances. God still does this today.

God will provide the necessary circumstances to accomplish His purposes in your life. You must realize that a business problem may lead to a new calling for your life. Saul had no idea lost donkeys would be the instrument used to change his life. So, too, we must realize God’s ways are not our ways.

 

In the Line of Fire, with Michael Brown

 Charles Manson talks during an interview August 25, 1989.
Charles Manson talks during an interview August 25, 1989. (REUTERS/File Photo)

It’s possible that, in the best of circumstances, Charles Manson would have turned out to be an evil, demented cult leader and mass murderer. And it’s also possible he suffered from lifelong psychiatric issues that clouded his thinking and moral judgment. Only God knows. But what is clear is that his upbringing and early life experiences were a formula for disaster.

A 2013 article in the Daily Mail notes that, “According to his cousin, JoAnn, whose parents raised Manson in their home in McMechen, West Virginia, for several years, ‘There was never anything happy about him. He never did anything good.'”  Yes, the cousin reports, “The boy was obsessed with knives and guns and when he lost control of his anger, his eyes blazed with an intensity that convinced her he was capable of injuring or even killing her.” The article also claims that Manson’s mother feared her “crazy-eyed” son when he was just 5 years old.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Manson’s mother was married and gave birth to him when she was just 15 years old, her husband and Manson’s father being five years older. But he quickly abandoned the family, leaving Manson fatherless. As for the mother, she was arrested on armed robbery charges when Manson was only 4 years old, sentenced to five years in prison. What a horrific start to life.

The Mail notes that, “it is equally clear that when offered any choice as to which path to take Manson invariably opted for the wrong one.” In other words, regardless of his upbringing, he made wrong choices. And as I stated at the beginning of this article, that could well be the case. But you have to stop and wonder for a moment what would have happened if Manson had been raised in a solid, stable, loving, godly environment. Again, only God knows.

Then there is element to factor in: “As [an] undersized boy he was a target for sexual abuse and beatings from older boys.

“He found his best defense was to convince them he was crazy. He did just that with screeches, facial tics, flapping arms and twitches.”

Not surprisingly, he started having serious brushes with the law while still a young teen, and by the time he was 32 years old, he had spent more than half of his life incarcerated (17 out of 32 years).

And in an odd repeat of his parents’ actions, at the age of 20, he married a 15-year-old girl, ending up back in prison after she had their child. Such is the cycle of sin and destruction.

How much was Manson conscious of the lacks he experienced growing up?

In a chilling interview posted on The Sun, he explained that he felt no guilt over the crimes he had committed, only wondering if he should have killed “four or five hundred people. Then,” he said, “I would have felt better. Then I would have felt like I really would have offered society something.”

But he also said this, “My awareness and my consciousness [are] not the same as someone who goes to school and has a mom and dad. Not having parents has left me in another dimension, so to say, you know.”

In the end, he was responsible for his actions, and no one forced him to do evil. He is accountable to society and to God for his crimes, which are without excuse and cannot be minimized.

At the same time, knowing the effects of broken homes on children—especially fatherless homes and their direct link to crime—one can only wonder how much an upbringing without father and without mother, coupled with physical and sexual abuse from peers, helped make Manson into the monster that he was.

And while it’s too late to redeem his life, let us do our best to reach out to those whose upbringing and environment were far from ideal while also seeking to build stable, loving homes that will give our kids the best chance in life. And even for those who serve out life-sentences in prison, there are some, like David Berkovitz, who go from being the “Son of Sam” to the “Son of Hope.”

While there’s breath, there’s still a chance.

Dr. Michael Brown(www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

Passion for Praise: ‘Even the Children Were Shouting!’

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.”

Topper3
I am grateful and have an attitude of gratitude this Thanksgiving……even though we don’t have much, we have what we need…..food, shelter, clothing………I can still recall harder times in my life, when I didn’t have hardly anything of what we needed….
How many nights I went without eating just so my children could eat?  I did the best that I could………..I was grateful for the local charities and Food Banks……..they provided much-needed coats and warm clothing for my four children…….Yes, I chose to be a Mother and never expected to have to do the job alone……but, I wouldn’t take any of it back…I wouldn’t change it at all!
Because I lived through those hard times, I can be prepared for what’s coming……if I’m left behind, I’ll know Who to turn to to help me to cope……..
Careful
Remember this!!!
God bless you all!!!

 

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