Friday, December 25, 2015

Every Need

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
Psalm 118:8

God is the only One who can truly satisfy your heart's desire for wholeness. When you feel lonely or disconnected, what you're really sensing is your soul's longing to be one with Him. And He alone knows how to bring that profound intimacy about in your life.
   Once you recognize this and turn to the Lord to satisfy your loneliness, you are in a healthier position to receive the love and affection of the people God sends to you. Rather than become emotionally dependent on them, you are able to contribute to their lives and be involved in a wholesome, caring, mutual relationship with them.
   However, understand the Lord is a jealous God. He wants a relationship with you, and if he sees that you're relying on another person to do what only He can, He often finds a way to end that relationship as it once was.
   Only the Savior can provide everything you need to live a peaceful, joyful, fulfilling life. So look to Him first and foremost to satisfy the needs of your heart.

Father, please forgive me for looking to others to fill my needs.
Refocus my heart on Your wonderful presence and provision, amen.

In His presence . . . take refuge in His perfect provision.

Stanley, Charles F. "Every Need." Every Day in His Presence: 365 Devotions. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. 2014. page 320. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Take up the whole armor of God...praying always...

“Take up the whole armor of God…praying always…” (Ephesians 6:13, 18)

You must learn to wrestle against the things that hinder your communication with God, and wrestle in prayer for other people; but to wrestle with God in prayer is unscriptural. If you ever do wrestle with God, you will be crippled for the rest of your life. If you grab hold of God and wrestle with Him, as Jacob did, simply because He is working in a way that doesn’t meet with your approval, you force Him to put you out of joint (see Genesis 32:24-25). Don’t become a cripple by wrestling with the ways of God, but be someone who wrestles before God with the things of this world, because “we are more than conquerors through Him...” (Romans 8:37). Wrestling before God makes an impact in His kingdom. If you ask me to pray for you, and I am not complete in Christ, my prayer accomplishes nothing. But if I am complete in Christ, my prayer brings victory all the time. Prayer is effective only when there is completeness—“take up the whole armor of God…”
Always make a distinction between God’s perfect will and His permissive will, which He uses to accomplish His divine purpose for our lives. God’s perfect will is unchangeable. It is with His permissive will, or the various things that He allows into our lives, that we must wrestle before Him. It is our reaction to these things allowed by His permissive will that enables us to come to the point of seeing His perfect will for us. “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God…” (Romans 8:28)—to those who remain true to God’s perfect will—His calling in Christ Jesus. God’s permissive will is the testing He uses to reveal His true sons and daughters. We should not be spineless and automatically say, “Yes, it is the Lord’s will.” We don’t have to fight or wrestle with God, but we must wrestle before God with things. Beware of lazily giving up. Instead, put up a glorious fight and you will find yourself empowered with His strength.
“My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers December 16

Friday, November 27, 2015

Safely Home: Is this the day I die?

Safely Home by Randy Alcorn

 Is this the day I die?

Li Quan’s father had taught him from childhood to ask this question every day. He told young Quan, “one day the answer will be yes, and on that day you must be ready.”
Quan stiffened at the shout behind him. The voice rang with the authority of the Gong An Ju, the Public Security Bureau. “You meet in the night like the criminals you are. How dare you defy the law? In three minutes,” Scarbrow said matter-of-factly, “we will shoot every man and woman – and child – who does not declare himself loyal to the people rather than the gweilos, foreign devils.”
Quan, Ming and Shen clasped each other’s hands. Quan breathed deeply and braced himself.
“Surely this is the day.”
American business executive Ben Fielding has no idea what his brilliant old college roommate is facing in China. After 20 years he expects to pick up where they left off. But when they’re reunited in China, the men are shocked at what they discover about each other. The paths they’ve walked have shaped their lives and loyalties in radically different ways.
Thrown together in an hour of encroaching darkness, watched by unseen eyes, both must make choices that will determine not only the destinies of two men, but two families, two nations…and two worlds.
This book of historical fiction will entice the reader to pray and study more, to look into the persecuted church.
The story relates that Hudson Taylor introduced Li Quan’s great-great grandfather to Jesu. His family also knew Ni Tuosheng-Watchman Nee. Following are a few quotes from the thought-provoking book. This is one fiction book worth reading.
   “The enemy seeks to accuse us that we are not what we are. But just as surely, he seeks to assure us we are what we are not.”
   “Yesu said, ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ Shengjing says, ‘If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’ That is real freedom One man stands inside prison and is free. Another man stands outside prison and remains in bondage. Is this not true,..?”
   “…Many years ago NI Tuoshen-Watchman Nee-was asked to speak at a gathering. He knew in the crowd there were many authorities wanting to arrest him as soon as he spoke about Yesu or church. When he stood, there was a glass of water by him. Suddenly he threw it down, then crushed it with his heel. But the more violently he crushed it, the more the glass spread. Everywhere he put his foot down, glass spread farther. Then he sat down. The unbelievers thought he had gone mad. But the believers understood. It was a sermon without words. They did not arrest him-how can you arrest a man for preaching when he has said nothing?”
   “But what did it mean?”
   “In attempting to destroy the church, the government has spread it. Instead of holding the church safely in its hand, the state has lost control of it, or the church multiplies under Communism even as Israel multiplied under Pharaoh’s tyranny. China’s government is desperate to regain control over the church. But the more they stalk and stomp, the more they spread the church with their own heels. They lock men in prisons, and they take the gospel there. They send women to correction farms in the country, and they take the gospel there. The glass will not be controlled. It spreads everywhere. The same state that persecutes the church is an instrument in God’s hands to make the church grow.”
   Quite an illustration.
Writing about the persecution, trials and discouragements and how come it is taking so long before Jesus Christ returns, this is a dialog between Michael and the King…  “But when, if I may ask, Lord, will the time be right?” “The moment I bring justice and relieve all suffering is the moment earth’s inhabitants’ eternal destiny is sealed. Not one more shall be joined to me then. To ‘end it all,’ as you say, will also mean to end the offer of grace-a grace I delight to offer, a violet grace that cost me dearly.” …   “Your servants wonder why you do not end it all now…”   “They don’t understand that I am not only at work here, preparing a place for them, but I am at work there, preparing them for that place.”

Friday, November 13, 2015

Two Sides of the Cross of Jesus Christ

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5

Philippians 4:8-13
As Christians, we need never suffer with thoughts of low self-esteem or defeat. There may be times when we feel down or battle worn, but never defeated. Jesus Christ has conquered the power of sin and death. He is our sufficiency for every need we face. No matter what the circumstance, He is with us and for us.
The most powerful message we can feed our minds is the message of the Cross. God loves us eternally and unconditionally. Paul learned to be content in every situation of life because he knew the Son of God was watching over him. How could he possibly fail?
Whether in need or in abundance, Paul’s sufficiency was rooted in Jesus Christ. His mind was tuned in to the powerful possibilities of God, not the doubt and discouragement of the world. Through times of suffering, even to the point of death, Paul remained firm in his faith.
Ask God to help you exchange any negative thought you may have for God’s perspective. You will find that God never uses words of confusion, doubt, fear, or hopelessness. Instead, He always gives us words of hope, victory, peace, blessing, triumph, and love. Cultivate God’s blessing by learning to walk in light of His victory.

Lord, let me turn out confusion, doubt, fear, and hopelessness. Help me receive Your words of hope, victory, peace, blessing, triumph, and love.
“Seeking His Face” by Dr. Charles Stanley April 9

Friday, October 30, 2015

Emotional Baggage

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
Matthew 11:29
Today, everyone you know is "poor" - or lacking - in spirit in some way. They may be brokenhearted over a trial or ruined relationship, captive to negative memories of the past, or disappointed by unfulfilled dreams. This emotional weight is not only a burden in their everyday lives, it's indicative that the enemy has a stronghold.
   Whether your heartaches, afflictions, and trials stem from external or internal causes, the pains are real. And unless you deal with them, they will keep on harming you. Those feelings, thought patterns, and past experiences will continue to traumatize you each time you recall them and will ultimately keep you from experiencing the freedom that Christ Jesus offers.
   Friend, do not be ashamed. All of us struggle. But you must turn your burdens over to Christ and allow Him to liberate you. He will teach you a different way to live. So do not be afraid or discouraged. Rather, trust Him and find rest for your soul.

Jesus, I am broken and poor in many ways.
Through Your Spirit, liberate me from my
emotional baggage so I may be truly free, amen.

In His presence . . . be free from your burdens.

Stanley, Charles F. "Emotional Baggage." Every Day in His Presence: 365 Devotions. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. p 313.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Deliverance Assured

2 Chronicles 20:12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

12 O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” [bold by me for emphasis]
Bible Gateway

Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You. JEREMIAH 32:17 

From the confines of prison, the prophet Jeremiah clung to a single hope - the Lord's promise that He would release Judah from its captivity and bring the people back to the land after seventy years.
   This appeared impossible, of course. Although the Jewish people had ben restored to the promised land after their bondage in Egypt, it seemed unfeasible that it could happen again. No other people had ever successfully recaptured their territories after so many afflictions and such a long time away - especially a nation as small and weak as Judah.
   But God had made a promise. And because He had never failed them before, Jeremiah knew that the Lord would be faithful to fulfill it. And sure enough, after seventy years, the people were supernaturally released to reenter their nation.
   Friend, take this to heart. God can do anything in your life - even what looks absolutely impossible. So trust Him to keep His Word to you regardless of challenging your circumstances may appear.

Father, I trust You! Nothing is too difficult for
You. Thank You for delivering me, amen.

In His presence .. . appreciate who He really is.
Stanley, Charles F. "Deliverance Assured." Every Day in His Presence: 365 Devotions. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. 2014. p 282.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Salvation: The Work of Our Sovereign God

Made Alive in Christ

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:1-10 New International Version (NIV)   Bible Gateway

   Salvation refers to the freedom gained when God rescues someone from bondage to sin and makes that person part of His family. This deliverance is accomplished only through His Son Jesus, who died in our place so we might be reconciled to the Father (Colossians 1:22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—). This statement often evokes auestions:
   What if I try to live morally right, working and at my job and being good to my family-won't God accept me? Such questions assume that the Lord saves us on the basis of the way we live. But Romans 3:10 says, "There is none righteous, not even one." In God's sight, even our virtuous acts are like dirty rags (Isiah 64:6). Holy God will not have dealings with unrighteous people except through the Savior, Jesus Christ.
   Won't the Lord accept us because of His goodness? God is loving and good, but He is also just. He won't overlook sin, no matter how small we think it is. Pride makes us reject the idea that we need forgiveness or cleansing from sin.
   If we serve in our church or help the poor in God's name, aren't we part of His family? God works do not solve our sin problem or reconcile us to God. Only Jesus does ( Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,). Good works are an important result of salvation, as opposed to a basis for it.
   Salvation is a work of God's grace, not the product of man's effort. When we respond to the Spirit's prompting, believe in Jesus, and are born again as God's children (John 3:3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”), we can be assured of our place in heaven. How sure are you?
Stanley, Charles F. "Salvation: The Work of Our Sovereign God." In Touch: Daily Readings for Devoted Living. Atlanta: In Touch Ministries. September 2015. page 14.

Jesus the Way to the Father

 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. . . John 14:6 Bible Gateway

Friday, October 2, 2015

Love Through Forgiveness

"Her many sins have been forgiven -
as her great love has shown."
LUKE 7:47 NIV 

   There are many reasons why people fail to experience God's love, and one of them is unforgiveness. When we don't forgive, a barrier of bitterness grows and obstructs His love from entering in.
   Friend, are you harboring resentment? Then you're hurting yourself without reason. Jesus came to set the captives free ( Luke 4:18) - and He did so through His love on the cross. He came, not to injure you, but to heal your wounds. And He calls you to forgive those who've hurt you because it's a crucial part of liberating you fully.
   He asks you to have an accurate view of all you've been forgiven so you can understand others (Luke 7:47). You sinned out of pain, unawareness, fear and self-protection (Luke 23:34). The same is true for those who've hurt you - they sinned out of ignorance; they couldn't possibly know the full effect their actions would have on you.
   Friend, don't remain captive to your hostility any longer. Express Christ like mercy to your offenders and be free of the prison. Because then you'll be able to fully experience His love in return.

                                          Jesus, give me the strength to forgive so I can 
experience Your peace and love to the fullest, amen.

  In His presence. . . choose forgiveness.

 Stanley, Charles F., Love Through Forgiveness, Every Day in His Presence, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2014. page 258.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Things That Cannot Be Shaken


  Hebrews 12:25-29 (NIV)

25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Bible Gateway

   Television news is often filled with interviews and images of people who have suffered some unimaginable tragedy. One day we're shown tornado survivors whose homes were torn apart by powerful winds. Another day we may see massive floods sweeping through an unsuspecting neighborhood. Occasionally, we even view homes that are swallowed whole by terrible earthquakes. The expressions on the faces of those who have suffered loss can be haunting.
   Losses like these always draw our attention toward the fragility of those things we hold most dear - such as our homes, families and careers. We seldom like wake-up calls that remind us of the inherent instability of earthly life.
   But in a world that oftentimes seems to be falling apart, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have the privilege of sharing the best news imaginable: We have something that is stable, something that is completely secure. There is a rock on which we are able to stand, and it cannot be shaken. That foundation, of course, is almighty God.
   The Lord gives us other immovable truths as well. We can trust that Scripture is His unchanging, relevant truth for all time. We can forever depend on a secure eternal relationship with Him though His Son. And we can be sure that an everlasting heavenly home awaits all those who place their faith in Jesus Christ. We can have stability, even in this unstable world.
   Do you have someone in your life who needs this life-saving good news - someone who is drowning, desperately needing you to throw a lifeline? Don't wait; share it today.
Stanley, Charles F., Things That Cannot Be Shaken, In Touch Daily Readings for Devoted Living, Atlanta, GA: In Touch Ministries, August 2015, page 36.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Mind of Christ

"The Mind of Christ"
1 Corinthians 2:12-16

1 Corinthians 2:12-16New King James Version (NKJV) from Bible Gateway

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy[a] Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”[b] But we have the mind of Christ.

   The best life you could possibly live is the one your Creator has designed for you. He has given believers everything they need to become more like Him and to achieve all He has planned for them. Since the way we think is vitally important in this process, the Lord has given us the mind of Christ. Now we have the capacity to think as He does and to see situations from His perspective.
   This marvelous ability to align our thoughts with His is a gift that we receive from God at the moment of salvation. However, the practice of it is our responsibility. We all come to Christ with minds that are already "pre-programmed" to one degree or another. For example, a child who grows up hearing demeaning comments will probably incorporate them into his concept of who he is and what he can accomplish. Also, this world's system is constantly attempting to fit us into its mold, and Satan tries to inject his lies into our thinking.
   If we are to experience the abundant life the Lord wants us to have, old thoughts that do not agree with God's Word must be replaced with truth. Then we need to screen the ideas that bombard us each day. As we cooperate with God in this ongoing process, our lies will be transformed.
   Compare your thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs with biblical teachings. If they don't match, reject wrong patterns of thinking, and fill your mind with corresponding truths from Scripture instead. Since the Lord has empowered believers to think right, let's cultivate the mind of Christ within us.

Stanley, Charles. In Touch, Daily Readings for Devoted Living. "The Mind of Christ." June 9, 2015. page 14.

Friday, September 11, 2015

"Love Covers"by Paul Billheimer


Love Covers
By Paul Billheimer
   “If all born-again people are members of the same Body, should not all born-again people fellowship with one another regardless of positions on nonessentials? This is a basic question… (John 13:34-34; John 17:20-23)
   “If you are scripturally born again you are a member of the Body of Christ and a son of my very own Father. As a member of the same family, you are my own brother, whether you realize it or acknowledge it or not… if you are born again, we still are members of the same family and organic parts of the same spiritual Body. I may think some of your beliefs are as crazy as a loon (as you may think some of my beliefs are crazy too), but if I have sufficient love for God, agape love, I will not reject you as a person.

He drew a circle that shut me out,
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout;
But Love and I had the wit to win-
We drew a circle and took him in.
Edwin Markham

    “‘Jesus said, ‘Judge not’ (Matthew 7:1).
   “‘Brothers, do not slander one another Anyone who speaks against his brother, or judges him, speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, by t sitting in judgment of it. There is only one Law-giver and Judge, one who is able to save and destroy. But you-who are you to judge your neighbor?’ (James 4:11-12)
   “‘Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another’ (Romans 14:13).
   “‘Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God’ (Romans 15:7).
   “Judgmentalism may be defined nontechnically as unfavorable judgment, criticism, or condemnation of others because of their conduct or supposed erroneous beliefs, wrong motives, or character. It is an arbitrary evaluation of another person’s worth. In the realm of religion it often results in the rejection of a person because of his opinion in nonessentials to salvation. It is the most frequent cause of division and fragmentation of the Body of Christ…
   “One cannot become judgmental without elevating himself-and self-elevation is Lucifer’s syndrome. It caused his fall and all of the sin and sorrow that followed in its wake… If a wrong has been done or a wrong decision has been made which threatens division, is God aware of it? If I know a thing is wrong and needs to be corrected, is it possible that an all-wise God does not? If a wrong decision has been made, only God can correct it.
   “There is only one answer to division over nonessentials and that is growth in love, agape love…I know of no other way except by a deeper work of the cross, a deeper death to all the life of nature and self. When we are truly willing, God will order the exact set of circumstances that will slay the flesh and increase growth in agape love. Love grows mostly by exercise…
   “The real question is not who is right-not even who is most nearly right. The Real question is: Do we recognize that God loves and accepts other members of the Body who differ from us in matters nonessential to salvation? Are we sufficiently mature in agape love to accept those who He accepts?..

Prayer is where the action is…
Prayer is our answer.

Prayer is the only thing that Satan cannot handle.

Blackmon, Selma, editor. The Exchanged Life News.