Saturday, August 31, 2013

Happy Saturday

A Restless, Unsettled Heart
Lysa TerKeurst
"I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land." Psalm 143:6 (NIV)
A few years ago, I sat with a beautiful young woman as tears streamed down her face. Six months before our meeting, her world was full. A loving husband, a healthy toddler, fun friends, and a new home.
But part of her heart felt restless, unsettled, a little empty. She couldn't put her finger on it. She tried talking to friends, but they laughed it off as something that would pass.
Only the feeling didn't pass.
She felt detached from her husband and disappointed that his love didn't fulfill her. Why couldn't he make her feel loved? She'd always thought of marriage as the ultimate love. He was going to be the one to right her wrongs and fill up her insecurities, or so she thought.
Questions bombarded her ... What is wrong with him? Why doesn't he say what he's supposed to say? Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm not pretty enough, witty enough, good enough?
Then one day she met a man who said things she'd longed to hear her husband say. He made her feel pretty and witty. Soon, she rationalized that she'd never really loved her husband. She convinced herself she'd made a mistake marrying so young. That this new man was her true love.
She fell into his arms. A web of lies was spun. The thrill of new romance clouded every decision.
She had not wanted to come to the women's retreat. She knew it might make her feel guilty, and she was past guilty feelings. She was just waiting for the right time to leave her husband and start over with the real love of her life.
But her friends had started to grow suspicious of her pulling away. So, to appease them, she went.
Over the course of the weekend, the walls she'd so carefully constructed to keep everyone at a distance and her secret hidden started to crumble. By Saturday night, she sat down with me and confessed it all.
She desperately wanted to know how I felt so full of God's love. She'd never known that kind of relationship with Him. She now recognized it wasn't the love of another man her heart craved; it was the love of God.
I think this is true for many of us. We spend years chasing things we think will make us feel loved. But everything this world offers is temporary. Everything. And will leave our souls dry, crying out to God, "I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land" (Psalm 143:6).
The kind of love our souls crave is lasting, eternal. And only God can fill up our hearts with that kind of love.
Chasing love outside the will of God invites so much into our lives that is the exact opposite of love. First Corinthians 13:4-8 is a picture of God's perfect love. It is patient and kind. It does not envy ... it is not self-seeking ... it does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth ... it always protects and perseveres. Love never fails.
This is not a description of what is inherently ours when we fall in love with a person. It's a description of God's love.
Because our souls were designed for God's fulfilling love, if we aren't staying closely connected to Him, our hearts will start to feel empty. Restless. Unfulfilled. Parched.
Let us never think we are beyond being tempted. If we're honest, we're only a few bad decisions away from the same mess my friend is untangling herself from.
The kind of love our souls crave will never be found in the things of this world. Lasting, satisfying love will only be found when we stop chasing others or possessions, and thirst for the things of God.
Dear Lord, please help me see my marriage for the sacred gift that it is. Help me to remain faithful in a way that honors You and brings joy to our home. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy, Happy Friday

“Whoever hears these teachings of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock” (Matthew 7:24 ERV).
In the real life, each one of us has a shelter where we recess to at the end of the day. The shelter as one of the basic needs of life protects us from some physical hazards. This house may belong to us permanently or it may be rented for a period of time. No one would want to have a shelter that is not safe for habitation, so, we do everything possible to secure the house. However, the truth of the matter is that every house is prone to one danger or the other. The location, foundation, and status of the house will determine how the house will withstand the danger.
Similarly, each one of us has a spiritual cum everlasting shelter that serves as protection from some spiritual and everlasting hazards. These hazards are inevitable (see John 16:33), but the location, foundation, and status of our house will determine how the house will withstand the spiritual and everlasting hazards.
As Jesus Christ was rounding off His sermon on the mount, He told a parable of two people - a wise man and a foolish man. Both of them built houses to shelter them. The houses were confronted with similar hazards. The house of the wise man could withstand the hazards while the house of the foolish man could not. The locations and foundations of each house determined their ends. While the wise man located his house on a solid foundation, the foolish man located his house on a shaky foundation. The house of the wise man withstood the test of time while the house of the foolish man could not.
Where is your spiritual cum everlasting house? On what foundation did you build it? Will it withstand the test of time? In that parable, the wise man was the person that heard and obeyed the teachings of Jesus Christ, while the foolish man was the person that heard but did not obey the teachings of Jesus Christ. Are you a wise man or a foolish man? The hymn writer, Edward Mote, declared, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
Where is your house?
In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Happy Thursday

Signs of a Pharisee:

1. You find yourself adhering to every church fast. You faithfully celebrate every holy day. You rarely miss a church service, but you still refuse to acknowledge the homeless man on the corner, and you don't even know your neighbor's name. (After all, they are a different denomination than you.)

2. You faithfully take part in religious practices, but refuse to "get your hands dirty" helping the least of these, and if you do help the "least of these" you are certain to make sure that everyone else knows your good deeds.

3. You pray really loud. You enjoy showboating at church. 
After all, loud prayers show others that you are more holy than they are.

4. You refuse to associate with anyone of a "lesser" denomination, and you look down upon those who aren't a part of your faith. You also typically view those who belong to other religions as inferior.

5. You love a good bible debate. You know every fact and tidbit of history associated with your religion so that you can defend your beliefs, but you forsake "weighty matters such as justice and mercy." 

6. You follow every part of your church's rules and laws, but rarely experience the freedom of joy in your sonship in Christ. 

7. You believe that you are in danger of hellfire because you missed a church service, not realizing that the Bible says that salvation is not obtained through works. Salvation is a gift and not obtained through our own efforts.

8. You do lots of works in order to gain brownie points with God and others, but you still have no love for certain groups of people.

9. You never question your religious leaders. After all, they are always right and false teachings only apply to "one of the lesser denominations."

10. You faithfully give money to your church, but fail to notice or help the suffering people around you. When you see them, you refuse to lift a finger toward them and justify your coldness by saying things like, "God only helps those who help themselves" even though the Bible says, "If you see a brother in need and do not help that person, how can the love of God be in you?"

11. You consider yourself as better than most others. After all, you are holy and saved and know everything about your religion. 

12. You don't believe that sharing the Good News is your responsibility. Instead, you invite others to your church, and then condemn them when they refuse to accompany you. 

13. You are always looking to "convert" others to your way of thinking but rarely care about spending time with them or getting to know them.

14. Salvation, to you, is a numbers game. You look to win souls, not because you love others, but because your "leader" told you to bring others into the "church." After all, the greater the numbers, the more money to fuel the religious system and pay the religious leaders.

15. You might be a Pharisee if inwardly you are gloating because this describes so many people that you know. You somehow feel as if you are now "better than they are," not realizing that the religious spirit behind the Pharisees is one of pride, and can affect each of us. 
We should love others, and simply help others along the path.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Happy Wednesday

Job 2:6 - Jimmy DeYoung
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

For further study - Job 2:1-10

In a future reading for our daily devotions from the book of Job, we will discuss the creation of "angels" that took place on the first day of Creation, between the time the Lord created the "heavens" and then the "earth", Job 38:4-7. In today's extended reading, we eavesdrop on a conversation between God and Satan.

They are discussing Job, and the Lord speaks of Job as one like none other on the earth. Job is an "upright man", one "who feareth God and escheweth evil". He is a man who "holdeth fast his integrity". All of the above characteristics could be found in Job.

Satan responds that God is protecting His servant Job. The Lord then allows Satan to test Job to the point of death saying to Satan, "he is in thine hand; but save his life", verse 6. Satan went from the Lord to Job and began to severely test God's servant.

Notice that in the testing, even Job's wife told her husband to "curse God and die", verse 9. I love the last 10 words of our reading, found in verse 10, "in all this did not Job sin with his lips". What a testimony, which has echoed down through the centuries of time, all the way to us today. In this present-day world, we need that same kind of integrity.

Please notice before we leave this devotional reading the pattern that Satan follows which will be his "trademark" throughout his time as the "ruler of this world". Satan will attack and test the believers in an effort to turn them against the "Most High God".

There is a New Testament passage that is key to our understanding of Satan's devices in the end times, which are revealed in Ephesians 6. Ephesians 6:11 tells us to put on the "whole armor of God" so that we can stand against the "wiles of the devil".

Paul warns us that in the last days we will not wrestle against flesh and blood, Ephesians 6:12, "but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies".

Paul, in this passage, defines all that is a part of Satan's "kingdom of darkness". He describes the same attack by Satan today as Job described over 4,000 years ago. As we get closer to the Lord's return the more intense will be the Satanic attacks. As then, so now also, the Lord is our "protector" from Satan.

The exhortation from Paul to "put on the whole armor of God" in these the "last days" is an absolute must do activity that we cannot fail to do as soon as possible. The Devil, and his evil angels, will be very active as the time draws closer to the Lord's return.

In order to be prepared for the life we will live leading up to the Rapture, at least seven years before the Lord's return, we must be "dressed" properly, with the "whole armor of God" so that we can withstand all the wiles of the Devil and his evil angels.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Lord, help me to pattern my life after Job, a life of integrity. And at the same time, thank you, Lord, for the "armor" that I can put on to fight the "wiles of the devil".

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Happy Tuesday

The Good Seed!

"For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." - 2 Corinthians 2:15

I am convinced that lay men and women need to recapture a biblical view of their role in the kingdom of God.  In Matthew 13, Jesus uses a parable about sowing seed to introduce a tremendous concept concerning the kingdom of God.  "The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom" (13:38).

Here Jesus points out the magnitude of the job: "The field is the world" -- a world of people who need the message of the gospel.  And what is the Lord's plan for accomplishing this?  Planting good seed that will be fruitful and multiply throughout that needy world.

All too often we see the good seed as those among us with unique gifts and abilities that enable them to fulfill the roles of Bible teachers, seminary professors, missionaries, or pastors.  Now, it's a great privilege to pray for full-time Christian workers, support them financially, and encourage them in their work.  But that's not all God has called us to do.

Jesus said, "The good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom."   Christian, that's not just the people who can sing, preach, and translate the Bible into another language; it's all of us who know Him. We are the good seed of the kingdom He wants to scatter throughout the world to bring the message of salvation to the lost.  Christian, you are important to God, and He has a job for you to do.  You and I are to be found BUSY going about The Great Commission! ... telling "whosoever" of the love of Jesus and His desire that none should perish!  (John 3:16-17)

"Lord, as I live and work among people, help me to reproduce the good seed in the world until we crowd out the tares.  Amen. "

Jesus desires to fulfill His Great Commission through all of us, not just a select few.  What are you doing to spread the good news of the Gospel?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Happy Monday

Held by His Omnipotent Hand
Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
BIBLE MEDITATION: “Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:10

I’ve heard people say, “Pray for us that we’ll hold out faithful to the end.” I think I know what they mean, but I always smile. I picture Noah’s ark, and I can see Noah and his wife and family. Rather than being on the inside, they’re holding on to some slimy pegs on the outside of the ark. And Noah says to Mrs. Noah, “Honey, pray for me that I’ll hold out faithful to the end.” But God said to Noah, “Come into the ark,” and the same God that shut the water out, shut Noah in. Now Noah may have fallen down inside that ark, but he never fell out of it. It’s not that we hold on to Him, but that He holds on to us.

Spend some time today simply praising God for His faithfulness, His steadfastness, and His unconditional love for you.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Happy Sunday

by David Wilkerson [May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]

The Bible says that in the last days scoffers will appear, mocking the message that Jesus Christ is going to return to set up a new kingdom. Mockers are saying, "Where is Jesus? I don't see any evidence that He is coming. Everything continues as it has from the beginning!"

If you were to try to convince these scoffers that Jesus is coming to purge the earth with fire and set up a kingdom of eternal righteousness, they would call you insane. Many ridicule the very idea of a second coming of Christ. Yet, without batting an eye, these same mockers turn around and claim that a "new world order" is coming!

Such scoffers have bought into a lie from hell. Satan always manufactures a counterfeit just before the real thing comes. You see, he knows King Jesus is about to return and that His new world is at the door. The devil wants to keep his own children deceived by promoting a fantasy world, with every false hope. So now he has concocted a new, demonic doctrine of a coming New Age to keep people from accepting the reality of the coming Christ!

This most recent New Age counterfeit first appeared as the Age of Aquarius. The eleventh constellation was to move into a final, New Age kingdom, which would be known as the "new world order."

New Agers say this new world order is just about to dawn. They predict a catastrophic calamity will occur and a new world order will arise out of the chaos, ushering in a society of love, understanding and world peace. All diseases will be cured. Wars will cease. Poverty will be no more. And the only Christ that will exist will be a Christ-consciousness—a worldwide mindset of brotherhood. Self-love will be king, and pleasure will be the focus of all.

I have bad news for all such New Age scoffers. I am sorry but you have been hoodwinked by the devil. There is no such thing as the fantasy world he is pushing on humankind in these last days.

Oh, there is a new world coming, all right, but it isn't a "new world order" or a New Age. Rather, every kingdom of this world is soon to become our Lord's and all His enemies will become His footstool. Christ is coming back to establish His holy kingdom, and scoffers will not have any part in it: "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Happy Saturday

Looking for God
Suzie Eller
"Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!" 1 Chronicles 16:11 (ESV)
My granddaughter Elle is almost three. Recently we had a family event and Elle and her parents arrived before we did. It had been a few weeks since we had seen her, which is unusual. When we walked in the door, a wide smile filled her face and she ran into my arms.
For the next several minutes Elle circled around the crowded room. Each time she made her way purposely back to me, placed both hands on my knees, looked me in the eye and said, "There you are!"
It was as if Elle wanted me to know that, in the midst of a crowd, she delighted that I was in the room.
I wonder if I show my Savior this same joy? I wonder if I seek Him like 1 Chronicles 16:11 teaches me to.
In a crowded schedule, do I carve out time to find Him?
The reality is that sometimes, if I am not intentional, my time with Him can get pushed to second or third place behind deadlines, bills to pay, errands to run, events to attend. And yet when I seek Him out and sit in His presence, I realize all over again how beautiful it is to worship Him, to feel the pleasure and love of a Heavenly Father.
In my crowded thoughts, do I pause and say, "There You are!"
Or do I let anxiety, anger, frustration, or worry take center stage, forgetting His promises of comfort, of strength, of peace in the midst of storms. Yes, He's there for He assures us that He is (Joshua 1:9; Romans 8:38-38; Hebrews 3:15). But do I ask Him to shine His Light on my troubled thoughts?
In my crowded life, do I invite Him in to every area?
Time with God is not confined to a prayer time or a few moments reading Scripture. Instead, we are invited to live and move and breathe in Him (Acts 17:28). That means that He is with us as we parent, as we go to work, as we reflect on a beautiful sunset, or as we comfort a friend. As believers, we don't just have to live. We live in Him, and He lives in us.
Elle had many options that day. Aunts and uncles held out open arms. Toys and books were offered at every turn. Cousins gave her kisses.
But she delighted in me instead. She didn't have to, for I love that little girl with every fiber of my being. But the fact that she loves me back with abandon is sheer joy for this grandma.
How long has it been since you delighted in God? Or experienced His pleasure in your presence? He loves you; that we know for certain. But what if today you pushed aside crowded thoughts, a crowded schedule, and a crowded life to proclaim with delight, "There You are!"
Dear Heavenly Father, I delight in You. Not for what I might receive, but simply because of Who You are to me. I love You with my heart, my soul, my mind. No matter the crowd I find myself in, with You is where I long to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Printer called Friday afternoon... They need the paper layout by 4PM Saturday...  Hope to have the next edition of The StarLight News posted to the Internet after I finish...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy Friday

Forget About It
By Karen Ehman
"For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." Hebrews 8:12 (ESV)

In the midst of a heated conflict do you ever get historical?

Not hysterical, as in acting totally out-of-control ... but historical. As in bringing up the past; reliving and rehashing former wrongdoings and offenses.

"You'll never change!"

"You're acting just like you did when ..."

"There you go again. You always ..."

I do this to others. But mostly I do this to myself.

At times I have trouble remembering the name of the person I just met or where I put my cell phone. However, I'm keenly adept at remembering my sins from the past. Or the shame and guilt they carry with them as ammunition to target my heart and make me feel defeated. I can recount my sins as easily as I can say the alphabet.
Oftentimes forgiving myself sometimes feels like it's impossible to do.
When it comes to God however, we don't have to fear He will bring up our past sins and use them against us, throwing them in our face and refusing to forgive. In today's key verse, God says, "For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:12 ESV)

This verse reminds me of a story of a man who claimed to have dreams where God regularly visited him and they talked together. He shared this with his pastor who doubted whether this was actually true. So the pastor issued a challenge to prove whether or not the man's claims were valid.

"The next time God visits you," he instructed the man, "ask Him to tell you the worst sin I've ever committed." Since this pastor had a wild background he was certain there were a lot of sins lurking there from which God could choose.
Later when the pastor saw the man again, he asked him, "Well, did God visit with you again?" The man replied, "Yes, He sure did."

"Okay then, tell me, what did He say was the worst sin I ever committed?"

The man responded, "I asked and God looked straight at me and simply stated, 'Hmmm ... I don't remember.'"

In God's Word we are told, "He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west." (Psalm 103:12 NLT) And, as today's verse says, He not only removes sins, He forgets them!

His ability to forget is His way of giving us a new start. He hits the refresh button on our lives and enables us to start over, no mater what grievous wrongs we've committed. Or how often we've committed them.

We must simply confess our sins to Him. He is faithful to forgive our wrongdoings and hit the restart button of our heart, giving us a fresh beginning.

Perhaps it is time we "forget about it" - just like God does. If He chooses not to remember our sins, why do we keep shaming and blaming ourselves for them?
Let's pray for the ability to forget and live like the holy and forgiven people God says we are when we bring our sins to Him. Instead of remembering our history, let's focus on the history of Jesus' death on the cross and His forgiveness and forgetfulness . . . of our sins.

Dear Lord, help me grasp the truth that You do not remember my sins. Thank You for not only forgiving my sins, but for forgetting them as well. May I live as a new creation, holy and blameless as I seek to serve You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Happy Thursday

If You're Happy and You Know It...
Most of us are really great at being miserable and noticing it. Our backs ache, our feet hurt, someone was cross with us and put us in a bad mood—there are many, many levels of knowing you're not very pleased with life. What most of us are not good at is noticing—and rejoicing at—those moments when all is well.
Little kids in Sunday school often sing, "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands." They all clap their hands and sing with unbounded enthusiasm. Isn't it great that their genuine happiness can be expressed so freely?
Years ago there was a period of time when I was miserable. It was not a long period of time and I no longer know what I thought was so terrible in my life; but I remember sitting in my rocking chair rocking my little boy and being depressed. Then for some reason I found myself analyzing how I felt and comparing it to how I felt a few days before. I have never forgotten the illumination that dawned on me. I realized I had gone through a relatively long period when I was basically happy and content but I hadn't even thought about that wonderful state and I hadn't really even enjoyed it. I vowed if I ever felt happy again I would make the most of it. A couple of days later the tides of time did return me to happiness and I did remember to realize it.  I was young back then and now I'm old but I still make a fool out of myself enjoying my happy days. I smile, I chatter, I hum, sing and whistle and most of all, I'm happy and I know it.
~Betty Killebrew

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Happy Wednesday

Salvation is a gift

If anyone could have achieved salvation by his own efforts, it was Martin Luther.
In 1505, when he was 21, he abandoned his career in law and entered the monastery, but not to study theology.

His motive was to save his soul.
He gave himself rigorously to the prescribed ways to find God.
He fasted, prayed, devoted himself to menial work and practiced penance.

In his quest for salvation-
- he confessed his sins, even the most trivial ones, for hours on end until his superiors, wearied of his exercise, ordered him to stop until he committed some sin worth confessing!
He was the most exemplary of monks, yet had no peace.

Luther tried to satisfy God's demand for righteousness through good works.
But what works? he thought.

What works can come from a heart like mine?
How can I stand before the holiness of my Judge with works polluted in their very source?

It was not until John Staupitz set him to studying the Bible that Luther realized what the difficulty was.
He was trying to earn salvation by works, when the righteousness needed was not human but divine.

He then understood that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Acts 2:21.

Luther learned to stop working for righteous.
Salvation is a gift received by faith, given by God to everyone who calls on His name.

Perhaps Luther's example will help you see if you are like him, trying 'to do' your way into heaven.
It can't be done that way. It can be done only by calling on the name of the Lord.

In The News:

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Wages War on Christians

As violence envelops Egypt, Christians are paying a heavy price, with scores of their most sacred buildings and monuments being systematically destroyed by members of the Muslim Brotherhood in what one Coptic leader called an attempt at ethnic cleansing, Fox News reports. The group has zeroed in on Christians since the Muslim Brotherhood-backed administration of Mohamed Morsi was ousted on July 3. The military removed him from power after he imposed several sweeping constitutional changes that appeared to put the nation of 90 million on a path toward Islamist rule. "The Muslim Brotherhood continues its attacks on churches to implement their scheme, which includes ethnic cleansing and the forced displacement of Copts," said Abul Ezz el-Hariri, a Christian and former presidential candidate from Alexandria. "Egyptian churches are part of a blueprint by the MB to lure other Islamist groups." At least 50 Christian churches and schools have been looted and set ablaze since fierce fighting broke out last week. In one recent case, Islamists torched a Franciscan school and then paraded three nuns on the streets like "prisoners of war" before a Muslim woman offered them refuge. The campaign of intimidation also has targeted the homes and businesses of Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the nation's population. Under fire, Christians are solidly backing the military's harsh crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. "The Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt ... confirms its strong stance with the Egyptian law enforcement, the armed forces, and all of the institutions of the Egyptian people in its confrontation of the violent armed organizations," said the nation's Christian leader, Pope Tawadros II. Monasteries, dioceses, churches, schools and other property of Copts have been targeted since government security forces broke up Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in Raba al-Adaweya and Nahda squares on Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Happy Tuesday

God gave them a choice

The opening chapters of the Bible tell us that when God created our first parents, Adam and Eve.
They lived in a perfect world.

And not only was the world perfect-
- but their relationship with God was perfect also.

But God warned them not to eat the fruit of one particular tree, because if they did, death would come upon the human race.

In other words-
God gave them a choice:
to obey Him or disobey Him.

Without that choice, they would have been like puppets, able to do only what God wanted.

But God gave them a free will.
And one day they gave in to Satan's lies and chose to rebel against their Creator.

As a result, the Bible says, "Sin entered the world through one man...and in this way death came to all men." Romans 5:12.

What would the world be like if they hadn't sinned?
We can only speculate, of course, but I have no doubt that Satan would still be trying to get us to believe his lies and turn against God.

But the reality is that Adam and Eve did give in.
And every day you and I give in also.

That is why we need Christ-
- for only He can forgive us and bring us back to God.

Some day, we will live in a perfect world, if we know Christ!
Some day, all sin will be destroyed and Satan will be bound forever!

This present world will never be perfect.
But heaven is.

Is your faith and hope in Christ?

In The News:
3,400 Christians Rescued From Persecution in Sudan
An organization called Barnabas Fund was able to transfer 3,400 Christians out of hostile Muslim Sudan to relatively safe South Sudan, International Christian Concern reports. Most of those rescued were widows and orphans, and the organization plans to continue focusing on aiding them. Those evacuated are living in tents, but praising God for their rescue. Christians are facing increasing levels of persecution in Sudan since the country divided, and the aggressive Islamist government wants to eradicate the Christian presence from the north. Because of border tensions, Christians in Sudan have been unable to flee to South Sudan, leaving many of them in shantytowns surrounding Sudan's capital Khartoum. Barnabas Fund has airlifted and bussed nearly 5,000 vulnerable Christians to South Sudan.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Happy Monday

Alone, but not lonely!

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20.

Some feel it in a crowd.
Others feel it when alone.
And some feel it during the holidays, such as Christmas.

Sociologists say that never before in history have so many people lived so close together and felt so far apart.
Loneliness is a major problem.

I propose to you that one can still be alone, but not lonely.

A person will never find victory over loneliness until he learns to enjoy being alone.
At the root of all loneliness is alienation from God.

Years ago, a man named Augustine espoused that God has made us for Himself.

Our soul is restless until we find rest in Him.

We may seek to fill the void with activities, crowds, and noise.
But a nagging loneliness will always be there until we have a personal relationship with God.

When we find that, we have found the key to being alone, but not lonely!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Happy Saturday & Sunday

Farming Forgiveness
Once upon a time two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch. Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning there was a knock on John's door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter's toolbox. "I'm looking for a few days work" he said. "Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there. Could I help you?"
"Yes," said the older brother. "I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbor, in fact, it's my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll go him one better. See that pile of lumber curing by the barn? I want you to build me a fence -- an 8-foot fence -- so I won't need to see his place anymore. Cool him down, anyhow."
The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you."
The older brother had to go to town for supplies, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day.
The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing.
About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.
The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped.
There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge -- a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work handrails and all -- and the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming across, his hand outstretched.
"You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I've said and done."
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other's hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder. "No, wait! Stay a few days. I've a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother.
"I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, "but, I have many more bridges to build."

Friday, August 16, 2013

Happy Friday

There's Power in His Words 
Glynnis Whitwer
"'Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?' declares the LORD. 'Is not my word like fire,' declares the LORD, 'and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?'" Jeremiah 23:28-29 (NIV)
"Glynnis, what do you think I should do?"
Wrapping my hands around my coffee cup, I leaned back in my chair, took a sip and struck what I believed was a wise pose.
On the outside, I was composed ... I crossed my legs and rocked back, looking at my friend intently.
But on the inside ... oh that was a different story. On the inside, I was giddy. Someone wanted my opinion! Oh what joy that brought to the heart of this always-wanting-to-be-right girl. Gathering my thoughts, I took a deep breath and proceeded to unload what surely were words that would change her life!
Her response was under-whelming.
I expected to hear something like, "Wow! I hadn't thought of that. Thank you so much. I'm definitely going to take your advice."
All I got back, "Hmmm ... okay."
Insecurity bothered me for days. I second-guessed everything I'd said, wondering if somehow I'd offended her or came across as bossy or judgmental. I'd so carefully crafted each sentence, that I couldn't imagine where I'd gone wrong.
I spent many years wanting to be the one people came to for questions. To be acknowledged. To have all the answers. And yet time and time again, my advice fell on deaf ears. Unless someone else gave the exact same advice I did a few days later. Then everyone thought it was brilliant. Awesome.
Receiving this type of response bugged me for years. Until I realized God was using it to teach me a lesson. God needed to uncover a heart attitude behind my actions. Rather than pointing people to God's Word, I consistently pointed them to my words. And my words don't have the power to change lives like God's.
As a young Christian, I knew God's Word was important. Reading the Bible became a central part of my life. But there were many years where it was more routine than life-changing. I read it because that's what "good" Christians did.
My faith took a drastic leap forward when I realized God's Word had power when I believed it and acted on it. It had power because it was truth. It had power because it had the weight of heaven behind it.
One of the first lessons God taught me was from James 1:5-6, where James tells of the importance of not doubting when we ask for wisdom: "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind" (NIV).
I realized I doubted all the time. One day I decided to take God at His Word and stop doubting He would answer my prayers for wisdom. When I asked for direction, I trusted that my gut instinct was from God ... so long as it wasn't against His Word. The more I addressed doubt, the more my confidence grew that I was hearing from God. And the more I saw God move in my life.
The power of God's Word changed my life drastically when I chose to believe and act on it. And while I still like to be asked for advice, now I point people in the direction of God's Words more than mine. The response is always life-changing.
Heavenly Father, You are the source of true power and wisdom. Forgive me for all the times I've looked to myself for strength. I want to be a woman whose life is testimony to the power of Your Word to transform and renew. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Thursday

I Didn't Sign up for This 
 Karen Ehman
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good ..." Genesis 50:20a (NLT)
"I didn't sign up for this!" my friend moaned as we reviewed the printed class schedules we'd just picked up in the school office.
While I had gotten all my desired classes, she had been assigned one she had absolutely no interest in taking. She couldn't imagine spending four months stuck in a classroom studying something she disliked.
I tried to empathize, but truthfully I felt she was whining about a very minor issue. Her life, in my estimation, was absolutely fantastic. She came from a well-to-do family. Her parents had been happily married for over 25 years. She had a big extended family and fun get-togethers. She had straight teeth and a nearly-new car.
I, on the other hand, came from a family rocked by divorce and financial struggles. I had only one brother with whom I didn't get along. My car was old and ugly. My teeth needed braces, but the funds had never been available.
Hearing her complain about her schedule started my descent into self-pity as I compared my circumstances to hers.
The more I thought about the unfairness of my life, I reached the same conclusion she had when she spied that unwanted class: "I didn't sign up for this!"
My friend and I both felt stuck. However, our situations weren't life-threatening. They were issues we could work to change. We could learn the lessons God had for us by not always having a perfect life. And if truly unable to change parts of our circumstances, we could still change our attitudes.
A young man in Scripture, Joseph, also found himself smack dab in a heap of hassles and difficult situations he never signed up for. His jealous brothers sold him into slavery. He was whisked away to live in a foreign land. To top it off, he was falsely accused of raping his master's wife even though he tried his best to stay away from her. He even wound up in prison.
These unjust circumstances could have had him complaining, "I didn't sign up for this!" He could have retaliated against those who had caused his turmoil. But he didn't.
Joseph maintained a God-fearing, God-honoring attitude throughout his ordeals, even as a slave with no freedom in sight.
At the end of his life we get a glimpse into his continual Christ-like behavior. He'd risen from slave to governor of Egypt through his discernment and wisdom. When his brothers came to buy grain during a famine from the Egyptian authorities, they were shocked to see their younger brother—long thought dead—sitting in a position of power. They feared he would retaliate for the cruel things they did to him, but Joseph's response? "You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good ..." (Genesis 50:20a).
Joseph refused to let life's hard knocks knock him off course, preventing him from living a life that pleased God. He believed in a God Who works all things together for good. By recognizing God's redemption of horrific circumstances, he found true spiritual freedom from self-pity, anger and retaliation. Instead he characterized what God wants of us in Micah 6:8b, "And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?" (NAS).
Today when I am tempted to whine as I compare my life with someone I perceive has an easier one, I remember Joseph, the slave-by-force. I want to emulate his attitude, be spiritually free, and walk in the ways of God.
It also prompts me to remember that today forced slavery still exists; women and children are forced into the sex-trafficking trade every day. These precious ones sit in atrocious circumstances due to no fault or choice of their own.
We enjoy simple freedoms they never get to experience. Unless ... we band together, purposing to do something about this awful practice. Could we dare to get our eyes off of our sometimes minor problems and spend time doing justice, acting kindly and humbly walking with God to help free these slaves?
No matter our circumstances, it's never too late to be free. Our God-honoring attitude that comes from a shift in perspective can help us find spiritual freedom. And our intentional actions can help others imprisoned in slavery find freedom, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Dear Lord, help me take my eyes off of my circumstances and fix them solely upon You and Your plan so I can find true spiritual freedom and offer freedom to others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Happy Wednesday

Pride's End, Sinful Pride! (Leviticus 8-10)
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. - Proverbs 6:16-19

In Leviticus 8-10, we see that the consecration of the priests contained a strange ritual. God instructed Moses to kill a ram, take the blood, and put it on the ears, hands, and feet of Aaron and his sons. They were set apart for God through this anointing, and dedicated to His service in all they did.

Soon after this, Leviticus 10 records that Aaron's sons are killed for offering strange fire before God. God had not authorized them to burn incense on the solemn day of inauguration. That was to be performed by the high priest alone; they were to assist him. We know from the New Testament that the priests were to burn incense only when it was their lot, and this was certainly not Nadab and Abihu's.

As I've pondered these events I've wondered, Was there an element of pride in the lives of these two sons of Aaron? They had a tremendous honor bestowed upon them, but had it gone to their heads?

Can you think of anything good that cannot be ruined by pride? I can't. May God grant us the grace to face our areas of personal pride, confess them, forsake them, and walk each day HUMBLY with the Lord.


Lord, help me to walk humbly with You. Amen.

God is especially angered and grieved when we, His children, exhibit prideful behavior.

In The News: Imagine, if you will, living in a country that you could be beaten, hospitalized, even killed JUST For Knowing JESUS... 

Coptic Christian Girl Shot Dead in Egypt

Morning Star News

CAIRO, Egypt (Morning Star News) – A Coptic Christian girl walking home from a Bible class at her church was shot and killed last week in Cairo by an unidentified gunman, human rights activists said August 9.

Amid a near-constant din of threats and scattered attacks against the Christian population in Egypt by militant political Islamists, the rights representatives said 10-year-old Jessica Boulous of the Ain Shams section of Cairo was killed early Tuesday evening (Aug. 6) while walking from the Ahmed Esmat Street Evangelical Church through a market to her home with her Sunday school teacher. 

The teacher turned to buy an item at a market stall only to turn back and find Jessica lying in the dirt in a puddle of blood, rights activists said. A Muslim shopkeeper who knew Jessica saw her fall to the ground and ran to her side. He took off his shirt, wrapped it around her motionless body and rushed her to a hospital, but she was already dead.

A single bullet had passed through her chest and heart, killing her instantly, witnesses said.

Nasr Allah Zakaria, Jessica’s uncle, said the killing has devastated the girl’s family.

“I just can’t believe she is gone,” Zakaria said. “She was such a sweet little girl. She was like a daughter to me. I can’t believe she is gone.”

No one has claimed responsibility for the killing. Zakaria, pastor of an evangelical church in Egypt, said he didn’t know for sure if the shooting was religiously motivated but quickly added that violence against Christians “seems to be normal” in Egypt now.

Violence or intimidation against Christians has become almost a daily occurrence in most parts of Egypt. In the aftermath of the protests that led to the removal of Mohamed Morsi as president, militant supporters of Morsi have publicly scapegoated the Coptic Christian minority for the Islamic Brotherhood-backed president’s fall from power. Many have called for revenge against Christians. Less than 12 hours after the Egyptian military announced that it had expelled Morsi from office, reports of attacks against Christians by Morsi supporters began.

After numerous attacks for about a week and a half, there was a relative lull in the violence. But at the end of July, the pace picked up once more. The attacks were inspired, human rights activists said, by a near-constant stream of vitriol from Islamic leaders calling for retribution against the Copts.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood on Aug. 2 distributed flyer threatening to attack church buildings and police stations in Minya in Upper Egypt, according to local residents.