Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Good Shepherd

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
- John 10:11-15

Again Jesus found access to the minds of His hearers by the pathway of their familiar associations. He had likened the Spirit's influence to the cool, refreshing water. He had represented Himself as the light, the source of life and gladness to nature and to man. Now in a beautiful pastoral picture He represents His relation to those that believe on Him. No picture was more familiar to His hearers than this, and Christ's words linked it forever with Himself. Never could the disciples look on the shepherds tending their flocks without recalling the Saviour's lesson. They would see Christ in each faithful shepherd. They would see themselves in each helpless and dependent flock.

This figure the prophet Isaiah had applied to the Messiah's mission, in the comforting words, "O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! . . . He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom." Isa. 40:9-11. David had sung, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." Ps. 23:1.

And the Holy Spirit through Ezekiel had declared: "I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them." "I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick." "And I will make with them a covenant of peace." "And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen; . . . but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid." Ezek. 34:23, 16, 25, 28.

Christ applied these prophecies to Himself, and He showed the contrast between His own character and that of the leaders in Israel. The Pharisees had just driven one from the fold, because he dared to bear witness to the power of Christ. They had cut off a soul whom the True Shepherd was drawing to Himself. In this they had shown themselves ignorant of the work committed to them, and unworthy of their trust as shepherds of the flock. Jesus now set before them the contrast between them and the Good Shepherd, and He pointed to Himself as the real keeper of the Lord's flock.

Monday, June 29, 2015

How Will You Use Your Extra Second at the End of This Month?

by Dr. Danny Faulkner on June 23, 2015
At the end of the day on June 30 this year there will be a leap second. That is, we will insert an additional second into our time reckoning. This will happen after 23:59:59 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which corresponds to 7:59:59 PM, Eastern Daylight Time. If you don’t update your clocks at that time, your clocks will be one second fast. OK, this won’t matter to most people, but there is a fascinating connection to creation in this story.
Throughout history, the basis for time measurement primarily has been the motion of the earth. For instance, the earth’s daily rotation defines the day. We subdivide the day into 24 hours, each hour into 60 minutes, and each minute into 60 seconds. Hence, there are 86,400 seconds in a day. However, the earth’s rotation is not a perfect time keeper, for its rotation changes ever so slightly. It was not until recent times that technology has allowed us to detect the minute changes in the earth’s rotation. For most people, this is of no consequence. But for some experiments that require extremely accurate time measurements, the earth’s rotation is not a good standard to measure time.
In the 1950s, scientists defined the second to be 1/31,556,925.9747 of the mean tropical year in the year 1900. This standard was adopted about the time that atomic clocks were developed, and scientists quickly realized that atomic clocks offered the possibility of a more dependable standard of time. In 1967, scientists redefined the second to be 9,192,631,770 cycles of a particular transition of the caesium-133 atom. This definition closely matched the length of the second then in use.
While this is a good definition of the second for precise scientific work, we like to keep the scientific measurement of time synchronized with the sun and hence with everyday life as closely as possible. The error between the two quickly accumulates. For instance, suppose that the earth were to slow its rotation by just 1/1000 of a second. After only one year (365 days), the accumulated error would be 0.365 seconds. When observations of the sun show that there is a discrepancy of 0.9 seconds, we add a leap second, either at the end of June 30 or six months later at the end of December 31. This has happened 25 times since 1972.
What causes the changes in the earth’s rotation? There are several causes. First, random events such as earthquakes can shuffle the earth’s material and change the earth’s moment of inertia. When the earth’s moment of inertia changes, conservation of angular momentum requires that the rotation rate must change as well. For instance, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake that caused the large tsunami shrunk the earth slightly and shortened the earth’s rotation by about 2.7 millionths of a second. Second, annual events such as seasonal growing and melting glaciers and ice caps change the earth’s moment of inertia. Third, there is a long-term periodic trend caused by astronomical bodies.
Finally, there is a long-term secular (non-periodic) slowing in the earth’s rotation caused by the tidal interaction of the earth and moon. As the earth slows its rotation, the moon spirals away from the earth. Therefore, in the past the earth spun more rapidly and the moon was much closer to the earth. Direct computation shows that the earth and moon would have been in contact about 1.3 billion years ago. Even a billion years ago the moon would have been so close to the earth that tides would have been a mile high. No one—including those who believe that the earth is far older than a billion years—thinks that tides were ever that high or that the moon and the earth touched a little more than a billion years ago.
However, since the earth and moon are only thousands of years old as the Bible clearly indicates, the long-term change in the earth-moon system is no problem. Indeed, what we see in the interaction between the earth and moon offers powerful evidence that the earth and moon are young. Think about that as you celebrate this month’s leap second.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Salt of the Earth

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
- Matthew 5:13
Jesus added the solemn warning: "If the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." As they listened to the words of Christ, the people could see the white salt glistening in the pathways where it had been cast out because it had lost its savor and was therefore useless. It well represented the condition of the Pharisees and the effect of their religion upon society. It represents the life of every soul from whom the power of the grace of God has departed and who has become cold and Christ-less. Whatever may be his profession, such a one is looked upon by men and angels as insipid and disagreeable.

It is to such that Christ says: "I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth." Revelation 3:15, 16. Without a living faith in Christ as a personal Saviour it is impossible to make our influence felt in a skeptical world. We cannot give to others that which we do not ourselves possess. It is in proportion to our own devotion and consecration to Christ that we exert an influence for the blessing and uplifting of mankind. If there is no actual service, no genuine love, no reality of experience, there is no power to help, no connection with heaven, no savor of Christ in the life. Unless the Holy Spirit can use us as agents through whom to communicate to the world the truth as it is in Jesus, we are as salt that has lost its savor and is entirely worthless.

By our lack of the grace of Christ we testify to the world that the truth which we claim to believe has no sanctifying power; and thus, so far as our influence goes, we make of no effect the word of God. "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, A.R.V.

When love fills the heart, it will flow out to others, not because of favors received from them, but because love is the principle of action. Love modifies the character, governs the impulses, subdues enmity, and ennobles the affections. This love is as broad as the universe, and is in harmony with that of the angel workers. Cherished in the heart, it sweetens the entire life and sheds its blessing upon all around. It is this, and this only, that can make us the salt of the earth.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Blessings from Obedience

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.- 1 Corinthians 9:27

Those who understand something of the wisdom and beneficence of his laws, and perceive the evidences of God's love and the blessings that result from obedience, will come to regard their duties and obligations from an altogether different point of view. Instead of looking upon the observance of the laws of health as a matter of sacrifice and self-denial, they will regard it, as it really is, an inestimable blessing.

All our enjoyment or suffering may be traced to obedience or transgression of natural law. God, the Creator of our bodies, has arranged every fiber and nerve and sinew and muscle, and has pledged himself to keep the machinery in order if the human agent will co-operate with him and refuse to work contrary to the laws which govern the human system.

A careful conformity to the laws which God has implanted in our being will insure health, and there will not be a breaking down of the constitution. Every "Thou shall not," whether in physical or moral law, contains or implies a promise. If it is obeyed, blessings will attend our steps. He requires us to obey natural law, to preserve physical health.

If Christians will keep the body in subjection, and bring all their appetites and passions under the control of enlightened conscience, feeling it a duty that they owe to God and to their neighbors to obey the laws which govern health and life, they will have the blessing of physical and mental vigor. They will have moral power to engage in the warfare against Satan; and in the name of him who conquered appetite in their behalf, they may be more than conquerors on their own account.

"And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God." Deuteronomy 28:1-2

Friday, June 26, 2015

Two Pillars

by Os Hillman

"He erected the pillars in the front of the temple, one to the south and one to the north. The one to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz" (Chron 3:15-17).

In 2003, I took my first trip to Israel. I visited the Wailing Wall, the only thing left of the original temple built by David's son, Solomon. I took an underground tour of the temple foundation which allowed us to see the incredibly huge, square boulders that were used to lay the foundation. History states that these boulders were cut off-site and transported to the temple location to avoid loud noises in the temple area. Pillars are designed to provide the foundation to a structure. These towering cylinders provide the height and strength to connect the roof to the lower foundation.

What's remarkable is the name of the two pillars that stood in front of the temple: Jakin, which means it establishes. And Boaz means in it is strength. Jakin was a priest. Boaz was a business man also known as a "king" in the scriptures. He was also Ruth's kinsman redeemer whose lineage would be traced all the way to Christ (Mt. 1:5). It is a picture of two people God would use to represent the entrance into God's presence and the forming of the foundation of Christ's Church. The Bible says we are both kings and priests, but we also have two separate distinct roles to play in his Body.

Kings and Priests are joining together to bring the presence of God into the place that has been forbidden territory - the workplace. It is only when this partnership cooperates in unity, mutual respect, and affirmation that we see God's power released. Alone, we cannot do it. Together, we can bring the presence of God into all spheres of society to transform workplaces, cities and nations.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Ultimate Franchise

by Os Hillman

And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought Me? Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business? Luke 2:49 KJV

Earth is God's business. He has set up many franchises (churches) designed to send His representatives (Body of Christ) into the world to make known the best product ever given to mankind (Jesus). His branch managers (pastors) have been given the responsibility to teach and support those in the field. God's goal is to establish a franchise in every nation, state, and city. It is the ultimate business because when you introduce someone to His product (Jesus), you receive a reward from the home office (Heaven). God has promised that His representatives will have all the tools and customer support needed to accomplish their strategic plans.

Jesus knew that He was to be about His Father's business. He knew He was sent to earth not to enjoy the pleasures of lowly man, but to accomplish a task for which He alone was sent. When He had accomplished His mission, He was to entrust this mission to other representatives into whom He poured His life for three years. This field training allowed Jesus to mentor, model, befriend, and demonstrate firsthand the model for a successful business to be launched and sustained.

God has big plans for His franchise. He wants every human being to partake of His product; however, even God knows that not everyone will. Nevertheless, this does not thwart His efforts in seeking to make it known among His audience.

You have been called to be part of the ultimate franchise. How many new recruits have you been responsible for bringing into the franchise lately?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How God Makes Fishermen

by Os Hillman

"'Come, follow Me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.'" Matthew 4:19

Our calling has three distinct stages, which we can see in the lives of many called before us, to become mature fishers of men who greatly impact God's Kingdom.

First, there is the gestation period. This is the development stage of our lives. It may involve years of normal work experiences. You may be a Christian during this time, or you may be following after worldly success as a non-Christian. Paul spent years in religious and political training, persecuting believers most of his early life. Moses spent years in the court of Pharaoh and 40 years tending flocks in the desert. Jesus spent 30 years living at home and working in His father's carpentry business. However, all these years were part of their preparation.

Next is the crisis stage. Sooner or later, God calls you into relationship with Him. For many, like Paul, it comes through dramatic encounters like being knocked off a horse, blinded and spoken to personally by God. Some people are more difficult than others to reach and so require this level of crisis. This is a time when God requires major changes so that you follow Him fully. It can be a time in which God harnesses years of experience for a new life purpose. Paul's earthly experiences would be used in his calling to the religious and political leaders of his day. For Moses, the burning bush experience would begin his journey in which he would discover his ultimate calling after years of preparation. For Peter, it was his denial of Jesus three times that allowed him to face his shallow commitment to Christ. For Jesus, it was the garden of Gethsemane. These were the benchmark turning points for men who made an impact on their world.

Last is the fruit-bearing stage. In it, God's power is manifested in your life like never before. God takes all your experiences and uses them to build His Kingdom in and through your life. Your obedience to this final call results in fruitfulness you could never imagine without the long preparation process. For Abraham, it resulted in becoming the father of many nations. For Paul, it resulted in bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. And for Peter, it meant becoming the leader of the Church. For Jesus, it was salvation for the entire world.

What does God want to achieve through your life? God has a plan that is so incredible you cannot comprehend it. It requires only that you love Him and follow Him. Then you will become fishers of men like the world has never known.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Worldly Planning

by Os Hillman

"Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say, 'Yes, yes' and 'No, no'?" 2 Corinthians 1:17

The apostle Paul was discussing his plans to come to the church at Corinth. He was acknowledging the serious nature of his trip and informing the Corinthians that he did not flippantly come to this decision to visit them. It was a matter that had been given serious prayer, not one made in the spur of the moment.

Planning from God's view is a process. It isn't merely an exercise in reason and analysis. It requires entering into the mind of Christ together with our minds to determine which course to take. In the Old Testament, the priests wore breastplates with the Urim and Thummim in a pouch on their breasts. It was like a roll of dice that the priests were required to perform to know which direction they were to take on a matter. It was the ultimate release of all decisions into God's hand. God did not want the priests to rely on their own intellects for final decisions.

We have an uncanny ability to make decisions based on our own needs and wants. However, God desires that we seek Him to know His plans for us. David was a skilled warrior who never lost a battle. He consulted God on every decision. He knew the results of the battle rested in God's hand. So, if he was to gain victory, he had to know God's mind on the matter.
Sometimes this requires more time given to the process in order to hear His voice. Sometimes it may even require fasting and prayer. Sometimes it may require input from other godly friends.

Are you a man or woman who makes decisions based on God's purposes for your life? Do you take every major decision and put it before the throne to determine God's mind on the matter? If so, you will avoid making decisions in a worldly manner.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. --1 Peter 1:6-7

One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is the one about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

As we read in the Old Testament, King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold that was eight stories tall. He commanded all his people to bow down and worship the idol when they heard the music play. Those who didn't would be thrown into the fiery furnace.

When the music sounded, everyone obeyed-except Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (rulers over the province of Babylon, thanks to their friend Daniel). This made Nebuchadnezzar furious. He called the men forward and gave them another chance. If they didn't obey this time, they would surely be thrown into the furnace.

These men said to the king, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand... But even if he does not, we want you to know...that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up" (Daniel 3:17-18).

So Nebuchadnezzar ordered his soldiers to throw them in. The young men were bound and tossed into the blazing furnace, which instantly killed the soldiers who took them to their fate.

Nebuchadnezzar noticed that instead of three men in the fire, there were four men walking around, unbound and unharmed! He called out Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who walked out unscathed, not even smelling of smoke.

Nebuchadnezzar then exclaimed, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego... They trusted in him...and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God" (Daniel 3:28).

This is an amazing testimony! It gives me chills just thinking about it. It's good for all of us to revisit this story because it reminds us of three things: 1) we should be bold in the face of adversity; 2) we can know that, in the fiery furnaces of life, Jesus walks with us; and 3) through it all, our faith is refined.

PRAYER CHALLENGE: God, give me faith and boldness like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had. Thank You for carrying me through the fiery trials of life!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Drawing from the Source

In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley
Jeremiah 2:13

For us as believers, contentment should be governed by inner attitude and the decisions we make rather than by external circumstances. Because Paul had learned this secret, he was able to experience joy and peace in any kind of situation--whether he was surrounded by friends or isolated in a Roman prison; whether he had plenty or was in great need.

The apostle understood what it meant to live in Christ and to have Christ living in him (John 15:1-9; Gal. 5:22-23). He had made a simple but profound faith decision to draw his life from the Lord and, as a result, had the calm assurance that what he possessed inside could never be stolen. He was confident in his identity as a child of the Almighty, with full access to the abundant life Jesus offers.

I want to challenge you--this week, when something threatens to steal your contentment, choose to draw from God; decide to stop drawing from other sources and trying to be in control. When you find yourself becoming flustered, anxious, or angry, stop and say, "Lord, You are my source, and I draw from You the capacity to be kind. I draw from You the forgiveness I need to extend right now. I draw from You the love I need to express." This decision is a matter of simple trust.

Watch and see how God will quiet your spirit and provide confidence when you draw only from Him as your source. You'll be surprised at your own attitude: when you respond from within--rather than from the flesh--Jesus will give you the ability to respond as He would.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Actions Have Consequences

Actions have consequences! In the book of Genesis we read how Joseph placed his loyalty above lust when he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife. His primary concern was the preference of God when he said, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God” (Genesis 39:9)?
The lesson we learn from Joseph is surprisingly simple: Do what pleases God. Your co-workers want to include a trip to a gentleman’s club on the evening agenda. What do you do? Do what pleases God. Your date invites you to conclude the evening with drinks at his place. How should you reply? Do what pleases God.

You don’t fix a struggling marriage with an affair, a drug problem with more drugs, debt with more debt. You don’t get out of a mess by making another one. You’ll never go wrong doing what is right. Just do what pleases God.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Uncontrolled Weakness

The book of Judges tells of a man named Samson, who was so strong he could kill a lion with his bare hands (14:5-6). He possessed physical strength unequalled by any human being. But this could not compensate for his inner weakness.

All of us have areas of weakness. God wants these character flaws to show us how totally dependent we are upon Him. When we handle them properly, they drive us into a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Lord. But uncontrolled weakness wreaks havoc in a person’s life.

Samson’s Achilles’ heel was uncontrollable lust. Although he was raised in a godly home and had a clear calling in life, he gave in to his desires and deliberately violated the truth he knew so well. Despite Nazirite laws forbidding involvement with foreign women, Samson pursued a harlot in Gaza (16:1). Later, he met a woman named Delilah, and even though her motives were blatantly treacherous, he gave himself over—heart, mind, and spirit—to sexual indulgence. He was in such bondage to the sin that he ultimately allowed it to dictate his actions, even at the cost of his life.

Before he died, Samson lost everything: his strength, eyesight, and honor. The man who once led his country mightily became a slave to his enemies (vv. 18-25).

What is your weakness? Is it lust, insecurity, fear, greed, gossip, or pride? Personality flaws can be a powerful motivation for good or ill, depending on our response. A proclivity for sin can ruin your life—as it did Samson’s—or drive you to utter dependence on God. The outcome is up to you.
From Dr. Charles Stanley

Thursday, June 18, 2015


We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
FROM THE FATHER'S HEART My child, did you know I designed the shape of your life? The clay doesn't ask the potter, "Why did you make me this way?" You may think your flaws and mistakes disqualify you for usefulness, but I control the potter's wheel. I have chosen you for My glory. Remember, broken vessels often reflect My beauty and light the most.

A GRATEFUL RESPONSE With firm but gentle hands You take this lump of clay—my life—and form it into a vessel of beauty and honor. When I refuse to lie still in Your skilled hands, You patiently remake me from the marred, broken pieces. Thank You for creating me in Your image, Lord.

If we are not content with who we are, then we are not content with who God is.
For more from Rebecca, please visit www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I'm Happy for You... (Not)

by Kelly Givens, Editor, iBelieve.com
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 

“Just installed our kitchen countertops! They’re GOREGEOUS.”

I rolled my eyes as I glanced at the pictures someone - no older than me - had just posted online. Picture after picture of their sparkly new kitchen, inside their custom built (custom built, I tell you!) house. I looked up from screen and into my own tiny apartment kitchen with its plain, generic countertops. Nothing custom-built in my place. I tried not to think about it, but it was too late - jealousy had flooded my heart. It’s scary how natural it flowed in. All I wanted in that moment was to be OUT of my apartment and into some glamorous space of my own. Can you relate?

I love it when the Bible is black and white. There’s no confusion surrounding Romans 12:15 - we’re called to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Pretty simple... except when it isn’t. I bet most of us wouldn’t have to think too hard to remember a time we failed pretty miserably at rejoicing over someone’s joy, or weeping as another wept. Why do we have this challenge?

When we fail to rejoice with those who rejoice, there could be several reasons why, but here are some I thought of off the top of my head: insecurity, jealousy or envy, discontent, bitterness.

What about when we fail to weep with those who weep? Here are some reasons (excuses, really) that come to mind: lacking compassion, both generally in life or toward a certain individual; perhaps not taking the time to listen or really put yourself in the person’s position; too busy to notice the suffering of others, distancing yourself emotionally from pain.
I’ve thought of some scenarios that may indicate we’re failing at Romans 12:15:
  • Instead of rejoicing at someone’s news, we immediately begin to compare how our circumstances measure up.
  • We’re quick to say “Oh yes, that happened to me once, too” instead of silently listening and acknowledging the hurt of others.
  • We try to come to the rescue in every situation, rather than acknowledging that some suffering isn’t solvable or explainable (think Job and his friends).
  • We brush off the pain of others because we think they are “taking things too hard.”
  • We’re quick to say, “Well at least you’ve never experienced this" (insert whatever horrible thing we’ve experienced).
  • We think they cheated their way to the blessings, just got lucky or don’t deserve the good thing they received (their parents are totally paying for that custom-built house!).
So what’s at the root of all of this? What’s the “sin beneath the sin,” so to speak?
I think central to our failure to rejoice and weep with others is a preoccupation with self. We can’t step outside of ourselves long enough to truly step into both the blessings and sufferings of those around us. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve tried to make a habit of acknowledging the joys and sufferings of others without immediately inserting myself into the situation. This isn’t a natural inclination for me. Satan is the master of deception and loves to make us fall for one of the oldest tricks in the book: that everything is about us.

Ultimately, the key to mastering Romans 12:15 isn’t just thinking about ourselves less. We’ve got to think about God more. People are most successful at eliminating bad behaviors or habits from their lives when they replace them with a good habit or behavior. So, I not only have to stop focusing on myself, but I have to replace all that time I spend thinking of myself with thinking of God. This is life transforming; this is the key to killing pride - not simply humbling yourself, but exalting God - who is the only thing worthy of our exaltation.

When I’m thinking about God, and not about myself, he reminds me of some powerful truths:
I’ve come from dust and I’ll return to dust.  Genesis 3:19 reminds me that no matter how much I get ahead in life, eventually I’m going to die. And nothing on this earth is worth coveting when I acknowledge that I can’t take it with me.

I am beautifully and wonderfully made. Psalms 139 reminds me that God made me perfectly, intentionally, knowingly- so I need to stop comparing the body I have to others. He made me just right.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30 reminds me that envy is a crippling sin; I could literally waste my life away being envious of others. Contentment, on the other hand, brings life.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 reminds me that our part of our calling as Christians is to care for those burdened and help carry the burdens of others. I don’t get to “pass” on this part of my faith if it doesn’t come naturally to me or if I feel inconvenienced or uncomfortable by it. I don’t get to ignore the sufferings of others; I’m called to step into it.

After meditating on God’s promises and blessings, I am able to recall all the wonderful things about our apartment (hello, cheap rent!) and the many, many ways God has blessed and provided for me. Proverbs 30:8 says, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.” As Christians, contentment in our own circumstances is the surest way to reflect the all satisfying power of Christ to those who may need to be reminded of where their joys and sufferings begin and end.

Intersecting Faith & Life: Do you struggle to rejoice with those rejoicing or weep with those weeping? Check yourself - what’s stopping you? Pray that God would help uncover the “sin beneath the sin” - the ways you’re focusing on yourself instead of focusing on Him.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What Gets Me into Heaven?


"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (NKJV)

She was alone, dying and in pain. None of her family or friends was left. She asked the nursing home staff to call someone to minister and pray with her.

It was dinnertime when my phone rang. The caller said it was urgent that I get there.

I didn’t personally know the elderly woman lying in that bed. We’d never met, but instantly, love bubbled up inside me for her. I looked into her eyes, but she couldn’t see me — she was blind. I held her weak hands in mine and asked a few questions. Then she said, "I’m dying. I want you to pray for me."

"What do you want me to pray?" I asked. Then I paused and waited. Her cloudy blue eyes welled with tears that trickled onto our hands. She said nothing. I said nothing.
After a while of silently waiting for the Holy Spirit to direct me, I spoke: "Tell me about the day you accepted Christ." She didn’t say anything. I knew to be quiet as she processed. Finally, she answered, "I don’t know. I went to church when I was little; I was always a good person. But I never really knew Jesus."

It was clear where God was leading us. Bertha understood that simply being good wasn’t the same as living for and obeying the Lord. We had to take it a step further.
"Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?" I asked.

She nodded and tears streamed down her cheeks as I shared today’s key verse, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (NKJV).

I continued, "He died on the cross for your sins and rose again so that you can have eternal life with Him. Eternal life is a free gift; we do nothing to earn it. God loves you so much, Bertha! He wants you to spend eternity with Him."

We prayed a simple prayer together. She acknowledged Jesus as her Savior and asked Him to forgive her of her sins. Bertha passed away shortly after our conversation. She didn’t have the opportunity to do more good deeds. Nor did she need to. That wasn’t necessary for her to receive Jesus’ gift of eternal life with Him.

There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year to do good: Donate warm winter jackets to children in need, deliver blankets to shelters or give canned goods to food banks. Our family invites others over who have nowhere else to go for the holidays. But I know that visiting the sick in nursing homes or welcoming the lonely around our dinner table (or any other good deed) won’t earn me a place in Heaven.

What will get me into Heaven? Just Jesus, the only begotten Son of God.

And believing that His birth … His death … and His resurrection actually happened are the greatest gifts ever. So priceless, we could never buy them.

You see, it’s not about what good things we do, or even the bad things we avoid, but about what Jesus has already done. Two thousand years ago, He gave His life in death on the cross so we could have life after death. Like Bertha, that is the best gift we could accept in our lifetimes!

Dear Lord, thank You for Your free gift of eternal life. Your birth and death and resurrection are the greatest gifts of all time. I’m so thankful that all who acknowledge You will be with You again one day in heaven. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

John 6:47, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life." (NKJV)
John 11:25, 26, "Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’" (NKJV)

Monday, June 15, 2015

God & His Attributes

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might– Deuteronomy 6:4-5
This passage of Scripture has been used as a proof-text for the Trinity, and rightly so, because it teaches that there is only one Lord God. But just as importantly, this declaration is a statement of exclusivity — the God of the Bible is the one and only sovereign Lord over heaven and earth.
It is for this reason, as God Himself points out in the ensuing command, that we owe this one true God our undivided affection, worship, and service. Serving any other god—including our own schemes, aspirations, or lusts—is an act of colossal rebellion against the loving, holy, and good Lord of creation; any such insurrection is doomed to failure.

Do you recognize the God of the Bible as the one Lord of your life? Is your heart united to fear His name? Does your soul revel in the brilliance of His majesty? Are your energies spent solely for His glory? He is the Lord of the universe, and He deserves our all of everything.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Throne of Grace

by Charles Stanley

Hebrews 4:14-16

Almighty God is righteous and just. Romans 3:23 tells us that all people have sinned and are inadequate to be in His presence. As a result of His wrath against sin, we were doomed to eternal separation from Him.

But thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. In His love and mercy, God sent His Son to walk among us. Jesus experienced the hardship and temptation common to all people, yet He never sinned. The Savior chose to die a gruesome death in our place, paying the penalty for our wrongs.

There is no deeper love, Scripture tells us, than a man who gives up his life for a friend (John 15:13). Jesus went even farther—dying for us while we were still His enemies (Rom. 5:10). In fact, He would have sacrificed Himself even if you were the only person ever to exist.

Promising forgiveness and eternal life, Christ asks sinful man to believe and follow Him. When we trust in Jesus, we are adopted as God’s children and receive His indwelling Spirit, who blesses abundantly with joy, peace, and guidance. Always welcome before the Throne of Grace, believers have access to converse with the Father at any time. He promises to hear and respond to our seeking, repentant hearts. And Jesus intercedes for us, praying on our behalf.

We don’t deserve the Lord’s invitation to have an intimate relationship with Him. Yet in His grace, He is loving and compassionate toward us. What a privilege to be able to approach the King’s throne, knowing He listens, understands, and cares. Rest in God’s love, and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


When the Israelites cried out for help to the Lord, he raised up a deliverer for the Israelites who rescued them. His name was Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Lord’s spirit empowered him and he led Israel. When he went to do battle, the Lord handed over to him King Cushan-Rishathaim of Aram and he overpowered him (Judg 3:9-10)
God is preparing His heroes; and when opportunity comes, He can fit them into their place in a moment, and the world will wonder where they came from.
Let the Holy Ghost prepare you, dear friend, by the discipline of life; and when the last finishing touch has been given to the marble, it will be easy for God to put it on the pedestal, and fit it into its niche.
There is a day coming when, like Othniel, we, too, shall judge the nations, and rule and reign with Christ on the millennial earth. But ere that glorious day can be we must let God prepare us, as He did Othniel at Kirjath-sepher, amid the trials of our present life, and the little victories, the significance of which, perhaps, we little dream. At least, let us be sure of this, and if the Holy Ghost has an Othniel ready, the Lord of Heaven and earth has a throne prepared for him. —A. B. Simpson
“Human strength and human greatness
Spring not from life’s sunny side,
Heroes must be more than driftwood 
Floating on a waveless tide.”
“Every highway of human life dips in the dale now and then. Every man must go through the tunnel of tribulation before he can travel on the elevated road of triumph.”

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Godly Response to Criticism

No one likes criticism, but encountering some is inevitable, so we need to learn how to respond in a godly way. Although you might be tempted to become defensive or angry, remain calm and listen. The words may hurt, but great benefits come to those who carefully consider what is said.

If we refuse to accept reproof, we'll limit our potential for Christlike character development and spiritual growth. Some of life's best lessons come through difficult experiences. If God allowed the situation, you can be sure that He wants to use it in transforming you into His Son's image. Whether the criticism is valid or not, whether it's delivered with kindness or harshness, your goal should always be to respond in a way that glorifies the Lord. Remember that you are responsible only for how you handle yourself, not for how the other person is acting.

When a criticism comes your way, be quiet and listen until the other person has finished. Make direct eye contact to show attentiveness and respect. When your critic finishes, thank him for bringing his concerns to your attention, and tell him that you will consider what he's said. Ask the Lord if the accusation is valid. Let Him search your heart and either affirm your innocence or convict you.

Every rebuke is an opportunity from God. It's a chance to let your Christian character shine by showing love to your critic. If he is angrily attacking you, your respect and kindness become a powerful testimony. Criticism is also an occasion to humble yourself and accept the Lord's correction.
Dr. Charles Stanley

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why is trust difficult?

For reading & meditation: Proverbs 28:18-28 "He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe." (v.26)
Why is it that some people find it so difficult to trust? Many have said to me: "My problem is I find it so hard to trust." A person who finds it difficult to trust on a human level often finds it difficult to trust on a spiritual level. Trust is a learned response and we begin learning it the moment we arrive in this world. A newborn child arrives in the world with a good deal of vulnerability and among other things has to learn the art of developing trust. If parents are loving, reliable, predictable and trustworthy the child soon gets the idea: "I can trust these people who are looking after me. They don't always respond the way I would like them to but generally they are there for me when I need them." If, however, there is no reliable and consistent input of love and affection into a child's personality in the early years, if the parents are unconcerned and unpredictable, the child gets the idea: "People are not to be trusted." And in cases where parents are not just unconcerned, but downright cruel and abusive, the development of a basic trust is hard and difficult; some would say impossible. My experience in counselling shows that people with an inability to trust are usually those who experienced serious deprivation, abuse or cruelty in their early developmental years. This is no reason to despair, however, for in Christ we have a new parent and a new parentage. He enables us to overcome whatever difficulties there may be in our past.

Father, help my focus to be not on what has been, but on what can be, and what will be, when I am rightly related to You. I have grown up physically; now help me grow up spiritually. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Chastened By A 12-Year-Old

These two probing questions, spoken by Jesus to His fretful parents, are found in the one and only account of Jesus' youth. I admit, for years, it seemed to me that Jesus was rather sharp toward His parents. Now, I find myself appropriately chastened by Jesus' words. Let me explain:

After a frantic, three-day search, Mary and Joseph find their missing son back in Jerusalem, chatting with the temple teachers. As any worried mother would do, Mary confronts Jesus: "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." (Luke 2:48b NIV)

Shouldn't Jesus feel badly for making His parents suffer anxiety, never mind the exhaustion and the frustration from wasting three days on the road? Shouldn't He at least apologize? But Jesus assumes no responsibility for their anxiety. He won't let Mary shift the blame to Him. Being anxious instead of trusting God is their problem - not His. Through His question, "Why were you searching for me?" Jesus helps them to discover the driving motive behind their decision to search -- which, as He would have seen, was their anxiety. Jesus doesn't provide the answer. He encourages them to think for themselves. It is a wise and gracious way of stirring them on toward deepening faith.

Unlike Jesus, I've often reacted to anxious people by feeling overly responsible to fix their woes. I've done too much of the thinking for them; I've even assumed blame. To me, this felt like the loving thing to do. No wonder Jesus' response to His mother has seemed insensitive to me.

As we see, Jesus does not pamper anxiety - for a good reason: Anxiety is like a vise grip that inhibits our ability to think and choose well. We assume that our distress is caused by factors outside of ourselves. But really, no person or situation has the power to make us anxious -- unless we allow it. I've discovered this through hard knocks -- and my own frantic "three-day" strategizings. Thankfully, no rescuer intercepted those learning experiences by offering quick escapes.

As long as we depend on others to dull our anxieties, we are never fully free to enjoy a vibrant faith. Likewise, as long as we feel responsible to appease other people's anxiety, we cannot be who we were meant to be. That's a dead-end mission which deprives everyone of opportunities to grow in trustful faith. This is not the path of love for others, for ourselves, nor ultimately for God.

In the one story of Jesus' youth, we can see that He had a firm grasp of the great commandment, the royal law of love. What a powerful example for us! We, too, can respond to fretfulness by shifting the focus from self-absorbed anxiety to careful thoughtfulness. In this way, we offer a refreshing "cup of water". We open the way to restful trust.

Prayer: Lord, train us to be effective managers of anxiety. May we develop the habit of casting all our anxieties on You - be they our own anxieties or those of others - so that Your kingdom may grow in and among us and Your will may be done on earth. Amen.

Diane Eaton  - Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Enjoying the Seasons of Parenting

Tracie Miles
"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)
"Are they going to laugh all night long?" my husband jokingly asked. "I don't know," I said, chuckling at his question. "But I hope so. It's a sound that makes my heart happy."
My teenage daughter had invited her entire cheerleading squad to sleep over at our house after a basketball game. When they arrived, the house immediately filled with laughter and conversations as they gobbled up pizza and chocolate chip cookies.
Later that night, sleep seemed to escape me. Not because of the cheerful noise billowing down the stairs from a house full of girls, but because I wondered how many more laughter-filled sleepovers I might have the blessing of hosting. Knowing my children are growing up quickly, I couldn't help but face the reality I was entering a new season of life.
I began to ponder all I would miss with two daughters living away at college this fall, instead of just one. Although my son still has a few years left at home, I had to face the reality that this season of my parenting was coming to a close. And my heart felt heavy.
I remember feeling these same emotions when my babies outgrew their cribs and moved to big-kid beds. When my daughters tucked away baby dolls and hair bows and focused on nail polish and fashion. When my son grew too old for his teddy bear. When they left elementary school behind and entered the scary world of middle school. When they stopped riding their bikes and instead, got behind the wheel of a car.
As I lay in the dark pondering this changing season of my life, a warm tear trickled down my face. Yet I felt God's sweet comfort and His reminder that although life is ever-changing, He is constant. I started to pray and sensed God was showing me the importance of treasuring the current season of parenting, rather than mourning the ones already passed, because every moment with our children is a blessing.
The idea of seasons of life is found in the book of Ecclesiastes, authored by King Solomon. After becoming king of Israel following his father King David's death, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and offered him anything he wanted. Instead of asking for riches or victories, Solomon asked God for wisdom and received the blessing of understanding life (1 Kings 3:5, 10-13).
Although Solomon doesn't directly speak about parenting in Ecclesiastes, his wise advice certainly applies to this subject.
Today's key verse reminds us life is a progression of seasons, with everything happening in God's timing and under His control: "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Then Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 highlights many of life's experiences that we find in the seasons of parenting, such as times to plant and uproot. Times to cry, laugh, grieve and dance. Times to embrace and turn away. Times to search and quit searching. Times to tear and to mend. Times to speak and to keep quiet. Times to keep and to let go.
We find pieces of our parenting experiences scattered between the lines of this passage. As we accept there will be different seasons of parenting, we allow God to whisper specific encouragement to our hearts, fill our spirits with perseverance and understanding, and pierce our minds with the spiritual wisdom needed not only to make it through the seasons, but to appreciate them as gifts from God.
No matter which season we find ourselves in, let's treasure it and bask in the blessings it brings. Embracing each season as it comes brings peace because we know we are right where God wants us to be and that He is preparing us for the season to come.
My house may not always be filled with laughter in the middle of the night, but if I trust God is with me, I will always have joy in my heart.
Lord, thank You for the privilege of being a parent, grandparent or caregiver to the little ones You've entrusted into my care. Help me enjoy every day of every season and lean on You when my heart aches for seasons gone by. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, June 8, 2015

His Message and His Ministry

By Steve Troxel, God's Daily Word Ministries, http://www.gdwm.org [Edited]

Ahithophel was a highly regarded advisor to King David; "Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God" (2 Samuel 16:23). But when David's son, Absalom, rebelled and sought to become the new king, Ahithophel joined with Absalom. Ahithophel had reason to be angry with David; he was the grandfather of Bathsheba and had watched as David violated his granddaughter and then had her husband killed (2 Samuel 11).

In his anger Ahithophel advised Absalom how to defeat David, but God had other plans; "The Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom" (2 Samuel 17:14). When Absalom refused to follow his advice, Ahithophel took the rejection very personally.

2 Samuel 17:23 "When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself."

Ahithophel had once been close to God and was used for many years to give godly direction. But at some point Ahithophel began to take too much ownership of his ministry. He determined his self-worth based on the results of his ministry and began to use his gifts for his own selfish purpose. When his message was no longer trusted and his ministry was not going in the direction he desired, his self-worth fell and he found he had no reason to continue.

God has called each of us to be His messengers and has given us a ministry of sharing the Gospel; "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us" (2 Corinthians 5:20). Some are called to preach a message of hope to a large congregation. Others have been called to instruct a small group or to encourage just one...but we have all been called!

We are never responsible for the outcome of a ministry, only for the obedience of faithfully delivering His message. God says: "My Word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). As we walk in obedience, His purpose will be accomplished.

We must never lose sight of the One who called us to serve. Our worth is in being a Child of God, not in the praises we receive or in what we can accomplish. We must continue to be obedient messengers who proclaim the Good News, teach the truth, and encourage at every opportunity. And when we become discouraged, we must check our focus and always remember...this is His message and His ministry.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Training Up Godly Kids Through Family Bible Study

(By Ameerah Lewis) [Edited]

One of the most effective ways to train up your kids is to sit down and talk to them about God. To tell them about God's love for them, and the plan for their lives that He laid out in the Bible.

Designing a family Bible study routine can sound a bit intimidating at first. But, here are some real world reasons for taking time out to sit down as a family and talk about the Bible.

1. It opens the door for you to share your faith with your kids. Most Christian kids hear more about Christ from their pastors and youth group leaders than they do from their parents - but they trust you the most. That is why, when you sit down and share your heart with your kids, it really brings God's Word home (pun intended).

2. It sets a good example. When you designate a special time for family Bible study, it shows your children that you put a priority on God's Word, and on their spiritual growth. As they watch you share your love for the Lord, it also gives you a chance to model what a healthy relationship with God looks like.

3. It will help your family grow close, and stay close. When you create a relaxed family Bible study atmosphere where everyone is encouraged to share, it's family quality time at its best! Starting this simple tradition is a great way to ensure that family will always come first in your home. It allows you all to slow down, come together, and talk about things that matter.

4. It will open up channels of communication. Family Bible time provides an opportunity for your kids to open up and ask questions that they would not have felt comfortable asking in a larger group. But, in the safety of the family circle, they can find out what God's Word really says about important issues they are facing. They can get the answers from you, instead of a schoolmate or the TV.

Don't feel qualified to teach your kids the Bible? Most Christian parents don't. So, here are five tips to help you get your kids excited about God's Word!

1. Relax and just be natural! You don't have to be the all-knowing teacher. You are just a regular family sitting around talking about the Lord. No need to be at a kitchen table or in the office. The living room, or even Mom and Dad's bed, are great atmospheres for casual and comfortable conversation. If you have nice weather, moving your Bible time outside is also a great idea.

2. Talk about the events in the Bible like they really did happen - because they did! It's important not to read the Bible to your children like it's a fairy tale. Emphasize that the stories you are talking about are real. Then, share examples of similar things that God has done in your own lives. This will build your children's faith that God cares about your family and will always be there for them. It also makes God more tangible and real to your kids.

3. Create a predictable family Bible study schedule, and stick to it. When you set an actual schedule, it adds significance to your Bible time. It also allows you to promote the event and get your kids excited about it. As your kids begin to get older, they understand that this specific time is family time, and they know to schedule around it.

If possible, involve both parents in your family Bible time. It shows the children that their mom and dad both put a priority on God and on them. If one parent has a strenuous work schedule or travels a lot, it makes this family time even more important. It is better to do your family Bible study less often and have the entire family there, than to have it and miss out on everyone coming together.

4. Always open and close your family Bible time with a prayer. Most families do not have a chance to really pray together outside of blessing their food. Allowing yourself to really open up and pray a heart felt prayer in front of your children will teach them how to approach God in prayer for themselves.

After the parents have led the family in prayer a few times, give your kids a chance to take turns doing the opening prayer. For the closing prayer, open the floor and ask each person to add in something specific that they would like to pray about. Encourage them to pray for themselves, or to intercede for others. This is a great hands-on way to teach them about the power of prayer.

5. Be creative! The most important family Bible study tip is to personalize this special time to fit your individual family. Here are a few ideas.

Do your kids have a favorite meal or restaurant? Do they like ice cream or fruit smoothies? Reserve these special treats for Family Bible night, and make it a tradition to go there afterwards and discuss what you've learned.

Turn your Bible time into a pajama party. Have everyone run and change into their PJs before you get started. Then, pop popcorn, and enjoy your time together.

If you have older kids, have them lead the lessons. Let them pick Scriptures they want to talk about, and come up with fun ways to share it with the family.

The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

Remember that your family's Bible time isn't your chance to beat your kids over the head with the Ten Commandments and the dangers of fornication [not that both aren't good to share]. This is your chance to share God's love with them in a way they can both understand and enjoy. It's also your opportunity to help them build a strong spiritual foundation that will stand up to the temptations that they will face in the coming years.

So, make the time to sow your ideals and values into your children. You don't need a special degree or calling on your life. You already have one - it's called Parenthood.