Oct 26, 2013
Lord, I praise You! You are marvelous. Wondrous. Glorious. I praise You for the glory of Your grace, the riches of Your mercy, the abundance of Your blessings, the depths of Your kindness, the greatness of Your power, the splendor of Your majesty, and the overwhelming generosity of Your love. I see Your goodness in every direction I turn.
I praise You for the miracles You work, for the mystery of Your ways, for all the things about You that are past finding out—You are above and beyond anything I could know, think, or ever imagine about You.
I praise You for working in my heart, for being in my day, for sustaining me each moment. I praise You for each time you made a way for me when there seemed to be none; for each time You came to me with an answer when I didn’t know what to do; for each time You revealed something new about the wisdom of Your will and the goodness of Your ways.
I praise You for the unique way You made me and for the unexpected ways You use me. I praise You with a happy heart, with uplifted hands, with a voice of singing, and with a shout of joy—for You alone are the God of all my joys!
Scriptures: Psalm 28:7, Psalm 30:12, Psalm 33:1, Psalm 35:28, Psalm 40:3, Psalm 48:10, Psalm 50:23, Psalm 54:6, Psalm 63:3, Psalm 69:30, Psalm 71:8, Isaiah 25:1
Devotion by Roy Lessin
Oct 19, 2013
God's Narrow and Wide-Angle Lenses
"Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men."
When my paralyzing accident happened, I know the Lord took no pleasure in it. I believe it pained His heart to see me hurt, just as any father has compassion on his children. Yet I also know it pleased the Lord to permit my accident. He was as delighted then as He is now to work it all out for my good and His glory. Sound confusing? I can understand why: In some scriptures, God is described as grieving over affliction; in others, it doesn't seem to bother Him.
Dr. John Piper explains it this way. God has the capacity to look at the world through two lenses, a narrow lens and a wide-angle lens. When the Lord looks at a painful event through the narrow lens, He sees the tragedy for what it is in itself, and He is deeply grieved, as Ezekiel 18:32 says, "For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord..." He hates the isolated incident of disease, crime, or violence.
But when God looks at a painful event through His wide-angle lens, He sees the tragedy in relation to everything leading up to it, as well as everything that flows from it. He has in mind Romans 8:28, "...in all things God works for the good" and Ephesians 1:11, "...according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will." The connections form a mosaic stretching into eternity. This mosaic, in all its parts of good and evil, dark and light, brings Him delight.
God often wills what He despises because He has two lenses. You can trust Him today that your painful trial is part of a pattern. One day you, too, will put on that wide-angle lens. When you do, what a beautiful mosaic you will see.
My shortsightedness, Lord, keeps me from seeing how pain can result in good. Help me to look through the lens of faith.
Joni and Friends
Oct 18, 2013
A Problem of Forgiving?
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. —Matthew 6:14-15
Do you have a problem forgiving people? Perhaps you cannot forgive an unfaithful spouse. You cannot forgive your father because he wasn't a good parent, and when you think of praying to God and calling Him Father, something inside you just switches off. Perhaps you are angry with your mother because you were not her favorite. Perhaps that boss of yours wouldn't give you that recommendation. Maybe someone was unkind or unfair to your child, and you can't forgive them. Perhaps you have a son-in-law who has mistreated your daughter. You live with the feeling of being let down. Someone gave you a promise; you believed it, but he or she didn't keep it.
Do you know what it is to want to see another person hurt, smashed, humiliated, or put down? You'd like him to get sick, or you would love to hear of somebody falling into sin, all because he did something to you that wasn't very nice.
What a way to live! We can never come to terms with ourselves if we are unable to forgive others. When I can't forgive, I am the one who is hurting; I am the loser. And yet, because I have such a wicked, sinful heart, even though I know in my head I'm hurting myself, I still want to hurt someone else.
The truth is that the degree to which you hold a grudge will be the degree to which you damage your own health, and not just mentally. A person who holds a grudge and doesn't deal with it eventually gets out of touch with reality, not to mention the physical effects. The point is this: is there someone you need to forgive? Then do so; do it quickly, because the only one you are hurting is yourself.
Excerpted from All's Well That Ends Well (Authentic Media, 2005).
Sep 29, 2013
by Kimi Stephens Gaines
I love to people watch, looking around and wondering people's stories. I have seen many who look like if they took one more step, it would be their last. There was an older gentlemen who I had seen on the way to my past place of employment. He was so crippled up and I wondered how he could take one more step. I really began to think what happened to him along His life's journey.
I wonder what causes people to get where they are. I had a wonderful childhood. It had it's disfuntion as all families have, but overall the lessons learned, the disicpline was correct and morals were taught. I remember the best times and the not so good times. Bottom line I know I was taught to be a person with passion and to live my life according to God's Word.
Did I have some rough patches, yes indeed. I was a fearful child which followed me into adulthood. I had high expectations with friends and family. People would come and go out of my life. Some touched my life to the very core and when they moved on and a piece of my heart broke. I would have been their friend for life. But life is not like that, is it?
Mom used to say that if you could count the number of faithful friends on one hand you've been blessed.
We can look around and try to make friendships happen, but people come in and go out of our lives. Whether just for a season, through a disagreement or just moved on. There is a saying, "The Heart Grows Fonder"...not true...once in a while I have someone in my past come to mind and I wonder where they are, how their life has turned out.
We all scatter to and throw....Our journey's should never be limited and we get too comfortable where we are sometimes. When we get to comfortable God will send us somewhere else. Reminds me of the Israelites in the wildreness. What was supposed to be 40 days turned into 40 years. I really believe that we just don't learn where we are at, or we don't hear God's call to move.
I learned this very hard lesson and it isn't like God didn't warn me. I worked at a job 15 years and left because of health reasons and then God called me back...but he told me He would only use me for a short time. I loved being there...it was comfortable. Towards the end, I was so unhappy and complained just like the Isralites did in the wilderness. It didn't end pretty!! I was offended, hurt and angry. I held on to that for over a yr. I forgot why I was sent, why God needed me to be there. The last day I was there a worker brought in a beautiful parrot and left it with me. I knew that I was being let go that day, and yet God placed this bird in front of me. I heard God say, "you are like a caged bird and I am freeing you today." I still walked away with a downcast face. I look back and see what I didn't learn and what I did learn.
A year later I was working for a friend at her store and she knew it was too hard for me to stand, so she suggested I try out her other business, reluctent I went to work in a Auto Repair shop. I was treated like a queen!! God was healing me in a place I never expected to be. I was thanked everyday for my work. I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved going to this job. I laughed so much and my boss was the best boss I have ever had, so kind, giving and loyal. We still get together and I get chocked up when I go to the shop or out for the day with family. What I thought was a slap in the face, God blessed me with an awesome job. I still want to be there, but God only needed me there for a little over a year. I was restored and knew God used that job to build me back up and show me that His ways are not always what we want.
So I look around and see people who I hopefully have touched and made a difference and I know that this life is a journey of lessons. Lessons that will either break us or make us.
I have a couple of songs I want to share with you....It was around this time that God led me to hear these songs.
Brandon Heath - I'm Not Who I Was
Music video by Brandon Heath performing I'm Not Who I Was. Facebook- smarturl.it/BHfacebook Twitter- smarturl.it/BHtwitter Website- http://smar...
The Road Not Taken
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. Robert Frost
Sep 19, 2013
by- Roy Lessin
While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. Acts 26:12-16 NKJV
Saul, Saul—God knows your name (first, last, and middle). He knows your heart, knows your choices, and knows your needs. He will address you personally and directly. He won’t confuse you with someone else or give you the wrong message.
Why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads (the sting of resisting My will).—Often, when God speaks, He begins with a question. He wants you to consider your ways, your attitudes, and your choices. When He speaks He clears things up immediately. He states things as they truly are in His sight.
So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’—God wants you to be assured that He fully identifies Himself with you because you are His. When you are persecuted for righteousness sake, He is persecuted. He walks with you through every trial and comforts you in every sorrow. When anyone touches God’s people they touch the apple of God’s eye.
But rise and stand on your feet;— There is time to be down on your knees before God and there is a time to rise, stand upon your feet, and respond to His call. God has something He wants you to do, somewhere He wants you to go, and someone He wants you to reach.
I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.— When God appears to you or speaks to you, He does it for a specific purpose. God’s call to you means God’s enabling for you. He will not call you to do anything that will separate you from His presence, His power, or His peace. And remember, your step of obedience to God’s call and purpose is only the beginning. He has so much more ahead—so much more to show you, and so much more that He will do through you as you say “yes” to what He asks.
Years later, after Saul heard God call his name, it is a blessing to hear Saul’s (now Paul’s) testimony before King Agrippa, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” May this be the testimony of each of us as we respond to the call of God upon our lives.
Sep 18, 2013
By: R.T. Kendall
The just shall live by his faith. —Habakkuk 2:4, KJV
Maybe we prayed every day during the week and yet have not experienced God's blessing or seen Him answer prayer. What then? "It is required in stewards [that is, those who have been given a trust], that a man [or woman] be found faithful" (1 Cor. 4:2, KJV). Anybody can be faithful when prayer is being answered, when the wind is at one's back, and everything is going well. But what is one to do when God suddenly hides His face? Until you have experienced the hiding of His face and come out on the other side, you won't really come to know God as a friend.
This was Habakkuk's experience. Habakkuk 2:4 is a famous verse that is quoted three times in the New Testament.
There is an intentional ambiguity here. The faithfulness can be God's faithfulness to us or our faithfulness to God: the verse can be read either way, and it means both. But it can equally describe the faithfulness of the individual himself, who doesn't give up hope. The person who trusts God and lives by His promise to bless is declared righteous in the sight of God. It applies to the future—to the fact that God will accept us in heaven—but it also applies to the present. God is saying that we are declared righteous now.
If we could only see this day, it would set us afire. If, in the moment when we don't see answered prayer, we could just look up to heaven and say, "God, I love You anyway," God would declare us righteous just because our faith pleases Him. That kind of faith has a cleansing result. We feel clean. We don't understand why God lets things happen, but we trust Him anyway.
Excerpted from Worshipping God (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004).
More From By Love Transformed
Sep 15, 2013
Church is my College
Heaven is my University
Jesus is my Principal
The Holy Spirit is my Teacher
Angels are my Classmates
The Bible is my Study Book
Trials & Temptations are my Exams
Winning souls are my Assignments
Prayer is my Attendance
Crown of Life is my Degree
Praise & Worship is my Motto
Enroll today, there is room for all and tuition is Free
Sep 10, 2013
September 10, 2013|9:45 am
Man doesn't get it. By nature, man tends to think that God is harsh and unkind. Nothing could be further from the truth.
God is extremely kind, and incredibly loving. Many people simply don't "realize that God's kindness leads you toward repentance." (Romans 2:4) God commands you to repent (see Acts 17:30) because He wants to pour His love into your heart. Until you repent, you still have only the "old wineskins." God doesn't pour the "new wine" of the Holy Spirit into old wineskins.
Jesus said, "No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins." (Mark 2:22)
Do you get it? Do you see the Father's kindness which is freely given in His Son? "When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy." (Titus 3:4) Talk about kind! God is overflowing in kindness.
Are you in the flow? Or is your heart still too hard to receive this river of living water, and this infusion of kindness. That's what happens when a person is converted. The kindness of God gets poured in, and then begins to flow out in the way you treat others.
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness..." (Gal. 5:22) It's all there for the taking. "Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." (Revelation 22:17) Living water for thirsty souls. That's it right there isn't it? There must be a thirst for the things of God. Jesus said, "If a man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:37,38)
When man fails to grasp God's kindness, he refuses to develop a spiritual thirst for Christ. He refuses to see God for who He really is and what He has really done. Men choose to deny God's kindness in Christ as they can continue to live with a hard heart toward the Savior, and a closed mind toward their Creator. It is a moral choice. It is brought about by sin, and reinforced by an insistence that God surely cannot be as kind as the Bible makes Him out to be. When men believe lies about God, they remain hard-hearted and shut off from the living water which would change their worldview, and their attitudes.
When man fails to grasp God's kindness in sending His Son to save us, man will fail to reach out and grasp the hand of the Savior by faith. He will fail to trust Jesus for anything, let alone the salvation of his soul. When man doesn't get it, he wrongly assumes that God is "out to get him." In reality, God would love to save him. But some men refuse to be saved. They refuse to receive the grace and forgiveness of Jesus. How tragic.
There are some religious folks in the world, including some professing Christians, who don't seem to treat others with much kindness. But just because they profess to know God does not mean they actually know Him. "Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did." (1 John 2:6) "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness." (1 John 1:9)
No wonder Jesus said the road to heaven is "narrow." (Matthew 7:13,14) Our world today certainly doesn't seem to be overflowing in kindness. We need Jesus more than ever. You need Him, and so do I. Without Him, how could we ever expect God to show us His kindness on Judgment Day?
But there is hope in the Person of Jesus Christ. Here is what God's love letter (the Bible) tells those who have accepted Christ:
"Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-7)
God's kindness is shown to us in Jesus. Without Christ, you will never know the kindness of God. So do you want God to be kind to you, or would you rather face His wrath for the sins you have committed against Him? That is a decision only you can make for yourself.
It was on the cross where Christ bore the weight of God's wrath against sin. Jesus took your place on that cross, as well as mine. God's hatred for sin and His love for sinners were unleashed on the cross as "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son." (John 3:16) If you fail to understand what happened on the cross, you will likewise fail to grasp God's kindness.
So are you open to having God change your heart and your life forever? Perhaps this will be the day when you finally start to realize how much God loves you.
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.