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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 4 Aug 2015 - 21:46

You are Chosen and Loved
Jennifer Rothschild

"I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to 
those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You 
are
my God.’"
Hosea 2:23b
(NIV)

Growing up, I was an uncoordinated kid.

One of the ones who was often chosen last for the kickball team in gym 
class. And even then, only because there was no one else left to pick.

If you, too, have ever been picked last, the idea of being chosen by God 
might sound rather foreign. Some of us might even need to rethink what it 
means
to be chosen.

To be chosen by God means we are His first choice and His best choice. 
Unlike the kids in the gym, He didn’t shrug His shoulders and say, "Well, I 
guess
I’ll take her if no one else will."

Not at all.

When Jesus’ hands were nailed to a cross, His fingers pointed to you and 
me — He intentionally chose to die for us. He chose you and He chose me and 
He
chooses us every day.

Isn’t that amazing?

The book of Hosea in the Bible beautifully illustrates this concept for us. 
Hosea was a prophet whom God told to marry a prostitute and thereby show the
nation of Israel how she’d been unfaithful by worshipping false gods. Hosea 
chose Gomer, a woman who would birth his children, yet leave him time and 
again
for another lover. (For more, see Hosea chapters 1 and 2.)

All through the book of Hosea, we see both judgment and hope, destruction 
and restoration. Hosea proclaims both sides of God, which reflect His one 
heart
— God’s faithful love for His people, warning them for their good.

Just like God chose the nation of Israel and Hosea the prophet chose Gomer 
to reveal His love, God chose you. In fact, you are a chosen woman of God.

It’s so easy to look in the foggy mirror that is my life and see all the 
reasons why I shouldn’t be chosen and loved: I’m selfish, I wander from God, 
I
have mixed motives, I’m not good enough … oh, the reasons are unending!

However, the more accurate mirror of God’s Word reflects the truth that I am 
chosen and loved. And, that my friend, includes you.

In today’s key verse, God’s Word to Israel reminds us that even though we 
have made mistakes and might feel rejected and unworthy of love, God still 
pursues
us. The message of Hosea is still God’s message to us.

In other words, Israel’s identity was a chosen and loved people of God. Our 
identity is chosen and loved women of God.

Thankfully, I’ve learned God doesn’t love me because I am cleaned up, 
religious or even because I am a Christian. He loves me because He is love. 
We didn’t
earn His love and we can’t lose His love either.

The Bible says, "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us"
(Romans 5:8b,
ESV). He didn’t choose to love you because you were lovely, He loved you and 
then you became lovely. Your value comes from His inherit value.

Look into the mirror of your soul and see Gomer reflected back at you. She 
was the beloved bride and so are you. Embrace your true identity as a chosen
and loved woman of God!

Lord, thank You for choosing me, even when I feel unworthy to be chosen. And 
thank You for loving me when I didn’t do anything to earn Your love. Please
speak words of truth over me when I’m tempted to doubt I am chosen and 
loved. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 John 4:9-10,
"God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the 
world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love — 
not
that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to 
take away our sins." (NLT)

Romans 8:38-39,
"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor 
things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor 
anything
else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in 
Christ Jesus our Lord." (ESV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Hosea: Unfailing Love Changes Everything by Jennifer Rothschild is a 
7-session Bible study that focuses on the Old Testament prophet, whose life 
message
demonstrates the kind of love we dream of, a love that changes everything. 
For more encouragement from Jennifer,
visit her website.
© 2015 by Jennifer Rothschild. All rights reserved.

Get Your Joy Back!
by Dean Masters

Psalm 51:12
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing 
spirit.

Have you just been coasting along through life too busy to really think much 
about all that God has done for you? Have you gotten so caught up in all 
that
you need to do that having a walk with God is just another “chore” of the 
day? Maybe you are still reading your Bible every day and going to church 
when
the doors are open on a regular basis, but you aren’t really all that 
excited about your relationship with God.

God wants a close relationship with you, He doesn’t just want to be a 
picture on the wall or a book by your bed. He wants to be your best friend, 
He wants
you to realize that He loves you and is walking with you through everything, 
the good times and the bad! He is that friend and companion that is always
there no matter what you are facing. He loves you! Have you ever had someone 
in your life that you could count on when the whole world around you seemed
to be messed up, you could go have a cup of coffee or glass of tea and just 
sit and talk and forget about all the turmoil going on? That’s what God 
wants
to have with you. You are not alone!

Have you ever been given a gift that just thinking about it still gets you 
excited and grateful for it? Jesus gift of salvation, the most costly of 
gifts,
should excite us as well. It should excite us to the point that we want 
everyone else to experience it as well. We should have a difficult time 
keeping
our mouths shut about it! It shouldn’t be a knick-knack on a shelf.

When we have our joy that came with our salvation we are generally excited 
and willing to do whatever God may ask, We are ready to fight for the cause!
We need to be more like that in this day and age! We need to have our joy so 
we will have a willing spirit to do all that God is asking us to do. We don’t
want to become complacent Christians without a cause. The cause is in front 
of us everyday and I feel as though part of our biggest issue is that we are
not excited about all that God has given us!

Stop for a minute today and ask God to show you if you are missing out on 
the joy of the salvation He has brought you. Ask Him to give you back your 
joy
of your salvation and to give you a willing heart to serve Him, however He 
may ask you to. Ask Him to help you set your priorities in a way that will 
make
you more affective in your service for Him!

Quote:
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole 
staircase.” Martin Luther King

Who sinned?

As He went along, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, 
"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so 
that the work of God might be displayed in his life." John 9:1-3

"Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary 
sins--but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces. Christ, who perfectly
knew the secret springs of the divine counsels, told them two things 
concerning such calamities: that they are not always inflicted as 
punishments of sin--and
that they are sometimes intended purely for the glory of God, and the 
manifesting of His works." Matthew Henry

"Afflictions are often the black foils in which God sets the jewels of His 
children's graces, to make them shine the better. There are some of your 
graces
which would never be discovered, if it were not for your trials. Well, 
Christian, may not this account for the troubles through which you are 
passing?
Is not the Lord bringing out your graces, and making them grow? Real growth 
in grace is the result of sanctified trials. The heart of a Christian is 
Christ's
garden, and his graces are as so many sweet spices and flowers, when His 
Spirit blows upon them, to send forth a sweet savor." Charles Spurgeon

"Stars shine brightest in the darkest night. Afflictions ripen the saints' 
graces. Gold looks the brighter for scouring. Just so, afflictions are but 
our
Father's goldsmiths who are working to add pearls to our crowns. Spices 
smell sweetest when pounded--and juniper smells sweeter in the fire." Thomas 
Brooks

"Some graces grow best in winter. Grace withers without adversity." Samuel 
Rutherford

"The lowly graces of the Spirit thrive best under crosses." Daniel Rowland

"The Lord's jewels need grinding, and cutting, and polishing." R.C. Chapman

"Grievous afflictions are not always sent as a scourge for sins 
committed--but sometimes as preventatives from sins. Paul's thorn prevented 
his pride."
John Leland
We have published
J.R. Miller's
practical two page article, "
The Secret of Personal Helpfulness".
Feel free to forward these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited 
by them!
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 3 Aug 2015 - 22:03

The Land of Oz
by Dean W. Masters

Years ago there was a small theme park called “The Land of Oz” which was on 
the side of a mountain owned by the Beech Mountain ski resort in western 
North Carolina. You would wait outside Aunt Em’s house and when the right 
number of people had gathered, a girl who looked like Dorothy would lead the 
group on their tour. You would walk through the house and see some of the 
items used in the movie. You would walk down some ramps as you see a film 
loop of the house in the twister. At the bottom of the ramps you walk 
through the house which has landed at an angle. Once outside you follow 
Dorothy down the yellow brick road. Along the way there are four stages. 
Each one is outside a little house. When your group gets near each house the 
cowardly lion, tin man, scarecrow or wicked witch come out and lip sync a 
song and dance. You end up in a commons area with a big stage and benches 
for you to sit on. At scheduled times the story is finished on the stage 
with Dorothy, the lion, tin man and scarecrow meeting the wizard.

When I was in high school some of my friends got jobs playing some of these 
characters. During the school year the theme park would only be open on the 
weekends. Sometimes my friends would come to school on Monday with traces of 
the makeup they used that they didn’t entirely remove.

WE get the word “hypocrite” from actors as seen in the following:

HYPOCRITE
corresponding to the above, primarily denotes one who answers; then, a 
stage–actor; it was a custom for Greek and Roman actors to speak in large 
masks with mechanical devices for augmenting the force of the voice; hence 
the word became used metaphorically of a dissembler, a hypocrite.

Jesus came against hypocrites. These were the religious leaders of the day 
that thought they were living the right life but they were fooling 
themselves and just playing a role like my friends at the theme park. There 
are many today that call themselves Christians but are that in name only. 
They are only playing the part. On the outside they may look like Christians 
but they have never surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.

We might think they are a believer but we cannot know the true person:

1 Samuel 16:7b (NLT)
7…“The Lord doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward 
appearance, but the Lord looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.”

If you have never surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, do it now and stop 
playing a role. You might fool people but you cannot fool God.

How to Understand the Bible

How Should We to Apply Scripture to Life?

It is dangerous to understand the Bible better. It is all too easy for us to 
feel just a bit of pride about pulling out the meaning of biblical texts,
as if we were beginning to master the Scriptures when, of course, exactly 
the opposite is the whole point. The temptation may come from the power we 
may
feel from having “spiritual knowledge,” which can move us from insecurity to 
superiority. Or we may want to put ourselves over Scripture so we don’t need
to obey it. As Paul says, “knowledge puffs up” (
1 Cor. 8:1).

Here are a few of the reasons why many biblical authors charge us with not 
just knowing the word of God, but practicing it.

Bible Study

God (through Moses):

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on 
your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, 
talking
about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you 
lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses 
and
on your gates. (
Deut. 11:18-20)

Jesus:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into 
practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came 
down, the
streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not 
fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears 
these
words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who 
built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds
blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (
Matt. 7:24-27)

Paul:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, 
correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be 
thoroughly
equipped for every good work. (
2 Tim. 3:16-17)

And using a mirror for a wonderful analogy, James charges us:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it 
says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like 
someone
who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away 
and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into
the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what 
they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (
James 1:22-25)

These and many other passages suggest that applying Scripture begins with 
assimilating its content. Reading, meditating, discussing, practicing, 
praying,
and memorizing are all ways for the biblical text to form the spiritual 
muscle tissue of our lives. This is not about having a list of verses 
rattling
around in our heads, but having the shape and motion of our lives formed by 
biblical truth.

Much of this series has been about personal reading and comprehension of 
Scripture, but this is a good place to mention the power of group or 
community
Bible discussion. It is enormously formative to discuss the meaning and 
application of Scripture in some kind of group. We see new things through 
the eyes
of other people, especially those brave enough to share how their life’s 
difficulties connect or clash with biblical truths.

It is possible for a Bible group to wallow in ignorance if the mode of 
operation is to read a biblical text and throw it open to the group with the 
question:
“What does this mean to you?” No! A biblical text means something specific, 
intended by the original author. Someone in a group Bible study needs to 
take
responsibility to study these things ahead of time and dig out the meaning.

In the group setting, the question can and should be: “How do you see this 
applying to your life?” A biblical text means something specific, but it may
be applied in many different directions, as long as the application is 
really connected with the meaning.

That raises another question: Can a biblical text motivate someone, even if 
the meaning and application don’t seem to be connected? The story can be 
told
many times over, for instance, of someone reading one of the great 
missionary texts in Acts and believing God told him, through the text, to 
pack his bags
and go overseas. It certainly is possible that the Holy Spirit guides 
someone through the words or sentiment of a biblical text—even if the text 
isn’t
properly applied to everyone in that specific way. Such experiences are not 
about the meaning of a biblical text, nor its typical application, but a 
unique
guidance of the Spirit for a particular person.

So the norm is this: biblical text first, original meaning next, and 
finally, present-day application. In this process we learn and relearn “Your 
word,
Lord, is eternal” (Ps. 119:89).

About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook 
Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for 
thirty
years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help 
Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, 
the
most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to 
Engagement.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 2 Aug 2015 - 22:36

What to Do When It's Just One Trouble after the Next
Jennifer Dukes Lee
The rain wouldn’t stop. It fell in thundering sheets, pooling in farm fields 
and backyards. Water ponded in basements, sneaking in while the world 
slumbered.
This is the way of storms: the sky can stand calm above you one hour and 
then scream with rage the next. Yes, skies and mortals weep. “Jennifer,” my 
husband
called up the basement stairs.
“You’ll need to come down here.” I could hear the sadness in his voice. At 
the bottom of the steps, he held out a soggy cardboard box labeled “Jennifer’s
childhood memories.” I had meant for years to put that stuff in plastic 
bins, but hadn’t gotten around to it. I closed my eyes, and let my air out 
in one
long exhale. The storm was indifferent to what I held dear, and the water 
had soaked straight through the cardboard.
Through tears, I pulled forty years of memories out of the box, laying it 
all before a whirring fan, praying I could save most of it. My baptism 
certificate.
My high school diploma. The first news story I ever wrote, at age fifteen. My 
baby book. First tooth. First snip of hair. Every school photograph, 
kindergarten
through senior year.
I cried with the sky, cried over all of my wet stuff. And yes, it was just 
stuff. It will be stained, is all. Storm-stained but not destroyed.
Above us and around us—and sometimes even inside of us—thunderheads are 
building. Out of nowhere, it seems, storms spill from the torn fabric of an 
iron-gray
sky. Or maybe from behind the closed doors of the doctor’s office, or on the 
other end of the phone line, or right at your own front door. I spent many
years as a news reporter. I covered some of the most horrific events 
imaginable, proving true the Bible verse that begins like this: “In this 
world you
will have trouble” (
John 16:33
NIV). Will. Not might. Will.
Reading those words, you might be inclined to keep your doors locked, your 
phone off the hook. You might avoid getting too close to someone who wants 
to
love you, because you never know when the storm will come, sweeping away 
your joy in a torrent. Except that there’s more to that Bible verse. That 
verse
doesn’t end in trouble. It ends in power.
Jesus then said this: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The day 
after the storm seeped into our basement, staining a box full of memories, 
the
creeks bulged and raged. And a few miles away from our front door, a teenage 
boy fell into Beaver Creek. The boy’s friends went for help and found a man
named John Lems, a retired firefighter.
Later, John told local TV news reporters that he thought about throwing that 
boy a rope. But if the boy grabbed for the rope, he would have had to let
go of the tree that was keeping him from going under fifteen feet of rushing 
water.
Today, the old news reporter in me called John to find out the rest of the 
story. John told me that he knew the boy was scared and the river was 
awfully
cold, but he could see that the boy was strong. And he would need to just 
hang on. John said this: “I yelled out to the boy, ‘Yes, it’s cold! But I’m 
not
going to throw you a rope! You’re going to be all right if you just hang on 
to that tree!’” And so that boy hung on to the tree. And he kept hanging on
until the rescuers arrived.
When trouble comes—and trouble will come—when the river through your life 
swells and rages; or when the creek bed cracks dry; when the storm marches 
across
the sky, or maybe straight across your heart; you will be scared. And it 
might feel cold. You might be tempted to grab for a sorry substitute, 
begging
for the false hope of a rope.
But friend, you are strong. Hang on to the tree that is even stronger. Hold 
tight to the tree that has already redeemed you, the tree that bore every 
ache
you could fathom, the tree onto which every sin was nailed. Hold on to the 
tree that held your Savior.
And you and I? We can be each other’s Jonathan, like John Lems shouting from 
the shore, a reminder that “You’re going to be all right if you just hang
on to that tree.” There’s nothing on earth that can uproot that tree or snap 
the Savior’s promise for you. Don’t let go. You’ve already been rescued. The
world and all its storms have already been overcome. And when the storm 
passes by, you’ll find that the Calvary tree held firm. You might be 
storm-stained
and scarred and a bit broken, but look to the sky. For you’ll see it above 
you—the heaving dark will have given way, at last, to the sun.
And you’ll know, for sure, that the light has won.
He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
Psalm 107:29 NKJV
Excerpted from
The Beauty of Grace,
edited by Dawn Camp (Revell, a division of
Baker Publishing Group,
2014). Used by permission.
dawn camp
Jennifer Dukes Lee is a grace dweller and storyteller at
www.JenniferDukesLee.com.
She and her husband live on the
family
farm with their two girls. Jennifer is the author of
Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval—and Seeing Yourself through 
God's Eyes.
Publication date: May 26, 2015

A Beautiful Change

Mindy was walking along the beach near her grandmother’s home on the Jersey 
Shore. She noticed a glint of color in the sand. Bending over, she picked up
what looked like a light-blue stone. It had irregular edges and an almost 
see-through appearance. “Look at this, Grandma.”

Her grandmother peered at it. “Oh, you found a piece of sea glass! I’ve been 
collecting those for years.”

Mindy turned it over in her hand. “What’s sea glass?” Her grandma replied, 
“They’re pieces of broken bottle that get tumbled over the sand by the 
waves.
Eventually their edges are smoothed and they get that frosty look. I’ve 
found many different colors.”

Mindy handed her the piece. “Here, you can add this to your collection.” 
Smiling, her grandmother said, “Thanks, dear. I’ll show you my big jar full 
of
sea glass when we get back. It’s very pretty. I think it’s amazing how the 
ocean can turn broken bottles into something so lovely!”

Like the ocean, God can create beauty out of brokenness. Even in the worst 
situations, he changes sadness and despair into hope and joy. When you’re 
grieving
and heartbroken, lean on God. Trust him to make this beautiful change in 
you. In time he’ll turn your tearful face into one that’s smiling and 
bright.

Bible Verse: [Lord,] you turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my 
sackcloth and clothed me with joy. –
Psalm 30:11

Words to Treasure: “I will turn their mourning into gladness,” ... declares 
the Lord. –
Jeremiah 31:13-14

365 Days of Adventure
Copyright Information

NIV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions: 365 Days of Adventure (Zondervan). © 
2013 by Zondervan. Used with permission. All rights reserved. The book's 
title
must be included when sharing the above content on social media. Visit the
Adventure Bible website


Experiencing LIFE Today

To please God ... and to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness ... to 
be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights
in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible, a weight or burden 
of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is. – C. S. Lewis

It’s one thing to realize your primary purpose is to be God’s kid. It’s 
another thing to believe that being God’s kid is enough to please Him. 
Surely there
must be something more – something else required of you in order to make Him 
glad He let you live?

Travel with me to Luke 3. I want to show you the very first words spoken 
over Jesus as an adult. Jesus was down with the others, getting baptized by 
John
the Baptist:

And as [Jesus] was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended 
on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my
Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:2122, emphasis mine)

We are witnessing Jesus’ primary human calling, which is the same as ours – 
to be a child of God.

But what about the second half of God’s statement? Correct me if I’m wrong, 
but Jesus hasn’t done anything yet. He hasn’t healed anyone. He hasn’t gone
headtohead with any Pharisees. He hasn’t taught a single sermon or performed 
a miracle.

Still, God says, “Hey, you’re My boy, I love you, and you please Me.”

You know what? He says the same thing to us. If all we ever do in this life 
is exercise our primary calling – that of being His child – we have 
fulfilled
our primary purpose. God is pleased with us; God is pleased with you.

Isn’t that beautiful? That’s called grace, my friends.

Yet most believers have a longing to be used by God. It’s heard in the 
question, “God, what do You want me to do?”

This question leads us to our secondary purpose. As children of God, we are 
called to be His instruments. When I think of instruments, I think of 
musical
instruments. So here’s the problem: Instruments cannot play themselves. They 
need a master.

Our secondary calling is to be an instrument in the hands of the Master.

Loving Father, it blows my mind that I could be nothing other than Your 
child and this would still please You. The grace of it all overwhelms me, 
drives
me to my knees in thanks, and spurs me forward into Your hands – eager to 
join the divine melody here on earth. Amen.

Listen to Pete, Jill & Stuart Briscoe on the
Telling the Truth broadcast
at OnePlace.com
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 1 Aug 2015 - 23:13

Let God Help with the Pruning
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”—Romans 3:23 (HCSB).

If you’ve ever seen a wisteria vine, especially in bloom, you know its 
charms are almost impossible to resist. That’s what drew me to purchase one 
about
four years ago. When I first saw the beautiful lavender flowers on the vines 
wrapped around an arbor in a neighbor’s yard, I knew I had to have one.

I succumbed to the beauty of the blooms dangling from the vines. Mesmerized, 
I couldn’t wait to have one growing over the arbor in my own backyard. After
purchasing one at a local garden center, I hurried home to plant the woody, 
climbing vine. However, I soon discovered this invasive plant has a mind of
its own.

In an article by Jeanne Rostaing called, “Wisteria: A Dangerous Beauty (Are 
You Tempted?),” she says, “You are not the first to succumb. Marco Polo was
an early conquest. He brought wisteria seeds out of China in the 13th 
century. But you would be wise to take the time to get to know this beauty 
before
you commit to her. Like a Jezebel, she will steal your heart and then, after 
you are weakened and besotted with love, she will set about to dominate your
garden and, if possible, your house. Take this caveat to heart: she is fully 
capable of attempting to murder your other plants.”

While the wisteria has not taken over my house, it dominates my arbor and 
the corner of the backyard where it is planted. Even if I had known how much
work this plant takes to maintain, I would still have planted it because I 
love working in my yard. The resulting beauty of my labor is worth the 
efforts
I expend.

On a recent Saturday, I was, once again, pruning my wisteria. Rostaing says, 
“Buy yourself a heavy-duty pair of pruning shears because, if you do plant
wisteria, you will need to become a virtuoso pruner.” I’ve definitely become 
a master at pruning this wild, but lovely vine.

As I pruned that day, I was once again amazed at how fast the vines had 
curled around my fence posts, the wooden swing hanging underneath my arbor 
and
everything else close enough for its tentacles to grasp. Snipping away with 
my pruning shears, I began to compare my vine with sin.

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 
Little things we might not consider sin—cheating on our taxes, not speaking
up when we receive too much change back at the store, not telling the whole 
truth, judging others because they’re different from us, envying what others
have or the way they look, and the list could go on—but if not kept in 
check, they can become as invasive as the wisteria vines threatening to take 
over
my yard.

If we avoid our faults, we can’t deal with them. When we face our personal 
issues with honesty, seeking God’s help with the pruning, we can live a life
pleasing to Him.

I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to email me with 
your thoughts about this post.
For more inspiration, visit my blog at
carolaround.com
Copyright © 2015 Carol Round, All rights reserved.

Love Worth Finding Ministrie

How Do You Handle A Crisis?

BIBLE MEDITATION:

“And he [Herod] killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because 
he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also.”
Acts 12:2-3

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, 
who are the called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:

What do you do in times of crisis? One thing we all must do, before we panic 
or sin against God, is respect the mystery of God’s providence.

Throughout the pages of His Word, you’re going to see the hidden hand of 
God...working in mysterious ways, in inexplicable ways. God is in the 
shadows
arranging things, moving things people cannot see. That may be true in your 
life right now. God is working, but you cannot see Him working.

You may be in the middle of chaos right now. Nothing seems to be making 
sense. Everything you thought you had nailed down is coming loose, and the 
devil
is pulling nails.

Just because it doesn’t make sense to you doesn’t mean it doesn’t make 
sense. Many of us have questions. As we look at Acts chapter 12, we say, 
“Well,
how could God let a rascal like Herod be the king anyway? Isn’t God, God? If 
I were God, I’d turn him into a frog. And why should James be killed and 
Peter
released? Does God have favorites? Has God lost control?”

ACTION POINT:

We do not live by explanations. Life is not a problem to be solved; it is a 
mystery to be lived. Sometimes we must back off and simply see what I call
the hidden hand of God. Just because today you cannot see the hand of God 
working doesn’t mean God is not working.
© 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300

The Danger of Forgetfulness
by Association of Biblical Counselors

by
Paul Tripp

We all do it, probably every day. It has a huge impact on the way we view 
ourselves and the way we respond to others. It’s one of the main reasons we 
experience
so much conflict in our relationships. The scary thing is: we barely 
recognize that we’re doing it.

What is this thing we all tend to do that causes so much harm? We forget the 
generosity of God.

In the busyness and self-centeredness of our lives, we sadly forget how much 
our lives have been blessed by and radically redirected by the generosity
of God. The fact that he blesses us when we deserve nothing (except for 
wrath and punishment) fades from our memories like a song whose lyrics we 
once
knew but now cannot recall.

Every morning, God’s generosity greets us in at least a dozen ways, but we 
barely recognize it as we frenetically prepare for our day. When we lay our
exhausted heads down at the end of the day, we often fail to look back on 
the many gifts that dripped from God’s hands into our little lives.

We don’t often take time to sit and meditate on what our lives would have 
been like if the generosity of the Redeemer had not been written into our 
personal
stories. Sadly, we all tend to be way too forgetful, and there are few 
things more dangerous in the Christian life than forgetfulness.

Forgetfulness is dangerous, because it shapes the way you think about 
yourself and others. When you remember God’s generosity, you also remember 
that you
simply did nothing whatsoever to earn his blessing. When you remember his 
generosity, you’re humble, thankful, and tender. When you remember his 
generosity,
complaining gives way to gratitude and self-focused desire gives way to 
worship.

But when you forget God’s generosity, you proudly tell yourself that what 
you have is what you’ve achieved. When you forget his generosity, you take 
credit
for what only his blessings could produce. When you forget his generosity, 
you name yourself as righteous and deserving, and you live an entitled and 
demanding
life.

When you forget God’s generosity and think you’re deserving, you find it 
very easy to withhold generosity from others. Proudly, you think that you’re 
getting
what you deserve and that they are, too. Your proud heart is not tender, so 
it’s not easily moved by the sorry plight of others. You forget that you are
more like than unlike your needy brother or sister, failing to acknowledge 
that neither of you stands before God as deserving.

...ill you remember to remember the generosity of God? Remembrance produces 
upward worship, inward humility, and outward generosity. Give thanks, be 
humble,
and be generous, because the blessings you receive from the Lord are not 
what you deserve.

God bless
Paul David Tripp
1. How has God been generous to you [this year]? List at least 10 examples.
2. Look at your list. Which of those 10 examples are you tempted to take 
personal credit for? Why does God deserve all the credit?
3. How have you been arrogant and self-righteous about blessings when you 
should be humble and grateful?
4. How have you failed to extend generosity to others [this year]?
5. How can you be generous to others as an expression of your humble 
gratitude for the undeserved blessings you have received as a result of the 
generosity of God?
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 31 Jul 2015 - 15:13

Praying Most For What You Love the Most

Your prayer-life is a measure of your spiritual maturity. Just about any 
decent book on prayer will tell you so. Your prayer lives exposes you to the 
reality
that what is nearest and dearest to your hearts are those things for which 
you pray the most. It is an inescapable rule. In this respect, your prayer 
life
may betray the public image which you, in turn, portrayed to others. Just a 
few years back, I became painfully aware that my prayer life was centered 
on...me.
What a shock it was to realize that my prayers were essentially 
self-serving!

The practice of prayer has fallen on hard times in the church today. There 
may be many factors producing this rapid downturn in frequency and quality 
of
prayer. Two of the most obvious are the affluence of western society and the 
lack of deeply spiritual representative prayer in our churches.

The Affect of Affluence

The affluence and relative ease of western culture has relaxed the grip that 
Scripture should hold on our lives. Our material lives are easier than they
were even one hundred years ago: the present relief we have from infant 
mortality or child labor, from common sicknesses that often resulted in 
death but
are now treatable have lulled us into a false sense of security. The Puritan 
pastor and theologian John Owen apparently had eleven children, ten of whom
died in childhood--the one who didn't die in childhood died of tuberculosis 
soon after she had married. Owen's wife passed away eight years before him.
People once knew--even expected--death and serious sickness to be a present 
reality in their lives, and often it drove them to prayer. They knew what it
was to “number their days and gain a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12) Sadly, 
it is not so now. As longevity and better quality of life are now 
expected--even
deemed a right--we have been driven from pondering our mortality and eternal 
realities to filling our lives with less consequential matters--with 
trivialities.
Prayers for health, wealth, success, family, children, friendship, 
employment, while not illegitimate topics of prayer (3 John 2), are the 
topics which
saturate most Christian prayers today.

The Affect of Prayer in the Worship Service

The dilution of spiritually rich prayer has also been aided and abetted by 
prayers from the pulpit. The casual manner of many public prayers--where 
Jesus
is merely our best bud and God is little more than a divine handy man--teach 
the average Christian how not to pray. Awe, transcendence and a sense of 
holiness
in prayer have been replaced with a superficial familiarity with the 
Almighty. Ministers lead and teach by example and must teach the manner and 
the content
of biblical prayer.

How then should we pray, publicly and privately? Most books on prayer focus 
on using biblical petitions – this is the what and how of prayer. The what
is the content of our prayers, the how is the manner of our prayers. Have we 
adopted a biblical and God-honoring posture of prayer, or have we adopted
an essentially selfish attitude in prayer? What are our priorities in 
prayer? Are we more concerned with the spiritual realities of our life and 
the lives
of others than with the material? For example, when was the last time you 
prayed that God would “make you worthy of the calling to which you have been
called” (Eph 4:1; and 2 Thess. 1:11); or, that you would be “joyful in hope, 
patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom.12:12); or, that 
“God...would
give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had”. 
(Rom 15:5-6); or, that “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as
you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the 
Holy Spirit.” (Rom 15:13); or, “that you will not do anything wrong.” (2 Cor 
13:7).
Or do ceaselessly give thanks to God for your brethren, remembering them in 
your prayers? (Eph1:16; Col 1:9); or, do you pray that “you may be filled 
with
the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as 
to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col 1:9); or, we could turn to the
Psalms - “create in me a clean heart of God, and renew a right spirit within 
me”(Ps. 51:10); “be merciful to me O God, be merciful to me for in you my
soul takes refuge” (Ps 57:1); and “May God be gracious to us and bless us 
and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, 
your
saving power among all nations.” (Ps. 67:1)

The truth is that our prayers are not saturated with Scriptural petitions 
(which place a great deal of emphasis on our spiritual well-being and little
on our material well-being) because we are not saturated with Scripture and 
its priorities. Resultantly, we often end up praying for the wrong things.
Or, perhaps we might better say, we don’t pray for the right things. While 
praying for material matters is both permissible and necessary, there are 
more
important things in life. We are not here to live our lives for material and 
physical well-being. We are to be supremely mindful of the life to come. To
that end, our prayers ought to focus on those matters that will fit us for 
eternal life. In short, our spiritual condition is far more important than 
our
material or physical condition.

To help us pursue a spiritually rich prayer life, I want to commend several 
resources specifically designed to aid us all in our prayer lives. All of 
them
centre on the following idea: we are to pray Scripture. We are to pray the 
petitions that the writers of Scripture teach us to pray. In doing so, we 
will
have access not to the power of prayer, but the power of your Almighty and 
loving Father in Heaven who works through the prayers of his people to 
strengthen,
encourage, and shape us into the image of his beloved Son.

Recommended Resources
D.A. Carson,
Praying with Paul, A Call to Spiritual Reformation.
- I highly commend Carson’s practical and piercing work into the heart of 
prayer. The book examines both the theology and practicalities of prayer, 
engaging
in an analysis of Paul’s prayers. This book will change your prayer life.

Terry Johnson,
Leading in Worship
- While this book is targeted at those who lead worship, the helpful 
collection of Scriptural prayers which will suit everyone interested in 
growing in
the grace of prayer.

Matthew Henry,
Method for Prayer.
This is the collection par excellence of biblical passages that may rightly 
be used in prayer. The book covers every conceivable item of prayer and is
of profound use to the Christian.

Timothy Keller,
Prayer
- This book is an easily-accessible theology and practice of prayer and will 
serve the reader well.

Samuel Miller,
Thoughts on Public Prayer
- This unique little book teaches ministers and congregants how to lead 
others in public prayer. It focuses both on form and content

A Godly Response to Criticism
Proverbs 15:31-33

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.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please 
visit
www.intouch.org.
Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2009 All Rights 
Reserved.

The FAX of Life

Title: Your Bible Is Not Safe!

Date: For the Week of June 1, 2015

In the fanciful movie The Neverending Story, a boy named Bastian ducks into 
a bookstore to avoid a group of bullies. When the storeowner tries to move
him back to the street, Bastian offers that he should be allowed to stay. He 
likes books. In fact, he names some of the classics he has read already.

As their exchange continues, the boy spots a book that sparks this dialogue:

"What's that book about?" asks Bastian.

"Oh, this is something special," replies the shop's owner.

"Well, what is it?" says the curious boy.

"Look. Your books are safe. While you're reading them you get to become 
Tarzan or Robinson Crusoe."

"But that's what I like about them," says Bastian.

"Yes, but afterwards you get to be a little boy again."

"What do you mean?"

"Listen," says the man. "Have you ever been Captain Nemo, trapped inside 
your submarine while the giant squid was attacking you?"

"Yes."

"Weren't you afraid you couldn't escape?"

"But it's only a story," protests the boy.

"That's what I'm talking about. The ones you read are safe."

To which Bastian says, "And that one isn't?"

It is only fair that you should be warned: The Bible you have on your desk 
or shelf is unsafe. It could do strange, unsettling things to you. It can 
turn
your life upside down. It might actually change you to the degree that old 
friends would declare you are not the same person they have known across the
years.

The Bible is the story of God's activity in history to draw human beings 
into the life of Jesus. It challenges us to see that Jesus has all 
authority -
in heaven and on earth - to mark the way, model the truth, and give life. 
Jesus alone. And the Bible is the volume that points us to him for meaning, 
identity,
and purpose.

People who want the security of personal comfort and self-directed lives had 
better steer clear of the Bible. It pulls us out of ourselves. It calls for
self-emptying and Christ-focus. It teaches kindness, self-restraint, and 
love for our neighbors.

The Bible is anything but safe, for it draws us to the life-transforming 
Jesus.

For back issues and other resources please visit
www.RubelShelly.com
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 30 Jul 2015 - 20:14

Changing Can'ts to Won'ts
by Charles R. Swindoll

Romans 12:21

Can't and won't. Christians need to be very careful which one they choose. 
It seems that we prefer to use "can't."

"I just can't get along with my wife."
"My husband and I can't communicate."
"I can't discipline the kids as I should."
"I just can't give up the affair I'm having."
"I can't stop overeating."
"I can't find time to pray."

Any Christian who takes the Bible seriously will have to agree the word here 
really should be "won't." Why? Because we have been given the power, the 
ability
to overcome. Literally!

Any good psychiatrist knows that "I can't" and "I've tried" are merely lame 
excuses.

We're really saying "I won't," because we don't choose to say "With the help 
of God, I will!"

Now, go back and change all those "can'ts" on that internal list you carry 
around to "won'ts" and see how that makes you feel about yourself. Not very
good, huh? It's the same as "choosing" to disobey. Today you can choose to 
be an "I will" person.

An excuse has been defined as the skin of reason stuffed with a lie (Michael 
Green, Illustrations for Biblical Preaching).

Excerpted from
Day by Day with Charles Swindoll,
Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). 
All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Abide With Me
Monday, June 1, 2015

“They approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though 
He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is
getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.’ So He went in to 
stay with them.”
- Luke 24:28-29 NASB

Henry Francis Lyte faced significant obstacles that could have been 
crippling. Born in Scotland on this day in 1793, he was orphaned as a boy, 
yet overcame
these challenging conditions to become a distinguished poet. Throughout his 
life he battled tuberculosis, which often left him weak but also gave him a
compassionate heart, and a profound perspective about life. He once hoped to 
pursue a career in medicine but, instead, became a pastor, a ministry that
gave him meaning and purpose.

Through these struggles, he learned that God always was with him. Late in 
life, facing declining health, he wrote a poem that expressed how much God’s
presence meant to him. Based on Jesus’ encounter with the two men on the 
road to Emmaus, it was called “Abide with Me.”

Facing problems, he learned to depend on God and His presence. On days that 
seemed gloomy, he could cry, “Lord, with me abide.” He realized that other
people might fail him, and life’s comforts could disappear. But he always 
could trust in God, who was the “help of the helpless.”

Looking back on his life, he realized that earth’s joys may “grow dim” and 
“its glories pass away.” There might be “change and decay” all around. But 
he
knew that God was with him through both “cloud and sunshine.” Because of His 
presence, he could be freed from fear, and triumph through every trial, and
even in death.

Today, make sure that you are confident that God is with you. No matter the 
size of your problems, trust in Him. He is abiding with you, right now!

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Father, thank You that You abide with me in every situation I face. You are 
my Helper, my Rock, and my Fortress. I trust in You and commit my life to 
You.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: Luke 24
Inspiration Ministries • PO Box 7750 Charlotte, NC 28241
Inspiration Ministries UK • Admail 3905 London • W1A 1ZT • UK Charity No 
1119076
© 2015 Inspiration Ministries, All rights reserved

Rico Tice / May 31, 2015
We Talk About What We Love

When we keep our mouths shut about the gospel, it shows there is something 
wrong in our hearts.

We all have those moments in life we wish we could rewind to and do things 
differently. For me, the thing I most regret is what happened before my 
grandmother’s
death. Or rather, what didn’t happen.

My grandmother died absolutely convinced that God would accept her because 
she was a good person. She had no faith in Christ. And here’s what I regret.
In the week before my grandmother died, I did not speak to her about Jesus. 
I tried to love her well, but didn’t say anything to her about Jesus. When
my other grandmother had died, I’d taken her hand and prayed with her. But 
not that grandmother. I just let her go.

I Was Afraid

Why didn’t I tell her about Jesus? I’ve come to realise that I was afraid of 
what she’d say, and I was afraid of what my family would say, because I knew
they’d think it was inappropriate and unhelpful. I was afraid.

I loved my grandmother, and she loved me, but the hard truth is that I loved 
myself more than her. I wanted my family to think well of me more than I 
wanted
her to think of Christ as her Savior. That’s why I didn’t speak to her. I 
loved myself more than I loved her — and more than I loved my Lord.

And that means that my family’s respect and having an easy time in life had 
become idols to me. When it came down to it, the hard truth was that I 
wanted
my family to respect me more than I wanted to bring Jesus glory or see my 
grandmother saved. It was my idol — a good thing elevated into a divine 
thing
— and I was so afraid of losing it that I kept my mouth shut.

The Divine Waiter?

I’ve often wondered why lovely, compassionate, committed Christians simply 
don’t do evangelism — and why, at times, I didn’t either. For years, I 
couldn’t
understand why so many well-taught, and in many ways mature, believers were 
just apathetic about sharing the gospel. They knew about the new creation;
they believed in the reality of hell; they confessed Jesus as their King and 
Savior. But they were half-hearted at best about telling others about him.

Here’s what I slowly came to conclude had happened to these committed, 
non-evangelizing Christians: In their hearts, they were serving something 
good that
they had made into their god — their idol. And that’s what was stopping them 
from evangelizing.

Everyone worships something. By nature, we’re the people Paul describes in 
Romans 1:25, who have “served created things rather than the Creator.” 
Anything
that we serve instead of God is a created thing, an idol. Money, reputation, 
power, career, family, and so on — our hearts get kidnapped.

When we worship an idol, we turn God into a divine waiter. He is there to 
deliver our daydream to us. We touch base with him on a Sunday; we put our 
order
in via prayer; we might give a decent tip in the collection plate. But God 
is essentially there to give us what we feel we need — our idol. And we get
furious with him if he doesn’t deliver.

Witness Is a Test of Our Treasure

Becoming a Christian doesn’t automatically or immediately cure us of this 
idol-worship. At the heart of all sin is idolatry in the heart — loving and 
obeying
something other than our loving God. I am constantly struggling to keep the 
Lord Jesus at the center of my heart, to find my identity and assurance and
purpose and satisfaction in him.

And unless I do, I will not speak about him. After all, we talk about what 
we love. If you’ve ever had a friend who has just got engaged, and you’ve 
listened
to him talk about his loved one non-stop for hours (or if you’ve ever been 
that person!), you’ll know this is true.

So for as long as Jesus is not my greatest love, I will keep quiet about him 
in order to serve my greatest love, my idol. I will keep quiet about him 
because
I am afraid of losing my greatest love, my idol. Suppressing the truth about 
Christ is the effect of our wicked worship of created things, and it makes
God angry:

The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and 
unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 
(Romans 1:18)

An Idol Mind — And Heart

So if we know the gospel, but we’re not sharing the gospel, then it’s 
because our hearts are somewhere else. It’s actually because what we most 
want is
a comfortable life, or a good reputation with friends and colleagues, or a 
nice settled existence with our family, and so on.

Even if we have everything straight in our heads, the reason that we won’t 
witness is because of what’s going on in our hearts. That’s why we say 
enough
to salve our consciences — we talk about church, or Jesus’s love, or how 
great it is to pray — but we won’t say enough to help people be saved. We 
won’t
talk about death, or sin, or hell, or salvation.

We need to ask ourselves, So what does my heart find easy to love more than 
Jesus? What stops me from obeying God by speaking of his Son? We need to 
spot
our idols, so that we can confess our idols, and so we can begin consciously 
to seek what we have been looking for from those idols in the only place 
where
we will truly find it — the Lord Jesus. We need to replace our idols with 
the real God: Christ.

If we’re to share Christ, we need first to truly love Christ. We need to ask 
the Spirit to go to work in our hearts with the gospel, so that we’ll love
Christ more and more, and he’ll displace our idols; and so when we talk 
about what we love, we’ll be talking about him. And we won’t be regretting, 
once
it’s too late, who we didn’t talk to about him.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 29 Jul 2015 - 21:36

10 Reasons to be Involved in a Church
David Roach

According to a recent newspaper report, only 8 percent of British men attend 
church regularly, though 53 percent identify themselves as Christians.

And the situation is similar in other Western nations, with more than 40 
percent of U.S. evangelicals not attending church weekly and more than 60 
percent
of American mainline Christians not attending weekly, according to Pew data. 
In short, millions who consider themselves Christians limit their church 
attendance
largely to holidays, weddings and funerals.

If you're among these millions, please give church another chance. By 
getting involved, you'll discover that what you once viewed as a chore is 
actually
a blessing. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. Church involvement is evidence that you're a Christian in the first 
place. It also helps keep you from abandoning the
faith.
According to the author of Hebrews, the antidote to developing an 
"unbelieving heart" that leads you "to fall away from the living God" is to 
"exhort one
another" (
Hebrews 3:12)
-- an activity that occurs most prominently in the church.

2. Gathering with a church encourages believers to love others and do good 
deeds (
Hebrews 10:24).

3. A church is the main venue for using your spiritual gifts (
1 Corinthians 12:1).
God has given you abilities and talents intended to help other Christians. 
If you're not involved in a church, others are being deprived of what you 
have
to offer.

4. A church helps you defend Christianity against those who attack it. When 
Jude told the early Christians to "contend for the faith" (
Jude 1:3),
he directed his instruction toward a group of believers, not a scattering of 
lone-ranger Christians. Answering challenges from coworkers, friends and
family
members is always easier when you can ask fellow church members for help and 
wisdom.

5. A church is a great venue for pooling resources to support missions and 
benevolent works (
2 Corinthians 8:1
;
3 John 1:5).
Your money combined with that of fellow church members can do a lot for 
Christ.

6. A church helps its members maintain correct doctrine (
1 Timothy 1:15).
You might begin to adopt unbiblical ideas without realizing it yourself. But 
you probably won't adopt unbiblical ideas without someone at your church 
realizing
it, and they can help you get back to the truth.

7. After your family, a church is the best group of people to meet your 
physical needs in an emergency (
1 John 3:16
;
1 Timothy 5:3).

8. A church supports you when you face persecution (
Acts 4:23
;
Acts 12:12).
You may not be imprisoned for your Christian beliefs like the apostles were, 
but a church family is still a great source of comfort when you face 
stinging
words or unfair treatment.

9. A church is where you can be baptized and take part in the Lord's Supper 
(
Matthew 28:18
;
1 Corinthians 11:17
;
Ephesians 4:4).
These two ordinances are a vital part of any believer's walk with Jesus.

10. A church provides the setting for corporate worship (
Ephesians 5:19
;
Colossians 3:16).
Though it's a blessing to praise God alone, there is a unique joy that 
accompanies singing God's praises with an entire congregation of Christ 
followers.

The list could go on, but you get the idea. It's worth it to start attending 
church.

This column first appeared at the blog of bible mesh,
a website that teaches the Bible as a unified story pointing to Christ. 
David Roach is a writer in Shelbyville, Ky. Get Baptist Press 

How Can We Hear God’s Voice in Scripture?

Some years back, I did a survey of our church’s congregation with the simple 
question: “If you could ask God one thing, what would it be?” I was not 
surprised
that the most frequent response had to do with the problem of evil in the 
world, but I was struck by the next most common question: “How can I hear 
the
voice of God?” The various wording people used indicated some were facing 
important decisions, others wanted to know if their lives were “on track” 
with
God, some were in crisis, and still others expressed feelings of spiritual 
isolation and just wanted to “hear” from God.

There is a long history and many debates about how God “speaks” to us. Our 
concern in this chapter is how God speaks in and through Holy Scripture. 
This
must be the believer’s major conviction, that we find the voice of God in 
Scripture, and that the authority of the Bible trumps all other claims about
hearing God. Throughout Scripture, God is talking. Creation took place at 
the verbal command of God. The Hebrews became a nation when they met their 
God
at Mount Sinai and he spoke to them through Moses. The prophets’ oracles 
often began with: “This is what the Lord says.”

Man Praying

And the Gospels proclaim a whole new form of the voice of God: “In the 
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” 
(John 1:1).
Or, as the opening words of the book of Hebrews puts it: “In the past God 
spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various 
ways,
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb. 1:1-2).

Whenever we find ourselves longing to hear the voice of God—wanting to know 
if we’re doing the right thing, or yearning to know that we are not alone—we
must remember this: We have in Scripture thousands and thousands of 
expressions of the will and the ways of God. We have an analysis of life 
that is complex
and refined, giving us concrete moral instruction and wisdom-based ethics. 
We have “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). We have the “wisdom from above”
(James 3:17 ESV). We have “Spirit-taught words” (1 Cor. 2:13). Do you want 
to hear God’s voice? Then take in what he says in his Word. Drink deeply. 
Study
well. Meditate slowly. Keep starting over.

It may be that the most relevant question for us is not “Where can we find 
the voice of God?” but “What prevents us from taking in the voice of God?” 
Many
biblical passages speak to that.

Listening to the voice of God is risky. At Mount Sinai the people said to 
Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak 
to
us or we will die” (Ex. 20:19). Moses replied that the fear of God would be 
good for them; it would keep them from sinning, although it will sting at 
times.

There are many passages that say we resist listening to God because we know 
obedience is the next step. In the parable of the soils, Jesus analyzes why
the word of God (the seed) does not take root. Shallow acceptance (the rocky 
ground), and the competition of worries and money (the thorny soil) get in
the way. But simple lack of understanding (the path) thwarts a person’s 
spiritual life.

How can we hear God’s voice in Scripture? It isn’t really complicated. We 
need to read it. We need to do the work to understand it (which is the point
of this whole book). And we need to have the right heart attitude, which is 
more challenging than anything else. We have to honestly admit that we will
resist being obedient to God, and that we will be tempted to make the Bible 
mean what we want it to mean. That prospect should terrify us. Putting our
words into the mouth of God is the height of arrogance.

Here is a caution. For years I sat in Bible studies where the leader read a 
passage and then asked the group: “What does this mean to you?” Only much 
later
did I learn (and it made perfect sense when I did) that the meaning of 
Scripture does not flow from the subjective experience of the believer. The 
question
is not “What does this mean to me?” but rather “What does this mean?”

When the apostle Paul said, “I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, 
but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin” (Rom. 7:25), he meant 
something
specific. It is our obligation to dig and dig until we learn what he meant, 
and then talk about how it applies to us.

There is only one way to receive the pure and powerful truth of God—and that 
is to seek to understand what the Bible meant so we can apply what it means
to our lives today.
About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook 
Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for 
thirty
years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help 
Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, 
the
most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to 
Engagement.

I believe both free agency and predestination to be facts!

(Charles Spurgeon,
"
Esther Defeats her Enemies")

It is clear that the divine will is accomplished--and yet men are perfectly 
free agents. We see no "divine interference" with them, no force or 
coercion;
hence the entire sin and responsibility rest with each guilty one. And yet, 
acting with perfect freedom, none of them acts otherwise than divine 
providence
had predetermined.

Certain of my brethren deny free agency--and so get out of the difficulty.
Others assert that there is no predestination--and so cut the knot.

As I do not wish to get out of the difficulty, and have no wish to shut my 
eyes to any part of the truth, I believe both free agency and predestination
to be facts!

How they can be made to agree, I do not know, or care to know. I am 
satisfied to know anything which God chooses to reveal to me--and equally 
content not
to know what He does not reveal.

There it is--man is a free agent in what he does. He is responsible for his 
actions, and truly guilty when he does wrong--and he will be justly punished
too; and if he is eternally lost the blame will rest with himself alone.

But yet there is One who rules over all, who, without complicity in their 
sin, makes even the actions of wicked men to subserve His holy and righteous
purposes. Believe these two truths and you will see them in practical 
agreement in daily life, though you will not be able to devise a theory for 
harmonizing
them on paper.

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my 
presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your 
salvation with
fear and trembling--for it is God who works in you to will and to act 
according to His good purpose!" Philippians 2:12-13

~ ~ ~ ~

We have published
J.R. Miller's
two page insightful article, "
Into the Desert".

~ ~ ~ ~

Feel free to forward these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited 
by them!

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 28 Jul 2015 - 20:17

3 Reasons Why Some Christians Avoid Church
by Theologically Driven
by John Aloisi

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about
the myth of unchurched Christians.
Unfortunately the reality is that there are a good number of professing 
Christians who either shy away from church membership or avoid church 
attendance
altogether. The problem of professing Christians who neglect church 
involvement is sadly not a myth.

There are a number of excuses that such professing believers give for their 
lack of church involvement. Here are three that I’ve heard:

1. “I’ve been hurt by a previous church (or church leader).”

Sadly, this reason is often grounded in reality. Many people have been 
emotionally torn up by the actions of other people. Churches are full of 
sinners—hopefully,
redeemed sinners, but sinners nonetheless. It should come as no surprise 
that sinners sin, and although all sin is ultimately against God, human sin 
often
has harmful consequences in the lives of people who have been sinned 
against. But someone’s sin against you is not a good excuse for you to sin 
against
God by ignoring his plan for this dispensation which is for his people to 
identify with a local church.

2. “The church is full of hypocrites.”

Yes, local churches contain people who live hypocritically. To some extent, 
every person that acknowledges the lordship of Christ but continues to sin
is acting hypocritically. This was a problem in the first century, and it 
remains a problem in the twenty-first as well. As long as believers possess 
a
sin nature, they will sin against their Lord and Savior, and such sin runs 
contrary to their profession. However, this isn’t a good reason for avoiding
the church, for few things could be more hypocritical than professing to 
love Christ while refusing to identify with his people in a local expression 
of
the body of Christ.

3. “I can worship God better on my own.”

Some professing believers speak of being “churchfree” or “satellite 
Christians.” They feel that because they can approach God directly through 
Christ,
they do not need to be connected to a local church. In fact, some profess 
that their relationship with God has actually improved by walking away from 
the
church. But if God’s plan for this age involves his people assembling 
together for worship, fellowship, and mutual accountability, then it doesn’t 
ultimately
matter how one feels. The quality of one’s worship is not completely 
separate from affections or “feelings,” but feelings cannot override 
commands. One
cannot worship God better by ignoring his instructions and the model that is 
pretty clearly laid out in the NT.

Sometimes these three excuses are used together, as if one could build a 
cumulative case for why he or she doesn’t need to be connected to a local 
church
body. I’ve provided only the simplest replies to these excuses. Here are a 
few NT passages so-called unchurched Christians must wrestle with if they 
wish
to continue excusing their lack of local church involvement:

Acts 16:5:
“So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.”

1 Corinthians 5:2,
4–5,
and
12–13:
“Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your 
fellowship the man who has been doing this?… So when you are assembled and I 
am
with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this 
man over to Satan…. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the 
church?
Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the 
wicked person from among you.’”

1 Timothy 3:14–15:
“Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so 
that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves
in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and 
foundation of the truth.”

Hebrews 10:24–25:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good 
deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, 
but
encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Hebrews 13:7,
17,
and
24:
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the 
outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith…. Have confidence in 
your leaders
and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who 
must give an account…. Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people.”

See also
Acts 15:41
;
1 Cor 1:2
;
1 Cor 4:17
;
1 Cor 7:17
;
2 Cor 8:1–24
;
Gal 1:2
;
1 Tim 5:17
;
Titus 1:5–9
;
Jas 5:14
; and
1 Pet 5:1–4
among others.

Featured Sermon
from LightSource.com
Bayless Conley
Answers with Bayless Conley

He Has Your Answer
by Dean Masters


Psalm 63:1
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my 
flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

When you don’t know where to turn or what to do any more, or when you just 
feel as though you can’t possibly make it through another day, pour your 
heart
out to God and seek Him with all you have inside! I have had times where it 
just felt as though I had nothing left in me, I had nothing to give, I 
couldn’t
even think straight and that is when we need to realize that in those 
moments our everything will be found in Him!

God has your answers! He has the answers to guide you in your next step. He 
has the answers to heal your broken heart. He has the answers to fix those
broken relationships. He has the answers to your messed up finances. He has 
the answers for those wayward children. Whatever it is …… He is and has all
of the answers!

The best advice I can give today if you are struggling is to totally lean on 
Him. Allow Him to guide you and remove your hurt and fears. Allow Him to be
to you like water in the desert. Allow Him to be what fills all of those 
empty places in your life! Earnestly seek Him, take some time to block out 
the
noise of life for even just 20 minutes today and pour your heart out and 
allow Him to fill you with Himself.

When life gets cloudy and it is just too difficult to find your way, look 
for Him, He is always there ready to take your hand and lead you through. 
The
worst thing you can do is look for your answers somewhere or in someone 
else.

God loves you so much and He wants more than anything to be able to guide 
you. He wants His best for you and He created you for great things so don’t 
give
up, hold on and trust Him to bring you through! Seek Him, spend time in His 
word, listen to some great praise music, turn that depressing stuff off for
a while, save it for a better day and find some uplifting music to get you 
back on track. God knows your heart and He knows all that He created you 
for,
He knows you better than you know yourself and He knows what is coming down 
the road, so where better to find your answers than in Him? The best is yet
to come if you will just follow Him today!

Quote:
“Life begins when you do.” Hugh Downs


A Note of Encouragement
from Ciloa
A large crowd
When He saw the crowds,
Jesus had compassion for them.
Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32

Do you weep for others?
Volume XV, Issue 30
July 27, 2015
A few people changed the law of the land. Five to be exact, out of 
322,583,006.* And with the stroke of a pen, gay marriage became a right. The 
reaction
was anger, condemnation, hatred, and rage, not directed at the five, as 
logic would suggest, but at gays, specifically at gay couples.

I struggled with making any comment. Many are much smarter and wiser. 
Unfortunately for me (and possibly you), God kept nudging and whispering in 
my ear.
This is what He's led me to share...

Riding a young donkey, Jesus descended the Mount of Olives. Shouts of praise 
and joy rose as crowds covered the path with palm branches and their own 
cloaks.
But when Jesus saw Jerusalem, something happened that forever changed how we 
are to respond to the world around us.

...He wept over it and said, If you, even you, had only known on this day 
what would bring you peace---but now it is hidden from your eyes. Luke 
19:41-42

This was no misty-eyed moment. Jesus sobbed! Yet He did not weep for the 
city. He wept over it. The Greek word means superimposed in space and time. 
His
tears of compassion covered the city.

He did not notice walls, gates, streets, or buildings. His focus was on 
those who stood on the walls, sat by the gates, walked along the streets, 
and lived
in the buildings. They were important! If you...

And though He knew what lay ahead, Jesus did not speak with anger or hatred. 
Instead, His words bore great sorrow. He knew something they didn't, 
something
hidden from their eyes. If only...

He peered into hearts which chose to live in the moment, following their own 
desires rather than God's. He recognized the stranglehold of sin. And He 
knew
they were dying. If today...

Jesus witnessed every sin. Yet instead of shouting in rage, He wept out of 
compassion. He knew the lost opportunity---they were giving up eternal life
for brief pleasure. And He cried. If peace...

For God so loved the world is quite a broad statement. Jesus came for 
everyone who would believe in, trust, and follow Him. That includes gays and 
gay
couples.

But something is required. Jesus must come first---over every desire, every 
want, and every person in our lives---whether a family member, friend, 
spouse,
or partner. How very difficult that can be!

Imagine being in love and God says, No, to the relationship. Heartbreaking! 
Yet He has said this---for relationships involving gays, unbelievers, those
already married, and problems we cannot see.

When Jesus looked upon Jerusalem, He saw relationships He did not want for 
His people. Moving past their actions, He longed for their hearts and cried
for them. He knew what they didn't---following one's own desires rather than 
God's costs the opportunity to know His love and peace...forever.

Many claim the old Biblical passages were written in error or the Word of 
God changes over time. I find no justification in either. But I also find no
justification for the anger, condemnation, hatred, and rage which has come 
from both sides.

Jesus said we are to follow His example. If He looks upon those in sin and 
has compassion, so must we. Otherwise, are we not following our own desires?
If that is the case, I pray others will have compassion on us.

Take care & be God's,

Chuck
* July 1, 2014 estimate, www.worldometers.info
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 27 Jul 2015 - 18:13

Frontierland

During my elementary school days I went on several field trips to a theme 
park called Frontierland which was in western North Carolina. It was a big 
fort that you could go inside to see how the pioneers and Indians lived.

The pioneers made forts to protect themselves against the enemy. They also 
had a real community where the people helped each other. It would be hard to 
defend a group of enemies by yourself so you had help from the others in the 
fort.

The psalmists wrote about a fortress a number of times:

Psalm 9:9 (CEV)
9 The poor can run to you because you are a fortress in times of trouble.

Psalm 18:2 (NASB95)
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in 
whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 31:2-3 (NASB95)
2 Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; Be to me a rock of strength, A 
stronghold to save me. 3 For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s 
sake You will lead me and guide me.

Psalm 37:39-40 (NLT)
39 The Lord saves the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble. 40 
The Lord helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they 
find shelter in him.

Psalm 46:1 (CEV)
1 God is our mighty fortress, always ready to help in times of trouble.

Martin Luther was inspired by this last verse to write his famous hymn:

A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing;
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not His equal

God is a fortress for those who belong to Him. In Him we have protection 
from our enemies. In Him we have a community of believers to help each other 
so that we will not feel like we are facing life on our own. The pioneers 
would take in strangers who needed the protection also. We need to reach out 
to others and let them know there is a fortress where they can be safe and 
become part of a real community that loves and cares for each other.

WE don’t have to build a Frontierland. AS you live through Jesus Christ, you 
have an invisible fortress around you. Go invite others into the fort.

by Dean W. Masters

40 Powerful Quotes from Corrie Ten Boom
Debbie McDaniel
Image courtesy of the
Ten Boom Museum Photo Album.
This past month on April 15th marked the birthday of the amazing woman, 
Corrie ten Boom. At the age of 91, on that very same date in 1983, she also 
passed
into Heaven’s gates. According to Jewish custom, celebrating the same day 
for both birth and death is the unique sign of a very special individual. I 
think
the rest of the world would agree. Corrie ten Boom was one of the most 
godly, soul-rich individuals I’ve ever read words from. Her deep wisdom came 
with
the cost of journeying through great pain in this life, yet many of us have 
gleaned amazing nuggets of truth from her experiences. Evidence still that
God uses all we walk through in this world for greater purposes and good, 
more than we could possibly ever imagine.
The ten Boom
family
were Dutch Christians who helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust of 
WWII. When their home was raided after an informant tipped off the Nazis of 
their
activities, the entire family was imprisoned. Corrie and her sister were 
sent to a notorious Nazi concentration camp. She was miraculously released 
from
prison just days after her sister had died there. God brought incredible 
beauty and healing through her difficult experiences, and her words still 
have
great relevance and impact in our world today. She authored a number of 
books and was most famously known for The Hiding Place, the incredible story 
of
her life. The title refers to the secret place where the family hid 
countless Jewish people needing help in their home, and is based on this 
scripture,
“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your wordâ€
(Psalm 119:114).
Certain themes run through her greatest quotes over and over again – truths 
we need reminding of in all we face today – Forgive, Love, Trust God, Don’t
Worry, Pray.
40 Powerful Quotes from Corrie Ten Boom:
"You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you 
have."
“Do you know what hurts so very much? It's love. Love is the strongest force 
in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things
we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. 
But then of course part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up 
another
route for that love to travel.â€
“Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the 
future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, 
become
the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work he will give us to do. â€
“And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things too. 
Don't run out ahead of him.â€
"Love is larger than the walls which shut it in."
“Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of 
them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord 
Jesus,
I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him....Jesus, I cannot forgive 
him. Give me your forgiveness....And so I discovered that it is not on our 
forgiveness
any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on his. 
When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives along with the command, the 
love
itself.â€
“If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.â€
“You will find it is necessary to let things go, simply for the reason that 
they are too heavy.â€
“Some knowledge is too heavy...you cannot bear it...your Father will carry 
it until you are able.â€
“Don’t bother to give God instructions, just report for duty.â€
“You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you 
have.â€
“God takes our sins – the past, present, and future, and dumps them in the 
sea and puts up a sign that says NO FISHING ALLOWED.â€
“Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries 
your fingers open.â€
“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of 
the temperature of the heart.â€
“Happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings…it’s something 
we make inside ourselves.â€
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?â€
“In darkness God’s truth shines most clear.â€
“What wings are to a bird and sails to a ship, so is prayer to the soul.â€
“With Jesus, even in our darkest moments the best remains and the very best 
is yet to be…â€
“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll 
be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.â€
“It is not my ability, but my response to God’s ability that counts.â€
"This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person 
he puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only he
can see."
"Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and 
keep it. A man is powerful on his knees"
“The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.â€
“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.â€
"If God sends us on stony paths, he provides strong shoes."
"Worry is like a rocking chair: it keeps you moving but doesn't get you 
anywhere."
"Faith
sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible."
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.â€
“Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, 
exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy 
Spirit,
then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.â€
“There is no panic in Heaven! God has no problems, only plans.â€
“When I try, I fail. When I trust, he succeeds.â€
“God never measures the mind… He always put His tape measure in the HEART.â€
“Let God's promises shine on your problems.â€
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its 
strength.â€
“Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.â€
“Now, I know in my experience that Jesus’ light is stronger than the biggest 
darkness.â€
“Discernment is God's call to intercession, never to faultfinding.â€
“The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy.â€
“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made 
into a burden.â€
Corrie ten Boom’s amazing life and journey remind us still today how to live 
strong and love well through the hope and freedom of Christ. May we press
on in that wisdom, moving forward with the same forgiving spirit that 
typified this courageous soul. Don’t let the enemy hold you back. No matter 
what
we walk through, God has good in store.
Debbie McDaniel is a pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids and a few too 
many pets, dramatist and writer. She has a heart to communicate God's hope
though the everyday moments of life - the good, the bad, the ugly, and the 
ones that take your breath away. A lover of every sunrise, forever needy of
His grace, this Texas girl finds joy in the simple gift of each new day. 
Debbie invites you to join her at
www.freshdayahead.com,
Publication date: May 21, 2015
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 26 Jul 2015 - 20:32

KenBible.com
The Blind Man of Jericho

Posted: 24 May 2015 09:55 PM PDT

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside 
begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They 
told
him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted 
all the more. “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, 
Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 
Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all 
the people
saw it, they also praised God. (Luke 18:35-43, NIV)

What if you were the blind man, doomed to spend every day begging as life 
went on around you? Then suddenly you learn that your only hope for healing 
is
passing nearby, right now, at this very moment. A once-in-a-lifetime 
opportunity.

“Jesus…have mercy on me!” (v.38)

It was a cry of weakness and need, of complete helplessness. “Jesus, I’m 
desperate! Please notice me! Help me! Lord, care about me!”

Have you ever noticed what happens when someone speaks too loudly or has an 
emotional outburst that seems inappropriate? It disrupts decorum, and the 
whole
atmosphere becomes tense. Everyone is suddenly uncomfortable…and annoyed.

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet. (v.39)

But he was desperate, so he yelled even louder and more insistently:

Son of David, have mercy on me! (v.39)

This cry arose from the depths of his heart, all the way up through his 
being. Propriety, reputation, and embarrassment didn’t matter. Nothing else 
mattered.
He was in the presence of One who could give him his sight. “Jesus, HELP 
ME!”

We can approach God like that man. All of us have felt some measure of what 
the blind man felt before God: crushing need, helplessness, desperation. 
When
you feel that way, cry out to God. He is not offended by honesty, no matter 
how brutal. Read the Gospels. Read the Psalms. He honors faith.

Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” (v.42)

No poverty should make us too ashamed to come to God. Whether the need is 
moral or emotional, large or small, you are welcome in His presence. You are
an invited guest. And He will look you straight in the eye, straight in the 
heart, and work in your life. He may not act according to your plan or on 
your
timetable, but trust Him through your pain. His wisdom and love will prove 
themselves perfect.

He received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people 
saw it, they also praised God. (v.43)

Today's Thoughts: Inquire of Him First

Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from 
Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar" (that
is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he 
proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek 
help
from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. -
2 Chronicles 20:2-4

Think about one difficulty you are facing right now. It might have to do 
with your family, your finances, conflicts at work or even an accident you 
recently
had. All these things can be considered as armies coming against you. I know 
from personal experience that any circumstance that has overpowered me is
an army coming against me. I might come up with my own schemes and plans, 
but nothing I do is going to fix it. In desperation and anxiety, I cry out 
to
the Lord.

Crying out to the Lord as a last resort is a lot different than "resolving 
to inquire of the Lord" from the start (as Jehoshaphat did). God honored 
Jehoshaphat's
prayer and then he honored the Lord by singing praises to God before the 
battle even began.

Circumstances are difficult in life. Many times, we wonder what is really 
going on and why is the Lord allowing this to happen? All the Lord wants is 
for
you to include Him. Circumstances can be hard but His answers to your 
prayers are not. Go to God today first. Tell Him, "Lord, I don't know what 
to do
but I am looking to You." He not only hears, sees and answers, but He 
assures the victory.

Our mission is to evangelize the lost and awaken the saved to live empowered 
lives by the Work of God and His Holy Spirit. Daily Disciples Ministries 
makes
a difference for the kingdom of God by teaching and training believers how 
to be in God's Word, how to pray and how to walk with Jesus every day, as 
His
daily disciple.
Daily Disciples Ministries, Inc.

Welcome to the Nugget

May 26, 2015

Giants
By Answers2Prayer

There was a "giant" in my back yard this week. My dog saw it and refused to 
go outside.

Just what was this "giant?"

Pouring, drenching, unending rain that fell all week!

As I pushing my dog to go out in the rain, I began to think about giants, 
these horribly big things in life that can so easily overcome us. That's 
when
God laid the story of the first Israeli spies on my heart.

When Israel arrived at the border to the Promised Land, God told Moses to 
send in a group of 12 spies to check out the land. 40 days later, they 
returned
with their reports, but unfortunately, the reports were not so good: "...the 
people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very
large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there..." (Num 13:28-29, 
NKJV).

For anyone unfamiliar with the name "Anak," Anak was a giant, and his 
descendants all took after him! In other words, when the spies looked out 
over the
land, they saw--Giants! Not just "driving rain giants," but real, flesh and 
blood giants!

I don't know about you, but I don't think I would want to live among giants, 
and neither did Israel: "We are not able to go up against the people, for
they are stronger than we...The land through which we have gone as spies is 
a land that devours its inhabitants...and we were like grasshoppers in our
own sight..." (Num 13:31-33, NKJV)

As a result the people rebelled, begging God to send them back to 
Egypt--back to slavery!--rather than to enter into this land of "giants."

Have there been any "giants" in our lives this week, friends? "Giants" such 
as pain? Fear? Fatigue? Illness? Unknowns? What about the "giants" of 
relationship
problems? Financial difficulties? Lack of food, water, shelter or medical 
help? Is there the "giant" of heartache and fear? Did we look out over the 
future
and, like Israel of old, did we see it as a "land that devours its 
inhabitants?"

Let's remember one thing: God knew the giants were in the land of Israel 
when He promised it to the people. He had a plan for those giants, for in 
the
words of Caleb and Joshua, "Do not be afraid of the people of the land, 
because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with 
us."
(Num 14:9, NIV2)

When God foresaw whatever it is that we will face in our futures, He also 
foresaw the "giants." Let's remember that if the people of Israel had only 
put
their trust in God, He would have overcome those giants; and in the same 
way, when we put our trust in His unfailing love, strength, peace, hope and 
grace,
He will overcome our giants as well, for the Lord is with us!

What do we need to do to not be overcome with fear in the face of our 
"giants?"

The answer comes from Hebrews: "Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and 
finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost 
sight
of where he was headed--that exhilarating finish in and with God--he could 
put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's 
there,
in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves 
flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long 
litany of
hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!" 
(Heb 12:2-3, MSG)

Let's agree together, friends, to keep our eyes upon Jesus, for only when we 
do will we succeed in not being overcome by our "giants!"

Have a blessed week.

In His love,
Lyn

Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "
Aboard God's Train
-- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator 
for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and
Scriptural Nuggets,
a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with
Answers2Prayer Ministries.
Follow Lyn on
Twitter
@lynchaffart.

Announcement:

As we come up to the season of Pentacost, please join us on Thursdays for a 
special series on this all-important day.

©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 25 Jul 2015 - 21:19

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Daily Devotional
Unprepared for God - #7400

Patty's true love, Tom, was coming to visit in a few days. She was excited, 
but not excited enough to clean her room of course. See, Tom lives in Ohio.
Patty's a friend of ours who lived down the street from us in New Jersey. 
All week long Mom had gotten on to Patty for not cleaning her room, at least
so she could find the floor.

Well, Patty put it off, and put it off until the day before Tom's scheduled 
arrival. Well, let me say, I mean, this was a job! She got on her grubby 
clothes.
She decided not to shower until she was through with this ordeal. And she 
began tearing into her room and the phone rang. It was Tom. He said, "Hey, I
just called to say I'm looking forward to seeing you soon." Cool!

Well, they exchanged some sweet nothings, and Patty hung up and got back to 
work. Not more than a minute later (You with me now?) there was a knock on
the door of her room. The door opened and you guessed it! There stood Prince 
Charming! He had called from downstairs. He'd come early to surprise her,
and surprise her he did. There she stood in a mountain of mess with matted 
hair, sweating in her grubbiest clothes. She was not ready for him!

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about 
"Unprepared for God."

Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Matthew 25, beginning at 
verse 1. It's a parable Jesus told. This particular story is rooted in the
Jewish wedding customs of Jesus' day, when a wedding and the celebrations 
attached to it actually went on for days. There were interesting customs 
involving
the dramatic arrival of the bridegroom, often at a time when he would 
surprise those who were waiting for him.

It says, "The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their 
lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and 
five were
wise. The foolish ones took their lamps, but did not take any oil with them. 
The wise, however, took oil and jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom
was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At 
midnight the cry rang out, 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'"

Well, the story goes on to tell us that the lamps of the foolish women were 
running out of oil and they went back to get more. The groom arrived right
then, and it says, "The virgins who were ready went in with him to the 
wedding banquet and the door was shut." Then it says. "Later the others also 
came.
'Sir! Sir!' they said, 'Open the door for us.' But he replied, 'I don't know 
you.'" It's an unsettling story when you realize who the characters really
are and what it could mean. The bridegroom is Jesus. The banquet is eternal 
life - it's heaven.

All ten of those women wanted to be there just like you and I want to be 
there where Jesus is in heaven some day. But just like Patty on the day when 
her
beloved arrived, some of us are going to be totally unprepared when Jesus 
comes. And the result: the door of heaven is shut forever. And some people 
who
thought they would be there will be outside. That picture's throughout the 
New Testament.

The arrival of Jesus could be His personal return to this earth, which 
according to the signs accompanying His coming could happen very soon. But 
in a
sense, it's also that moment when your heart stops beating and Jesus comes 
for you, in a sense, then.

Here's a question you can't risk being wrong about, "Are you ready?" John 
3:36 will decide it. "Whoever believes in the Son..." What does that mean? 
Putting
your total trust in what Jesus did on the cross to remove the death penalty 
for your sins. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. But whoever 
rejects
the Son..." In other words, someone who never gets around to making Jesus 
their personal Savior, that person "will not see life, for God's wrath 
remains
on him."

Are you ready for that time when Jesus comes one way or the other? You want 
to be? Why don't you take care of that today? Let's get this done. Just say,
"Jesus, I understand now what happened on that cross was for me, and 
beginning right now I am yours." There's some great information on our 
website to
help you be sure you know this Jesus, that you're ready for Him. Just go to 
ANewStory.com.

The knock could come any time when you don't expect it, and it will be 
Jesus. Everything depends on whether or not you're ready. Right now you have 
time
to make sure you are.


A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
- http://www.anorvellnote.com

----------------------------------------------------------

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 21 May 25, 2015
It Does Not Seem Like a Big Deal
It did not seem like a big deal. We were invited to an event, so we went. We 
enjoyed the gathered and well received. The people who invited us could not
stop thanking us. As we left the event they thanked us. Later that night we 
received a text thanking us again. The next morning we received another text
thanking us again. It did not seem like a big deal, but to these people it 
was a really big deal.
It is what I do. I am a counselor. I listen to people, I try to show 
compassion and offer godly wisdom when possible. It does not seem like a big 
deal.
To person who is hurting it apparently is a big deal. I have received 
letters, notes, emails, texts, phone calls, handshakes, hugs and face to 
face conversations
thanking me for doing what I do.
He probably has no idea what an impact he had on me. He was a basketball 
coach I was a very average junior high kid who wanted to play. I later came 
to
know him better as a godly man with a family, successful in his business, 
active in the community and his church. His example has stayed with me all 
these
years. He probably has no idea what a big deal it was for him to be kind and 
encourage that average junior high kid.
He probably did not think it was a big deal. He was my seventh grade math 
teacher. That was the year my mother died. I was having a difficult time. He
knew it. He showed a sad scared and confused seventh grader considerable 
kindness and grace as he helped me finish the school year with decent 
grades.
I still remember is fifty-one years later. To him it probably did not seem 
like a big deal.
They may have never realized what a big deal it was for them to be so kind 
to me. I was just the high school boy dating their daughter. They showed 
that
high school boy an incredible amount of graciousness by feeding me more 
times than I could recall, taking me to places I would have never gone, 
introducing
me to pizza, and being there when I had questions about faith and church and 
life. They were just being who they were…wonderful Christian people. 
Little
did they know that the high school boy who was dated their daughter was 
watching them, listening to them, learning lessons from them that he tries 
to practice
all these years later. To them it probably did not seem like a big deal.
I do not know if he realized what a big deal it was for him to take notice 
of me. He was the preacher and I was just a high school senior who decided 
to
make a commitment to Jesus. He encouraged me. He always noticed me and 
acknowledged my presence. When there were major things going on in my world 
he managed
to be there with a kind word, a gentle spirit, and usually some amount of 
money to help me get through college. To him it probably did not seem to be 
a
big deal. To me it was a big deal and his shepherding ministry lives on.
She may not have considered it to be a big deal when she welcomed me into 
their home as a young man who would eventually marry her daughter. She saw 
more
potential in me that was actually there. She gave me credit for being a 
better man than I could possibly be. She praised me a husband and as a 
father and
as a minister and as an important member of the family. To her it was 
probably not a big deal. To me it has been appreciated for nearly forty 
years and
will be appreciated for the rest of my life.
One time Jesus said these words, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold 
water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that
person will certainly not lose their reward.†(Matthew 10:42, NIV)
As we go through life we will have many opportunities to give “a cup of 
cold water to one of these little ones.†Let’s do everything in our 
power
not to miss those opportunities. Let’s notice and acknowledge when someone 
gives us a cup of cold water. It may not seem like a big deal at the time,
but with God’s involvement for some little one it may be a huge deal.
Tom
A Norvell Note © Copyright 2015. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

Surveying the Crisis of Worship

There is a crisis of worship in our land. People are staying away from 
church in droves. One survey indicated that the two chief reasons people 
drop out
of church are that it is boring and irrelevant.

If people find worship boring and irrelevant, it can only mean they have no 
sense of the presence of God in it. When we study the act of worship in 
Scripture
and church history, we discover a variety of human responses to the sense of 
the presence of God. Some people tremble in terror, falling with their faces
to the ground; others weep in mourning; some are exuberant in joy; still 
others are reduced to a pensive silence. Though the responses differ, one 
reaction
we never find is boredom. It is impossible to be bored in the presence of 
God (if you know that He is there).

Neither is it possible for a sentient creature to find his or her encounter 
with God a matter of irrelevance. Nothing—and no one—is more relevant to 
human
existence than the living God.

Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God

Do you find worship boring and irrelevant? If so, pray for a renewed sense 
of God's presence.

For Further Study

Psalms 95:6:
"Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our 
Maker."

Psalm 34:1: "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall 
continually be in my mouth."

Psalm 50:23: "Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his 
conduct aright I will show the salvation of God."

The mission, passion and purpose of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. R.C. Sproul 
is to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness. For more
information, please visit
www.ligonier.org
or call them at 800-435-4343.
© R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 24 Jul 2015 - 21:50

Keeper Lessons
by Meghan Kleppinger

I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I 
trust!"
Psalms 91:2

Everyone loves those "dog movies." You know the ones – like Homeward Bound 
and My Dog Skip, and Benji, and Lassie. Actually, I can’t watch those movies
because I crumble to pieces whenever I see an animal in harm's way, or 
treated with cruelty. Yes, I know they’re fictional and special effects are 
used,
but it started with Old Yeller when I was five… and please don't ask me to 
explain the rest of that story!

Well, these days, I feel as though I’m living out one of those dog story 
movies.

I adopted a 5-year-old collie mix last November that had been rescued by an 
animal society on the day she was to be euthanized. I was told she was 
friendly
but hand-shy and that she had been abandoned and probably abused. I quickly 
found this to be true and it nearly drove me to tears each time I would go
to pet her and she would flinch.

About two weeks after the adoption, my dog started having seizures. I can’t 
begin to explain the fear that consumed me. It was nothing compared to the
terrified and confused look in my pup’s eyes. The vet told me that she will 
have to be on epilepsy meds for life and that whoever gave her up probably
did so because they didn’t think she was worth the effort and cost.

I love this dog and I’m committed to keeping her healthy and safe, but I’ve 
had the most difficult time communicating this with her. I even named her 
Keeper
as a reminder that she has found her forever home and that she is, indeed, a 
keeper.

The other day while I was walking her, a huge black dog jumped out of 
nowhere and attempted to attack her. I don’t know how to explain my reaction 
when
this happened. In mamma bear fashion, I didn’t think, I reacted. I started 
screaming at this dog, “Get off of her!” and threw myself between the two of
them. Eventually, I managed to pull out and then walk away, a little shaken, 
but unscathed. I saw two wet saliva spots on her skin - attempted bite marks
- and realized how fortunate we were.

God started to impress some things upon me as we walked home. Here I had 
this dog that was abused, abandoned, unwanted, and considered worthless by 
someone.
She has trust issues but at the same time wants so badly to please me.

It made me think of us humans. We have trust issues. We have hurts and pains 
that we don’t understand and don’t want to revisit. Sometimes it’s hard for
those of us who have been hurt to obey God’s call to trust Him.

What God reminded me of was that He doesn’t just tell us we can trust Him, 
or command us to do so, but through scripture and through circumstances in 
our
lives He shows us over and over again that we can trust Him.

I took my dog out for a walk again the same day as the earlier attack and I 
nearly had a nervous breakdown as I saw two huskies approaching us. I knew
them to be friendly dogs, but the last thing I wanted was for Keeper to go 
into her Alpha-dog “I’ll protect you and myself” mode. She doesn’t initiate
attacks, but she doesn’t shy away from them either.

Anyway, rather than showing her teeth or barking, like she normally does, 
she hid behind me.

I had spent months petting, hugging, grooming and feeding her, and telling 
her that she was “my girl,” but it never seemed to be enough to gain her 
full
trust. On the day of the attack, something happened. Something clicked. She 
saw by my actions that I cared for her and that in turn, she could trust me.

God reminded me that Jesus stepped in and, knowing the cost, paid the 
ultimate sacrifice for us. Though others may think us worthless, He thought 
we were
worth being saved to the point of death. He has proven that He cares for us 
and can be trusted.

Why then, do we so often try by ourselves to fight those battles that 
threaten us each day? Why do we go into alpha-dog mode when He has told us 
that He
will go before us and fight for us?

Keeper ran behind me when we saw those two huskies because she knew I would 
protect her. Most of all, what God taught me through my dog that day is that
I need to do the same… I need to seek His protective covering and let Him 
take care of me.

Intersecting
Faith
& Life: As Proverbs 3 says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean 
not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will
make your paths straight."

Further Reading

Psalms 20:7
2 Chronicles 20:17
Why God Can be Trusted: Letter to the Hebrews
Learn How and When to Trust in a World of Betrayal

Double Take
By Skip Heitzig

Did you ever come across a truth in Scripture, and do a double-take? What I 
mean is, the Scripture pulled you up short, and you said to yourself, “Wait,
what did that just say? Did I hear what I think I heard? And if I did, do I 
really believe it?” Those are double-take verses, statements or promises 
that
are so amazing that we have to park there, or go back over them again.

Let me give you an example. In
Genesis 18,
God told Abraham and Sarah—who were now both very elderly—“You’re going to 
have a child together.” And He even told them specifically, "Within a year,
Sarah is going to have a son." Now that was a double-take moment. Abraham 
might have thought, "Did I just hear God say that to me, that this old 
codger
is going to have a child? Is that really going to happen?" And then, "Do I 
really believe that's going to happen?"

We know that Abraham believed what God said. His reaction was, "Amen!" 
Sarah, on the other hand, did something different…she laughed. She was 
behind the
tent, thinking nobody heard her, but God confronted her with that fact, and 
then He said, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (
Genesis 18:13-14).
That's a double-take verse, not only for Sarah but for all of us!

And that one is repeated throughout Scripture. Matthew 19:26 says, “With God 
all things are possible” (see also Mark 10:27). The angel told Mary, “For
with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37). And this from Jeremiah 
32:27: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too 
hard
for Me?” Do those make you do a double-take and ask yourself, “Do I believe 
that?”

There are a lot of double-take verses in Proverbs. Here’s one: “Trust in the 
Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all 
your
ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6). Did 
you ever just meditate on that passage, understand exactly what God is 
promising,
and then ask yourself, "Do I really believe that?"

Another one is found in the Sermon on the Mount. In the gospel of Matthew 
chapter 7, Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will
find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, 
and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (vv.7-8).

You probably have some double-take verses of your own.

My point is, what should we do with these double-take verses? I hinted at it 
with those questions above. When we ask ourselves, “Do I really believe 
that?”
our answer should always be like Abraham, and like Mary, and like Jeremiah. 
We should always believe what God says, and rely on it!

Copyright © 2013 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

For more from Skip Heitzig, visit
ConnectionRadio.org,
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 23 Jul 2015 - 21:26

Hold Your Head Up
by Dean Masters

Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will 
rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult 
over
you with loud singing.

Do you ever think of God that way? Have you ever thought, woohoo, the Lord 
is going to rejoice and sing over me ~ He is so excited to see me this 
morning?
I have to admit, that hasn’t typically been my first thought in the morning 
and yet, why not? When my grandchildren roll out of bed and walk out to the
kitchen, I am excited to see them and I want a hug and to know how they are 
feeling. It blesses my heart to see them. When there have been times when I
haven’t seen them or my children for a while, I get excited and can’t wait 
to see them and talk with them. God feels the same way about you!

Okay, so let’s face it, I have had some mornings where He has probably said 
out loud, “oh dear…… she’s awake” and has sent multitudes of angels out to
help set me on the right path. My goal though is for Satan to be the one 
saying, “ohhhh noooo…… she’s awake!” Either way, God loves us and can’t wait 
to
get you started on the right path today and He is excited to see you!

If you are struggling and hurting today, know that God loves you dearly and 
He want’s to hold you and quiet you with His amazing love. I have a little
bear that Noah benShea sent me and one of the quotes Noah says is, “God is 
never so near as He is when you feel all alone”. That is so true and so 
comforting
to know that during those times when you feel as though you are all alone 
and the burdens you are carrying are so heavy that you feel you can’t even 
take
one more step. God loves you, He cares and He wants to not only rejoice over 
you, He wants to rejoice with you. He will get you to the other side of all
you face if you will just put it all in His hands and trust Him with it.

There are so many frightful things going on in the world today that it can 
be a scary place. Hold on to the fact that God is in your midst as you 
worship
Him with your life. He will save you, rejoice over you with gladness and He 
will quiet you with His love! Hold on to the fact that He is in your midst
when you serve Him with your whole heart.

So, hold your head high today, knowing He loves you and He is excited about 
you. Hold your head high like the Princess you are and were created to be.

Quote:
“Remember, happiness doesn't depend on who you are or what you have; it 
depends solely upon what you think.” Dale Carnegie


Do not be afraid, for I am with you!

(James Smith,
"The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you!" Isaiah 43:5

The presence of a friend in trouble is cheering and consoling. But it is too 
often the case, that our friends, like the friends of Job, prove to be 
miserable
comforters. They do not enter into our troubles--or they cannot help us. The 
advice they give at times--only aggravates our woe, and adds to our 
distress.

But, believer, your God says, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you!" What a 
thought is this! God, the great, the glorious, the omnipotent Jehovah--is 
with
me!
With me to help me,
with me to comfort me,
with me to sanctify me,
with me to save me,
with me as a kind benignant Father,
with me in every place, in every trouble, in every conflict,
with me through all my journey and for evermore,
with me on the bed of sickness,
with me to hold communion with me,
with me to listen to my sighs,
with me to number my tears, and
with me to secure me from all injury!

Appearances may be very dark; the night may seem very long; and your pains, 
weakness, and fears may be many and great. Still, if the Lord is with you,
you may sing, "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no 
grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie 
empty
and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns 
are empty--yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my
salvation!" Habakkuk 3:17-18

~ ~ ~ ~

We have published
J.R. Miller's
insightful short article, "
The Blessing of Quietness".
Feel free to forward these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited 
by them!
Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)
Grace Audio Treasures

Nourish

Why We Can't Wait

One of our biggest problems with waiting is that nothing in our culture 
teaches us how to do it. In fact, we live in a culture and a society that 
has done
everything possible to eliminate the need for waiting!

Think about it. Let’s say it’s twenty years ago, and you are an art 
historian, working on an important publication. If I told you that you could 
get access
to images from the collection of the Louvre Museum in Paris from the comfort 
of your own home and all you had to do was make a phone call and get on a
waiting list, you would jump at the chance. To be able to view iconic works 
of art without even having to book plane tickets or make hotel reservations?
Yeah! Sign me up! The wait would be totally worth it.

But fast-forward to now, and think about what you would do if you Googled 
the Louvre website and, for whatever reason, it didn’t start materializing 
on
your computer screen within about twenty seconds. You’d grimace, shake your 
head, grumble under your breath about the crummy Internet service provider,
and try to find a way to get the site to load quicker. Or you’d move on to 
something else.

Pull quote

Technology, which promised to place more time at our disposal, has actually 
just made us more impatient. If the “buy” button fails to work on the first
click, or if the customer service representative leaves me on hold a minute 
extra, or if the line is too long, it starts to ruin my day.

And what about the way we buy things now? There was a time when people saved 
up for months to take a trip, to buy a new gadget, or to enjoy a 
long-anticipated
vacation. But now, most often, we use credit to immediately have what we 
used to have to wait and plan for to get.

We, as a society, are not good at waiting. And it seems to me that with 
every passing year, we’re getting worse. We’re becoming “quickaholics” who 
expect
instant results, instant improvement, instant gratification.

In fact, the more important you are and the more resources you have, the 
less waiting is expected of you. You fly first-class so you can board before 
everybody
else. You’re a member of the hotel’s Preferred Customer Collective so you 
can check in online or on the phone.

Similarly, we think that the more spiritually mature we are, the more 
certainty we have about everything. Somehow, we have the idea that spiritual 
giants
walk around in a serene bubble of certainty, in constant, peaceful 
contemplation of the victory at the end of the story. They don’t have to 
worry about
waiting because their faith takes away all the pain, anxiety, and 
uncertainty.

Pull quote

But I think it’s often just the opposite: God’s most deeply committed 
servants are frequently the ones who live in the most uncertain 
circumstances. Do
you really think that the apostle Paul wasn’t anxious to be rescued from the 
raging storm that was threatening each moment to sink the ship he was on?
Do you think that Jesus Christ himself wasn’t daunted by the prospect of the 
suffering of the Cross and the uncertainties of undergoing death? (How many
people do you know who have been in such an emotionally extreme place that 
they actually sweated blood? Jesus did!)

In fact, the way it really works is this: the more spiritually mature you 
are, the less certainty you require. And the less certainty you require, the
more you are able to wait—even under extreme circumstances.

As a pastor I’ve spent many a long night in the hospital waiting room with 
families. The waiting room can be a scary place. You’ll never feel more 
utterly
out of control than sitting there waiting to hear how a loved one is doing 
after an accident or following a surgery. There’s nothing you can do. 
Nothing—except
to just sit and wait.

I know it’s scary for some of you right now. Fear has gripped you because 
you feel like all you can do is wait . . . and wait . . . and then wait some
more. But you can also know this: the closer you walk with God, the more 
content you are to simply keep your hand in His and allow Him to take you 
step-by-step
along the path.

---------------------------------------------------------
Excerpted from What Keeps You Up at Night
©2015 by Pete Wilson,

Nobodies
by Charles R. Swindoll

1 Corinthians 12:19-25

Pull a sheet of scratch paper out of your memory bank and see how well you 
do with the following questions:

Who taught Martin Luther his theology and inspired his translation of the 
New Testament?
Who visited with Dwight L. Moody at a shoe store and spoke to him about 
Christ?
Who was the wife of Charles Haddon Spurgeon?
Who was the elderly woman who prayed faithfully for Billy Graham for over 
twenty years?
Who helped Charles Wesley get under way as a composer of hymns?
Who were the parents of the godly and gifted prophet Daniel?

Okay, how'd you do? Before you excuse your inability to answer these 
questions by calling the quiz "trivia," better stop and think. Had it not 
been for
such unknown persons---such "nobodies"---a huge chunk of church history 
would be missing. And a lot of lives would have been untouched.

Nobodies. What a necessary band of men and women . . . servants of the King 
. . . yet nameless in the kingdom! Men and women who, with silent heroism 
and
faithful diligence, relinquish the limelight and live in the shade of public 
figures.

As Jim Elliot, martyred messenger of the gospel to the Aucas once remarked: 
"Missionaries are a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt Somebody."

Praise God! We're among that elite group mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12: 
"some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most 
necessary.
. . . So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and 
care are given to those parts that might otherwise seem less important" (vv.
22, 24, TLB).

If it weren't for the heroic "nobodies," we wouldn't have any sound or 
lights or heat or air conditioning in our churches next Sunday. We wouldn't 
have
homes in which high schoolers can meet on Sunday nights to sing and share. 
We wouldn't have church staff and officers and teachers working together 
behind
the scenes.

Nobodies . . . exalting Somebody.

Are you playing a behind-the-scenes role? Thank God for giving you that 
opportunity.

Excerpted from
Day by Day with Charles Swindoll,
Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). 
All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

The FAX of Life

Title: How You Can Make a Difference

Date: For the Week of May 18, 2015

As human beings reach to be what God created us to be, we think in terms of 
making a difference. Making the world a better place. Nudging it back in the
direction of Eden. Loving in a way that changes someone's life forever.

But isn't that a bit grandiose? Doesn't it border on narcissism to think 
that your life could make that sort of difference? Change the world? Let me 
tell
you a true story. Then you can answer those questions for yourself.

On the day an atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima, a young Japanese 
physician named Fumio Shigeto was waiting for a trolley to take him to the 
hospital
where he worked. He was about one mile from the center of the city about to 
be devastated by the most powerful weapon the world had ever seen.

At that distance and sheltered from the blast by the corner of a concrete 
building, Dr. Shigeto was spared the brunt of it. People who had been 
standing
only a few feet in front of him in line were thrown to the ground - burned, 
bleeding, and writhing in pain.

Stunned and not knowing what had just happened, Dr. Shigeto was bewildered 
and overwhelmed. Hearing the screams of pain that filled the air and 
surveying
the countless bodies sprawled around him, he asked himself, "How on earth 
can a single doctor handle this mountain of patients?"

The Time magazine article I read about this episode tells what happens next: 
"Then, although stunned by the explosion, Shigeto knelt, opened his black
bag, and began to treat the man lying at his feet, only to yield to the 
victim's pleas that his wife be treated first. After administering first aid 
to
the couple, Shigeto turned his attention to the others in the immediate 
vicinity."

Could Dr. Shigeto's experience be your own? Having survived alcoholism or 
divorce, life in a toxic church or abuse as a child, what is your most 
likely
ministry to others? Having been delivered from prostitution or 
homosexuality, whom can you most likely serve with the greatest compassion? 
Having found
a way to put your life together after cancer, a job loss, or bankruptcy, 
where might you focus your energies? Serve someone near you. Reach out to 
someone
whose situation you understand and who can believe you care about her.

If you reach to the person nearest you to do whatever you can to help, you 
will make a difference. Make the world better. Change someone's life 
forever.

So what do you think? Do you know someone nearby and in need today?

For back issues and other resources please visit
www.RubelShelly.com
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 21 Jul 2015 - 13:30

Vintage Worship
Matt Boswell / May 16, 2015
Vintage Worship

I love old hymns. I keep a stack of hymnals on my nightstand, and have an 
ever-growing collection in my library. I cut my teeth on Charles Wesley and 
John
Rippon. I hope to write academically on the pastoral theology of hymns. I 
even have a dog named Watts.

While I certainly don't think that historic hymns are the only thing we 
should sing in corporate worship, I am concerned that omitting older hymns 
in our
gatherings silences the rich voices of church history. Some churches seem 
uninterested in any song that is more than two years old, much less two 
hundred
years. Yes, the church will continue to write and sing new songs (Psalm 
96:1), but it is also good and helpful for us to sing old songs.

What’s New Is Not Always Best

When I mention historic hymns, maybe you cringe as you recall a “worship 
war” in your local church. Maybe you’re eager to only sing the old hymns. 
Or maybe
you wonder why it is important at all. My aim is not to renew local church 
disputes or bolster mere sentimentality, but to commend something else 
altogether
— to encourage younger churches to remember their history by joining with 
the countless men and women who have shared these songs over hundreds of 
years.

Our society is fixated on what's new and what's next, but hymns remind us 
that what's next is not always what's best. Singing the historic hymns of 
our
faith reminds our congregations that we are not the first generation who 
have wrestled and prayed, asked and believed. We are not the first to write 
hymns
of praise to God. We walk gladly in the footsteps of our fathers who have 
written praises to Christ that have stood the test of time.

With a steady diet of merely new choruses, we can develop both modern 
idolatry and historical amnesia. Perhaps we should adopt this paraphrase of 
C.S.
Lewis? At least sing one old hymn to every three new ones.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise him all creatures here below,
Praise him above ye heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
–Thomas Ken, 1674

Hymns Teach Us

Hymns are portable sermons that articulate, exegete, and pronounce biblical 
truths. They shape the way we view God, man, Christ, and how we are to live
in light of the gospel. The truths they communicate preach to us throughout 
the week following the style of Deuteronomy 6 — at home and away, when lying
down and waking. As R.W. Dale famously said, “Let me write the hymns of the 
church and I care not who writes the theology.”

Singing is a form of teaching that uses poetry to open to us the word of 
God. When Isaac Watts published Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, his 
intention
was not to sing Scripture line by line, but to create poetic and emotive 
renditions of Scripture that allowed the church to sing the truths of 
Scripture.

Singing for the Christian is formative and responsive, and therefore must be 
informed by Scripture. We learn what we sing.

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.
–Samuel Stone, 1886

Hymns Admonish Us

Throughout the week, other things call for our praise, attention, and 
affection. Singing hymns of God’s character reminds us of his greatness. 
Singing
hymns of our sin reminds us of the role of confession. By singing hymns of 
the atonement, we remind one another of the efficacy of the work of Jesus. 
Hymns
of consecration remind us of the dependence of the Christian upon the 
steadfast grace of God.

We sing to admonish the weak and weary that their salvation is in God. We 
sing to admonish the doubting to believe and be renewed. We sing to admonish
the suffering that they have a hope that is unwavering.

Begone unbelief, my Savior is near,
And for my relief will surely appear:
By prayer let me wrestle, and He wilt perform,
With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm.
–John Newton, 1779

Hymns Inspire Worship

We should choose historic hymns that provoke thankful hearts. The aim of 
singing hymns is engaging both the head and the heart. Just as we read and 
meditate
on the Scriptures to see and worship God, so we choose songs that teach 
robust theological truth that cause our hearts to erupt with praise. The 
chief
end of theology is doxology.

In choosing historic hymns for corporate worship, we should choose those 
that make our hearts sing. From the content of the lyric, to the movement of 
the
melody, we want beauty and transcendence to come together and serve the 
people of God. In our pursuit of theological precision, we must not neglect 
the
pursuit of heartfelt response.

A church’s hymn-singing — whether old or new — is not simply an opening act 
for the sermon. It is not obligatory filler-time to warm up a congregation.
Singing is a holy practice. We sing because God has commanded us, and our 
songs should fill our hearts with thankfulness and delight in God.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
–Martin Luther, 1529

The New in the Old

Surely the hymns recorded for us in Scripture are meant for our singing 
today. In these songs of praise and prayer, contrition and confession, we 
see the
breadth and inclusiveness of the hymns the church has sung for ages.

Regardless of the median age or church experience of a congregation, when I 
lead in worship by singing these historic hymns together, a sense of 
identity
and reverence seems to rest upon the people. These songs unite the body of 
Christ as they have for generations, joining the youngest and oldest of our
congregation, and everyone in between, as they consider and hope in the same 
truths of God and his grace.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
–Isaac Watts, 1719
Copyright ©️ 2015 Desiring God, all rights reserved

Today's Daily Encounter

Does God Care?

"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares
about you."1

Some time ago when my then twenty-something son came to
see me one evening, he was terribly distraught over a
broken relationship that triggered a lot of pain from
the past. As I hugged him, he sobbed his heart out on
my shoulder. I am so thankful that he felt safe enough
to do this knowing that it is always okay to share his
feelings with me no matter what those feelings are ...
and no matter what age he is.

At times like these I have little to say--I feel my
silence and giving him my presence speaks the loudest.
I do, however, assure him of my love and acceptance no
matter what. Unfortunately--usually more by men than
women--when our kids or anyone else is hurting, we want
to fix them and wax eloquent with unsolicited
advice--advice that is totally divorced from the need
of the moment and totally misses the opportunity to be
as Jesus to one who is hurting. What people need when
they are troubled is a listening ear, an understanding
heart, and a shoulder to cry on.

At a time like this the question is often asked, "Where
is God when our heart is breaking ... does He care?
Strange enough, right while my son was sobbing his
heart out, the following gospel song was being sung on
my computer. It brought tears to my eyes.

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?

Refrain:
Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.

Does Jesus care when I've tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief there is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?

Does Jesus care when I've said "goodbye"
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks -
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that You do care
when my heart is breaking. Help me to always remember
this and sense Your comforting presence, knowing that
when I commit and trust my life to You, You will, in
time, turn my mourning into rejoicing and I will become
a richer, healthier, more caring person. Thank You for
hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's
name, amen."

1. 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT).
2. Frank E. Graeff, 1901.

<Smile)))><

NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness
for all your sins and His invitation for a full pardon
Click on:
http://www.actsweb.org/invitation.php.
Or
if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ,
please click on
http://www.actsweb.org/decision.php
to note this.

* * * * * * *

Daily Encounter is published at no charge by
ACTS International, a non-profit organization,
and made possible through the donations of
interested friends. Donations can be sent at:

http://www.actscom.com

ACTS International
P.O. Box 73545
San Clemente, California 92673-0119
U.S.A.

Phone: 949-940-9050

http://www.actsweb.org

Copyright (c) 2015 by ACTS International.

When copying or forwarding include the following:
"Daily Encounter by Richard (Dick) Innes (c) 2015
ACTS International.

Love Worth Finding Ministries
A Prescription for Loneliness

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust 
in Thee.”
Psalm 25:20

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
You may be saved today and yet feel incredibly lonely. Here is a practical 
pointer for overcoming your loneliness: Quit dwelling on it. Reach out and 
try
to help someone who is lonely.

Luke 6:38 promises that when we give, it shall be given to us. There is a 
locked-in likeness to what we give. It is the law of the harvest. If you 
want
friendship, you must show yourself friendly (see Proverbs 18:24).

ACTION POINT:
Why don’t you keep a stack of cards and a pen handy to write a little note 
of encouragement to a shut-in? Get a prayer list and intercede for others. 
Travel
around the world by means of prayer. Jack Hyles, a great preacher, said, 
“There is no life so empty as a self-centered life, and there is no life so 
centered
as a self-emptied life.” As you pour out yourself to others, the Holy Spirit 
will continually pour Himself into you.
Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
©️ 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 20 Jul 2015 - 23:04

Bristol Caverns
by Dean W. Masters

In northeast Tennessee there is a tourist attraction named Bristol Caverns. 
I don’t know how long ago they were found and opened for public tours but I 
went there several times during my elementary school days on field trips. It 
has the normal stalagtites and stalagmites in the different shapes and such 
that you find in caverns. At one point in the tour the guide asks everyone 
to look up to see the light coming in from the outside. The guide says that 
Indians, or should I say native Americans, lived in the cave. When they 
would go out they would hide the mouth of the cave but if they needed it, 
they had this hole they could escape through. They might have a wild animal 
after them or another person so they would not have time to uncover the 
mouth of the cave so they would slip around the mountainside to the hole 
where they could escape.

AS Christians we have enemies to watch out for. These include the devil and 
his demons and in some part of the world other individuals. More commonly we 
have to watch out for other things such as LSD. NO, I'm not talking about a 
drug:

James 1:14-15 (NASB95)
14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own 
lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin 
is accomplished, it brings forth death.

So you see the LSD I am writing about is lust, sin and death. If we know we 
are tempted in certain things the best thing for us to do is not go near 
those things. Sometimes this is not possible but we are given this promise:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is 
faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with 
the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able 
to endure it.

So if you are tempted, don’t give in. Call on Jesus and rely on the power of 
the Holy Spirit to help you escape. Then you can rejoice and give all the 
praise to Jesus Christ:

Proverbs 29:6 (NLT)
6 Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for 
joy.

Can You be a Christian without Believing in Christ?
by Trevin Wax
The rise of the “nones” — Americans who no longer check a religious 
affiliation on demographic surveys — has stirred up interesting 
conversations among
church leaders. A generation ago, many Americans would have been considered 
“nominal” in their devotion. Today, many have stopped claiming a religious
identity altogether.

But what happens when the “nones” find themselves longing for the religious 
world they once knew? Is it possible to reclaim your religious affiliation
if you no longer believe in the doctrines of the
faith?

This is the situation of Alana Massey, who calls herself a “cultural 
Christian” — an atheist who finds she can neither fully embrace a secular 
identity
nor abandon her Episcopal heritage. In an article in The Washington Post, 
“How to Take Christ out of Christianity,” Massey claims a “profound 
connection
to Christianity” even without “theistic belief.” In her experience, 
secularism isn’t good enough; it doesn’t create a lasting community bond for 
celebration
during the good times and comfort during the bad. What’s more, the 
“self-help” advice from the nonreligious world is a poor substitute for the 
robust vision
of Christianity, where the moral and ethical stakes in the Bible are so 
high.

So, if younger American Jews can base their identity on “ancestral, ethnic 
and cultural connections rather than religious ones,” why can’t Christians 
celebrate
their religion’s moral benefits and societal aspirations, even if they don’t 
believe in God?

Massey believes we should broaden the meaning of Christianity so that 
nonbelieving people can be part of the same
family
seeking peace in the world.

Should we accept a “cultural Christianity” that relishes religious ritual 
while rejecting religious belief? I offer both a firm “no” and an unreserved
“yes.”

“No” to cultural Christianity

Massey’s “cultural Christianity” is not Christianity at all. Only in a world 
where the individual is the sole determiner of one’s identity does it make
sense to say, “I want Christianity without Christ.” Imagine a teetotaler who 
wants to join a wine-tasting club (“I just love the fellowship!”) or a 
vegetarian
who frequents a barbecue restaurant (“Vegans can’t compete with the smell of 
pork!”).

You can’t love the “epic moral narrative” of the Bible but reject the major 
turning points of that storyline — like the resurrection of Jesus, without
which the Apostle Paul said Christianity is futile, pitiable, and built on a 
massive lie.

Furthermore, we must distinguish between the gospel and morality. Massey 
assumes that the purpose of all religion is to help people become moral and 
good.
Morality is the center of Christianity; therefore, the existence of God and 
the reality of miracles are not essential to Christian identity.

But what if that assumption is wrong? What if morality isn’t the heart of 
Christianity but a byproduct of the Christian gospel? The gospel is not 
about
good people getting better but about bad people being made right with God. 
It’s not about humans making the world a better place but the Son of God 
making
the world his home and then dying and rising to save us.

Once you make Christianity a means to something else, whether it’s the 1960s 
hippie vision of free love or the social activism of today’s millennials,
you trade God’s agenda for your own and create a Jesus who looks an awful 
lot like yourself. Massey commends a cultural Christianity because it’s 
helpful;
the apostles commended Christianity because it’s true.

“Yes” to “cultural Christians”

Following quickly behind my firm “no” to the idea of cultural Christianity, 
comes my unreserved “yes” to people like Massey who recognize the real 
results
of the gospel in the church, even though they don’t follow the footprints 
back to God.

We shouldn’t be surprised when nonbelievers admit there is a void in our 
secular society. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor has described our 
secular
age as a “disenchanted” world that leaves people longing for transcendence, 
something more than the “this-world-is-all-there-is” dogma of unbelief. As
atheist Julian Barnes opens his memoir on death: “I don’t believe in God, 
but I miss him.”

On our way to church this week, I explained to my kids Massey’s idea of 
“wanting to be a Christian without believing in God” and asked what they 
thought
the church’s response should be. My 11-year-old son answered without 
hesitation: “Welcome her.” His 7-year-old sister piped up from the back 
seat: “Yes!
If she’s close to the church and reads her Bible, she might meet Jesus.”

Neither of my kids thought it possible to be a “true Christian” without 
believing in Jesus. Nevertheless, they both thought individuals like Massey 
should
be welcomed into churches with open arms — not as brothers and sisters who 
are part of the same family of faith (for true spiritual kinship is only 
possible
when we have bowed the knee to King Jesus), but as people who bear the image 
of God and who we pray will one day be remade into the image of Christ.

Massey is right about one thing: Secularism doesn’t fill the longing of the 
human heart. But neither will “cultural Christianity.” Only the ancient 
gospel
story has that kind of power. And it’s that gospel story that may lead to 
the day when the “nones” aren’t checking that box anymore.

(Trevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project and author of multiple 
books, including “Clear Winter Nights: A Journey Into Truth, Doubt and What
Comes After.”)

Courtesy: Religion News Service
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Post  Admin on Sun 19 Jul 2015 - 23:15

Love Worth Finding Ministries
Yes, We Need Each Other

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some 
is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day 
approaching.”

Hebrews 10:25

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
To exhort is to comfort and encourage. We need each other. We ought to be 
exhorting one another by saying, “Isn’t God wonderful? Isn’t Jesus great? 
Don’t
you love Him? Let’s be true to Christ!”

Among fellow believers, we live in a climate that keeps our hearts tender. 
If we stray away from that climate and get away from the people of God by 
skipping
worship services and fellowship opportunities, our hearts will grow hard.

ACTION POINT:
When we exhort one another, we are sharing Christ. There’s something that 
happens in our hearts when we tell others about Jesus. It keeps our heart 
tender.

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.

© 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-030


MY CHURCH IS BETTER THAN YOUR CHURCH

Do you hear through your eyes and smell through your hair? Denominationalism 
seems to say your body works different than mine.

Copyright 1999 / Leslie A Turvey

A servant of the only true and living God

LifeLines@cogeco.ca

Old timers will remember the kid’s song, “My dog is better than your dog.” 
It’s still sung today, but the words are, “My church is better than your 
church.”

Why do we have denominations? Why not just one world-wide church? The 
history of schisms within the church is too long to detail here. But it 
boils down
to yet another version of the old song: “My doctrine’s better than your 
doctrine.”

Before I was introduced to the sabbath, the holy days, and the dietary laws, 
I was a Baptist. We had it all right. It was those Presbyterians who were
wrong. And the Catholics: Well! They sprinkled babies. We baptized believers 
the bible’s way.

Oh yeah. Us Baptists had it all right. (Like Paul said in 2 Corinthians 
11:23, “I speak as a fool”).

And what did the Catholics and the Presbyterians think? Those Baptists are 
sure out in left field.

The method of baptism, the day of worship, the frequency of the Lord’s 
supper, whether fermented wine or Welch’s grape juice should be served at 
communion,
and a hundred other differences have divided congregations, and resulted in 
new denominations.

This isn’t something new. Paul wrote of it in 1 Corinthians 11:18, and 
described it well in chapter 12 where he observed there were differences of 
spiritual
gifts – wisdom, knowledge of God’s word, the working of miracles, the gift 
of healing, and so on. But he points out these all come from one source, one
Spirit.

Referring to the human body he wrote, “The body is not one member [part], 
but many. If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand I am not of the 
body,
is it therefore not of the body (verses 14-15)?” He goes on to note the 
eyes, the ears, the nose all have their own work to do, but they are all 
part of
the one body.

In verse 27 Paul associated the human body with the spiritual body of Jesus 
Christ. He wrote, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members in 
particular.”
Unfortunately churches often use this verse to justify their denominations, 
but they compare apples and oranges.

My eyes do the same work as your eyes, don’t they? Doesn’t your right hand 
function the same as the next person’s. But the Baptists would have you 
believe
their body is different than the Presbyterians or the Episcopalians or the 
Anglicans.

Where do they get this idea?

It all comes from ignoring a message from Peter. He wrote, “No prophecy of 
the scripture is of any private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20).” Dr James 
Strong
and my favourite dictionary agree that prophecy is inspired speaking. 
Therefore Peter was speaking of the entire bible, not just references to 
future events.

Divisions arise because, as one man often said, “Most people change the 
meaning of God’s Word to make it conform to their belief, rather than 
changing
their belief to make it conform to God’s Word.”

As long as people interpret the bible for themselves, rather than searching 
the scriptures, there will be denominational differences. But when Jesus 
Christ
returns there will be no more Baptists or Presbyterians, nor your church or 
mine, but one unified church all teaching the same thing. It will be called
The Church of God.

Today's Topical Bible Study

How God Uses Stress for Our Good and His Glory
by Randy Alcorn

Ever been to a football game at half time when the band forms words or 
pictures in the middle of the field? They look great from up in the stands. 
But
have you thought about what they look like from the sidelines? Pointless, 
confusing, apparently meaningless. We see life from the sidelines. God sees 
it
from the stands. As we gain perspective, we leave the sidelines and start 
working our way up.

G.K. Chesterton’s character, Father Brown, said “We are on the wrong side of 
the tapestry.” How true. We see the knots, the snarls, and the frayed 
underside.
But God is on the right side of the tapestry—the side He is weaving into a 
beautiful work of art. We may not always know what the Master Artist is 
doing
in our lives. But the important thing is, He does.

When we see the all-powerful God on the throne of the universe—God our 
Father committed to our good—we are relieved of much stress. And the stress 
we must
still experience leaves us far richer.

Having a biblical perspective is seeing life through God’s eyes. It is 
seeing order in chaos, use in the useless, and good in the bad. If we are to 
develop
eyes to see God’s hand in everything, we must believe (not necessarily 
understand) what
Scripture
says about the purpose of stress. Stress is an effective tool in the hands 
of our God, a tool that is intended both for His glory and our good. In this
article we will look at some ways God uses stress.

God uses stress to get our attention. God created our bodies. He designed 
them to send us messages. If I stick my hand in fire, my body will send me a
message, quickly and clearly. If I ignore it, I’ll pay the price.

C.S. Lewis said “pain is God’s megaphone.” Some of us are hard of hearing. 
We ignore physical, mental, and spiritual warning signs. God wants us to 
tune
our ears to the messages He sends us through our minds and bodies.

God uses stress to help us redefine or rediscover our priorities. Bill and 
Evelyn’s marriage relationship was a distant one. They had drifted apart 
over
many years, pouring themselves into their jobs and shortchanging their 
family. But when their son Jason was found in possession of heroin, the 
months that
followed brought unprecedented crisis… and also the desire to pull their 
marriage back together.

Everyone has priorities. Some have never chosen or experienced the right 
ones and need to redefine them. Others of us have long known the right 
priorities
and merely need to rediscover them: we’ve tasted right priorities, but we’ve 
allowed ourselves to drift away from them; we’ve replaced fellowship with
entertainment, giving with buying, and family time with the television, the 
lawn, the remodeling job, the causes, and the committees.

By abandoning our God-given priorities we set ourselves up to learn a hard 
lesson. In essence we do what the Israelites did: lived in paneled houses 
while
God’s house became a ruin (
Haggai 1:4).
In response, God sent lack of fulfillment, disillusionment, and failure as 
His messengers. He withheld His blessing till His people rediscovered their
priorities.

Twice in
Haggai 1:5-11,
God’s people are admonished to “Give careful thought to your ways.” Stress 
should take us back to the basics. It is an opportunity to re-evaluate our 
priorities
and bring them in line with God’s.

God uses stress to draw us to Himself. Time and again it was said of the 
people of Israel, “But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of 
Israel,
and sought him, and he was found by them” (
2 Chronicles 15:4).
It was in Jonah’s darkest hour, in his most stressful circumstances that he 
said this: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me” (
Jonah 2:2).
The
Psalms
are full of references of turning to God, seeking Him and finding Him in 
times of intense stress.

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his 
temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears (
Psalms 18:6).

I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me (
Psalms 120:1).

When our lives are comfortable and stress-free, too often we withdraw from 
the Lord into our own worlds of spiritual independence and isolation. Smug 
and
self-satisfied, we forget what life is really all about. But as the thirsty 
seek for water, those under stress often seek God. Many non-believers have
come to Christ and many believers have returned to Him in times of stress.

God uses stress to discipline us. Quoting Solomon’s words to his son, the 
writer of Hebrews offers what he calls a word of encouragement:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart 
when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he 
punishes
everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is 
treating you as sons (
Hebrews 12:5-7).

(The word son, of course, is generic for “child,” and applies equally to 
God's daughters.)

To some of us, this doesn’t sound so encouraging. But we fail to realize how 
essential discipline is. Scripture says that to withhold discipline from a
child is, in essence, child abuse: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but 
he who loves him is careful to discipline him” (
Proverbs 13:24).
Discipline is corrective. It is remedial, not revengeful. God sends stresses 
not to get back at us for doing wrong, but to deepen our dependence on Him
in order to do right. Though the stressful experience may seem excruciating 
at the time, it is ultimately all for good:

God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No 
discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it 
produces
a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (
Hebrews 12:10-11).

God uses stress to strengthen our faith.
1 Peter 1:7
tells us: “These [trials] 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.”

There is only one way a muscle grows—through stress. A muscle that is rarely 
exercised atrophies; it shrinks into uselessness. A muscle seldom stretched
beyond its usual limits can only maintain itself. It cannot grow. To grow, a 
muscle must be taxed. Unusual demands must be placed upon it.

Stress is a demand placed upon our faith. Without it our faith will not, 
cannot, grow.

Ever seen grass grow through asphalt? It’s amazing if you think about it. 
How does grass, pressed flat and robbed of light, persevere and break 
through
hard ground? Yet we’ve seen it. Somehow God made those tiny blades of grass 
to rise to the greatest challenge.

In the crucible of stress, as we draw on our resources in Christ, He gives 
us faith and strength to crack through and rise above the asphalt coat of 
life
under the curse.

----------------------------------------------------------

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Eternal 
Perspectives, EPM's quarterly Magazine.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 18 Jul 2015 - 13:14

Hold On To Your Faith ~ He’s Got You!
by Dean Masters

Psalm 43:5
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope 
in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Hold onto your hope in God, don’t give up now - He is still by your side! I 
was asking God this morning if this was really what I was supposed to be 
writing
on this morning, I know some people get tired of hearing this sort of 
message but God reassured me that He has too many people out there that are 
hurting
today and He is determined to get through to them that He loves them and He 
cares and He is working on it. He loves you like a Daddy loves His little 
girl
and He is wanting to walk with you and hold your hand all the way to the 
other side.

I remember as a little girl we used to love to go to the Upper Peninsula of 
Michigan to see the incredible color of the leaves on the trees every Fall,
it was just so beautiful and the color was extraordinary! There was a bridge 
that ran over a small valley full of trees loaded with orange, red and 
yellow
leaves, it was breathtaking and I was overwhelmingly afraid of heights. My 
brother was not afraid and often had to be told to be careful but I could 
barely
handle peering over from a distance. As soon as my Dad would pick me up 
though I could be at the very edge of the bridge looking over and I felt as 
safe
as could be! That is exactly how God wants you to feel today! He’s got you! 
He isn’t going to let go, He’s got you! He loves you and He wants you to see
the beauty of what He has in store for you but you have to trust Him!

Hold onto your faith this morning and allow God to work in you and in your 
situation knowing that - He’s got you! He isn’t going to let you fall or 
allow
this situation to devour you - He has better things ahead for you and He 
wants you to be able to rejoice in that fact because He is your God and your 
salvation!
There are better days ahead, hold on!

Quote:
“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but 
rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.” Hugh Downs

3 Things NOT to Say When Someone is Suffering
Edward T. Welch

If we are affected by someone’s suffering, we will remember it, which is one 
of the great gifts that we give to each other.

A young man’s father died, and his local church, as we would expect, loved 
him well—invitations to dinner, a high priority on everyone’s
prayer
list, and warm e-mails, texts, and cards. After a week or two, the generous 
care began to taper off, also as we would expect. The few people who still
asked the young man how he was doing stood out to him as unusually caring.

A year later, on the anniversary of the father’s death, a friend from the 
church called and left a message: “I remember that your father died on this 
day
last year. I just wanted you to know that I was thinking about you and 
prayed for you. I prayed that there will be times today when the memories 
you have
of him bless you.”

The young man was stunned. He was changed. He was comforted and encouraged, 
and he committed to keep others on his heart long term.

God’s premiere self-description is “the compassionate and gracious God” (
Ex. 34:6 NIV).
This means that both our pain and our prayers affect him, and he has us on 
his heart. He takes our burden on himself and remembers us. As we imitate 
our
Father, we want to feel the burdens of others too.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (
Gal. 6:2)

So we call, e-mail, track down the suffering at church. We have them on our 
heart, and we want them to know it.

Say something. Do something. Remember. That is the basic idea.

What Not to Say

Yet the call to say something does not mean that everything we say is good 
and helpful. It’s important to know what not to say. Sometimes we may be 
tempted
to respond to someone’s suffering with thoughtless platitudes. Here are 
three offenders.

1) Do not say: “It could be worse.”

Believe it or not, that is only the first half of a hideous comment, for 
example: “It could be worse—imagine if you broke both legs.”

We have some odd ways of cheering each other up.

The comment is accurate—everything could be worse. We suffer and then, along 
with the suffering, have a comforter who says it could be worse.

Such a comment is utterly thoughtless. God himself would never say or 
sanction it. God does not compare our present suffering to anyone else’s or 
to worst-case
scenarios. Ever. If we hear friends do this in their own suffering, it does 
not give us the right to chime in. Instead, it might be a time to warn them.

“Yes, your suffering might not seem as severe as _______, but God doesn’t 
compare your sufferings to others.”

If we make such comparisons, we might be tempted not to speak of the 
suffering from our hearts to the Lord because we would consider it whining, 
which
it certainly is not.

So even though things could be worse, that is never an appropriate thing to 
say to others or to let others say about their situation. God is not 
dismissive
of our hardships, and neither should we be.

2) Do not say: “What is God teaching you through this?” Or, “God will work 
this together for good.”

Those platitudes are biblical in that God does teach us in our suffering, 
and he is working all things together for good (
Rom. 8:28).
We agree with C. S. Lewis when he writes that pain is God’s megaphone to 
arouse a deaf world. But these kinds of comments have hurt so many people; 
let’s
agree that we will never say them.

Consider a few of the possible problems with this and other poorly timed 
misuses of biblical passages:

• Such responses circumvent compassion. Will you have compassion if someone 
is being “taught a lesson”? Not likely.
• Such responses tend to be condescending, as in, “I wonder when you will 
finally get it.”
• Such responses suggest that suffering is a solvable riddle. God has 
something specific in mind, and we have to guess what it is. Welcome to a 
cosmic
game of Twenty Questions, and we’d better get the right answer soon; 
otherwise, the suffering will continue.
• Such responses suggest that we have done something to unleash the 
suffering.
• Such responses undercut God’s call to all suffering people: “Trust me.”

In our attempts to help, we can over-interpret suffering. We search for 
clues to God’s ways, as if suffering were a scavenger hunt. Get to the end, 
with
the right answers, and God will take away the pain. Meanwhile, the quest for 
answers is misguided from the start and will end badly. Suffering is not an
intellectual matter that needs answers; it is highly personal: Can I trust 
him? Does he hear? Suffering is a relational matter, and it is a time to 
speak
honestly to the Lord and remember that the fullest revelation he gives of 
himself is through Jesus Christ, the suffering servant. Only when we look to
Jesus can we know that God’s love and our suffering can coexist.

3) Do not say: “If you need anything, please call me, anytime.”

This heads in a better direction; it is not quite a platitude. However, this 
common and kind comment reveals that we do not really know the person. 
Sufferers
usually don’t know what they want or need, and they won’t call you. The 
comment is the equivalent of, “I’ve said something nice, now see ya later.” 
It
gives no real thought to the sufferer’s needs and circumstances, and the 
suffering person knows it.

Instead we could ask, “What can I do to help?”

Or (better) we could consider what needs to be done and do it.

Wise friends buy more dog food, do the dishes, drop off a meal, cut the 
grass, babysit the kids, clean the house, give a ride to small group, drop 
off
a note of encouragement and then another and another, help sort out medical 
bills, and so on.

Any such acts of love and service make life easier for the suffering person. 
And a meal is never just a meal; maid service is never merely a timesaver
for those served. These acts say to the sufferer, “I remember you”; “I think 
about you often”; “You are not forgotten”; “You are on my heart”; “I love
you.” The time we give to creative strategizing is the power behind such 
acts. It is unmistakable love that mimics the strategic planning of the 
triune
God’s rescue mission. He planned and acted even before we knew our real 
needs.

The oddity of our clumsy and sometimes hurtful attempts to help is this: we 
have clear ideas from what has helped us in our suffering, but we do not 
adopt
it when seeking to love others. We do not always speak to others in the way 
we would like to be spoken to.
Side by Side Book
Taken from
Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love,
by Edward T. Welch. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of 
Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187,
www.crossway.org.

Seven Sources of Joy
In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.
(2 Corinthians 7:4)

What is extraordinary about Paul is how unbelievably durable his joy was 
when things weren’t going well.

Where did this come from?

First of all it was taught by Jesus: “Blessed are you when men hate you . . 
. Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in
heaven” (Luke 6:22–23).
Troubles for Jesus compound your interest in heaven — which last a lot 
longer than earth.

Second, it comes from the Holy Spirit, not our own efforts or imagination or 
family upbringing. “The fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy” (Galatians 5:22).
“You received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit” 
(1Thessalonians 1:6).

Third, it comes from belonging to the kingdom of God. “The kingdom of God is 
not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy 
Spirit”
(Romans 14:17).

Fourth, it comes through faith, that is, from believing God. “Now may the 
God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (
Romans 15:13).
“I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and 
joy of faith” (Philippians 1:25).

Fifth, it comes from seeing and knowing Jesus as Lord. “Rejoice in the Lord 
always”(Philippians 4:4).

Sixth, it comes from fellow believers who work hard to help us focus on 
these sources of joy, rather than deceitful circumstances. “We are workers 
with
you for your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24).

Seventh, it comes from the sanctifying effects of tribulations. “We also 
exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about 
perseverance;
and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope” (
Romans 5:3–4).

If we are not yet like Paul, he calls us to be. “Be imitators of me as I am 
of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
And for most of us this is a call to earnest prayer. It is a supernatural 
life.
A Godward Heart John Piper
Copyright Information

This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper's 
ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.

Today's Turning Point with David Jeremiah
Turning Point
Tuesday, May 12

Greater Works

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he 
will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My 
Father.

John 14:12

Recommended Reading
John 14:25-31
The world’s population was around 200 million in the first century. For 
Jesus to reach all those people individually would have been humanly 
impossible.
Even with the assistance of 12 helpers (Luke 9:1), even with 70 helpers 
(Luke 10:1), human limitations would have caused the Great Commission to 
fail.

Listen to Today's Radio Broadcast
Jesus lived His life by the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, who was 
given to Him by the Father without limit (John 3:34). No number of men and 
women
operating in their own strength could accomplish the Great Commission in 
their own fleshly power. So Jesus returned to heaven and sent the Holy 
Spirit
to fill and empower His helpers so they could do even greater works (more 
works) than Jesus Himself did in His three years of ministry on earth. 
Indeed,
He said it was to His disciples’ advantage that He should leave them and 
send the Holy Spirit in His place (John 16:7).

If you are facing a task you feel is impossible, remember that Jesus sent 
His Spirit to enable you to do what He Himself would do if He were here—and 
more.

The Christian is called upon to live a supernatural life, and he has been 
given the power to live that life.
Donald Grey Barnhouse

Read-Thru-the-Bible
2 Chronicles 17–20
The Scripture Behind

the Story! New from David Jeremiah
DavidJeremiah.org - Delivering the unchanging Word of God to an 
ever-changing world.

5 Simple Ways You Can Begin to Share Your Faith This Week
Chris Russell

Jesus said in the
John 4:35,
“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? 
Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are
already white for harvest!” If you are a follower of Christ, I hope you 
realize how important it is for us to actively be a part of the harvest of 
souls
in our generation. It is absolutely essential that we put our finest efforts 
into rescuing lives from destruction.

But as I mention this subject, I realize many readers begin to tremble with 
fear. We worry about rejection or not being able to give an answer for those
tough questions. Some do not even know where to begin with this mission.

Let me suggest five simple ways you can begin to share your faith this week:

1. Begin by living your life consistently with what God has said in His 
Word.

Many people get tripped up in sharing their faith because they know their 
lifestyle is not what it needs to be. The solution to this is very simple: 
turn
your entire life over to God completely. Do it now.

2. Begin to publicly identify yourself with Christ through social media.

Social media can provide a subtle approach to sharing your faith. Change 
your “religious views” on your profile to “Christian.” Once or twice a week 
consider
posting a Bible verse on your timeline. Link to your church’s website or to 
other Christian websites on your timeline. Let friends know you are praying
for them when they express a need.

3. Volunteer to serve in a ministry at your church on Sunday mornings.

God’s strategic plan for evangelizing this generation is through His Church. 
When you serve in any of the weekend church ministries, you are becoming a
part of the evangelistic machine that changes lives forever. Don’t 
underestimate the value of changing diapers in the nursery at your church. 
By serving
you are opening up opportunities for people to hear the Word and surrender 
to Christ. That is a big deal!

4. Keep something on your desk or counter at work that identifies you as a 
Christian.

I had a dear friend (who has now gone on to be with the Lord in Heaven) who 
kept his Bible on his desk even though he never read it during business 
hours.
And he told me often of how that symbol brought many people to his office 
asking questions about his faith and asking for prayer for needs in their 
lives.
I would suggest you do something like this to identify yourself in your 
office as a follower of Christ. This could mean putting a Bible on your desk 
or
something as simple as setting a coffee mug with your church’s logo in some 
visible part of your office. Better yet, put candy in the mug for coworkers
to swipe when they stop in to talk to you!

5. Invite someone to church this Sunday.

Research indicates that the majority of unchurched people would attend a 
church if they were simply invited. Don’t be bashful. Send a few text 
messages
out to some friends right now to invite them to church! Then you can allow 
the entire church body to be a part of bringing them to Christ! I would 
suggest
that you invite them to church and lunch right afterward. This will turn it 
into more of a relational event, and you can have a chance to see how they
felt about the church service.

Some of Jesus’s last words are found in
Matthew 28:19-20.
In this passage we are commanded to go out and make disciples. And in
Acts 1:8,
Jesus promises us the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit to help us in that 
mission.

So then, in the power of the Holy Spirit, let’s tell the world of the joy we 
have in knowing Christ!

----------------------------------------------------------

Chris Russell has spent the past 25 years actively involved in ministry 
through pastoring, church planting, writing, Christian radio, and special 
speaking
around the country and in seven different countries. He is passionate about 
communicating the truths of God's Word in a creative, highly-relevant way.

A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
- http://www.anorvellnote.com

----------------------------------------------------------

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 19 May 11, 2015
Life Between the Interruptions
It seems that a major part of what is required to get through life involves 
learning how to live as much life as possible between the interruptions and
distractions.
For example, you have a day set aside to work in your office complete a 
project, research and set deadlines for new projects, and get through the 
paperwork
that has piled up over the last few weeks. You are making head way and 
feeling good about the day, when a customer calls with a problem that must 
be handled
immediately.
On another day you start out on a routine trip to visit a family member. You 
leave ahead of schedule. Traffic is moving along smoothly. You are making
great time, then suddenly your car stops. You use all your mechanical by 
raising the hood and looking intently at the engine. Two-and-a-half-hours 
later
you are back on the road.
You are cruising through life. Your career is going well. Your family is 
healthy. You have money in the bank. You live in a great neighborhood. You 
have
good neighbors and are well respected in the community. One day it all 
changes. Your wife goes in for a routine checkup. The results are far from 
routine.
It’️s cancer. Your whole world is turned upside down.
You have your future planned out exactly how you want to go. Your retirement 
portfolio is looking great. You are moving up the corporate ladder by leaps
and bounds. You are rocking and rolling! Then, your company is purchased and 
your department is downsized. You were blindsided and devastated.
Your own story would sound very similar. You know the disappointment. You 
understand the feeling of devastation. You have had your confidence replaced
with fear. So, what do you do? How do you recover? Every situation is 
different so I will not attempt tell how to live your life, but I will offer 
a few
suggestions on how to make the most of life between the interruptions.
Accept that interruptions and distractions will come. Interruptions and 
distractions will come. Expect them. Accept them. If possible, as best as 
you can,
plan for them. They happen. Accept that they happen.
Realize that some of life’️s greatest blessings show up disguised as 
interruptions and distractions. God loves to surprise us by taking what 
initially
looks like the worst thing that could possibly happen and turning it into an 
amazing blessing. I do not know how He does it. I do not have an explanation
for why He does things like He does them. But, I know He does them. When the 
interruptions and distractions come look for the good that may be hiding 
behind
the bad. If you find it, enjoy being surprised.
Understand that being interrupted and distracted does not necessarily have 
to ruin your day. If you allow it to the interruption can send you into a 
foul
mood and wreck your entire day. If you allow it the distractions can mess up 
any chance of finding any joy in your day. That can happen but it does not
necessarily have to happen. You can control your attitude. You can determine 
if your day is ruined or if it is salvageable.
There is no doubt that there will be days when you are interrupted from what 
you have determined the important stuff of your day. It is just as certain
that there will be times when you set your sites on a plan and direction for 
your day, your week, or your life and something will get you off track. It
is in those moments between the interruptions and distractions that 
determine the end result of a day or a life. Consider well what you do and 
how you
respond and do your best to make the most of your life between the 
interruptions.
Tom
A Norvell Note ©️ Copyright 2015. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

Today's Daily Encounter

Modern Day Miracle

I [God] will instruct you and teach you in the way you
should go; I will guide you with My eye."1

According to an article some time ago in 'The
Recorder,' "A 19-year-old girl by the name of Khun
Paot, escaped the Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia after an
arduous journey with 100 others through miles of
jungle, canals, mountains, and rivers. Standing between
them and freedom were communist soldiers, the elements,
and a stretch of jungle ground covered with thorns.
Most of the escapees were barefoot or wore flimsy
thongs.

"A midnight-like darkness hampered the struggling group
as it crossed a valley between two high mountain
ranges. 'We could see absolutely nothing,' Paot later
told a missionary, Maxine Stewart. 'We didn't even know
where to step.' Suddenly hundreds of fireflies swarmed
into view. Their glow made enough light for the people
to see the path. The refugees reached the next mountain
by firefly light, said Mrs. Stewart.

"After Paot was transferred to Kham Put refugee camp,
she was invited to a Christian meeting. 'I know that
old man,' she exclaimed at a picture on the wall of the
chapel. 'He is the one who led us and showed us the way
to Thailand and freedom.' She was pointing to a picture
of Jesus."2

Ever since my youth, every morning I have committed and
trusted my life and way to God, trusting Him to guide
me all through my life knowing that He could make a
much better job of my life than I ever could. Now, as I
look back over the years, I can genuinely say in the
words of the hymn writer, "Jesus led me all the way."

God will do the same for you, too, should you genuinely
commit and trust your life to Him every day for the
rest of your life.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that when I
commit and trust my life to You, You will teach me in
the way that I should go and will guide me with Your
eye. And that's what I do today. Thank You for hearing
and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name,
amen."

1. Psalm 32:8, NKJV).
2. The Recorder, September 1979, p. 25. Source:
www.esermons.com.

<Smile)))><

NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness
for all your sins and His invitation for a full pardon
Click on:
http://www.actsweb.org/invitation.php.
Or
if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ,
please click on
http://www.actsweb.org/decision.php
to note this.

* * * * * * *
Daily Encounter is published at no charge by
ACTS International, a non-profit organization,
and made possible through the donations of
interested friends. Donations can be sent at:

Copyright (c) 2015 by ACTS International.
When copying or forwarding include the following:
"Daily Encounter by Richard (Dick) Innes (c) 2015
ACTS International.

How Generous Are You
by Dean Masters

Psalm 112:5-9
It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his 
affairs with justice. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be 
remembered
forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the 
LORD. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph 
on
his adversaries. He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his 
righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor.
There are so many opportunities right now for the church body to give and 
help others! We have had so many natural disasters in the last year where 
millions
of people and businesses have been left destitute with everything around 
them destroyed by earthquakes, tornados and floods! There are always 
starving
people in other countries and we have homeless people in all of our cities 
across the U.S. There are single parents, widows and children who are 
fatherless
that could use a helping hand as well. There’s just no excuse for those who 
can help, to be found selfish.
When God gives us opportunity and resources it is our responsibility to 
help. Sometimes we cannot help financially but we can help in other ways. We 
can
bless the elderly by visiting them, we can help the single parent by 
volunteering to watch their children for a few hours so they can have a 
break or maybe
give up going out for lunch on Sunday and give them the money to treat 
themselves! We can organize groups to go from our churches to help in places 
where
they are hurting from disaster and trying to rebuild. Help organize missions 
trips either in the U.S. or to another country!
It is easy to get caught up in our own woes but stop for a moment and think 
about how bad your woes are compared to someone who just lost everything. 
Take
a look around and see where you can be a blessing and you will be amazed at 
how blessed you feel!
Quote:
“We can do no great things - only small things with great love.” Mother 
Teresa
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 15 Jul 2015 - 17:53

Tipping
by Charles R. Swindoll

Proverbs 22:9

I feel like starting with the words the nurse says as she approaches your 
bed with one hand behind her back: "This won't take long, but it may sting a
little."

Are you aware of what waiters and waitresses say about the Christians they 
serve? Do you have any idea how much they dread waiting on our tables in 
restaurants
after church on Sundays? Or any other day when we go in groups with big 
Bibles under our arms? We gobble up the chow, asking for this favor and 
that, seldom
pausing long enough to smile or say, "Thank you." That's bad enough, but 
then we leave a tip that is more of an insult than a generous expression of 
gratitude.

Just last week a waiter informed me that the place where he works has the 
toughest time getting a full crew to wait tables on Sunday. "We'd all rather
work late Friday and Saturday nights week after week than work Sunday 
afternoons," he said.

When I asked why, he told me.

"Because Christians are usually loud, they often lack good table manners, 
and they are stingy with the tips."

The waiter who spoke to me is a Christian. He's on our side. And he's 
embarrassed. Says he has a tough time talking to the crew about Christ after 
the
place closes at night. They give him this cynical "You gotta be kidding!" 
response that comes after six or eight of Christ's followers walk away, 
leaving
a tract and a dollar bill. Or maybe just a tract. Sometimes, neither.

If you're among the thoughtful, the gracious, the kind who leave a full 15 
percent or more, keep it up. May your tribe increase. But if you're the type
who falls into the tightfisted and less than thoughtful category, how about 
thinking of your witness as something more than a Bible in your pocket and
words out of your mouth? Sometimes it's what comes out of your pocket after 
something has gone into your mouth . . . and I'm not referring to a tract.
Listen: "It is possible to give away and become richer! It is also possible 
to hold on too tightly and lose everything. Yes, the liberal man shall be 
rich!
By watering others, he waters himself" (Prov. 11:24-25, TLB).

C'mon, Christian, loosen up. If you can afford to eat out, you can also 
handle a healthy tip. Maybe all you needed was a shot in the arm.

There's no doubt about it. Actions often speak much louder than words. What 
are your actions saying?

Excerpted from
Day by Day with Charles Swindoll,
Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). 
All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I 
will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right
hand." (Isa 41:10 NIV)
By Answers2Prayer
Did You Hit My Tree?

It all started out as an ordinary winter day. As usual, I hadn't left myself 
enough time to get to school, and since I also needed to stop by the house
of a colleague who was sick, to pick up her lesson plans for the day, I was 
in a hurry. My mind was busily playing through a problem I had been dealing
with at school, and instead of paying attention to the route, I was praying. 
Okay, so I wasn't REALLY praying. It could probably have been more 
accurately
called "complaining to God", and I CERTAINLY wasn't listening for any 
replies!

As I turned down the road where my colleague lived, I noticed that things 
didn't look quite the same as usual. Could this be because of the fresh snow
that had fallen in the night??? But no. I remembered that there had been 
several houses on her street, and there was only ONE house here! Fresh snow 
wouldn't
completely hide houses! Now what?

All this time, I was continuing to "blabber" to God about my dilemma at 
work. This, combined with growing stress about not finding the right street, 
clouded
my judgment, to say nothing of my ability to hear God! And my clouded 
judgment directed me to turn into the long driveway of the only house on 
that street,
even though I could see that none of the 20 cm of snow that had fallen 
overnight had been cleared. Deep inside, I heard a faint whisper telling me 
not
to go up that driveway, but I didn't listen. Instead, I drove all the way up 
to the house on the top of the hill.

I was barely out of the car when an angry voice called across the drive: 
"What do YOU want!"

The older lady's tone rendered me momentarily speechless. This was quite 
obviously NOT the right house!!! All was not lost, however. Maybe she knew 
where
my colleague lived!

She didn't. Nor did she seem to care about anything except getting me off of 
her property! I hurried to comply, but as I was backing my car out of that
long driveway (there was no room to turn around!), I realized that I 
couldn't tell where the road was! All I could see was a white sheet of snow, 
and being
the "expert" driver that I am, especially in the reverse direction, I soon 
found myself in the drainage ditch that lined the front of this typical 
country
property.

Now what???

I spent the first ten minutes trying to shovel my way out, but the end 
result was that my van ended up leaning even farther to the right. I had no 
choice
but to go back to the house up the hill and ask the "friendly" lady if I 
could use her phone.

I was barely up her front steps when the door flew open again: "Did you hit 
my tree?"

"Uh . . . No . . ." I stammered, again taken aback by her accusatory tone. 
"I'm-I'm stuck in your . . ." But the door was already starting to close. 
"Wait!"
I cried. "May I use your . . ."

Instantly a telephone appeared. "I can't let you in. I am all by myself!" 
Came the lady's voice. "Here is a phone!" As the door clicked shut, I could 
hear
the dead bolt sliding into place.

I couldn't blame her for not letting me in. Why would a complete stranger 
drive up a long, snow-covered driveway, and then get stuck on it? At least I
had a phone, but when I called my auto club for help, the first thing they 
wanted to know was the address! If I had known where I was, I wouldn't be in
this mess in the first place!

The only one to help me was the lady, but not wanting to further frighten 
her, I hesitated before knocking. Suddenly the door cracked up and a note 
appeared.
I barely had my hand on it when the door banged back shut. At least there 
was an address on the note. Now help would be on the way!

But my new-found smile quickly faded with the auto club's next information: 
They wouldn't be there for another 40 minutes! Sigh.

The next step was to call school to let them know I would be late. I also 
had the sense of mind to ask them to call my colleague and let her know I 
hadn't
forgotten her. By this time, the icy wind had succeeded in creeping past my 
gloves and boots and icicles were forming on my eyelashes. Shivering with 
cold,
I knocked once again on the door to give the lady back the phone. "Thank . . 
." I managed to say before the door again banged shut. Rather than try to
complete my sentence and risk further scaring the lady, I waded through the 
snow to my van to wait out my forty minutes out of the wind.

To say that my mood was amiable would have been a gross understatement: "Why 
did you let me get stuck, Lord???"

This time I actually heard the reply, loud and clear. I didn't like it very 
much, however: "It was the only way to get your attention."

"Get my attention???!!!"

"You weren't letting me get a word in edgewise," came the aggravatingly 
accurate response. "You just kept on talking, complaining about your problem 
at
work. You were letting your circumstances dominate you, and no good can ever 
come out of that!"

I hung my head in shame. God had a 100% accurate perception of our previous 
conversation . . . "Forgive me, Lord!" I whispered.

"You're forgiven," He graciously replied. If He had stopped there, I would 
have felt better, but He didn't: "You know, you aren't any better than that
poor lady up the hill. You both refuse to listen."

I couldn't argue. After all, He HAD warned me not to go up that driveway! 
"I've learned my lesson," I said. "From now on I will make sure to always 
listen
to you. But I am weak. You will have to help me with this resolve! I can 
only be strong if I rely on You!"

Instantly, the words of Isa 41:10 came to mind: "So do not fear, for I am 
with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and 
help
you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." NIV Wow!

The next 30 minutes passed quickly as God and I proceeded to have a 
wonderful conversation in the car. Then I suddenly felt that I needed to get 
out of
the car and walk to the road! This time I obeyed, and just as I reached the 
end of the driveway, my repair truck zoomed passed. I must have looked quite
peculiar jumping up and down in the snow on the side of the road, but my 
antics achieved their desired response: The repair truck stopped and turned 
around.
What would have happened if I hadn't obeyed? Would I still be sitting at the 
end of that lady's driveway? It ALWAYS pays to listen to God's Voice!

Friend, you may also be facing impossible circumstances. If you go to God 
for help, you are doing the right thing, but don't just blabber about your 
problems
so much that you forget to listen for His response! Don't let the 
circumstances dominate your emotions! Listen instead! He has the solution to 
your problems.
After all, you don't want to get stuck in a friendly lady's driveway!

"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men 
succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes." (Ps 37:7 
NIV);
and "In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my 
requests before you and wait in expectation." (Psalm 5:3 NIV).

Rob Chaffart
Written more than 12 years ago

P. S. About my "all-consuming problem" at school? It was resolved without 
any effort on my part before my workday was over! Why did I even worry????

Announcement:

As promised, on the first Monday of every month, we be publish one oldie 
from our devotional files. Enjoy!

©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."
From: a2p@answers2prayer.org
http://www.sermonillustrator.org/

Love Worth Finding Ministries

It’s An Inside Job

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and 
platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.”
Matthew 23:26

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
What happens when we try to help others? We start on the outside, thinking 
if we can change the environment of a man (his home, clothes, food, 
education),
then we can create a new man. It cannot be done. It was in the Garden of 
Eden that man got into trouble in the first place.

Cleaning up the outside is just reformation. When you clean up the inside, 
you are regenerated. Jesus is telling the Pharisees that they don’t need 
another bath, they need a new birth.

ACTION POINT:
It’s not that we ought not to help others. We should do these things. But 
men need more than soap and soup; they need salvation. They need a birth 
from above, not merely a boost from below.
Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.

© 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 14 Jul 2015 - 18:35

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Daily Devotional
Plane on the Edge and Life's Bottom Line - #7387

I love the view of Manhattan when you fly into LaGuardia Airport. The view 
around the runways? Not so much. Water on three sides. The thought has 
crossed
my mind, "A plane could end up in the water some day."

On March 6, 2015, one almost did with 127 passengers on board. The pictures 
were all over the Internet and they were pretty dramatic; a jetliner that 
slid
off the runway, crashing through a fence - its nose virtually over the 
water.

A passenger, Jared, said he knew the wheels weren't getting traction on that 
icy runway. Next thing - the jet was sliding uncontrollably to the left, off
the runway and to the edge of the East River with some passengers crying, 
some praying, and some frantic. Jared was praying. He told the reporter, 
"Something
like this makes you reflect on your relationship with God. God must not be 
done writing the story of my life."

If God hasn't mattered much before, He really matters when you may have been 
seconds away from seeing Him. I've had a couple of pretty close calls in my
life; some on an airplane, some in a car. And you really do - or you really 
should - start asking the bottom line questions we're usually too busy to 
consider.

Somewhere along the way, we all get our wake-up call. So we'll stop and 
examine our life, our priorities, our relationship with God, and our eternal 
destination.
Moments that bring us to the brink of eternity point us to life's big 
questions. What really matters and what really doesn't? Why am I here? Why 
did God
spare me? If this had been the end, what then?

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Plane on 
the Edge and Life's Bottom Line."
The meaning of our life? The only One who can tell us is the One who gave us 
our life. And He has in His Book. We are, He says in the Bible, "created by
Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). Problem: I've lived pretty much for me. 
So I'm missing my purpose until I know my Creator.

What really matters? Well, Ecclesiastes 3:11 says "God has set eternity in 
the hearts of men" What matters - and all that satisfies - is what will last
forever. What about eternity? God says in our word for today from the Word 
of God in Hebrews 9:27, that man is "destined to die once and after that 
comes
judgment." That can be disturbing because we're not ready. Because, as the 
Bible says, "your sins have cut you off from God" (Isaiah 59:2), and that's
a terrible way to meet God.

Thank God for Jesus! On that bloody Good Friday, I'll read you these five 
life-changing words right out of the Bible, "Christ died for our sins" (1 
Corinthians
15:3). So we don't have to. He loved us. He didn't want to lose you. And the 
Bible gives us this best of good news in John 3:36, "anyone who believes in
God's Son has eternal life."

What does it mean to believe in Jesus? It doesn't just mean to agree with 
His teachings, or like Him, or know a lot about Him. No, it's what happened 
the
day I was drowning when I was ten years old and a man jumped in to save me. 
I grabbed him like he was my only hope, because he was. I'd have died 
without
him.

You know, that's what it means to believe in Jesus. You grab Him like He's 
your only hope. He is your only hope, because no one else died for your 
sins.
If you don't take His death for you, you pay for your sins. No one else can 
give you eternal life because no one else has got it except the man who 
walked
out of His grave.

This day He is ready to make you ready for eternity by changing a death 
penalty for your sin to eternal life you could never earn and never 
deserved. I'd
love to show you how to begin that relationship with Him if you'd just go to 
our website ANewStory.com. In a very short time I think you'll understand
how to begin that relationship with Jesus Christ.

I gave myself to this Jesus. And because of Him, I - and millions like me - 
have this anchored peace, even in the face of death. I'm ready for eternity
whenever or however it comes.


Spiritual Fruit – Self-control

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, 
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and 
self-control. There is no law against these things!" (
Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)

We have the complete fruit of the Spirit when we grow self-control by the 
power of the Holy Spirit. Self-control is physical and emotional mastery. 
One may be able to have some self-control just by sheer will power. Some may 
join an organization to help them not abuse alcohol or drugs, lose weight or 
stop gambling. But none of these can grow self-control except by the power 
of the Holy Spirit.

Here is what the Harper’s Bible Dictionary says about self-control:

self-control, the English translation of a Greek term common in the Greek, 
especially the later Stoic, philosophical tradition but seldom appearing in 
the Greek ot (lxx) or the nt, probably because biblical faith sees human 
beings not as autonomous but as responsible to and directed by the will of 
God. Felix was alarmed when Paul ‘argued about justice and self-control and 
future judgment’
(Acts 24:25). Paul knew that it was difficult for Corinthian Christians to 
exercise self-control in sexual matters (1 Cor. 7:9). He compared himself 
with an athlete who ‘exercises self-control in all things’ for the Gospel’s 
sake (1 Cor. 9:25). For Paul, self-control was not really a human 
achievement but was linked with love, joy, peace, etc., as ‘the fruit of the 
spirit’ (Gal. 5:22-23). 2 Pet. 1:6 links self-control with such 
characteristics as faith, knowledge, and steadfastness. Again, ‘God did not 
give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control’ 
(2 Tim. 1:7). A bishop must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard 
but ‘a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and 
self-controlled’ (Titus 1:7-8).

So let us not try to grow our own fruit by man power but rely on the power 
of the Holy Spirit to grow all nine parts of the fruit in and through us.

by Dean W. Masters

Making Disciples in the Everyday Stuff of Life
Jeff Vanderstelt / April 28, 2015
Making Disciples in the Everyday Stuff of Life

When you hear the words “missional living,” what comes to mind? As I speak 
and train on missional living, I find many people either have a wrong 
understanding
of the mission or wrongly believe they can’t do it. However, as I define 
what it is, often their perception changes.

I define missional living as being continually-sent disciple-makers who live 
everyday life with gospel intentionality so we might both show and tell 
others
what worship of Jesus looks like in the everyday stuff of life. It’s not a 
new program or event. Life is the program, and the everyday is the event. 
When
we see disciple-making as primarily done in classrooms or events, we end up 
leading others to see following Jesus as a study or a program instead of an
all-of-life kind of thing. The Scriptures are clear. We are called to see 
people grow up in every way into Christ who is our head (Ephesians 4:15). In
every way means in every thing. God intends to bring about the knowledge of 
his glory known everywhere (Habakkuk 2:14). And the hope of that taking 
place
is Christ at work in us and through us in everything we do (Colossians 
1:27). We need to learn to see eating and drinking, working and playing — 
everything
we do — as the means through which we can both glorify God and show others 
what it looks like to worship him in all of life (1 Corinthians 10:31; 
Colossians
3:17).

Here’s the reality; all of us are always making disciples. The questions 
are: Who or what are we making disciples of? And what would people believe 
about
following Jesus if they were to follow our example in everyday life?

The Normal Everyday

As I consider these questions and mission in everyday life, I am reminded of 
Kirby, a mother of four who moved to Tacoma with her husband, Charlie, to
learn about missional living with our Soma family. They joined our missional 
community whose missional focus is Grant Elementary and the neighborhood 
surrounding
it. They homeschool their children and Charlie worked mostly from home, so 
they were having a hard time engaging in mission with people who have yet to
meet and follow Jesus. Since Kirby loves to play soccer and wanted to 
exercise anyway, she joined an indoor soccer team with my wife, Jayne, and a 
few
other moms from our school. Kirby also enrolled her children in some of the 
arts classes Grant Elementary provided, and she served alongside of her 
children
as a teacher assistant.

She took normal, everyday activities, such as sports and education, and 
engaged them intentionally.

It was only a few games into the season when Kirby injured her knee badly. 
She was unable to move around for a while and needed others to care for her.
When she told us how she was doing, she remarked she was very discouraged 
because she was just starting to make some new friends and now was 
incapacitated.
However, one of the moms and fellow players decided to organize the team to 
provide meals for Kirby and Charlie.

Kirby was even more discouraged as she believed she was supposed to serve 
them — not the other way around. We reminded her that Jesus himself was 
served
by the Samaritan woman before he served her the good news. Sometimes 
allowing others to serve us provides an opportunity to demonstrate humility; 
to show
we are also in need. Besides, Kirby now had the opportunity to show what it 
looks like to follow Jesus and depend on Jesus when things don’t go as we 
hoped
or planned. Over time, one mother and her son began to join Kirby and 
Charlie for meals at their home. She joined them in what they were already 
doing
— eating meals — and they included and loved her and her son like part of 
the family. The woman and her son learned what it looked like to commune 
with
Jesus at the table and to follow Jesus as a family.

Wherever We Go

Eventually, she and her son began participating in our missional community’s 
weekly meal, as well. Previously, most of her spiritual direction came 
through
tarot card readings, horoscopes, and intuitive directions. She had never 
been taught the Scriptures or heard the gospel. So we invited her to join us 
as
we walked through the “
Story of God
” (a verbal ten-week telling of the overview of God’s redemption from 
Genesis to Revelation). She was open to it because she loved being with us 
around
a meal and had grown to love and trust us. Sometime during our journey 
through the story she came to faith in Jesus and is now regularly telling 
others
about Jesus. Recently, she told all of us, “I don’t understand why people 
don’t talk more about Jesus. I’ve been telling people everywhere. People 
need
to hear about him and they will listen. We should just do it every day, 
wherever we go.” She then proceeded to tell us of the recent conversation 
she had
with someone in the grocery store. Up until that time she had never come to 
one of our church’s weekly gatherings on Sunday, but she was already 
engaging
in the first steps of being a disciple who makes disciples.

I’ve been privileged to see many, many lives like hers changed by the gospel 
in everyday life. Each time I watch a follower of Jesus engage in everyday
life with gospel intentionality with one who has yet to meet and love Jesus, 
I see a common occurrence: When the person comes to faith, they already know
what it is like to follow Jesus in the normal stuff of life because they’ve 
been watching a follower of Jesus doing it all along.

When discipleship happens in the everyday stuff of life, disciples learn how 
to follow Jesus in the everyday stuff of life, as well.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 13 Jul 2015 - 21:42

Holy? Or Just “Holier Than Thou”?

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye 
shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any 
manner
of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
Leviticus 11:44

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Some people think that to be holy means to be odd. No, we’re to be 
different. We have too many Christians doing unbiblical things who claim to 
be holy
when in reality they are just odd.

Holiness is not achieved by what we wear, where we sleep and eat, or how 
many spiritual things we do. It is not primarily a matter of dress or style 
of
hair. And we don’t become holy if we live in a commune, monastery, or 
convent. There is no holiness in a hole.

ACTION POINT:
God makes us holy by the blood of His Son. And in return for this great 
love, we endeavor to live holy lives because we love Him. “Holy” is a state 
of
being, not doing. It is a God-induced, God-developed character trait that 
grows in us as we grow in our love relationship with God.
© 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300

10,000 Reasons
David Mathis / May 2, 2015
10,000 Reasons

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every 
circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, 
abundance
and need. (Philippians 4:12)

He is not just the God of our good times. He is the God of all times. Which 
means he’s also the God of our worst times.

He is not just God when we abound, as Paul writes in Philippians 4:12, but 
also when we are brought low. He is God when we have plenty to eat and when
we experience hunger. He is God in our abundance and God in our need. He is 
God in any and every circumstance, and this is wonderfully good news — 
because
life is so much more than just the good times.

Even and Especially the Bad Things

When Paul says in Romans 8:28 that “for those who love God, all things work 
together for good,” his point is not to persuade us that all the good things
in our lives work for our good. We already believe that. It’s easy to 
imagine that the good things work for good.

The point is that even and especially “the bad things” in our lives, and our 
hardest of times, are being worked for our eternal good by our almighty and
merciful Father.

To make sure we get the point, the next few verses list some of the worst 
possible things: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, 
peril,
sword (Romans 8:35), even being put to death for the faith (Romans 8:36). 
Will these bad things, the greatest difficulties, the worst sufferings 
ultimately
bring us down and work for our bad? “No,” he says, “in all these things we 
are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

The Most Meaningful Moments

It is true that the good times in life are for singing, “Bless the Lord, O 
my soul.” God means for us to worship his holy name when life is good, when
the sun comes up, when a new day dawns. He wants us to sing in gratitude and 
praise when all is well and when it’s easy to see his kindness and love and
patience and goodness. In the best of times, yes, we should be on the 
lookout for some of the ten thousand reasons we have for praising him.

But the times that we truly sing like never before are when the “whatever 
may pass” is hardest, and the “whatever lies before me” is most difficult. 
It’s
in life’s toughest seasons, as we feel life’s greatest losses, that we learn 
to worship at new depths and with thicker, richer substance.

Life’s most meaningful moments and the seasons of most soul-stirring worship 
typically come not when life feels at its peak, but when our strength is 
failing,
even when our end, or the end of a loved one, is drawing near. These are the 
times when we discover like never before that God truly is with us and 
transcends
the blessings of this life and really is all we need.

We may have ten thousand reasons to praise him in the best times, but this 
one reason can suffice in the worst times: He is God. And no matter what 
else
we lose, nothing can separate us from him.

I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things 
present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything 
else
in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ 
Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38–39)

----------------------------------------------------------

Desiring God partnered with Shane & Shane’s
The Worship Initiative to write short meditations for more than one hundred popular worship songs 
and hymns. The Worship Initiative is an online platform devoted to training
musicians for songwriting and worship leading.
Copyright © 2015 Desiring God, all rights reserved


Children of a Singing God

After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
(Mark 14:26)

Can you hear Jesus singing?

Was he a bass or a tenor? Was there a down-home twang to his voice? Or was 
there an unwavering crystal pitch?

Did he close his eyes and sing to his Father? Or did he look into his 
disciples’ eyes and smile at their deep camaraderie?

Did he usually start the song?

O, I can hardly wait to hear Jesus sing! I think the planets would be jolted 
out of orbit if he lifted his native voice in our universe. But we have a
kingdom that cannot be shaken; so, Lord, come on and sing.

It could not be otherwise but that Christianity be a singing faith. The 
founder sang. He learned to sing from his Father. Surely they have been 
singing
together from all eternity.

The Bible says the aim of song is “to raise the sound of joy” (
1 Chronicles 15:16).
No one in the universe has more joy than God. He is infinitely joyful. He 
has rejoiced from eternity in the panorama of his own perfections reflected 
perfectly
in the deity of his Son.

God’s joy is unimaginably powerful. He is God. When he speaks galaxies come 
into being. And when he sings for joy more energy is released than exists in
all the matter and motion of the universe.

If he appointed song for us to release our heart’s delight in him, is this 
not because he also knows the joy of releasing his own heart’s delight in 
himself
in song? We are a singing people because we are the children of a singing 
God.
Copyright Information

This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper's 
ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.


Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

(The Lord said) "So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of 
Israel. Whenever you hear a word from My mouth, you shall give them warning
from Me." Ezekiel 33:7

By Answers2Prayer
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Heed the Watchman

It was after dark when Police Chief Jerry Peralta pulled up in front of the 
oceanfront units of the Richelieu Apartments in Pass Christian, Mississippi.

A man with a drink in his hand came out to the second-floor balcony and 
waved. Peralta yelled up, "You all need to clear out of here as quickly as 
you
can. The storm is getting worse." But as others joined the man on the 
balcony, they just laughed at Peralta's order to leave.

"This is my land," one of them yelled back, "If you want me off, you'll have 
to arrest me."

Peralta didn't arrest anyone, but he wasn't able to persuade them to leave 
either. Sadly, the chief wrote down the names of the next of kin of the 20 
partiers.
They were amused as he took their names. Some even thanked Peralta, and then 
they shared, "I'm sure we will be just fine."

It was 10:15 p.m. when the front wall of the storm came ashore.

Scientists clocked Camille's wind speed at more than 205 miles per hour, at 
that time, the strongest on record. Raindrops hit with the force of bullets,
and waves off the Gulf Coast crested between 22 and 28 feet high.

News reports later showed that the worst damage came at the little 
settlement of motels, go-go bars, and gambling houses known as Pass 
Christian, Mississippi.

It was there that 20 people were killed at a hurricane party held at the 
Richelieu Apartments. Nothing was left of that three-story structure but the 
foundation;
the only survivor was a five-year-old boy found clinging to a mattress the 
following day. Those people died because they failed to hear the words of 
the
watchman!

There is little doubt that many other people are going to die for eternity 
because they refuse to listen to the Lord's words, which are being shared by
God's earthly watchman. All too often when the pulpit proclaims, "This is a 
sin" or "That is a transgression" people reply, "Maybe in the days of Moses
and Ezekiel and Peter, but not now." When folks are encouraged to repent, 
they refuse. When they are asked by their church to remain faithful to the 
Word,
many prefer to find a church that says, "You are okay just the way you are."

Understand, I am not saying every sentence spoken by a pastor, priest, 
professor or church leader is the Gospel truth.

Coming from a fellow sinner, we can be pretty sure that every once in a 
while errors, faults and flaws will creep in. But when a watchman shares the 
Word
as it was given, when he condemns that, which our just God has condemned, 
and when He shares the forgiveness and grace that was won for us by Jesus on
Calvary's cross, then it is time to pay attention.

If we do, God will be glorified, our watchman will be able to give a good 
account, and the listener will have the peace of knowing he has done as the 
Lord
has asked.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, right now we pray for those we know who have 
disregarded the words of the watchman and the call of the Holy Spirit. There 
is great
danger they will soon be swept away. For them I pray this: while there is 
still time let them hear and be brought to repentance and salvation. Let 
them
hear and follow the Savior who gave Himself for us. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Pastor Ken Klaus
Lutheran Hour Ministries
All rights reserved; not to be duplicated without permission.

Announcement:

Do you have questions about the Bible? Come and
visit the archives of answers to "Bible Questions of the Week".
The answer you seek will probably be among the many answers received, and if 
not, you can
submit us your Bible questions.

©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."

How to Offer Genuine Forgiveness in the Face of Evil
Emily Massey

After I received the phone-call from my mom, I rushed home, and looked for 
anyone from my family, but no one was around. I ran up to my room trying to
figure out who to call. Worry and fear gripped my heart as thoughts of what 
actually happened circled my mind. I immediately started to have a panic 
attack
and fell to the floor in the fetal position, crying and hyperventilating. 
Within a few minutes, my aunt, step-dad, and boyfriend were surrounding me, 
trying
to calm me down. I wanted to know where my mom was and why she wasn’t there.

“What is going on?” I cried out. Then my aunt uttered the words that are now 
forever etched in my mind.

“Honey, your dad is dead. Someone shot him in the head and killed him. His 
body was dragged across the street to an abandoned building and the building
was set on fire. They were able to identity his body this morning.”

My mind couldn’t comprehend what I had just heard. This sounded like 
something out of a movie or a forensic science TV show, not my life! I 
immediately
went into shock and couldn’t stop shaking or crying.

Last month, I was transported back to this traumatizing memory, the memory 
that changed my life forever. After almost six years, the man who murdered 
my
father was finally charged with a guilty sentence. He will serve up to 45 
years in prison as a punishment for his actions.

And while most people are shouting: “That man should burn in hell!” I am 
preaching, “You MUST forgive!” because I know the severity of holding onto 
the
wrongs that others have done to us. It simply is not worth it, my friends.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly 
Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, 
your
Father will not forgive your sins”
(Matthew 6:14,
NIV).

I don’t know about you, but I have fallen short of the glory of God many, 
many times, and I need my sins to be forgiven because I need the love and 
presence
of my heavenly Father from now until eternity. No matter what the sin is 
(how big or how small you may think it is), it WILL separate us from God. I 
NEVER
EVER want to be separated from him.

Although I made a CHOICE to forgive the man who took my dad’s life right 
after it happened, I wrestled with so many emotions and thoughts after 
reading
the articles describing the horrendous acts of murder that turned my world 
upside down in November of 2008. Seeing the photo of this man as he was 
escorted
by two police officers out of the courtroom with his stone, cold eyes 
looking straight back at me made my stomach churn. My heart was pierced and 
so many
different emotions rose up in me.

Avoiding haunting memories and traumatic thoughts was the main reason I 
chose not to follow the murder case as the years went on. Instead, I 
immediately
chose to forgive and move on with both my life with Christ and the man who 
is now my husband. I did not want to live in the trauma. It wasn’t that I 
didn’t
love or miss my dad terribly. It was because dwelling on all of this wicked 
and demonically influenced tragedy would never bring my dad back. I knew 
that
justice belonged ONLY in the hands of the Lord. Most of all, I longed for 
that man to repent of what he did and find a life-changing relationship with
my Jesus like I had found. I still pray for that to this day.

I can’t say that I have found the strength to pray a
prayer
like this or the strength to forgive from solely within myself. Though my 
strength comes from within, it is the power and might of the Holy Spirit 
which
has been given to me. My life verse from the Bible will forever hold true, 
and I will never stop standing upon the promise of
Philippians 4:13:
“I can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST who strengthens me.” I’m so thankful for 
that promise.

In the midst of darkness or struggle, I know Jesus will never abandon me (or 
YOU). Although my earthly father is gone, I have a heavenly Father who loves
me more than anyone could. I cling to him when the trials and storms of life 
try to overtake me, for he is my anchor of hope. I cling to and stand upon
his Word that is full of promises – promises of his love, mercy, and grace, 
for he is my Rock and firm foundation. I cling to my Jesus and the voice of
his Holy Spirit, for he is the One who gives me strength and courage to 
endure every trial I could ever face. I urge you to accept the forgiveness 
of the
Father today and find strength in Jesus to learn to walk in total 
forgiveness, even in the midst of the darkest of trials. Oh what freedom and 
peace you
will find!

Emily Rose Massey began writing short stories and poetry as a little girl, 
entered the blogging world in her early 20's, and recently released her 
first
book,
Yielded in His Hands
(eLectio Publishing). She enjoys being a stay-at-home momma and serving in 
her local church with her husband in television, worship, and youth 
ministry.
Believing she has been forgiven of much, she loves much, and desires to 
point others to Christ and His redemptive and transforming power. If you 
would
like to connect with Emily or learn more about her book, you can visit her 
website:
www.emilyrosemassey.com
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 10 Jul 2015 - 22:04

Living on Mission through Biblical Community

This sponsored post was prepared by Dustin Willis

A solitary faith is not a Christian faith.

Lose the Lone-Ranger Mentality

While our culture may place high value on independence and individualism, 
the truth of the matter is that we need one another to carry out the mission
of God. A foundational truth for everyday missionaries is understanding 
their biblical calling to be anchored to group of believers to whom they 
confess,
with whom they repent, celebrate, live in faith, and are daily sent out on 
mission.

Often it’s difficult for some to understand the necessity of community. “Why 
can’t it just be me and Jesus?” we think, dreaming of toting our Bible and
riding off into the sunset on some “lone-ranger” mission to save the world.

The problem is, we can’t choose Jesus and not choose the church. They’re a 
package deal. That’s because God never intended for us to live out the 
Christian
life alone.

Church = A Family United in Heart and Purpose

The church is designed as a place for God’s children to function as a 
family, united in heart and purpose.

For many, that means meeting once a week to sing songs and listen to a 
sermon surrounded by people they don’t really know. Yes, meeting as a body 
is certainly
one of the valid expressions of church and one that we should be 
consistently involved in, but going to a service once a week is not walking 
in biblical community.

Biblical community is the group of believers with whom we walk through the 
good, the bad, and the ugly of life while digging deeper into the gospel 
together.
It is built upon committed, authentic, and caring relationships that urge 
one another toward Jesus and His mission.

It’s where we can be honest and transparent about our struggles with sin. 
(see James 5:16)

It’s where we gracefully confront sin in other believers and humbly accept 
correction brought by others. (see Gal. 6:1-2)

It’s where we willingly sacrifice in order to help others carry their 
burdens. (see Gal. 6:2)

It’s where we celebrate and see the value of God’s unique giftedness and 
life experiences within each individual. (see Rom. 12: 6-8)

It’s where we practice hospitality that nurtures relationships. (see Heb. 
13:2)

Making Room For Others

Perhaps the best thing about biblical community is the way God designed it 
to stretch and increase, always making room for those seeking a place to 
join
and grow alongside other believers.

When my wife, Renie and I moved to Atlanta we soon realized what an 
incredible mission field our neighborhood represented. We began to regularly 
invite
our neighbors, plus families in our church community group to cook-outs in 
our front yard.

It’s turned out to be a blessing for several reasons. First, it encourages 
members of our biblical community to engage with their neighbors. Secondly,
it facilitates connection between our neighbors and our community group that 
might not ordinarily happen. Finally—and most importantly, it gives our 
community
group an opportunity to put the gospel on display. Our intentionality in 
loving one another through biblical community plays a vital part in living 
out
our everyday mission.

Strengthening Your Commitment to Biblical Community

Walking in community together helps us grow in our understanding of the 
cross and that is where unity is made possible and where biblical community 
can
truly flourish.

Take a few minutes to list the people you are or should be living out the 
gospel with. Then, spend some time praying about the next steps you should 
take
in strengthening your commitment to biblical community.

Life on mission is simply an overflow of living a cross-centered 
(gospel-centered) life, and living in biblical community is foundational to 
growing in the gospel.

This article is adapted from Life on Mission: Joining the Everyday Mission 
of God, by Dustin Willis and Aaron Coe (Moody Publishers).

Dustin Willis is the co-author of Life on Mission: Joining the Everyday 
Mission of God. A resident of metro Atlanta, he currently serves as the 
Coordinator
of the Send Network and the Send North America Conference. A popular speaker 
across North America, Dustin is a regular contributor at
sendnetwork.com,
and blogs at dustinwillis.com.
His new book, Life in Community: Joining Together to Display the Gospel 
(Moody Publishers) will be available on August 4, 2015.

UpWords from Max Lucado

Let God Have You
by Max Lucado

How long has it been since you let God have you? I mean really have you? How 
long since you gave him a portion of undiluted, uninterrupted time listening
for his voice?

Apparently, Jesus did. He made a deliberate effort to spend time with God. 
Spend much time reading about the listening life of Jesus and a distinct 
pattern
emerges. He spent regular time with God, praying and listening.
Mark 1:35
says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, 
left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Luke 
tells
us, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

Let me ask the obvious. If Jesus, the Son of God, the sinless Savior of 
humankind, thought it worthwhile to clear his calendar to pray, wouldn’t we 
be
wise to do the same?

From
Just Like Jesus
084994743X

Listen to
UpWords with Max Lucado
at OnePlace.com

JUST PLAY THE MELODY

Some tunes for a little girl reminds Grandpa how to be a child again.

Copyright 2002

Leslie A Turvey

A servant of the only true and living God

“Unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter 
into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).”

Think back, for a moment, to when you were a little child: three, four, five 
years old. For most of us life was wonderful: Play for a while; run barefoot
in the rain; eat some lunch; have a nap; then start it all over again. We 
didn’t worry where our next meal was coming from. Daddy brought home the 
paycheck
– whatever that was – and Mommy bought the groceries.

If we skinned our knee, Mommy was there to kiss it and make the hurt go 
away. When the other kids climbed to the top fence rail and jumped off, 
Daddy was
there to help us make our first few jumps. And when we were sad, and the 
tears came, Teddy was always there to listen.

Life was simple then. When Daddy helped us make our first jump we trusted 
him to catch us. When Mommy put a bandage on our knee she told us it was our
badge of courage, and we believed her.

But something happened between those early years, and now. We may have read 
what Paul said, “When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a 
child,
I thought as a child. But when I became a man I put away childish things (1 
Corinthians 13:11).” So, following Paul’s example we put away our childish
things. Problem is, if you’re like me, you put them too far away.

Life became complicated. Now it’s us who brings home the paycheck and the 
groceries. And for some reason there’s too few groceries at the end of the 
paycheck.
We run up bills, then worry about how to pay them. The cost of everything is 
soaring, and the money we budgeted for a new sofa has disappeared like the
morning dew when the sun comes up.

In May 2001 Betty and I became grandparents. When I first penned these lines 
our granddaughter was nine months old, and learning to enjoy the fun things
of her young life. I picked up a children’s sing-a-long disk and slipped it 
into the player. A children’s choir soon had my toes a tappin’ to Arky Arky,
and Down In My Heart. You know the words, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, 
down in my heart.” Another verse says, “I’ve got the peace that passes 
understanding,
down in my heart.” And another says, “I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of 
Jesus, down in my heart; down in my heart to stay.”

How wonderful to be transported back to those days when livin’ was easy. 
Instead of being concerned about a zillion adult things, I was reminded that 
He’s
Got The Whole World – including me – In His Hands. Unless you be converted, 
and stop worrying, and become as free and trusting as little children, you
shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. That’s exactly what another song 
teaches, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy, in Jesus,
but to trust and obey.”

Jackie Gleason said, “I have a play-the-melody philosophy. It means don’t 
over arrange, don’t make life difficult. Just play the melody, and do it the
simplest way possible.”

That’s what the kids in the choir did: they sang the melody. No concerns 
about tight harmony or descants or contrapuntal rhythms; just the melody in 
straight-forward
time. They kept it simple.

When a young child was asked to recite the 23rd psalm he said, “The Lord is 
my shepherd, that’s all I want.” Might this be what Jesus meant when he 
said,
“Unless you become as little children.”

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the bible tells me so. Thank you God for 
the reminder of your love for me as your little child.

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 9 Jul 2015 - 21:52

Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion
God of Our Fathers
Saturday, July 4, 2015

“Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly… and he said, ‘O LORD, the God of our 
fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the 
kingdoms
of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand 
against You.’”
- 2 Chronicles 20:5-6 NASB

Daniel Roberts knew the pain that had gripped his country. A chaplain in the 
American Civil War, he had witnessed death and suffering, and knew that deep
divisions remained.

These thoughts were vivid as July 4, 1876, approached, a day that would mark 
the centennial of the Declaration of Independence. Struggling to express his
thoughts to his small Vermont church, he felt inspired to write a poem 
focusing on America’s founding fathers, and how God had guided and blessed 
them.
It was called “God of Our Fathers.”

He described how all Believers could look to creation and realize that He 
was God over all creation. That His “almighty hand leads forth in beauty all
the starry band, of shining worlds in splendor through the skies.” That all 
Believers, North and South, should sing “grateful songs” before His throne.

He reminded Americans that God’s love had led them in the past. That as a 
people they needed to make Him their “Ruler, Guardian, Guide and Stay,” and 
declare
His Word to be their law. To choose to follow His paths.

He prayed for God’s blessing. The way may have been “toilsome,” but He could 
refresh them, and lead them “from night to never ending day.” He prayed that
God would fill their “lives with love and grace divine.” And that all would 
respond by giving Him the praise and glory.

Today, be grateful for all God has done. But also remember to pray for His 
guidance and direction for our country. He was the God of our fathers. And 
He
still is God.

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Father, thank You for our country. I pray that You would bless our country 
and its leaders. I pray that we always would stay free so we can worship and
serve You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: 2 Chronicles 20



Independence... Is It Really a Good Thing?
by Cindi McMenamin

In a day and age when independence is praised, I wonder if it's really a 
good thing when it comes to our relationship with God.

"God helps those who help themselves," we say, as if quoting
Scripture.
Oh really? I believe Scripture implies God helps those who admit they can't 
help themselves. The Apostle Paul, who probably considered himself quite 
independent
before he met Christ, claimed the strength that comes through a total 
dependence on God when he said God's "power is perfected in weakness. 
Therefore
I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power 
may rest on me" (
2 Corinthians 12:9).

Some of us have trouble depending on anyone. Usually it stems from being 
burned -- having had a parent who walked out on us, a boyfriend or husband 
who
betrayed us, someone significant who let us down and made us think twice 
before we depended on anyone again. We find ourselves thinking "I don't need 
anyone.
I'm on my own. And I'm doing just fine."

But oh how that mindset must hurt the One who longs for us to depend on Him.

If you've prided yourself on not needing anyone, or have just feared 
trusting another person because of disappointment or betrayal, God wants to 
more than
make up for your disappointment in someone else by showing you, in His Word, 
that He's the most reliable One you could ever depend on.

Scripture tells us three wonderful things about the God who wants us to 
depend on Him:

God can be trusted with your provision. When we think of someone to depend 
on, we often think in terms of financial stability. I remember having a 
falling
out with my father when I was in college and wondering whom I could depend 
on, financially, to help get me through that difficult time. As I looked to
the Lord, He provided all I needed, including a restored relationship with 
my Dad. And then, once married, I remember feeling rather insecure about 
the
small paycheck my husband received during his first few years as a fulltime 
pastor, after I had quit my career job to stay home and raise our daughter.
But I learned early on in our marriage that God can be trusted to provide 
for us and meet our every need. As we were faithful to honor Him with all 
that
we had, including our money, He was always faithful in providing for us. We 
learned, first hand, the truth of
Philippians 4:19,
that "My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in 
Christ Jesus." Jesus, Himself, knew we would be concerned about material 
things
like food, clothing and making ends meet, and therefore, He told His 
followers: "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink or 
about your
body, what you will wear...Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or 
reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are 
you
not much more valuable than they?" (
Matthew 6:25-26).
That sounds like a pretty clear "Don't worry about it" statement from the 
Son of God. In other words, "You have a God who is in control; so don't feel
that you have to be." Those are reassuring words for anyone who feels they 
have no one to depend on.

God can be trusted with your protection. We can invest in a top-of-the-line 
security system for our homes and take all sorts of pre-cautionary measures
to protect all that we have, but ultimately God is the one who protects us 
and keeps us safe. The Psalmist tells us: "I will lie down and sleep in 
peace,
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety" (
Psalms 4:8).
And Psalm
Psalms 121:2-3
assures us "My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He 
will not let your foot slip -- he who watches over you will not slumber."
Our daughter recently saw this reality in her life. As she was traveling out 
of state with her college women's choir, several of the women in the choir
had their wallets, credit cards and cash stolen from a church basement, 
while they were performing their concert. My daughter's possessions were not 
touched.
And what about the other girls who lost their money? A television news 
reporter came to the scene and unbeknownst to the choir made an on-air pitch 
to
viewers to help the girls with their losses. The next day, the girls were 
completely reimbursed for everything that was taken...another testimony to 
them
of God's provision -- and protection -- on their ministry tour.

God can be trusted with your problems. We can plan out our lives, but 
ultimately God is in control of our destiny. Scripture tells us He knows the 
beginning,
as well as the end of our days and has assigned us our "portion" and 
established our "delightful inheritance" (
Psalms 16:5-8).
That means He knows every event that occurs in our lives and every incident 
that takes us by surprise. God is so gracious that even when we take the 
reins
and start trying to control things and we mess up, He steps in and gets us 
back on the right path. Psalm
Psalms 37:23-24
tells us "If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; 
though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord uphold him with his hand." 
And
we who know Christ have the wonderful assurance from Scripture that God will 
work every bad move, unexpected situation, mistake on our part, or tragedy
on the part of someone else, and work it for good in our lives. As Romans
Romans 8:28
assures us: "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who 
love him, who have been called according to His purpose." As with the case
of the stolen cards and cash from my daughter's choir group, their concert 
the next night was packed. God used the news about the theft to get the word
out about their next performance.

Deuteronomy 33:26
says “…no other god is like ours – he rides across the skies to come and 
help us. The eternal God is our hiding place; he carries us in his arms….”

Whether it's protecting you, providing for you, or working out your 
troubles, God can be trusted to care for His own. Won't you start looking 
to Him as
the One you can depend on?

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of several books including
when women walk alone,
women on the edge,
and when a woman overcomes life's hurts.
For more on her ministry, books, and free resources to strengthen your soul 
and your walk with God, see
www.strengthforthesoul.com.

Blowing up the Fourth of July
by John UpChurch, Senior Editor, BibleStudyTools.com

I nearly blew up Fourth of July. Well, not the holiday, just the block party 
we had when I was a kid. For a couple years when I was young, the residents
of our neighborhood would congregate at an open lot on the corner. Many of 
the families would bring bags and boxes of giant bottle rockets, roman 
candles,
sparklers, fountains, and other color-shooting fare. They’d dump them on a 
ratty blanket and sit in the grass. Most of them took turns launching the 
flaming
orbs into the air, littering the ground with the paper and cardboard of 
spent fireworks, and filling the night with acrid smoke.

It was glorious, and I wanted to make a huge splash (cue the dramatic 
music).

Before descending upon the second—and last—of our block parties, I scanned 
the aisles of the fireworks tent not far from our house. Just shooting 
flaming
balls or seeing a pretty sparkly pop in the sky wasn’t enough. I wanted to 
go big. There’d be nothing mundane for my moment of greatness this year.

And that’s when I found the perfect Chinese-made, powder-stuffed wonder. I 
have no idea what it was called, but it was a green plastic tube longer than
my hand with fins sticking out from either end. The packaging promised 
showers of sparks as it rose into the sky, a loud report (code for 
explosion), and
an unforgettable display of color. Some might say spending three bucks on 
one moment of awesome is a bit excessive. I just saw it as a small price to 
pay
for a green wonder.

When we arrived at the party, I plopped that bad boy on the blanket and 
waited. The dozen or so puny pops and whistles made me all the more eager to 
get
to my pièce de résistance. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the lightshow, but 
they didn’t know what real excitement awaited them.

Finally, my time came, my moment of triumph. Although I was too young to do 
the lighting (so said my parents), I marched with my firework contraption to
the middle of the road and placed it exactly in the center. This green 
wonder needed the perfect launching pad, after all.

I hurried away when the host of the party lit the fuse. To this day, I have 
no idea what happened exactly. I followed the instructions on the wrapper,
and yet the green wonder’s shower of sparks weren’t enough to get it off the 
ground. Instead, it limped across the road with a pathetic whimper and shot
toward the blanket full of fireworks.

Neighbors scattered. People screamed. God had mercy. At least, that’s the 
best way I can explain how a shower of sparks and flame didn’t set off any 
of
the other fireworks or burn anyone.

Intersecting
Faith
& Life: Too often, I’m just like I was back then on that Fourth of July: I 
want my service, my gift, my moment to be more awesome than anyone else’s.
I compare what I’m doing with what you’re doing or he’s doing or she’s doing 
to see how I stack up. That’s exactly the point where things go boom.

But freedom in Christ begins with a humbling. We’re meant to keep our eyes 
on Him, so much so that we aren’t able to compare ourselves with others. One
person may preach the gospel to an entire nation, and another may work with 
gospel-saturated hands in a tiny community. One may write books that sell 
millions
of copies, and another may have a blog that ten people read.

We don’t need green wonders to make a big splash. We need surrender to the 
One who made us. That’s what sets us free.

For Further Reading

Romans 9

1 Corinthians 3

Spiritual Fruit – Faithfulness

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, 
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and 
self-control. There is no law against these things!" (
Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)

We are closer to having the complete fruit of the Spirit when we grow 
faithfulness by the power of the Holy Spirit. Synonyms for faithfulness are 
endurance and perseverance. The Christian life is not one of ease. Just 
because we live on earth our lives are full of trials. But Paul tells us:

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that 
they help us develop endurance." (Romans 5:3, NLT)

Paul wrote in another of his letters that it should not surprise us when we 
face temptations. God shows us that He is faithful and thus we can be 
faithful:

"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. 
And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you 
can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can 
endure." (1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT)

We must grow the part of the fruit of the Spirit known as faithfulness or 
endurance or we will not live with Christ:

"if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also 
deny us;" (2 Timothy 2:12, NRSV)

Let the Holy Spirit grow the fruit of faithfulness in you so that you may 
hear Jesus say what He said in several parables:

"“ ‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been 
faithful with the little I entrusted to you…" (Luke 19:17, NLT)
by Dean W. Masters

Living by Faith in an Uncertain World
by Dr. Ray Pritchard

I received an email from someone who is struggling with some decisions that 
have not worked out the way they expected. The details don't matter except
to say that the person took what seemed to be a step of faith and the result 
has been a great big mess.

"What did I do wrong?"

That's a natural question to ask when life rewards your courage with nothing 
but trouble. The truth is, it's entirely possible that this person did 
nothing
wrong. Or maybe they did, but their current troubles are not proof that they 
were wrong in the first place.

That's a hard truth to accept, especially when you're the one in the middle 
of the mess, after you've done what you thought was the will of God. There
are a lot of things that might be said at this point, but perhaps this one 
needs to be mentioned first.

Join the club.

What club is that? The International Fellowship of Faith-Walkers Who Feel 
Like Failures. The bad new is, we're all a member of that club at one time 
or
another. The good news is the membership includes every major Bible hero. 
Peter is a charter member. And so is David. And Gideon. And Noah. And Sarah.
And Job. And Jacob.

The list goes on and on.
Hebrews 11
offers us a long list of men and women who obeyed God even when things 
didn't always work out they way they expected. The names written there are 
like
a biblical hall of fame: Abel . . . Enoch . . . Noah . . . Abraham . . . 
Sarah . . . Jacob . . . Joseph . . . Moses . . . Joshua . . . David. 
Different
people, different stories, widely separated in time and space. Stories that 
span thousands of years. Stories that encompass murder, natural catastrophe,
family treachery, physical weakness, failed dreams, missed opportunities, 
sibling rivalry, and military conquest. The men and women whose stories are 
told
in this particular chapter differ in every way but one. What they did, they 
did by faith.

All of them had moments when they must have wondered, "What did I do wrong?" 
Yet God considered each of them worthy of mention in this great chapter. Our
focus in this message is on the man we often call "Father Abraham." In the 
Bible he stands as the preeminent example of a man who lived by faith.
Hebrews 11:8-10
tells how he obeyed God's call at great personal sacrifice. It tells us what 
he did; more importantly, it tells us why he did it. And it clearly shows
us that obeying God doesn't always work out the way we think it will.

Let's begin with some brief facts about Abraham. When we meet him in the 
Bible, he is living 4,000 years ago in a far-off place called Ur of the 
Chaldees
- on the banks of the Euphrates River, not far from the mouth of the Persian 
Gulf. No doubt he and his wife Sarah worshiped the moon-god Sin. He is a 
prosperous,
middle-aged man, successful by any human standard. Life has been good to 
Abraham and Sarah. Certainly they have no reason to complain.

It is at precisely this moment that God speaks to him - clearly, definitely, 
unmistakably. What God says will change his life - and ultimately alter the
course of world history.

So what does it mean to live by faith in an uncertain world?

Truth #1: Living by faith means accepting God's call without knowing where 
it will lead.

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was 
to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was 
going" (Hebrews 11:8).
There is only one way to describe Ur of the Chaldees. It was a world-class 
city. Archaeologists tell us that in Abraham's day perhaps 250,000 people 
lived there. It was a center of mathematics, astronomy, commerce and philosophy. 
People from outlying areas moved to Ur because they wanted to be part of 
that great city.

No doubt many of Abraham's friends thought he was crazy. Why would anyone 
want to leave Ur? Obeying God's call meant giving up his friends, his 
career,
his traditions, his home, his position, his influence, and his country. More 
than that, it meant risking his health and his future on a vague promise 
from
an unseen God to lead him to "a land that I will show you" (
Genesis 12:1).

When Abraham left Ur, he burned his bridges behind him. For him there could 
be no turning back. Once he left the walls of Ur, he was on his own, 
following
God's call into the unknown.

You say, "He gave all that up?"
"Yes."
"That's kind of strange, isn't it?"
"Is it?"

Please don't miss the point. When God calls, there are no guarantees about 
tomorrow. Abraham truly didn't know where he was going, didn't know how he 
would
get there, didn't know how long it would take, and didn't even know for sure 
how he would know he was there when he got there. All he knew was that God
had called him. Period. Everything else was up in the air.

You want a long life? So do I.
You want to rise in your profession? So do I.
You want lots of friends? So do I.
You want to grow old and die with your family around you? So do I.

There's nothing wrong with those desires. All of us feel that way. But 
living by faith means no guarantees and no certainty about the future.

I was once approached by a Christian ministry asking if I would consider a 
particular position in their organization. I met the people, liked them very
much, and was very impressed by what they were doing. As I investigated 
further, I found that they take very good care of the people who work for 
them.
I liked everything I learned about the people and their ministry. But when 
the moment came, I decided to say no. This isn't how I put it to them, but 
it's how I said it to myself.

I couldn't hear the bells ringing.

You either understand that or you don't. If you don't, there isn't much I 
can say that will be helpful. And if you do, there isn't any explanation 
that
is needed. But I will add this much. All of us come to moments in life when 
we say yes or no to certain opportunities simply because it's the right 
thing
to do at the time. Sometimes we take a job because we need to pay bills and 
take care of our family. It's hard to get more basic than that. And young 
people take jobs in various places as they are building their careers. I just read 
an article that suggests that the average worker in the US may have as many
as 10 jobs by the time he is 40 and will make 3-5 career changes by the time 
he retires. People make moves and change jobs and relocate and start over
again for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes you are forced to make decisions 
for reasons beyond your control. In these tough economic times, people 
scramble to take whatever jobs they can find. But there are moments in life when you 
have a choice, a decision, and you can stay where you are or you can do 
something different. I don't know of any failsafe way to know in advance how things 
will work out.

Abraham heard the bells ringing (not literally - that's a symbol for a sense 
of God's calling), and so he left Ur of the Chaldees. If you truly want to
do God's will, sometimes you will find yourself exactly where Abraham was - 
setting out on a new journey that doesn't seem to make sense from the 
world's
point of view. How would he ever explain his decision to leave the comfort 
of Ur for the uncertainty of a long trek across the desert? The only 
certainty
he had was that God had called him and he must obey. The rest was shrouded 
in mystery. That fact makes his obedience all the more impressive. The
NIV
version of Hebrews 11:8 says he "obeyed and went." There was no greater 
miracle in his life than that. Everything else that happened flowed from 
this basic
decision. God called; he obeyed. That truth was the secret of his life. He 
stepped out in faith even though there were no guarantees about his own 
personal
future.

Let me put it another way. Living by faith means stepping out for God and 
leaving the results to him. It's no guarantee of long life and good success.
You may have those blessings. But you may not.

The life of faith means, "I am going to be the man or woman God wants me to 
be, no matter where it leads. I don't know the future, but I'm trusting him
to work out the details. In the meantime, I step out by faith and follow 
where he leads me."

That brings us to the second great truth about living by faith.

Truth #2: Living by faith means waiting on God to keep his promises.

"By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, 
living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise."
(Hebrews 11:9).
There is within all of us a natural desire to settle down. The older I get, 
the less I like to move. I value coming home to the same place and the same
faces every day. Several years ago we moved from Oak Park, Illinois to 
Tupelo, Mississippi. As we were packing, our home was filled with boxes 
waiting
to be loaded on the moving truck. It was unsettling to look at bare walls 
that only a few days before were covered with familiar pictures. Suddenly 
that
home looked less like a home and more like a building where we used to live 
in some distant past. Now run the clock forward 18 months. When we came back
to Oak Park for a visit, we drove past our old home on Wesley Avenue. I had 
a strange sensation, as if I remembered living there in the distant past. It
looked the same but it didn't feel like home to me at all.

There is a certain rootlessness about our life at this point that is 
instructive. Now that our boys are in their twenties, they are going in all 
directions
at once. Four years ago our oldest son left to teach English in China. He 
came back and another son went to China. That son came back and another son 
left
for China. Josh met Leah, they got married and went to China for a year. 
Mark met Vanessa when they served on the same team in China. After they came 
back
to the States, they got married. When Josh and Leah returned to the States 
two weeks ago, it was the first time in four years that we haven't had a son
in China. Two years ago our family was together for a total of three days. 
Last year I think we were all together for about five days. This year we 
will
all be together for three or four days. That's the way life is - and will be 
for the foreseeable future. It has hit me that home is a matter of the 
heart,
a moving target, not so much a place as being with the people you love the 
most. Wherever they are - in the U.S. or in China or anywhere else - is home
in the truest sense.

The rootlessness I spoke about can leave you with a vague sense of 
uneasiness, of trying to figure out where you belong. Multiply that feeling 
by a factor
of 100 and spread it out over fifty years and you approximate Abraham's 
situation as he came to the Promised Land. Our text tells us that he lived 
in tents.
I know lots of people who like to camp on vacation, but I don't know anyone 
who voluntarily lives in a tent as a permanent residence. Tents speak of 
impermanence,
of the possibility of moving on at any moment, of the fact that you live on 
land you do not personally own.

That's Abraham. He didn't own anything in the Promised Land. God had 
promised to give him the land; yet he lived like a stranger in a foreign 
country.
If you don't own the land, you can't build a permanent dwelling there.

In many ways this is even more remarkable than leaving Ur in the first 
place. As long as he was traveling across the desert, he could dream about 
the future.
But when he got to Canaan, all illusions disappeared. Think of what he 
didn't find:

• No "Welcome, Abraham" sign.
• No discount coupons from the merchants.
• No housewarming party.
• No visit from the Welcome Wagon.
• No mayor with the key to the city.
• No band playing "Happy Days Are Here Again."
• No ticker-tape parade.

Nobody expected him. Nobody cared that he had come. Nobody gave him 
anything.

God had promised him the land . . . but he had to scratch out an existence 
in tents. Hundreds of years would pass before the promise was completely 
fulfilled.
Abraham never saw it happen. Neither did Isaac or Jacob.

Was Abraham in the will of God? Yes. Was he right to leave Ur? Yes. Was he 
doing what God wanted him to do? Yes. Why, then, was he living in tents? 
Because
God's timetable is not the same as ours. He's not in a big hurry like we 
are. God works across the generations to accomplish his purposes; we're 
worried
about which dress or shirt to buy for the big party this weekend. There is a 
big difference in those two perspectives.

A third principle at work in Abraham's life is the ultimate key to the life 
of faith.

Truth #3: Living by faith means never taking your eyes off heaven.

"For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer 
and builder is God."
(Hebrews 11:10).
As I have mediated on this verse, it hit me that there is a certain amount 
of disappointment built into the life of faith. Sometimes we think, "If I 
follow
God's call, everything will work out and I'll be happy all the time." As Dr. 
Phil likes to say, let me know how that works out for you. By saying that
Abraham was "looking forward" to a city, it really means that he never found 
what he was looking for in this life. This world comes with a huge helping
of frustration built into the core of everything. Just recently I read about 
a certain baseball manager who led his team to a World Series championship.
It was a happy moment, the apex of his career, the proof that he had finally 
arrived, that he was a success and the best in the world at that moment. The
next morning as he went outside to pick up the paper, he thought to himself, 
"Is that all there is?" The answer is yes, that's all there is. It's the 
same
way with everything we do and everything we accomplish.

We live, we die, we buy a house, we sell a house, someone moves in where we 
once lived. We take a job, we leave a job, someone else takes the job we 
used
to have. And if we are fortunate enough to have a corner office with an 
incredible view, we should remember that someone else had it before us and 
someone
else will have it after us. If this moment is golden for you, enjoy it but 
don't grasp it too tightly because it won't last forever.

That's one part of the life of faith. We never reach full satisfaction in 
this life. "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a 
heaven
for?" said Robert Browning. And that brings us to the second part of verse 
10. Abraham looked for a city with foundations—that is, for a "city," not a
lonely spot in the desert. He wanted to live in a place filled with other 
people. He also looked for a city with "foundations," a place with security 
and
permanence that could not be found in a tent. That meant he was looking for 
a city designed and built by God. Why? Because all earthly cities eventually
crumble to dust.

Not long ago I visited the ruins of the ancient city of Jericho. When most 
people think of Jericho, they think of the city whose walls came tumbling 
down
in the days of Joshua. But that's only one Jericho. Archaeologists have 
discovered layers of Jericho, one after another, the city having been built, 
destroyed,
and rebuilt across the centuries. The same is true of Jerusalem. When you 
visit Old Jerusalem, you aren't exactly "walking where Jesus walked." You 
are
actually walking thirty to seventy-five feet above where Jesus walked. 
According to one source, Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt at least 
forty-seven
times in the last 3,500 years.

That's the way it is with all earthly cities. Nothing built by man lasts 
forever. No wonder Abraham was looking for a city built and designed by God.
Revelation 21
describes that city as "the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from 
God" (v. 2). In his vision John saw a city of breathtaking beauty, shining 
with
the glory of God, "its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear 
as crystal" (v. 11). Christians have always looked to the New Jerusalem as
the final abode for the people of God, the place where we will spend 
eternity together in the presence of the Lord. But note this. Heaven is a 
city. It's
a real place filled with real people. That's the city Abraham was looking 
for when he left Ur of the Chaldees.

Following God's will doesn't guarantee worldly success. He had his heart set 
on heaven, and that explains why he could:

• Leave the beautiful city of Ur.
• Walk away from his career.
• Leave his friends far behind.
• Live in tents until the end of his life.
• Start all over again in a new land.
• Die without seeing all that God had promised.

Abraham knew he was going to heaven, and that changed his whole perspective 
on life. He knew not just that he was going to die, but that after death he
was going to enter a city God had designed and made.

Let me add one final thought from this passage. If you had been a consultant 
watching Abraham's life, you would probably say that he committed career 
suicide
when he left Ur of the Chaldees. It didn't make sense at the time, and 
frankly, the rest of his life was never a "success" in worldly terms.
Hebrews 11:10
says that Abraham was motivated by a vision of something the people around 
him simply couldn't grasp. He was looking forward to something they couldn't
see at all. Following God will sometimes lead you to make decisions that 
those around you simply will not understand. When that happens, all you can 
do
is to explain things as best you can, and then set off to obey God's call, 
leaving the results in his hands.

"Died at Twenty-five, Buried at Seventy-five"

Let me ask a personal question: How long do you expect to live? To put it 
more pointedly, how many more years do you think you have left before 
someone
holds your funeral service? Ten years? Twenty years? Thirty years? Forty 
years? Fifty years? Sixty years? How much of that time are you sure of? The 
last
question is easy. You're not sure about any of it. The truth is, you could 
die tomorrow - or today - from any of a thousand causes. No one knows how 
long
he or she will live or precisely when they will die. There are no guarantees 
for any of us.

It's not how long you live that matters, but what you do with the years you 
are given. Too many people die at age twenty-five but aren't buried until 
they
are seventy-five. They waste their best years in trivial pursuits, all the 
while missing out on the excitement of living by faith.

Here is the whole message in one sentence. Following God's will doesn't 
guarantee worldly success. The operative word is worldly. God has one view 
of success;
the world has another. Joshua 1:8 reminds us that those who meditate on 
God's Word will be "prosperous and successful." Psalm 1 contrasts the fool 
who
looks to the wicked for advice with the godly who builds his life on the 
Word of God. The latter will be like "a tree planted by streams of waters" 
(v.
3a). God rewards such a man in this way: "In all that he does, he prospers" 
(v. 3b). But let's not confuse that with the false notion that doing God's
will leads to a trouble-free life. Abraham lived in tents all his life. He 
died without receiving all that God had promised to him. In many ways you 
could
say that by leaving Ur, he forfeited any chance at worldly greatness. Never 
again would he know the stability and settled prosperity that he had in Ur.
From the day he left until the day he died, Abraham was a sojourner, a 
tent-dweller, a man living on land he did not own.

If it's safety you want and a guarantee of earthly success, then you'll have 
to look somewhere else. But if you are willing to follow Jesus, I can 
promise
you that you'll never be disappointed in him and your life will not be 
boring.

If you ever decide to make God's will the great priority of your life, you 
will discover that it is indeed an incredible journey. Like Abraham of old,
your search for God's will will lead you out of your comfort zone into the 
exciting arena of living by faith. Along the way, you will discover that you
can indeed survive without absolute certainty about what tomorrow will 
bring. You may even learn to enjoy living on the edge between faith and 
absolute
disaster. In any case, knowing God's will will cease to be an academic 
exercise, like doing your homework before going to bed at night. Instead, it 
will
become the most exciting adventure you've ever known as you set out into the 
unknown to follow God wherever he leads you.

[Content provided by
Keep Believing Ministries.]

Ready or Not...

“Feeling ready” is highly overrated. God is looking for obedience. When God 
brought the people of Israel into the Promised Land, he had them step into
the Jordan first, then he parted the river. If they had waited for proof, 
they’d be standing on the banks still. Faith grows when God says to 
somebody,
“Go,” and that person says, yes.

Maybe the greatest open door in the Bible comes at the end of the Gospel of 
Matthew. Jesus sends his disciples out to change the world, but there are 
two
striking problems. One is that there are only eleven disciples. All through 
the gospel the number twelve reminds readers that the disciples have been 
chosen
to be a picture of the redeemed, restarted twelve tribes of Israel. Twelve 
is the number of wholeness, completeness, readiness. Now they don’t have 
enough
players.


But it’s not just that they have the wrong number. “When they saw him, they 
worshiped him; but some doubted” (Matthew 28:17). They had a quantity 
problem;
now they have a quality problem. They don’t have enough disciples, and the 
ones they do have don’t believe enough.

New Testament scholar Dale Bruner writes, “The number ‘eleven’ limps; it is 
not perfect like twelve. ... The church that Jesus sends into the world is
‘elevenish,’ imperfect, fallible."

This is the group Jesus chooses to change the world. He doesn’t say, “First, 
let’s get enough numbers” or “First, let’s get enough faith.” He just says,
“You go. We’ll work on the faith thing and the numbers thing while you’re 
doing the obedience thing. I’m sending you out. Ready or not ... ”

In the Bible, when God calls someone to do something, no one responds by 
saying, “I’m ready.” Too inarticulate, too weak, too old, too young, too 
sinful,
too dangerous, too rich, too poor, too much baggage—no one ever says, “Okay, 
Lord—I feel ready.” And God says to us what he has always said, what Jesus
said to his disciples: “Ready or not ... ”

The truth is you don’t know what you can do until you actually do it. 
“Ready” comes faster if you’re already moving. If you wait to move until 
you’re fully
ready, you’ll wait until you die. Jesus doesn’t say, “Go; you’re ready.” He 
says, “Go; I’ll go with you.”

Jesus takes his friends up a mountain. Not enough of them. Not enough faith. 
Doesn’t matter. What matters isn’t whether they’re ready. What matters is
that he’s ready. And you and I never know when he’s ready. He’s in charge of 
that.
Excerpted from Hosea
Excerpted from
All the Places to Go ... How Will You Know?
©2015 by John Ortberg, Tyndale House Publishers.
Used by permission.

How Should We Understand the Book of Revelation?

How-to-Understand-the-Bible-The-BookBNR copy

If we did not realize already that it takes a lifetime to understand the 
Bible (and that’s a good thing), the point is driven home when we get to the 
last
book in the Bible—Revelation. It starts out simply enough, it is a 
“revelation (in Greek, apocalypse) from Jesus Christ,” it is a “prophecy,” 
and it comes
as a letter to seven churches. Fair enough, but then come the angels, 
beasts, earthquakes, horses and riders, wars, thrones, and much more. What 
are we
to make of all this?

JohnPatmos

Here are two unhelpful approaches to Revelation. One is to think it is such 
an incomprehensible book of enigmas and riddles that we avoid it. The second
is to uncritically follow someone else’s arbitrary interpretation of all the 
details and hidden meanings of its passages. Revelation is not too hard to
comprehend, and we should benefit from it. But first we need to understand 
the big picture.

Revelation never describes itself as a symbolic code of future events 
plotted on a timeline. Like the books of prophecy in the Old Testament, 
Revelation
proclaims a message. In Revelation the message is that God is coming to 
judge and to redeem, and that the powers of evil and empires will clash 
before
God establishes the fullness of his kingdom. That central message gives 
people two things: warnings and comfort, just as the Old Testament books of 
prophecy
did.

If we keep our eyes on this central message and the intended effects, we 
will be less likely to get bogged down when we get into details in the book.

The book of Revelation is similar to other literature of the time that’s 
called “apocalyptic,” which typically includes visions, global clashes, 
end-of-the-world
warnings, and many, many symbols. It is, of course, the cryptic symbolism of 
Revelation that makes it challenging to understand. But when we connect many
of the symbols with elements that appear earlier in the Old Testament 
Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, the message emerges from the 
details.

A commentary that many have found very helpful is
The Message of Revelation: I Saw Heaven Opened, by Michael Wilcock
(part of The Bible Speaks Today series). Like the other commentaries in this 
series, the focus is on the message of the book. Here is how Wilcock 
outlines
the flow of Revelation:

1:1-8
The Prologue

1:9–3:22
Scene 1: The Church in the World

4:1–8:1
Scene 2: Suffering for the Church

8:2–11:18
Scene 3: Warning for the World

11:19–15:4
Scene 4: The Drama of History

15:5–16:21
Scene 5: Punishment for the World

17:1–19:10
Scene 6: Babylon the Whore

19:11–21:8
Scene 7: The Drama Behind History

21:9–22:19
Scene 8: Jerusalem the Bride

22:20–21
The Epilogue

The number seven appears many times in the book, 54 times altogether, and it 
is obvious that most of the book is organized around cycles of seven. Seven
proclamations to seven churches (
chapters 2–3),
and three sets of seven-part visionary narratives: the seven seals (4:1–8:1),
the seven trumpets (8:2–11:18),
and the seven bowls (15:5–16:21).

Nothing in the book of Revelation suggests that its sequence of symbols and 
visions are to be plotted along a chronological timeline, all related 
strictly
to the very end of human history. Christians in the first few generations 
saw the descriptions of persecution against God’s people as exactly what 
they
were experiencing, for instance, at the end of the first century during the 
reign of Roman Emperor Domitian. Christians today who experience the 
spiritual
battles of persecution, sometimes at the hands of national, totalitarian 
powers, read Revelation as a letter to them.

The three sets of seven (seals, trumpets, bowls) may best be read as three 
great cycles of bloody conflict and victory, each rising to a higher level 
of
intensity. Here Revelation is not just describing what will happen in the 
future, but what does happen in history and will continue happening until 
the
end.

The end of the story is an astonishing description of a new creation, 
including symbols of a new city, a new temple, and a new people. The message 
is this:
God will prevail. A day is coming when “There will be no more death or 
mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (
21:4).
The ultimate victory of God is a closeness and a communion with his people.

What can we do to understand the book of Revelation? Reading it straight 
through in one, two, or three settings is very helpful because you will see 
connections.
Read it in different translations. And sometime read it alongside one of the 
better commentaries. (Recommended:
Michael Wilcock, The Message of Revelation)
What-Do-You-Think

Spiritual Fruit – Gentleness

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, 
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and 
self-control. There is no law against these things!" (
Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)

We almost have the complete fruit of the Spirit when we grow gentleness by 
the power of the Holy Spirit. Gentleness is an expression of compassion. It 
is seen by God to the frail and weak and it is expected of those of us who 
follow our Heavenly Parent.

Jesus is known as being gentle. One of the times He was most gentle was in 
the following account:

"Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was 
back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught 
them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees 
brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in 
front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in 
the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” 
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against 
him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept 
demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the 
one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again 
and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one 
by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle 
of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the 
woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, 
Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” " (John 
8:1-11, NLT)

Jesus did not condemn the woman but was gentle with her. We don’t know what 
Jesus wrote in the dirt so He may not have been too gentle with the men who 
brought her to Him. But He did end the encounter with the woman by telling 
her not to sin any more. So He does not just let her go but expects her to 
leave her life of sin.

We need to follow the example of Jesus. We are not to condemn people but be 
gentle with them. Pick them up and let them know about Jesus but also let 
them know what Jesus expects. Also, when we are witnessing to others we need 
to be gentle and let them take their time to find Jesus just as Jesus didn’t 
force people to make their decisions right then.

by Dean W. Masters

That Hideous Beauty of Calvary
Marshall Segal / April 22, 2015
That Hideous Beauty of Calvary

We have a crisis if the cross loses its offense in our eyes. If we’re not 
offended by the cross, we’re in grave danger of losing the comfort and hope 
of
the cross.

Paul writes, “If I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still 
being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed” 
(Galatians
5:11). Meaning, if I preach a righteousness through good works, then the 
cross is no longer necessary. The message of the cross — that we are sinful 
beyond
saving unless God intervenes on our behalf — is softened or silenced by 
false gospels. The true gospel is the most offensive news ever announced: 
you are
wicked and without hope in and of yourself. Your best efforts to be good are 
worthless — the worst kind of failure and rebellion.

So the offensiveness can be removed, but when it’s stripped away, the 
goodness always leaves with it.

A Beautiful Execution

It’s a stunning thing, isn’t it, that we grow as comfortable as we do with 
the cross? It was an execution — like being hung by your neck from a tree or
electrocuted in a chair or injected with lethal chemicals.

And yet we wear the cross as a pretty necklace around our neck, or put it in 
bright colors on our bumpers, or doodle it on our worship folders — 
different
sizes, different colors, maybe decorating it with our favorite verse in 
cursive. Functionally — on our necklaces, t-shirts, and coffee mugs — the 
shape
of the cross is really more like a beautiful flower or a shooting star or a 
soft bunny rabbit, than it is like a punishing weapon of torture and death.
That’s what a cross is, remember.

It’s not wrong to love the cross. In fact, we must. We just need to be 
reminded regularly of the horror and gravity of what happened at Calvary — 
the betrayal
and murder of the Son of God for us. If the death of God himself — the 
crucified Son of God — does not continue to be horrific and offensive in our 
imaginations,
then our faith, our hope, and our theology have lost their clarity and 
balance.

Our souls need to be undone by the cross in order to feel safe at the cross.

The Cross and ISIS

Think for a minute, what if Jesus had died another way? How comfortable 
would we be with that imagery? What if instead of being crucified, Jesus had 
been
beheaded by a group like ISIS? It could have happened. John the Baptist was 
executed like that. What if Jesus had been beheaded? What would we wear 
then?
What would we doodle?

ISIS’s rampage across the Middle East is gruesome, horrendous, outrageous, 
sickening — brothers and sisters in Christ violently, seemingly 
meaninglessly
slaughtered because of their faith.
Thirty more killed just this week.
It is awful, disgusting evil. It’s excruciatingly hard to look at the 
pictures or videos online.

So why do we treat a cross differently today than we might a severed head? 
Why is the cross — this picture — so comfortable for us?

A Jarring and Joy-Filled Marriage

In part, it’s because we know the whole story — and it’s a good story. We 
know what happens three days later — the glorious emptiness of a 
well-guarded
tomb.

Another part, though, is that we forget. In the peace of Easter morning, we 
forget the war on Good Friday — the infinite price that was paid, the worst
sin ever committed, the execution of the Christ. The Son of God was nailed 
to wood like a wall decoration, and left to bleed and suffocate to death.

Jesus doesn’t downplay the horrors of his death — “they will mock me and 
spit on me, and flog me and kill me” (Mark 10:34) — but he also invites us 
to
come find safety, rest, and life at that cross.

He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; 
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we 
are
healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

For us, the horror of Calvary — and it is horrible — is forever married to 
the hope of Calvary. Jesus endured the cross — betrayed, mocked, spit on, 
flogged,
pierced, murdered — to say that you are broken. But with broken body and 
spilled blood, he also says that God loves you, and that he’s made a 
cross-shaped
way for you to be made free, made whole, made pure.

The Cry of the Crossbeams

This good news — the light of the world — only comes through the horrific 
darkness of the cross. This kind of sacrifice is the only solution to the 
brokenness
in us and the brokenness around us. Light through darkness. Joy through 
sorrow. Love through sacrifice. Life through death. This is the message 
buried
in those two hideous crossbeams.

Only the cross can pay the debt we owe — our Savior’s body nailed to a tree 
in our place. Our sin against God cost God that much. The cross declares 
that
no evil in this world can compare with our evil. Our offenses against God 
are the most offensive ever committed. The horror of Calvary communicates 
the
depth and severity of our depravity.

And the beauty of God’s love at the cross surpasses any other beauty we’ve 
ever seen — better, more beautiful than the first days of summer in 
Minnesota
or the quiet lakes hidden in and around the Rocky Mountains or the blue 
waves crashing on a Southern California beach. The cross is the most 
offensive
and most beautiful event and news we’ve ever known.

But we have to be offended by the cross for it to ever be truly beautiful.
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Spiritual Fruit – Goodness

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, 
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and 
self-control. There is no law against these things!" (
Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)

The next part of the fruit which grows through the Holy Spirit is goodness. 
Easton’s Bible Dictionary says that goodness in man is not a mere passive 
quality, but the deliberate preference of right to wrong, the firm and 
persistent resistance of all moral evil, and the choosing and following of 
all moral good.

In the Gospels a rich young ruler came to Jesus and ask the good Teacher 
what he must do to be saved.

"So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, 
that is, God." (
Mark 10:18, NKJV)

Jesus was just testing the man as He did a lot in the Gospels. But here we 
find that God is the greatest good. But if we belong to Him then we have the 
Holy Spirit inside of us to grow that goodness in us.

But it is possible to grow our own fruit of goodness but this is not true 
spiritual fruit.

Goodness Not Godliness
Being good is not necessarily being godly. To be godly, though, is good.
A sociology textbook in my library provides an example of goodness that is 
unrelated to godliness. The author describes the high level of cultural 
morality that is found among the Cheyenne, a group of native Americans who 
once lived in central Minnesota and northern South Dakota. These people 
exhibited moderation, dignity, and generosity, and manifested an almost 
unbelievable degree of self-control. Parents loved their children and gave 
them a lot of affection without spoiling them. They also taught them ethical 
values at an early age, so that many of them became dedicated, 
self-sacrificing, and well-behaved human beings. Yet these Indians were not 
Christians.
—Our Daily Bread

by Dean W. Masters

13 Ways to Pursue More of Jesus
Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of 
Anne Graham Lotz's book,
Pursuing More of Jesus,
(Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009).

Every day presents a fresh opportunity to pursue a closer relationship with 
Jesus – and the more you have of Jesus in your life, the better your life 
will
be. So don’t settle for just occasional encounters with Jesus in some parts 
of your life. Keep pursuing more of Jesus until your whole life is saturated
with His power.

Here's how you can pursue more of Jesus:

Go for the maximum, not the minimum. Choose to go after more than just the 
bare minimum God has to offer you. Make your
faith
about more than just trying to escape hell and get your ticket punched to 
heaven. Invite God to completely transform you: bending your will, awakening
your conscience, breaking your heart, transforming your mind, overcoming 
your prejudices, soaring in your spirit, and conforming you into His 
glorious
image.

Pursue more of His voice in your ear. Out of the many voices you hear 
speaking to you each day – through other people, circumstances, etc. – you 
need to
learn how to discern what’s truly God speaking and what’s not. Keep in a 
mind that any authentic message from God is biblical (straight from God’s 
Word),
personal (in the language of your own life), and powerful (resulting in 
lives either changed for the better or saved). If someone claims to have a 
message
from God for you, test it by making sure that it’s in accord with and 
confirmed by the Bible. Remember Jesus’ promise that He would go ahead of 
you to
guide you in every situation. Learn how to recognize Jesus’ voice by getting 
to know the Bible well (reading it, studying it, understanding it, applying
it, and living by it) and then trust His guidance when making decisions.

Pursue more of His tears on your face. Jesus understands and cares when you’re 
crying tears of pain. Remember how much He suffered on the Cross, and see
your own sufferings as opportunities to draw closer to Jesus. No matter what 
you’re going through – the loss of a job, a friend’s betrayal, a health 
crisis,
a spouse’s unfaithfulness, a child’s rebellion – Jesus is crying along with 
you and will meet you in the middle of your suffering with His presence.

Pursue more of His praise on your lips. It’s easy to praise Jesus when your 
life is going well, but Jesus is still worthy of praise even when problems
and pressures darken your circumstances. Make the deliberate, conscious 
choice to praise Jesus every day, no matter what, to honor Jesus and learn 
how
to walk by reliable faith instead of shifting feelings. Praise Jesus for who 
He is by frequently thinking of one His many wonderful attributes and 
thanking
Him for it. Praise Jesus for what He has done by thanking Him for specific 
blessings in your life on a regular basis. Real praise is affirming your 
faith
even in the midst of desperation when you choose to cling to Jesus alone.

Pursue more of His death in your life. Death produces power that leads to 
more blessings in life. Just as Jesus died on the Cross so you could be 
spiritually
alive, He wants you to die to your own desires and yield to His desires for 
you so you can experience the best life possible. God uses pressures, 
problems,
and pain in your life as nails to pin you to cross of your own. If you 
submit to Him while you go through them, you experience what it’s like to 
die to
yourself so God’s power can live through you. Every kind of brokenness you 
experience can lead to a corresponding blessing if you’re willing to die to
your own: will, goals, dreams, desires, expectations, plans, rights, and 
reputation. If you choose to die to yourself, God will pour out blessings 
like
a character that reflects His own, a witness that leads to other people’s 
lives being transformed, and rewards from God himself.

Pursue more of His dirt on your hands. Just as Jesus was willing to get His 
hands dirty serving others willingly, humbly, obediently, and gladly, He 
expects
you to do the same. Choose to serve other people whenever God calls you to – 
even when it’s not convenient or when you’re struggling with serious 
problems
of your own. Shift your focus from yourself to Jesus and the people He wants 
you to serve. In the process, your own problems will become more manageable.
Never view yourself as being above any particular type of service – changing 
diapers, mowing grass, making coffee, visiting prisoners, etc.. When you do
any task that God calls you to do, your work – no matter how humble – will 
become important because you’re answering God’s call.
Pursue more of His hope in your grief. Jesus has given you the hope of 
heaven in your grief. Let the promise of heaven sharpen your focus to help 
you see
that any difficult situation you’re going through now is temporary compared 
to a joyful eternity with Jesus. Look forward to the reality of seeing Jesus
face to face and enjoying the company of loved ones who have gone before 
you, when it’s your time to go to heaven.

Pursue more of His fruit in your service. If your service for God lacks the 
fruit of changed lives, you don’t have to try harder, pray more, or claim 
greater
territory in service. Instead, you should examine your personal relationship 
with Jesus to see how closely you’re connected to Him. It’s the quality of
your connection to Jesus that will determine whether or not you’ll have the 
power to bear good fruit for His kingdom. The fruit you bear isn’t produced
through your own efforts; it’s produced by the Holy Spirit through you as 
you consistently rely on God. Jesus is the Vine and you are the branches. 
God
may sometimes choose to prune you to bear good fruit by cutting out of your 
life everything you depend on – except your relationship with Jesus. When 
you’re
forced to pay attention to your relationship with Jesus because that’s all 
you have, your connection to the Vine gets bigger, empowering you to produce
more fruit. Trust God when He prunes the branches of your life; He knows 
what’s best to help you grow. Pray for greater fruitfulness in your service, 
asking
God t conform you more closely to the image of Jesus, use you to make others 
want to know Him better, give you opportunities to share His Gospel and give
you the fruit of changed lives as a result, draw others to Himself through a 
Bible study you lead, or give you one person to share His love with today.

Pursue more of His love in your home. As you give Jesus more of your heart, 
He will fill it with more of His love, and that will overflow into the lives
of the people with whom you interact each day. When you let God’s love flow 
through you, it will empower you to love even those people who are difficult
for you to love – those whose personalities or behavior makes them seem 
completely incompatible with you. Rather than just avoiding or tolerating 
difficult
people, choosing to show God’s love to them will bless you in the process 
because God will use them to grind off the weak edges of your character to 
make
you stronger. Ask Jesus to help you love people sacrificially, as He does. 
Instead of choosing to love only people who meet your needs, whom you get 
along
with, who make you feel good, who do things for you, who give you things you 
want, whom respond with love, and whom you like, choose to demonstrate love
to everyone, regardless of whether or not you like them and how they respond 
to you. When you love someone sacrificially, your act of love then becomes
an act of worshiping Jesus.

Pursue more of His courage in your convictions. Be willing to stand out and 
speak up for Jesus in all areas of your life, and with whoever you meet. 
Take
a strong public stand for the uniqueness of who Jesus is; for the truth of 
the entire Bible; and for the necessity of living a life of integrity, 
purity,
and humility in order to please God. Rather than living a lifestyle that 
simply blends in with that of non-believers, show people the difference that 
your
relationship with Jesus makes in your attitudes and actions. Pray for the 
courage you need to stand by biblical convictions when others pressure you 
to
be complacent or politically correct. Ask the Holy Spirit to use all of your 
conversations with others to glorify God in whatever ways He guides you to
do so. No matter how much pressure you encounter to compromise your 
convictions, decide that you will never give up, shut up, or let up, because 
of your
love for Jesus.

Pursue more of His nearness in your loneliness. When you feel lonely, 
remember that Jesus is always with you. Pray for more awareness of His 
presence close
to you, and take comfort in it. Although other people may sometimes 
disappoint you or abandon you, Jesus will always be there for you. Remember 
that Jesus
is much more than just a man, prophet, teacher, revolutionary, icon, or 
symbol. Jesus is God Himself – and He loves you!

Pursue more of His answers to your prayers. It’s an incredible privilege to 
be able to go directly to God at any time and in any place with your 
prayers.
Jesus has promised that when you ask Him for anything according to His will 
and believing in His power to act, He will answer. Whenever your prayers 
seem
to go unanswered or turn out the opposite of what you asked God to do (such 
as when you pray for your career and get laid off or when you pray for a 
loved
one’s healing and he or she dies), trust God anyway. Remember that His ways 
are not your ways, and He will act according to what’s best from His 
unlimited
perspective on every situation.

Pursue more of His glory on your knees. Embrace God’s purpose for your life 
single-mindedly and wholeheartedly. Stay focused on what God wants for your
life, and do all you can to fulfill that purpose well. Let your 
determination to do the work God has for you to do lead you to make wise 
choices like:
less sleep and more
prayer,
less TV and more study, less shopping and more tithing, less eating and more 
exercise, less talking and more listening, or less work and more worship.
Serve God faithfully to glorify Him every day.

Adapted from
Pursuing More of Jesus,
copyright 2009 by Anne Graham Lotz. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, 
Nashville, Tn.,
www.thomasnelson.com.

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham, is the President and 
CEO of AnGeL Ministries, a non-profit organization that undergirds her 
efforts
to draw people into a life-changing relationship with God through His Word. 
She is the award-winning author of 10 books, including Just Give Me Jesus 
and
I Saw the LORD. Anne has spoken on seven continents, in more than 20 foreign 
countries, proclaiming the word of God in arenas, churches, seminaries, and
even prisons.

Original publication date: June 3, 2009
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Global Prayer Digest People of the Day
Mirpuri People in Manchester
Apr 24, 2015 01:00 am

Today's Devotional

Acts 4:12, NIV ""Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other 
name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.""

One of the many issues addressed in this brief verse is that of identity. 
The apostles described in the Book of Acts were very determined to identify 
themselves
with Christ, and some like Stephen even died for that Name. In today’s 
reading we are praying for a people group plagued by a lack of identity. As 
important
as it is to be part of a larger ethnic or language group, we must remember 
that it is most important that our identity be in Christ. Those who identify
with Him will flourish spiritually.

Pray that the Mirpuri people in both England and Pakistan will identify with 
the Name above all names.

Today's People Group

(This story is intended to explain the attitudes and beliefs of the people 
group.)

“I don’t know if I have an identity. I am not just Asian and not just 
British.” These were the words of Shazia, a Mirpuri girl in England. She 
calls herself
a “coconut,” brown on the outside, white on the inside. Though she went to 
an Islamic madrasah and studied the Qur’an, it had little impact on her. She
goes to pubs with both British and Pakistani peers. Her parents are worried 
about her.

The Mirpuris in England from the older generations have been there for a 
long time. Those from the younger generation have either been born in the UK 
or
they are sent there to marry another Mirpuri who lives there.

The Mirpuris are an ethnic group from Pakistan’s section of Kashmir. Most of 
Kashmir is part of India, but the western edge is part of Pakistan, 
including
the Mirpur District. There is always the danger of armed conflicts between 
India and Pakistan in this region, so Mirpuris are glad to move out of the 
area.

Some Mirpuris are faithful to Islam, the religion of their ancestors while 
others, like Shazia, follow Islam only because they are forced to by their 
communities.
The latter group is sometimes open to finding spiritual answers in other 
places since they see no value in the rituals of Islam.

Pray that the Mirpuris in Manchester will find answers to their spiritual 
questions by following Jesus Christ.

Learn more at Joshua Project.
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What is Unique About the Books of James and Hebrews?

We continue to find astonishing variety in the Scriptures when we look at 
two New Testament books: James, a book of Christian wisdom, and Hebrews, 
which
explains the complicated connections between the old covenant and the new. 
Both of these books are not addressed to a particular Christian group. They
are sometimes called “general epistles.”

Hebrews

The epistle of James, which was probably written by the James who was the 
leader of the church in Jerusalem (
Acts 15),
focuses on the practicalities of personal and community life. There is 
nothing in James about the nature of God, the plan of redemption, or the 
atonement;
and Jesus is mentioned only twice. James is almost like the book of Proverbs 
for the New Testament. Wisdom is not an elite and specialized knowledge, it
is everyday practical lifestyle rooted in values that come “from heaven.”

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good 
life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you 
harbor bitter
envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the 
truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, 
unspiritual,
demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find 
disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is 
first
of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and 
good fruit, impartial and sincere. (
James 3:13-17)

This is straightforward and challenging. It is a call to action. If today’s 
leaders would take James’ description of wisdom as their paradigm of 
leadership,
our communities would look entirely different. James is also known for the 
challenge to put faith into action (
James 2:14-24).
“What good is it… if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (2:14). 
James confronts favoritism, greed, and destructive talk. James gives some
perspective for those going through trials or who are teetering on the edge 
of temptation. James challenges us to be patient, respectful, and 
peace-loving.

The greatest challenge in reading the epistle of James is not so much 
understanding what it means, but living what it prescribes.

The book of Hebrews is long for an epistle. It is steeped in details about 
the Old Testament sacrificial system and explanations of how the plan of 
redemption
has been fulfilled in Jesus. It is a mystery who authored this book. “To the 
Hebrews,” means it was written for Jewish Christians who especially needed
a theological explanation of how faith in Christ fulfilled the Old Testament 
law.

The first 10 chapters describe how Christ and faith in Christ has superseded 
the old covenant, has surpassed the accomplishments of Moses and Joshua, and
has replaced the priesthood and the sacrificial system.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, 
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do
not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but 
we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not
sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we 
may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (
Heb. 4:14-16)

The book of Hebrews provides a key to unlocking challenging questions about 
the story of God in which he works for centuries in and through a special 
covenant
people, starting with Abraham, but then does something entirely new in 
Jesus. It is not that the terms of a relationship with God have changed, 
which always
was and always will be faith based on grace. But the scope of God’s grace 
now expands to the whole world with the atonement in Jesus.

The book of Hebrews also warns believers about falling away from the faith, 
and challenges them to persevere in difficult circumstances, remaining 
faithful
to the new covenant. Hebrews 11 is a stunning description of how faith and 
hope across the ages have been the distinguishing characteristics of God’s 
people,
beginning with Abraham. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and 
assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended 
for”
(
Heb. 11:1-2).
The followers of Jesus have, in his sacrifice, the power to overcome sin and 
to persevere:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let 
us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. 
And
let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on 
Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he 
endured
the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne 
of God. (
Heb. 12:1-2)

To understand Hebrews, we have to look backwards into the Old Testament, 
seeing how spiritual realities are anticipated and then fulfilled. When we 
do
that, we will be stunned by the wide scope of biblical truth in the great 
narrative that stretches from a covenant with Bedouin shepherds from 
Mesopotamia
to the entire world. And Hebrews lets us know that taking the long view—of 
persevering and plodding, of believing and behaving rightly—always has been
the way of God with men and women.
About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook 
Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for 
thirty
years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help 
Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, 
the
most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to 
Engagement.

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"Pigs were more important. Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but 
they begged him to go away and leave them alone." (Matthew 8:34b)

By Answers2Prayer

When Pigs are More Important

Sometimes it's the little things that make us uncomfortable with God's 
presence.

A few times in my life, I've owned a handful of pigs. Hog are unusual 
animals. They can be funny, mean, and dangerous all in a matter of moments. 
I have
an uncle who made a sizable income by raising hogs. For me, it was simply a 
hobby. I enjoyed their antics and the exercise I received trying to repair
what they destroyed. But there was no guaranteed profit from raising them. 
Prices fluctuated wildly. Pigs were fun but not more important than my 
regular
employment.

Jesus encountered a group of people to whom pigs were more important. 
"Entering the country of the Gadarenes, he met two demon possessed men. As 
he healed
the men, the demons pleaded to be sent into nearby swine. Jesus obliged, and 
the pigs ran wildly over a steep bank and drowned in the sea. Instead of 
rejoicing
over the healing, the townspeople invited him to leave. Pigs were more 
important. Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him 
to go
away and leave them alone." (Matthew 8:34 NLT)

When pigs are more important, it reveals my priorities need attention and 
more than likely rearranging. Priorities in the right order don't just 
happen.
Time and energy are involved. What pigs are more important to me is revealed 
by the light of Jesus as it did with the townspeople. Light doesn't like 
darkness.
Theirs was a demon infested land. Losing their livelihood was more important 
than changing their lifestyle.

Change is never comfortable. God's chart for me often interferes and clashes 
with my sketch for me. However, his is always superior. I can ask him to 
leave
my area just as the townspeople did, but I'll never know the peace of 
freedom if I do.

Have you asked Jesus to leave an area of your life because you like the pigs 
better?

Prayer: Father, we ask You to cleanse us from all things that hinder us from 
realizing Your perfect plan.

Martin Wiles
Hodges, South Carolina, USA

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©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

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Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 
By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any
longer?" (Rom 6:1-2)

By Answers2Prayer
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The Real Stuff. Radical Grace from the Book of Romans (Rom 6:1-2)

Diamonds don't just happen. They are formed a hundred miles under terra 
firma and are brought up to the earth's surface through volcanic eruptions. 
What
makes them unique is that they are composed 99.9% of carbon. The pressure 
they are going through beneath the earth's surface, as well as the extreme 
heat,
forces the carbon atoms to bond, turning them into beautiful diamonds. No 
wonder they are so expensive!

There are many fake diamonds out there as well, ones that pretend to be the 
genuine thing but really are not. How can we distinguish between the real 
stuff
and the fake ones, especially since they look identical to the naked eye?

There are some steps that can be taken to determine if a diamond is a fake 
or the real thing. First of all, diamonds are one of the hardest natural 
substances.
The only thing that can scratch a real diamond is another diamond. This is 
why diamonds are called diamonds, as the original Greek word for it is 
"adamas",
which means invincible or indestructible. A fake one, on the other hand, can 
be scratched by something as innocuous as sandpaper. Fake ones cannot 
withstand
the pressure of another object!

Another test to distinguish the genuine ones from the fake ones is the fog 
test. You can breathe on a diamond, as if trying to fog a mirror. If the 
"diamond"
remains fogged for two to four seconds, it is a fake. The real one dispenses 
the heat evenly.

Some like to use the transparency test, where we flip the diamond upside 
down on a piece of newspaper. If we can read the newspaper through the 
"diamond",
it is a fake!

If we have a sharp magnifying glass we can also look for the sharp facets of 
the diamond. If they are rolled instead of sharp, the diamond is a fake!

Naturally there are a few other tests that can be made to distinguish the 
real stuff from the fake ones, but these are more for the experts. However 
there
are lab-created diamonds that contains the same identical structure and 
physical properties of real diamonds. A professional would not even be able 
to
tell the difference without extensive testing using specialized equipment.

The biggest diamond scientists have discovered so far, cannot be found on 
our planet. It's a star named Lucy after the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky 
with
Diamonds". It is essentially a diamond of ten billion trillion trillion 
carats! Wow! No way could anyone wear that!

Christians, who are worth far more than diamonds in God's eyes, also have 
counterfeits. Not everyone who proclaims to be a Christian truly is one. 
These
are the ones who give Christians a bad name. However, we cannot compare 
diamonds with fakes. They are completely different. Those who pretend that 
sin
is OK are fakes, as no one loving our Lord and Master, Jesus the Christ, 
would refute His sacrifice that cost His life so that we could be truly 
free!
"Why, they've re-crucified Jesus! They've repudiated him in public!" (Heb 
6:6b, MSG)

The same is true with "Christians" that proclaim that Jesus' sacrifice was 
not enough and that human efforts is a must to obtain heaven! "For it is by
grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it 
is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 
2:8-9,
NIV)

Either we have been transformed gradually into God's image or we are 
reflecting our true nature: followers of the evil one. There are no other 
choices.
After all, didn't Jesus say: "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do 
people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?Likewise every 
good
tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit." (Matthew 7:16-17, 
NIV)

What kind of fruit are we bearing?

Rob Chaffart

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©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."

Your Advantages
Thursday, April 23, 2015

“‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ . . . ‘Do not fear, for those who are 
with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed and said,
‘O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the LORD opened the 
servant’s eyes . . . the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire 
all
around Elisha.†- 2 Kings 6:15-17 NASB
Superior numbers! This factor, according to careful studies of military 
historian, T.N. Dupuy, was a key reason why Napoleon Bonaparte was 
successful as
a commander. If all other conditions were equal, Napoleon knew that a battle’s 
outcome usually was based on “superior numbers on the battlefield.†
Dedicated
to this principle, Napoleon always attempted to have more resources at hand 
than his adversaries. And the results spoke for themselves, in victory after
victory.

Elisha’s servant, too, understood the importance of superior numbers. But, 
after counting the resources they faced, he felt that defeat was certain. 
Their
adversaries, the Arameans, had more soldiers, and even chariots.

But Elisha was not worried. He knew that the hosts of Heaven were on their 
side, and that God’s army was infinitely superior to the Arameans, or any 
other
force on earth.

Many Christians are so focused on the things of this world that they think 
that defeat is inevitable. Based on the resources they see, they assume they
cannot win or even compete. Instead of trusting God, they feel hopeless.

In these situations, we need to remember what Elisha taught his servant. To 
realize that God has a Heavenly army on our side. As long as we serve Him,
we always are in the majority.

Right now, do you feel outnumbered? Overwhelmed? Defeated? Stop trusting in 
human factors or resources, and place your trust in God. His army is 
surrounding
you. Rejoice in the Lord, and commit your needs to Him. Then declare 
victory!

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Father, open my eyes that I might see the spiritual army all around me. I 
declare victory over my enemies. I believe in You for the resources I need. 
I
trust in You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: 2 Kings 6


Watch & Learn

I walked into First Baptist College Station that night during my senior year 
of college with low expectations. I'd grown up in church and had been really
involved in my church youth group once upon a time. I knew all the "right" 
Christian answers, but I'd fallen so far away from all that that I felt like
I was too far gone. God couldn't possibly want me now.

We sat toward the back of the sanctuary, and I remember two things as 
vividly as if they happened yesterday. The first was that the minute the 
worship
leader began to sing, I began to cry. Like ugly cry. The second thing was 
that a young guy named Gregg Matte walked onstage and began to talk about 
how
we are called to be children of God and to shine like stars in the universe. 
(That happens to be in Philippians 2, by the way.) But more than that, he
talked about grace and mercy and how God loves more than we could ever 
imagine. I don't know that it was the first time I'd really heard about 
God's grace
and love, but it was without a doubt the first time I really grabbed hold of 
it and decided not to let go. It was the beginning of something real for me.

Pull quote

Over the next few months I became friends with a bunch of people who were 
actively involved with the church's college group. They were unlike any 
group
of people I'd ever known. They talked openly about their faith and made 
decisions based on what they felt God was calling them to do. I loved 
spending
time with them because, without even realizing it, they were challenging me 
to be the person God intended me to be and to quit settling for less. They
showed me that being a Christian didn't mean I had to spend all my time in 
prayer meetings and playing miniature golf like I'd done in high school 
youth
group, which was very important to me, because you want to die of boredom? 
Go play a round of miniature golf.

By watching these people live their lives, I learned what it means to seek 
God's will for your life. I'd heard people talk about it, but I'd never seen
it in action. Especially not with people my age.

Pull quote

It was also during this time that I picked up Max Lucado's book No Wonder 
They Call Him the Savior and began to read it. His account of the Prodigal 
Son
rocked everything I'd convinced myself to be true about how God felt about 
me. I had never before understood how much God loved me, how much he wanted
me, and how his grace completely covered every mistake I had made. There's a 
line in that book that sticks with me even to this day about how God looks
at us and says, "Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it 
doesn't matter. Please come home."

So I came home.

And God, in return, lavished me with a scandalous amount of grace as he not 
only filled my life with wonderful new friends who encouraged me and loved
me but also brought my best friend, Gulley, right along with me as she began 
to develop a real relationship with God too. We fumbled our way through this
journey together as we encouraged each other, prayed for each other, and 
found ourselves standing on solid ground for the first time in a long a 
time.
Maybe the first time ever.

Excerpted from Nobobys Cuter Than You
Excerpted from
Nobody's Cuter Than You: A Memoir About the Beauty of Friendship
©2015 by Melanie Shankle, Tyndale House Publishers.
Used by permission.
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