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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 18 Sep 2015, 7:28 pm

What's Your Nineveh?
by Laura MacCorkle

Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God's mercies. But I 
will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my
vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.
Jonah 2:8-9,
NLT

Have you ever run away from something that God wanted you to do? If so, then 
you’ve got a lot in common with Jonah. You know the story...

Guy in a tunic hears from God.

Guy doesn’t like what God wants him to do.

Guy runs in the other direction. Literally.

Guy gets on a boat.

Guy get tossed overboard during a storm.

Guy gets swallowed by a big fish.

Guy repents.

Guy goes and does what God tells him (a second time) to do.

Guy gets angry when God is compassionate to others (who guy doesn’t think 
are deserving).

Guy gets rebuked, and God has the last word.

Jonah was running from Nineveh—a city with an idolatrous people so wicked 
that they would cut off the feet and hands of their captives just to 
intimidate
others. Yikes!

So it’s probably safe to say that all of us might have felt like Jonah did 
when thinking about ministering to the Ninehvites: scared for himself and 
disbelieving
that these people could ever be saved. Why even try, right?

But God wanted Jonah to preach and to reach out to others, because God has 
reached out to all of us. We are all undeserving of his love and his 
unmerited
favor, but mercifully God forgives. Jonah didn’t want to see this, and so he 
ran.

Perhaps you are running as well. You’re trying to get as far away from your 
Nineveh—the thing that truly scares you, the thing that you know God is 
leading
you toward, the thing you don’t really want to do.

I have run away from so many things in my life. But one of these days, maybe 
I will have grown enough in my
faith
that I will immediately say “Yes, Lord” when he gives me instruction.

Until that point in my maturity, there’s a current Nineveh that has been 
occupying a lot of my thoughts lately. It’s my fall group Bible study. Now, 
that’s
not so scary in and of itself. But you know what is? What we’ll be studying 
come September: the book of Revelation.

I confess that I’ve thought about dropping out a few times already, as I’ve 
had too much time to anticipate and be afraid. To me, this is the most 
intimidating
book of Scripture. I have a fear that I’ll never understand the symbolism, 
that I’ll look dumb trying to answer the questions in front of my group and
that I’ll spend the entire eight months of study in a fog of frustration.

But I think I’m missing the most important point. What seems impossible to 
me is exactly what God wants me to do. So that I will learn. And grow. And 
draw
closer to him as I work on understanding his Word.

Jonah is one of the shortest books of the Bible, so I invite you to read 
through it today when you have a half hour to spare. See if you don’t see 
yourself
in Jonah’s thoughts and fears, in his actions and in his initial response to 
God’s call in his life.

And then ask yourself, “What is my Nineveh?” and pray. Ask the Lord to help 
you work through your fear, your anger, your rebellion.

Instead of running this time, and from our own Ninevehs, may God help us all 
to run toward what he has purposed for our good.

Intersecting Faith & Life: Stop running in the wrong direction! Repent and 
start moving obediently toward whatever God is calling you to do today. 
Despite
our proclivity toward unfaithfulness, he is always faithful.

Further Reading:

2 Samuel 22:1-4,
NIV
2 Corinthians 10:5,
NIV
Philippians 1:6,
NIV

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Monday, July 20, 2015

Today's Devotional

God's Perfect Timing

Philippians 4:19 – And my God shall supply all your need according to His 
riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (NKJV)

Some time back, Jackie and I decided to start checking out various auto 
dealers for a used SUV-type vehicle for Jackie's home-care work. Some of the 
roads
she navigates are remote and pretty rough, so we needed something higher off 
the ground than a car.

After praying about this, we checked out our local places, then took a trip 
to Kamloops. We spent pretty much the whole day looking at and test-driving
various vehicles, none of which had the right combination of price, 
visibility, and comfort for Jackie's back.

As dusk was settling in and we were thinking we weren't going to find 
anything that day after all, we drove to the opposite end of town and 
happened to
notice another dealership.

As we strolled onto their lot, a salesman mentioned that they had just 
received delivery of a used vehicle that had been driven in from Alberta, 
which
had actually arrived ahead of time. The asking price was in our ballpark, so 
we decided to take it out for a test drive with this fellow.

As we were driving around, Jackie knew that this was definitely going to be 
our best bet. The salesman asked us where we were from and what we did, and
when we mentioned that I was a Christian pastor, he surprised us by saying 
that he himself was a new Christian, and that his brother had just recently
led him to receive Jesus into his life as Lord and Saviour.

We then had a really good chat together with this new brother in Christ, 
getting to know him a little better in sharing things from the Lord in our 
lives.
By the time we got back and made the deal for the vehicle, it was past 
closing time at the dealership. After we had signed all the paperwork, our 
new friend,
Murray, told us that he had been praying for a desperately-needed financial 
boost, as he and his family had really been hit hard. He then thanked and 
praised
God (and us), because it was the last day of the month, and this sale was 
just enough to qualify him for their monthly sales bonus.

Talk about God's perfect timing in answering prayer! A place we had no 
intention of bothering with, a vehicle arriving ahead of time, a Christian 
in need,
the right thing for us at the right price, and desperately-needed bonus 
money for Murray and his family for which he qualified on the last day of 
the month
and after business hours. Just before we left, he phoned his wife with this 
great news as to why he was late getting home. Murray thought that he had 
run
out of time for this to happen, but for God, it was just another display of 
His perfect timing in all things.

Not all of our prayers are answered in such dramatic ways, but it is 
encouraging to know that our God is a God of love and power, and that He 
does have
miraculous ways of providing for our needs. We just need to trust Him.

Prayer: Lord, help us never to forget that You are in control and that You 
love us. Help us to trust Your timing in the working out of Your will in our
lives and in all things. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Bruce Wilcox <
bwilcox2@live.ca>

Optimism hopes for the best without any guarantee of its arriving and is 
often no more than whistling in the dark. Christian hope, by contrast, is 
faith
looking ahead to the fulfillment of the promises of God, as when the 
Anglican burial service inters the corpse 'in sure and certain hope of the 
Resurrection
to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ.' Optimism is a wish without 
warrant; Christian hope is a certainty, guaranteed by God himself. Optimism
reflects ignorance as to whether good things will ever actually come. 
Christian hope expresses knowledge that every day of his life, and every 
moment beyond
it, the believer can say with truth, on the basis of God's own commitment, 
that the best is yet to come.

James I (J. I.) Packer

A poor, weak, and trembling creature

(John Angell James, "
Christian Progress"
1853)

"He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His 
arms, holding them close to His heart." Isaiah 40:11

Dwell upon the love and tenderness of our Lord Jesus!

Notice who are the objects of His care--"the lambs," which means not only 
those of tender age--but also those who have been newly converted; those who
are young in Christian experience; and also those whose temperament is 
naturally timid, whose strength is feeble, and whose danger is great.

Yes, you are the objects of Christ's special attention, care, and 
solicitude! You are those whom He takes up in the arms of His power--and 
lays on the
bosom of His love! He knows . . .
your weakness,
your timidity,
your dangers!

He will exert for you . . .
His tenderest sympathy,
His greatest vigilance,
His mightiest power.

This expression however not only conveys the idea of great care of the 
weak--but the exercise of that care with a view to their preservation and 
growth.
It means not only that He will . . .
cordially receive them,
provide for their safety,
be concerned for their comfort, and
accommodate His conduct to their needs
--but He will also nourish them through their infant existence, and raise 
them up to maturity and strength.

Let every lamb of the flock of Christ, therefore, go to Him by faith and 
prayer, and say: "Blessed Jesus, I come to you as a poor, weak, and 
trembling
creature, doubtful of my own continuance, and alarmed at my numerous 
difficulties and enemies. I am but a lamb, and often fear I shall never be 
anything
better. But was it not in regard to such weakness that You have been pleased 
to utter these gracious and tender words? I flee to You as the helpless lamb
to its shepherd--when hungry, to feed it--or when pursued by wild beasts, 
that he may defend it. Lord, take me in the arms of Your power and lay me on
the bosom of Your love--though I am so poor and helpless a creature. I will 
hope in Your nurturing power and love, that I shall continue to grow, and 
that
You will one day rejoice in me, as one of the flock which You have purchased 
with Your own blood!"
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 16 Sep 2015, 10:32 pm

Faith Expels Guilt, Greed and Fear

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good 
conscience and a sincere faith.
(1 Timothy 1:5)

Faith in God’s grace expels from the heart the sinful powers that hinder 
love.

If we feel guilty, we tend to wallow in self-centered depression and 
self-pity, unable to see, let alone care, about anyone else’s need. Or we 
play the
hypocrite to cover our guilt, and so destroy all sincerity in relationships. 
Or we talk about other people’s faults to minimize the guilt of our own.

It’s the same with fear. If we feel fearful, we tend not to approach a 
stranger at church who might need a word of welcome and encouragement. Or we 
may
reject frontier missions for our lives, because it sounds too dangerous. Or 
we may waste money on excessive insurance, or get swallowed up in all manner
of little phobias that make us preoccupied with ourselves and blind us to 
the needs of others.

If we are greedy, we may spend money on luxuries — money that ought to go to 
the spread of the gospel. We don’t undertake anything risky, lest our 
precious
possessions and our financial future be jeopardized. We focus on things 
instead of people, or see people as resources for our material advantage.

Faith in future grace produces love by pushing guilt and fear and greed out 
of the heart.

It pushes out guilt because it holds fast to the hope that the death of 
Christ is sufficient to secure acquittal and righteousness now and forever (
Hebrews 10:14).

It pushes out fear because it banks on the promise, “Fear not, for I am with 
you. . . . I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with
my righteous right hand” (
Isaiah 41:10).

And it pushes out greed because it is confident that Christ is greater 
wealth than all the world can offer (
Matthew 13:44).

In every case the glory of Christ is magnified when we are more satisfied 
with his future grace than we are with the promises of sin.
This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper's 
ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.

Face What You Fear to Live a Significant Life
Bonnie Gray

What does it mean to have
faith?
God values faith in ways we least expect.

I never used to be afraid.

I was all faith.

Or so I thought.

I had enough faith for everyone around me and seconds to go around too.

Everything would always work out fine because I was with Jesus. And Jesus 
was with me.

I loved people. Prayed, studied my Bible, and recycled regularly.

But, as time passed by and the number of things that went wrong started 
adding up, I unconsciously started keeping a tally.

I would've never admitted that I was keeping such a list. Not even to 
myself, much less God.

But, I did.

Deep in my heart, where I did not dare to go, I had a running list of 
questions about where God was leading me. And why it was taking so long.

Of course, I knew that He is all good, all knowing, and all powerful. So, I 
didn't allow myself to doubt God's plan for me.

Or so I thought.

I masked my insecurities with God by doubting myself.

What I feared most was being forgotten. I was afraid to live an 
insignificant life.
During
one weekend away
spent in
whitespace,
I decided to share my list of disappointments with God. After writing pages 
and pages of unanswerable dilemmas, God gently and lovingly brought two 
pictures
to my mind.

* In the beginning, there was nothing.

It was in nothing, the Holy Spirit hovered, where God created something.

* Mary's empty womb. How can this be? she asked.

It was in nothing, the Holy Spirit hovered again, where Jesus became flesh.

The place inside me where faith was near death became alive.

Nothingness. That's me!

I had never been so happy to discover I had become the perfect place for 
Jesus to rest in.

That song I sang as a gullible teenager long ago suddenly took on a 
completely different meaning --

Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true and with 
thanksgiving, I'll be a living, sanctuary, oh for you.

It was as if a bolt of lightning struck my heart and resuscitated my story.

It irrevocably changed my direction. I decided to stop setting my sights on 
where I was going or what I would end up doing in the future.

I set my sights on who I was walking with -- Jesus.

I surrendered my ideas of what life ought to look like, so I could have the 
courage to make choices facing me today.

In the everyday. That is where I will find Him.

In the everyday. This is where He would lead me.

I realized the best life -- the most significant life I can live -- is the 
one I grow in my faith.

Something Better

In the Old Testament, the patriarchs of faith recognized God's blessings by 
taking possession of a physical Promised Land. God's presence was 
symbolized
by physical blessings of harvest and goods.

This all changed after Jesus arrived in the New Testament. The author of 
Hebrews tells God prepared a spiritual blessing -- something better.

"And all these [patriarches of faith listed earlier], having gained approval 
through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had 
provided
something better for us...

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith" Hebrews 
11:39-12:2

Our something better isn't a plan. Our something better is a Person.

Our spiritual Promised Land is life with Jesus.

Next Time You Think

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the areas in life that appear dark and 
formless -- or empty and barren -- remember Jesus is faithful -- 

to create something beautiful in you.

bring life to others through you.

to carry you to safety.

to make a way you cannot see.

to put you back together again.

to return laughter where you taste sorrow.

to give you courage to start over (again and again).

to use every loss and every triumph for His glory.

Next time you think nothing is happening in your life -- or you find 
yourself asking "How can this be?" -- remember things aren't as they appear.

Jesus sees you.

And He will never forget why He put you here.


You Can Do It!
by Dean Masters

Colossians 2:9-10
“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been 
filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”

Are you worried about that thing God has told you to do? Are you thinking 
that all that you are facing is more than you can handle? Read those verses 
again
and let it sink in a minute…….. The fullness of God dwells in Jesus bodily 
and you have been filled with Him and He is the head of everything! If He 
has
called you to something you already have everything you need to fulfill all 
that He has called you to.

Often we wonder why God allows things and certain people in our lives but it 
is to exercise the areas we need to grow in. If you have accepted Christ as
your Savior then you know that The Holy Spirit of God lives within you and 
you have all the fruits of the Holy Spirit right there, sometimes though 
they
need to be exercised in order for us to let go of those areas in our lives 
where we are not allowing the Holy Spirit to rule and reign.

When you need more faith for the task at hand, remember these verses. God 
gives you a passion to do what He has and is equipping you to do. We often 
think
it is the other way around. God will never ask you to do something that He 
hasn’t already been preparing you for. If you are working in that 
preparation
stage, hold on and know that this is just a stepping stone for all that He 
has for you. I have worked jobs before and have wondered why on earth and 
how
on earth I ended up there, but then when I reached the next position I could 
see how God had used that job to prepare me for the next one. I have also
had people in my life that I have wondered why they were there and yet my 
experiences with them often helped me to help someone else.

We are so fortunate to have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us and guiding 
us in all that we do. The problem is that often we pick and choose what 
areas
we will allow Him to guide us in, if something is uncomfortable we often 
choose to “go it alone” instead of allowing Him to work in us and guide us 
through
so we can grow in Him. When we choose to stifle the Holy Spirit’s leading we 
often face the same situations over and over and over until we learn what
it is we need to learn. God isn’t going to just give up on teaching you 
something that you need to learn so you can be all you can be ~ He loves you 
too
much!

Let me encourage you today to hold on to those verses above and when you 
feel frustrated, inadequate or overwhelmed pull them out and read them 
again.
Remind yourself that God lives within and He will help you and guide you if 
you will just allow Him to. The best is yet to come!

Quote:
“It’s not where you start ~ it’s where you finish that counts.” Zig Ziglar

Dean Masters
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 15 Sep 2015, 9:39 pm

Private Worship

Leviticus 6:13

Keep the altar of private prayer burning. This is the very life of all 
piety. The sanctuary and family altars borrow their fires here; therefore 
let this
burn well. Secret devotion is the very essence, evidence, and barometer of 
vital and experimental [experiential]
religion.

Burn here the fat of your sacrifices. Let your closet seasons be, if 
possible, regular, frequent, and undisturbed. Effectual prayer avails much. 
Have you
nothing to pray for? Let us suggest the church, the ministry, your own soul, 
your children, your relations, your neighbors, your country, and the cause
of God and truth throughout the world.

Let us examine ourselves on this important matter. Do we engage with 
lukewarmness in private devotion? Is the fire of devotion burning dimly in 
our hearts?
Do the chariot wheels drag heavily? If so, let us be alarmed at this sign of 
decay. Let us go with weeping, and ask for the Spirit of grace and of 
supplications.
Let us set apart special seasons for extraordinary prayer. For if this fire 
should be smothered beneath the ashes of a worldly conformity, it will dim
the fire on the family altar and lessen our influence both in the church and 
in the world.

The text will also apply to the altar of the heart. This is a golden altar 
indeed. God loves to see the hearts of His people glowing toward Himself. 
Let
us give to God our hearts, all blazing with love, and seek His grace, that 
the fire may never be quenched, for it will not burn if the Lord does not 
keep
it burning. Many foes will attempt to extinguish it; but if the unseen hand 
behind the wall pours on the sacred oil, it will blaze higher and higher. 
Let
us use texts of Scripture as fuel for our heart's fire; they are live coals. 
Let us attend to sermons, but above all, let us be much alone with Jesus.

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Joshua 22

verse 2 Acts 2


Love Worth Finding Ministrie

Did someone forward you this devotion?
Register with LWF
for more resources.

How to Understand the Bible

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Thy precepts.â€
Psalm 119:100

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
People sometimes can’t understand why they don’t understand the Bible. Well, 
the way to understand the Bible is to obey the Bible. And the way to 
understand
the verses you don't understand is to obey the verses you do understand.

“More than the ancients†is a way of saying the accumulative wisdom of the 
ages. David is saying, “ I haven't been off to the university perhaps, or I
haven't studied abroad, but I keep God's Word and therefore God reveals to 
me His truth.â€

The only way you can really understand the Bible is for God to reveal it to 
you, and God doesn't reveal it to rebels.

ACTION POINT:
Keep God's Word, and through it God will reveal His truth. Some of you know 
what God wants you to do, but you're not doing it. And you wonder why you've
come up against a roadblock when you try to read the Bible.

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.

© 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300

How We Answer Our Own Prayers
KAREN EHMAN

"Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his 
disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his 
disciples.’"

Luke 11:1
(ESV)

A group of teenagers and I sat cross-legged on the church lawn, soaking in 
the warm summer sunshine. We’d just taken a break from a group game to sip 
something
cold and visit. One of the girls had just returned from a mission trip in a 
developing nation and I couldn’t wait to hear about her experience.

"So, Renee, tell us about your trip." I inquired. "What is the one thing you 
think you will remember the most?"

I imagined her answer would have something to do with a child who captured 
her heart with a sweet smile. Or a church service she attended that was so 
very
different from ours. Neither of these guesses were right.

"Oh, that’s easy. I will always remember it was on this trip when I learned 
how easy it is in our culture to answer our own prayers."

Her statement stunned me for a moment. I wondered, What in the world did she 
mean by that? Answer our own prayers? Only God answers prayer, right? But
before I could pipe up and ask her to explain further, she continued.

"You see, here in America, we bow our heads and say grace and ask God to 
‘give us this day our daily bread.’ And then? We hop in our cars, run down 
to
the grocery store and buy a loaf or two. We ask Him to keep us safe and 
warm. Then parents buy their kids the best car seats available, and we crank 
up
the furnace whenever we feel chilly. It is so easy in our culture to provide 
the answer to our own prayers. But the people I met on the trip? They pray
God will give them their daily bread, not knowing if they will have enough 
food to feed their families that night. Their prayers are bold. They ask God
for things they can’t always provide for themselves."

I had never thought of this concept before and it caused me to think about 
two things.

First, I want to use my abundance to help answer someone else’s prayers. To 
share the privilege I have been given with others.

Second, I need to learn to pray bold prayers, asking God for the things that 
only He can bring about. That is if they are in accordance with His will.
To pray for requests in my life beyond the, "Lord, keep us safe and warm and 
well-fed. Amen." routine we can often fall into.

Today’s key verse from Luke 11 gives me hope that I’m not alone in thinking 
my prayer life could use a makeover.
Luke 11:1
reminds us that even the disciples wanted help learning how to pray. They 
saw Jesus praying and desired to follow His example.

Ephesians 3:20-21
tells us God can do things we can’t even dream of. Even provide answers to 
questions that we often hesitate to even ask. This suggests we can be daring
when we pray, asking God for great things done only in His great strength.

My little chat with this spiritually sensitive teen changed me. I began to 
work into my prayers not only requests that God would help me be attentive 
to
those who need my help, but also that He would help me make bold requests I 
can’t possibly answer myself. And then, that I would stand back and — in 
faith
— watch Him work.

How about you? Is your prayer list full of items you can cross off yourself? 
Perhaps it’s time you, too, began to ask, "Lord, teach me to pray."

Father, teach me to pray more boldly. May I be both generous in giving and 
faith-filled in my prayers. Help me pray more confident prayers that can’t 
be
answered on my own and can only happen through Your power. In Jesus’ Name, 
Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 138:3,
"In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with 
strength in my soul." (NKJV)

Luke 11: 9-10, "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what 
you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the
door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who 
seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:
For more on prayer, including a place to post your "I Can’t Answer it 
Myself" prayer request, visit
Karen Ehman’s blog.
© 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 14 Sep 2015, 10:26 pm

God Cares

Zephaniah 1:12 (NKJV)
12 “And it shall come to pass at that time
That I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
And punish the men
Who are settled in complacency,
Who say in their heart,
‘The Lord will not do good,
Nor will He do evil.’

The people who lived in the southern kingdom of Judah had not heard from God 
or seen any sign from Him in a long time. So according to the above verse 
they said that God did not care about them. They were supposed to be God’s 
people and the temple was in Jerusalem which was in their country but if God 
was there He did not care about them.

God sent the prophet Zephaniah to give them the following message:

Zephaniah 3:5 (NKJV)
5 The Lord is righteous in her midst,
He will do no unrighteousness.
Every morning He brings His justice to light;
He never fails,
But the unjust knows no shame.

Zephaniah was telling them that God does care about them. He is there and 
sees all that they do.

Some today may think that God does not care for them. God does care for 
everyone. He cares so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for all 
people.

If you need salvation, go to Jesus.
If you are like a boat on an angry sea, cry out to Jesus.
If things are going great then give thanks and praise to Jesus.

One of my most favorite verses in the Bible is the following:

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)
17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah was prophesying what would come at the end of the age. At first 
what touched me in this passage is the thought of me hearing Jesus sing to 
me in the future. Later on the phrase before that one touched me. This is 
something that Jesus can do right now. He can quiet you with His love.

If anyone doesn’t know this love all they have to do is ask Jesus to be 
their Savior and continue to make Him more and more the Lord of their life. 
Then when a person needs to be quieted he or she will have Someone to 
minister to them.

Know that God knows what is going on at all times and cares for everyone. 
Call upon him for all your needs.

by Dean W. Masters


World Challenge Pulpit Series
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jesus Transforms

by Gary Wilkerson | June 29, 2015

It was the Passover season and Christ was teaching in the
temple. A large crowd gathered because Jesus had a
reputation for speaking profound words of love and
performing powerful works of God. Yet no sooner had this
crowd of commoners gathered than the religious leaders
showed up.

"As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the
Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of
adultery" (John 8:3, NLT). These leaders saw Jesus as a
threat to their authority. He represented a new phenomenon
whose teachings exposed their rigid, self-justifying
practices. Now "they were trying to trap him into saying
something they could use against him" (8:6). They asked him
whether the woman should be stoned according to the law.

The scene unfolds dramatically: "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'" (8:6-11).

What a powerful moment. Not only had Jesus defused a highly
charged situation, literally saving a person's life.
Everyone on the scene was transformed by what happened - not
just the accused, but also the accusers and even the
audience.

Jesus used the moment to deliver one of his most famous
teachings: "I am the light of the world. If you follow me,
you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have
the light that leads to life" (8:12). God's light in that
moment transformed everything.

Jesus transformed more than a lethal situation; he
transformed every heart present.

The first group transformed in this scene was the audience.
This crowd was made up of the community believers in Israel
who had traveled to the temple in Jerusalem for Passover.
What role did they play in the scene? Judging by their
passivity, they remained spectators. They didn't condemn the
woman the way the religious leaders did. But they didn't
advocate for her, either. They were content to sit silently
on the sidelines while something very important – a person's
life! – was at stake. I would identify this crowd as "the
comfortable middle."

As the family of God, we gather in church to worship, sing,
listen and give. But if we're not careful, we can end up
being spectators when it comes to living as Jesus would have
us live. Often when we see people in sin, rather than
helping them out of it, we harbor a secret hope they'll be
caught. And when they are, we feel justified, thinking, "I
knew it. That person's life always seemed a little off."

Why do we do this? It could be because we feel guilty about
our own sin. We all have something in our lives that others
could throw a stone at. The truth is, those Pharisees in the
scene could have dragged anyone out of the crowd and stoned
them. Nowadays, accusing people do that very thing, through
social media. I know a hardworking young pastor who took a
vacation and Instagrammed a picture of himself relaxing on
the beach. Immediately his post was deluged with hateful
comments like, "It's awful when preachers take their
congregations' money and spend it on luxurious living."

Jesus' way is different. "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 8:10-11).

As a preacher of the gospel, I love those three words:
"Neither do I." Jesus didn't condemn her. And that was a
radical thing for him to do. It still is today, when he
tells each of us who repent, "Neither do I condemn you." Yet
Jesus got even more radical when he told the religious
leaders, "I have much to say about you and much to condemn,
but I won't" (8:26). Wow! That sounds like an insult, but in
fact Jesus had a whole laundry list of things he could
condemn them for. He has a similar list about our lives
today. But instead of condemning, he says, "Neither do I
condemn you."

What an amazing moment. It revealed the powerful love behind
God's grace — that - "while we were yet sinners, Christ died
for us"

(Romans 5:8, KJV)

. In the crowd's eyes, this was a miracle. Nobody had ever
considered this. And it immediately transformed them. They
began to see what Jesus' ministry was all about –
overwhelming grace – and that changed the way they saw God.
It also changed the way they saw their own sin – as
mercifully forgiven by a loving, gracious God!

Jesus used that stunning moment to teach about the cross:
"So Jesus said, 'When you have lifted up the Son of Man on
the cross, then you will understand that I am he. I do
nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me.
And the one who sent me is with me - he has not deserted me.
For I always do what pleases him.' Then many who heard him
say these things believed in him" (John 8:28-30, my
emphasis). Suddenly, Jesus had an army ready to follow him -
soldiers of the cross of grace!

Here is the contagious love contained in the gospel we
preach. It moves a complacent congregation from audience to
activists. People everywhere are tired of dead religion. And
when they see Christ's radical grace in action, they say,
"I'm all in! I want to be part of a movement like this one.
Not only will I give myself to it fully, I'll invite
everybody I meet. Where do I sign up?"

The second party transformed in this scene was the accused.

Jesus turned the accused into the accepted. Instead of
rejecting the adulterous woman, whose life hung in the
balance, he accepted her. And he does the same for us today.
He takes everyone pushed to the margins by their own sin and
tells them, "You are mine. You're right in the center of the
Father's love."

This gesture by Jesus was crucial for the adulterous woman.
Why? She still had to live in her community with the reality
of what she'd done. You see, while it's true there is no
longer any condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,
there are still real- life consequences to sin. Ask any
addict who's gone through a recovery program. There are
broken bonds to mend with family, friends, children,
coworkers. In the case of adultery, there can be unwanted
pregnancies, broken love with a spouse, strained
relationships with children, betrayals of trust within a
community - matters that can take years to be repaired.

That's why there is very real mercy in Jesus' two distinct
statements to the adulterous woman: "Neither do I [condemn
you]. Go and sin no more" (John 8:11). I would not be a
faithful minister of God if I didn't say that while, yes,
Jesus loves you, accepts you and forgives you, there is very
real fallout to sin. As a pastor I see it all the time.
That's why our sin is of great concern to God beyond moral
reasons of law-breaking. Paul says, "Run from sexual sin! No
other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For
sexual immorality is a sin against your own body" (1
Corinthians 6:18). This is all the more reason to bring any
and every sin to Jesus. Only his powerful, redeeming grace
can fully heal and restore.

There is a third group transformed by God's grace: the
accusers. The Pharisees' heartless, accusing plan backfired
on them. Ultimately, the sinful woman wasn't condemned but
instead was rescued and healed. And when that kind of
radical grace manifests, evil is forced to slink away in
shame. "They slipped away one by one, beginning with the
oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd
with the woman" (John 8:9).

Which of these transformations describes your faith
community?

Is your church the kind that stands by impassively as
sinners lead self-destructive lives? Or maybe it's the kind
that points out sinners to expose their bad behavior.
Hopefully it's the kind that rescues, delivers and redeems
people from their sin.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus was asked two kinds of
questions by the people he encountered, questions that
revealed everything about the hearts of those asking. The
first type of question was accusatory. Time after time,
religious leaders asked Christ, "Why do you eat and drink
with sinners? How could you be sent by God with a reputation
like that?"

The second kind of question came from people bearing the
problems of life: "Would you heal my sick daughter?" "Would
you deliver my son, who's thrown into the fire by demons?"
"Would you heal my bleeding issue, which has plagued me my
whole life?" "Jesus, would you help me?"
Do you see the difference between the two kinds of
questions? Both kinds seek an answer about the nature of
God. The first asks, "Do sinners deserve God's love?" while
the second asks, "Does God want to help me?"

Jesus answered both questions with his actions. First, he
transformed the outcasts, bringing them from the farthest
margins of society to the very center of God's love. He told
them, "You're on center stage now. You're at the very heart
of my Father's kingdom." Second, Christ revealed that the
accusers were not at the center of God's kingdom. He told
them very clearly, "You have no say in my Father's kingdom."

Do you want a meaningful, significant role in God's kingdom?
Then be willing to lay down your stones and pick up the
cross of his grace. Every time you act as Jesus did,
extending grace to those marginalized by sin, you take part
in a great transformation. You will be changed by your
actions, the accused will be changed, and those accusing
will be changed. Meanwhile, passive believers will be
stirred by the manifestation of God's grace.

May we all become his army of grace - drawing to his kingdom
both the addicted and the clean-living, the grieving and the
carefree, the damaged and the blessed, the poor and the
wealthy, the lonely and the lively, the pretentious and the
guileless, the tattooed and the preppy. Let every soul be
loved and belong. And may we all be transformed by the
amazing grace of our Savior.

_______________________________________________
Copyright (c) 2015 - World Challenge, Inc.
P.O. Box 260, Lindale, Texas 75771, USA
Copyright (c) 2015 - World Challenge, Inc.
P.O. Box 260, Lindale, Texas 75771, USA

This data file/publication is the sole property of World Challenge,
Inc. It may be printed in its entirety for the reader's personal use
or to pass on to family and friends. It may not be altered or
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 13 Sep 2015, 9:41 pm

A Surprising Answer to Prayer
by Charles R. Swindoll

Psalm 91

Many years ago one of my mentors told me a story I have never forgotten. A 
missionary was home on furlough, traveling by car from church to church. 
Late
one rainy evening, facing a long and lonely all-night journey, he asked the 
Lord to help him stay awake and make it safely to the next place he would 
minister.

A few minutes later he came upon a man off to the side, thumbing a ride. 
Although he rarely picked up hitchhikers, he felt sorry for the man out in 
the
rain and offered him a lift. As the two of them began to visit, the 
missionary was thrilled to discover that the stranger was a believer and 
that they
also had many mutual friends engaged in the Lord's work.

Time passed rapidly as the two of them laughed and shared stories. The 
fellowship was so rich that the missionary hated to see the early light of 
dawn
and hear his new-found friend say, "Well, here's where I get off." Before 
saying good-bye, the missionary invited him to have a cup of coffee at a 
roadside
cafe. As they parted, they promised to pray for each other.

The rain had stopped by now, and a bright sun-drenched sky warmed the 
missionary's soul. Then, a couple of minutes down the road, he realized that 
he had
failed to get the man's address and phone number, so he quickly returned to 
the cafe. There was no sign of the man. When he asked the cook if he'd seen
which way the other fella had gone, he was shocked to hear him respond, 
"What other fella? You came in here alone . . . I wondered why you ordered 
two
cups of coffee."

The missionary glanced at the table where the two had sat and noticed that 
the other cup was still full to the brim . . . and the coffee was cold.

As he returned to his car, another surprising realization came to his mind. 
He remembered that when he had picked up the hitchhiker in the rain the 
night
before, the man had gotten in the car but he wasn't wet!

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.

Are You Hungry?
by
Dean Masters

Matthew 4:4
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread 
alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

What do you need today? Seriously, we all need something, whether it is more 
faith, help with our finances, help in our marriage, help with our children,
more peace and rest in our lives, healing and the list goes on and on. What 
do you need?

It is not meant to sound cliche’ that all of your answers are found in Him 
and His word! Are you going to church? Has the “church” hurt you somewhere 
along
the line so you stopped going? If you do go is it with the hopes that the 
message will speak to your spouse or children’s hearts so they will make the
changes they need to make? If you have been hurt by someone in a church 
somewhere along the line I would encourage you to try a different church, 
just
like grocery stores; they are not all the same and the ‘employees’ are all 
different wherever you go. God has a message for you! Yup, you, not just 
everyone
around you. He knows what it is you need to encourage you or give you the 
answers for what it is you are overwhelmed with so don’t miss out on any 
opportunity
you may have to receive it!

I so appreciate that God has given us His Word. We are so blessed that He 
has put so much in writing for us and yet so many Christians never pick up 
their
Bibles other than to dust under it or take it to church. Don’t miss out on 
what is inside! I cannot imagine the horror if someone took my Bible and I 
wasn’t
allowed to have one and yet there are people all over the world where that 
is the way it is!

If you were hungry you would find something to eat and typically we know 
where to find the food. When you need answers stop looking everywhere else 
and
look to God for the answers! He truly does have them all and He loves you 
and promises to show you if you just ask. Jeremiah 33:3 says, ‘Call to Me, 
and
I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not 
know.’ The answers are there! Get excited about it and start looking for all
that He is trying to show you today!

Quote:
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to 
what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
Rebecca Barlow Jordan

A Lesson from the Garden

My neighbor recently gave me a thoughtful gift for my garden. She knew how 
much I loved “yard art.” And it was even lime green and pink–colors I’ve 
splashed
throughout my back yard. But when I planted it in the ground beside my real 
flowers, God nudged my spirit. This would be more than just a metal 
decoration.
That painted flower decor would remind me of another spiritual lesson–like 
so much of my garden does.

A yard art reminder from the garden to keep growing

I love that God can speak to us anywhere, anytime He wants. Don’t you? Here 
are three reminders He gave me:

Three Ways to Grow Spiritually

1. Grow Up

Just like plants, we are to grow up: Grow to maturity (
2 Corinthians
13:11). 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT) says, When I was a child, I spoke and 
thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish 
things.
In the message translation of Matthew 5:48, Jesus says, “In a word, what I’m 
saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your
God-created identity.”

Tiny seedlings are cute, but they need the gardener’s touch with ample 
nutrients, sunshine, and water, or they’ll wither.
Ephesians
4:14 (MSG) adds: God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell 
it in love—like Christ in everything. If we remain as babies, both in our 
childish
actions and thoughts, and in our inability to feed ourselves with all God 
offers: the Water of Life, nutrients from His Word, and plenty of Son-shine,
we’ll wither as well.

2. Grow Down

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your 
roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong (Ephesians 3:17). 
If the
plants in my garden don’t develop strong roots, they’ll soon become weak and 
limp–especially in this Texas summer heat!

God reminds me that my roots must grow deeper in Him: deeper in faith (2 
Corinthians 10:15, NLT), stronger in wisdom and understanding (
Psalm
90:12; Proverbs 15:32; Psalm 92:12). I love what Colossians 2:7 adds: Let 
your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your
faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow 
with thankfulness.

3. Grow Out

Philippians 1:9 (NLT) offers a prayer that growing down will result in 
something more: I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that 
you
will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. That little painted 
flower can remind me that my garden is not entirely for my enjoyment. It can 
bring
others pleasure, too, especially as we share with others from the vegetable 
portion.

My faith, my love for Jesus, is not just to bring me joy, but it is for 
sharing with others. And may the Lord make your love for one another and for 
all
people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows
(1 Thessalonians
3:12, NLT).

Ultimate Reminder

So every time I walk out to my garden and see that lime green and pink 
flower and the word GROW, I’ll remember it’s more than just a piece of yard 
art–and
more than a special gift from a thoughtful neighbor. It will be a reminder 
for me to grow up, to grow down, and to grow out–with a prayer that 1 John 
4:17
(NLT) will become more of a reality:

And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.

I want that, don’t you?
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 12 Sep 2015, 9:07 pm

When Another Christian Hurts You

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 8:1)

What is the basis of our not holding grudges against Christian brothers and 
sisters who repent?

Our moral indignation at a terrible offense does not evaporate just because 
the offender is a Christian. In fact, we may feel even more betrayed. And a
simple, “I’m sorry” will often seem utterly disproportionate to the 
painfulness and ugliness of the offense.

But in this case we are dealing with fellow Christians and the promise of 
God’s wrath does not apply because there is “no condemnation for those who 
are
in Christ Jesus” (
Romans 8:1).
“God has not destined [Christians] for wrath, but to obtain salvation 
through our Lord Jesus Christ” (
1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Where shall we turn to assure ourselves that justice will be done — that 
Christianity is not a mockery of the seriousness of sin?

The answer is that we look to the cross of Christ. All the wrongs that have 
been done against us by believers were avenged in the death of Jesus. This
is implied in the simple but staggering fact that all the sins of all God’s 
people were laid on Jesus (
Isaiah 53:6
;
1 Corinthians 15:3,
etc.).

The suffering of Christ was the recompense of God on every hurt I have ever 
received from a fellow Christian. Therefore, Christianity does not make 
light
of sin. It does not add insult to our injury.

On the contrary, it takes the sins against us so seriously that, to make 
them right, God gave his own Son to suffer more than we could ever make 
anyone
suffer for what they have done to us.
Copyright Information

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


When You're Angry at God
Micca Campbell

"LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me."
Psalms 30:2
(NIV)

As I waited for my husband to return from surgery, I began to worry. It was 
taking longer than the doctor had said it would. Since over 80% of my 
husband's
body had been burned during the house fire, I feared the surgery would be 
too much for him.

My worst fears were confirmed when the doctor walked into the waiting room, 
still in his surgical clothes, and knelt down beside my chair. My heart 
began
to pound as he explained that my husband had gone into cardiac arrest and 
though they were trying everything they could to resuscitate, they feared 
they
had lost him. Immediately, I cried out for God to save him.

I still remember my desperate plea: God, I realize if my husband lives he 
most likely won't keep his arms. I understand what that means. He'll never 
hold
me again or play ball with our son. But I don't care, God. Please let him 
live!

As the clock ticked down, there was no response. After some time, it finally 
hit me: he had already left me.

After the funeral was over and the people were gone, I realized I was alone, 
a new mother, and a 21-year-old widow. I was very angry God had allowed for
things to turn out this way.

One desperate night, when the pain was more than I could stand, I cried out, 
Why, God? Why did You take him away from me? Oh, God. I need to know, why!

Have you ever been angry with God?

We've all made requests to God that didn't turn out like we had hoped. When 
that happens, it's easy to become confused about Him. We start to wonder if
He heard us or just said "No" to our prayer. What we are certain of is the 
anger we feel toward the Lord's ways.

It's important to express our upset emotions to the Lord. But we have to 
view our circumstances through the lens of God's grace: everything He does 
is
without fault and is always right. Look at Psalm 30:2, "LORD my God, I 
called to you for help, and you healed me." Rather than ignoring our pain or 
not
sharing our anger with God (which is silly because He already knows), we 
should confess our anger and seek His healing.

When I was completely honest with God that night, what happened next took me 
by surprise: God showed up!

I can only explain it like this. Just as a mother runs to her screaming 
child, God, the Father, ran to me—His child. I didn't see Him with my eyes 
or touch
Him with my hands, but I knew He was with me. It comforted me. This 
encounter with God became a turning point in my healing. I realized God 
understood
my frailties and feelings ... and He was big enough to handle them.

If you're angry with God, tell Him. Lay your heart open before God. 
Acknowledge that even while you don't understand what's happened, you trust 
He can
make everything work out.

It took me a while to see how my circumstances could be used for God's glory 
and my good. I didn't get my husband back, but I did get a closer 
relationship
with God. A few years later, I re-married, had two more beautiful children, 
and began a ministry of comfort. God also healed my heart from the pain of
loss and the scars anger left.

I'm glad I was honest with God when I cried out in anger to Him. You will be 
too.

Dear Lord, there is so much hurt and anger inside of me. I'm tired of living 
this way. I'm giving it to You to heal my hurt. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit
Micca's blog Proverbs 31 Ministries,

6 Ways Jesus Fought Depression

And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be 
sorrowful and troubled.
(Matthew 26:37)

There were several tactics in Jesus’ strategic battle against despondency.

1. He chose some close friends to be with him. “Taking with him Peter and 
the two sons of Zebedee” (
Matthew 26:37).
2. He opened his soul to them. He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, 
even to death” (v. 38).
3. He asked for their intercession and partnership in the battle. “Remain 
here, and watch with me” (v. 38).
4. He poured out his heart to his Father in prayer. “My Father, if it be 
possible, let this cup pass from me” (
v. 39).
5. He rested his soul in the sovereign wisdom of God. “Nevertheless, not as 
I will, but as you will” (
v. 39).
6. He fixed his eye on the glorious future grace that awaited him on the 
other side of the cross. “For the joy that was set before him [he] endured 
the
cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of 
God” (
Hebrews 12:2).

When something drops into your life that seems to threaten your future, 
remember this: The first shock waves of the bomb are not sin. The real 
danger is
yielding to them. Giving in. Putting up no spiritual fight. And the root of 
that surrender is unbelief — a failure to fight for faith in future grace.
A failure to cherish all that God promises to be for us in Jesus.

Jesus shows us another way. Not painless, and not passive. Follow him. Find 
your trusted spiritual friends. Open your soul to them. Ask them to watch 
with
you and pray. Pour out your soul to the Father. Rest in the sovereign wisdom 
of God. And fix your eyes on the joy set before you in the precious and 
magnificent
promises of God.
John Piper DesiringGod.org.

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Daily Devotional
Hurt and Hiding - #7437

Gal! That's the name of the dog that belongs to our missionary friend. She, 
and they, have lived on a Native American reservation. Most reservation dogs
- they call them rez dogs - are pretty aggressive to say the least. They'll 
meet you whether you want to meet them or not. Not Gal. As soon as she sees
anyone approaching, she runs for cover. You try to befriend her; she just 
cowers in a corner and trembles. It's pitiful! We asked our friends why Gal 
was
so withdrawn, and it's a sad story. She'd been abused as a puppy by her 
former owner, and any time anyone got close, she was afraid. Yeah, that they 
would
hurt her like those other people had.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hurt and 
Hiding."

Too hurt to trust anyone. That's not just something that happens to a pet. 
It happens to people a lot. Maybe it's happened to you. Somewhere along the
way you've been hurt, you've been abandoned, betrayed, abused, mistreated. 
And like that little dog, you're afraid to let anyone get close. In fact, 
you
may have built up some pretty elaborate defenses to make sure no one does. 
But really, you're just afraid they're going to hurt you like somebody else
did.

I saw one of our team on that reservation get very close to Gal - that dog. 
In fact, Gal would seek her out and give and receive a lot of affection. But
it was because that person took time to win that dog's trust. She proved 
that she only wanted to love her and help her, and that love actually broke 
through
the fear and the hurt. That's what I pray will happen for you. See, there's 
someone who is leaning your direction this very day, someone with 
outstretched
arms, not to hurt you but to hold you and to heal you. It's Jesus! He knows 
a lot about being hurt.

Listen to these words that describe Him. They are our word for today from 
the Word of God, Isaiah 61:1-2. "The Lord has anointed me to preach good 
news
to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim 
freedom to the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners."

See, Jesus is the healer of broken hearts and broken lives. He's the 
liberator from the darkness. But can He be trusted? God's answer - Romans 
8:32, "He
who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, will He not also 
graciously give us all things."

And then later in that chapter it says, "Nothing can ever separate us from 
His love." Can Jesus be trusted? Just walk up to that garbage dump hill 
called
Skull Hill. Stand there in the pouring rain at the foot of Jesus' cross and 
see the agony Jesus is suffering there; the nails in His hands and feet, the
thorns pressed on His brow, the spear wound in His side. Most of all, the 
total separation from God. And realize that's for you. That's your sin He's 
dying
to pay for.

Oh you can trust Him. He loves you enough to die for you. And He's been 
waiting for you to turn your life over to Him so He can start the healing 
process
that only He can bring. But first you have to tell Him that you're putting 
your total trust in Him to be your Savior. I know that word trust is a hard
one after what you've been through. But you can't just go on hurting, and 
hiding and alone. And this One who loved you so much that He gave everything
for you, He's the one person you can finally totally trust. You've been 
looking for Him. You've been longing for this person for a long time.

I hope you'll reach out to Him today and say, "Jesus, you loved me enough to 
die for me. I'm yours." Listen, you want to know how to get that 
relationship
started? You want to be sure you've now experienced that love for yourself - 
you belong to Him? Would you go to our website? It's ANewStory.com. Or if
you want to talk with someone about what it means to belong to Jesus, you 
can text us at 442-244-WORD.

I don't know what you've been through, but Jesus does. And as He approaches 
you today, don't run from His open arms. As He reaches to you, you will see
in His hands nail prints from the suffering He went through for you. He is 
the Healer that your heart has always wanted.

The Victor

I don't think I've ever wanted to murder anyone. I've never worshiped an 
idol. Adultery hasn't been a stumbling block for me. Why would I want to 
steal
from someone? Such big sins don't bother me.

Most of us who seek to follow the leadership of Jesus Christ discover that 
the big lures tend to disappear. It's the little traps that we stumble into.

One of my little struggles is that I tend to ignore the warning signs of 
past experiences, cautions in the Bible, or the restraining hand of God. I'm 
amazed
(in retrospect) how easily I convince myself to say a certain thing or act a 
certain way as a means of standing up for myself or being honest, or being
faithful to point out another's shortcomings. Once in a while, I've quoted 
Bible verses to show my righteousness and purity of heart.

And yet ... I still give in to temptations.

No one has to tell me that I sin with my tongue. It's too quick to speak, 
and too slow to pause. Then why haven't I corrected it?

First, of course, is the old standby excuse of innate sin. I'm a sinner by 
nature, and I'll always be a sinner. I may get better, and by God's grace, 
I'll
grow, but committing sin will always be part of me. Although true, it's no 
excuse for irresponsibility.

A far stronger reason is that I get confused between what I need and what I 
think I need. For instance, when King Ahab wanted to buy a certain vineyard
and the owner refused to sell, he fell into deep depression. As king he 
probably had hundreds of vineyards, but he had to have that particular one. 
Its
importance grew until he convinced himself he couldn't be happy without 
owning that piece of land.

"Hey, man, you're the king," his wife told him. "You can do what you want." 
She arranged for a couple of thugs to accuse the owner of a crime, she had
him stoned, and the crown took over the property.

What about David and his sin with Bathsheba? If any man in the Bible knew 
the way of God, it was David, but even he allowed his desires to do his 
thinking
for him. He may have had some unmet needs. Probably all of us think we do. 
Those are the things that get us into trouble, and sometimes we surrender to
temptation. Yet as the Victor Over Temptation shows us our particular areas 
of weakness, we can resist the subtle lures around us.

As I have discussed this matter with the Victor, he has given me some 
insight about myself. It's more truthful to say, he's forced me to admit 
things about
myself in recent days. Here's what I've learned. I know I'm a helper. People 
depend on me, talk to me, and open up to me. Sounds good and noble, doesn't
it?

The Victor Over Temptation has been enabling me see my underside, and I've 
finally begun to admit I feel pride in being needed and being indispensable.
To please others, I've adapted to their demands and wishes. Especially in 
the past, I found it difficult to recognize my own lack because I spent so 
much
energy in being needed. Unconsciously, I change my perspective to become 
empathetic and make emotional connections. Sometimes I adapt to the wishes 
of
others as a way to gain or retain their love.

Until a few months ago, I lived in ignorance of those facts. As I continue 
to ask the Victor Over Temptation for help, however, I see myself more 
clearly.
With God's help, I can find freedom from such traps.

The more I know about myself, and the more I'm in touch with the Victor, the 
more assured I become that I have the best weapons for defense. Those 
weapons
are simple, yet they're effective only when we learn to use them.

First, I pray. More and more, I realize the importance of the words: "Keep 
us from being tempted and protect us from evil" (Mt 6:13, CEV). I keep that
petition before me because I want God to show me the areas where I'm 
susceptible. As the Victor Over Temptation shows me my inner self, I often 
resist
the truth. Yet as I ask him to enable me to be open and I listen, I also 
fortify myself to win the next battle.

Second, I'm reading more in my Bible. That's the most powerful way God 
speaks to me. I'll read along and a verse takes on power as if I'd never 
read it before.

Here's one example. I was involved in a controversy in a writers' 
organization. One day when I was reading in Romans, my eyes stopped at this 
verse: "If
it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" 
(12:18, MKJV). The verse shouted inside my head. I read it two or three 
times.
By then, I knew I had to do something to bring peace. I reexamined my 
position and realized my hidden needs had subverted my zeal for integrity. 
Once I
backed up two steps, those on the other side did the same. We came to a 
place of peace.

That's the practical working of the Victor Over Temptation in my life. He 
helps me see not just the wrong and stupid things I've done; he's also 
helping
me look below my actions and attitudes to figure out why I failed.

As I thought of this, I recalled a prominent pastor involved in an 
adulterous situation. He had sinned. At the same time, as I understand my 
proclivity
to temptation, I'm learning to understand others. I wondered what kind of 
unfulfilled needs he had. If he had been able to talk to the Victor about 
those
deep inner needs, he might have overcome the temptation.

No single temptation strikes all of us. As we open ourselves to the Victor 
over Temptation, we can begin to understand our own inner driving forces 
that
might ensnare us. Then comes victory.

As I become aware of my personal temptations, and as I call on the Victor 
Over Temptation, I know that I'm going to sin.

Even if you think you can stand up to temptations, be careful not to fall. 
You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can 
be
trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to 
escape from your temptations. --
1 Corinthians 10:12-16,
CEV

Victor Over Temptation,
with your help I can win.
With your help
I can find answers and satisfy those hurting,
needy parts of my life.
With your help
I can win time after time against temptations.
Thanks for providing the way of escape. Amen.

For more from Cec, please visit
www.cecilmurphey.com.

He Has Promised to Give The Wisdom And Answers You Need
by Dean Masters

Jeremiah 33:3
“Call to me and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things 
that you have not known.â€

Do you need wisdom, guidance, knowledge and direction? If you seek God’s 
face and you spend time in the Word ask Him and He promises He will show you 
things
you could never know without Him!

God’s goal for you is not for you to wander aimlessly wondering, His goal is 
to fill you with His wisdom and knowledge for life so you can be successful
in all He has called you to! When you get frustrated because you don’t have 
answers are you spending time reading your Bible and seeking God on every 
level
available to you or are you expecting Him to “write it on the wallâ€? 
Remember the writing on the wall wasn’t a “good†thing, it was a curse!

Seeking God should not be some sort of overwhelming task, it should be a 
deep seated desire as a Christian to always be attempting to know Him 
better!
We should love to learn new and amazing things about HIm on a regular basis, 
it should be exciting to have Him reveal a little more of Himself to us!

What do you need answers for today? Have you asked God for His wisdom and 
guidance? Sometimes the answer is right in front of us, we just need to ask 
to
be able to see it. Don’t hesitate and certainly don’t put off asking God to 
show you all you need to know day by day and to reveal the hidden things you
don’t understand or know yet. He is waiting. The best is yet to come but you 
have to ask for it!

Quote:
“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.†Tuli Kupferberg
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

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Thankful for Angels
by Charles R. Swindoll

Psalm 91

Have you counted your blessings lately? Let me suggest one you might have 
overlooked. Let's be thankful for angels---those unseen guardians who work 
overtime,
who never slumber or sleep.

Angels exist as supernatural creatures in and about heaven, and they are 
frequently dispatched to earth in human form to bring encouragement and 
assistance.
If you have ever encountered the sudden appearance and/or departure of an 
angel after receiving one's help, you are never quite the same.

Several years ago some high school fellas from the church I pastored in 
Southern California went on a mountain-climbing excursion, along with their 
youth
leader. While taking in the breathtaking sights, however, the leader 
realized he had lost the trail. A heavy snowfall had completely covered the 
path,
and he didn't have a clue where they were or how they could get back to the 
main camp. Sundown was not far away, and they were not equipped to spend the
night on the craggy, windblown slopes where the temperature would soon drop 
even lower.

While trudging through the snow, entertaining thoughts just this side of 
panic, they suddenly heard someone on the slopes above them yell down: 
"Hey---the
trail is up here!" They glanced up and to their relief saw another climber 
in the distance. Without hesitation, they began to make their way up to the
large boulder where the man was sitting. The climb was exhausting, but their 
relief in finding the way gave their adrenaline a rush.

Finally, they arrived . . . but to their surprise the man who had yelled at 
them was nowhere to be found. Furthermore, there were no traces in the snow
that anyone had been sitting on the boulder, nor were there footprints 
around the rock. The trail, however, stretched out before them, leading them 
to
safety. The boys not only learned a valuable lesson about the wilderness but 
also firmed up their belief in encountering "angels without knowing it."

God's special messengers are often invisible but never impotent. As the 
psalmist has written: "He will give His angels charge concerning you, To 
guard
you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not 
strike your foot against a stone" (Ps. 91:11-12).

Can you think of occasions in your own life when you had what you would 
consider "a close call"? How about one of your kids or friends? Can you 
remember
a time or two when, through some incredible manner, they were shielded from 
harm or delivered from danger?

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.

How to Find Your Lifelong Companion
Fear
© 2015 Insight for Living. All rights reserved worldwide.

Waiting on God

To get out of a pit, it's really not complicated.
Psalm 40:1-2
tells us the first step,

I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. 
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set 
my
feet upon a rock, and established my steps.

The first step in getting out of the pit of despair is to cry out to God. He 
will hear your cry, and He will bring you up and out.

But His answer is not always instant. Notice David said, I waited patiently 
for the Lord. The answer to his cry wasn't apparent for a while. If you've
spent a long time getting yourself into a mess, it may take some time for 
your deliverance.

A number of years back I went hunting with a friend. I was to fly on a 
little plane into a meadow about 20 miles into the wilderness where he was 
going
to meet me.

For a variety of reasons, I ended up being six hours late to the drop-off 
point. My friend wasn't there, so for 20 minutes the pilot of that little 
plane
tried to convince me not to stay. He said there were mountain lions, grizzly 
bears, packs of wolves… I would get eaten alive!

He finally left, and at about two in the morning I heard a noise. It wasn't 
a grizzly bear; it was my friend with the horses!

I think the devil is like that airplane pilot. He is always trying to talk 
us into quitting and giving up. But we can miss the greatest blessings in 
our
lives when we are not patient.

Visit the Answers with
Bayless Conley
website for more ways to Connect with God
Bayless Conley
broadcast at LightSource.com.

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You

A Word With You
Daily Devotional
How to Open Hearts to Jesus - #7434

I had the great privilege of being a part of Billy Graham's Congress on 
Evangelism in Amsterdam. After several days packed with challenging 
sessions, the
10,000 evangelists that were attending spent one entire afternoon in what 
was called a "Day of Witness." We were given box lunches to eat on the bus 
and
then sent across Holland that day to do evangelism in scores of places.

I was asked to be the bus captain for the 40 or so people on my bus. When I 
men¬tioned those lunches to Richard, the bus driver, he was not a happy 
camper.
He didn't seem par-ticularly sympathetic about what we were going to do. He 
sure wasn't going to have all those lunches on his bus. He said, "I always
end up cleaning a bus full of garbage." The only way we ever got out of the 
parking lot that day was because I pledged to Richard I would clean the bus
myself.

After we arrived at our venue and all the other delegates walked over to the 
plaza for the outreach, I stayed behind. I filled those trash bags as fast
as I could so I could get to where the spiritual action was. It turned out 
the action was on the bus. Our driver, Richard, inspected the bus and he 
said
in amazement, "It's clean. I can't believe it." Then he wanted to know in 
depth why we were there.

Suddenly this young man, who had greeted us with a lot of skepticism, wanted 
to know what made us tick. As I explained the difference between a religion
and a relationship with Jesus, it seemed like his heart was opening up to 
that relationship. While everyone else was presenting the Gospel to crowds 
of
shoppers, that bus became holy ground as our driver invited Jesus Christ to 
be his Savior. In a sense, that opportunity presented itself because of a 
guy
who picked up his garbage!

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to 
Open Hearts to Jesus."

Somewhere in your world there are people who need to hear about your Jesus 
and you know that. You've thought about trying to tell them what Jesus did 
for
them on the cross. But they don't seem to be interested, or they're off on 
another spiritual road that it's going to be hard to get them off of. How 
can
you get them to care about Jesus? What can you do to help open the closed 
door on their heart?

Remember the bus driver and the garbage bags. Or, better yet, remember our 
word for today from the Word of God, 1 Corinthians 9:19. Paul said, "Though
I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as 
many as possible." Wow! What a revolutionary strategy for getting people to
heaven! If there's someone you want to win to Jesus, become their servant.

As you look at your lost neighbor or coworker, teammate, family member, 
fellow student, maybe a friend, ask yourself, "What needs does that person 
have
where I could come alongside them and really be of service?" Maybe they 
could use your help on a project. Maybe they need practical help like taking 
care
of their kids, helping with transportation, lending them some equipment, 
listening to them, being at the hospital or the funeral, or picking up the 
garbage.
Our Dutch bus driver's heart wasn't opened by some clever approach I had to 
talking about Jesus. It was opened by love that did something about a need
he cared about.

If you want to reach someone, find a way to serve them. You'll be 
demonstrating your message before you present your message. Their heart will 
be soft
to the messenger, and hopefully to the message. You'll get close to them by 
getting down where they are to serve them.

Now, whether it's a bus driver with a messy bus or a neighbor with their own 
kind of mess, the way to their heart is to be the one with the garbage bag
or whatever will serve their particular need. It's life-or-death business 
that those people hear about your Jesus. Their eternity depends on it. You 
need
to serve them, as Jesus became the servant, when He gave up His life to meet 
our need.

Before you tell them about Jesus, why don't you show them how Jesus treats 
people.
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. · P.O. Box 400 · Harrison, Arkansas 72602 · 
USA
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Labor Day

This is Labor Day weekend in the United States and Canada. Some people treat 
this as the last weekend to take off and take a short vacation while others 
treat it as a day to labor around the house. I heard a woman call in to a 
radio station the other day saying she was going to labor around the house 
including taking down her Christmas decorations. Whatever way the day is 
celebrated it should remind each of us who know Jesus Christ what He wants 
us to do:

Luke 10:2 (KJV)
2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers 
are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth 
labourers into his harvest.

When Martin Luther set out on the work which shook the world, his friend 
Myconius expressed sympathy. “But,” he said, “I can best help where I am. I 
will remain and pray while you toil.” Myconius prayed day by day, but as he 
prayed he began to feel uncomfortable.
One night he had a dream. He thought the Saviour himself approached and 
showed him his hands and feet. He saw the fountain in which he had been 
cleansed from sin. Then looking earnestly into his eyes the Saviour said, 
“Follow me.” The Lord took him to a lofty mountain and pointed eastward. 
Looking in that direction Myconius saw a plain stretching away to the 
horizon. It was dotted with white sheep—thousands and thousands of them. One 
man was trying to shepherd them all. The man was Luther. The Saviour pointed 
westward. Myconius saw a great field of standing corn. One reaper was trying 
to harvest it all. The lonely laborer was spent and exhausted, but still he 
persisted in his task. Myconius recognized in the solitary reaper his old 
friend Luther.
“It is not enough,” said Myconius when he awakened, “that I should pray. The 
sheep must be shepherded; the fields must be reaped. Here am I; send me.” 
And he went out and shared his old friend’s labors.
—Fiery Crags, by Boreham

I heard of one woman who was bedridden but asked for prayer requests wich 
were put on a bulletin board by her bed so she could pray for them. She 
probably did minister to those who were there to help her also. We could do 
the same if we were in the same position. We could spend our time in prayer 
but also minister to those we came in contact with.

May we pray that laborers will go into the harvest field. Let us be open to 
the leading of the Holy Spirit that we may become the laborers the Lord is 
calling.

by Dean W. Masters

Evangelism Weekly

The Power of Listening in Evangelism
Randy Newman

Early on in the designing of my research about evangelism, I had to choose 
between qualitative research (extended interviews) and quantitative research
(computerized surveys). In a moment of temporary insanity, I considered 
doing both. My dissertation advisor said, “Well… you could do both—if you 
wanted
to pursue two doctorates!” I opted for the face-to-face, 
structured-yet-flexible, 45-minutes-to-an-hour, qualitative interview. And I’m 
glad I did.

I had my standardized list of 15 questions that I wanted answered by all of 
the 40 interviewees. But I also wanted to allow myself the option to explore
certain things they said with “could you tell me more about that?” or “what 
makes you say that?” or “It looks like you’re having trouble answering that
question. Are you?”

I began each interview by asking them how they became a Christian. I told 
them they could take as long as they wanted to tell their story. I found 
that
most of them actually answered 5 or more of my 15 questions without my 
needing to ask them. The rest of the interview pursued the questions they 
had not
yet answered and other aspects of their story that I wanted to hear more 
about.

A few recurring patterns emerged:

• Some things didn’t come to the surface until after 30 minutes. I started 
noticing things around the 35th or 40th minute when people would say things
like, “I just realized something,” or, “I never thought of this,” or, 
“Hmmmm. I need to think about that a little.”
• I saw some patterns they didn’t see. For example, I would ask if it was 
the same person who told them two important pieces of information or 
something
like that and several of them said, “Yeah. I didn’t see that before but you’re 
right.” One young woman didn’t think of something important until we were
all finished, standing up, shaking hands, and saying goodbye. At that point, 
my notebook was closed and my recorder was off, but she said, “Hey, I just
thought of something. For me, it had to be anonymous. It had to be a total 
stranger who talked to me about Jesus because I had alienated all the
Christians
I knew.” I sat down, took out my notebook, and added more to her story.
• When people had to find words to express their inner thoughts, the 
experience clarified their thinking. I wonder if some people actually become 
Christians
while they’re talking about something they think has already happened.
• It’s amazing how many things surprise you (the interviewer) and them (the 
interviewee).

So, my point is:

Lesson 11 – We need to listen to people’s stories to find out how God has 
worked and is working. We dare not presume that he needs to fit into our 
plans
or strategies.

This may seem obvious but you’d be amazed how rare it is. There is a lot of 
research done through technology that has people check boxes and rate 
experiences
on scales of 1 (totally disagree) to 9 (totally agree). I do think there’s 
great value in what we learn through such polls and surveys. I read a lot of
what Barna and Gallup and Pew and others find.

But there are limits. One extensive quantitative research project sought to 
learn why newcomers visited, stayed, and eventually joined churches. But, 
oddly,
they never asked the newcomers! They asked the pastoral staff of the 
churches. I remember laughing out loud when I read that many pastors said 
the “number
one reason” people came to their church was “the preaching.” That may be so. 
But I can think of more accurate, less biased sources for such information.

There are things we need to learn that won’t surface through the help of 
Survey Monkey and the like. Pastors would do well to interview people new to 
their
churches to find out why they came or what they’ve learned or where they are 
on their spiritual journey. Such interviews may turn out to be the most 
fruitful
evangelism we ever do!
----------------------------------------------------------
Randy Newman has been with the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ since 1980 
and currently serves with Faculty Commons, their ministry to university 
professors.
Randy is a Jewish Believer in Jesus and is the former editor of The 
Messiah-On-Campus Bulletin. He is the author of numerous articles and books 
including
Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did
and
Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and 
Others Who Know You Well.

LightSource.com Featured Ministry

Global Prayer Digest People of the Day
JESUS Film Project
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JESUS Film Project
Jul 08, 2015 01:00 am

Today's Devotional

Luke 6:19, NET "The whole crowd was trying to touch Him, because power was 
coming out from Him and healing them all."

Imagine how hard it must have been for needy, sick people to want to listen 
to Jesus rather than just use Him for healing. The same temptation is with
us today. Those who need God’s healing touch can often want it no matter 
where it comes from, without seeking the Holy One who came to teach about 
the
Kingdom of God.

Pray for the needy people in China to not just look to the Lord for healing, 
but to embrace the ways of the Divine Healer.—KC

Today's People Group

At a humanitarian center in a Middle Eastern refugee camp, a church-planting 
team was showing the JESUS Film. Kwala, a 21-year old woman, sat with 
inquisitive
eyes and commented, “I have never heard of such miracles!” She asked for a 
Bible to read more. The next week she returned and said, “Do I need to 
declare
that I’m a Christian to all my family and neighbors? Should I take off my 
veil?” The staff members responded, “It is enough to pray to Jesus and ask 
Him
into your life.”
The motto of the JESUS Film project is, “Because seeing is believing.” The 
goal of the JESUS Film Project is to help share Jesus with everyone in his 
or
her own heart language using media tools and movement building strategies. 
The film is a two-hour docudrama about the life of Christ based on the 
Gospel
of Luke. Many mission experts have acclaimed the JESUS Film as one of the 
greatest evangelistic success stories of all time.
The ultimate success of this project won’t be measured by how many people 
have seen it, but by how many will follow Him after seeing the film. It is 
available
in 1308 languages, 429 audio dramas, and 157 children’s versions.

Pray that the JESUS Film will be shown in places where the gospel is 
hindered by a lack of education. Pray for refugees seeing the film to ask 
Jesus into
their lives. Pray for the project’s success in recording the film in even 
more languages, especially in China.

Learn more at
Joshua Project.

God's Hand in Your Life

Psalms 103:2

It is a delightful and profitable occupation to mark the hand of God in the 
lives of ancient saints and to observe His goodness in delivering them, His
mercy in pardoning them, and His faithfulness in keeping His covenant with 
them. But would it not be even more interesting and profitable for us to 
observe
the hand of God in our own lives? Should we not look upon our own history as 
being at least as full of God, as full of His goodness and of His truth, as
much a proof of His faithfulness and veracity as the lives of any of the 
saints who have gone before?

We do our Lord an injustice when we suppose that He performed all His mighty 
acts and showed Himself strong for those in the early time but does not 
perform
wonders or lay bare His arm for the saints who are now upon the earth. Let 
us review our own lives. Surely in these we may discover some happy 
incidents,
refreshing to ourselves and glorifying to our God. Have you had no 
deliverances? Have you passed through no rivers, supported by the divine 
presence? Have
you walked through no fires unharmed? Have you had no manifestations? Have 
you had no choice favors? The God who gave Solomon the desire of his heart,
has He never listened to you and answered your requests? That God of lavish 
bounty of whom David sang, "who satisfies you with good,"1 has He never 
filled
you up to overflowing? Have you never been made to lie down in green 
pastures? Have you never been led by the still waters?

Surely the goodness of God has been the same to us as to the saints of old. 
Let us, then, weave His mercies into a song. Let us take the pure gold of 
thankfulness
and the jewels of praise and make them into another crown for the head of 
Jesus. Let our souls produce music as sweet and as exhilarating as came from
David's harp while we praise the Lord whose mercy endures forever.

1 Psalm 103:5

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Joshua 11

verse 2 Psalms 144

The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship

Broader and deeper than simple fellowship, biblical friendship is first and 
foremost about a relationship with Jesus Christ. As you are brought into 
friendship
and relationship with the Father, Jesus Christ calls you a friend! It is out 
of this friendship that our human friendships find their beginning and their
purpose. Biblical friendship is deep, honest, pure, transparent, and 
liberating. It is also attainable. Dig into this book, and learn how your 
friendships
can embody this amazing and wonderful reality.


From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. 
Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News 
Publishers,
Wheaton, IL 60187,
www.crossway.org.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 06 Sep 2015, 9:28 pm

Wet Feet

Retaliation has its appeal. But Jesus has a better idea.

John 13 records the events of the final night before Jesus' death. He and 
his followers had gathered in the Upper Room for Passover. John begins his 
narrative
with a lofty statement: "Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority 
over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God" (
John 13:3
NLT).

Jesus knew the who and why of his life. Who was he? God's Son. Why was he on 
earth? To serve the Father. Jesus knew his identity and authority, "so he
got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 
and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples' feet and
to wipe them with the towel he had around him" (
John 13:4–5
NLT).

Jesus -- CEO, head coach, king of the world, sovereign of the seas -- washed 
feet.

Even Judas. The lying, conniving, greedy rat who sold Jesus down the river 
for a pocket of cash. Jesus won't wash his feet, will he? Sure hope not. If
he washes the feet of his Judas, you will have to wash the feet of yours. 
Your betrayer. That ne'er-do-well, that good-for-nothing villain. Jesus' 
Judas
walked away with thirty pieces of silver. Your Judas walked away with your 
virginity, security, spouse, job, child-hood, retirement, investments.

You expect me to wash his feet and let him go?

Most people don't want to. They use the villain’s photo as a dart target. 
Their Vesuvius blows up every now and again, sending hate airborne, 
polluting
and stinking the world. Most people keep a pot of anger on low boil.

But you aren't "most people." Grace has happened to you. Look at your feet. 
They are wet, grace soaked. Your toes and arches and heels have felt the 
cool
basin of God's grace. Jesus has washed the grimiest parts of your life. He 
didn't bypass you and carry the basin toward someone else. If grace were a 
wheat
field, he's bequeathed you the state of Kansas. Can't you share your grace 
with others?

"Since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash 
each other's feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done 
to
you" (
John 13:14–15
NLT).

To accept grace is to accept the vow to give it.
Copyright Information
Today's devotional is drawn from Max Lucado's
Facing Your Giants.


When 'Good Morning' is a Bad Word
by Katherine Britton

If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken 
as a curse. -
Proverbs 27:14
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for 
building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
-
Ephesians 4:29

I am not a morning person.

My college friends and I still joke about the semester our intrepid Bible 
study (we were studying Romans with just about every denominational 
background
represented) decided it was a good idea to change our meeting time to 
Saturday mornings. My nocturnal habits often made me the least inclined to 
drag myself
from repose, and I confess that I used the "I think I'm coming down with a 
cold" excuse more than once. On one such morning, another member of the 
group
decided she would jumpstart my lethargic spirituality. While I was groggily 
ignoring my roommate's gentle encouragement to come to Bible study, she 
walked
the dorm room, threw open the curtains to the sunshine, and loudly 
proclaimed, "GOOD MORNING, KATHERINE!"

I have no idea what I said in response, but I'm sure it wasn't Christian.

I respect my friend's abiding
faith
in early bird philosophy, but I was delighted a few months later when I 
discovered Proverbs 27:14. The Message clarifies the verse by putting it 
this
way: "If you wake your friend in the early morning by shouting ‘Rise and 
shine!' It will sound to him more like a curse than a blessing."

I immediately told my friends that my discovery. I had found concrete 
evidence that God was not a morning person.

Of course, the verse's real point deals less with God's waking hours and 
more with speaking wisely. Proverbs once again brings the focus back to the 
power
and timing of our words when we relate to other. The funny illustration 
demonstrates that wisdom is more than a wholesome word or truth. Wisdom is 
also
a truth aptly spoken.

Sunday School has drilled the catchphrase "Speak the truth in love" 
(Ephesians 4:15) into our heads, but even this approach can lack grace. Paul 
himself
encouraged his readers to consider that not every word is fit for every 
occasion. Even the comforting promise of Romans 8:28 - that God works all 
things
for good of those who
love
him - should sometimes give way to grieving when the cancer diagnosis is 
first announced or a loved one dies. Those are obvious examples, and the 
more
subtle situations are myriad. But here's the lesson I take away from this 
verse: We're supposed to consider the impact on our hearers. Wise words do 
more
than offer the right word and expect our friends to recognize its truth even 
if we choose an inopportune moment. Instead, I have to recognize that the
right word offered at the wrong time might as well be a curse instead of a 
blessing.

I take comfort in knowing that I don't have to spew every nugget of 
knowledge at every pertinent encounter. We're not supposed to be somebody 
else's
Holy Spirit,
convicting them of every errant or off-color word. Nor are we supposed to be 
perpetually perky saints, walking around singing hallelujahs all the time.
There's a place for bold ministry, but too often I confuse boldness with my 
very human need to "say something" - and the results are rarely "good for 
building
up" or "as fits the occasion."

Intersecting Faith & Life: Don't be the neighbor who yells, "Good morning" 
too loudly. Let's encourage each other with words that "will give grace to 
those
who hear" this week. Our goal is not to make others see our point of view or 
our wisdom, but to build each other up with the love of Christ.

Further Reading

Ecclesiastes 3
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 05 Sep 2015, 4:22 pm

5 Life-Changing Lessons from the Story of Shadrach Meshach and Abednego
Sarah Coleman
Prevention is better than a cure. So you eat your vegetables, drink eight 
glasses of water each day, stay away form illicit substances, exercise 
regularly,
drive within the speed limit, pray, and believe the Bible.
Despite all the effort, sometimes stuff still goes wrong: you have a heart 
attack; your mother gets cancer; your
marriage
falls apart; your children rebel; you lose your job; the list goes on.
Long ago there were three Hebrews who lived righteous lives, yet things 
didn't go so well for them. They encountered evil, but rather than succumb 
like
everyone else around them, they challenged their situation. At first matters 
only became worse, but in the end they came through smelling like roses.
Life isn't easy, and sometimes it deals you a rotten hand. Don't succumb to 
the weight of it all; find hope in the story of Shadrach, Meshach and 
Abednego.
Because what you need is a miracle in the fire.
Persuaded
Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his
faith
grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced 
that God is able to do whatever he promises (
Romans 4:20-21).
When you read the account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3, one 
thing is apparent: they were fully persuaded. Nothing could make them bow
to Nebuchadnezzar's statue - no threats, no consequence, no punishment. They 
were fully persuaded of the promises of God and in their obedience to him
(
Daniel 3:16-18).
If life has pushed you too far, it is time to rise up with the attitude of 
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - an attitude where you are fully persuaded.
God can rescue me from cancer... Even if he doesn't, I will not bow down.
God can restore my marriage... Even if he doesn't, I will not bow down.
God will cause me to prosper... Even if he doesn't, I will not bow down.
Pressure
You might expect a fully persuaded attitude would cause breakthrough. Not 
necessarily. When Nebuchadnezzar heard Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego's 
words
of defiance, he did not back down either. He turned up the pressure. Things 
got even hotter (
Daniel 3:19).
Things may be heating up in your life - divorce, custody battles, sickness, 
mental illness. You took a stand for God but things just got worse. You 
found
yourself staring down a fire. A fire like none you've seen. You thought God 
would save you from the fire. You prayed God would save you from the fire.
But it remains.
Don't despair. Because when the devil turns up the heat, God does too.
Promise
But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And he who formed 
you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your 
name;
You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And 
through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the 
fire,
you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you”
(Isaiah 43:1-2).
God isn't going to save you from the fire. He will bring you through it. 
When you walk through the fire of cancer, sickness, divorce, financial 
ruin -
you shall not be burned.
Nebuchadnezzar made the fire so hot it killed some of his strongest soldiers 
(
Daniel 3:22).
Fire is deadly - for some. But you will not be truly burned. If you are 
fully persuaded of the promises of God, you will not be destroyed.
You expected the miracle outside the fire. You thought God would save you 
before things went that far. But for you, the miracle is in the fire.
Like it was for three Hebrews.
Protection
When Nebuchadnezzar threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the fire, 
their chains broke, Jesus walked with them, and they did not smell of smoke 
(
Daniel 3:24-27).
When you walk through the fire, chains will break. Satan has used your 
situation to keep you living a small and contained life. No longer! Chains 
break
in the fire.
According to the promise of
Isaiah 43,
Jesus will walk with you in the fire. Whatever the trouble or trial may be, 
you will have a tangible sense of his presence. Jesus reveals himself in the
fire. Watch for deeper revelation and worship experiences in your life.
Promotion
When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego exited the fire, they received a 
promotion. King Nebuchadnezzar saw the goodness and favour of God on their 
lives and
promoted them in his worldly kingdom (
Daniel 3:30).
The fire may have been your greatest test, but on the other side you will 
see promotion. You will experience spiritual promotion, for fire always 
refines.
You may also encounter physical promotion in your job and experience greater 
favor with those you know. Others will recognize the goodness of God through
your faith.
If the fires of life are threatening, take heart. The miracle of Shadrach, 
Meshach and Abednego is a miracle for you too. Be fully persuaded. Believe 
the
promise, so when the pressure increases, you receive protection and 
ultimately promotion.
Don't give up. Your miracle is in the fire.
I'm Sarah Coleman, an Aussie passionate about Jesus & family. Through blogs 
and books I minister life and encouragement. Download my FREE eBook,
Be Amazing: You Know You Want To.
Find more of my thoughts at
sarahcoleman.com.au.


Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion
Your Burdens
Tuesday, July 7, 2015

“I shall call upon God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and 
at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice . . . Cast 
your
burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the 
righteous to be shaken.”
- Psalm 55:16-22 NASB

The son of slaves, Charles Tindley consistently demonstrated initiative. 
Born in Maryland on this day in 1851, he became determined to secure an 
education,
in spite of the obstacles. He taught himself to read and write, and worked 
as a janitor while attending night school. He earned his divinity degree 
through
a correspondence course, and even taught himself Greek and Hebrew. Then, in 
1902, he became pastor of the Philadelphia church where he had served as 
janitor.

One day, Tindley was visited by a man who was overwhelmed with worries. 
Tindley responded, “My advice to you is put all your troubles in a sack, 
take ’em
to the Lord, and leave ’em there.”

As he did so often (as the “father of Gospel music”), Tindley turned this 
conviction into a song. He wrote, “If the world from you withhold of its 
silver
and its gold, and you have to get along with meager fare, just remember, in 
His Word, how He feeds the little bird; take your burden to the Lord and 
leave
it there.” The message was repeated: “If you trust and never doubt, He will 
surely bring you out.”

Tindley knew that this truth applied in every situation. “If your body 
suffers pain and your health you can’t regain, and your Soul is almost 
sinking in
despair, Jesus knows the pain you feel, He can save and He can heal.”

Do you have burdens that seem overwhelming? It can be easy to go through the 
motions and still carry burdens. Don’t let this happen to you. Obey God’s
Word! Cast your burdens on Him! And leave them with Him.

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Father, I commit these burdens to You: __________. I cast them on You. 
Thank You for taking them away. Thank You for Your peace and freedom. In 
Jesus’
name. Amen.

Further Reading: Psalm 55
© 2015 Inspiration Ministries, All rights reserved

Today's Turning Point with David Jeremiah

Today's

Turning Point
Tuesday, July 7

A Dark and Dirty World

Let all that you do be done with love.
1 Corinthians 16:14

Recommended Reading
Luke 4:16-20
In Born to Battle, Sallie Chesham described the “Slum Sisters”—a group of 
nineteenth century American Salvation Army women who went into the darkest 
neighborhoods
with the compassion of Christ. “They spent their days in house-to-house 
visitation,” wrote Chesham, “doing whatever needed to be done, ready to 
scrub,
drive out rats, tend a jaundiced woman, bathe a dead baby and arrange for 
the funeral, deal with a drunken father, chat with distressed boys and 
girls.
The Bible was in their pocket and a prayer on their tongue.”

Listen to Today's Radio Broadcast
Too often we shy away from the darker, dirtier places where God’s love is 
most needed. Jesus went everywhere. He touched the lepers, entered 
graveyards
in search of demoniacs, talked to despised Samaritans, and wept by the tombs 
of the dead. His grace can reach the darkest places with the light of His
message.

Wherever the Lord sends you, He will go with you. He will use you.

They grew accustomed to the worst aspects of life and quickly discovered 
that God’s love, as shown by a helpful dust cloth or a scrub brush or a bar 
of
soap, or more simply, a cup of hot tea, was usually more welcome than when 
expounded from a pulpit.
Sallie Chesham

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Proverbs 24-26
David Jeremiah's Website


Love Will Lift You

Love lifts a broken heart—not just any love, but the love of God. Most of us 
have sung James Rowe's hymn, "Love Lifted Me." The first verse contains 
these
words:

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more.
But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me—now safe am I.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help, love lifted me!

Sometimes nothing can lift our hearts like the love of God. Friends abandon 
us. Colleagues try to bypass us. Even our families may fail to understand 
us.
But God's love for us never changes.

Even when we act unlovable, God continues to love us. When we are 
undesirable, He embraces us. When it seems that the world has turned against 
us, God's
love remains. He has promised never to leave us hopeless.

Difficulties in life can certainly leave us feeling broken and confused. 
Many times, disappointments come in order to teach us more about the depths 
of
God's love. In desperation, we turn to God. This is when we discover that 
only His love can truly lift us up and restore our sense of hope.

We may struggle to find another way around our problems, hoping that someone 
or something will bring relief, but nothing can help us outside the love of
God. Only His love has the ability to satisfy our every need.

Maybe you are wondering if God really loves you. Have you yielded to sin? Or 
have you allowed the world and its trappings to come between you and your
Savior? Cry out to Him and He will restore the joy of your
salvation.
When nothing else can help, love will lift you.

****

Enjoy 365 Biblical daily devotional emails from Michael Youssef by
registering for My Devotional today.

You Don’t Have to Plan Everything
Jon Bloom / July 7, 2015
You Don’t Have to Plan Everything

God doesn’t want you to plan everything.

Don’t get me wrong. Planning is a beautiful thing. God is a magnificent 
planner — in the bigness of the universe and the smallest molecules. Many 
things
in life simply do not happen without planning. Stadiums aren’t built, sewer 
systems aren’t installed, power grids aren’t maintained, children aren’t 
educated,
books aren’t written, churches aren’t planted, weight isn’t lost, and often 
prayer doesn’t happen without a plan.

Jesus’s Largely Unprogrammed Ministry

And yet the most powerful ministry encounters recorded from Jesus’s life 
seemed to take place during unexpected, informal, unprogrammed moments. If 
you
skim through the Gospel of John, you’ll see what I mean. Most of what John 
recorded of Jesus’s ministry — from his baptism to his post-resurrection 
appearances
— were experienced by his followers and observers as unplanned, spontaneous 
events.

In other words, the picture we get of Jesus’s earthly ministry strategy is 
not a highly structured three-year plan with a detailed, efficiently 
executed
travel schedule and preaching itinerary. Rather, what we see is Jesus 
remaining in a state of constant prayer, confident in the Father’s plan, 
watching
for his Father’s initiative (John 5:19), and, in response to that 
initiative, making decisions to stay or move or preach or heal — decisions 
that from
a human perspective seemed spontaneous.

Not By Might, Nor By Power, But By the Spirit

So what, if anything, does this mean for twenty-first-century Western 
Christians who live in a very complex technological culture that highly 
values strategic
planning in just about every area in life — from exercise to school to 
parenting to yard work to our 9-to-5? We must remain aware of and critically 
evaluate
our cultural values. We learn from our culture that success is owing to 
effective planning and execution. We absorb this value just living in our 
world.

But the examples in the Gospels and Acts tell us that the kingdom of God is 
being built according to God’s “definite plan and foreknowledge” (Acts 
2:23),
not ours (Isaiah 58:8–9). We cannot build the kingdom of God like the new, 
billion-dollar stadium is being built in Minneapolis. Success for us is not
merely a combination of the right goals, the right blueprint, the right 
budget, the right resources, the right timeline, the right talent, and the 
right
materials. The reason is that we often don’t even know what the key factors 
are in ministry — what faithfulness and fruitfulness look like in a 
particular
situation or relationship.

God purposely plans to build his kingdom through works of his sovereign 
Spirit rather than sheer human might and power (Zechariah 4:6). God 
purposely chooses
to build his kingdom using means and people that from a worldly standpoint 
are weak and foolish (1 Corinthians 1:22–29). God purposes to build his 
kingdom
in ways that are different from the ways the world generally works because 
the kingdom is a new creation, not part of the old one (2 Corinthians 5:17).
It’s a new world order (Isaiah 65:17). And therefore it is very important to 
God that we, as citizens of his better, heavenly country (Hebrews 11:16),
do not rest our faith “in the wisdom of man but in the power of God” (1 
Corinthians 2:5).

Some Diagnostic Questions

This is a significant reason why God chose to move like he did in the 
Gospels and Acts. He wanted to show the world that he exists and rewards 
those who
seek him (Hebrews 11:6), and he wanted his people to not depend on their own 
wisdom, but to be prayerful, watchful, and responsive in faith when he works
in unexpected ways.

And this reason hasn’t changed.

Given our cultural assumptions, we must ask ourselves, how prayerful are we 
in our plans and programs? I mean, really prayerful.

Are we really asking God for specific things?
Are we really listening? Are we really watching?
Are we flexible and available to respond to an unexpected, unprogrammed move 
of God?
Do the structures we’ve constructed in our lives and ministries even allow 
for this?
Do we even want God to move in such ways?

These are just questions. I’m asking them freshly of myself, and so I’ll 
pass them along to you. This is a diagnostic exercise. We who are often 
enamored
with plans and programs must question our cultural assumptions. We must hold 
up our lives next to Jesus’s and to the early church, and let them speak 
into
us and our strategies.

God isn’t against ministry plans and programs. The highly structured temple 
worship described in Leviticus, the complex, multi-dimensional 
administration
required to govern Israel, and the normative rhythm of corporate worship and 
life together found in the New Testament show us this. God is glorified in
good planning.

But God doesn’t want or intend us to plan everything. He is working a highly 
detailed plan and he wants us to follow his lead — perhaps more than we are
today. Let us ask ourselves if and where we may be leaning too much on our 
own understanding in pursuing God’s kingdom advance.
Are You a Friend of Jesus?
John Piper / July 7, 2015
Are You a Friend of Jesus?

Are you a friend of Jesus? How do you know? In this lab, John Piper looks 
again at John 15 to see what kind of confidence we can have that Jesus loves
us and died for our sins. He looks closely at one two-letter word that makes 
all the difference.
Copyright © 2015 Desiring God, all rights reserved
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 03 Sep 2015, 5:17 pm

Today's Daily Encounter

Creative Boredom

"We want to avoid any criticism of the way we
administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains
to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord
but also in the eyes of men."1

"A young boy complained to his father that most of the
church hymns were boring to him--too far behind the
times, tiresome tunes and meaningless words. His father
put an end to the discussion by saying, 'If you think
you can write better hymns, then why don't you?' The
boy went to his room and wrote his first hymn. The year
was 1690. The teenager was Isaac Watts. 'When I Survey
the Wondrous Cross' and 'Joy to the World' are among
almost 350 hymns written by him. Feeling Bored? Let the
world remember you for 300+ years!"2

I recall reading about a lady who said to Evangelist
Dwight L. Moody, "I don't like the way you preach," to
which Mr. Moody replied, "I don't either. How do you do
it?" I recalled Moody's response when the president of
a denominational college (seminary) in Australia was
questioning the value of our outreach work and asked,
"And how do you handle your follow-up?" So I asked him
how he handled his. He replied, "I don't. I teach." A
businessman once asked me the same question so I said
to him, "If you give us the needed financial support
we'll develop the best follow-up program." He walked
out without saying a word.

Constructive criticism is fine--providing we are
prepared to do something about what we are being
critical about--rather than just being negative and
becoming a part of the problem.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please deliver me from
having a negative critical attitude always looking for
the faults and weaknesses in what others do. However,
when I see a need for improvement in any area, please
help me so that any criticism I give will be
constructive--and help me to be willing to do what I
can to help fix what needs to be fixed. Thank You for
hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's
name, amen."

1. 2 Corinthians 8:20-21 (NIV).
2. Richard Jones, Parish Bulletin, Good Shepherds
Wailuku, Diocese of Hawaii. © The Anglican Digest.
Cited in Encounter magazine (Australia) Vol. 38, No. 1,
2007.

<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.

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

Global Prayer Digest People of the Day
SonSet Solutions
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SonSet Solutions
Jul 06, 2015 01:00 am

Today's Devotional

Luke 12:51, NET "Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I 
tell you, but rather division."

People have wanted to have their own way since Adam and Eve lived in God’s 
perfect garden. Man can choose to use his privilege of choice for salvation
and blessing or to destroy peace. God allows division between people groups 
to show them their ways are not His ways. Conflict can show us what we need
to think or do differently to align ourselves with our Creator’s will.

Pray that warring people groups will begin to ask questions about why life 
is so dangerous and difficult, and that they will seek the One Who loves 
them
perfectly.—KH

Today's People Group

In North America people may assume that everyone has access to the 
Internet—if not at home, then at a local library or a wireless hot spot. We 
talk about
the worldwide web as if it is actually worldwide; but it’s not. According to 
the World Bank, about 20 percent of the world’s population has no access to
electricity and may be pre-literate. Many of those areas are closed to 
missionaries, so people have no choice but to live in physical and spiritual 
darkness.

But SonSet Solutions is working to reach lost people in remote areas of the 
world through solar-powered radios. Perhaps very soon, maybe in this 
generation,
everyone in the world will have an opportunity to hear the good news of 
Jesus Christ and to receive His free gift of salvation!
SonSet Solutions (sonsetsolutions.org) distributes the MB-1 portable, 
solar-powered radio that can have up to nine frequencies (AM, FM or SW) 
programmed
into its memory. It can be worn around the neck like a necklace that serves 
as its antenna. The radios are already in use in Haiti, Africa, and 
Indonesia.
One Muslim woman received Christ and has introduced 12 of her friends to 
Jesus through the radio broadcasts.

Pray for thousands more of the radios to be distributed throughout the world 
and for the Holy Spirit to use this ministry to draw people unto Jesus.

Learn more at
Joshua Project.

Can You Hear Me Now?
LEAH DIPASCAL

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."
John 10:27
(ESV)

Maybe you’ve heard someone say, "The Lord told me _____" or "I’ve sensed the 
Lord saying _____ to my heart." Did it make you wonder if you could discern
God’s voice too?

Maybe like me, you’ve wondered: Is it really possible to hear God’s voice? 
Can I know when He is speaking to me? Maybe that was just a random thought?
What if I make a decision based on what I think God is saying and then 
discover I was wrong … then what?

I wrestled with these questions several years ago when our family was going 
through a tough time. Much was at stake, and despite numerous conversations
with my husband, considering every option, it was clear that a sacrifice was 
required.

One morning, as I stared into my bathroom mirror — trying to ignore the knot 
in my stomach and holding back a wall of tears — I turned on my blow dryer
and started drying my hair.

I asked again, "Lord, what if I can’t discern what You’re telling me? Will 
all the chaos and thoughts swirling in my mind drown out Your voice?"

As the high-pitched sound of my blow dryer blasted away, I began to hear 
another sound. It was muffled and faded, yet I was aware of it.

I ignored the sound at first, but even with my blow dryer going, I could 
still hear a familiar tone.

I turned off the blow dryer and surprisingly heard my friend Renee Swope. 
Confused at first, I walked into the bedroom and realized her voice was 
coming
from the radio. She and Proverbs 31 Ministries President, Lysa TerKeurst, 
host a daily broadcast called "Everyday Life with Lysa and Renee."

Renee and I have been friends for years. We’ve spent lots of time together 
engaging in honest and transparent conversations.

As I listened to Renee’s voice, the thought came to me, "Because you know 
Renee so well and have spent a lot of time with her, you can discern her 
voice,
despite the overwhelming noise of the blow dryer."

I realized God was teaching me a new truth about discerning His voice.

Just like my close relationship with Renee, God showed me that a close 
relationship with Him — based on truth, transparency and time invested — was 
essential
to discerning His voice.

Over the years, as I’ve spent more time in God’s presence — through prayer, 
reading His Word and singing songs of worship — I’ve come to know Him better
and recognize His voice.

Maybe you’ve felt like God has been silent lately. Like you’re not sure God 
actually speaks to you or that you’re capable of discerning His voice. If 
so,
let me give you three things to consider:

Believe: Jesus said in
John 8:47a,
"Whoever belongs to God hears what God says" (NIV). If you’ve accepted Jesus 
Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you belong to Him. You already have the
capability of discerning God’s voice when He speaks to you. This happens 
through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Anticipate:
1 Samuel 3:9b
says, "Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening" (NIV). What if we 
approached each day with an attitude of anticipation, making this verse a 
welcome
invitation for the Lord to speak to us? Let’s set our hearts and minds to a 
place of readiness as we wait to hear from God.

Follow: Jesus said in
John 10:27,
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (ESV). God 
doesn’t just speak to be heard. He speaks to be obeyed. When we discern God’s
voice of direction or correction, we have to be willing to follow in 
obedience.

That day in my bathroom was a defining moment. I didn’t receive a specific 
answer to what our family was supposed to do. But I did receive a beautiful
promise from God, that when the time was right, He would let us know. And no 
noise from this world would block out His voice, as long as we stayed close
to Him.

Dear God, help me discern Your voice. Give me an attitude of anticipation to 
wake up every morning and say, "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." And
when You speak, let me be faithful to follow and obey You. In Jesus’ Name, 
Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 30:21,
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice 
behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’" (NIV)

Jeremiah 33:3,
"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things 
you do not know." (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Hear God’s Word first thing in the morning, by giving Him your first 5 
minutes. The First 5 app will be available soon and will transform your time 
with
God.
Learn more here.

Continue your First 5 journey with the corresponding Experience Guide. The 
Experience Guide is beautifully designed to complement each day’s teaching 
and
grow your faith, as you reflect on and respond to what you’re learning.
Pre-order your guide today
for a special price and receive it before the study starts!

Stop by
Leah DiPascal’s blog
today for more encouragement.
© 2015 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

My Shepherd!

(J. R. Miller
"Bethlehem to Olivet" 1905)

"The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need!" Psalm 23:1

The shepherd is a favorite Scriptural picture of the divine love and care. 
In the Old Testament, the twenty-third Psalm gathers the whole wonderful 
truth
in exquisite lines, which are dear to young and old wherever the Bible is 
known. Then in the New Testament, when our Lord would give His friends the 
sweetest
revealings of His heart toward them, and tell them what they are to Him, and 
what He would be to them--He says, "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good 
Shepherd
lays down His life for the sheep." John 10:11

The Hebrew shepherd lives with his sheep. If they are out in the storm--he 
is with them. If they are exposed to danger--so is he. Just so, Christ lives
with His people. He enters into closest relations with them.

The shepherd knows his sheep. He has a name for each one and calls them all 
by their names. Just so, Christ knows each one of His friends, and has 
intimate
personal knowledge of each one. He knows the best in us--and also the worst. 
He knows our faults, our sins, our wanderings. Yet, knowing us as we are--He
loves us still and never wearies of us!

The shepherd is most gentle with his sheep. He does not drive them--but goes 
before them and leads them. When they need rest on the way--he makes them
lie down, and chooses for their resting-place, not the dusty road--but green 
pastures. He is especially kind to the lambs, gathers them in his arms and
carries them in his bosom. All this is an exquisite picture of the 
gentleness of our Good Shepherd in His care of His sheep. He is thoughtful 
toward the
weak. He loves the lambs and makes room for them in His bosom. Whatever the 
need is, there is something in the heart of Christ which meets its craving
and supplies its lack! "He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will 
carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently 
lead
the mother sheep with their young." Isaiah 40:11

The shepherd defends his flock in all danger. Often he had to risk his own 
safety, even his life, in protecting his sheep. Just so, the Good Shepherd 
gives
His life--for His sheep!

Christ's sheep are absolutely safe in His keeping. "I give unto them eternal 
life," He said; "and they will never perish--ever! No one will snatch them
out of My hand!" Then at last, He will bring His own all safely home, "and 
they shall become one flock--with one Shepherd!"
Feel free to forward these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited 
by them!

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

Sing Something Fresh
Matt Boswell / July 4, 2015
Sing Something Fresh

I began writing new songs of worship when I was fifteen years old. No one 
sat me down and said this practice can be a part of growing in Christ, nor 
explained
the spiritual benefits of writing songs. I simply tasted the goodness of God 
and felt compelled to respond by crafting a new song.

Now, for the last twenty years, I have been trying to bend the English 
language around for the glory of God and write melodies to encourage the 
hearts
of his people. I know the difficulty and the reward of this labor and, more 
than ever, I feel the need to sing to the Lord a new song.

The Hymnal’s Not Closed

From the beginning of our history, God’s people have been a singing people. 
In Exodus 15, Moses stood before the Israelites who had just been rescued 
from
slavery and led them in a new song of praise. In Judges 5, when God 
powerfully delivered his people from the Canaanites, Deborah and Barak led 
the people
in a new song of salvation. At the dedication of the temple in 2 Chronicles 
5, the people sang a new song of God’s love and faithfulness.

The hymnal of the church has no back cover. While the canon of Scripture is 
closed, our hymnal is an ever-expanding work. We ought to continue to
sing the historic songs
of our faith, but we should not blush to add new expressions of worship to 
God. We have many new songs that are helpful, richly theological, and 
thoroughly
biblical.

The “new song” we sing is informed by the “old song” (Exodus 15) and looks 
with anticipation toward the new song we will sing in the presence of God 
(Revelation
5:8–10). Through the lens of the past, and with an eye to the future, our 
songwriting finds its place.

As the timeline of redemption unfolds, culminating in the restoration of all 
things, God’s people will continue writing and singing new songs.

Old Truths, New Songs

When you hold a diamond in your hand and allow the sunlight to pass through, 
it casts brilliant colors around the room. When you turn the diamond, you
see the brilliance of the stone in even more vibrant and beautiful ways. New 
songs have the same effect with the truths of God. When we sing new songs,
we see the truths we sing in a new light, provoking our hearts to continued 
praise.

Our new songs proclaim old truths. We walk a well-worn path of people who 
have wrestled with theological issues, philosophical tensions, and written 
about
their experience with God. That road has not yet reached its end.

When we sing new songs of praise to God, we walk in a tradition that from 
the beginning is marked by singing. Every historical hymn we sing has a 
birthdate.
It was once a new song and, over the course of time, has served the people 
of God by putting concepts into words, shaping emotions, and providing a 
tool
of communicating truth. Our new songs aim for the same thing: helping us 
wrap our hearts and minds around rich, theological truths, resulting in 
praising
God.

Celebrate New Mercies

We should celebrate the historic hymns of our faith. They have carried the 
burdens and lifted the hearts of countless people who have gone before us. 
At
the same time, we must celebrate new songs of our faith that will surely do 
the same work in us and the children who follow. As we continue to 
experience
the newness of God’s mercies, surely we will continue to have new songs to 
sing.

The next time you are in a church service and a new song is introduced, lean 
in and listen closely. Hopefully in it you will find truths for your heart
to be warmed by, and find your mouth open to sing a new song of praise. Walk 
with renewed wonder and obedience to “sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm
96:1).

There is more of God to know and praise, no matter how much of him you 
already have enjoyed.

Don’t Try To Do It All On Your Own
by
admin

Hebrews 4:15-16
For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our 
weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we 
are, yet
without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so 
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hard times bring you to the point of wanting a closer walk with God usually, 
and when you are closer to God you will have more joy and peace. It is sad
that it sometimes takes really tough times to bring us to the point of 
crawling up on His lap to draw close to Him and to have that really close 
relationship
with Him! The really scary thing is that as women we often take our hurt and 
broken hearts and instead of turning to God we hold on and decide we will
never be vulnerable in that area again. That sounds real
good at the time but when we build that wall we are really shutting 
ourselves in and then we are not open to the healing or the love and 
protection we
need. God would love to have that close loving relationship with us on a 
daily basis, He wants to be our strength and protection. Why do we wait for
tragedy to strike before we have the relationship we could have every day? 
It is so much easier to deal with every day life when we are close to Him 
than
it is to do it on our own until it all goes haywire. I like to consider 
myself a "strong woman" but quite often I take that to an extreme because I 
somehow
think that will prevent me from getting hurt. All it does is hurt me in the 
process because everything I am saying and doing is coming from a heart that
fears hurting like that again. God never meant for us to do it all on our 
own, He may have allowed you to come to this place to lean on Him.

It's time to give all of those broken hearts and walls we have built to God, 
just hand them over every morning until they fade into the past where they
belong and allow Him to make us the "strong Godly women" He has called us to 
be! I would encourage you to look for Him in all you do and to really ask
Him to give you a desire to be in your Bible. The easiest way to get that 
close relationship is to spend the time getting to know who He is! He 
really
does want to bless you in even the littlest of ways, whether it is a 
beautiful sunset, great parking space, what ever it might be, He does enjoy 
spending
time with you, so don't shut Him out, absorb all that He wants to pour into 
you, then when you have a "time of need" you will have the confidence to go
to Him and trust Him, knowing He understands and wants to be there for you!

Funny Quote for the day:
A woman taught the tiny tots in her Sunday school class to sing her favorite 
hymn, "Oh, the Consecrated Cross I Bear". Then came the Sunday
morning when a concerned mother questioned the teacher about the songs she 
was teaching the children. Her child told her she'd learned to sing, "Oh,
the constipated, cross-eyed bear."
By Dean Masters
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 01 Sep 2015, 8:02 pm

Why God Makes You Wait

There are times in the Christian’s life where we wait upon God, where we 
wait for relief from some kind of afflication, and where we wait for a long 
time
for God to answer prayer. I am certain that you have experienced times like 
these, and know that the temptation in such times is to despair and to 
demand,
to grow angry and impatient. But in The Mystery of Providence John Flavel 
warns: Though God means to give you the comfort or mercy you long for, he 
usually
first exercises your patience by making you wait. He does that for these 3 
reasons:

1. Because this is not the right time for you to receive that mercy. Simply 
stated, God does not judge time as you do. You are in a hurry, but God is 
not,
and he knows the perfect time to dispense his mercy. “For the LORD is a God 
of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him†(Isaiah 30:18). Will you
wait for his timing?
2. These difficult circumstances have not accomplished in your heart what 
God means for them to accomplish. Though you may be earnest and impatient in
your desire for what you believe are better circumstances, God will wait 
until the trial has accomplished his purposes.
3. The more you pray and the more you search your heart, the sweeter the 
relief will be when it comes. God means to overwhelm you with his grace, and 
it
may take fervent prayer and humble patience for you to respond to his mercy 
in the right way. “It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we
have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited 
for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation’ (Isaiah 25:9 ESV).â€

As a sinful human being you are prone to judge your circumstances by your 
senses and observations. Always consider that God’s heart can be toward you 
even
while his hand appears to be against you. If your circumstances continue 
unabated you may be tempted to think that your prayers have been useless and 
that
you are without hope in the world. You may even go so far as to conclude 
that God is angry with you and has closed his ears to your prayers. But the 
God
who has saved you will never turn his back on you.

Instead of believing such lies, consider these 6 things:

1. God is delaying his mercy for your benefit. God is waiting so that he may 
extend grace to you at the perfect moment. Right now you are in the time of
preparation where God is readying the comfort he means to give you. A 
foolish child plucks an apple while it is green. But when that apple is 
ripe, it
drops off of its own accord and is far more delicious and wholesome. Wait 
with wisdom and patience. It will be worth the wait.
2. A heart that trusts in God is far more precious than any comfort. It is a 
greater mercy to have a heart that trusts in God than to enjoy the comfort
you are sure you need. Flavel says, “a frame is better than a fruition.†A 
heart oriented toward God is much more precious and enduring than any 
peaceful
or comfortable circumstance.
3. Mercy is never nearer than when your heart and hope is lowest. Light 
shines the brightest when you are sure that only darkness remains. God’s 
mercy
will be all the brighter when your heart is in its darkest state.
4. God delays his mercy because you are unfit to receive it. God’s mercy may 
be waiting for you to become ready to receive it. God may holding it back
for your own good, even while you grumble and complain about his lack of 
haste.
5. Remember that any mercy you desire is only and entirely a gift of grace. 
You do not deserve God’s mercy and have no claim to it. Because of this, the
only proper way to wait for it is with patience and gratitude. You are 
waiting for a gift, not for your just reward.
6. Consider how many people are forever cut off from all hope of mercy. 
Consider those who are perishing without grace and how for them all that 
remains
is the further expectation of wrath. This might have been you if not for the 
grace of God. So wait for God’s mercy with patient humility.
Posted by Dean Masters

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, 'Who are these, clothed in 
white robes, and from where have they come?'" Revelation 7:13

By Answers2Prayer

A New Value

"Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, 'Who are these, clothed in 
white robes, and from where have they come?' I said to him, 'Sir, you know.' 
And
he said to me, 'These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They 
have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'" 
Revelation
7:13-14

What is a thing worth? Sometimes figuring out the worth of a thing can be a 
difficult task.

There are things which bring back memories; there are things which are 
heirlooms or antiques; there are things which are personally precious to us 
as individuals.
The value on those items is far more to us than anyone else would be willing 
to pay if the item were put up for auction.

Here is an example: there is a little piece of silk in a Springfield, 
Illinois, museum. If you were to go to a fabric store, and if they would be 
willing
to sell you a piece of cloth so small, it would cost you no more than a 
penny or two. That being said, there is no amount of money which would 
enable you
to purchase this piece of silk. That's because this bit of cloth is stained 
with blood.

Now that is an interesting fact, but that fact hardly explains why this bit 
of material is considered to be so precious. Its value only becomes clear 
when
you are told this bit of silk was once part of the dress worn by the girl 
who sat in the presidential box the night Abraham Lincoln was murdered. As 
he
was dying, she cradled his head in her lap, just as a mother might hold her 
child.

It is his blood which has stained that cloth.

Long ago the State of Illinois bought that dress, cut out that piece of 
silk, and placed it out for public viewing so all could see. Because of the 
blood
of a great man, that pitiful piece of fabric has a value beyond reckoning.

So, let me now ask you, what are you worth?

Looking at your sinful soul, at all the transgressions you have committed, 
the answer would have to be, "Not much. Not much at all." But when a person
is brought to faith, when those sins are washed away by the precious blood 
of Jesus Christ, things change.

Your soul, which once was condemned to eternal punishment in hell, has been 
given new value, a wonderful value. At the cost of the life of God's Son, 
our
Savior, you have been washed of your sins; the old is gone and a new value 
is placed upon you.

Knowing your value ought to make a difference in your life. Because you know 
that Jesus lived, died and rose to rescue you, you can be assured that 
nothing
in your past and nothing anybody else says can change the value God has 
given you. Because of Jesus' blood, you have become priceless.

My priceless friends, believe it and live it.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks that by the Holy Spirit's power, I have 
been brought to faith and my sin-saturated soul has been washed in Jesus'
blood. Now may I live a life which glorifies Him and bears witness to the 
transforming power of the Redeemer. It is in His Name I pray. Amen.

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

Announcement:

Would you like to be blessed by reading testimonies of people who've 
experienced answered prayers? Go to
the Sermon Illustrator
and enjoy! You will discover how awesome our God is!

Happy First of July Canada!

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


Age Has Nothing To Do With It
by
admin

Joshua 13:1
Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the Lord said to him, “You are 
old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess.â€

You know you are old when God tells you that you are old! Wow! I’m not sure 
as a woman how I would have quite handled that.

I have a wonderful sister that we have always given a hard time because she 
always hated getting older even when she was young. She ended up teaching 
Kindergarten
for years and of course if there’s a child on earth that will make age 
comments about or to their teacher it would be a 5 or 6 year old. One day 
she showed
her class a picture of her shaking hands with President Reagan before he was 
President and one little boy went home and told his mom, “today Mrs Aenis
showed us a picture of her shaking hands with George Washington!†Of course 
his mom thought it was hysterical so she called her to say, “just how old 
are you?

My point with this verse is this; your age has nothing to do with what you 
are called to do! You aren’t too young and you are never too old either, to
do what God is calling you to do! Notice that after he commented on Joshua 
being old He told him that there was still a lot to do. God recognized that
Joshua may not be able to fight the way He did when he was younger so God 
was going to drive people out of the land and He was giving Joshua his 
orders
for what he still needed to do.

Take a look around and stop making excuses for not serving God in some way. 
If you are here on earth God has a purpose for your life and no matter what
you do in life you can serve Him with your attitudes and behaviors. Do you 
work in a way that shows you are a child of God or do you just go in and do
what is expected. Sometimes we expect our service to be something that just 
involves the church but our service for Him is in all we do whether it is at
work, home or in the church. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to serve God 
today for any reason, start today and ask Him to show you what can do to 
better
serve Him with your life.

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life..... we can never 
help another without helping ourselves.†Ralph Waldo Emerson
Dean Masters
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 31 Aug 2015, 8:50 pm

3 Good Reasons Why Christians Should Tip Generously
Joy Allmond

Editor's note: This piece originally ran in December of 2013.

2013 has been the year of restaurant tipping drama in the Church. Or, so it 
seems in the news.

In January, various news outlets reported that a pastor left no monetary tip 
to a waitress in an Applebees. Instead, she left this note as a tip: "I give
God 10 percent. Why do you get 18 (percent)?"

The waitress posted it online and subsequently got fired.

Her reaction to getting stiffed: “I come home exhausted, sore, burnt, dirty 
and blistered on a good day. I’ve been stiffed on tips before, but this if
the first time I’ve seen the Big Man used as reasoning.”

Just last month, another story broke about a restaurant patron's 
discrimination as the reason behind stiffing a server.

The gay server posted a photo of a receipt signed by some customers who also 
allegedly left this note: "I'm sorry, but I cannot tip because I do not 
agree
with your lifestyle."

The couple came forward and denied those allegations, producing a receipt 
and a credit card statement that indicates they did, in fact, leave a tip.

But nevertheless, it becomes "bad press" for Christian restaurant patrons.

Mostly recently, however, there has been a positive story getting national 
attention. The "Tips for Jesus" movement has countered some of the 
negativity.

It is undetermined who is behind "Tips for Jesus," but this individual or 
group posts Instagram photos of receipts documenting exorbitant tips left 
for
unsuspecting servers.

The mission statement presented on the Instagram account: "Doing the Lord's 
work, one tip at a time."

Unfortunately, however, stories like the first two are caricatures of a 
widespread reality: the Sunday lunch shift has become the most dreaded for 
most
restaurant workers.

Brian, a professed Christian, and a waiter who often serves the Sunday lunch 
crowd at a popular chain restaurant, sees a wide range of Christians' 
attitudes
toward tipping.

"I've personally heard the whole gamut of arguments for bad tipping. They 
range from 'not satisfied with service' to something similar to the patron 
from
the Applebees scenario, to abundantly generous," he explained.

Whether a restaurant worker is believer like Brian, or an outspoken atheist, 
Christians, especially, should treat their servers exactly the same--both
in courtesy and in compensation. Scripture has much to say about showing 
partiality, in many contexts. The second chapter of James spends the first 
several
verses addressing the subject of favoritism. The heart of the message, as it 
could apply the way Christians treat restaurant service people, can be found
in verses eight and nine:

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as 
yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are
convicted by the law as lawbreakers.

Scripture--alone--is reason enough to tip our servers well, but there are 
practical reasons why it should be done. Here are three practical reasons 
why
Christians should be above-average restaurant tippers:

It Strengthens Our Credibility as the Church

This one goes without saying, but bad tipping becomes a barrier between the 
heart of a waitperson and the gospel.

"When I think about the way some of my Christian brothers and sisters tip 
their servers in a restaurant, it makes me cringe," said Brian. "And it is 
doubly
cringe-worthy to think about what those servers outside the church think of 
God when they see their patrons bow their heads to pray and then leave a 
sub-par
tip."

Paul talked about the importance of credibility in ministry in
2 Corinthians 6:3.
He said,

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be 
discredited.

Note that he didn't say we would get spiritual "results" with someone if we 
treat them well. He was simply providing instruction on protecting the 
credibility
of the Church through above-board actions. As restaurant diners, we should 
be above-board in the way we tip.

It would be arrogant of us to think that someone could come into the Kingdom 
because of some wonderful tip we have left on the table. It is important to
note that we cannot bribe someone into the Kingdom by giving them a good tip 
or any other type of compensation. Salvation is a work of the Spirit, and
we, as humans, have the privilege of being fleshly agents in bringing others 
to truth.

So, next time when tipping a server, think of it in terms of getting out of 
God's way, rather than "winning" someone with a good tip.

We Are Commanded to Compensate Well

1 Timothy 5:18 is abundantly clear on fair compensation. Timothy wrote,

For Scripture says, "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the 
grain," and "The worker deserves his wages."

While Timothy was writing to people in the church, he quoted Deuteronomy 
25:4 and Luke 10:7, verses that are general instructions to God's people 
about
properly compensating someone for a service.

Why does it matter to God that we compensate well?

As God's people, everything we do should be an attempt to imitate God's 
character and to display His glory. God is the ultimate Giver. So we, in 
turn,
should not withhold a good thing--in this case, compensation--from those who 
serve us in restaurants.

Think about this, beyond monetary compensation: what if God compensated us 
according to the way we serve Him? Even the most faithful and hard-working 
in
the Church would fall terribly short. If God operated this way, we would be 
stripped of life's essentials.

Just as our Father is a great Giver, we should practice generosity in our 
tipping.

It's Good For You

When we bless our restaurant servers with a healthy tip, we receive a 
blessing. We obey the many commands to treat others well, and we reflect the 
generous
heart of God. When we fulfill these commandments,
John 15:9-11
explains that we are actually the receivers:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If 
you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my 
Father’s
commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be 
in you and that your joy may be complete.

Very few things allow us to identify with the heart of God like giving. When 
we tip well--even when we don't feel it is deserved--we are pleasing to God.

And that, in turn, brings us unspeakable joy.

Joy Allmond is a web writer for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 
and a freelance writer. She lives in Charlotte, N.C., with her husband, two
teenage stepsons and two dogs. Follow her on Twitter @joyallmond.

Publication date: December 16, 2013

Tabby & Rambo

John 15:13 (KJV)
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his 
friends.

A dark gray kitten showed up at our house. She was so loving. She would jump 
up onto anyone’s lap to be petted. Of course, we loved having a cat like 
that so we kept her. We named her Tabby.

Two months later an orange kitten showed up. It would not let anyone get 
near it. When someone went into the garage where the cats were fed the 
orange one would run away. One night it was scared by a Dodge Ram truck so 
we named it Rambo. After a while it would just run under the car in the 
garage when someone came out. Then it got so it would not run but would not 
come to anyone. It would see someone petting Tabby who would go into fits at 
times when you scratched the right spot. Rambo finally got to where he 
seemed to want to be petted but was possibly thinking, “Can I trust those 
humans?” Finally we started to be able to pet Rambo every now and then. 
Rambo was starting to trust us.

Maybe you are like Rambo. You know about Jesus Christ – his birth and death 
and resurrection – but you are wondering if you can trust that all that is 
true. You are wondering if you can trust Jesus Christ with your life.

AS one person wrote:
“You can trust the man who died for you.”

Turn from your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation.

Prayer:
Jesus Please forgive me for all of my sins. I turn from them now. I put my 
complete trust in you for my salvation. Thank you for dying for me so I can 
have eternal life. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

by Dean W. Masters

God Brings Us Suffering for Others’ Sake
Dave Zuleger / July 6, 2015
God Brings Us Suffering for Others’ Sake

Ongoing pain and suffering is hard. My wife and I have wrestled with her 
chronic pain for five years now. Everyone suffers somehow. It might be 
chronic
pain, cancer, broken relationships, disability, or the struggle against 
besetting sins. It’s hard to live in a world of futility and brokenness. We 
groan
for the day when it is all made right (Romans 8:18–25).

And yet, suffering seems to be one of the great instruments in God’s hands 
to continue to reveal to us our
ultimate dependence on him
and our
ultimate hope in him,
despite our circumstances. God is good to give us the greatest gift he can 
give us, which is more of himself. And oftentimes he must take something 
away
to help us trust him alone, even if at times it feels like we’ve received a 
death sentence (2 Corinthians 1:8–11).

Suffering Highlights Dependence

Suffering does not ultimately create dependence; it highlights dependence. 
We are always utterly dependent, whether we know it or not. God is good to 
us
to continue to remind us, so that we don’t run after idols that might seem 
better and more reliable than him in the moment. One way God jogs our memory
and preserves our joy in him in the midst of suffering is through one 
another. It’s important that we walk through suffering in community with 
other believers
who can point us to Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 1:11, Paul says that he wants many to join in praying for 
him so that, as God sustains him, God will get more glory. Paul knows 
sharing
suffering and bearing each other’s burdens gives God glory. It’s humbling to 
let people in on our weaknesses, but it serves to highlight God’s powerful
sustaining grace.

Strength in Weakness

Ongoing pain and suffering tends to isolate us from one another. We get sick 
of being “the sick one” and tired of being “the one who is always worn out.”
We don’t like revealing our weakness. But God receives glory when we let 
others in to see his strength in our weakness. God receives glory when we 
don’t
act like we have it all together, but instead admit that God is holding us 
together through the gospel of his Son, the ministry of his Spirit, and the
prayers of his people.

A less remembered part of suffering together as believers is the way those 
who are suffering can comfort others in deep and unique ways. Ongoing pain 
and
suffering tends to turn our focus inward on ourselves. It’s so constant that 
it begins to consume and color everything we do — always living in a 
protective
stance.

However, God beautifully comforts the suffering through the means of 
fellow-sufferers. In fact, Paul says that’s one of God’s plans for our pain:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of 
mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so 
that we
may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort 
with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in 
Christ’s
sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (2 
Corinthians 1:3–5)

God’s Purpose in Suffering — and Comfort

We are fellow-heirs with Jesus Christ, sons and daughters of the living God 
through the gospel (Romans 8:13–17). And because of this relationship, the
all-powerful Ruler of the universe is also a Father of mercies and a God of 
all comfort. Here Paul says that God comforts them in all their afflictions.
There’s no affliction that God is unaware of or distant from. God is 
infinitely interested in the care and comfort of his sons and daughters in 
all their
afflictions. So you are never alone in your suffering, whatever the pain or 
loss might be.

But notice God’s purpose for his comfort. As we look to God for comfort and 
hope in suffering, he means to spur us on to comfort others who are being 
afflicted
with the same comfort we’ve received from God.

God comforts us so that we can comfort others.
God grants us mercy so that we can be merciful to others.
God stands whole-heartedly with us in our suffering so that we will stand 
whole-heartedly with others who are suffering.
God never leaves us alone in our suffering so that we won’t leave others 
alone in theirs.

It’s beautiful when comfort spreads in this way, and it should happen often 
in the body of Christ. It is sweet to see people redeem their suffering by
taking their eyes off of themselves and turning them toward God to find 
strength, and then toward others to offer the comfort that God provided 
them.

Everyone Is Suffering

Not only is it sweet, but it is necessary for the glory of God and for the 
good of his church. Suffering comes in many and varied forms. As a young 
pastor,
one of the first things I realized is that everyone is suffering. It looks 
different in many cases, but no one that I know yet has completely escaped 
the
curse and pain of suffering.

I’ve been humbled again and again watching my wife — after years of chronic 
pain — selflessly serve other sufferers behind the scenes. She has always 
been
compassionate, but through her suffering, she is now always moving towards 
others’ suffering because she knows the pain and the struggles. She knows 
when
to encourage. She knows when to simply groan with someone. God has comforted 
her so that she can comfort others. It is all his grace in her pain. It is
all his strength in her weakness. He deserves all the glory, and yet he 
still means to use her to accomplish his purpose of comforting others.

God means for us to not let our suffering become an excuse to keep our 
weakness hidden or to just focus on ourselves. Rather, we show a beautiful 
display
of the gospel and of the very comfort of Christ as we let others in to see 
our weakness in order to say Christ’s strength is strong enough for them — 
their
weakness, their pain, their suffering. We beautifully display the goodness 
of the gospel as we turn our eyes upward to God and then outward to others 
to
be his means of comfort for them. Then, we will redeem our suffering — or 
better, we will realize one of God’s good purposes for it.

We must be ready to share our comfort in the midst of suffering, because God’s 
glory is at stake and because the sufferers are many.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 29 Aug 2015, 9:25 pm

Telling Others the Gospel, Even When It's Difficult
Luis Palau

Telling others the gospel isn't easy. I know -- as a young man, I was 
convinced I didn't have the gift of evangelism. It was obvious. No matter 
how hard
I tried, no one was coming to faith in Jesus Christ. Nothing I did seemed to 
make a difference. I was inspired by the things I read and heard about Billy
Graham's ministry, but I knew I didn't have his gifts.

I remember giving God a deadline: If I don't see any converts by the end of 
the year, I'm quitting. Oh, I would still be an active Christian, but I 
planned
to resign myself to simply teaching other believers.

The end of the year came and went. No converts. My mind was made up: Now I 
was sure I didn't have the gift of evangelism.

On Saturday about four days into the New Year, the small church I attended 
in Argentina held a home Bible study. I didn't feel like going, but went 
anyway
out of loyalty to the elders.

The fellow who was supposed to give the Bible study never showed up. So the 
man of the house said, Luis, you are going to have to say something. I was
completely unprepared. I had been reading a book by Billy Graham, however, 
based on the beatitudes. So I read
Matthew 5:1
and simply repeated whatever I remembered from Dr. Graham's book.

As I was commenting on the beatitude, Blessed are the pure in heart, for 
they shall see God, a lady suddenly stood up. She began to cry: My heart is 
not
pure. How can I see God? Somebody tell me how I can get a pure heart.

I don't remember the woman's name, but I will never forget her words: 
Somebody tell me how I can get a pure heart. Together we read in the Bible, 
The blood
of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin
(1 John 1:7).
Before the evening was over, that woman found peace with God and went home 
with a pure heart overflowing with joy. How delightful it was to lead her to
Jesus Christ!

When you win someone to Christ, it's the greatest joy. Your graduation is 
exciting, your wedding day is exciting, your first baby is exciting. But the
most thrilling thing you can ever do is to win someone to Christ.

Yet today, in an effort to be sophisticated and contemporary, many
Christians
have stopped trying to persuade others to follow Christ. There's an 
underlying feeling in our society that nice people just don't go around 
persuading
other people to do things. We don't want to offend people, appear strange, 
or lose our newfound status. So we do nothing.

I, too, have been guilty of this. When I lived in Mexico City, my next-door 
neighbor was a young television personality. We would chat from time to 
time,
and he even mentioned that he listened to our radio program occasionally. 
But I didn't share the Gospel with him. After all, I thought, he seems 
completely
immune to the problems of life.

Eventually, though, my neighbor changed. The joy seemed to have left his 
face. He and his wife started driving separate cars to work. I could tell 
their
marriage was souring, and I felt the need to talk with him, but I didn't 
want to meddle in his life. I went about my business and headed off for an 
evangelistic
crusade in Peru. After all, that was the polite thing to do.

When I returned home, I learned my neighbor had killed himself. I was 
heartbroken. I knew I should have gone to him and persuaded him to repent 
and follow
Christ. But because of false courtesy, because I followed a social norm I 
didn't do it.

It's very convenient to make excuses for not persuading others to follow 
Christ. We may say we don't want to be overbearing or offensive. We may 
think
we can't possibly witness to someone because he or she will become angry.

Not Closed At All

But over the years I have learned that some of the people I thought would be 
most closed to the Gospel often are the most receptive. Although they may
outwardly fear it, in their hearts they welcome the message of the Gospel.

I saw this attitude clearly during a visit to the Soviet Union. Christians 
there were persecuted for decades. Now, evangelism is permitted. I've 
traveled
all over the world, and I've never seen a place as hungry and desperate to 
hear the Gospel. But many Soviet Christians are just beginning to realize 
the
fields are white already to harvest.

Just before my evangelistic team's Soviet campaign was over, a Baptist 
pastor brought an acquaintance to one of our meetings in Moscow. The friend, 
head
of an academic department at the university and a leading scientist, 
listened as I preached the Gospel. Then, to the pastor's surprise, this 
scientist
prayed out loud to receive Jesus Christ as his Savior. And then, with tears, 
he came forward to confess Christ publicly.

The Russian pastor was astonished at his friend's response to the Gospel. He 
was equally surprised by the phone call he received at 7:15 the next 
morning.
I would like to express my gratitude to you, the scientist said. You invited 
me to meet the Lord Jesus Christ. I didn't sleep the whole night. I just 
prayed.
I asked God whether He would accept me, whether He would pardon me.

So the pastor asked, Well, do you think God pardoned you? And his friend 
replied, Yes, I'm absolutely sure that God accepts me as His prodigal son. 
Later
the pastor told me, I never thought a scientist would accept the Lord Jesus 
as Savior. But now I've seen it with my own eyes. What a great experience!

Having a part in leading a friend or acquaintance to faith in Jesus Christ 
is exciting. But actually praying with someone who wants to make that 
decision
is even more thrilling.

Yet I've seen Christians lead someone to the point of decision and then 
panic. A Christian woman was witnessing to a Hungarian businesswoman sitting 
in
front of me on a flight from Budapest to London. At the same time our team's 
European director and I were discussing the evangelistic rally we had in 
Budapest
the day before.

While we were talking the Christian woman stood up, turned around and said, 
Excuse me. Are you talking about the rally yesterday with Luis Palau? I said
yes. Do you know where brother Palau is? I said that was me. Then she said, 
I've been talking to this Hungarian lady, and I think she's ready to be 
converted.
But I don't know how to do it.

I told her, I've been listening to what you've been saying and you've done a 
terrific job. But she felt afraid of doing something wrong when it came time
to pray with someone who was ready to receive Christ.

I agreed to talk with the Hungarian businesswoman for a minute. Did you 
understand what this lady said to you?

Yes.

Are you ready to trust Christ and follow Him?

Yes.

At that, I asked the Christian woman to lead her in a prayer. I could have 
done it myself. It would have been great. But I just sat back and watched as
the Christian woman in front of me at first hesitated, then turned to this 
Hungarian woman, put her arm around her, and for the first time led someone
to Christ.

A Challenge

I challenge you to pray: Dear God, I want that experience. I want to know 
what it is to win someone to Jesus Christ.

Why be ashamed of the Gospel? It is the power of God for the
salvation
of everyone who believes (
Romans 1:16).
It changes lives here and now, and for eternity!

The Dutch evangelist Corrie ten Boom had a God-given desire to win others to 
Christ. One of her poems says, When I enter that beautiful city / And the
saints all around me appear, / I hope that someone will tell me: / It was 
you who invited me here.

Whatever our place in the Body of Christ, let's actively and prayerfully 
invite others into God's kingdom. After all, God doesn't have a plan A, a 
plan
B and a plan C for evangelizing the world. He has only one plan and that's 
you and me.
LightSource.com Featured Ministry
Jonathan Bernis
Jewish Voice

You Don't Really Know Who Your Friends Are Until...
external link

You don't really know who your friends are until their relationship with you 
becomes a liability instead of a benefit. Many celebrities, and even 
Christian
celebrities, have learned this lesson the hard way. In the blink of an eye, 
or the release of a news story, they went from fêted to ignored, from 
celebrated
to invisible. They learned quickly that many of their so-called friends had 
actually not been friends at all, but people thriving on a kind of symbiotic
relationship where each benefited the other. When the relationship become a 
liability, their friends were suddenly nowhere to be found.

This happened to Jesus. When he was performing miracles and laying verbal 
beatings on the Pharisees and healing men who had been born blind, his 
friends
were only too happy to ally themselves with him. They were proud to know 
him, to be known in relation to him, and to be in his inner circle. But when 
he
became a hated criminal, when he was dragged before the courts and accused 
of crimes, his friends quickly made themselves scarce. They disappeared into
the night, leaving him to fend for himself.

For as long as you and I have lived, at least if you have lived in this 
Western, first-world culture, friendship with Jesus has been beneficial. At 
worst
this friendship has been neutral so the benefits have balanced the 
drawbacks. And while I am no prognosticator of doom, it seems increasingly 
clear that
a relationship with Jesus will soon be more and a more of a liability before 
this watching, judging world.

Looking at the people around me who have professed faith in Christ, and 
looking at many of the Christians I know through social media, I see two 
kinds
of concerning reaction.

Some are denying him and rejecting him. They have determined that the cost 
of associating with Jesus is too high, and they have walked away from him 
altogether.
Any association with Jesus typecasts them as bigoted, as intolerant, as 
judgmental, as trapped in an appallingly outmoded system of morality. They 
have
chosen to leave him behind.

Many more are redefining the terms of their friendship by redefining their 
friend. They are creating a new version of their friend Jesus, rewriting him
in their own image, or in the image of the culture around them, making him 
into a figure who has been misunderstood and who is far more tolerant, far 
more
accepting, far more palatable. This inoffensive Jesus loves without 
judgment, he gives without expectation, he proudly waves a rainbow flag.

But, of course, Jesus is unchanged and unchanging. He will not bow to the 
changing culture, he will not cede to the rising tide. Jesus will only ever 
be
who he is and who he has always been. And each of us has a choice to make.

You don't really know who your friends are until their relationship with you 
becomes a liability instead of a benefit. We don't really know who Jesus
friends are until a relationship with him becomes a liability instead of a 
benefit. We know that Jesus is proud to be the friend of sinners, and in the
days to come, we will discover which sinners are truly proud to be friends 
with him.
DEAN MASTERS

New Post on KenBible.com - Anticipation
----------------------------------------------------------
Anticipation


In my office hangs a poster of a large whale's tail. The tail alone is seen 
above the water's surface, with the other 99% of the whale being out of 
sight.

I've enjoyed this poster for years. I've owned it since before I had a good 
place to hang it.

What draws me to it, I believe, is its promise. What I see is impressive. 
But what I don't see intrigues me more. The whale's tale suggests a bigger 
being,
a completely different type of being, a deeper life, a greater realm. What I 
see is a promise of what I don't see, and it fuels my longing to see and 
know
more.

It reminds me of God. What I know of Him is spectacular, but everything I 
learn promises even more that I have not yet seen or experienced, that I 
cannot
yet fully grasp. As Job said after describing God's greatness in creation:

Behold, these are the fringes of His ways;
And how faint a word we hear of Him!
But His mighty thunder, who can understand? (Job 26:14, NASB)

God's promise through Paul is even more explicit:

Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but 
then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians
13:12, NASB)

God has poured out Himself, His own breath, His own life force, on all of us 
who simply trust Him. He has lavished on us His power, wisdom, and love, 
through
the Holy Spirit of His glorious Son. But as great as this Gift is, it is 
only a downpayment, a deposit, a promise of His full gift of Himself to His 
people:

Having also believed, you were sealed in [Christ] with the Holy Spirit of 
promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the 
redemption
of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14, 
NASB. See also 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5)

Consider the greatness of God's gift of His Spirit. Right here and now He 
can be more and wants to be more than you have let Him be. But also, let 
this
great gift fuel your anticipation for the greater gift that is yet to come: 
our complete and constant union with God.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 27 Aug 2015, 9:42 pm

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Today's Devotional

Naming The Animals

Psalm 50:10 – For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a 
thousand hills. (NIV)

Genesis 2:19 – Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild 
animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what
he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that 
was its name. (NIV 2011)

When spring finally arrived, I went out to the garden with some fresh water 
for my box turtle that had emerged safe and sound from her hibernation spot.
But I was surprised to discover that she had company – three adorable baby 
cottontails! Although I was tempted to pick them up, something told me that
it wasn't a good idea. So I went online to research "baby rabbits". What I 
learned is that most of the time, the mother is nearby; therefore, I should
not automatically assume that the bunnies had been abandoned. I was 
satisfied with this information as the animals appeared healthy and ready to 
explore
the world on their own. Then later, a friend brought me the cutest little 
baby turtle from her backyard. I named him "Buttons" because of the markings
on his shell.

Interestingly, it was the first human, Adam, who named the animals. This was 
his first act of dominion over the creatures around him. Perhaps God 
intended
this exercise as a way for Adam to develop a deep sense of concern and 
responsibility for the wellbeing of what he had authority over.

Contemplating my experience with wildlife, I thought about our 
responsibility before God to be good stewards over all His creation, 
including the animals.
Let us consider the following:

• The Lord tells the righteous to "care for the needs of their animals". 
(Proverbs 12:10 NIV)
• He instructs Israel to allow their animals to rest on the Sabbath. 
(Deuteronomy 5:14)
• He prohibits the mismatching of animals so as not to burden them with 
undue stress. (Deuteronomy 22:10)
• He prohibits muzzling the ox as it treads grain. (Deuteronomy 25:4)
• He commands shepherds to "know the condition of your flocks". (Proverbs 
27:23 NIV)
• People are to rescue a fallen beast even if it belongs to the enemy. 
(Exodus 23:4-5)

Questions for reflection: What experience, if any, have you had with animals 
in your own life, domestic or wild? What spiritual lessons have you drawn?
How is it our duty to exercise dominion over animals according to God's 
plan?

Prayer: Heavenly Father and Creator of all things, we thank You for Your 
glory and majesty that are displayed throughout all the world. As Your word 
declares,
everything that has breath will praise You — even the animals. Grant us each 
a caring spirit and a teachable heart, that we may learn from even the 
lowliest
of Your creatures and see Your wisdom in all that You have made. Amen.

Lori Ciccanti 

Which God Do You Serve?
by Greg Laurie

A group of seminary students were given the task of organizing the Ten 
Commandments in their perceived order of importance. Interestingly, these 
students
felt that the sixth commandment, "You shall not murder," should be 
number-one on the list. The seventh commandment, "You shall not commit 
adultery," was
also placed near the top. But the group relegated the first commandment, 
"You shall have no other gods before Me," to the bottom of the list. They 
didn't
think it was all that important.

In God's listing, however, it is a different story. He puts this commandment 
at the top of the list. But why is it the number-one offense to God? It 
comes
down to this: If you have broken this one, then everything else will fall 
apart.

One day a man came to Jesus and asked Him, "Of all the commandments, which 
is the most important?" (Mark 12:28 NLT). Jesus responded,

"The most important commandment is this: 'Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God 
is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your
heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.' The second is 
equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is
greater than these." (verse 29, NLT)

With that statement, Jesus essentially summed up the Ten Commandments: Put 
God in His rightful place. Make Him number-one in your life.

Could this be said of us today? A survey revealed that 76 percent of 
Americans believed they had been completely faithful to the first 
commandment. In
other words, they might have problems with some of the other commandments, 
but for them, the first commandment was not a problem. But is that true? 
It's
hard to say.

You see, everyone has a god. Everyone, including atheists, bows at some 
altar. We don't all worship the true God, but we all worship. Everyone has 
something
they believe in, some passion that drives them, something that gives their 
life meaning and purpose. For some, their god is possessions or money. 
Others
worship their bodies. They worship at the church of the perfect physique. 
Still others worship success or pleasure or relationships. But we all 
worship
someone or something.

With the first commandment, God was establishing the fact that He is our God 
and was showing us His place in our lives: "I am the Lord your God, who 
rescued
you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any 
other god but me" (Exodus 20:2-3 NLT). It is amazing how much can be 
revealed
by a simple little pronoun such as "I." Only one letter long, it conveys a 
profound and fundamental truth about who God is. When He said, "I am the 
Lord,"
He was, in effect, refuting all other belief systems, including pantheism, 
polytheism, deism, and new-age thinking. When God says, "I am," He is 
revealing
that He is a being, not a mere force of nature. He says, "I am. . . . I 
feel. I think. I care."

God is not an impersonal force, as pantheism would teach. Nor is He one of 
many gods, as polytheism claims. God said, "I am the Lord your God" 
(emphasis
mine). As 1 Timothy 2:5 reminds us, "For there is only one God and one 
Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity-the man Christ Jesus" (NLT).

In contrast to the teaching of deism, which says that God has no interest in 
the affairs of men, the first commandment shows us that we have a God who
sees and hears and cares. God reminded Israel that He had blessed and 
protected them up to this point: "I am the Lord your God, who rescued you 
from the
land of Egypt, the place of your slavery."

The Bible says that God is a jealous God. By "jealous," it doesn't mean that 
God is one who is controlling and demanding and flies into a rage without
the slightest reason or provocation. The jealousy the Bible is speaking of 
is the jealousy of a loving Father who sees the possibilities and potential
of His children and is brokenhearted when those things are not realized, or 
worse, are wasted and squandered.

Jesus said, "And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose 
your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?" (Matthew 16:26 NLT). 
Is
God number-one in your life today? Or, are you allowing other gods to crowd 
Him out?

Reproduced by permission from
Harvest Ministries
with Greg Laurie, PO Box 4000, Riverside, CA, 92514.


A Word About Faith

One day some religious people, a group known as the Sadducees, tried to draw 
Jesus into a theological trap on a speculative question about the afterlife.
Instead of answering their question directly, Jesus said: “You are in error 
because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” That was a 
shocking
confrontation. These people knew the Hebrew Scriptures very well. It was 
their profession and their preoccupation. But because they were using the 
word
of God instead of trusting it, Jesus told them they quite simply didn’t 
“know” it.

ManLookingUp

This series is called How to Understand the Bible, but it could have been 
called How to Understand the Bible in a Way that is Accurate According to 
the
Standards of Language and that is Faithful According to God’s Intent. (In 
prior centuries book titles were sometimes that long!)

In order to get out of Scripture all that is there for us, we have to read 
it both as an ordinary text, and an extraordinary one. This is not a 
contradiction.
We must follow the rules that apply to ordinary language because this word 
of God came to us in the ordinary forms of letters and oracles, poetry and 
proverb,
simile and metaphor, and all the other ordinary ways ordinary words work. We 
must read Scripture naturally, in other words, and not by some artificial
assumptions about the words of the Bible. It is all-important, for instance, 
for us to read portions of Scripture in their context because words have 
meaning
only in context. We expect other people to understand what we say in context 
out of fairness, not quoting us in a way that misrepresents us. We should
show God the same respect. We like to quote individual Bible verses as 
answers to complex problems, but our application of a verse is only as good 
as our
understanding the verse in context. No prophet or apostle would have ever 
conceived of his oracle or epistle chopped up into such tiny bits.

We must also read Scripture with eyes of faith as a body of extraordinary 
texts. Not everybody who reads the Bible considers it the Holy Bible or the 
word
of God. But if you do, that will shape your understanding.

The Christian thinker Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109) famously said: “I 
believe in order that I may understand” (Credo ut intelligam). The principle
is otherwise known as “faith seeking understanding,” as it was expressed by 
Augustine of Hippo in the fourth century.

Putting it simply, these leading thinkers and many others have said it is 
when our lives are connected with our Creator, when our minds and hearts are
awakened to his power and presence, when we are “believers,” that we will 
begin to understand the way things really are.

Knowing the Bible is not the ultimate objective. Knowing God is. Really 
knowing God. And knowing God via the revelation God has given of himself, 
not our
imaginary constructs. This is exciting! When we commit ourselves to knowing 
the Scriptures, we are truly embarking on a life-transforming experience. 
And
the real beginning is when we say, “I believe…”
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 26 Aug 2015, 9:39 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
June 25, 2015

Divine Appointments
By Answers2Prayer


Philip was instructed by God to go to a certain place at a certain time, and 
when he arrived, there just "happened" to be an Ethiopian official on that
same road, an Ethiopian with lots of questions about Scripture.

A chance meeting?

Hardly. Truly a divine appointment, for in the end, this Ethiopian went on 
his way home a changed man, for thanks to Philip, he understood, believed 
and
was baptised (see
Acts 8:26-40).

But that was the early church. We don't see those kind of random things 
happening today.

Or do we?

I had just finished my oncology visit and was back in radiology to pick up 
CDs of some radiographic studies when I met them. The woman was pushing her
husband, who we will call "Charley," in a wheelchair, and Charley was 
waiting for x-rays. We exchanged pleasantries, and then I went to the 
counter to
pick up my exams.

"I'm sorry," said the technician behind the counter. "Your x-ray study from 
today isn't up on the system yet."

My smile became a bit strained.

"Maybe if you can wait a few more moments, it will come up," she stated 
hopefully.

I shrugged. Though I was in a bit of a rush to get home, better to wait a 
few more minutes than have to return!

As I returned to the waiting room, I again noticed Charlie and his wife. I 
sat down across from them, and despite my innate shyness, we struck up a 
conversation.
I soon learned that Charley had been in Oncology all day, receiving 
radiation therapy for lung cancer. Due to other health concerns that had 
arisen, however,
he was now in the midst of tests. His wife was nearly beside herself with 
worry, and God gave me a few words of encouragement for her.

It wasn't long before Charlie had finished his x-rays, and the couple were 
preparing to leave. Tell them you'll pray for him! whispered a voice inside
my mind, and I found my mouth forming those words: "I'll be praying for 
Charley!"

The woman looked surprised but relieved at the same time. "Thank you!" she 
said with conviction.

The moment they left the room, the x-ray technician returned with my CD, and 
I immediately knew why my x-ray study hadn't been ready. This was no random
meeting. It was a divine appointment.

But then, there are no random meetings, are there? Everything is under God's 
control. He knows exactly how to connect us with what we need at just the
right moment, and His timing is always impeccable.

I would like to challenge each of you today to do two things:

1. Be on the lookout for God's divine appointments in your life. The moment 
you feel discouraged or have any other need, and someone or something comes
along that brings you hope, recognize God's hand on your life and give Him 
the praise.

2. Be ever ready to be God's hands and feet on Earth, should we find 
ourselves in the "giving" end of a divine appointment.

Let's remember: "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches 
in glory by Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:19, NKJV)

Oh, and would you all join me in praying for "Charlie" as well?

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:

The Nugget has featured several series' on Temples in the Bible: "
Wilderness Instructions
"; "
Lessons From Ezekiel's Temple
"; and most recently, "
Building Solomon's Temple".
There is just one other temple given significant mention in the Bible, and 
this is the Heavenly temple. Join us on Saturdays in July for "The Heavenly
Temple" -- A Mini-series by Lyn Chaffart

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

Dive In
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Culture Editor

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an 
opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. –
Galatians 5:13

One summer when I was younger, my church organized a week-long camping trip 
to Glacier National Park for all the high school boys. It was after one 
particularly
long day of hiking that a few of us decided we’d cool off by taking a swim 
in a nearby lake. So we grabbed our swim trunks and towels and ran full 
speed
into the lake, desperate to escape the summer heat. Now, I’m going to pause 
here and ask two questions…

First Question: Where does the water in these lakes come from?

Answer: Well, ice from the glacier melts and runs down through the 
waterfalls until it empties out into the lake.

Second Question: Does the water ever get warm?

Answer: No

The moment our feet hit the water we were stopped cold. We all stood ankle 
deep trying to figure out what to do next. A handful of the boys tried to 
edge
gradually into the water, but after almost twenty minutes they still hadn’t 
made it past their knees. As for me and a few other boys, we decided it was
best not to wait. We dove headfirst into the water. For a time it was 
unbelievably cold, but eventually our bodies adjusted and we spent the 
entire afternoon
diving and swimming far out in the lake.

Followers of Christ can encounter the same problem my friends and I had on 
the beach of that lake. God wants us to dive headfirst into the Christian 
life,
to forget our worries and troubles and just focus on Him. Instead, many of 
us will stand on the fringes of our
faith,
trying to slowly and comfortably ease our way into God’s plan for our lives. 
We aren’t meant to stand in the shallows of God’s love, however, so even 
though
jumping in can be difficult at first, it’s the best way. Only by 
surrendering to God as the center of our lives do we become truly free.

Intersecting Faith and Life: Have you been avoiding the call to do more with 
your faith? Consider where and how you can serve, and start at the very next
opportunity.

Further Reading

Romans 12:11

The Poverty of the Prosperity Gospel
Vaneetha Rendall / June 29, 2015
The Poverty of the Prosperity Gospel

The Book of Job has both shaken me and shaped me.

When I first read it, I found it troubling. It didn’t seem fair. Job was a 
righteous man. But over the years, this story has helped forge my 
understanding
of God and my theology of suffering. It has taught me that God himself — not 
anything he gives me — is my greatest treasure.

Years ago, a colleague mentioned what he had learned from Job. I was 
surprised to hear that his study had yielded a markedly different conclusion 
than
mine. In his words, “Job got everything back and more for his suffering. He 
was blessed with more children and more money than he ever had before. That’s
what the story shows us — doing the right thing always brings blessing and 
prosperity.â€

While the first part was true, I disagreed with his conclusion. He subtly 
was echoing the message of the so-called “health, wealth, and prosperity 
gospelâ€
— that God’s goal for us in this life is perfect health, total happiness, 
and financial gain. In this life. “We simply need to name what we want,†it 
says,
“live the right way, and then claim our victory. That is what living for God 
looks like.â€

I contend that this approach is not living for God. Such thinking is 
idolatry. It is elevating God’s gifts above him, the giver. And that is a 
great assault
on God’s value.

The Truly Abundant Life

Proponents of the prosperity gospel see things differently. They believe 
their position is biblical, citing Scripture to back up their claims. One 
such
verse is John 10:10: “I came that they may have life and have it 
abundantly.â€

Jesus does give us abundant life, but his abundant life is independent of 
circumstances.

A diagnosis of cancer, a stock-market crash, and a child’s rebellion cannot 
diminish the abundant life we have in Christ. And a miraculous healing, a 
financial
windfall, and a prodigal’s return don’t transform it either. True abundant 
life rests in the God who is Lord over the good things and the terrible 
things
in our life. As Job says, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not 
receive evil?†(Job 2:10)

When we assert that pain-free lives are God’s reward for the righteous, we 
insinuate to the wounded that their problems are of their own making. As 
Randy
Alcorn
says,

Tragically, the prosperity gospel has poisoned the church and undermined our 
ability to deal with evil and suffering. Some churches today have no place
for pain. Those who say God has healed them get the microphone, while those 
who continue to suffer are shamed into silence or ushered out the back door.

I personally have been ushered out the back door at healing services, after 
being publicly chastised. Many other disabled people have experienced 
similar
treatment under the assumption that if you’re not healed, it’s your fault. 
“Because God’s will is for everyone to be healed. Always. The faithful will
never suffer.â€

This belief is contrary to the Bible. Jesus says we will have tribulation 
(John 16:33). Peter says we shouldn’t be surprised by suffering (1 Peter 
4:12).
James says to expect trials, and to count it all joy (James 1:2). And Paul 
says afflictions bring endurance and glory (Romans 5:3–5; 2 Corinthians 
4:17).

Of course, healing in this life can bring God glory as well. Sometimes God 
intervenes in our lives in supernatural ways and miraculously heals them 
from
disease. And God is glorified when that happens.

But I have seen God even more glorified when people are not healed yet 
continue to praise him in the midst of deep suffering — when everything they 
have
is stripped away and all that is left is God alone. And he is found 
sufficient.

God is most glorified when we declare him sufficient in the midst of great 
loss. Just as Job did.

Giver More Than Gifts

The prosperity gospel teaches that we live for God’s blessing. Job teaches 
that we live for God’s glory. At the heart of the prosperity gospel is our 
value.
At the heart of Job, and all of Scripture, is God’s value.

Satan is a proponent of the prosperity gospel, as he tells God that Job’s 
faithfulness is predicated on God’s blessings. And if those blessings are 
taken
away, he believes Job will curse God to his face. Satan is implying that God 
is valuable only for what he gives Job.

But God contends just the opposite. God asserts that Job loves him for who 
he is, not for what he gives.

And when Job is able to say, after losing everything, “The Lord gave, and 
the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord†(Job 1:21), he 
declares
the surpassing worth of God. God himself, not his gifts, is Job’s true 
treasure.

As the Psalmist declares:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 
73:25–26)

May we all, like Job, find our treasure in God, who is our portion forever.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 25 Aug 2015, 10:38 pm

nourish

Do You Believe?

God seems to work in themes in my life. You know what I mean. Every sermon, 
morning devotional, and Christian radio program all “coincidentally” speak
to me about the same subject for an uncomfortable length of time. I’ll even 
get a card in the mail from a Christian friend I haven’t seen in 10 years,
and—you guessed it—she’ll share a good word on the exact theme.

Soon after my 40th birthday, everywhere I turned I heard a message on 
belief. I’m humiliated to admit that I became somewhat annoyed not to be 
hearing
more on the subjects I really needed. After all, I was already a believer, 
and if believers don’t believe, what on earth do they do?

Several weeks passed, and I still didn’t get it. Finally one morning even 
Oswald Chambers had the audacity to bring up the subject in that day’s entry
of My Utmost for His Highest. I looked up and exclaimed, “What is this all 
about?” I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart, “Beth, I want you to
believe Me.” I was appalled. “Lord,” I answered, “of course I believe in 
You. I’ve believed in You all my life.” I felt He responded very clearly, 
adamantly:
“I didn’t ask you to believe in Me. I asked you to believe Me.”

Pull quote

I don’t mind telling you that my life changed dramatically after God 
interrupted my comfortable pace with the theme of belief. Some of it has 
been excruciating,
and some of it has been the most fun I’ve had in my entire Christian life. I 
have a feeling this is one theme I’ll run into again and again in the course
of my journey. Why? Because without faith it is impossible to please God. In 
other words, you and I will be challenged to believe Him from one season to
the next, all of our days. If we have even half a heart for God, He’s likely 
to shake our borders and stir up a little excitement.

Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to 
him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek
him (Heb. 11:6).

The writer of Hebrews clearly lays out two requirements of a worshiper of 
God. First, we must believe that God exists. Without this belief no 
possibility
of faith exists. But belief in God is not enough. After all, the demons can 
know that sort of faith (Jas. 2:19). There must also be a conviction about
God’s moral character—belief “that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” 
(Heb. 11:6). Without that deep conviction, faith in the biblical sense is 
not
a possibility.

You may be thinking, I want to believe! I just don’t have enough faith! God’s 
Word records an encounter in Mark 9:14-24 to encourage every person who 
wants
to believe. Christ met a man with a son who had been possessed by the enemy 
since childhood. No telling how many physicians, witch doctors, religious 
fanatics,
wise men, and foolish men the father had sought to find freedom for his son.

Imagine the glimmer of hope that kindled this father’s soul when rumors 
circulated about the miracles performed by the disciples of Jesus. Then 
imagine
his devastation when they too were added to the list of the failed.

Pull quote

Jesus asked for the boy to be brought to Him. The father’s desperate plea 
could bring a lump to the throat of any parent: “If you can do anything, 
take
pity on us and help us.” I love Jesus’ powerful retort: “‘If you can?’ … 
Everything is possible for him who believes.’” The father’s reply represents 
one
of the most honest, priceless moments in the record of Christ’s human 
encounters.

I am convinced that God would rather hear our honest pleas for more of what 
we lack than a host of pious platitudes from an unbelieving heart. When I am
challenged with unbelief, I have begun to make the same earnest plea to the 
One who would gladly supply.

Remember, God always wills for you to be free from strongholds. We may not 
always be sure God wills to heal us of every disease or prosper us with 
tangible
blessings, but He always wills to free us from strongholds. You will never 
have to worry about whether you are praying in God’s will about strongholds:
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1).

Think of any stronghold you face. Does your stronghold require more power 
than it takes to raise the dead? I don’t think so. God can do it, fellow 
believer.
I know because He says so. And I know because He’s done it for me. Believe 
Him … and when you don’t, cry out earnestly, “Help me overcome my unbelief!”

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

Excerpted from The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
Excerpted from
Living Free: Learning to
Pray God’s Word (Updated).

©2001 by Beth Moore. LifeWay Press.
Used by permission

Today's Turning Point with David Jeremiah
Turning Point
Monday, June 29

Proactive Love

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is 
the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12

Recommended Reading
Galatians 5:13-14
The Golden Rule is found, in varying forms, in all religious and cultural 
traditions, many predating the time of Christ. Ethicists call it the “rule 
of
reciprocity”—letting how we desire others to act toward us be the guide for 
how we act toward them. But when Jesus Christ stated His version of the 
Golden
Rule, He gave it a twist that had been missing in other cultures.
Prior to Jesus, the rule of reciprocity had been stated in negative terms 
only. For instance, the Jewish book of Tobit said, “Do to no one what you 
yourself
dislike.” In other words, prior to Jesus, the Golden Rule focused on what 
not to do to others. But when Jesus stated it, He put it in positive terms: 
“Whatever
you want men to do to you, do also to them.” Instead of only withholding 
negative actions, Jesus said to demonstrate positive actions: Be proactive 
in
your behavior toward others by loving them the same way you would want to be 
loved. He said such a proactive posture was a good way to summarize the 
whole
Old Testament: “the Law and the Prophets.”

Not doing bad things is commendable, but doing good things is even better. 
Doing both is to love as God loves.

Our job is to love people we don’t have to love.
Keith Miller

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Psalms 141-150
David Jeremiah's Website

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 24 Aug 2015, 10:00 pm

The Ministries of Francis Frangipane

One Man
(En Español)

God's Response to Redemptive Intercession
When Abraham was confronted with the possibility of Sodom's destruction, he 
did not immediately jump on the "Destroy Sodom" bandwagon; instead, he went
before the Lord and prayed for mercy for the city. Abraham's prayer is an 
amazing study on the effect a mercy-motivated intercessor has on the heart 
of
God. Indeed, my objective here is to gaze into the heart of God as it is 
revealed in the discourse between the Lord and Abraham.

When we look at Abraham's prayer, we discover an amazing power granted us in 
intercession. And what is that? God is looking for a mercy reason that would
justify Him delaying or canceling wrath. We must not belittle this 
principle, for in it is great hope for our land as well. The mercy reason 
for delay
is found in the compassionate prayer of an intercessor.

Let us consider the Lord's initial response to Sodom's sin. First, He 
revealed to Abraham, His servant, what He was about to do. Why? Wasn't the 
evil so
dark that it deserved to be destroyed? Yes, the wickedness in Sodom fully 
deserved divine wrath. Yet that is not why the Lord revealed to Abraham the 
pending
judgment. The Lord informed Abraham of what was coming not so His servant 
could criticize, but so Abraham would intercede for mercy. Remember, God 
delights
in mercy (Mic. 7:18) and takes "no pleasure in the death of the wicked" 
(Ezek. 33:11). The Lord always seeks for opportunities of mercy. Therefore, 
let's
take note of how Abraham approached the Almighty:

"Abraham came near and said, ‘Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with 
the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You 
indeed
sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous 
who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous 
with
the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be 
it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?'" (Gen. 
18:23-25).

Notice, Abraham did not pray from a place of anger. He never said, "God, 
it's about time You killed the perverts." There was no finger-pointing 
vindictiveness
in Abraham's soul. Somehow we have come to believe that non-compromising 
Christians must also be angry. Abraham never compromised with Sodom's 
depraved
culture, yet he was above fleshly reaction. In fact, throughout his prayer, 
Abraham never mentioned what was wrong in Sodom. He appealed, instead, to 
the
mercy and integrity of the Lord.

This is vitally important for us, because Jesus said, "If you are Abraham's 
children, do the deeds of Abraham" (John 8:39). One of Abraham's most 
noteworthy
deeds involved his intercessory prayer for Sodom, the most perverse city in 
the world!

Abraham first acknowledged the Lord's integrity, then he spoke to the Lord's 
mercy.

"Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it 
away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty?" (Gen. 18:24).

The Lord knew that it would be unjust to slay the righteous with the wicked; 
Abraham's prayer did not enlighten the Lord of some unknown fact. But the
nature of life on earth is this: God works with man to establish the future, 
and in the process of determining reality, He always prepares a merciful 
alternative.
In other words, urgent, redemptive prayer shoots straight through the mercy 
door and enters God's heart. This door is never shut, especially since we 
have
a High Priest, Jesus Christ, ministering at the mercy seat in the heavens 
(Heb. 8:1). It is open each and every time we pray.

Listen to how the Lord answered Abraham's prayer for mercy: "If I find in 
Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on 
their
account" (Gen. 18:26).

How the truth of God's mercy flies in the face of those so eager to judge 
their nation! Incredibly, the Lord said He would spare the whole of Sodom if
He found fifty righteous people there. Now keep this in mind: the Hebrew 
word for "spare" means more than "not destroy"; it also means "to forgive or 
pardon."
This is a tremendous revelation about the living God. He will minimize, 
delay, or even cancel a day of reckoning as long as Christ-inspired prayer 
is being
offered for sinners!

Time and again throughout the Scriptures the Lord proclaims an ever present 
truth about His nature: He is "slow to anger, and abounding in 
lovingkindness"
(Exod. 34:6). Do we believe this? Here it is, demonstrated right before our 
eyes in the Scriptures. He tells us plainly that a few righteous people 
scattered
in a city can preserve that area from divine wrath.

Abraham knew the love of God. He was an intimate friend of God's. Abraham, 
in truth, had a clear view into the heart of God based on his own 
experiences.
This interceding patriarch had seen the Almighty bless, prosper, and forgive 
him, so he pressed God's mercy toward its limits.

"What if there are forty?"

The Lord would spare it for forty.

Abraham bargained, "Thirty?"

He would spare it for thirty.

"Twenty?"

He finally secured the Lord's promise not to destroy the city if He could 
find just ten righteous people there. On God's scales, wrath is on one side 
and
mercy on the other. Put the entire city of Sodom with all its sin and 
perversion on one side. The scales tip toward wrath as the weightiness of 
advanced
wickedness runs rampant through an entire city. Let's assume that there were 
two hundred thousand evil people in Sodom. It is weighed heavily on the side
of evil. Yet on the other side, place just ten righteous individuals. As the 
ten are placed on the scale, the spiritual weight of the righteous, with 
just
ten, tips the scales toward mercy!

In God's heart, the substance of the righteous far outweighs the wickedness 
of the evil! Herein we discover what we are seeking in the heart of God 
through
prayer: the Lord would spare (forgive) sinful Sodom, with its gangs of 
violent homosexuals, because of the influence of ten godly people who dwelt 
within
it!

How About Your Community?
Now, let's think of your city: Are there ten good people among you? Consider 
your region. Do you think there might be one hundred praying people living
within its borders, people who are pleading with God for mercy? What about 
nationwide? Do you suppose there might be ten thousand people interceding 
for
your country? God said He would spare Sodom for ten righteous people. Do you 
think God would spare your nation for ten thousand righteous?

I lived in a metropolitan area in the United States that has about two 
hundred thousand people. I can list by name scores of righteous individuals, 
including
pastors, intercessors, youth workers, black folks, white folks, Hispanic 
folks, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Christian business people, moms, 
dads,
godly teenagers, praying grandmothers, secretaries, policemen, and on and on 
who live there -- far more than the ten righteous needed to save a place 
like
Sodom. There are many who care about this city.

Think about your church and the greater church community in your city. 
Aren't there at least ten honorable people who sincerely care about your 
community,
who desire that God would bring revival? Remember, the Lord said He would 
spare Sodom for the sake of the ten.

My plea in this message is that you would see yourself as one who is 
standing in the gap for your city. See if there are others in your community 
who will
pray with you. The power of prayer can release a tsunami of mercy that can 
topple strongholds and set captives free in your region.

Finally, let us not give up our communities to the influences of hell. God 
is able to raise up a standard against wickedness. In fact, He says He looks
for a man who will stand in the gap, that He might not strike the earth in 
His wrath. Will you be that one? You see, the true measure of spirituality 
is
not how angry we become toward sinners, but how Christlike; our mission is 
not to see men destroyed, but redeemed.

Lord Jesus, forgive me for devaluing the power of prayer. Forgive me for 
underestimating how passionately You desire to reveal Your mercy. Lord, give 
me
grace to be one who never ceases to cry out to You for mercy. Lord, let me 
not base my obedience on what my eyes see or my ears hear, but upon the 
revelation
of Your mercy; let me build my life on Thee. Amen!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, The Power of One Christlike Life on 
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Signs

It seems that all through the ages people have wanted God to give them a 
sign. Some to know that He is really there and sometimes to show them the 
way. God has done this in the past as providing the pillar of fire by night 
and the cloud by day for the Israelites. Today it seems like you have a 
number of people going from this church to that church looking for some 
miraculous sign that God is moving more in that church than in any other. 
There were even people who saw Jesus who asked him for a sign that he was 
who He said He was. Most of the time if one receives a sign he doesn’t 
believe it or needs another sign soon to urge him on his Christian life.

Jacob was given a great sign included in a dream. In this dream he actually 
heard from God who was at the top of the ladder or staircase which went from 
that spot where Jacob slept to heaven.

Genesis 28:13-22 (NRSV)
13 And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of 
Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will 
give to you and to your offspring; 14 and your offspring shall be like the 
dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east 
and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall 
be blessed in you and in your offspring. 15 Know that I am with you and will 
keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will 
not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob 
woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did 
not know it!” 17 And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! 
This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” 
18 So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put 
under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 
19 He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the 
first. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will 
keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to 
wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord 
shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall 
be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to 
you.”

God made a promise to Jacob. Then when Jacob set up the altar he gives and 
“If…then” statement. If God does this for me then he will be my God. God has 
already spoken to Jacob. Jacob knows the accounts of God’s faithfulness from 
his ancestors. Does it have to be proven that God will do what he says he 
will do?

I can understand this by looking at Jacob’s life. He has always been a 
cheater. He took his brother’s birthright and then stole his blessing. Jacob 
is probably thinking that God wouldn’t bless him because of all the bad 
things he has done. The Hebrew word which is translated “if” in about all 
the translations I checked does have other meanings. We see how the Young’s 
Literal Translation puts it:

Genesis 28:20-22 (YLT)
20 And Jacob voweth a vow, saying, ‘Seeing God is with me, and hath kept me 
in this way which I am going, and hath given to me bread to eat, and a 
garment to put on— 21 when I have turned back in peace unto the house of my 
father, and Jehovah hath become my God, 22 then this stone which I have made 
a standing pillar is a house of God, and all that Thou dost give to 
me—tithing I tithe to Thee.’

So actually Jacob has seen everything the Lord had done for him in the past 
and trusts Him to do what he promised in the future.

You can trust all the promises of God. The Bible contains hundreds of 
promises which God has made. I believe that not all of them are for every 
Christian. As you read your Bible, pay attention to the leading of the Holy 
Spirit. At times when you are reading and come upon a promise God gave to 
someone in the Bible, he will be whispering to your spirit that the promise 
is for you. Claim this as one of God’s promises for you.

Don’t go looking for signs. Read your bible and pray and God will let you 
know what you are to do and what He will do for you. Then live your life 
obeying what He tells you and trusting totally in Almighty God for all He 
has promised you.

by Dean W. Masters
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

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How to Understand the Bible

What Are Some Good Disciplines for Reading Scripture?

As we near the end of this part of the series of “How to Understand the 
Bible,” we take up one very practical question: what can we do to make sure 
we are reading Scripture regularly?

I still cherish my boyhood memories of going fishing with my grandfather. It 
seems like it was yesterday. One day while I was sorting through the wide
variety of tackle I had collected, fidgeting with lures and sinkers and 
bobbers and the rest in my fancy tackle box, my grandfather looked at me and 
said:
“Mel, you won’t catch a thing unless your hook is in the water.” Of course, 
he was right. His hook was always in the water, and he had much more to show
for it.

ReadingBible

The main principle of reading Scripture for a lifetime of spiritual growth 
is: just read it. Don’t spend too much time looking for the “just right” 
study
Bible, or other helps. Don’t neglect reading Scripture because you are in a 
period when you are having a hard time understanding it. And don’t slow down
because you have not found a plan that is right for you. Put your hook in 
the water. Something will happen.

Here are some guidelines for a lifestyle of fruitful Bible reading.

1. Follow a plan, but vary the plan year by year. There are plans that are 
structured for reading the whole Bible in a year, or two years. The plan may
go from Genesis to Revelation, but some plans have you read an Old Testament 
portion, a New Testament portion, and a Psalm every day, for instance. One
very ambitious plan has you reading the whole Bible in 90 days. I like doing 
that every couple of years. It takes me about a half-hour of reading a day.
One plan gets you through the four Gospels in 40 days. Another goes through 
just the New Testament in a year. There are holiday reading plans for Lent
or Advent which really help us focus on the birth, death, and resurrection 
of Christ. You can find verse-of-the-day devotions, but they are of limited
worth because you do not get the broad scope of the story of Scripture.
BibleGateway
is a good place to find
a wide variety of plans.

2. Do not give up. If you start a reading plan in January and falter in 
March, getting hopelessly behind the plan, just choose another plan for the 
year.
Keep your hook in the water. If all else fails, just read a chapter a day. 
Consider a day incomplete unless you read something in Scripture.

3. Use a simple tool for a schedule. I like printing out a plan on a single 
sheet of paper and having it tucked in the back of my Bible. You can use an
online scheduling function on your computer or mobile device, but make sure 
it is a function that is easy to use and easy to access.

4. Decide whether you will make notes or not. Writing your thoughts and 
questions down as you read helps with comprehension, and many people do it 
faithfully.
I have generally preferred not doing that, however, because I know I will 
keep reading every day if it is just me and the Bible in my hand. It is 
different
when I am studying Scripture for a group I am in or a teaching I am 
preparing in which case I take careful notes. You should figure out what 
works best
for you. If taking notes does not bog you down, do it. You will have an 
accumulating treasure.

5. Know the time of day that is best for you, and set a pattern. This is 
really important. Lifestyle is about regularity. Most people eat and sleep 
on
a preferred pattern that works for them. So it is with reading Scripture as 
a lifestyle. I like the early morning when it is quiet in the house and my
to-do list isn’t pressing in on my mind. Others find a lunch break or the 
evening better.

6. Read introductions to Bible books. If you’ve gotten through Numbers and 
are ready to dive into Deuteronomy, don’t just plow ahead. Take a few 
minutes
to read an introduction which will orient you to the context, circumstances, 
date, themes, and author of what you are about to read. Study Bibles, for
instance, have concise introductions that are no more than a page, for 
instance,
The NIV Study Bible
(Zondervan) and
The ESV Study Bible
(Crossway). But you can get longer introductions in Bible dictionaries or 
handbooks. Some excellent choices are
The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary,
the
New Bible Dictionary,
and the
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary

7. Allow time for reflection. In today’s hectic world this gets squeezed 
out, but it is essential. This may mean shutting your Bible, closing your 
eyes
for five minutes and thinking about what you’re read, speaking to God a word 
of thanks or frustration or inquiry. I find taking a walk after reading to
be an excellent way to let the thoughts circulate around in my mind. If 
there is a single verse, or even just a phrase or a single word, that 
strikes you
powerfully, take some time to ponder it. God the Holy Spirit may be placing 
a marker in your mind which will be important at some later point in your 
life.
Commit to this: read and reflect.

God's Good Grace
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Culture Editor

For it is by grace you have been saved, through
faith
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so 
that no one can boast. -
Ephesians 2:8-9

I was driving back to my apartment when I came to a stop sign on the side of 
the road. Now, I knew this area didn’t get much traffic, and I was in a big
hurry to be home. So instead of coming to a complete stop, I made a quick 
glance to make sure there were no cars coming… and coasted through to the 
next
street. That’s when I looked in my rearview mirror and saw there was a car 
behind me, specifically a white car with spinning lights and the word 
“police”
stamped across it. In that moment I knew I had to be the dumbest driver in 
the history of automobiles. Sure enough, the lights went on and I got pulled
over.

After the officer had taken my license and registration, I sat in my car 
feeling like an idiot. All I’d needed to do was stop for a full second and I 
wouldn’t
be in this mess. I attempted to calculate the cost of the ticket, and which 
part of my budget I’d have to slash in order to pay it. I suspected it would
be the grocery section, and that I’d be eating a lot of ramen noodles in the 
following week. Instead, the officer walked back to my car, handed me my 
license,
and said, “I’ll just give you a warning this time. Drive safely.” I was 
floored.

When I think about the relief that came over me in that moment, I begin to 
truly understand how much grace God has shown me in my life. Running a stop
sign has been the least of my sins. It’s very humbling to look through the 
darker moments of your life and realize God has forgiven you if you’ve asked
him to. Christians can get so lost in the concept of grace that we forget 
what it’s like to really experience it, to feel the weight of guilt and 
shame
– and sometimes even consequence – suddenly lifted from our shoulders. With 
Grace, you immediately get a clean slate, every mistake from the past is 
gone,
and once you’ve experienced that you begin to understand the power that lies 
in verses like John 1:17:

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus 
Christ.”

Intersecting Faith and Life: This day, extend the same grace toward others 
that God extended to you.

Further Reading

Ephesians 1:7-8

God Is Not Hiding His Will From You
by Dean Masters

Deuteronomy 30:11-14
“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, 
neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will 
ascend
to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither 
is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us
and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very 
near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”

God’s commands for our lives are right in front of us and He has made His 
Word readily available for us to know what is right and to find His will for
our lives. He has not kept it a secret and He isn’t trying to make it 
difficult for us to know the way we should take and the stands we need to 
take for
what is right. If you are trying to figure out whether or not something is 
the will of God for you life the first thing you need to ask yourself is 
whether
or not it lines up with scripture. If you are going to be compromising 
something that you know God stands against or for then you know it is not 
the will
of God.

We will all stand before God one day to answer for how we act and the words 
we say and we will be without excuse for things we know are right and wrong.
I had someone ask me the other day how to be nice to someone who has been 
hateful and the answer is that you don’t answer to God for how other people 
treat
you but you will answer to God for how you treat them! We cannot control how 
others behave but we are to have self control for ourselves. As it says in
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, 
longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. 
Against
such there is no law.

We know verses like Galatians 5:22-23 and many others that tell us how we 
are to live, it isn’t hidden from us. God made it very clear to the 
Israelites
in Deuteronomy 30 that He gave them His word to show them truth and life and 
they had the choice to choose His paths of life or they could choose death
and destruction. We have the same choices today. We can follow Him or take 
our own paths that will lead to heartache and destruction.

God loves you and wants His best for you that is why He has made it clear in 
His word what paths to follow and what choices to make along the way. Ask
Him today to show you any areas of your life that maybe you are not quite 
following Him in and ask Him to give you the strength you need to do what is
right.

Quote:
“The longer we follow the right path the easier it becomes.” Anonymous
Dean Masters
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 22 Aug 2015, 11:05 pm

Sunday Isn't Enough

Over the past 10 years I have watched a number of leaders suspend corporate 
worship on the Lord’s Day in order to do something “missional.” They have 
said
things like, “This Sunday don’t go to church, be the church!” This not only 
creates a false dichotomy between what God calls us to be and do, but also
misunderstands the priority and value of the church gathering for corporate 
worship on the Lord’s day.

I believe that the Lord’s Day is the most important day of the week, the 
most critical gathering of the church, and therefore essential for the 
spiritual
health of the people of God. The Lord’s Day is for the church, as set apart 
by Jesus, and through our gathering in the local church for word and 
sacrament
we find grace. In his exposition of the
Ten Commandments,
Thomas Watson explained:

Christ wrought most of his miracles upon the Sabbath; so he does still: dead 
souls are raised and hearts of stone are made flesh. How highly should we
esteem and reverence this day! It is more precious than rubies. God has 
anointed it with the oil of gladness above its fellows. On the Sabbath we 
are doing
angels' work, our tongues are tuned to God's praises. The Sabbath on earth 
is a shadow and type of the glorious rest and eternal Sabbath we hope for in
heaven, when God shall be the temple, and the Lamb shall be the light of 
it.1

Corporate worship is what fuels mission and sends us out to do what God has 
called us to. I recently wrote on the subject of "
Making the Most of Sunday,"
so see that post for more reflection in that direction.

Having said all of that, as important as this sacred gathering is to the 
health of the local church, it alone is not enough. Other gatherings are 
necessary.
The people of God must meet together in smaller numbers to carry out the 
will of God in each others’ lives. Of course this can be done in part 
through
informal meetings and natural, Christian friendships. This too must be a 
part of our lives. But in a more formal sense I believe it is imperative for 
the
church to meet together in small groups around thew word of God in order to 
serve one another with the truth of the gospel. For if we are only gathering
together on the Lord’s day for corporate worship how can we then fully 
“instruct one another” (Romans 15:14), “spur one another on toward love and 
good
deeds” (Hebrews 10:24), “encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25), “confess 
[our] sins to each other” (James 5:16), and “pray for each other” (James 
5:16)?
For all of this to be a part of the life of faith we need to be personally 
invested in each others lives through the ministry of the word.

Many churches today have small groups. Some call them community groups, or 
missional communities, or incarnational missional outposts of gospel 
centrality—or
whatever sounds cool. Gathering in small groups is good, but what is needed 
in these small groups is the ministry of the word pressed deeply into our 
hearts.

Words of Grace

When we started
Redeemer Fellowship
8 years ago we put the priority on the Lord’s Day gathering, but also 
emphasized the need for these smaller gatherings. This would be where gospel 
formed
community is experienced on an intimate level through the ministry of the 
word. It wouldn’t be a simple Bible study, but a binding of ourselves to one
another and the Lord in Christian fellowship.

You may not know it, but this model of small groups isn’t new at all. Of 
course we see it encourage implicitly throughout Scripture, and explicitly 
in
the book of Acts. But you might be surprised to hear the puritans had a well 
developed understanding of these kind of gatherings. These small gatherings
is were called “holy conference.”

In her book,
Godly Conversation: Rediscovering the Puritan Practice of Conference,
Dr. Joanne Jung unpacks the puritan practice of conference, providing us 
with a biblical picture of a kind of fellowship sure to bear fruit in the 
lives
of all who practice it. Dr. Jung explains that conference wasn’t just 
Christians hanging out, or even studying the Bible together. It was deeper 
than that
and emphasized the application of Scripture to each individual’s life.

In conference, participants regularly engaged with one another in 
discussions on biblical texts in conjunction with more intimate 
conversations over the
spiritual state of their souls. The use of Scripture, obtained by way of the 
minister, his sermons, the auditor’s sermon notes, or private Bible reading,
played an essential role in conference.

These smaller gatherings were often the context in which exhortation and 
encouragement happened naturally. Yes, these gatherings were more “inward” 
than
“outward” in that they focused on those gathered and their relationship with 
God, but this is something God calls us to. And this is what readies us for
better service to one another and those outside of the church. Jung 
summarizes the benefits of conference when she writes:

The profitability of conference was clear: enhanced biblical understanding, 
the warming of the soul, and even a greater desire for the Word.

A small group of believers who are experiencing the power of the word of God 
in their lives together are sure to be missional. But one gives birth to the
other. And like the Sunday gatherings, these were groups of mixed company, 
not divided by age or sex.

Jung continues:

Evidence shows that the advantages of gathering in small groups to discuss 
biblical passages as they relate to life experiences were extensive and were
not limited to any one particular group of people. There was no gender, 
literacy, or class distinction. In conference there would be no 
discrimination.

Works of Grace

Our small gatherings are not only the context in which we fan the flames of 
faith, but also where we serve one another in whatever ways are necessary.
It is when we are regularly together in small groups that we can be practice 
the commands to “be at peace with each other” (Mark 9:50), “be devoted to
one another in brotherly love” (Romans 12:10), “honor one another above 
yourselves” (Romans 12:10), “live in harmony with one another” (Romans 
12:16),
“accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you” (Romans 15:7), 
“carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), “be patient, bearing with one 
another
in love” (Ephesians 4:2), and all the other “one another” passages God has 
given us in his word. Sunday services alone do not provide us with the 
opportunity
to hear our brothers fears, feel our sisters pains, to strengthen, correct, 
comfort, and specifically direct one another.

Sunday is a glorious day. We call it “The Lord’s Day!” It marks not only our 
calendars but also out lives. Yet, Sunday is not enough. God calls us to be
together not for mere education, but for edification; not just fraternity, 
but fellowship. We must make the most of corporate worship, but we must also
make the most of the ministry of the word in our hearts and the hearts of 
our brothers and sisters through holy conference.

1. Thomas Watson
A Body of Practical Divinity
(Aberdeen: George King, 1838) p. 372


Read
Revelation 2:2–4

Jesus rebukes the church at Ephesus for leaving their first love and 
settling for Christian activity. Although they were fulfilling all the 
external requirements
of Christianity, they were missing something fundamental. They no longer 
loved God with their whole hearts.

Guarding Our Hearts

When we are in love, we will do anything to be with the person who has 
captured our heart. In fact, we not only long to be with them but also would 
literally
do anything for them. Many of us begin our relationship with God like this. 
Overwhelmed with a revelation of his love, grace, and mercy, there is 
nothing
that we wouldn’t do to try to please him. Our earnest desire is to be with 
him and become like him.

Yet it is only by continually strengthening our spiritual heart muscle that 
we will be able to sustain this kind of passionate commitment to God for the
duration of our Christian walk. In the same way that a natural relationship 
left alone will just fizzle out and eventually die, so too will our 
relationship
with God.

In order to ensure that our love for God will not grow cold, we must 
proactively “keep [our] heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the 
issues
of life” (Prov. 4:23).
If we do not guard this core muscle, it will begin to weaken, and the very 
things that we once did wholeheartedly will eventually become nothing more 
than
religious burdens.

If we want the life of God to flow freely within our hearts, we must never 
allow anything to hinder the passion that we have for the Lord and his 
people.
If we fail to care for our spiritual heart and neglect its health, we will 
never possess the spiritual strength we need to love God with all our 
hearts.
Jesus taught us, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and 
to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it
more abundantly” (John 10:10).
By guarding our spiritual hearts, we ensure that the enemy has no access and 
is therefore unable to steal the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

Point to Ponder

Does your spiritual life lack passion? Do you feel like you are just going 
through the motions of being a Christian? If so, it’s possible that you have
left your first love. This doesn’t happen all at once. But gradually we let 
the cares of life crowd out the joy of our salvation. The good news is that
you don’t have to stay there. Jesus told the Christians at Ephesus to go 
back and recapture those loving feelings. You can too.
Devotions by Christine Caine, Copyright © 2012 by Christine Caine and Equip 
& Empower Ministries.


Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves 
with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." (Col 3:12)

By Answers2Prayer
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A Moment of Kindness

After all of these years I can still remember my first moment of kindness. 
It was the first day of Kindergarten. I walked in with my mom and was amazed
at all the toys against the walls. It was like having my own tiny, toy 
store. I smiled and immediately ran over to them and started to play. Most 
of the
other kids were doing the same while the parents talked to the teacher 
before the start of class. In the corner, though, I saw one girl sitting by 
herself.
She was small and frail looking. She was the only one in the class shorter 
than me. Her red eyes looked like she had been crying. None of the other 
boys
and girls seemed to notice her there.

I went back to playing with the toy cars but after a minute looked up at her 
again. She seemed so sad and alone. Something inside of my chest started to
stir. I wasn't sure what it was. Being the youngest in my family I had 
become a bit spoiled. My older brothers had always taken care of all the 
chores
while I was free to play. It felt strange then to be thinking of someone 
other than myself, yet I couldn't stop looking at that lonely, little girl. 
After
a moment that stirring in my heart moved up to my mind and down to my feet. 
I picked up two of the toy cars and went over to her. "Do you want to play?"
I asked. She smiled at me and shook her head yes.

What made me remember that first unselfish act was a letter that little girl 
wrote me after we were both grown. She told me how she had been sick all of
her life and how her illness made the other kids avoid her. Then she told me 
how that moment of kindness had changed her life. She had cherished the 
friendship
I had offered her and carried it in her heart even after she moved away. I 
wrote her back that very day and we continued our friendship through the 
mail
for several years before the bad health that she had always fought finally 
took her life.

I was thinking of her again today and thanked God for stirring my selfish 
little heart that day and moving me to be kind to a little girl who needed a
friend. I thought too of how a moment of kindness can mean so much to 
another. I thought of how a simple, selfless act can make the world so much 
better.
I thought of how a little bit of love can move a heart, touch a soul, and 
change a life.

May all of your days be full of acts of kindness. May they be full of love, 
laughter, and smiles. May they be full of giving, caring, and helping. May
they bring joy to you while you bring joy to others. And may you always move 
your feet when God stirs your soul.

Joseph J. Mazzella

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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

Post  Admin on Fri 21 Aug 2015, 9:52 pm

I will arise and go to my Father!

(James Smith,
"Daily Bible Readings")

"I will arise and go to my Father!" Luke 15:18

This is a child's cry!

It is full of meaning.

It is full of love.

It is full of comfort.

It is a title which the Lord loves to hear us use!

Lord, give us the Spirit of adoption, and let
us know and feel, that we are Your children!

Believer!
To whom will you repair in trouble?
To whom will you look in difficulty?
To whom will you cry in danger?
From whom will you ask when in need?
Surely I hear you say, "My Father!"

Who speaks to you in the Bible?
Who tries you by His providence?
Who chastens you with His rod?
Who purifies and cleanses you?
Who humbles and reproves you?
Again you will say, "My Father!"

Who supports the world?
Who controls the nations?
Who chains up Satan?
Who comforts the believer?
Who pardons the backslider?
Again you reply, "My Father!"

Then I exhort you to . . .
trust your Father's Word,
abide in your Father's heart,
expect from your Father's hand,
and say in every trial:
"I will arise and go to my Father!"

~ ~ ~ ~

We have published
J.R. Miller's
comforting
2 page article, "
The Ministry of Hindrances".

~ ~ ~ ~
Feel free to forward these gems to others
who may be encouraged or profited by them!
Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)


How You Can Help Others Endure Hardships

June 24, 2015

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual 
should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest 
you
too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of 
Christ.

Galatians 6:1-2

There was a young lady I heard about years ago who had come to the end of 
herself. She was in a hopeless situation and saw no reason to continue 
living.
The purpose in her life was gone. So she went out onto the edge of a pier, 
closed her eyes, and leapt out into the cold, dark waters below.

But a young man walking nearby saw what happened. And before he could even 
think, he jumped off the pier himself into the turbulent frigid waters 
below.
But he had forgotten to consider one thing: he didn’t know how to swim. So 
as he was struggling to even keep his head above water, that young lady 
reached
over and began to help him.

They both made it out alive. And as a result, the woman realized she did 
have a purpose: to love others and to serve Jesus Christ. It wasn’t the fact 
that
the man saved her life through a great act of heroism that did it. It was 
that someone saw her pain and cared enough to step down and go through it 
with
her.

When it comes to loving others, that’s the call on our lives. Not to always 
have all the answers and be able to fix every problem, but to step into 
others’
lives, bear their burdens, and walk through their pain with them. That’s 
what it really means to help others endure life’s hardships!

LOVE OTHERS WELL BY STEPPING INTO THEIR LIVES, BEARING THEIR BURDENS, AND 
WALKING WITH THEM THROUGH HARD TIMES.

----------------------------------------------------------
For more from PowerPoint Ministries and Dr. Jack Graham, please visit
www.jackgraham.org
and Listen to
Dr. Jack Graham's daily broadcast on OnePlace.com.

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 25 June 22, 2015
A One-Legged Duck and Three Robins
Disclaimer: I do not speak Duck or Robin. I have not studied the Duck 
culture (please do not report me to the Duck Dynasty), and I have never gone 
undercover
(perhaps under-feather would be more appropriate) to watch and learn the 
ways of Robins. Nor have consulted an Ornithologist to check the accuracy of 
what
I am about to present. I am just an ordinary guy who recently saw a 
one-legged duck and later that same day took notice of three Robins in a 
rose garden.
The one-legged duck (actually it was a one-and-a-half-legged duck) was on 
the fringe. It did not appear that the other ducks were being unkind or 
keeping
their distance, it simply appeared that this duck felt more comfortable on 
the fringes. When on the ground the one-and-a-half-legged duck kept some 
distance
between him (not sure if it was him or a her) and the other birds. When he 
wobbled into the water again he seemed to keep a safe distance as he paddled
with his one leg.
Now shifting got the rose garden with the three robins, the atmosphere was 
quite different. These three robins came together — one from the fence, 
the
other two from other locations in the garden — and shared a worm. They all 
took a nibble or two then returned to their place. One enjoyed the rest of
the worm while perched atop the fence, the other two went back to search for 
more. After a search they came together again to share their findings, chat
a bit then flew away.
I noticed that the three robins seems happy. The three robins seemed 
concerned about each other. The three robins seemed to be helping one 
another. The
three robins seemed to enjoy being one another.
As I pondered these interesting creatures I was reminded of interactions I 
have observed within our spiritual communities.
Is there a one-and-a-half-legged duck in your church? You know them. Or, at 
least you have seen them. They come in late. That find a seat in an area 
where
few people sit. During time of fellowship they leave early, or they keep to 
themselves. The only interactions are those initiated by someone else. He is
not opposed to the connections, he probably would not be resistance to more 
in depth conversation, and even developing a relationship. He will not 
resist
it but he will never be able to make the first move because he has been 
injured. You cannot see his injury because it is on the inside.
The robins are a different kind of church. They are friendly, loving, 
caring, and devoted to one another. If one has a need, all others rally to 
provide
that need. If one struggles then all struggle. If one rejoices they all 
rejoices. Joy abounds within the community
The challenge here is for you, and your church, to look beyond the injury 
that has crippled the one-and-a-half-legged duck. The challenge is love him 
as
he is, injured, broken, and weak. It will be up to you to approach him, 
welcome him, show him you can trust him, and become a safe place for him, 
when
he is ready and willing, to reveal his injury to you. The reward for you, 
and for the body, will be when the one-and-a-half-legged duck is restored to
become a vibrant and resourceful member of his new found family.
Whether yours is a community of robins or you are a one-and-a-half-legged 
duck, there is a place for you to use your gifts and abilities to serve 
others
and bring glory to God. The challenge here is for you to be who God has 
created you to be, and to become.
Tom
A Norvell Note © Copyright 2015. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 20 Aug 2015, 8:31 pm

“Oh, Please Lord, Let It Be Your Will!”
by
Dean Masters

Proverbs 19:20-21
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the 
future. Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the 
Lord
that will stand.”

Did you cringe a little at the end of that verse? It may sound crazy but I 
did because unfortunately at times I start to bolt ahead with something and
then I read a verse like this and I stop and panic for just a second 
thinking back to see if I really prayed before I made my “big plans”. I have 
even
stopped before to say, “Oh please Lord, let this be your will.” Silly me!

Sometimes we forget that we are not above advice just because we are adults. 
There are many times I wish my Dad was still here on earth because I miss
being able to go to him for advice and wisdom! I have learned though that 
God does a great job if we allow Him to replace those people we have had in 
our
lives that pour into us and give us instruction and wisdom. God Himself will 
pour into you and give you His wisdom if you will take the time to listen
and then do as He says.

If you are in the will of God then you can truly always rest assured that 
even if things seem to be falling apart around you God’s plan will stand. He
may change things up a bit in order to fully accomplish all He desires to 
accomplish through you but His plan will not fail for you if you just follow
Him!

I am still a firm believer that everyone needs a godly mentor in their 
lives! I cherish the lady that has mentored me for years, her wisdom has 
saved me
from many mistakes even when I wasn’t crazy about what she had to say. Seek 
out godly friends and mentors, don’t just bolt ahead and then regret your 
decisions.
Pray and ask God to give you the direction you need and know that He will 
keep you from making a mistake if you ask Him to! God loves you and wants 
His
best for you ~ the best is yet to come!

Quote:
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from 
now and make a brand new ending.” Carl Bard


Overwhelmed Schedule, Underwhelmed Soul

I remember the first time I had to decline a friend's invitation to meet at 
the restaurant with the indoor playground because I'd scheduled writing 
time.
I felt so foolish. I wasn't a writer to her. Shoot, I wasn't a writer to 
myself either. I'd never written anything of any kind of significance – 
unless
you count that little book of poems I'd made for my mom when I was 10, the 
one with the poems written on parchment paper with burned edges. I was 
totally
into burned edges back then.

I wasn't a writer by anyone else's account except my mother's. But she was 
also the one who told me I could be a country singer because I had the voice
of a honky-tonk angel. This kind of motherly love is exactly what gets 
people their 15 seconds of shame on those TV singing shows. Moms, I love 
you, but
please don't encourage your babies to sing when they can't sing.

No, I couldn't sing. And maybe I couldn't write either. A book of poems 
written as a child hardly proved any sort of talent or ability. But writing 
was
in my soul. And it had to come out. I knew it.

Pull quote

At this point I was just a girl who talked about wanting to write. And now I 
had to decline my friend's invitation because on my little paper calendar
I'd written from noon to 3:30 p.m. "writing time." Everything in me wanted 
to just cross out that ridiculous 3.5-hour scheduled writing appointment and
go eat fries in the midst of colored plastic tubes and screaming kids.

I stood at my white linoleum countertops with the cordless phone receiver in 
my hand staring at my calendar. Was I going to just go with what felt normal
to me that day and meet my friends for lunch? Keep the familiar steps? Do 
what others wanted? Stay within the bounds of the expected? Or would I dare 
to
turn my body? Keep my writing appointment? Dare to put pen to paper? Honor 
God with this gift He'd given me for stringing words together and completely
change my approach to those 3.5 extra hours – hours that on previous weeks 
just leaked away from me?

God had given me a gift of this time. My time. My choice. My approach.

Your time. Your choice. Your approach.

What's that soul thing for you, that God-honoring thing that keeps slipping 
away because there's been no time to set aside and actually start? What's 
your
number? Take your 3.5 and schedule the start of your thing right now. It's 
time to set your soul free from being chained to an overwhelming schedule.

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

Excerpted from The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
Excerpted from
The Best Yes
©2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Used by permission.

Why Are So Many Christians Unhappy?
Jim Johnston / June 19, 2015
Why Are So Many Christians Unhappy?

Joy is the emotion of salvation. We rejoice with joy that is inexpressible 
and filled with glory (1 Peter 1:8). If you’re a Christian, the Spirit gives
you soaring delight in Christ. His beauty and greatness thrill your soul.

But quite a few believers struggle to experience joy. Why is that?

Some people by nature tend to be sad, and joy is an ongoing challenge. When 
I read Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s classic,
Spiritual Depression,
I was surprised that he mentions temperament or personality as “the first 
and foremost cause.” He may be right.

But there are other reasons. Young moms are often surprised at how tired 
they are — sleepless and exhausted — and they wrestle to find joy. If you 
are
grieving or suffering, you may not realize that God has specific joys for 
you in your present circumstance. And don’t forget that our enemy hates us 
and
will steal every ounce of joy he can.

But the most miserable Christians I’ve seen are those who live with a foot 
in both worlds.

They hedge their bets. They have one eye on heaven and one on earth. They 
call on the name of Christ, but they still try to find security, 
satisfaction,
pleasure, or fulfillment from this world. They’re riding the fence. And they’re 
not happy.

Is that you? The only way to have joy is to say a full “Yes” to God. Which 
means saying “No” to the world.

The Great Yes

It is important for every Christian to be convinced that God is good. And 
what’s more — God alone is good.

If we are not absolutely convinced that God alone is good, we will not be 
able to say “No” to other gods that promise joy but deliver sorrow. We don’t
dare to imagine that there is even a sliver of good apart from God and his 
will for our lives. Not a shred.

The Psalms drive this truth home.

I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” (Psalm 
16:2)

And again,

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire 
besides you. (Psalm 73:25)

And again,

I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are . . . my portion in the land of the 
living.” (Psalm 142:5)

In the New Testament, James writes,

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect 
gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. (James 1:16–17)

Every ounce of good in this world comes from God. Nothing can possibly be 
good unless it comes from God. A joyful Christian believes this truth. She 
banks
her life — and her joy — on it.

Calvin put it this way:

it will not suffice simply to hold that there is one whom all ought to honor 
and adore, unless we are also persuaded that he is the fountain of every 
good,
and that we must seek nothing elsewhere than in him. . . . For until men 
recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his 
fatherly
care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek 
nothing beyond him — they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless 
they
establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves 
truly and sincerely to him. (Institutes, I, 2, 1)

God is good. God alone is good. And all good comes from God.

Best of all, God gives us himself. And he is our joy — the unspeakably 
glorious delight of our hearts. David says,

In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures 
forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

The Great No

Satan tempts us to think we can find something good and satisfying apart 
from God. But we must declare a strong, resounding “No” to anything that 
promises
good without him. This great “No” is at the heart of Christian joy.

The essence of sin is looking for good outside of God and his will. That is 
how our mother Eve was deceived.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a 
delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, 
she
took of its fruit and ate. (Genesis 3:6)

We stumble in the same way she did. When I dig beneath the surface of any 
sin in my life, I find that I am trying to get something good apart from God
and his ways. That good thing might be pleasure, security, significance, 
satisfaction, justice, belonging, comfort, some physical need, etc. But I 
try
to get it without God.

In the end, it is idolatry. I am looking to something other than God to meet 
my needs and satisfy my desires. These gods promise joy, but they deliver
misery.

That is why a half-hearted Christian cannot have ongoing joy in Christ. 
David says,

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply. (Psalm 16:4)

And again,

For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength 
fails because of my iniquity. (Psalm 31:10)

We run after other gods to find joy, but we find sorrow.

A young woman knows that she shouldn’t marry a non-Christian, but she thinks 
she will find love and security in this relationship — even though God is
not in it. She wants something good, but she is looking to another god to 
provide it, and her sorrows will multiply.

A man thinks he will find fulfillment in pornography or hooking up after 
work. Sexual pleasure is a good thing in God’s way. But this man is looking 
to
another god to give to him, and these brief seconds of pleasure will turn to 
gravel and ashes in his mouth.

A woman looks for significance through gossip. She feels important when she 
talks about what other people are doing. She is not finding her worth in 
Christ.
She is running after another god for her sense of value.

An unforgiving man holds a grudge. He thinks that it is his responsibility 
to make things right. Justice is a good thing, but he is not looking to the
“Judge of all the earth” to give it to him. He is running after another god.

So choose today whom you will serve. Look to God and his will for every good 
gift in your life. Say with the psalmist, “The Lord is my chosen portion and
my cup” (Psalm 16:5).

Half-hearted Christians are not happy Christians. Hope in God, and don’t run 
after other gods. That is the path to joy.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 19 Aug 2015, 3:39 pm

God’s Surprising Plans for Your Good

Why does God allow trouble to plague his people? How can it be considered 
loving for him to permit trials to run wild in our lives?

I gained fresh insight into these questions while watching a spellbinding 
four-minute video called “
How Wolves Change Rivers
.”

A slightly-too-exuberant, yet-delightfully-British narrator recounts the 
changes that resulted from the entrance of a pack of wolves into the 
eco-system
of Yellowstone National Park. It turns out that deer overpopulation had left 
massive portions of the park barren. Constant grazing had turned valleys 
into
wastelands. The lack of vegetation had caused soil erosion, which 
destabilized the banks of the river, slowing the flow of water. The lack of 
sufficient
water and vegetation, in turn, forced wildlife to move on. In short, life 
was fading from the park.

Then a pack of wolves moved in.

Do you think it would be life-enhancing for a pack of predators to be 
released into a national park? I imagine your initial response would be, 
like mine,
“No, that sounds terrible.”

But it turns out that it was the best thing that could have happened.

Wolves and a World of Good

The wolves predictably killed a few deer, thinning out the population. 
However, this was not the most significant change. The remaining deer were 
forced
to move to higher terrain and abandon the grasslands of the valleys.

These areas that had been mown down for so long then began to regrow at an 
accelerated rate. Aspen trees quintupled in size in less than six years. 
This
brought back birds to nest in the branches and beavers to eat the wood. The 
return of the beavers meant the return of beaver-dams, which created pools
that allowed for the repopulation of fish, otters, ducks, muskrats, 
reptiles, and amphibians. The wolves also cleared out some of the coyotes, 
which caused
rabbits and mice to return. This led to the return of hawks, weasel, foxes, 
and badgers.

Yet the most amazing impact occurred in the river itself. Because grasses 
were allowed to regrow, the soil collapsed less, allowing for firmer 
riverbanks.
This gave the river-flow greater direction, which reinforced the animal 
habitats.

In short, the entrance of a few wolves created a whole world of good in 
Yellowstone National Park, transforming wastelands into lush valleys teeming 
with
life.

So it turns out that the best thing to do to promote life was to release a 
few wolves into the valley.

Difficulty Brings Blessing

Why mention all of this? Try for a moment to imagine a board meeting where, 
after hearing desperate pleas for help to save the aspen trees of 
Yellowstone,
a park ranger responded by saying, “I’ll tell you what will ensure 
reforestation: a few more wolves around here!” Would anyone have taken him 
seriously?

In the same way, I think we would accuse God of being insane if we heard him 
respond to our cries for greater intimacy with our spouse, greater fruit in
our ministries, or greater intimacy with him, by saying, “You want more 
life? I’ll tell you what will give it: a medical emergency. Or losing your 
job.
Or a car accident.” We would think he’s out of his mind.

But search your past and tell me if it isn’t true: Often the introduction of 
something difficult, and even dangerous, into our lives by the hand of God
results in unanticipated, yet undeniable growth. Difficulty brings blessing. 
Hardship brings joy. Wolves change rivers.

This does not mean we should court danger. What it does mean, however, is 
that we should pause before we accuse God of injustice or indifference when 
he
allows hardship to enter our lives. It just might be the best thing for us. 
In fact, for those who love him, and are called according to his purposes,
it will be his working to produce his best for us.

Count It All Joy

James certainly thought so. In James 1:2–4 he went so far as to say, “Count 
it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know
that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness 
have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in 
nothing.”

James was so certain that the introduction of difficulty into our lives 
carries the potential to bring blessing that he calls us to rejoice, not 
only after
the trial has ended, but even while we are still in it.

This does not mean we need to pretend that difficulties are pleasant. They 
are not. Nor does it mean we should not pray to be delivered from, or seek 
to
remove, hardships from our lives. Both are permissible.

However, we have much gain hope from this realization: Often our loving God 
sees that bringing something unpleasant into our lives will lead to a 
thousand
good consequences. Therefore, as a good caretaker of our souls, he will 
allow wolves to enter for a season.

So when hardships come, we can cease shaking our fist and yelling at God, 
and instead lean into him and listen. He is good. He does care. He works all
things together for the good of his children — even the arrival of wolves.
Desiring God  desiringGod.org

THE BURGER MASK

For many Japanese women, having an Ochobo (small and modest mouth) is 
attractive. In public, a large open mouth is considered ugly and rude. 
Therefore,
many women deny themselves the pleasure of taking mouth-sized bites of big 
tasty burgers in order to maintain their good manners.

Japan’s Freshness Burger fast food restaurant decided to challenge this 
convention and free women from the spell of the Ochobo mouth by providing 
the ‘Liberation
Wrapper’. The ‘Liberation Wrapper’ is a large paper holder with a photo of a 
woman’s closed mouth, nose and chin printed on the paper. As it covers the
lower part of the face, it hides the mouth and allows a lady to eat a burger 
with a wide-open mouth, even with juice running down her chin. The clever
invention is a huge success.

Within a month after introducing the ‘Liberation Wrapper’, sales of Classic 
Burgers to female customers were up 213 percent! The campaign effort was 
featured
on national TV and welcomed by happy ladies across the social network media.

Source: The Internet

It is good that women across Japan can enjoy a juicy hamburger without 
feeling inhibited. However, the Bible warns us to be more concerned about 
our inner
appearance than our outer appearance.

People look at the outward appearance,

but the Lord looks at the heart

(1 Sam. 16:7b, NIV).

So whether you eat or drink

or whatever you do,

do it all for the glory of God

(1 Cor. 10:31, NIV).

Let us glorify God in all we do today -- whether inward or outward.

David Verwey
JAPAN MISSION
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 18 Aug 2015, 4:32 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

June 20, 2015

Revisiting the Well
By Answers2Prayer


"From there they went to Beer, which is the well where the LORD said to 
Moses, 'Gather the people together, and I will give them water.'" (Num 
21:16)

As a result of their disobedience, the Children of Israel spent 40 years 
wandering in the wilderness. We don't have very many specifics about these 
40
years, but as I read the above text the other day, which, incidentally, I 
found in the midst of a passage that talks about Israel moving from one 
place
to another about...say...eight or nine times, it drew my attention. This one 
place, called "Beer" was not a new place for Israel. It was, in fact, a 
place
where God had previously provided them with a miracle, a miracle of water.

As we read through the history of these 40 years of wandering in the 
wilderness, we see that the people complained many times about the lack of 
water (
Ex 15:22,
17:1
;
Num 5:9,
20:2,
21:5,
33:14,
to name a few), and each time God provided them with water in a miraculous 
way. I find it interesting that God then brings them back to one of the 
spots
where they had experienced this water miracle.

What can we learn from this verse?

When you are given a bad medical diagnosis, or when you lose a job, or when 
there are problems with family and loved ones, it seems very much like you
have arrived in a dry, dessert place with absolutely no hope on the horizon! 
God is trying to teach us an important lesson through this brief verse about
Israel revisiting a spot where He had miraculously provided them with water: 
During the times when there doesn't seem to be much hope, we need to go back
and revisit the times in our lives when God has miraculously provided for 
us!

We all have a few of those times stored away in our memories. In fact, if we 
look back over other rough times in our lives, we see that every time we've
needed His strength, He's come through for us. Spending time contemplating 
these past miracles will strengthen our faith and help us to look to Him 
instead
of to our negative circumstances, and when we do this, we open the door for 
more and more miracles of God.

Feeling down? Discouraged? Angry? Feeling like you can't keep on keeping on? 
Revisit the well! Spend some time today meditating on the times when God has
been there for you. You'll be amazed at how much stronger you will feel!

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:

The early church united in prayer, and as a result, miracles upon miracles 
happened. Sadly, that unity experienced by the early church has been 
shredded
in modern times by differences of opinion and doctrinal disputes. Just what 
does the Bible have to say about doctrine? Check out the mini-series, "
True Doctrine: A Pentacost Message
"!

©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."
How to Understand the Bible

How Can We Know If Someone is Giving False Teaching?

WolfSheepsClothing

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but 
inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them” 
(Matt.7:15-16).

When I was young in the faith, I had a deep hunger to find the truth of God 
because I had tasted it, it was deeply satisfying, and I sensed that my soul
was just waiting to be revived from some kind of hibernation. So I sought 
out different Christian teachers and preachers, read some best-selling 
books,
and sampled Christian radio teaching. But I was unsettled by the feeling I 
sometimes had that the Bible teaching I was hearing seemed only loosely 
linked
with the biblical text, and it was peculiar, out of sync, and did not have 
the “ring of truth” I experienced when reading Scripture itself.

Some years later, I came to the conclusion that the “smell test” needs to be 
taken seriously. If we are exposed to teaching that just doesn’t “smell” 
right,
then we ought to proceed carefully. Maybe the teaching is sound and we just 
need to get in sync with it, or it may be that our “noses” are all right and
we’re hearing that most dangerous thing—false teaching.

The Bible itself speaks of “false teaching.” There is a difference between 
truth and falsehood, and when it comes to Bible interpretation, there is a 
lot
of teaching that is garbage—and it smells that way.

So how can we know if someone is giving false teaching from the Bible?

First, we need to watch out for opportunists. Teachers who gain illicitly 
from their teaching need to be avoided. It is amazing, really, how many 
masses
of people will follow someone who is manipulative, grossly greedy, and 
dishonest. They promise prosperity if others make them prosperous, and they 
laugh
all the way to the bank. The short epistle of Jude offers a stark analysis 
of this kind of false teaching:

These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the 
slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without
rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and 
uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; 
wandering stars,
for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. … These people are 
grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast 
about
themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. (Jude 12-13, 16)

This is a stunning description of the destructive effects of “shepherds who 
feed only themselves.” The passage indicates that we must watch out for the
selfishness, fruitlessness, chaos, and arrogance of certain people. They 
gain influence via their sheer conceit. Ironically, we give them credence on 
the
basis of their pride, the character flaw that most disqualifies them. When 
we realize we have been sucked in by this kind of false teacher, we need to
do some soul-searching to figure out why.

Another kind of false teaching is ill-founded speculation. Some people make 
a career out of spouting details of topics like spiritual life or prophesy
or cosmology, which go way beyond what Scripture actually teaches. There are 
no controls on such speculation. Sometimes the motive is 
manipulation—esoteric
knowledge can be a power tactic. The last sentence of 1 Timothy is this 
plea:

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble 
and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing
it some have swerved from the faith. (1 Tim. 6:20-21 ESV)

Second Timothy contains a similar warning:

Charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but 
only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one 
approved,
a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more 
ungodliness,
and their talk will spread like gangrene. (2 Tim. 2:14-17 ESV)

A third kind of false teaching is legalism. Jesus confronted this distortion 
of the truth of God when he exposed the corrupt side of sectarianism: “Woe
to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all 
other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God” 
(Luke
11:42). First Timothy 4:3 warns about teachers who “forbid people to marry 
and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be 
received
with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.”

These and other forms of false teaching all have causes, and sometimes we 
will avoid spiritual collisions if we see them ahead of time. False teaching
can come from naiveté, arrogance, or selfish gain. The problem we face today 
is that it isn’t hard to grab a microphone, create a webpage, or even 
self-publish
a book. We must make careful choices about whom we listen to, and have the 
strength to turn away when a suspicious teacher is tickling our ears and 
offering
false comfort.

Our Pursuer

from the devotional book,
PICTURES OF GOD

Isaiah 65:1-3

When pursuing His wayward children, God doesn’t protect His dignity. He isn’t 
coy. He doesn’t play hard-to-get.

“I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’
To a nation which did not call on My name.
I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts,
A people who continually provoke Me to My face.” (Isaiah 65:1-3, NASB)

They have wronged God, yet He takes the initiative to make their 
relationship right again. While they blindly, stubbornly ignore Him, He 
continues to pursue
them, calling out, “Here I am! Here I am!”

Many believers have looked back on their conversion and have seen God this 
way: before they knew Him or cared about Him, even while they ran from Him,
He patiently, persistently pursued them.

C.S. Lewis testified to such a God in his spiritual autobiography, Surprised 
by Joy. But perhaps the most famous testimony is a poem whose very title 
portrays
such a pursuing God: “The Hound of Heaven,” by Francis Thompson (1859-1907). 
It opens this way:

“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him…
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after…
With unhurrying chase
And unperturbed pace.”

The poem seems difficult and dated to modern readers, but it poignantly 
captures how God shamelessly chased His rebellious child. The child fled out 
of
fear and ignorance, afraid of the God who only wanted his best. God pursued 
him as a hunting dog would, never giving up.

That is the God who pursued you…and still pursues your best. He is pursuing 
your neighbor, your co-worker, the person ahead of you in traffic, and that
one who seems a million miles away from Him. He is pursuing your children, 
and He’ll pursue their children, and their children’s children, always 
calling
out “Here I am! Here I am!”
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

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Hitting the Bottom
by Dean W. Masters
Lamentations 3:19-24 (The Message)
19 I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes,
the poison I’ve swallowed. 20 I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the
feeling of hitting the bottom. 21 But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: 22 God’s loyal love couldn’t have
run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. 23 They’re created new
every morning. How great your faithfulness! 24 I’m sticking with God (I say
it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.

Do you feel like you are hitting the bottom? Those who do not belong to
Jesus Christ and are at the end of their rope have two choices. They can
either let go or tie a knot in the end and hang on by their own strength.
There may be some like Little Orphan Annie who believe that everything will
be better tomorrow because the sun will be shining.

Jeremiah, who wrote the book of Lamentations, also believed that things
would be better tomorrow. He let the sun that rose the next day remind him
that just as the sun was always there even though we don’t see it all day
and night, God is always there whether we feel like he is or not.

If you belong to Jesus Christ and feel like you are hitting the bottom or
are at the end of your rope you don’t need to rely on your strength to get
you through. You can rely on the power of the Holy Spirit within you. You
need to know that Jesus Christ lives inside you no matter what is going
wrong in the physical. He is always there and always loves you.

If you feel like you are hitting the bottom due to some sin or sins that you
have committed be assured that if you confess your sin Jesus will forgive
you of your sins. He loves you and wants you to return, confessing your sin.
Then you will have an intimate relationship with Him.

There have been times in my life that I felt pretty low. There were
circumstances that were getting to me. I then heard a song that I had not
heard before that reminded me that Jesus loves me. That is why he went to
the cross and died. He did that for me and for you because He loves each one
of us. Even if you had been the only person living He would have done that
for you. Realize what great love he has for you. He is ever faithful. WE are
not always faithful to him but He is always there for us.

So when you are hitting bottom, don’t hope in hope, hope in Jesus Christ. Do
like Jeremiah did and stick with him. He’s all you have left and all you
will ever need.


World Challenge Pulpit Series
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Behold the Tenderness of Jesus
by David Wilkerson | June 8, 2015
[May 19, 1931 - April 27, 2011]

I once conducted a funeral service for a young man from our
church who died of cancer. When I arrived for the service, I
was told the young man's mother was the only surviving
member of a family of five. Her husband had died three years
earlier and her two other sons had also died. This was her
fourth funeral and the third son she'd had to bury.

I had prepared a message for that service, but when I saw
that mother sitting before me broken, full of pain and
sorrow, I couldn't preach it. Instead, I began to pray the
tender love of Jesus upon her. Later I did speak for about
fifteen minutes, and the Spirit of God flowed through me
with a quiet, calm tenderness toward that mother and her
friends. I had a very real sense that Jesus saw her deep
pain, the crushing sorrow of having to bury four of her
dearest ones and being left all alone. I knew in my heart
that Christ wanted her to know him in that hour as a tender,
caring Savior.

When I got home after the funeral the Holy Spirit led me to
Isaiah 42. The prophet Isaiah had been moved upon by the
Holy Spirit to bring forth a revelation concerning what the
Messiah will be like when he arrives. The opening word,
"Behold," meaning, "Prepare for a new revelation," tells us
to ready ourselves for a new picture of the Messiah to come.

We find the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in Matthew 12.
Jesus found out that the Pharisees had held a council to
plan to kill him. How did he react? "When Jesus knew it, he
withdrew himself " (Matthew 12:15). Jesus could have called
down a legion of angels to protect himself or called down
fire from heaven to consume his enemies. Instead, Jesus
merely withdrew from them and continued to minister to the
desperate.

Matthew says this was a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy:
"He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear
his voice in the streets" (12:19).

Here is what Isaiah's prophecy is saying, in essence: "The
Messiah isn't coming to force anybody into his kingdom. He
isn't coming as a loud, boisterous, overpowering
personality. You won't get to know him by outward signs or
by human reasoning. Instead, you'll hear him speak with a
still, small voice in your inner man."

I blush when I see TV preachers onstage with a camera
following their every movement from all angles. My reaction
to all this is, "Why not go through the streets quietly, as
Jesus did? Why not heal the sick and then tell those who are
healed, 'Keep this quiet. Give all glory to the Lord'?"
Consider with me the tenderness of Jesus in two different
aspects.

Behold the tenderness of Jesus toward sinners.

How wicked do sinners have to become before God gives up on
them? What about serial murder? Is that the last straw? I
think of David Berkowitz, known as the notorious Son of Sam,
one of the most reviled killers in American history. This
man now claims he was saved while in prison, that Jesus is
his Lord, and has been leading Bible studies with other
prisoners. What are we to make of that? Simply this: God has
said his mercies fail not. They are everlasting.

We must get the picture Isaiah portrays about the Savior.
He's saying, "I have preached judgment, telling you what is
going to happen to Israel. But there's something else you
must know about the Messiah. He is coming as a tender
deliverer. He's going to set free those who are shut up in
depression and despair. No one will be too blind to have
their eyes opened by him. No one will be too deaf or too
hardened to be healed. And no prison will be able to keep
its grip on those he sets free. He can release any sinner
from any bondage."

We've got to become acquainted with this Savior, who nurses
bruised reeds and hovers over every spark of hunger, ready
to fan the flame. I think of Madeline Murray O'Hare as the
most notorious atheist of our time. She had two sons, one of
whom carried the torch of atheism after her death. But even
this woman couldn't keep the Holy Ghost out of her home.
Jesus saw a spark in her other son, a man who was broken and
bruised because the doctrine his mother espoused didn't
satisfy his hurt or deepest inner needs. That son gave his
life to Jesus and is preaching the gospel today.

There may be hard cases in your family, at work or in your
neighborhood. As you look at their lives you think, "Yes,
Jesus has power, but I can't imagine that person ever being
reached. I can believe for anyone but him."

I have news for you: that person is probably the one Jesus
has his eye on right now. You don't know what's going on
inside that person, the pain he carries, the despair he
endures. He is bent and bruised, perhaps about to break. But
there may be a spark in him that is invisible to the human
eye. Do not give up on him. Jesus hasn't. He will not put
out any spark.

Behold the tenderness of Jesus toward you.

Often when I look out over our congregation, my heart aches
at all the burdens I see people carrying. As I gaze into all
the familiar faces, I wonder: "How many of these are the
bruised reeds Isaiah talks about?"

Sadly, in some I see a lifelong faith dying out. The bright
flame of devotion that was once in them for Jesus is now
only a flicker. I ask myself, "Was this one bruised by a
phony preacher? By hypocrisy in other Christians? Was that
one hurt by someone when she was much younger? Did something
in that man's past wound him, or sour him, so that his guard
is always up, his heart unable to be penetrated?"

I know a doctor who refuses to enter a church. He was
embittered and hardened to Jesus by what he experienced as a
child. His father was a preacher who moved their family
almost twenty times, uprooting his son over and over. In
that boy's eyes his father didn't live what he preached. And
the son, now a doctor, is still bruised some forty years
later.

Tender Jesus promises, "I won't break you down. And I won't
give up on you." He comes to us quietly and lovingly says,
"Let me heal that deep bruise. Let me tear down those hard
walls and restore you."

I know a Christian man who is one such bruised reed. He has
endured a sad divorce, financial setbacks and lawsuits from
the IRS for back taxes. He suffers from manic depression,
enduring great highs and excruciating lows. At times he has
thoughts that life is no longer worth living. He told me he
becomes so depressed that he can't think straight.

When I think of this brother, I thank God we have such a
tender Savior. Jesus sees such a man as a bruised reed,
capable of only a tiny spark of faith. And our Lord won't
give up on him.

Consider this word from Isaiah about the Messiah: "He shall
not fail nor be discouraged" (Isaiah 42:4). The New American
Standard Version translates it this way: "He will not be
disheartened or crushed." The New International Version
phrases it, "He will not falter or be discouraged." And the
original Hebrew reads, "He will not recede [back off],
neither will he be crushed, until he has established justice
on the earth."

Beloved, Jesus is not going to back off from you. He won't
be hindered or stopped until he has done all he can to put
you on your feet and set you on fire. Maybe you've failed
the Lord terribly. Are you disheartened or discouraged
because you wonder how long he can be patient with you, how
long he'll put up with your stumbling? Isaiah says he will
not be disheartened. Jesus hasn't lost heart over you; he
hasn't given up. He is determined to walk with you all the
way.

You may ask, "But doesn't there come a time when Jesus
finally says, 'Enough, it's all over'? What about all the
Scriptures describing nations, people and individuals who
were cut off when Israel was finally judged? Saul was cut
off. Even in the New Testament, Ananias and Sapphira dropped
dead after being judged. Nations and empires have been
crushed throughout history."

The answer to this is also found in Isaiah 42: "Who gave
Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? Did not the
Lord, he against whom we have sinned? For they would not
walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.
Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and
the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round
about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it
not to heart" (Isaiah 42:24-25).

The purpose of God's judgment is always to draw his people
back to himself. Israel became so set in their disobedience,
so hardened to his Word, divine fury was poured out on them.
Yet they were so far gone, so deep in sin, they didn't even
recognize judgment when it came. They were already too dead
to feel the heat of judgment.

That is when nothing will work. When we blow out the spark,
give up in despair and lie down; when we purposely shut out
the Holy Spirit, closing our eyes and ears and hardening our
hearts like rocks - we are the ones doing the rejecting. Our
Savior's tenderness is always available. He reaches out
lovingly and patiently to every broken reed, to raise us up
to new life and hope.

Isaiah leaves us with this precious promise from our tender
Lord: "I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I
will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will
make darkness light before them, and crooked things
straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake
them" (42:16).

_______________________________________________
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P.O. Box 260, Lindale, Texas 75771, USA

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P.O. Box 260, Lindale, Texas 75771, USA
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