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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 13 Jul 2015, 9:42 pm

Holy? Or Just “Holier Than Thou”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even and Especially the Bad Things

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

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

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

The Most Meaningful Moments

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

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

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

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

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


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

Children of a Singing God

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

Can you hear Jesus singing?

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

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

Did he usually start the song?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

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

By Answers2Prayer
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Heed the Watchman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t know about you, but I have fallen short of the glory of God many, 
many times, and I need my sins to be forgiven because I need the love and 
of my heavenly Father from now until eternity. No matter what the sin is 
(how big or how small you may think it is), it WILL separate us from God. I 
EVER want to be separated from him.

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

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

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

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

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

Posts : 48921
Join date : 2008-10-25
Age : 72
Location : Wales UK

View user profile http://worldwidechristians.6forum.info

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 10 Jul 2015, 10:04 pm

Living on Mission through Biblical Community

This sponsored post was prepared by Dustin Willis

A solitary faith is not a Christian faith.

Lose the Lone-Ranger Mentality

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

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

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

Church = A Family United in Heart and Purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s where we practice hospitality that nurtures relationships. (see Heb. 

Making Room For Others

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

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

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

Strengthening Your Commitment to Biblical Community

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

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

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

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

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

UpWords from Max Lucado

Let God Have You
by Max Lucado

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

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

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

Just Like Jesus

Listen to
UpWords with Max Lucado
at OnePlace.com


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

Copyright 2002

Leslie A Turvey

A servant of the only true and living God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

Posts : 48921
Join date : 2008-10-25
Age : 72
Location : Wales UK

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 09 Jul 2015, 9:52 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today's Inspiration Prayer

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

Further Reading: 2 Chronicles 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Further Reading

Romans 9

1 Corinthians 3

Spiritual Fruit – Faithfulness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What did I do wrong?"

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

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

Join the club.

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

The list goes on and on.
Hebrews 11
offers us a long list of men and women who obeyed God even when things 
didn't always work out they way they expected. The names written there are 
a biblical hall of fame: Abel . . . Enoch . . . Noah . . . Abraham . . . 
Sarah . . . Jacob . . . Joseph . . . Moses . . . Joshua . . . David. 
people, different stories, widely separated in time and space. Stories that 
span thousands of years. Stories that encompass murder, natural catastrophe,
family treachery, physical weakness, failed dreams, missed opportunities, 
sibling rivalry, and military conquest. The men and women whose stories are 
in this particular chapter differ in every way but one. What they did, they 
did by faith.

All of them had moments when they must have wondered, "What did I do wrong?" 
Yet God considered each of them worthy of mention in this great chapter. Our
focus in this message is on the man we often call "Father Abraham." In the 
Bible he stands as the preeminent example of a man who lived by faith.
Hebrews 11:8-10
tells how he obeyed God's call at great personal sacrifice. It tells us what 
he did; more importantly, it tells us why he did it. And it clearly shows
us that obeying God doesn't always work out the way we think it will.

Let's begin with some brief facts about Abraham. When we meet him in the 
Bible, he is living 4,000 years ago in a far-off place called Ur of the 
- on the banks of the Euphrates River, not far from the mouth of the Persian 
Gulf. No doubt he and his wife Sarah worshiped the moon-god Sin. He is a 
middle-aged man, successful by any human standard. Life has been good to 
Abraham and Sarah. Certainly they have no reason to complain.

It is at precisely this moment that God speaks to him - clearly, definitely, 
unmistakably. What God says will change his life - and ultimately alter the
course of world history.

So what does it mean to live by faith in an uncertain world?

Truth #1: Living by faith means accepting God's call without knowing where 
it will lead.

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was 
to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was 
going" (Hebrews 11:8).
There is only one way to describe Ur of the Chaldees. It was a world-class 
city. Archaeologists tell us that in Abraham's day perhaps 250,000 people 
lived there. It was a center of mathematics, astronomy, commerce and philosophy. 
People from outlying areas moved to Ur because they wanted to be part of 
that great city.

No doubt many of Abraham's friends thought he was crazy. Why would anyone 
want to leave Ur? Obeying God's call meant giving up his friends, his 
his traditions, his home, his position, his influence, and his country. More 
than that, it meant risking his health and his future on a vague promise 
an unseen God to lead him to "a land that I will show you" (
Genesis 12:1).

When Abraham left Ur, he burned his bridges behind him. For him there could 
be no turning back. Once he left the walls of Ur, he was on his own, 
God's call into the unknown.

You say, "He gave all that up?"
"That's kind of strange, isn't it?"
"Is it?"

Please don't miss the point. When God calls, there are no guarantees about 
tomorrow. Abraham truly didn't know where he was going, didn't know how he 
get there, didn't know how long it would take, and didn't even know for sure 
how he would know he was there when he got there. All he knew was that God
had called him. Period. Everything else was up in the air.

You want a long life? So do I.
You want to rise in your profession? So do I.
You want lots of friends? So do I.
You want to grow old and die with your family around you? So do I.

There's nothing wrong with those desires. All of us feel that way. But 
living by faith means no guarantees and no certainty about the future.

I was once approached by a Christian ministry asking if I would consider a 
particular position in their organization. I met the people, liked them very
much, and was very impressed by what they were doing. As I investigated 
further, I found that they take very good care of the people who work for 
I liked everything I learned about the people and their ministry. But when 
the moment came, I decided to say no. This isn't how I put it to them, but 
it's how I said it to myself.

I couldn't hear the bells ringing.

You either understand that or you don't. If you don't, there isn't much I 
can say that will be helpful. And if you do, there isn't any explanation 
is needed. But I will add this much. All of us come to moments in life when 
we say yes or no to certain opportunities simply because it's the right 
to do at the time. Sometimes we take a job because we need to pay bills and 
take care of our family. It's hard to get more basic than that. And young 
people take jobs in various places as they are building their careers. I just read 
an article that suggests that the average worker in the US may have as many
as 10 jobs by the time he is 40 and will make 3-5 career changes by the time 
he retires. People make moves and change jobs and relocate and start over
again for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes you are forced to make decisions 
for reasons beyond your control. In these tough economic times, people 
scramble to take whatever jobs they can find. But there are moments in life when you 
have a choice, a decision, and you can stay where you are or you can do 
something different. I don't know of any failsafe way to know in advance how things 
will work out.

Abraham heard the bells ringing (not literally - that's a symbol for a sense 
of God's calling), and so he left Ur of the Chaldees. If you truly want to
do God's will, sometimes you will find yourself exactly where Abraham was - 
setting out on a new journey that doesn't seem to make sense from the 
point of view. How would he ever explain his decision to leave the comfort 
of Ur for the uncertainty of a long trek across the desert? The only 
he had was that God had called him and he must obey. The rest was shrouded 
in mystery. That fact makes his obedience all the more impressive. The
version of Hebrews 11:8 says he "obeyed and went." There was no greater 
miracle in his life than that. Everything else that happened flowed from 
this basic
decision. God called; he obeyed. That truth was the secret of his life. He 
stepped out in faith even though there were no guarantees about his own 

Let me put it another way. Living by faith means stepping out for God and 
leaving the results to him. It's no guarantee of long life and good success.
You may have those blessings. But you may not.

The life of faith means, "I am going to be the man or woman God wants me to 
be, no matter where it leads. I don't know the future, but I'm trusting him
to work out the details. In the meantime, I step out by faith and follow 
where he leads me."

That brings us to the second great truth about living by faith.

Truth #2: Living by faith means waiting on God to keep his promises.

"By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, 
living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise."
(Hebrews 11:9).
There is within all of us a natural desire to settle down. The older I get, 
the less I like to move. I value coming home to the same place and the same
faces every day. Several years ago we moved from Oak Park, Illinois to 
Tupelo, Mississippi. As we were packing, our home was filled with boxes 
to be loaded on the moving truck. It was unsettling to look at bare walls 
that only a few days before were covered with familiar pictures. Suddenly 
home looked less like a home and more like a building where we used to live 
in some distant past. Now run the clock forward 18 months. When we came back
to Oak Park for a visit, we drove past our old home on Wesley Avenue. I had 
a strange sensation, as if I remembered living there in the distant past. It
looked the same but it didn't feel like home to me at all.

There is a certain rootlessness about our life at this point that is 
instructive. Now that our boys are in their twenties, they are going in all 
at once. Four years ago our oldest son left to teach English in China. He 
came back and another son went to China. That son came back and another son 
for China. Josh met Leah, they got married and went to China for a year. 
Mark met Vanessa when they served on the same team in China. After they came 
to the States, they got married. When Josh and Leah returned to the States 
two weeks ago, it was the first time in four years that we haven't had a son
in China. Two years ago our family was together for a total of three days. 
Last year I think we were all together for about five days. This year we 
all be together for three or four days. That's the way life is - and will be 
for the foreseeable future. It has hit me that home is a matter of the 
a moving target, not so much a place as being with the people you love the 
most. Wherever they are - in the U.S. or in China or anywhere else - is home
in the truest sense.

The rootlessness I spoke about can leave you with a vague sense of 
uneasiness, of trying to figure out where you belong. Multiply that feeling 
by a factor
of 100 and spread it out over fifty years and you approximate Abraham's 
situation as he came to the Promised Land. Our text tells us that he lived 
in tents.
I know lots of people who like to camp on vacation, but I don't know anyone 
who voluntarily lives in a tent as a permanent residence. Tents speak of 
of the possibility of moving on at any moment, of the fact that you live on 
land you do not personally own.

That's Abraham. He didn't own anything in the Promised Land. God had 
promised to give him the land; yet he lived like a stranger in a foreign 
If you don't own the land, you can't build a permanent dwelling there.

In many ways this is even more remarkable than leaving Ur in the first 
place. As long as he was traveling across the desert, he could dream about 
the future.
But when he got to Canaan, all illusions disappeared. Think of what he 
didn't find:

• No "Welcome, Abraham" sign.
• No discount coupons from the merchants.
• No housewarming party.
• No visit from the Welcome Wagon.
• No mayor with the key to the city.
• No band playing "Happy Days Are Here Again."
• No ticker-tape parade.

Nobody expected him. Nobody cared that he had come. Nobody gave him 

God had promised him the land . . . but he had to scratch out an existence 
in tents. Hundreds of years would pass before the promise was completely 
Abraham never saw it happen. Neither did Isaac or Jacob.

Was Abraham in the will of God? Yes. Was he right to leave Ur? Yes. Was he 
doing what God wanted him to do? Yes. Why, then, was he living in tents? 
God's timetable is not the same as ours. He's not in a big hurry like we 
are. God works across the generations to accomplish his purposes; we're 
about which dress or shirt to buy for the big party this weekend. There is a 
big difference in those two perspectives.

A third principle at work in Abraham's life is the ultimate key to the life 
of faith.

Truth #3: Living by faith means never taking your eyes off heaven.

"For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer 
and builder is God."
(Hebrews 11:10).
As I have mediated on this verse, it hit me that there is a certain amount 
of disappointment built into the life of faith. Sometimes we think, "If I 
God's call, everything will work out and I'll be happy all the time." As Dr. 
Phil likes to say, let me know how that works out for you. By saying that
Abraham was "looking forward" to a city, it really means that he never found 
what he was looking for in this life. This world comes with a huge helping
of frustration built into the core of everything. Just recently I read about 
a certain baseball manager who led his team to a World Series championship.
It was a happy moment, the apex of his career, the proof that he had finally 
arrived, that he was a success and the best in the world at that moment. The
next morning as he went outside to pick up the paper, he thought to himself, 
"Is that all there is?" The answer is yes, that's all there is. It's the 
way with everything we do and everything we accomplish.

We live, we die, we buy a house, we sell a house, someone moves in where we 
once lived. We take a job, we leave a job, someone else takes the job we 
to have. And if we are fortunate enough to have a corner office with an 
incredible view, we should remember that someone else had it before us and 
else will have it after us. If this moment is golden for you, enjoy it but 
don't grasp it too tightly because it won't last forever.

That's one part of the life of faith. We never reach full satisfaction in 
this life. "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a 
for?" said Robert Browning. And that brings us to the second part of verse 
10. Abraham looked for a city with foundations—that is, for a "city," not a
lonely spot in the desert. He wanted to live in a place filled with other 
people. He also looked for a city with "foundations," a place with security 
permanence that could not be found in a tent. That meant he was looking for 
a city designed and built by God. Why? Because all earthly cities eventually
crumble to dust.

Not long ago I visited the ruins of the ancient city of Jericho. When most 
people think of Jericho, they think of the city whose walls came tumbling 
in the days of Joshua. But that's only one Jericho. Archaeologists have 
discovered layers of Jericho, one after another, the city having been built, 
and rebuilt across the centuries. The same is true of Jerusalem. When you 
visit Old Jerusalem, you aren't exactly "walking where Jesus walked." You 
actually walking thirty to seventy-five feet above where Jesus walked. 
According to one source, Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt at least 
times in the last 3,500 years.

That's the way it is with all earthly cities. Nothing built by man lasts 
forever. No wonder Abraham was looking for a city built and designed by God.
Revelation 21
describes that city as "the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from 
God" (v. 2). In his vision John saw a city of breathtaking beauty, shining 
the glory of God, "its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear 
as crystal" (v. 11). Christians have always looked to the New Jerusalem as
the final abode for the people of God, the place where we will spend 
eternity together in the presence of the Lord. But note this. Heaven is a 
city. It's
a real place filled with real people. That's the city Abraham was looking 
for when he left Ur of the Chaldees.

Following God's will doesn't guarantee worldly success. He had his heart set 
on heaven, and that explains why he could:

• Leave the beautiful city of Ur.
• Walk away from his career.
• Leave his friends far behind.
• Live in tents until the end of his life.
• Start all over again in a new land.
• Die without seeing all that God had promised.

Abraham knew he was going to heaven, and that changed his whole perspective 
on life. He knew not just that he was going to die, but that after death he
was going to enter a city God had designed and made.

Let me add one final thought from this passage. If you had been a consultant 
watching Abraham's life, you would probably say that he committed career 
when he left Ur of the Chaldees. It didn't make sense at the time, and 
frankly, the rest of his life was never a "success" in worldly terms.
Hebrews 11:10
says that Abraham was motivated by a vision of something the people around 
him simply couldn't grasp. He was looking forward to something they couldn't
see at all. Following God will sometimes lead you to make decisions that 
those around you simply will not understand. When that happens, all you can 
is to explain things as best you can, and then set off to obey God's call, 
leaving the results in his hands.

"Died at Twenty-five, Buried at Seventy-five"

Let me ask a personal question: How long do you expect to live? To put it 
more pointedly, how many more years do you think you have left before 
holds your funeral service? Ten years? Twenty years? Thirty years? Forty 
years? Fifty years? Sixty years? How much of that time are you sure of? The 
question is easy. You're not sure about any of it. The truth is, you could 
die tomorrow - or today - from any of a thousand causes. No one knows how 
he or she will live or precisely when they will die. There are no guarantees 
for any of us.

It's not how long you live that matters, but what you do with the years you 
are given. Too many people die at age twenty-five but aren't buried until 
are seventy-five. They waste their best years in trivial pursuits, all the 
while missing out on the excitement of living by faith.

Here is the whole message in one sentence. Following God's will doesn't 
guarantee worldly success. The operative word is worldly. God has one view 
of success;
the world has another. Joshua 1:8 reminds us that those who meditate on 
God's Word will be "prosperous and successful." Psalm 1 contrasts the fool 
looks to the wicked for advice with the godly who builds his life on the 
Word of God. The latter will be like "a tree planted by streams of waters" 
3a). God rewards such a man in this way: "In all that he does, he prospers" 
(v. 3b). But let's not confuse that with the false notion that doing God's
will leads to a trouble-free life. Abraham lived in tents all his life. He 
died without receiving all that God had promised to him. In many ways you 
say that by leaving Ur, he forfeited any chance at worldly greatness. Never 
again would he know the stability and settled prosperity that he had in Ur.
From the day he left until the day he died, Abraham was a sojourner, a 
tent-dweller, a man living on land he did not own.

If it's safety you want and a guarantee of earthly success, then you'll have 
to look somewhere else. But if you are willing to follow Jesus, I can 
you that you'll never be disappointed in him and your life will not be 

If you ever decide to make God's will the great priority of your life, you 
will discover that it is indeed an incredible journey. Like Abraham of old,
your search for God's will will lead you out of your comfort zone into the 
exciting arena of living by faith. Along the way, you will discover that you
can indeed survive without absolute certainty about what tomorrow will 
bring. You may even learn to enjoy living on the edge between faith and 
disaster. In any case, knowing God's will will cease to be an academic 
exercise, like doing your homework before going to bed at night. Instead, it 
become the most exciting adventure you've ever known as you set out into the 
unknown to follow God wherever he leads you.

[Content provided by
Keep Believing Ministries.]

Ready or Not...

“Feeling ready” is highly overrated. God is looking for obedience. When God 
brought the people of Israel into the Promised Land, he had them step into
the Jordan first, then he parted the river. If they had waited for proof, 
they’d be standing on the banks still. Faith grows when God says to 
“Go,” and that person says, yes.

Maybe the greatest open door in the Bible comes at the end of the Gospel of 
Matthew. Jesus sends his disciples out to change the world, but there are 
striking problems. One is that there are only eleven disciples. All through 
the gospel the number twelve reminds readers that the disciples have been 
to be a picture of the redeemed, restarted twelve tribes of Israel. Twelve 
is the number of wholeness, completeness, readiness. Now they don’t have 

But it’s not just that they have the wrong number. “When they saw him, they 
worshiped him; but some doubted” (Matthew 28:17). They had a quantity 
now they have a quality problem. They don’t have enough disciples, and the 
ones they do have don’t believe enough.

New Testament scholar Dale Bruner writes, “The number ‘eleven’ limps; it is 
not perfect like twelve. ... The church that Jesus sends into the world is
‘elevenish,’ imperfect, fallible."

This is the group Jesus chooses to change the world. He doesn’t say, “First, 
let’s get enough numbers” or “First, let’s get enough faith.” He just says,
“You go. We’ll work on the faith thing and the numbers thing while you’re 
doing the obedience thing. I’m sending you out. Ready or not ... ”

In the Bible, when God calls someone to do something, no one responds by 
saying, “I’m ready.” Too inarticulate, too weak, too old, too young, too 
too dangerous, too rich, too poor, too much baggage—no one ever says, “Okay, 
Lord—I feel ready.” And God says to us what he has always said, what Jesus
said to his disciples: “Ready or not ... ”

The truth is you don’t know what you can do until you actually do it. 
“Ready” comes faster if you’re already moving. If you wait to move until 
you’re fully
ready, you’ll wait until you die. Jesus doesn’t say, “Go; you’re ready.” He 
says, “Go; I’ll go with you.”

Jesus takes his friends up a mountain. Not enough of them. Not enough faith. 
Doesn’t matter. What matters isn’t whether they’re ready. What matters is
that he’s ready. And you and I never know when he’s ready. He’s in charge of 
Excerpted from Hosea
Excerpted from
All the Places to Go ... How Will You Know?
©2015 by John Ortberg, Tyndale House Publishers.
Used by permission.

How Should We Understand the Book of Revelation?

How-to-Understand-the-Bible-The-BookBNR copy

If we did not realize already that it takes a lifetime to understand the 
Bible (and that’s a good thing), the point is driven home when we get to the 
book in the Bible—Revelation. It starts out simply enough, it is a 
“revelation (in Greek, apocalypse) from Jesus Christ,” it is a “prophecy,” 
and it comes
as a letter to seven churches. Fair enough, but then come the angels, 
beasts, earthquakes, horses and riders, wars, thrones, and much more. What 
are we
to make of all this?


Here are two unhelpful approaches to Revelation. One is to think it is such 
an incomprehensible book of enigmas and riddles that we avoid it. The second
is to uncritically follow someone else’s arbitrary interpretation of all the 
details and hidden meanings of its passages. Revelation is not too hard to
comprehend, and we should benefit from it. But first we need to understand 
the big picture.

Revelation never describes itself as a symbolic code of future events 
plotted on a timeline. Like the books of prophecy in the Old Testament, 
proclaims a message. In Revelation the message is that God is coming to 
judge and to redeem, and that the powers of evil and empires will clash 
God establishes the fullness of his kingdom. That central message gives 
people two things: warnings and comfort, just as the Old Testament books of 

If we keep our eyes on this central message and the intended effects, we 
will be less likely to get bogged down when we get into details in the book.

The book of Revelation is similar to other literature of the time that’s 
called “apocalyptic,” which typically includes visions, global clashes, 
warnings, and many, many symbols. It is, of course, the cryptic symbolism of 
Revelation that makes it challenging to understand. But when we connect many
of the symbols with elements that appear earlier in the Old Testament 
Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, the message emerges from the 

A commentary that many have found very helpful is
The Message of Revelation: I Saw Heaven Opened, by Michael Wilcock
(part of The Bible Speaks Today series). Like the other commentaries in this 
series, the focus is on the message of the book. Here is how Wilcock 
the flow of Revelation:

The Prologue

Scene 1: The Church in the World

Scene 2: Suffering for the Church

Scene 3: Warning for the World

Scene 4: The Drama of History

Scene 5: Punishment for the World

Scene 6: Babylon the Whore

Scene 7: The Drama Behind History

Scene 8: Jerusalem the Bride

The Epilogue

The number seven appears many times in the book, 54 times altogether, and it 
is obvious that most of the book is organized around cycles of seven. Seven
proclamations to seven churches (
chapters 2–3),
and three sets of seven-part visionary narratives: the seven seals (4:1–8:1),
the seven trumpets (8:2–11:18),
and the seven bowls (15:5–16:21).

Nothing in the book of Revelation suggests that its sequence of symbols and 
visions are to be plotted along a chronological timeline, all related 
to the very end of human history. Christians in the first few generations 
saw the descriptions of persecution against God’s people as exactly what 
were experiencing, for instance, at the end of the first century during the 
reign of Roman Emperor Domitian. Christians today who experience the 
battles of persecution, sometimes at the hands of national, totalitarian 
powers, read Revelation as a letter to them.

The three sets of seven (seals, trumpets, bowls) may best be read as three 
great cycles of bloody conflict and victory, each rising to a higher level 
intensity. Here Revelation is not just describing what will happen in the 
future, but what does happen in history and will continue happening until 

The end of the story is an astonishing description of a new creation, 
including symbols of a new city, a new temple, and a new people. The message 
is this:
God will prevail. A day is coming when “There will be no more death or 
mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (
The ultimate victory of God is a closeness and a communion with his people.

What can we do to understand the book of Revelation? Reading it straight 
through in one, two, or three settings is very helpful because you will see 
Read it in different translations. And sometime read it alongside one of the 
better commentaries. (Recommended:
Michael Wilcock, The Message of Revelation)

Spiritual Fruit – Gentleness

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

We almost have the complete fruit of the Spirit when we grow gentleness by 
the power of the Holy Spirit. Gentleness is an expression of compassion. It 
is seen by God to the frail and weak and it is expected of those of us who 
follow our Heavenly Parent.

Jesus is known as being gentle. One of the times He was most gentle was in 
the following account:

"Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was 
back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught 
them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees 
brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in 
front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in 
the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” 
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against 
him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept 
demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the 
one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again 
and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one 
by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle 
of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the 
woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, 
Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” " (John 
8:1-11, NLT)

Jesus did not condemn the woman but was gentle with her. We don’t know what 
Jesus wrote in the dirt so He may not have been too gentle with the men who 
brought her to Him. But He did end the encounter with the woman by telling 
her not to sin any more. So He does not just let her go but expects her to 
leave her life of sin.

We need to follow the example of Jesus. We are not to condemn people but be 
gentle with them. Pick them up and let them know about Jesus but also let 
them know what Jesus expects. Also, when we are witnessing to others we need 
to be gentle and let them take their time to find Jesus just as Jesus didn’t 
force people to make their decisions right then.

by Dean W. Masters

That Hideous Beauty of Calvary
Marshall Segal / April 22, 2015
That Hideous Beauty of Calvary

We have a crisis if the cross loses its offense in our eyes. If we’re not 
offended by the cross, we’re in grave danger of losing the comfort and hope 
the cross.

Paul writes, “If I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still 
being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed” 
5:11). Meaning, if I preach a righteousness through good works, then the 
cross is no longer necessary. The message of the cross — that we are sinful 
saving unless God intervenes on our behalf — is softened or silenced by 
false gospels. The true gospel is the most offensive news ever announced: 
you are
wicked and without hope in and of yourself. Your best efforts to be good are 
worthless — the worst kind of failure and rebellion.

So the offensiveness can be removed, but when it’s stripped away, the 
goodness always leaves with it.

A Beautiful Execution

It’s a stunning thing, isn’t it, that we grow as comfortable as we do with 
the cross? It was an execution — like being hung by your neck from a tree or
electrocuted in a chair or injected with lethal chemicals.

And yet we wear the cross as a pretty necklace around our neck, or put it in 
bright colors on our bumpers, or doodle it on our worship folders — 
sizes, different colors, maybe decorating it with our favorite verse in 
cursive. Functionally — on our necklaces, t-shirts, and coffee mugs — the 
of the cross is really more like a beautiful flower or a shooting star or a 
soft bunny rabbit, than it is like a punishing weapon of torture and death.
That’s what a cross is, remember.

It’s not wrong to love the cross. In fact, we must. We just need to be 
reminded regularly of the horror and gravity of what happened at Calvary — 
the betrayal
and murder of the Son of God for us. If the death of God himself — the 
crucified Son of God — does not continue to be horrific and offensive in our 
then our faith, our hope, and our theology have lost their clarity and 

Our souls need to be undone by the cross in order to feel safe at the cross.

The Cross and ISIS

Think for a minute, what if Jesus had died another way? How comfortable 
would we be with that imagery? What if instead of being crucified, Jesus had 
beheaded by a group like ISIS? It could have happened. John the Baptist was 
executed like that. What if Jesus had been beheaded? What would we wear 
What would we doodle?

ISIS’s rampage across the Middle East is gruesome, horrendous, outrageous, 
sickening — brothers and sisters in Christ violently, seemingly 
slaughtered because of their faith.
Thirty more killed just this week.
It is awful, disgusting evil. It’s excruciatingly hard to look at the 
pictures or videos online.

So why do we treat a cross differently today than we might a severed head? 
Why is the cross — this picture — so comfortable for us?

A Jarring and Joy-Filled Marriage

In part, it’s because we know the whole story — and it’s a good story. We 
know what happens three days later — the glorious emptiness of a 

Another part, though, is that we forget. In the peace of Easter morning, we 
forget the war on Good Friday — the infinite price that was paid, the worst
sin ever committed, the execution of the Christ. The Son of God was nailed 
to wood like a wall decoration, and left to bleed and suffocate to death.

Jesus doesn’t downplay the horrors of his death — “they will mock me and 
spit on me, and flog me and kill me” (Mark 10:34) — but he also invites us 
come find safety, rest, and life at that cross.

He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; 
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we 
healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

For us, the horror of Calvary — and it is horrible — is forever married to 
the hope of Calvary. Jesus endured the cross — betrayed, mocked, spit on, 
pierced, murdered — to say that you are broken. But with broken body and 
spilled blood, he also says that God loves you, and that he’s made a 
way for you to be made free, made whole, made pure.

The Cry of the Crossbeams

This good news — the light of the world — only comes through the horrific 
darkness of the cross. This kind of sacrifice is the only solution to the 
in us and the brokenness around us. Light through darkness. Joy through 
sorrow. Love through sacrifice. Life through death. This is the message 
in those two hideous crossbeams.

Only the cross can pay the debt we owe — our Savior’s body nailed to a tree 
in our place. Our sin against God cost God that much. The cross declares 
no evil in this world can compare with our evil. Our offenses against God 
are the most offensive ever committed. The horror of Calvary communicates 
depth and severity of our depravity.

And the beauty of God’s love at the cross surpasses any other beauty we’ve 
ever seen — better, more beautiful than the first days of summer in 
or the quiet lakes hidden in and around the Rocky Mountains or the blue 
waves crashing on a Southern California beach. The cross is the most 
and most beautiful event and news we’ve ever known.

But we have to be offended by the cross for it to ever be truly beautiful.

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Spiritual Fruit – Goodness

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

The next part of the fruit which grows through the Holy Spirit is goodness. 
Easton’s Bible Dictionary says that goodness in man is not a mere passive 
quality, but the deliberate preference of right to wrong, the firm and 
persistent resistance of all moral evil, and the choosing and following of 
all moral good.

In the Gospels a rich young ruler came to Jesus and ask the good Teacher 
what he must do to be saved.

"So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, 
that is, God." (
Mark 10:18, NKJV)

Jesus was just testing the man as He did a lot in the Gospels. But here we 
find that God is the greatest good. But if we belong to Him then we have the 
Holy Spirit inside of us to grow that goodness in us.

But it is possible to grow our own fruit of goodness but this is not true 
spiritual fruit.

Goodness Not Godliness
Being good is not necessarily being godly. To be godly, though, is good.
A sociology textbook in my library provides an example of goodness that is 
unrelated to godliness. The author describes the high level of cultural 
morality that is found among the Cheyenne, a group of native Americans who 
once lived in central Minnesota and northern South Dakota. These people 
exhibited moderation, dignity, and generosity, and manifested an almost 
unbelievable degree of self-control. Parents loved their children and gave 
them a lot of affection without spoiling them. They also taught them ethical 
values at an early age, so that many of them became dedicated, 
self-sacrificing, and well-behaved human beings. Yet these Indians were not 
—Our Daily Bread

by Dean W. Masters

13 Ways to Pursue More of Jesus
Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of 
Anne Graham Lotz's book,
Pursuing More of Jesus,
(Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009).

Every day presents a fresh opportunity to pursue a closer relationship with 
Jesus – and the more you have of Jesus in your life, the better your life 
be. So don’t settle for just occasional encounters with Jesus in some parts 
of your life. Keep pursuing more of Jesus until your whole life is saturated
with His power.

Here's how you can pursue more of Jesus:

Go for the maximum, not the minimum. Choose to go after more than just the 
bare minimum God has to offer you. Make your
about more than just trying to escape hell and get your ticket punched to 
heaven. Invite God to completely transform you: bending your will, awakening
your conscience, breaking your heart, transforming your mind, overcoming 
your prejudices, soaring in your spirit, and conforming you into His 

Pursue more of His voice in your ear. Out of the many voices you hear 
speaking to you each day – through other people, circumstances, etc. – you 
need to
learn how to discern what’s truly God speaking and what’s not. Keep in a 
mind that any authentic message from God is biblical (straight from God’s 
personal (in the language of your own life), and powerful (resulting in 
lives either changed for the better or saved). If someone claims to have a 
from God for you, test it by making sure that it’s in accord with and 
confirmed by the Bible. Remember Jesus’ promise that He would go ahead of 
you to
guide you in every situation. Learn how to recognize Jesus’ voice by getting 
to know the Bible well (reading it, studying it, understanding it, applying
it, and living by it) and then trust His guidance when making decisions.

Pursue more of His tears on your face. Jesus understands and cares when you’re 
crying tears of pain. Remember how much He suffered on the Cross, and see
your own sufferings as opportunities to draw closer to Jesus. No matter what 
you’re going through – the loss of a job, a friend’s betrayal, a health 
a spouse’s unfaithfulness, a child’s rebellion – Jesus is crying along with 
you and will meet you in the middle of your suffering with His presence.

Pursue more of His praise on your lips. It’s easy to praise Jesus when your 
life is going well, but Jesus is still worthy of praise even when problems
and pressures darken your circumstances. Make the deliberate, conscious 
choice to praise Jesus every day, no matter what, to honor Jesus and learn 
to walk by reliable faith instead of shifting feelings. Praise Jesus for who 
He is by frequently thinking of one His many wonderful attributes and 
Him for it. Praise Jesus for what He has done by thanking Him for specific 
blessings in your life on a regular basis. Real praise is affirming your 
even in the midst of desperation when you choose to cling to Jesus alone.

Pursue more of His death in your life. Death produces power that leads to 
more blessings in life. Just as Jesus died on the Cross so you could be 
alive, He wants you to die to your own desires and yield to His desires for 
you so you can experience the best life possible. God uses pressures, 
and pain in your life as nails to pin you to cross of your own. If you 
submit to Him while you go through them, you experience what it’s like to 
die to
yourself so God’s power can live through you. Every kind of brokenness you 
experience can lead to a corresponding blessing if you’re willing to die to
your own: will, goals, dreams, desires, expectations, plans, rights, and 
reputation. If you choose to die to yourself, God will pour out blessings 
a character that reflects His own, a witness that leads to other people’s 
lives being transformed, and rewards from God himself.

Pursue more of His dirt on your hands. Just as Jesus was willing to get His 
hands dirty serving others willingly, humbly, obediently, and gladly, He 
you to do the same. Choose to serve other people whenever God calls you to – 
even when it’s not convenient or when you’re struggling with serious 
of your own. Shift your focus from yourself to Jesus and the people He wants 
you to serve. In the process, your own problems will become more manageable.
Never view yourself as being above any particular type of service – changing 
diapers, mowing grass, making coffee, visiting prisoners, etc.. When you do
any task that God calls you to do, your work – no matter how humble – will 
become important because you’re answering God’s call.
Pursue more of His hope in your grief. Jesus has given you the hope of 
heaven in your grief. Let the promise of heaven sharpen your focus to help 
you see
that any difficult situation you’re going through now is temporary compared 
to a joyful eternity with Jesus. Look forward to the reality of seeing Jesus
face to face and enjoying the company of loved ones who have gone before 
you, when it’s your time to go to heaven.

Pursue more of His fruit in your service. If your service for God lacks the 
fruit of changed lives, you don’t have to try harder, pray more, or claim 
territory in service. Instead, you should examine your personal relationship 
with Jesus to see how closely you’re connected to Him. It’s the quality of
your connection to Jesus that will determine whether or not you’ll have the 
power to bear good fruit for His kingdom. The fruit you bear isn’t produced
through your own efforts; it’s produced by the Holy Spirit through you as 
you consistently rely on God. Jesus is the Vine and you are the branches. 
may sometimes choose to prune you to bear good fruit by cutting out of your 
life everything you depend on – except your relationship with Jesus. When 
forced to pay attention to your relationship with Jesus because that’s all 
you have, your connection to the Vine gets bigger, empowering you to produce
more fruit. Trust God when He prunes the branches of your life; He knows 
what’s best to help you grow. Pray for greater fruitfulness in your service, 
God t conform you more closely to the image of Jesus, use you to make others 
want to know Him better, give you opportunities to share His Gospel and give
you the fruit of changed lives as a result, draw others to Himself through a 
Bible study you lead, or give you one person to share His love with today.

Pursue more of His love in your home. As you give Jesus more of your heart, 
He will fill it with more of His love, and that will overflow into the lives
of the people with whom you interact each day. When you let God’s love flow 
through you, it will empower you to love even those people who are difficult
for you to love – those whose personalities or behavior makes them seem 
completely incompatible with you. Rather than just avoiding or tolerating 
people, choosing to show God’s love to them will bless you in the process 
because God will use them to grind off the weak edges of your character to 
you stronger. Ask Jesus to help you love people sacrificially, as He does. 
Instead of choosing to love only people who meet your needs, whom you get 
with, who make you feel good, who do things for you, who give you things you 
want, whom respond with love, and whom you like, choose to demonstrate love
to everyone, regardless of whether or not you like them and how they respond 
to you. When you love someone sacrificially, your act of love then becomes
an act of worshiping Jesus.

Pursue more of His courage in your convictions. Be willing to stand out and 
speak up for Jesus in all areas of your life, and with whoever you meet. 
a strong public stand for the uniqueness of who Jesus is; for the truth of 
the entire Bible; and for the necessity of living a life of integrity, 
and humility in order to please God. Rather than living a lifestyle that 
simply blends in with that of non-believers, show people the difference that 
relationship with Jesus makes in your attitudes and actions. Pray for the 
courage you need to stand by biblical convictions when others pressure you 
be complacent or politically correct. Ask the Holy Spirit to use all of your 
conversations with others to glorify God in whatever ways He guides you to
do so. No matter how much pressure you encounter to compromise your 
convictions, decide that you will never give up, shut up, or let up, because 
of your
love for Jesus.

Pursue more of His nearness in your loneliness. When you feel lonely, 
remember that Jesus is always with you. Pray for more awareness of His 
presence close
to you, and take comfort in it. Although other people may sometimes 
disappoint you or abandon you, Jesus will always be there for you. Remember 
that Jesus
is much more than just a man, prophet, teacher, revolutionary, icon, or 
symbol. Jesus is God Himself – and He loves you!

Pursue more of His answers to your prayers. It’s an incredible privilege to 
be able to go directly to God at any time and in any place with your 
Jesus has promised that when you ask Him for anything according to His will 
and believing in His power to act, He will answer. Whenever your prayers 
to go unanswered or turn out the opposite of what you asked God to do (such 
as when you pray for your career and get laid off or when you pray for a 
one’s healing and he or she dies), trust God anyway. Remember that His ways 
are not your ways, and He will act according to what’s best from His 
perspective on every situation.

Pursue more of His glory on your knees. Embrace God’s purpose for your life 
single-mindedly and wholeheartedly. Stay focused on what God wants for your
life, and do all you can to fulfill that purpose well. Let your 
determination to do the work God has for you to do lead you to make wise 
choices like:
less sleep and more
less TV and more study, less shopping and more tithing, less eating and more 
exercise, less talking and more listening, or less work and more worship.
Serve God faithfully to glorify Him every day.

Adapted from
Pursuing More of Jesus,
copyright 2009 by Anne Graham Lotz. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, 
Nashville, Tn.,

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham, is the President and 
CEO of AnGeL Ministries, a non-profit organization that undergirds her 
to draw people into a life-changing relationship with God through His Word. 
She is the award-winning author of 10 books, including Just Give Me Jesus 
I Saw the LORD. Anne has spoken on seven continents, in more than 20 foreign 
countries, proclaiming the word of God in arenas, churches, seminaries, and
even prisons.

Original publication date: June 3, 2009

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Global Prayer Digest People of the Day
Mirpuri People in Manchester
Apr 24, 2015 01:00 am

Today's Devotional

Acts 4:12, NIV ""Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other 
name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.""

One of the many issues addressed in this brief verse is that of identity. 
The apostles described in the Book of Acts were very determined to identify 
with Christ, and some like Stephen even died for that Name. In today’s 
reading we are praying for a people group plagued by a lack of identity. As 
as it is to be part of a larger ethnic or language group, we must remember 
that it is most important that our identity be in Christ. Those who identify
with Him will flourish spiritually.

Pray that the Mirpuri people in both England and Pakistan will identify with 
the Name above all names.

Today's People Group

(This story is intended to explain the attitudes and beliefs of the people 

“I don’t know if I have an identity. I am not just Asian and not just 
British.” These were the words of Shazia, a Mirpuri girl in England. She 
calls herself
a “coconut,” brown on the outside, white on the inside. Though she went to 
an Islamic madrasah and studied the Qur’an, it had little impact on her. She
goes to pubs with both British and Pakistani peers. Her parents are worried 
about her.

The Mirpuris in England from the older generations have been there for a 
long time. Those from the younger generation have either been born in the UK 
they are sent there to marry another Mirpuri who lives there.

The Mirpuris are an ethnic group from Pakistan’s section of Kashmir. Most of 
Kashmir is part of India, but the western edge is part of Pakistan, 
the Mirpur District. There is always the danger of armed conflicts between 
India and Pakistan in this region, so Mirpuris are glad to move out of the 

Some Mirpuris are faithful to Islam, the religion of their ancestors while 
others, like Shazia, follow Islam only because they are forced to by their 
The latter group is sometimes open to finding spiritual answers in other 
places since they see no value in the rituals of Islam.

Pray that the Mirpuris in Manchester will find answers to their spiritual 
questions by following Jesus Christ.

Learn more at Joshua Project.
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What is Unique About the Books of James and Hebrews?

We continue to find astonishing variety in the Scriptures when we look at 
two New Testament books: James, a book of Christian wisdom, and Hebrews, 
explains the complicated connections between the old covenant and the new. 
Both of these books are not addressed to a particular Christian group. They
are sometimes called “general epistles.”


The epistle of James, which was probably written by the James who was the 
leader of the church in Jerusalem (
Acts 15),
focuses on the practicalities of personal and community life. There is 
nothing in James about the nature of God, the plan of redemption, or the 
and Jesus is mentioned only twice. James is almost like the book of Proverbs 
for the New Testament. Wisdom is not an elite and specialized knowledge, it
is everyday practical lifestyle rooted in values that come “from heaven.”

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good 
life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you 
harbor bitter
envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the 
truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, 
demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find 
disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is 
of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and 
good fruit, impartial and sincere. (
James 3:13-17)

This is straightforward and challenging. It is a call to action. If today’s 
leaders would take James’ description of wisdom as their paradigm of 
our communities would look entirely different. James is also known for the 
challenge to put faith into action (
James 2:14-24).
“What good is it… if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (2:14). 
James confronts favoritism, greed, and destructive talk. James gives some
perspective for those going through trials or who are teetering on the edge 
of temptation. James challenges us to be patient, respectful, and 

The greatest challenge in reading the epistle of James is not so much 
understanding what it means, but living what it prescribes.

The book of Hebrews is long for an epistle. It is steeped in details about 
the Old Testament sacrificial system and explanations of how the plan of 
has been fulfilled in Jesus. It is a mystery who authored this book. “To the 
Hebrews,” means it was written for Jewish Christians who especially needed
a theological explanation of how faith in Christ fulfilled the Old Testament 

The first 10 chapters describe how Christ and faith in Christ has superseded 
the old covenant, has surpassed the accomplishments of Moses and Joshua, and
has replaced the priesthood and the sacrificial system.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, 
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do
not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but 
we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not
sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we 
may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (
Heb. 4:14-16)

The book of Hebrews provides a key to unlocking challenging questions about 
the story of God in which he works for centuries in and through a special 
people, starting with Abraham, but then does something entirely new in 
Jesus. It is not that the terms of a relationship with God have changed, 
which always
was and always will be faith based on grace. But the scope of God’s grace 
now expands to the whole world with the atonement in Jesus.

The book of Hebrews also warns believers about falling away from the faith, 
and challenges them to persevere in difficult circumstances, remaining 
to the new covenant. Hebrews 11 is a stunning description of how faith and 
hope across the ages have been the distinguishing characteristics of God’s 
beginning with Abraham. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and 
assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended 
Heb. 11:1-2).
The followers of Jesus have, in his sacrifice, the power to overcome sin and 
to persevere:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let 
us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. 
let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on 
Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he 
the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne 
of God. (
Heb. 12:1-2)

To understand Hebrews, we have to look backwards into the Old Testament, 
seeing how spiritual realities are anticipated and then fulfilled. When we 
that, we will be stunned by the wide scope of biblical truth in the great 
narrative that stretches from a covenant with Bedouin shepherds from 
to the entire world. And Hebrews lets us know that taking the long view—of 
persevering and plodding, of believing and behaving rightly—always has been
the way of God with men and women.
About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook 
Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for 
years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help 
Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, 
most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to 

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"Pigs were more important. Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but 
they begged him to go away and leave them alone." (Matthew 8:34b)

By Answers2Prayer

When Pigs are More Important

Sometimes it's the little things that make us uncomfortable with God's 

A few times in my life, I've owned a handful of pigs. Hog are unusual 
animals. They can be funny, mean, and dangerous all in a matter of moments. 
I have
an uncle who made a sizable income by raising hogs. For me, it was simply a 
hobby. I enjoyed their antics and the exercise I received trying to repair
what they destroyed. But there was no guaranteed profit from raising them. 
Prices fluctuated wildly. Pigs were fun but not more important than my 

Jesus encountered a group of people to whom pigs were more important. 
"Entering the country of the Gadarenes, he met two demon possessed men. As 
he healed
the men, the demons pleaded to be sent into nearby swine. Jesus obliged, and 
the pigs ran wildly over a steep bank and drowned in the sea. Instead of 
over the healing, the townspeople invited him to leave. Pigs were more 
important. Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him 
to go
away and leave them alone." (Matthew 8:34 NLT)

When pigs are more important, it reveals my priorities need attention and 
more than likely rearranging. Priorities in the right order don't just 
Time and energy are involved. What pigs are more important to me is revealed 
by the light of Jesus as it did with the townspeople. Light doesn't like 
Theirs was a demon infested land. Losing their livelihood was more important 
than changing their lifestyle.

Change is never comfortable. God's chart for me often interferes and clashes 
with my sketch for me. However, his is always superior. I can ask him to 
my area just as the townspeople did, but I'll never know the peace of 
freedom if I do.

Have you asked Jesus to leave an area of your life because you like the pigs 

Prayer: Father, we ask You to cleanse us from all things that hinder us from 
realizing Your perfect plan.

Martin Wiles
Hodges, South Carolina, USA


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The Sermon Illustrator
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on over my friend.

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

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 30 Jun 2015, 10:54 pm

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 
By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any
longer?" (Rom 6:1-2)

By Answers2Prayer
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The Real Stuff. Radical Grace from the Book of Romans (Rom 6:1-2)

Diamonds don't just happen. They are formed a hundred miles under terra 
firma and are brought up to the earth's surface through volcanic eruptions. 
makes them unique is that they are composed 99.9% of carbon. The pressure 
they are going through beneath the earth's surface, as well as the extreme 
forces the carbon atoms to bond, turning them into beautiful diamonds. No 
wonder they are so expensive!

There are many fake diamonds out there as well, ones that pretend to be the 
genuine thing but really are not. How can we distinguish between the real 
and the fake ones, especially since they look identical to the naked eye?

There are some steps that can be taken to determine if a diamond is a fake 
or the real thing. First of all, diamonds are one of the hardest natural 
The only thing that can scratch a real diamond is another diamond. This is 
why diamonds are called diamonds, as the original Greek word for it is 
which means invincible or indestructible. A fake one, on the other hand, can 
be scratched by something as innocuous as sandpaper. Fake ones cannot 
the pressure of another object!

Another test to distinguish the genuine ones from the fake ones is the fog 
test. You can breathe on a diamond, as if trying to fog a mirror. If the 
remains fogged for two to four seconds, it is a fake. The real one dispenses 
the heat evenly.

Some like to use the transparency test, where we flip the diamond upside 
down on a piece of newspaper. If we can read the newspaper through the 
it is a fake!

If we have a sharp magnifying glass we can also look for the sharp facets of 
the diamond. If they are rolled instead of sharp, the diamond is a fake!

Naturally there are a few other tests that can be made to distinguish the 
real stuff from the fake ones, but these are more for the experts. However 
are lab-created diamonds that contains the same identical structure and 
physical properties of real diamonds. A professional would not even be able 
tell the difference without extensive testing using specialized equipment.

The biggest diamond scientists have discovered so far, cannot be found on 
our planet. It's a star named Lucy after the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky 
Diamonds". It is essentially a diamond of ten billion trillion trillion 
carats! Wow! No way could anyone wear that!

Christians, who are worth far more than diamonds in God's eyes, also have 
counterfeits. Not everyone who proclaims to be a Christian truly is one. 
are the ones who give Christians a bad name. However, we cannot compare 
diamonds with fakes. They are completely different. Those who pretend that 
is OK are fakes, as no one loving our Lord and Master, Jesus the Christ, 
would refute His sacrifice that cost His life so that we could be truly 
"Why, they've re-crucified Jesus! They've repudiated him in public!" (Heb 
6:6b, MSG)

The same is true with "Christians" that proclaim that Jesus' sacrifice was 
not enough and that human efforts is a must to obtain heaven! "For it is by
grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it 
is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 

Either we have been transformed gradually into God's image or we are 
reflecting our true nature: followers of the evil one. There are no other 
After all, didn't Jesus say: "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do 
people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?Likewise every 
tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit." (Matthew 7:16-17, 

What kind of fruit are we bearing?

Rob Chaffart


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truly cares
for them, and that Jesus is not only their Saviour by their friend as well!

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

Your Advantages
Thursday, April 23, 2015

“‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ . . . ‘Do not fear, for those who are 
with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed and said,
‘O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the LORD opened the 
servant’s eyes . . . the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire 
around Elisha.†- 2 Kings 6:15-17 NASB
Superior numbers! This factor, according to careful studies of military 
historian, T.N. Dupuy, was a key reason why Napoleon Bonaparte was 
successful as
a commander. If all other conditions were equal, Napoleon knew that a battle’s 
outcome usually was based on “superior numbers on the battlefield.†
to this principle, Napoleon always attempted to have more resources at hand 
than his adversaries. And the results spoke for themselves, in victory after

Elisha’s servant, too, understood the importance of superior numbers. But, 
after counting the resources they faced, he felt that defeat was certain. 
adversaries, the Arameans, had more soldiers, and even chariots.

But Elisha was not worried. He knew that the hosts of Heaven were on their 
side, and that God’s army was infinitely superior to the Arameans, or any 
force on earth.

Many Christians are so focused on the things of this world that they think 
that defeat is inevitable. Based on the resources they see, they assume they
cannot win or even compete. Instead of trusting God, they feel hopeless.

In these situations, we need to remember what Elisha taught his servant. To 
realize that God has a Heavenly army on our side. As long as we serve Him,
we always are in the majority.

Right now, do you feel outnumbered? Overwhelmed? Defeated? Stop trusting in 
human factors or resources, and place your trust in God. His army is 
you. Rejoice in the Lord, and commit your needs to Him. Then declare 

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Father, open my eyes that I might see the spiritual army all around me. I 
declare victory over my enemies. I believe in You for the resources I need. 
trust in You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: 2 Kings 6

Watch & Learn

I walked into First Baptist College Station that night during my senior year 
of college with low expectations. I'd grown up in church and had been really
involved in my church youth group once upon a time. I knew all the "right" 
Christian answers, but I'd fallen so far away from all that that I felt like
I was too far gone. God couldn't possibly want me now.

We sat toward the back of the sanctuary, and I remember two things as 
vividly as if they happened yesterday. The first was that the minute the 
leader began to sing, I began to cry. Like ugly cry. The second thing was 
that a young guy named Gregg Matte walked onstage and began to talk about 
we are called to be children of God and to shine like stars in the universe. 
(That happens to be in Philippians 2, by the way.) But more than that, he
talked about grace and mercy and how God loves more than we could ever 
imagine. I don't know that it was the first time I'd really heard about 
God's grace
and love, but it was without a doubt the first time I really grabbed hold of 
it and decided not to let go. It was the beginning of something real for me.

Pull quote

Over the next few months I became friends with a bunch of people who were 
actively involved with the church's college group. They were unlike any 
of people I'd ever known. They talked openly about their faith and made 
decisions based on what they felt God was calling them to do. I loved 
time with them because, without even realizing it, they were challenging me 
to be the person God intended me to be and to quit settling for less. They
showed me that being a Christian didn't mean I had to spend all my time in 
prayer meetings and playing miniature golf like I'd done in high school 
group, which was very important to me, because you want to die of boredom? 
Go play a round of miniature golf.

By watching these people live their lives, I learned what it means to seek 
God's will for your life. I'd heard people talk about it, but I'd never seen
it in action. Especially not with people my age.

Pull quote

It was also during this time that I picked up Max Lucado's book No Wonder 
They Call Him the Savior and began to read it. His account of the Prodigal 
rocked everything I'd convinced myself to be true about how God felt about 
me. I had never before understood how much God loved me, how much he wanted
me, and how his grace completely covered every mistake I had made. There's a 
line in that book that sticks with me even to this day about how God looks
at us and says, "Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it 
doesn't matter. Please come home."

So I came home.

And God, in return, lavished me with a scandalous amount of grace as he not 
only filled my life with wonderful new friends who encouraged me and loved
me but also brought my best friend, Gulley, right along with me as she began 
to develop a real relationship with God too. We fumbled our way through this
journey together as we encouraged each other, prayed for each other, and 
found ourselves standing on solid ground for the first time in a long a 
Maybe the first time ever.

Excerpted from Nobobys Cuter Than You
Excerpted from
Nobody's Cuter Than You: A Memoir About the Beauty of Friendship
©2015 by Melanie Shankle, Tyndale House Publishers.
Used by permission.

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 29 Jun 2015, 11:15 pm

Spiritual Fruit – Kindness

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

The next part of the fruit which grows through the Holy Spirit and from love 
is kindness. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is kind. So to truly be 
kind we must have the love of God in us.

In the Old Testament God tells us to be kind to all, especially the 

"He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of 
you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your 
God?" (Micah 6:8, NRSV)

"Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy 
to one another;" (Zechariah 7:9, NRSV)

If we have the true fruit of the Holy Spirit we will show kindness to all 
only because that is what God expects of us. But some people grow their own 
fruit of kindness. How many people are only kind to others if they are 
noticed or if they can receive something in return? If one has other motives 
for showing kindness other than living out the life God wants us to live 
then they are growing their own fruit.

You do not have to do anything big to show kindness as seen by the story of 
Leo Tolstoy:

Tolstoy, the great Russian writer, was passing along a street one day when a 
beggar stopped him and pleaded for alms. The great Russian searched through 
his pockets for a coin, but finding none he regretfully said, “Please don’t 
be angry with me, my brother, but I have nothing with me. If I did I would 
gladly give it to you.”
The beggar’s face flamed up, and he said, “You have given me more than I 
asked for. You have called me brother.”
—Evangelistic Illustration

by Dean W. Masters

Unedited redistribution approved 

4 Simple Ways You Can Turn Worry into Wonderful
Cortni Marrazzo

A few weeks ago, I woke up in a great mood and felt ready to face the day 
with joy. The sun was shining, my
was healthy, and it seemed like it was going to be a great day. On my to-do 
list that day was to take my 4 year old son to the children’s dentist (which
he loves), and afterward get coffee from the coffee stand next door (coffee 
for me, chocolate milk for him). We got in the car, drove to the dentist, 
in, went to the back for the check-up, and then my whole day turned around.

The dentist told me that my son had 8 cavities and needed multiple fillings 
and crowns and that was going to cost us over $2000. To say I was in shock
would be an understatement, especially because we religiously brushed his 
teeth every night before bed! Unfortunately, he seemed to have inherited his
parents' very porous teeth. Now he was facing a lot of invasive dental work, 
and we were facing a very high bill, neither of which gave me any warm 
We left the dentist and I felt sick to my stomach, so much so that I didn’t 
even want my anticipated coffee that I had planned to get. I was sick with
worry the rest of my day, and the next few days were just a blur of worry 
and doom.

Has this ever happened to you? You are going about your day and everything 
seems good, and then you get some bad news or someone says something 
Then it seems like a switch is flipped in your mind and you are overcome 
with worry about. Suddenly your good day and happy demeanor are overshadowed 
this fog of worry which seems to infiltrate every thought and experience 
from then on. This is what happened to me on the day of the dentist visit, 
I find it frustrating when I can’t seem to snap out of it.

Whether it’s news of a sick friend or family member, an unexpected bill you 
don’t know how you are going to pay, or a harsh word from someone you love,
it can be extremely difficult to not let bad news ruin your attitude and 
your day. It’s especially difficult when there are multiple sources of worry 
you at the same time. When we get that uneasy feeling that causes a heavy 
weight on our hearts and minds, how can we get free from it? Thankfully, God
has a solution for us that will free us from the tyranny of worry and 
anxiety in our lives.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what 
you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s
peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your 
hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus”
(Philippians 4:6-7).

I love encouraging scriptures like this because they not only give us hope 
of a fresh outlook, but they also practically tell us how to walk it out! So
how do we go about really experiencing this peace of God in our hearts?

1. Pray

The beginning of the verse tells us not to worry. Wouldn’t it be great if we 
could simply tell ourselves not to worry, and then we stopped worrying? Life
would sure be easy if this were the case!

However, easy lives don’t lead us to Christ and his strength; rather the 
difficult moments are the ones that draw us closer to him. The best way to 
doing something is to start doing the opposite. If we don’t replace negative 
behavior with positive behavior, the negative behavior will linger around
like a bad odor. So when you are faced with worry, pray! Different versions 
of this verse tell you to “tell God what you need” (NLT) and “[let] God know
your concerns” (MSG) and “make your wants known to God” (AMP). The bottom 
line is to get with God and talk to him about what is troubling you. He 
already knows, but he wants you to come to him and ask him personally for 
his help!

2. Be Thankful

After telling God what we need, we are instructed to thank him for all he 
has done. It’s amazing how focusing on all the blessings of God in your life
can really turn your perspective around!

If you are facing financial troubles, thank God for financial blessings he’s 
given you in the past. Simply being alive and having the ability to face 
worries is something to be thankful for! Having an attitude of thankfulness 
not only blesses God, but it also blesses us by reminding us of God’s 
in the past. I personally know how easy it is to forget all the ways God has 
come through for me in the past when I’m facing a giant problem. The problem
seems so big, but having a thankful attitude puts the problem into 
perspective and reminds me that God will come through again, because he 
always has in
the past.

3. Lean into God’s Peace

Once we pray and thank God for all he has done, he promises his peace for 
us, which exceeds anything we can understand! When we experience peace in 
middle of troubling circumstances, it really is beyond our understanding 
because it simply doesn’t make sense. That is exactly what God wants to give 

The Message Bible puts it like this: Before you know it, a sense of God’s 
wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you 

Wow! When I am consumed with worry, that is what I’m really looking for - 
for God to settle me down! I have experienced first-hand how God can change 
heart and give me peace even when my stressful circumstances remain the 
same, and it is amazing. The Amplified version defines that kind peace for 
us as:
“that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and 
so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of 
sort that is, that peace.”

4. Live in Christ Jesus

For some people, simply praying and thanking God will immediately bring them 
peace and their worry will be gone for good, but the majority of us (myself
included) we have to walk this out over and over again. God’s peace comes as 
we “live in Christ Jesus.” I can pray and be thankful, but unless I choose
to continually do so and surrender my worry over to God, the worry creeps 
back in. God’s ways are not a one-and-done kind of deal. He is not like a 
machine where you put a
in, get an answer, and then walk away. God’s Word works in our lives as we 
walk with him and continually work on renewing our minds to his Word. It’s
a process, but if we submit to the process, we will be richly blessed!

The good news is that as we grow and mature in God, setting aside our worry 
and anxiety gets easier over time. The bad news is (bad for our flesh 
is that we probably won’t ever get to a point where we will no longer deal 
with it. While we are on this earth in our human flesh, we will always deal
with temptations and fight against our human nature, but God’s Word always 
works and he will always be there to help us through anything we face.

Cortni Marrazzo currently resides in Spokane, Washington with her husband 
Jason and their two sons. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has 
passion for ministry and encouraging the body of Christ. She and her husband 
currently serve as small group directors at their local church.

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 28 Jun 2015, 11:31 pm

God’s Grace Will Find You
Jonathan Parnell / April 18, 2015
God’s Grace Will Find You

He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s 
sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will 
no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
(Psalm 23:3–4)

The grace of God will find you. No matter where you’ve gone or how far you’ve 
drifted, nowhere is out of the reach of God’s grace.

This is the truth behind David’s words in Psalm 23:3–4. The focus is on the 
Lord’s active nearness as the shepherd of his people. The Lord makes us to
lie down in green pastures. He leads us beside the still waters. He restores 
our souls and leads us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

In the Shadow of Death

This is a boundless nearness. It is a nearness even in the valley of the 
shadow of death.

The phrase is so popular, do we really know what David is saying? “Even 
though,†he begins, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of 
I will fear no evil . . .†(verse 4). This is death, remember. Death. It is 
the great enemy of mankind, the place that every person will go — and go 
Death stands off in the darkness, hunkering down in the shadows of our lives 
like a monster. It is terrible, lonely, fearful. But not for David — not for
us who are in Christ.

Why? Because God is with us even there.

The grace of God will find us. We won’t be afraid. We will fear no evil. The 
Father will not forsake us. Just like Jesus wasn’t left in the tomb — and
because he wasn’t — we won’t be left alone either. God will be with us. Like 
yesterday, and now, God will be with us even as the shadow of death falls
over us.

Help for Today

So what does that mean for us now? How does the assurance of God’s nearness 
in our final moments of this life help us today?

It means that if God is with us in our greatest affliction — in the shadow 
of death — he will be with us in all the other afflictions of our lives. 
as they are, as dark as the night may get, we know it is not too painful for 
God. It is not too dark for him.

God is there as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death — and he 
is there in every valley along the way. His grace will find us. That grace 
saw us before the foundation of the world, that spoke creation into 
existence, that led Jesus to the cross, that will abound for us in 
eternity — that
grace will find us.

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are. The great grace of God is 
able to reach you. God in his grace is able to be there with you. In the 
of pain and uncertainty, in the high of blessing and cheer, God is with you. 
His grace will find you.

Desiring God partnered with Shane & Shane’s

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Daily Devotional
Last-Minute Miracles - #7376

My friend, Jerry, was a pilot who's gone home to be with the Lord that he 
loved. At his memorial service, his son told some of the stories of Jerry's 
adventurous life. He was pretty unflappable. I mean, that's a pretty good 
characteristic for a pilot, right?

There was the time he was flying a twin-engine plane over our area. Both 
engines went out on him! He quickly surveyed the ground to find the safest 
to make an emergency landing. His choice was the local golf course. There 
weren't any golfers out there, and that was a good thing. He started to 
the plane down for a landing, but as he neared the ground, he saw the one 
obstacle between him and a safe landing. It was just a huge oak tree coming 
at him, and he had no power to help him miss it. So Jerry quickly talked to 
God about it. He just said, "Lord, it will take a miracle. Please do one."
And at that moment, one engine leaped to life for just a moment; just long 
enough to give Jerry the lift he needed to clear that tree.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about 
"Last-Minute Miracles."

My friend was rescued by a last-minute miracle. Do you know how many times 
God works that way in the lives of His children? That may be what God has in
mind for your situation right now. Except all you can see is the tree coming 
at you!

Here's some encouragement. Our word for today from the Word of God in Isaiah 
43:16-19, "This is what the Lord says - He who made a way through the sea
(or over the tree), a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the 
chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay 
there, never
to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick." Now He's talking 
about the mightiest army on earth of its time - the Egyptian Army. It looked 
they were going to crush these helpless Jews who were standing trapped by 
the Red Sea. But it says God blew them out like we blow out a candle.

You know those people had to be looking at the water in front of them and 
the approaching army behind them and saying, "No way." Kind of like Jerry's 
it looked like there was no way to do anything but crash. But then God says, 
"Way." And our Lord, who is the great Way Maker, removes an obstacle that
looks absolutely impossible to remove, or He lifts us over it as in my 
friend's case.

He says, "Do not dwell on the past. (This is Isaiah 43:18-19.) See, I am 
doing a new thing! Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it? I am making a 
in the desert and streams in the wasteland." God is saying here, "I want you 
to trust Me for a bold new thing I'm going to do in your life." We say, 
but what about the sea? What about the tree?" He says, "Remember all the 
miracles of the past? I'm the same God who did those. I'll make a way where 
is no way. I'll provide resources where there seems to be no resources - in 
the desert - in the wasteland.

And when will He do this? Probably at the same time He did it for the Jews 
by the Red Sea. The same time He did it for Jerry who was about to crash 
a tree - the last minute. That way, you are going to learn the most faith 
and trust and God will get the most glory. So, go to this awesome Lord and 
"Lord, a miracle is my only hope. And only You can do the miracle. Please, 
if it is your will, do what only You can do." And as that tree is getting 
and closer, trust the God of the last-minute lift!
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. · P.O. Box 400 · Harrison, Arkansas 72602 · 

Daily Devotional by John Piper

God, Touch Our Hearts

Saul went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant men whose hearts God had 
touched went with him.
(1 Samuel 10:26)

Just think of what is being said in this verse. God touched them. Not a 
wife. Not a child. Not a parent. Not a counselor. But God.

The One with infinite power in the universe. The One with infinite authority 
and infinite wisdom and infinite love and infinite goodness and infinite 
and infinite justice. That One touched their heart.

How does the circumference of Jupiter touch the edge of a molecule? Let 
alone penetrate to its nucleus?

The touch of God is awesome because it is a touch. It is a real connection. 
That it involves the heart is awesome. That it involves God is awesome. And
that it involves an actual touch is awesome.

The valiant men were not just spoken to. They were not just swayed by a 
divine influence. They were not just seen and known. God, with infinite 
touched their heart. God was that close. And they were not consumed.

I love that touch. I want it more and more. For myself and for all of you. I 
pray that God would touch me anew for his glory. I pray that he would touch
us all.

O for the touch of God! If it comes with fire, so be it. If it comes with 
water so be it. If it comes with wind, let it come, O God. If it comes with 
and lightning, let us bow before it.

O Lord, come. Come that close. Burn and soak and blow and crash. Or still 
and small, come. Come all the way. Touch our hearts.

For more about John Piper's ministry and writing, see

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 27 Jun 2015, 11:50 pm

Truth For Life Daily

April 17

Every Day

Hebrews 12:22, 24

Reader, have you come to "the sprinkled blood"? The question is not whether 
you have come to a knowledge of doctrine or an observance of ceremonies or
to a certain form of experience, but have you come to the blood of Jesus?

The blood of Jesus is the life of all vital godliness. If you have truly 
come to Jesus, we know how you came--the Holy Spirit kindly brought you 
You came to the sprinkled blood with no merits of your own. Guilty, lost, 
and helpless, you came to take that blood, and that blood alone, as your 
hope. You came to the cross of Christ with a trembling and an aching heart; 
and what a precious sound it was to you to hear the voice of the blood of 

The dropping of His blood is as the music of heaven to the penitents of 
earth. We are full of sin, but the Savior bids us lift our eyes to Him; and 
we gaze upon His streaming wounds, each drop of blood, as it falls, cries, 
"It is finished; I have made an end of sin; I have brought in everlasting 

Sweet language of the precious blood of Jesus! If you have come to that 
blood once, you will come to it constantly. Your life will be "looking to 
Your whole conduct will be epitomized in this--"to whom coming." Not to whom 
I have come, but to whom I am always coming. If you have ever come to the
sprinkled blood, you will feel your need of coming to it every day. He who 
does not desire to wash in it every day has never washed in it at all. 
constantly feel it to be their joy and privilege that there is still a 
fountain opened. Past experiences are doubtful food for
; a present coming to Christ alone can give us joy and comfort. This morning 
let us sprinkle our doorpost fresh with blood, and then feast upon the Lamb,
assured that the destroying angel must pass us by.

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Leviticus 21

verse 2 Psalm 26, 27

My Best-Ever Book of Bible Stories by Phil A. Smouse

How to Turn Broken Dreams into New Beginnings
Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of 
Sheridan Voysey's upcoming book,
Resurrection Year: Turning Broken Dreams into New Beginnings
(Thomas Nelson, 2013).

Have you ever had a dream you hoped would come true break apart instead? 
From a dream of parenthood that’s dashed by infertility to a dream about a 
that eludes you when you can’t get a job in your field, broken dreams are a 
fact of life in this fallen world.

Experiencing a broken dream in your life can make you feel as if your hope 
has died along with your dream. But broken dreams are more than just 
they’re also opportunities for new beginnings. The sadness and anger you 
feel can give way to peace and joy – if you choose to trust God to help you 
on from the death of your dream to experience a life that’s full of His 
resurrection power.

Here’s how you can turn broken dreams into new beginnings:

Switch from asking “why?†to asking “what?†when praying about what has 
happened. It won’t help you to ask God why a certain dream died; He usually 
reveal the reasons why He allows suffering to enter our lives because the 
reasons are often beyond our ability to truly understand from our limited 
But it will help you to switch your focus to asking what you should do now 
that it has happened. You can expect God to answer that question by guiding
you to the next steps that would be best for you to take.

Let Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection inspire you. The crucifixion and 
resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate example of the truth that new 
come after the death of something. You can count on God to do something new 
in your life after one of your dreams dies, if you invite God to do so.

Say farewell to what has been. Say goodbye to your broken dream by accepting 
the reality that it won’t come true and letting go of what reminds you of
it (for example, giving away baby clothes and equipment you’d been saving 
for a child, after you’ve stopped infertility treatments and adoption 
Grieve for your dream that has died, and then consider what you hope God may 
resurrect in your relationship with Him as you move on and pursue healing.

Prepare yourself for change. Expect God to change you into someone who is 
more like Jesus through the healing process. Prepare yourself to engage with
God’s work in your life by focusing less on doing (so you’re not distracted 
by being too busy with activities that don’t ultimately matter) and more on
being (focusing on rest that renews your spirit and helps you notice how God 
is working in your life). Decide to make the most of the life you have by
pursuing the adventures on which God leads you.

Place your trust in God. In the face of the hard reality that God didn’t 
answer your prayers the way you’d wanted, keep in mind that there are many 
involved that determine how God answers prayers, and you can’t understand 
them all from your limited perspective. Understand that God may have 
the answer you’d wanted in response to your prayers about your dream 
because, in doing so, God prevented something bad from happening that you 
didn’t realize
would happen if He had granted your request. But God does promise in the 
Bible that He will work out everything for the good of those who love Him. 
to that God will fulfill that promise in your life.

Be confident that your broken dream hasn’t broken your identity. The death 
of your dream may have changed your role, position, or status in life. But 
assured that nothing can change your identity as one of God’s beloved 
children. Know that you are significant and valuable to God, whether or not 
dreams succeed. So don’t base your sense of self-worth on how well your 
dreams do or don’t work out. Instead, have confidence that your identity in 
makes you a person of great worth, no matter what.

Invest in supportive friendships. Spend time with some friends you can trust 
to encourage you as you heal from the death of your dream and move forward
in life. Openly and honestly share your thoughts and feelings with them, and 
ask them to pray for you. Do the same for them whenever they need your 

Ask God to fulfill good purposes through your suffering. The suffering you’ve 
gone through isn’t in vain. God has promised that He has good purposes in
mind for allowing any kind of suffering to enter people’s lives. If you 
trust God to work in every part of your life, He will fulfill those good 
Just as Jesus’ suffering brought about forgiveness and life to all people 
who place their trust in Him, your suffering will also produce good results 
you trust God to use it according to His will.

Take the new risks you sense God leading you to take. Don’t be afraid to 
start pursuing new dreams. Pray that God will show you whether or not those 
align with His will for your life. If you sense that that they do, and the 
Holy Spirit is urging you to take the risks necessary to fulfill those 
don’t hesitate to take the risks so you can move forward with those new 

Look forward to new dreams coming true in your life. Just because you’ve had 
some dreams die doesn’t mean that you won’t have other dreams come true. 
that God is a good Father who loves to give good gifts to His children – so 
God does want to make some dreams come true for you. Keep trusting and 
God to work in your life, making the right dreams come true at the right 
times and in the right ways.

Adapted from
Resurrection Year: Turning Broken Dreams into New Beginnings,
copyright 2012 by Sheridan Voysey. Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 26 Jun 2015, 9:53 pm

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through him who gives me strength."

By Answers2Prayer

The Yuk

Every day I have a job to do which I really don't enjoy. Every day the horse 
corral needs cleaning. Every day, winter, spring, summer and fall, there are
always piles and piles of horse yuk to be shovelled up and shovelled out. 
Yuk, yuk, yuk. And some days as I begin the job and survey the piles I am 
overwhelmed by the sheer number of them. On one such day as I heaved a sigh 
and was considering the idea of simply turning around and heading back to 
house, it occurred to me how aspects of life were a lot like this job of 
corral cleaning.

Day by day yuk enters our life, it cannot help but do so. Why, because we 
live in a fallen world, thus we are always going to have problems and 
of one sort or another be they overwhelmingly large or irritatingly small. 
After all Jesus said:

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about 
itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 NIV

Yes, each day does have enough trouble or yuk of its own, none of us I'm 
sure have any doubt concerning this truth. The bigger issue however is 
in victory with it day in and day out. How do we not let it get the best of 
us, rob us of our joy or overwhelm us with its sheer regularity?

I believe the answer is really quite simple: one pile at a time, one prayer 
at a time, one moment at a time. For as today's scripture reminds us, we can
do everything through him who gives us strength, which includes dealing with 
the yuk of the mundane, day in and day out.

So today as you see those piles of yuk before you, remember: one pile at a 
time, one prayer at a time, one moment at a time in his strength will allow
you to deal victoriously with each situation as it arises and in the end, 
leave the corral of your life clean and tidy behind you.

Prayer: Father God thank you that you have provided a way for us in Christ 
Jesus to deal victoriously and even joyously with the daily yuk of the 
one pile at a time, one prayer at a time one moment at a time in his 
strength. In Christ's name we pray. Amen.

Lynne Phipps
Atlin, B.C.


Answers2Prayer ministries is offering a series of non-denominational bible 
studies called "Getting to Know Him". These consist of three in-depths 

1. Can you believe the New Testament?

Discover how reliable the New Testament books are. The verdict will be 
yours to make!

2. Jesus, a Fraud, a Lunatic or the Messiah?

Who was Jesus Christ? Were His claims true? Was He really who He said he 
was? Is there anyway to verify who He truly was? Who do YOU think Jesus 
was? Was He a liar, pretending to be someone that He truly was not? Was He 
a lunatic, truly believing He was someone that He was not and deserving to
be locked up in an institute? Or was He the one He proclaimed Himself to 

3. Basking in God's Unfailing Love, An Open Invitation to Experience God 

To a world gone mad, trying to get to know Jesus may seem foolish. However 
if you give Him a try, you will desire to get to know Him more and more at 
deepest level possible. His relationship with you will be more precious 
compared to any other human relationships out there. Enjoy getting to know 

These Bible studies are
available on the Net.
Subscription is free.

These studies are also available via email, for those who do not have web 
access. If interested, please let us know by
sending us an email.

Come and discover the wonderful purposes Jesus has for you. Enjoy!

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

The Cure for Envy

"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones."
Proverbs 14:30

I was a member of a professional association for just two weeks when I 
attended their national convention. Since my name badge didn’t sport a 
single special
ribbon, people barely glanced at me.

Alone in my hotel room, I ended each day in tears, feeling inadequate and 
overwhelmed. I told myself I wasn’t envious. Simply, uh … discouraged.

Years passed, and doors began to swing open. Ribbons dangled from my name 
badge, and people smiled in my direction.

Soon I found myself dealing with a new set of feelings. How come she’s 
moving ahead faster than I am, Lord? Why did they honor her instead of me? I 
jealous, of course. Merely, uh … competitive.

The awful truth revealed itself one rainy morning when I received an 
announcement from a colleague who’d been blessed with an opportunity I was 
should have been mine. I tossed her letter across the room in an angry huff. 
"It’s not fair, Lord!"

His response was swift. "Have I called you to succeed or to surrender, Liz?"

Groan. Clearly, jealousy and envy were alive and well in my jade-green 
heart. When I reached out to my writing and speaking sisters — women who 
love and
serve the Lord — I discovered they, too, wrestled with this issue. One said, 
"I understand competition in the secular marketplace. But I grieve over it
in the body of Christ. What are we doing, setting one person’s work above 
another, if not absorbing the world’s way of doing things?"

Her words echo the Apostle Paul’s: " … For since there is jealousy and 
quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere 
(1 Corinthians 3:3b,
NIV). Sadly, we are.

Today’s verse reminds us that envy takes a toll: "A heart at peace gives 
life to the body, but envy rots the bones"
(Proverbs 14:30).
For all of us who struggle, here’s the way out:

Confess. Healing begins when we acknowledge that envy is a sin: "But if you 
harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about
it or deny the truth"
(James 3:14,
NIV). Humble admission is the single best antidote for prideful ambition.

Avoid comparison. Consider the words of Jesus, when Peter fretted over John’s 
place in Jesus’ ministry, and asked, "‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus 
‘ … what is that to you? You must follow me’"
(John 21:21b,

Rejoice. Feeling overlooked? Look up and celebrate with others. Send an 
email or text on the spot, and chase away those negative feelings. "Rejoice 
those who rejoice"
(Romans 12:15a,

Be patient. Many a career or ministry has collapsed under too much, too 
soon. Embrace the tasks you’ve been given, rather than longing for something 
better or faster. Success isn’t money or fame — it’s love for one another. 
By definition, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not
boast, it is not proud"
(1 Corinthians 13:4,

Befriend your rival. As one of our sisters explained, "A woman was brought 
in on a fast track executive management program at my corporation. At our 
meeting, I thought, ‘Well, here’s my rival.’ Then I heard God say, ‘She is 
smart, energetic and sharp — just like you. You could become best buddies.’"
And, they did.

Count the cost. Behind every successful woman is a host of sacrifices we 
never see. The truth? We’re seldom jealous of all the work a person does — 
the outcome. Whether building a tower or building a career, the Bible 
cautions us, " … Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if 
you have
enough money" — or time or energy — "to complete it"
(Luke 14:28b,

Lean on the Lord. He stands ready, willing and able to overcome our 
weaknesses through the power of His Spirit. "Look to the LORD and his 
strength; seek
his face always"
(1 Chronicles 16:11,

Heavenly Father, we know envy and jealousy are no match for Your mercy and 
grace. Forgive us when we grumble over how You bless others, and help us be
grateful for all the ways You have kindly blessed us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Romans 12:10,
"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." 

1 Peter 5:6,
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you 
up in due time." (NIV)

Want more encouragement from Liz Curtis Higgs to start your day?
Rise and Shine
offers engaging stories, upbeat advice and heartfelt prayers to brighten 
your morning.

All this spring, Liz is exploring why "He Is Worthy of Our Praise" on her 

If you’ve ever succumbed to envy or jealousy, now’s the time to confess the 
truth and experience genuine success: rejoicing with others, as you trust 

Of the seven steps above, which one are you ready to take today?

© 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries

Today's Turning Point with David Jeremiah

Turning Point
Friday, April 17

Praising God for Miracles

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:2

Recommended Reading
Psalm 121
Among the stories connected to the memory of Francis of Assisi is this one: 
One day Francis gathered his friends at a remote monastery in central Italy.
When he asked them about their journeys, each brother had an exciting tale 
to report. One had been riding his mule across a narrow bridge that spanned
a deep gorge. When the mule bolted, the man was nearly thrown into the 
ravine. He praised God he hadn’t been killed.

Listen to Today's Radio Broadcast
Another brother had nearly drowned fording a river but, he said, “God in His 
grace provided a tree that had fallen across the water. I was able to grasp
a branch and pull myself to safety.†Other brothers expressed similar 
stories of God’s protection. Then someone asked Francis about his trip. “I 
the greatest miracle of all,†said the famous friar. “I had a smooth, 
pleasant, and uneventful journey.â€

We should always remember to praise God for His miracles in whatever form 
they come. He blesses, heals, rescues, delivers, helps, and uplifts more 
every day than we can count. We should always be saying, “Thank You, Lord!â€

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is Yours, all glory, all 
honor, and all blessing.
Francis of Assisi
Turning Point's mission is to deliver the unchanging Word of God to an 
ever-changing world.
Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah
Copyright © 2015 Turning Point for God. All rights reserved.

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:56 pm

Spiritual Fruit - Patience

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

The next part of the fruit which grows through the Holy Spirit is patience.
The Holeman Treasury of Key Bible words says the word used in this verse:

literally means long-suffering. It speaks of having
long-spirited-ness or calmness of spirit ”the ability, even under severe 
provocation, not to
lose one’s temper.

In the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians we read that love is patient.
Just as all the fruit of the Spirit starts with love we cannot be truly
patient without love. And God shows us the greatest patience. Because God
loves everyone and does not want anyone to perish. God is patient and waits 
see if they will turn from their sins. Just look how long God gave Noah to 
build the
ark before he sent the flood. Also look how long God is waiting to bring His
Son back since once that happens no one can turn to God.

If we have the love of God in us then we will be patient with God but also
with others. We will reach out in love to others who try our patience.

There is an ancient legend that Abraham invited into his tent a man, who at
mealtime gave no thanks to God for His mercy. Whereupon the patriarch drove
him forth into the desert unfed and unsheltered. But in the night God
touched Abraham and awoke him, saying to him, “Where is the stranger?”
Abraham said, “When he did not fear you, nor thank you, I drove him forth.”
God rebuked him, saying, “Who made you his judge: I have borne with him all 
these years. Could you not bear with him one night? Have you learned nothing
from my mercy to you?” It would be a miracle indeed if the love of God for a
lost world begat no love in the hearts of those whom His love bound with
…Minister’s Research Service

Patience to the soul is as bread to the body. . . . we eat bread with all
our meats, both for health and relish; bread with flesh, bread with fish,
bread with broths and fruits. Such is patience to every virtue; we must hope
with patience, and pray in patience, and love with patience, and whatsoever
good thing we do, let it be done in patience.

by Dean W. Masters

Christological Ultrasounds

One of the great difficulties we encounter when we seek to preach Christ 
from the Old Testament is the challenge of being able to rightly apply the 
in its original context and then to our own. After all, a chasm of thousands 
of years exists between the life of the patriarchs and monarchs of Israel
and us. What does their experience have to do with ours? How could Christ be 
preached to them centuries before His coming, and still be preached to us
from the same events, teachings and texts? One of the illustrations that I 
have found to be most helpful in answering this question is that of an 
So how can ultrasounds better help us understand how to preach Christ from 
the Old Testament?

For expecting parents the numerous ultrasounds they undergo during 
pregnancies can be both a blessing or a great trauma. My wife and I have 
been blessed
with four sons, each of whom was born healthy and each of whom we saw in 
utero via the ultra sound. We also lost a child in utero while living in the 
Ultrasounds can bring good news, or bad news.

Ultrasounds give an insight into what is to come--a long expected baby. A 
typical two-dimensional ultrasound provides a rough and somewhat blurry 
of the little one inside its mother. The new three-dimensional ultrasounds 
provide even more detail of the little one in the womb. Parents all over the
world live in anticipation of the ultra sound – will their child be healthy, 
or will there be problems in development and growth?

A good report of a child progressing normally is accompanied by that 
wonderful ultrasound picture, which--in turn--gets framed or placed in a 
scrap book.
Just about everyone is shown the picture, and we all try to make out the 
various features of the unclear image – a hand waving, and arm or foot, or 
a nose. Yet sometimes the ultrasound provides hard, sad or even tragic 
information. Abnormalities in measurements, abnormal heart beats or even no 
beat. Yet, still a picture of the little one. Perhaps that is all the 
parents will have of that little one for years to come – a picture, but not 
a happy
ending, at least in this life.

What does all this have to do with hermeneutics and exegesis? The Old 
Testament is filled with “ultrasounds” of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, I 
our own David Murray has said--“on every page”, we will find our Savior, if 
we only have the eyes to see Him. He does however, appear in the rough and
sometimes two-dimensional form that ultrasounds present our children in the 
womb. As in the picture, so in the text: it is not always clear how our Lord
is seen, and sometimes even more difficult to see why things are as the way 
they are.

Perhaps we can pursue the ultrasound analogy even further. There are blessed 
ultrasounds of Christ – His kingly reign and majesty, His glory, His care
for his flock in protection and teaching, etc. These picture Christ as a the 
great King and Prophet of his people. And there are others which speak of
his sorrow, pain, suffering and death. Here, He is pictured as the High 
Priest offering up himself as a sacrifice for sins. We see Jesus in death, 
and resurrection-glory throughout all of Scripture.

What do we make of these old testament “ultrasounds”? Whether the child is 
healthy or sick in the womb, the picture is always precious. It moves the 
with love and tenderness and sometimes sorrow. The picture is cherished. 
This is what God provided to ancient Israel -“ultrasounds” of the child that 
be born “to save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

From the promise of the seed of the woman and Christ-like Judah in Egypt 
(Gen.3; 44), to the Passover Lamb (Ex. 12-13), the whole burnt offering 
the bronze serpent lifted up (Num. 21), the prophet like Moses (Deut. 18), 
the commander of the armies of the Lord (Josh. 5), the true judge of Israel
who would judge with righteousness and equity (Judges), the kinsman redeemer 
(Ruth 4), Hannah’s prophecy of the Messiah (1 Sam.2), the Davidic line of
Judah (2 Sam. 2), the divided kingdom of Israel made right by Messiah’s 
reign (1 & 2 Kings), the temple and priestly service fulfilled in Christ 
(1&2 Chronicles),
the raising up of Cyrus to set the captives of Israel free (Ezra 1), 
Nehemiah the builder of the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 3), the ministering, 
and restored Job (Job 1-2, 42), to the 150 references to Christ in song 
(Psalms 1-150), the wise son of Proverbs (Prov 1-9), the God-fearing 
(Ecclesiastes 5), the wooing of his bride (Song of Solomon), the Servant 
songs (Is. 42-53), the prophecies of the new covenant (Jer. 31), the cries 
restoration to a merciful God (Lamentations), the prophecies of God’s 
Shepherd and temple vision (Ezek. 34; 41ff), the terrifying vision of the 
man clothed
in white linen (Dan. 10), Hosea’s relationship with his wife (Hosea 1), the 
prophecy of the Spirit of Christ and new covenant blessing (Joel 2), the 
of the Davidic monarchy (Amos 9), the day of the Lord (Obadiah), the 
three-day burial in the belly of the fish (Jonah 2), the ruler born in 
Bethlehem (Micah
5), the typical judgment on Nineveh for rejecting God (Nahum), the Lord 
remembering mercy in wrath (Hab. 3), the conversion of the nations and the 
in the midst of his people (Zeph. 3), the restoration of the glory of the 
Temple (Hag. 2), the clean garments of Joshua the High Priest (Zech 3) to 
preparatory ministry of John the Baptizer (Mal 2-3)...we see Jesus, from 
Genesis to Malachai.

So too did Israel...or so they should have! This is just a fraction of the 
thousands of reminders through teaching, prophecy, experience, events and 
that Israel received concerning their Savior. This is what makes the Jewish 
rejection of their Messiah all the more appalling. They had a legion of 
shadowy pictures by which to see the coming Savior, but they didn't. 
Pictures of joy, victory, vindication, blessing, and yet often of the most 
suffering. They should have seen the Lord coming, but they did not.

And yet these “ultrasounds” are history. When a child is born, the 
ultrasound is usually put away in a safe place. After all, why keep the 
picture to show
everyone, when you hold the babe in your arms? And yet we do go back to the 
OT pictures of Christ. They remind us of a time and place that was. They are
our personal Ebenezers – “hither to has the Lord helped us.” That is one 
primary reason why we read the Old Testament. That is where we see Christ, 
only because He is there, but because it reminds us--page after page--that 
God never changes. He is always faithful and always keeps his promises. 
reminders are not simply for theological observation – God forbid that we 
ever preach Christ, without preaching his saving and sustaining power! That 
why, “on every page”, for Israel and now for the church, Jesus is ever 
The Alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars, and churchmen who hold the 
historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith and who proclaim 
biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today's Church.

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 24 Jun 2015, 8:28 pm

What It Means to Pray for Your Enemy

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
(Matthew 5:44)

Prayer for your enemies is one of the deepest forms of love, because it 
means that you have to really want that something good happen to them.

You might do nice things for your enemy without any genuine desire that 
things go well with them. But prayer for them is in the presence of God who 
your heart, and prayer is interceding with God on their behalf.

It may be for their conversion. It may be for their repentance. It may be 
that they would be awakened to the enmity in their hearts. It may be that 
will be stopped in their downward spiral of sin, even if it takes disease or 
calamity to do it. But the prayer Jesus has in mind here is always for their

This is what Jesus did as he hung on the cross:

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (
Luke 23:34)

And it's what Stephen did as he was being stoned:

Falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold 
this sin against them!” (
Acts 7:60)

Jesus is calling us not just to do good things for our enemy, like greeting 
them and helping supply their needs; he is also calling us to want their 
and to express those wants in prayers when the enemy is nowhere around.

Our hearts should want their salvation and want their presence in heaven and 
want their eternal happiness. So we pray like the apostle Paul for the 
people, many of whom made life very hard for Paul,

My heart's desire and prayer to God is for their salvation. (
Romans 10:1)

For more about John Piper's ministry and writing, see

Receiving God's Power

Have you ever felt so weak that you could not take another step? Have you 
ever felt so inadequate for a task that you almost quit before you began it?
Our own power is infinitesimal compared to the power of the Holy Spirit. How 
do we acquire the Holy Spirit's power? First we must admit our weaknesses,
and then we must avoid our enemy's ambushes.

The apostle Paul discovered the secret of power through the Holy Spirit when 
he openly confessed his weaknesses instead of bragging about his own 
In dealing with his thorn, Paul prayed repeatedly for God to remove this 
weakness in him. Yet God answered him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for 
power is made perfect in weakness" (
2 Corinthians 12:9).
Through this trial, Paul learned firsthand about the power of God: 
"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that 
Christ's power
may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in 
insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak,
then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9,
2 Corinthians 12:10).

Paul was conscious of his shortcomings and realized that he was nothing 
without God. He knew he did not have the power to overcome his temptations, 
he knew through God's power he would be victorious. Paul felt pain, sorrow, 
and need, yet when the power of the Holy Spirit flowed through him, he 
joy, contentment, and peace.

God's power in us works best when we admit our shortcomings and weaknesses 
and rely on His strength alone. We crowd out the potential for God's power 
we rely on our own abilities, talents, or intelligence. Like Paul, we should 
rejoice whenever we remember our weaknesses because then we will be able to
see God's full work and power within us.

In our own strength, we will fail every time. We will give in to the world's 
temptations and philosophies and cravings for power. Paul warned, "Those who
live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature 
desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds
set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the 
mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace" (
Romans 8:5-6).

In addition to admitting our weaknesses, we must also avoid the enemy's 
ambushes. We must constantly be aware and prepared for the traps of the 
We cannot afford to live in ignorance or denial. When we are informed and 
ready, we are more likely to avoid the traps "in order that Satan might not 
us. For we are not unaware of his schemes" (
2 Corinthians 2:11).

What are some of the ambushes we need to be aware of? One tactic Satan uses 
is convincing us that God's principles do not work in a fallen world and we
need to depend upon our own ingenuity to survive. He lures us into the trap 
of worldly power by calling it practical and realistic. Instead, we need to
exercise faith in the living God, the One who will carry us through until 
the end.

We are ambushed when we seek out the Holy Spirit hoping our lives will 
become supernaturally easy and smooth. However, the Bible does not teach us 
we will live a stress-free life in the Holy Spirit, but rather He will equip 
us to face these difficult times.

A third ambush is the temptation to indulge our feelings of inadequacy and 
failure, which leads to focusing more on ourselves than on God. The Holy 
wants to empower us, but we need to surrender our shortcomings to Him 
instead of holding on to them.

Are you actively seeking the Holy Spirit's power in your life or are you 
depending upon your own strength? Are you keeping your path clear for the 
Spirit, or are you getting sidetracked by the devil's ambushes? Ask the Holy 
Spirit to show you how to draw from His power more effectively.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full 
armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."
Ephesians 6:10,

Jesus, Jihad and Peace

What does the threat of Islamic extremism mean in terms of Bible prophecy? 
In a world that cries out for peace, which will prevail—Jesus or jihad? In
Jesus, Jihad and Peace,
Dr. Michael Youssef provides answers that are concise, Biblically accurate, 
and targeted on the challenges that confront us in a world that is 
fraught with peril. Order your copy today through Leading The Way!

We are Leading The Way for people living in spiritual darkness, at home and 
around the world, to discover the light of Christ as we passionately 
uncompromising Truth. Visit us today at
Michael Youssef

Watch And See What God Will Do ~ Don’t Give Up
by Dean Masters

Exodus 5:22-23 and 6:1
Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to 
this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I cam to Pharaoh to speak 
your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your 
people at all.”

But the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do…….”
When things seem to look the worst ~ look up, not around! Just because 
things don’t seem to be going right doesn’t mean that God isn’t working. God 
be getting ready to show Himself mighty in your situation so remain faithful 
and hold on, God isn’t finished with this yet! Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know
the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans for good and not for 
evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

There’s so much evil going on in the world, worse than I have ever seen in 
my lifetime and believe me if you read Revelation you will see just how 
God is going to show Himself to be! In the meantime though He is still all 
about showing Himself mighty in His peoples lives if they will just remain 
and follow Him. The way may seem uncertain and scary at times but He will 
always do what He has said He will do! In this case poor Moses felt somewhat
responsible because He was the one telling the people that God was going to 
deliver them and now things were worse than they were before he showed up 
the people were suffering and angry.

It is often when we feel as though things couldn’t get any worse that God is 
working and He is about to show up to do great things so hold on to your 
Don’t give up now! God is always at work and He knows what you have been 
facing ~ your tears have not escaped His notice. Pour your heart out to Him 
hold on to every ounce of faith you have left and pray for the strength to 
get to the other side, if you have no strength left ask Him to carry you 
and He will. Take some time and read about all of the miracles God did to 
deliver the people of Israel if you need some encouragement. Trust Him and 
will deliver you!

“Even if you are on the right track you will get run over if you just sit 
there.” Will Rogers

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 23 Jun 2015, 10:01 pm

Why Daughters Were Made to Dance

"So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, 
you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we 
him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we 
are God’s children."
Romans 8:15-16

She’s fresh out of bed, still clad in her pajamas, when she finds me outside 
sipping coffee with my husband.

Her daddy is dressed in shabby jeans and a faded t-shirt, the patron uniform 
of Saturday morning yard work. But when that song she loves pulses from the
radio, our littlest girl turns to him like he’s a tuxedoed prince and asks 
if he’d like to dance.

There’s grass to mow and weeds to pull, but he sets down his coffee and 
accepts the invitation with a regal bow. I clutch my coffee cup and savor 
the sheen
in my daughter’s eyes as her daddy twirls her around with a smile.

And suddenly I remember the woman who once told me she didn’t need a daddy …

We’d met at a church retreat where we’d learned about our identities as God’s 
daughters. She sat beside me, her hair wound tightly in a bun, with arms
folded even tighter across her chest.

On our last evening together, the speaker used a simple metaphor to retell 
our salvation story. It wasn’t perfect theology, but the imagery resonated 
the women in the room.

"Once upon a time there was a Father who created His children to dance. But 
those kids’ feet got shackled by sin and their hearts stopped beating to the
rhythm of Heaven’s love. And, in time, they forgot who they were.

"But their Father didn’t forget.

"While His children stumbled and staggered, He devised a plan to set their 
feet free and teach them to dance again. He stretched out His arms on an old
rugged cross and invited His children to return to His embrace and waltz 
with Him into eternity …"

When the speaker finished, women jumped to their feet to worship with 
abandon. Except for the woman beside me.

She sat silently until the music waned. Then with trembling lips she 
murmured to me, "I don’t need a daddy. I just need a savior."

Her eyes brimmed with a lifetime of hurt and I asked if I could pray for 
her. Embarrassed, she shook her head no and headed for the door.

I sat there alone, stunned and sad, and closed my eyes in prayer anyway. 
Moments later, I felt a hand on my shoulder. "I still think I’m too old to 
God to be my daddy," the woman explained. "But if I ever change my mind, I’ve 
always wanted to learn to waltz …"

My attention returned to the dancing duo before me. My daughter’s arms 
flapped happily like a bird set free.

And I see it clearly — how every daughter of God was made to soar in the 
safety of her heavenly Father’s arms.

Then my husband holds our daughter close as the music slows, and together 
they sway to the song’s end. Maggie nestles her chin on my man’s shoulder 
exhales a satisfied sigh. "I just dance better in your arms, Daddy!"

I smile at my daughter’s declaration and wonder if the woman at the retreat 
ever learned to "dance." I hope she did.

She was right, of course. We all need a savior. But according to our key 
verse, that’s not where our story ends. Once we’ve been set free from sin, 
invites us to call Him "Abba," a loving and familiar term, similar to 

It’s there, in our heavenly Daddy’s arms, where we’ll learn to "dance" 
freely, living as His treasured children.

Your steps won’t look like mine. And mine won’t mimic yours. But we can all 
grab our Daddy’s hand and let Him lead us step by expectant step into the 
He’s dreamed for His girls.

And, remember, according to my daughter, we all just dance better in our 
Daddy’s arms.

Dear Jesus, I don’t want to miss the life You’ve dreamed for me. Guide my 
steps and teach me how to live as Your child: confident, joyful and free. In
Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Psalm 30:11,
"You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing." (NLT)

Psalm 90:12,
"Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. … 
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to
the end of our lives." (NLT)

Love Worth Finding Ministries

Faithful in Your Words

“But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by 
the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay,
nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.”
James 5:12

In June we take time to focus on fathers, and I’ve discovered in talking 
with teenagers that many of them harbor bitterness and resentment. Much of 
resentment is directed toward their fathers over the serious matter of 
broken promises. If you’re a dad who wants to restore your relationship with 
teenager, one of the best things you can do is to remember those broken 
promises. Then go to them with a remorseful spirit and say, “I’ve asked God 
forgive me, and I want you to forgive me.” Ask this question, “Have I ever 
made a promise to you that I’ve failed to keep? If so, I want you to tell me
because I want to repent. I want you to believe that your dad is a faithful 

Are you a man of your word? If not, start fresh today and make a commitment 
that you will stand behind your word.
© 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Daily Devotional
The Power of a Father's Smile - #7420

It's important for fathers and sons to do things together, right, like my 
son helping me with the yard work so we can bond, of course. I remember one 
when my oldest son was probably just about five. It was a hot day. I was 
mowing and my son was following around after me clipping. I looked over to 
and I smiled. About five minutes later he came over and yelled over the 
mower, "Daddy, could you please do that again?" I said, "Could I do what 
son?" He said, "Daddy, could you smile at me again? Your smile keeps me 

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Power 
of a Father's Smile."

Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Ephesians 6:4. Parenting 
instructions: "Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them
up in the training and instruction of the Lord." God says, "Don't tear your 
children down. Bring them up." A father has incredible power to be either 
to make your son or daughter feel inadequate and small, never good enough, 
or to make your son or daughter feel competent, worthy, appreciated, and 
It's clear which one God expects from a father, and from a mother for that 

In 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12, Paul is likening the lives of believers to a 
positive father. Here's what he says, "For we dealt with each of you as a 
deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live 
lives worthy of God." Did you get the verbs there? Three words: they're the
godly ways of a father; to encourage your child, comfort your child, and 
urge him or her to live a godly life.

How are you doing? Did I just describe most of the conversations you have 
with your son or daughter; you're encouraging, you're comforting, are you 
Think about the comments, for example, made years ago by one of President 
Clinton's most impressive advisors, a man named Bill Galston. The news 
I read back then said he was at the peak of his career when he resigned from 
his position. No one could believe it! Why?

Well, Bill Galston had worked hard trying to balance time with his 
10-year-old son and his hugely significant job. He took his son to his White 
House office
so they could talk while he worked. He even woke up at 6:00 in the morning 
so they could spend a few minutes together. But Bill was at the breaking 
He couldn't do both. His son wrote him a letter saying, "Baseball is not fun 
when there's no one there to applaud you."

There's just no substitute for a father. In the moments that mattered to 
them; the proud moments, the hurting moments, the amusing moments, the 
home moments, the serious moments. And there are few sources more 
influential on earth than your approval of your son or your daughter. Could 
it be that
there's been too much emphasis on what's wrong with your son or daughter, on 
what you want them to improve, on their weak points rather than majoring on
the positive?

So much of the sense of security and sense of worth comes from knowing that 
Dad is pleased with them; that Mom is pleased with them. Just focus on the
encouraging, on praising what's good about them, on noticing even a 
slightest improvement, on building up not tearing down, on the life that 
on the things that matter to them. Realize what your most important job is. 
Bill Galston told the President of the United States, "You can replace me.
My son can't."

Does your son or daughter need to hear your applause again, see your smile 
again? Maybe you need to make a new beginning by asking their forgiveness. 
start now to make it your daily mission to build them up, to focus on their 
good points, to give them all of you sometime during that day. Your son or
daughter is looking your way for something only you can give them; the smile 
that keeps them going, because a father's smile is the most important smile
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. · P.O. Box 400 · Harrison, Arkansas 72602 · 

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 22 Jun 2015, 11:07 pm

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

The third part of the fruit which grows through the Holy Spirit is peace.
Here is what the Holman Treasury of bible Words says about peace:

Peace means many things to different people. To those in war, peace means
the cessation of battle and enmity. To those living hectic lives, peace
means calm. To those with troubled minds, peace means inner tranquility.
The Greek term for peace was used for all of these meanings, both
in Greek literature and in the New Testament. The word could be used
as a greeting or farewell, as in Luke 10:5; Gal. 6:16;
James 2:16; John 20:19. It could also signify the presence of domestic
tranquility (1 Cor. 7:15) or the cessation of conflict – national conflict
(Luke 14:32; Acts 12:20) or interpersonal conflict (Rom. 14:19; Eph. 4:3).
Jesus came to bring peace on earth. When Jesus was born, the angels
proclaimed: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with
whom he is well pleased (Luke 2:14, NASB). This means that Jesus as the
Messiah would usher in God's reign of peace. This peace was Jesus' farewell
gift to the disciples (John 14:27); it was given to them when He breathed
His Spirit into them (John 20:19–22). The greatest “peace†Jesus achieved
for us is that He took away the enmity between us and God by His death on
the cross to absolve our sin. Those who accept Christ's salvation have peace
with God (Rom. 5:1-2).
This gift of peace with God, made available through Christ, means that
Christians in the community of faith need to live in peace with each other
(Rom. 12:18; 14:19; Heb. 12:14). This concept of peace alters the meaning of
the common greeting “go in peace†to “go, and live in peace.†As used by the
Christian community, the expression “grace and peace be with you†conveys
total well-being, prosperity, and security all emanating from God's presence
with His people (1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; 1 Peter 1:2; 2
John 3; Jude 2; Rev. 1:4). When we say or hear the phrase above, it is not a
mere wish for peace, but a reminder of the peace given through Christ.

There are some people who look like they are at peace but inwardly they are
all torn up. These people are producing their own fruit of peace. It is not
the peace which the Holy Spirit grows. True peace cannot be manufactured
through meditation or thinking good thoughts. True peace only comes through
Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, working in and through you in the power
of the Holy Spirit.

If God’s peace is in our hearts, we carry it with us, and it can be given to 
those around us, not by our own will or virtue, but by the Holy Spirit 
through us. We cannot give what we do not have, but if the spirit blows 
through the dark clouds, and enters our hearts, we can be used as vehicles 
of peace,
and our own peace will be thereby deepened. The more peace we give away, the 
more we have.

Madeleine L'Engle

"Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen." (Romans 15:33, KJV)

11 Steps to Find God When He Seems to be Missing
Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of 
Linda Evans Shepherd's book,
When You Can’t Find God: How to Ignite the Power of His Presence,
(Revell Books, 2011).

Trouble hits everyone in this fallen world. Even Jesus suffered while He was 
here on Earth, and so will you – no matter how much you love God.

But the presence of trouble in your life doesn’t mean the absence of God. To 
the contrary: Trouble may actually help you experience the reality of God’s
presence in deeper ways, if you respond to it by seeking God.

God is never missing from your life, even when He seems to be. Here’s how 
you can find God and enjoy His presence, despite the trouble in your life:

Find God in your circumstances. Look at your circumstances from God’s 
perspective: as an invitation to draw closer to Him. Choose to trust God’s 
that He has a plan to bring good purposes out of even the worst 
circumstances. Ask God to help you be aware of His presence with you, feel 
His love for
you, show you whatever He wants you to learn from what you’re going through, 
and anoint you with hope.

Derive the strength to endure from key practices. God will give empower you 
while you go through tough times if you: root out sin from your life so you’re
not blocking God’s work, praise God to invite more joy into your life, seek 
a closer relationship with God Himself rather than seeking changed 
and focusing on God rather than on your troubles.

Give your troubles to God. God has promised that He will give you rest if 
you trust Him to handle your burdens, so stop striving to handle them 
Instead, give all that’s troubling you over to God and follow His guidance 
every step of the way to deal with your concerns successfully and 
Keep in mind that the troubles in your life will pale in comparison to the 
riches you’ll receive as you draw closer to God.

Stand against evil. The evil that exists in our fallen world may cause you 
suffering that God doesn’t intend for you to go through. So be sure to close
any doors in your life through which evil may come. Devoting every part of 
your life to God every day is the best way to keep evil spiritual forces 
from you. Repent and confess of your sins regularly; ask God to help you 
develop virtues that will mature you (such as humility, patience, and 
pray about any hopeless thoughts that enter your mind, asking God to give 
you the hope you need; and rejoice in God’s unconditional love and reliable
care for you.

Pray against strife. If conflict with other people is causing you trouble, 
ask God to help you live at peace with everyone, as far as it depends on 
Rely on God’s help to forgive people who have hurt you. Avoid people who 
continue to cause strife, despite your best efforts to work for peace 
you. Surrender any attitudes that cause strife in your own soul (such as 
bitterness and selfish ambition) to God and embrace His peace in return.

Pray for breakthroughs. When you’re dealing with persistent problems, ask 
God to help you solve them. Pray about your problems consistently until God 
you breakthroughs – either by changing your circumstances, or by empowering 
you to handle your circumstances in better ways.

Pray for trust. Rather than trying to make circumstances turn out the way 
you want them to be, seek what’s best for you, trusting that God truly does 
what’s best and will work in your life to bring that about if you invite Him 
to do so and don’t work against Him.

Pray for grace and favor. Sometimes God will decide to give you an 
undeserved gift, simply because He loves you and you asked Him to consider 
it. Make
sure that you’re not blocking the work God wants to do in your life by 
ridding your life of a refusal to repent, strife, fear, envy, selfish 
opening doors in your life up for evil to enter, doubt, confusion, 
presumption, exaggeration, worry, gossip, lies, and a habit of neglecting

Pray for hope and healing. Seek the hope and healing you need from God by 
incorporating prayer and Bible reading into your life on a regular basis, 
seeking God’s voice constantly. Don’t fail to pray because you’re afraid 
that you’ll be disappointed by how God chooses to answer. While you can’t 
the specific ways in which God will answer your prayers, you can be sure 
that God will definitely give you hope and healing in whatever form He 
is best.

Pray for peace. Expect that you’ll often encounter storms in this fallen 
world, but also expect God to be right beside you in the midst of them. Ask 
to give you the peace that only He can give – peace that transcends any kind 
of circumstances, and that you can experience even without understanding it.

Find joy. Decide to worship God no matter what you happen to go through at 
any particular moment, because God is worthy of your worship all the time, 
for who He is. The more you focus on worshipping God, the more you’ll become 
aware of His presence with you, and the more that will bring you joy that
you can use to overcome even the most troubling circumstances.

Adapted from
When You Can't Find God: How to Ignite the Power of His Presence,
copyright 2011 by Linda Evans Shepherd. Published by Revell Books, a 
division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich.,

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 21 Jun 2015, 11:48 pm

3780 cdd Radically Different
Tuesday April 14, 2015
Volume 16 Number 074

Today's Author: Pastor Bill

Scripture: Mark 6:12
"Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can 
be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they
brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits" 
MSG Bible Paraphrase

A friend should be RADICAL;
They should show you the love of Christ when you're un-lovable,
Hug you when you're un-huggable,
And bear you when you're un-bearable.

A friend should be ENTHUSIASTICAL;
They should be indelible in their influence for Christ in your life
Cheer for you when the whole world boos,
Dance with you when you get good news,
And cry with you when you cry too.

But most of all, a friend should be MATHEMATICAL;
They should evaluate every opportunity to share Christ with you
Multiplying joy while dividing the sorrow,
Subtracting the past when adding for tomorrow,
Always calculating the needs deep in your heart,
And come up bigger than the sum of all the parts.

Prayer: Father thank that I can be a Radically Different friend for Your 
kingdom. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

Africa 2015 support to date: $14.015.50 Remaining needed: $23,984.50
Cross Giving Click Here

Pastor Bill Team Prayer:

Father please bring 1............. 2............. 3.............. into your 

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

Copyright (c) 2015

Pastor Bill Christian Cyber Ministries

How to Understand the Bible

Who Was Paul, and How Should We Understand His Epistles?

Besides Jesus, no single figure was more influential in the beginnings of 
Christianity than the apostle Paul. Of the 27 books of the New Testament, 13
are attributed to Paul. Take a look at a Bible map showing the missionary 
journeys of Paul, and you will be astonished to see the territory he 
just geographically, but culturally as well.

He was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin, and he became an impassioned member 
of the Pharisees (
Rom. 11:1; Phil. 3:4-5; Acts 23:6).
He came from the city of Tarsus, grew up in the midst of Greco-Roman 
culture, and was a Roman citizen. This remarkable background meant he was 
able to
speak the gospel into urban settings. He was comfortable in Jerusalem, but 
also capable of moving into places like Crete, Greece, and Rome. His 
was amazing. He spoke with magistrates and philosophers and tradespeople.


Trial of the Apostle Paul, 1875, Nikolai K. Bodarevsky

His strong views about faith in Christ were most certainly tempered by his 
dramatic conversion. In the New Testament there is no more radical story of
personal change than the story of the young man who was drafted by his 
fellow Pharisees to actively investigate and prosecute the early followers 
of Jesus.
He stood by as the first Christian martyr, Stephen, was stoned to death. But 
while traveling to Damascus in Syria to find and arrest more of Jesus’ 
he had a supernatural encounter with Jesus and would soon undergo the utter 
change of mind and heart, which in his epistles he describes as conversion
or repentance.

It wasn’t easy for the other apostles to accept this persecutor in their 
midst, much less endorse him as a teacher. But with the passing of years, 
eventually set out on his first great journey with a few close companions in 

There is quite some variation in the epistles of Paul. Four are called his 
“prison epistles” because he wrote them from prison (Ephesians, Philippians,
Colossians, Philemon). The stress of being in prison comes through at 
points. For instance, while writing the epistle to his dear friends at 
he believes he may be close to execution.

Of these four, one is written to one person about a runaway slave 
(Philemon), whereas another, Ephesians, seems to have been written for a 
whole region
of churches.

Three of the epistles, written very late, are usually called “the pastoral 
epistles” because they contain instructions to Paul’s companions Timothy and
Titus on how to protect order, harmony, and correct teaching in their 
churches. Not surprisingly, these are epistles that church leaders look to 
in shaping
ministry roles in congregations. The qualifications for elders and deacons (
1 Tim. 3; Titus 1),
for instance, describe essential leadership character and are easily applied 
in our own churches today.

Romans is a powerful, comprehensive description of the whole of the gospel. 
It covers creation, sin, redemption, and eventual restoration. The special
issue of righteousness and grace is emphasized in Romans, as it also is in 
the epistle of Galatians. First and 2 Corinthians offer great insight into 
apostle trying his best to respond to tensions in a troubled church, to 
challenge bad values, and to call people to action. There is a special 
in 2 Corinthians as Paul describes his own hurt through the efforts of those 
trying to discredit him, and his anxiety about his relationship with the 
church. Here we see the humility of Paul, even as he describes himself as 
unimpressive in physical appearance and unremarkable as a public speaker. 
that is astonishing to read! The apostle Paul, a so-so preacher.

What should we bear in mind as we read and try to comprehend the epistles of 

In order to understand the epistles of the New Testament, we must begin with 
context. Every epistle was written to a specific audience and for a specific
purpose. If we dig around, we can figure out what false teaching the book of 
Colossians is countering, what slavery looked like, what family life was 
what the features of the culture were at the time. Then we can ask: “What 
universal and timeless truths is the author drawing on, truths that apply to
us today?”

We may not “greet one another with a holy kiss” (
Rom. 16:16)
today, but Christian grace and civility still apply. First
Peter 3:3
recommends not wearing gold jewelry because in that culture it was 
ostentatious to do so. Today, avoiding ostentatiousness still applies, 
though having
a gold ring or a gold cross does not rise to that same level. Having elders 
oversee the ministry of churches today still applies, although having one 
appoint them (as Paul instructed Timothy to do) isn’t typically the method 
of selection that is used.

The epistles extend the richness of Holy Scripture, and they remind us once 
again that the word of God is truth in relationship.


Engaging with the Word of God is one of the most important things we can do 
for our spiritual heath.
About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook 
Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for 
years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help 
Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, 
most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to 

Prove it!

(J.R. Miller,
"The Glory of the Commonplace")

It is related that the famous French artist Gustave Dore was once wandering 
in the mountains of Switzerland, when some officials met him and demanded 
passport. "I do not have it with me," he replied, "but my name is Gustave 
Dore." "Prove it, if you are," replied the officers, knowing who Dore 
not believing that this was he. Taking a piece of paper, the artist hastily 
sketched a group of peasants who were standing near, and did it with such 
and skill that the officials exclaimed, "Enough, you are Dore!"

In the same way, the world cares little for a mere profession. We say we are 
Christians, and the challenge is, "Prove it!" If we are of Christ, then we
must do the works of Christ, live the life of Christ, and show the spirit of 
Christ. The artist's skillful drawing proved his identity. Just so, we must
prove that we are the followers of our Master by the love, the grace, the 
beauty, the holiness of our life.

Religion is not merely a matter of creed and profession, or of church-going 
and public worship; it is far more a matter of daily life. It is not how we
behave on Sundays, nor the kind of creed we hold, nor the devoutness of our 
worship--it is the way we act at home, in school, in business, in society,
in our associations with others. It is vitally important that all who 
profess Christ--shall manifest Christ's beauty in their life and character. 
It is
not enough to preach the gospel in words alone; others must also read it in 
our daily life. "So that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders."
1 Thessalonians 4:12

"Whoever says he abides in Christ, ought to walk and conduct himself in the 
same way in which He walked and conducted Himself." 1 John 2:6

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 20 Jun 2015, 11:58 pm

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"From morning till evening he (Paul) expounded to them, testifying to the 
kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of 
and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others 
disbelieved." Acts 28:23b-24

By Answers2Prayer
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No Guarantee

It was well over a century ago that Dwight Moody shared the Savior's story 
of salvation in East London.

An unbeliever, a fellow by the name of Bradlaugh, heard of the crusade. 
Wishing to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings he encouraged all his 
and agnostic friends to attend the first meeting. It was their plan to 
disrupt things by being vocal in their scoffings.

The unbelievers came in droves. I have to confess things started out well 
enough for them. When they were asked to sing a hymn, they laughed. They 
their success would continue during and past the sermon. Their amusement 
began to change when Moody told them of their sin, Christ's salvation, and 
forgiveness the Savior offers.

After the sermon, Moody asked all who believed in Christ to say, "I do."

One man, Bradlaugh, the leader of the atheists, quickly shouted, "I don't."

Moody responded: "Men you have your champion. Now I ask those who need and 
believe in Jesus to say 'I do.'" By the Holy Spirit's leading, 500 men, 
realized their previous beliefs had been wrong, terribly wrong, sprang to 
their feet, shouting, "I do! I do!"

Now I share this story not to encourage emotional altar calls in our 

It is shared so we all may once again be reminded of the power of the Holy 
Spirit when it is applied through the Word. Now if you're thinking, well, I
know that.

I can only reply I'm sure you do. Even so, there are times when we hold back 
in our witnessing. The reasons for that are numerous:

* We may think we don't have the right words.

* We may believe what we say is going to be rejected.

* We may believe we will cause some kind of offense and upset to our 

Now, I have to confess, it is quite possible those undesirable things may 
happen. It certainly happened to the apostles of Acts as they made their 

But it is also possible the Holy Spirit may touch hearts and save souls 
through your sharing of His Word. And if you're wondering how -- or if -- 
you can
determine how what you are going to say will be received, all I can say is 
this: Paul couldn't; Peter couldn't; nobody can.

All any of us can do is trust the power of God's Word and humankind's need 
for the Savior, who rescues us from sin, death, devil -- and ourselves.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I believe. Help me in my sharing with others who do 
not know Jesus as their Savior and Lord. May my witnesses, long or short, 
or simple, be Your tool to touch sinners and support those who already 
acknowledge the Christ. In His Name. Amen.

Pastor Ken Klaus

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


Would you like to make a difference in the world? Why not join the 
Answers2Prayer team? We have many volunteer positions available. By joining 
in, you
can help in carrying out the Great Commission: Matt 28:18-20 “Then 
Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been 
to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the 
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them
to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to 
the very end of the age."

The time is right and we are in need of many laborers. Matt 9:37-38 "The 
harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, 
to send out workers into his harvest field."

If compelled by God,
let us know.

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

What is Your Life But a Mist?

“How do you know what is going to happen tomorrow? For the length of your 
lives is as uncertain as the morning fog—now you see it; soon it is gone. 
you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we shall live and do this or 
that.’ Otherwise you will be bragging about your own plans, and such 
never pleases God”—James 4:14-16 (TLB).

Flowers began to bloom around town—and in my yard—before the first official 
day of spring on March 20. Three weeks later, some of those early blooming
flowers are already beginning to fade. Those early bloomers are often some 
of the most spectacular, but they don’t stick around very long.

Like flowers that bloom for a short period of time, we often forget just how 
precious and fleeting our lives are—no matter how long it lasts. One recent
afternoon, I was walking my dog through the neighborhood. As I passed a 
friend’s house, I greeted him and another neighbor with a wave and a hello.

As I continued my one-mile walk through our neighborhood, I was startled by 
the screaming sirens of police cars and other first responders flying past
me. I began to run. I didn’t know what was going on or where they were 
headed. Rounding a corner, I saw the neighbor, whom I had greeted not more 
20 minutes before, lying on his driveway where the EMTs were performing CPR.

Four days later, Fred passed away. He was 80-years-old and his doctor had 
recently given him a clean bill of health. I never suspected this humble man
had just celebrated eight decades of living. And he did live—for others. I 
know, because I was a recipient of his generosity and kindness.

Fred’s passing has left a hole in many people’s hearts, including mine. How 
could someone so vibrant and full of life be gone that quickly?

James is right about life—it is but a wisp of fog. Like a morning fog that 
vanishes, so is our life—short and uncertain. Whether we live for only a few
years, or over 100, the time we have is still relatively short. We have no 
guarantees about tomorrow, let alone next week, next month, next year or 
10 years from now. Because we only have one life to live, we must make it 

In Ecclesiastes, wise King Solomon reminds us that no one can escape death. 
Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go
to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living 
should take this to heart.”

Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of 

God’s wisdom is what we must seek if we want to live a life pleasing to Him, 
a life of humility and obedience. Ultimately, everyone who has ever lived
or will ever live will die. Truly, our lives are but a mist.
For more inspiration, visit my blog at
Copyright © 2015 Carol Round, All rights reserved.

Afraid of Getting Old? How to Love the Elderly
Julie Barrier

Aklak shivered, fighting back tears as he hugged little Kaya for the last 
time. He would never again gaze into the pudgy round face of his 
Aklak’s gnarled limbs and weak heart confined him to the corner of the 
crowded igloo. He could no longer hunt or fish in the desolate wasteland of 
and ice. He was dead weight in a
fighting to survive. Mamook, his son, knew what must be done. He placed his 
feeble father on a snowy ice floe and pushed him out to sea to die alone. 
was the custom of the Inuit tribe in northern Alaska.

Getting old is hell. Paul taught that as the outer body wastes away, the 
inner spirit is renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 5:1-2) NIV However the 
away” part is inevitable. Watching your loved ones systematically lose their 
strength, hearing, sight and mental acuity is heart-breaking for you and 
for them.

Not all cultures abandon their elders. Hispanic matriarchs rule the roost of 
bustling households filled with cousins, sisters, brothers and babies. 
where we served as pastors, is situated one hundred miles north of the 
Mexican border. Abuelitas and Tios come to Tucson hospitals for cancer 
and bypass surgeries. I loved to see the surgery waiting rooms filled with 
hoards of friends and family members. Toda la familia (everyone in the 
watched, waited and prayed.

How do most Americans treat the aged? Too often they look away. I’ve visited 
a plethora of nursing homes. Many reek with the stench of unwashed bodies,
dirty floors and rotting feces. Even the most exclusive facilities still 
underpay and under-appreciate their employees. Always, always I hear the 
of a demented mother incessantly calling for her son or daughter. It breaks 
my heart.

One of my dearest friends was the victim of elder abuse. We didn’t discover 
the hateful mistreatment for five years. Mary was a retired pediatrician who
married a multi-millionaire. She gave millions to hospitals, universities 
and to our church. As Mary’s health began to decline, she wanted to remain 
her home and employ a live-in caregiver. Sue was a slick con artist who 
ingratiated herself by “taking care” of our aging friend. In three years, 
she siphoned
off hundreds of thousands of dollars to bank roll her daughters’ Ivy League 
educations and lavish lifestyles. Only after a fierce legal battle was Mary
freed from her “captor’s” secret threats and emotional abuse.

People are living longer. But are they living better? How can you and I love 
the elderly in our midst?

Honor them. God obviously deemed it important or He wouldn’t have proclaimed 
it the Fifth Commandment. (Exodus 20:12) Webster defines “honoring” as 
great respect, admiration and recognition.

Listen to them. “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way 
of righteousness.”(Proverbs 16:31) NIV. Younger adults often consider the
words of the aged to be irrelevant and unimportant.

Meet their emotional needs. Too often we assume that if our loved ones have 
their physical needs met, we have done our part. They need our devotion, 
affirmation and time more than ever.

Help them grieve their losses and give them comfort. Their friends have 
either passed away or are homebound. Most elderly women outlive their 
Every time an older person faces an irreversible health issue, they need 
comfort. Men grieve the loss of independence and earning power.

Include them. Besure to celebrate with them! Birthdays, holidays, reunions 
are wonderful opportunities to cheer your elder family members.

Give them permission to talk about death and heaven. Family members shy away 
from talking about death, but it is never far from the older person’s 
to them, read to them and pray for them. Paul was unafraid to talk about his 
death. Here’s what he wrote to Timothy, his son in the

“ For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at 
hand.I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the 
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, 
the righteous judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto
all them also that love His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 KJV

Older family members loved you and carefully cared for your needs. Now it’s 
your turn.

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 19 Jun 2015, 10:28 pm

It's Time to Tell Someone

"I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God 
who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the
watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow."
1 Corinthians 3:6-7

They showed up at my door when I was 14.

Because they went to my school, my mom let them in. They stumbled into my 
room, standing awkwardly with their youth pastor behind them. One invited me
to come to church. Another teen shuffled from foot to foot and asked if she 
could tell me about Jesus.

I didn’t want to hear it. I was angry at God, if there even was one.

I didn’t grow up in church, so I didn’t know a lot about the Bible. All I 
knew is that life was hard, and I didn’t want anyone to fix me.

Thank you very much, now here’s the door.

I can only imagine the scene afterwards. A bunch of teenagers clustered on 
the sidewalk outside our home on Latimer Street, wondering what in the world
just happened.

I’m sorry. I really am.

Wherever you are, I want to thank you for trying. I don’t know why you 
picked me, but I love the fact that you wanted to tell me about Jesus.

That day you didn’t find fertile soil, but a small seed was planted. Jesus 
eventually rooted His love in my heart and changed not only me, but also 
after me. I wish you knew that the angry girl in the bedroom became a woman 
of faith who loves nothing more than telling others about Jesus.

In today’s passage, Paul and Apollos had faithfully planted seeds of 
teaching in a new church body. We see the newness of the church as members 
about who is the most important, Paul or Apollos.

Paul diverted the attention away from himself to remind them of a simple 
truth: Telling others about Jesus is not about one person or another. It’s 
about recognition. It’s not even about success or failure.

It’s about faithfully planting seeds, watering them and allowing God to grow 

If someone were to look at those teens standing in my room, they might think 
that their words had little effect. One day in Heaven I plan to thank them.
For every person, including them, who bravely shared the truth with me 
planted a seed of faith in my heart.

Like Apollos and Paul, one planted. Another watered.

And then, at just the right time, a seed sprouted and broke the crusty soil 
of my angry heart.

Why am I telling you this?

Maybe you’ve sensed for a long time that you’re to talk to someone about 
Jesus. You’ve hesitated because you don’t know how or you don’t want to 
Perhaps you even experienced someone like I once was, and it made you think 
twice about trying again.

But I want you to know something.

When you move beyond your fears to tell someone that Jesus loves them, it 
may be exactly what they need to hear that day even if they don’t know it 

I want a front seat one day in Heaven when those teens discover that their 
bravery wasn’t in vain. I want to hug their necks and thank them. In fact, 
will be a lot of seed sowers I want to thank, because all of them together 
made a difference.

They sowed. Some watered. God grew me.

If God is leading you to tell someone about Jesus, don’t miss that moment. 
There might be someone in your path — a woman, a girl, a friend, a loved one
— who doesn’t know Jesus loves them and His love changes you forever.

Lord, thank You for allowing me to plant a seed, or water a seed or perhaps 
to even watch a seed come to fruition in the life of another. Lead me. Guide
me. Show me what to say and when to say it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

John 17:20,
"I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever 
believe in me through their message." (NLT)

Daily Devotional by John Piper

Talk to God, Not Just About Him

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no 
evil, for you are with me.
(Psalm 23:4)

The form of this psalm is instructive.

In the first three verses David refers to God as “he”:

The Lord is my shepherd . . .
he makes me lie down . . .
he leads me . . .
he restores my soul.

Then in
verses 4 and 5
David refers to God as “you”:

I will not fear, for you are with me;
your rod and staff comfort me;
you prepare a table before me;
you anoint my head with oil.

Then in verse 6 he switches back to the third person:

I shall dwell in the house of the Lord.

The lesson I have learned from this form is that it is good not to talk very 
long about God without talking to God.

Every Christian is at least an amateur theologian — that is, a person who 
tries to understand the character and ways of God and then put that into 
If we aren't little theologians, then we won’t ever say anything to each 
other about God and will be of very little real help to each other’s faith.

But what I have learned from David in
Psalm 23
and other psalms is that I should interweave my theology with prayer. I 
should frequently interrupt my talking about God by talking to God.

Not far behind the theological sentence, “God is generous,” should come the 
prayerful sentence, “Thank you, God.”

On the heels of, “God is glorious,” should come, “I adore your glory.”

What I have come to see is that this is the way it must be if we are feeling 
God’s reality in our hearts as well as describing it with our heads.

For more about John Piper's ministry and writing, see

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 18 Jun 2015, 10:20 pm

7 Thoughts for More Effective Prayer
by Ron Edmondson

Hezekiah ruled over Judah and was a good and faithful king.

Hezekiah often became the target of warring nations. The king of Assyria, 
which was a much more powerful nation, made plans to overthrow Hezekiah’s 
Throughout the stressful time in leadership, Hezekiah consistently used the 
same battle plan.

He went before the Lord in prayer—and—he followed the Lord’s commands.

Hezekiah relied on prayer to rule his life. This king knew how to pray and 
he prayed in a way that got results.

At one point, the Assyrian king launched a huge smear campaign against 
Hezekiah with his own people. It scared Hezekiah’s people.

Hezekiah heard about the threat and went before the Lord. God assured 
Hezekiah everything would be okay, but the Assyrians wouldn’t let up their 
assaults. They kept taunting the kingdom of Hezekiah, throwing threats 
towards Hezekiah. Finally, they sent a letter by messenger to Hezekiah, 
which basically
said, “The Assyrians are tough, and they are coming for you next.”

It was a credible, realistic threat. In a practical sense, Hezekiah had 
reason to be afraid.

What do you do when you are backed into a corner as a leader and you’re 
about to face something bigger than your ability to handle?

Well, Hezekiah received the letter with all the threats and began to pray.

We find this account in
2 Kings 19:14–19.

What can we learn from listening in as Hezekiah prayed?

Here are 7 Thoughts for More Effective Prayer from a Stressed Out Leader 
Named Hezekiah:

Hezekiah got alone with God. There is corporate prayer like we do at church, 
and there is prayer where a few are gathered. But probably some of the most
effective prayer time of your life will be the time you invest alone with 

Hezekiah’s prayer was immediate. His prayer wasn’t an afterthought. It was 
prior to making his plans. We are so geared to react as leaders that it’s 
for us to go first to God. He may be second or third or first when we are 
backed into a corner and have no choice, but we need to develop a discipline
and habit to make God the first place we turn in our lives. Like Hezekiah.

Hezekiah’s prayer was open and honest. Hezekiah was transparent before the 
Lord. I love the imagery here in this prayer story of Hezekiah. He took the
letter, went to the house of the Lord, and spread it out before Him. I get 
this visual image of Hezekiah, and this letter—laying it there on the table,
and saying, “Okay, God, what now? What do I do next? What’s my first move?”

Are you in a tough spot right now? You may just need to get you some note 
cards—write down all the things you are struggling with—lay them out on a 
and say, “Okay, God, here are my struggles. I can’t do anything about them. 
What now?”

Writing your prayer requests before God is a great idea for 2 reasons.

a. It helps you remember to pray for them.

b. It helps you to watch as God answers. We get more answers than we realize 
if we only ask.

Hezekiah’s prayer was honoring, humble, and respectful of who God is. 
Hezekiah knew his place as king—and he knew God’s place in the Kingdom. 
was king of a nation and that is an important job, yet Hezekiah willingly 
humbled himself in prayer, because he knew his place before the King of 

Hezekiah’s prayer was bold. He said, “Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your 
eyes, O LORD….” Hezekiah had the kind of relationship with God where it wasn’t
a surprise when Hezekiah showed up to pray. They talked frequently; probably 
throughout the day. Because of that relationship, Hezekiah didn’t wonder if
God would be there when he came before Him. He knew he could ask God to act 
on his behalf.

The more you grow in your relationship with God, the bolder your prayers can 
become, because the more your heart will begin to line up with God’s heart.

Hezekiah’s prayer was dependent. In
verses 17–18
he prays, “It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these 
nations and their lands.” Hezekiah knew he was out of his league facing the
Assyrians. From the way I see that Hezekiah responded to life, however, I 
don’t think it mattered the size of the battle. Hezekiah was going to depend
on God. Every time. In every situation.

Hezekiah’s prayer was certain. Because it was based on his personal faith 
and trust in God. In
verse 19,
Hezekiah prayed, “Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all 
kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.”

Hezekiah had a faith in God that allowed him to pray with confidence. You 
need to understand that faith is always based on the promises of God. Some 
God has promised to do—and some He hasn’t. God has promised to always get 
glory for Himself and always work things for an ultimate good. He hasn’t 
to rid everyone of cancer or to heal every bad relationship. Or settle every 
leadership issue we face.

(That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for everything. We don’t know His will, 
but we can’t guarantee God to do that which He hasn’t promised to do.) 
we get upset because God doesn’t do something we asked or wanted Him to do, 
but the fact is He had never promised to do it.

Hezekiah knew God had promised to save His people. He knew God had placed 
him in the position of authority over them. He had confidence that God would
do what He had promised to do. Hezekiah trusted God to be faithful to His 
word so he was willing to act in faith.

What situations are you dealing with today that you know you are helpless to 
do on your own and you desperately desire God’s answer?

Are you a stressed out leader?

Get alone with God, spread your problems out before Him honestly, humbly, 
and boldly; then, allow His will to be done, as you wait for His response.

Ron Edmondson pastors Immanuel Baptist Church. Find out more at:

Spiritual Fruit – Joy

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

The fruit of love is the first part of the fruit that the Holy Spirit gives 
to believers. The fruit of joy is the second part. What is joy? Joy is a 
quality of life and not an emotion. Happiness is an emotion that depends on 
circumstances. Joy is something deep in the life of a Christian that is 
there no matter what the circumstances. We see this in the following verses:

" Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, 
not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4, NIV)

"You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, 
you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you 
became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia." (1 
Thessalonians 1:6-7, NIV)

Some may try to grow their own joy instead of letting it be grown by the 
Holy Spirit. They put on a happy face and are happy when things are going 
well and may even put on a good face when things are not going well. There 
are some people that are just naturally perky but it does not necessarily 
come from the Holy Spirit. One does not have to put on a show all the time 
but may have deep everlasting joy deep within when things are not going 

I pray you will have happiness in your life but more than that, I pray you 
will have the true joy that only God can give.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so 
that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 
15:13, NIV)

by Dean W. Masters

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 17 Jun 2015, 9:24 pm

Stuck in the Muck
Rachel Randolph

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet 
on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."
Psalm 40:2

After several cold rainy days in October, the clouds parted and the sun came 
out. Tired of being cooped up, we seized the moment and met up with a few
friends at a small petting zoo. The sunny morning was exactly what my son 
Jackson and I needed.

When his naptime approached, we were having such a good time that I decided 
to linger a little longer. Then the rain reappeared and poured on our 

I said my goodbyes and marched across the now freshly soggy farm to where 
Jackson was playing. "It’s time to go, buddy," I said, reaching out for his 

"I don’t waaaaaant to goooooo!" he whined, walking backwards out of my 

"I know," I empathized. "It’s hard to leave fun places."

"Nooooooo! I STAYYY!" my now overly tired toddler yelled, turning to run 
from me. I quickly scooped him up and carried him across the petting zoo as 
screamed and kicked his muddy shoes all over me.

"Stand right there," I firmly ordered, setting him next to the car and 
reaching inside for the baby wipes. When I turned around to clean him off, 
he was
running like an escaped convict through the parking lot.

My sharp-eyed, fast-footed 2-year-old was running toward a back entrance to 
the zoo. In hot pursuit, I followed. But by the time I made it through the
gate, he’d positioned himself on the opposite side of an empty, muddy horse 

Across the rusty red bars, he was staring me down with the iron will of a … 
well, of a defiant, exhausted toddler.

I darted to the right to grab him. He matched my steps. I slowly paced to 
the left. Across the pen, keeping steady eye contact with me, and like a 
ready for a draw, he paced with me. After a few rounds of this, I realized: 
checkmate. He had me. I could not get to him. Unless …

I could make him fall.

I walked to the left, and he followed my lead straight into a muddy patch. 
His pace slowed as his boots sunk down into the muck. I quickly moved to the
right. He did too, but his boots didn’t follow, and he fell right into my 
muddy trap. His strong-willed defiance quickly turned to a whimpering plea 
his mommy.

I wonder how often God feels like this with us. He simply wants to get us on 
the road to a safe place for nourishment and rest, while we jet off in our
own direction, sure of something better.

Does He, in His love, let us fall into a muddy puddle so we can feel the 
discomfort of life without Him?

Isn’t it true that when we find ourselves stuck in the muck of life, we long 
more deeply for God’s loving arms to come and take our hands and lead us 
We cry out, "Daddy, I need You. Please pull me out of this mess!"

I imagine He gives the same knowing smile I did when my son, laying face up 
in the mud, finally cried out for me. He kneels down and as we see in
Psalm 40:2,
lifts us out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire — our muddy boots 
dangling from our safe perch in His arms — and whispers, "I’m here love, 
here all along. I’ve just been waiting for you to ask. Now let’s get you 
cleaned up." Then He sets us on solid ground, giving us a firm place to 

Heavenly Father, I pray that I would trust and obey Your lead in the good 
times and in the times when I feel like I’m sinking into the mud and mire of
life. I truly believe God, that Your way is better, Your way leads to a 
fuller, deeper, more nourishing life. Help me to stop running from You and 
run toward Your loving embrace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Psalm 25:4-5,
"Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and 
teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." 

When You're Stuck in the Middle

"Then Jesus became explicit, ‘Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes 
that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now 
go to him.’" John 11:14-15 (MSG)

The poor teacher couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. One minute, my 
daughter’s face had been decorated with her signature smile; the next, her 
were streaked with silent tears.

My third-born is sensitive. As a baby, she cried around the clock. As a 
preschooler, she cried when her big brother pulled her ponytail.

And in first grade, she cried in Sunday school when she heard the tale of 
Lazarus bursting forth from the tomb.

Befuddled, the teacher pulled me aside after church that day and apologized 
for "whatever upset Hannah during story time." I’d assured her we knew about
our little girl’s tender heart.

However, later I asked Hannah about the unexplained tears. Like her teacher, 
I had no idea what might have prompted her sadness. After all, the 
recorded in the eleventh chapter of John seems more like a 
celebration-sparker than a tear-jerker.

"I wasn’t planning to cry, Mommy," Hannah explained. "But that story just 
made me feel so sad."

I squatted low to look my daughter in the eye. "Honey, the story of Lazarus 
is one of Jesus’ greatest miracles."

"I know," Hannah conceded. "I just felt so bad for those sisters. I kept 
thinking about how I’d feel if Jesus had let me down like that."

"But, Hannah" I said, "You already know the ending to the story. Jesus shows 
up and makes everything right. Those sisters get their brother back, and 
all have a graveside party!"

My girl exhaled an exasperated sigh, whispering, "Even if you know the 
ending, the middle can still hurt."

My stomach lurched at the huge truth that hung between us, and suddenly, I 
understood the tears.

My little girl had gotten stuck in "the middle."

She’d stood at the edge of the tomb where a beloved brother lay lifeless, 
crying right alongside those sisters.

I’ve been there. And if you’ve been traveling this world’s broken road for a 
while, you probably have, too.

The middle is where we call on God and wonder if He hears our cries.

The middle is where doubts rage loud, and our Savior grows quiet.

The middle is where life doesn’t make sense, faith seems foolish and hope 
seems lost.

When sickness strikes, when a friend betrays, when a spouse disappoints or a 
child rebels, we can find ourselves hoping for a better ending to our story.

Maybe you’re there now, feet planted shakily at the edge of the tomb where 
your hopes and dreams are buried. If you are, I’m sorry.

But listen to what Jesus told the disciples before raising Lazarus from the 
dead: "You’re about to be given new grounds for believing" (John 11:15).

You see, the middle isn’t just a place of pain. It’s a place of possibility. 
That middle ground is fertile soil for flourishing faith.

The middle is where we decide what we believe about Jesus — regardless of 
our circumstances. Before Jesus performed a miracle, Martha made her 
decision: "I
have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has 
come into the world from God" (John 11:27b, NLT).

And Jesus replied with a promise we can claim for ourselves: "Didn’t I tell 
you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:40b, 

Do you see it now? We don’t survive the middle by rewriting the story; we 
survive it by anchoring our hope to the One who has already scripted the 

There will come a day when no one will be stuck in the middle, with no more 
tears and no more pain (Revelation 21:3-5).

So, plant your feet firmly on the promises of Christ, dear friend. Because 
life on this side of Heaven is just the scene before the miracle. And if we
believe in Jesus, we already know there’s a happy ending.

Dear Jesus, I’m stuck in the middle and it hurts. But I believe You are the 
resurrection and the life. Help me choose faith instead of fear. Renew my 
in Your glorious ending. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Revelation 21:6a, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning 
and the end." (The Voice)

1 Corinthians 1:7b-8, "All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait 
expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And
not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on 
track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus." (MSG)

Sometimes our dreams feel like they’re dying, but God is at work preparing 
us for the next step. If you can relate, join our next
P31 Online Bible Study,
What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst. Registration is 
open and the study begins next Monday, April 13.

Stop by
Alicia Bruxvoort’s blog
today for more encouragement and for a free printable that will help turn 
your middle ground into new ground for believing.

Hold On To Your Hope ~ Don't Let Go
by Dean Masters

Psalm 130:5
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in His word I hope;

Are you good at waiting on God or are you like me where you tend to be 
chomping at the bit like a horse waiting to take off or bolting ahead 
saying, “Now
that I see what you have, I’ve got this�

Yesterday while I was outside with one of the dogs I could hear an animal 
screaming but couldn’t figure out what it was and when I would walk in the 
of the noise the neighbor dog would start barking at me and the noise would 
stop. After two times of that happening I finally went to see if he was 
something in the corner of their yard on the other side of their wooden 
fence. They have a fence that is wooden with a wire fence to keep small 
out (that didn’t work so well). There was a small rabbit stuck in between 
the wires of the fence with one leg stuck through one small square and it’s 
through another and it was frantically trying to get away from the dog even 
though the dog didn’t seem to intend to hurt it. I was shocked that the 
allowed me to calm it down and get it’s legs straightened out and Bill 
pulled back one wire and I slid it through, set it down and it took off. If 
bunny had continued in it’s frantic efforts instead of calming down and 
allowing us to help it, it could have killed itself, or the dog may have 
a while.

Like that bunny, if you are struggling or you are getting ready for the 
amazing plan God has in store for you, calm down a minute. Allow God to 
guide you
and straighten the path in front of you so you can be free to do His will! 
God is so good and you can always trust Him to do what is best, there is no
need to be frantic. Spend time in His word and look for His promises and 
hold on to your hope in Him! He is the God of all and all that you face is 
a small thing for Him to fixâ€.

If you are not the one going crazy right now and you have someone close to 
you who is, be there for them and help them to see that God is in control. 
get’s crazy sometimes for all of us, no one is exempt from trouble in this 
world, but God can handle it if you will just give it all to Him.

If you have finally found something God has for you to do, allow Him to 
guide you in it! Don’t get so caught up in the moment that you take off out 
the gate like a race horse without a jockey. Hold on and press into God and 
allow Him to guide you in all that you do and I can promise you then that 
best is truly yet to come!

Our greatest danger in life is in permitting the urgent things to crowd out 
the important. Charles E. Hummel

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 16 Jun 2015, 7:30 pm

Love Just One
(En Español)

We've stated that true spiritual discernment comes from knowing the mind of 
Christ. Let me make this quest as practical as possible: if we would know 
thoughts of Christ, we should seek to know His motives, for thoughts exist 
to fulfill motives. Jesus Christ came into the world, "not . . . to condemn
the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:17 NAB). 
Thus, if we truly understand the love that motivated Jesus, we will 
hear and understand His thoughts.

Or consider Paul's words, "And this I pray, that your love may abound still 
more and more in real knowledge and all discernment" (Phil. 1:9). The route
to true knowledge and all discernment is to possess abounding love. Let us 
learn to rest our heads upon Christ's breast and listen to His heart. For in
hearing His heart, we can discern His love for those around us.

Yet I acknowledge that, for some, to love others as Christ has loved us 
remains an ideal too far to reach. Therefore let's start small and bring 
this task
closer to home. Rather than attempting to love everyone everywhere, let us 
reduce the challenge and make our aim to love just one person. Now I do not
mean we should stop loving others whom we already love. I mean add just one 
person to your heart, and release your love to that individual in a more 

This person may be a lost neighbor or a backslidden friend; he or she might 
be a sick acquaintance or an elderly person from church. The individual may
be a child in physical or emotional pain. (I am not suggesting you focus on 
an individual of the opposite sex.) The Lord will lead you. He will put one
person on your heart and give you grace to grow in love.

Come to this experiment without seeking to correct him or her, unless they 
themselves ask for advice. Pray daily for the person. And as you listen to 
voice of God's love, something inside you will flower and open naturally 
toward other realms of discernment. Inspired by God, impulses and ideas born 
love will increase and expand to your other relationships as well. In truth, 
the knowledge and insights you gain from loving just one will become a 
catalyst in loving many.

Discernment will grow and mature even as you love just one.

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

Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book Spiritual Discernment and the Mind of 
Christ, on sale this weekend only for $7.50 at

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

In Christ's Image Training

Class begins April 3, 2015

Registration extended through Monday, March 30, 2015

In Christ's Image Training
is a six-month, online course developed by Pastor Frangipane. It is based on 
44 years of seeking God, study and revelatory insights. These are proven
truths that break chains and lead to power in our Christian walk

ICIT provides focused training in four essential stages of spiritual 

The vision of attaining Christ's likeness
Possessing Christ's humility
Developing a strong prayer life
Becoming one with other Christ believers

The course comes right to your home via email and audio messages and is 
designed to lift one's focus toward the actual presence of Jesus Christ. The 
course not only includes 48 lessons and 39 audio messages, but the 
discerning student will actually find the Lord using the weekly lessons to 
stage opportunities
to deepen the truths found in the training.

For those with limited funds, the entire text is free by email. Please 
choose the Free Lesson Plan when enrolling.
Francis presenting the course

Enrollment overview:

1) Go to
and read through the
Level I
Level I Syllabus
page and

2) Choose an enrollment plan

3) Next, complete the Level I Registration form

4) Submit the registration any time between now and March 26, 2015 Extended 
to March 30, 2015. Class begins April 3, 2015.

Feel free to forward this offer to friends and family members.

For more info, please see
A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.
Copyright (c) 2015
All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations were taken from the

Love Worth Finding Ministries


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Chosen Before Time Began

“According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, 
that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”
Ephesians 1:4

Did you know that God chose you before He laid the foundations of the earth? 
You talk about “old time religion”! Well, friend, you can’t get much older
than that! Before there were any trees, mountains, birds, and bees, God 
chose you to be one of His children. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “God 
must have chosen me before I came into this world because He never would 
have chosen me afterward.”

That means you and I cannot take credit for our salvation. First John 4:19 
says, “We love Him, because He first loved us.” Somebody asked a little boy,
“Have you found the Lord?” And the little boy said, “I didn’t know He was 
lost.” How miraculous that God has chosen us. When left alone to ourselves, 
would never have chosen Him.

Though election is a divine mystery, it can bring great assurance to a 
believer’s heart. Allow God’s Word to teach you further what it means to be 
Read Matthew 20:16, 24:22; Luke 10:20; John 6:37-39; Romans 8:28-39; 1 
Corinthians 1:26-31; Ephesians 1:9-11; 2 Timothy 1:9.

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
© 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300

A Note of Encouragement

from Ciloa
I have decided...by Terry L. Coleridge

Life had been exceptionally challenging. I was home recovering from very 
painful surgery. My mother was in the hospital a thousand miles away. Our 
married daughter and son-n-law learned they might lose their jobs. Then I 
discovered my own work hours had been cut by half.

The problems just seemed to escalate. One evening I got a hold of my mother 
who, in a weak voice, said she would have to undergo a more invasive 
procedure. At dinner I burst into tears. I could have been there for her if 
I'd known my hours were being cut.

The next day I read about Jesus' agony at the Mount of Olives. He prayed so 
intensely that it appeared He was sweating blood from His brow. (see Luke 
Thinking of my own anguish, I felt humbled remembering the grief and pain He 
went through for me.

My husband later asked, "Do you remember about praying to God for a break?" 
He reminded me that our Lord answers our prayers, but not always in the way
we want. Deep down I knew He was answering me.

One morning a song kept playing in my mind. "I have decided to follow Jesus, 
No turning back, No turning back." In all the stress and discouragement, I
was surprised to hear those words. I hadn't sung this in years.

With the gentle prodding of the Holy Spirit, I started singing, at first 
tentatively while doing the breakfast dishes, then later more assertively 
driving to work. Later, a co-worker had her song book at our Bible study and 
we sang the song.

That same day I received most of my hours back and these were better than 
before. I was joyful and thankful to the Lord Jesus Christ. And to think I 
thoughts of quitting! After work, I picked up my husband from his job and 
told him all about it. He asked if I knew the story behind the song.

The lyrics are based on the words of a man who lived in Assam, India, in the 
19th century. He, his wife, and children converted to Christianity, angering
many there. When called to renounce his faith by the village chief, he 
declared, "I have decided to follow Jesus, and there is no turning back."

After seeing his children murdered, he said, "The world can be behind me, 
but the cross is still before me." His wife was then killed. Just before his
own death, he said, "Though no one is here to go with me, still I will 
follow Jesus."

This display of faith was reported to have led to the conversion of that 
same chief and many others in the village. His words, put to traditional 
music, became part of an enormous evangelistic effort in Northern India. In 
time this new song would make its way to churches across the world.

How like God to place in my heart the words of this faithful man facing 
death to remind me of His call to trust and follow Him and that regardless 
of the
situation I have not been abandoned.

Like the man in Assam, we have to trust the Lord in the midst of troubles, 
difficulties, and hardships. Often it is only when we let go of our lives 
God takes care of the situation, working it for the benefit of everyone 
concerned...even those we may never know.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest...I 
will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you...I am with you always,
to the very end of the age. Matthew 11:28, John 14:18, Matthew 28:20
Jesus is alive. And He is always with us.


Terry L. Coleridge is a Nurse Assistant/Facilitator and has cared for 
individuals with Downs Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Epilepsy, Bipolar 
Autism, and various behavioral disorders. Terry and her husband live in 
Washington State, USA.

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 15 Jun 2015, 11:04 pm

Spiritual Fruit  Love

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

There is only one fruit of the Spirit but it has nine parts. In 1 
Corinthians 13 we find that the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit is love. As 
we see in the Scripture from the book of Galatians above this is the first 
part of the fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit. If we don’t have love 
then we cannot grow the other fruits of the Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 13 we 
find that love is patient, love is kind, etc. so if you don’t have love then 
the other parts of the fruit won’t grow.

In the Greek language there were three different words for love. One was 
eros which was the love between a man and a woman. Phileo is the tender love 
between friends. The Greek word used in the Scripture above is Agape. This 
is the deep love for God. It is never used to mean love for someone or 
something other than God.

Someone may have a lot of phileo love for others but could be creating his 
own fruit. So it seems like he has agape love also but this may not be the 
case. As we see below the only place we can get the agape love is from God. 
It is not something we can create:

" Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from 
God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does 
not love does not know God, for God is love." (
1 John 4:7-8, NLT)

So if you have been creating your own fruit of love, accept Jesus Christ as 
your Savior and accept the agape love of God so that you can show His true 
love to all around you.

by Dean W. Masters

How to Understand the Bible

How Should We Read the Epistles of the New Testament?

I was just eight years old at the time, but I still remember the day an 
irritated elderly lady came storming out of her house to yell at me. I was 
home from our three-room rural elementary school, goofing off with a couple 
of friends, when I opened the street-side mailbox at a random house and 
to rifle through my mail—except it wasn’t my mail. It was the elderly lady’s 
mail. And she did not think my antics were one bit amusing.

Has it ever occurred to you while reading one of the epistles (letters) in 
the New Testament that you’re reading someone else’s mail? In a way we are,
and in a way we aren’t. For two millennia Christians have read the 20 New 
Testament epistles as Holy Scripture, as the word of God for us. At the same
time, the epistles were personal writings produced for specific people or 
groups of people, often responding to their particular needs. So we cannot 
the epistles unless we take the effort to discover what lies behind the 


Some letters read like highly crafted treatises, like the magisterial 
epistle to the Romans. Others, like 1 and 2 Corinthians, are intricately 
with the needs of a particular group, the believers in the church in 
Corinth. They had evidently written the apostle Paul and asked specific 
because he says in 1 Corinthians 7:1, “Now for the matters you wrote 
about… †and then goes on at some length, responding point by point. Earlier 
in that
same letter, Paul was responding to certain oral reports he’d gotten about 
what was going on in that complicated and troubled church.

A wide range of circumstances prompted the writing of the epistles. Disorder 
in a church, the threat of false teaching, trepidation about the end of the
world, confusion about death, controversy over religious practices, 
ambiguity about ethics, weakness in leadership. Some epistles were meant as 
a word
of encouragement or just a way of reconnecting. The books of Hebrews and 
Romans offer an expansive theological perspective. Some letters focus on a 
theological point: grace in the case of Galatians, Christ in the case of 
Colossians, the church in the case of Ephesians. Taken as a whole, these 20 
add to the Canon of Holy Scripture a multifaceted, real-life description of 
both faith and behavior.

If you’re going to linger in a particular epistle, you will benefit from 
reading the article about that particular New Testament book in a good Bible 
or in the introduction of a commentary. You will get the essential features: 
who wrote it, to whom it was written, the occasion of its writing, the date,
etc. If you are reading an epistle more quickly, the notes in a good study 
Bible will give you the important facts in brief.

It’s best to mediate on some parts of the epistles. For instance, the 
amazing songs and creeds and prayers embedded in some of them. Other parts 
of the
epistles have complicated details that require the help of Bible linguists, 
historians, archaeologists, and the like, which we will find in Bible 
If we get the help to understand what “food sacrificed to idols†means in 1 
Corinthians 8, we’ll be able to learn the lesson there about Christian 
and freedom. And we cannot understand the epistle of Philemon unless we 
learn something about slavery in the first century.

Epistles are one genre of Scripture that are best read in long form. Ignore 
the chapter and verse numbers, which were added to the biblical text in the
thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. Reading an epistle straight through is 
an entirely different experience from reading a few verses at a time. Think
of it this way: If you went to your mailbox today and received a 
multiple-page letter from a beloved relative, you’d read it straight 
through. You wouldn’t
read one paragraph today, another tomorrow, and so on. When someone asks 
you, “Did you get my email yesterday?†try saying, “Yes, and I’m savoring it 
reading one sentence a day,†and see what response you get. No, we read 
letters well when we read them naturally.

Reading Scripture in context is a sign of respect for God as much as reading 
a letter from your mother straight through is a sign of love. The reason,
of course, is comprehension. Details at the conclusion of the epistle of 
Hebrews make the most sense if the start of the epistle is still rattling 
in your mind.

The epistles of the New Testament may not have been addressed to us, but 
they are for us. And we will cherish them as much as—and more than—any 
of love or encouragement a friend ever sent to us.


Engaging with the Word of God is one of the most important things we can do 
for our spiritual heath.
by Mel Lawrenz
About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook 
Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for 
years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help 
Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, 
most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to 

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 14 Jun 2015, 10:29 pm

Oh Come On……. There’s Manure Everywhere!
by Dean Masters

Luke 13:6-9
And Jesus told this parable: A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, 
and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the 
‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I 
find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered
him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on 
manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, 
can cut it down.’”

The vinedresser in this story is Jesus and He is pleading the case of 
someone who isn’t walking with God to the degree that there is no “fruit” in 
lives to even show that they have a relationship with Him at all. Does your 
life feel a little like the fig tree, everywhere you turn things have been
churned or dug up and there seems to be manure everywhere you look? Maybe 
God is trying to grow you up to be fruitful and effective for Him.

There are times when we are going through tough times because we are not 
walking with God and then there are times we are seeming to just glide along 
our walk with Him complacent, not looking for ways to grow. God allows 
situations and people in our lives at times to help us to grow up in Him. 
Some of
those annoying, crazy people in your life are there for you and until you 
stop praying for them to go away and ask God what you maybe need to learn 
the situation, they are there! Now, understand as well that just because you 
see someone going through a tough time or maybe you are doesn’t always mean
there is something wrong with you or them, it can also be because we live in 
an imperfect world and life happens, you know in your heart if it is you 
it is.

I would encourage you to take whatever you are facing today to God and ask 
Him to show you if there is something you can learn from it, no matter why 
is there and ask Him to guide you. His desire is for you to be all you can 
be for Him so trust Him to guide you to that!

“Even if you are on the right track you will get run over if you just sit 
there.” Will Rogers

But I'd Rather Sleep Than Pray

"Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, ‘So, 
couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour? Stay awake and pray, so that you
won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’"
Matthew 26:40-41

When I was a new Christian, I discovered a pamphlet entitled, How to Spend 
an Hour in Prayer. I was intrigued. I’d heard about people called prayer 
who placed great emphasis on conversing with God. Prayer seemed to come to 
them naturally. For them, spending an hour in prayer must surely be a 

But honestly, back then I found it difficult to keep my thoughts from 
wandering when I prayed. Oftentimes today I still do! Instead they ricochet 
all over
the place as I try to focus.

However, one day, I decided that things were going to change. So I headed to 
a park with Bible in hand and a resolve in my heart to follow the 
guide. I felt like a spiritual giant.

I settled myself on a park bench, opened my Bible, looked down at my 
pamphlet and began to do what it suggested: "Spend five minutes thanking God 
for the
blessings in your life. Spend five minutes praising God for His character 
qualities," and so on. Apparently, breaking down the various categories into
five-minute increments was supposed to help. But it didn’t help me. Five 
minutes seemed like an eternity.

Pretty soon a jogger happened by. He was carrying a small portable radio — 
without headphones — and the blaring music distracted me.

Two hyper squirrels decided to chase each other up and down a tree, and 
around and around my bench. I laughed at their antics, but again lost my 
Even when the animals and humans quieted down, I still had trouble 

I couldn’t focus; I kept thinking of all the things on my to-do list. And I 
was tired! The thought of just chucking my plans and heading home to take a
nap seemed like a better idea. So, after about 23 minutes, I gave up, packed 
up and headed home. My conclusion? I just wasn’t cut out to be a prayer 
I’d rather sleep.

It seems I am not alone. Today’s key verse tells us that even Jesus’ own 
disciples had a hard time with prayer. They fell asleep on the very day 
Jesus was crucified. If ever someone needed the prayers of friends, it 
surely was then!

Jesus verbalized the trouble with our best-intentions-turned-sour when He 
told His disciples this: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
(Matthew 26:41b).
How true! My spirit wants to connect and converse with God. But my flesh 
would rather be off getting things done. Or mentally making my grocery list. 
— worst yet — even copping some zzzzzs!

In order to see progress in our prayer life, we need to make prayer a matter 
of prayer! No. That isn’t a typo. We must pray first — before anything else
— that God would help us rein in our wandering thoughts. That’s our only 
hope to battle against the urge to doze off and win the struggle over how we 
our time.

This doesn’t mean we’ll turn into prayer warriors overnight. But it does 
mean we’ll want desperately for Jesus to meet us in our weakness and teach 
to do the hard work of making prayer a priority. He is faithful. We must be, 

Today is Good Friday. The day we remember Christ’s death on the cross for 
our sins. As you go about your day today, could you sacrifice some time in 

Remember that God sees our hearts and knows our struggles. He doesn’t expect 
perfection. But He does want us to keep striving for improvement in the 
area of daily communication with Him.

Father, forgive me for the times that I have let my flesh win when my spirit 
wanted to pray. May I never cease trying to develop the important habit of
spending intimate time with You in prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Romans 12:12,
"Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer." (HCSB)

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18,
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for 
this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

For a fun activity with children that not only teaches the importance of 
prayer but also provides a delicious recipe for homemade pretzels, visit
Karen Ehman’s blog.
There she’s also giving away a copy of her book,
Everyday Confetti: Your Year-round Guide to Celebrating Holidays and Special 
where this idea first appeared.

For more on learning to trust God through prayer, check out Karen’s book and 
corresponding DVD Bible study
LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith.

How often do you find it easy to become distracted — or even sleepy — when 
you pray? When this happens, what can you do to fight against the flesh and
keep on praying?

© 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

The Books at the Judgment

All who dwell on earth will worship [the beast], everyone whose name has not 
been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the
Lamb who was slain.
(Revelation 13:8)

Salvation is secured for all who are written in the book of life.

The reason that being written in the book of life secures our salvation is 
that the book is called “the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (
Revelation 13:8).
The names in this book are not saved on the basis of their deeds. They are 
saved on the basis of Christ’s being slain.

So how then does the record of our lives contained in “the books” have a 
part in our judgment? The answer is that the books contain enough evidence 
our belonging to Christ that they function as a public confirmation of our 
faith and our union with him.

Revelation 21:27:
“Nothing unclean will ever enter [the New Jerusalem], nor anyone who does 
what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s 
of life.” Here the result of “being written in the book of life” is not only 
not perishing, but not practicing detestable, sinful behaviors.

For example, consider the thief on the cross. Jesus said that he would enter 
paradise (
Luke 23:43).
But what will judgment be like for him when the books are opened? More than 
99.9% of his life will be sin. His salvation will be secured by the blood of

Then God will open the books and will use the record of sin to glorify his 
Son’s supreme sacrifice, and he use the last page to show the change that 
wrought in the thief’s attitudes and words. That last page — the last hours 
on the cross — will be the public confirmation of the thief’s faith and 
with Christ.

Therefore, when I say that what is written in the books is a public 
confirmation of our faith and of union with Christ, I do not mean that the 
record will
contain more good works than bad works.

I mean that there will be recorded there the kind of change that shows the 
reality of faith — the reality of regeneration and union with Christ. That 
how I enter the day, confident that my condemnation is past (
Romans 8:3),
and that my name is in the book of life, and that the one who began a good 
work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Christ.

For more about John Piper's ministry and writing, see

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 13 Jun 2015, 9:36 pm

challies.com - Informing the Reforming
Get to Know Yourself
external link

The very heart of the human condition is a faulty assessment of self. We 
think too much of ourselves, and think of ourselves too much. We overrate 
importance and underestimate our depravity. Ultimately, we elevate ourselves 
to the place reserved for God.

In the face of such insanity, we need to know who we really are. We need to 
have a right assessment of self.

Who am I? It is a question we have all asked at one time or another, at 
least in one of its variations. And every man has his own answer. Every 
and every religion has its own response.

Most of them tell me to look inside. I am told to look within, to search 
myself for the truth, to search myself for my own identity. But I never seem 
find it. I can’t quite seem to pin it down. The mere conviction that I can 
find answers within stands as proof of my faulty self-assessment. The simple
fact is that I cannot know myself as I really am. I am too blind to see 
myself, too far gone to find myself.

Here is what I have learned: To know myself, I need to look outside of 
myself. My best assessment of self does not come from within but from 
without. It
does not originate with me but with God.

The Bible is an inestimable treasure because of what it teaches me about 
God, but it is equally valuable for what it teaches me about me. It does not 
only the truth about deity, but also about humanity.

If I want to know who I am, if I want to know why I exist, if I want to know 
where I’ve gone wrong, if I want to know my deepest meaning and purpose, if
I want to properly assess myself, I need to look outside myself. I cannot 
know these things apart from God speaking through his Word. The Bible is 
from every other book in this way: Where I read all those other books, the 
Bible reads me.*

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)

The Bible searches me and tells me where I have erred. It examines me and 
tells me what I need. It tries me and evaluates my every thought and 
Ultimately, it reads me and tells me who I am.

Who am I? I will never know until I open the Bible and ask.

*I think I have heard that phrase, or a similar one, attributed to R.C. 
Sproul, but I wasn’t able to track it down.

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I 
reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood 
behind me.For
now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. 
(1Cor 13:11-12a)

By Answers2Prayer

If I Knew

Then My daughter was leafing through some old photo albums the other day 
when she laughed and pulled out an old picture to show me. There I was a 
12 year old with thick, bushy, brown hair. I looked down at the picture and 
smiled. Only one thought was on my mind: "If only I knew then what I know 

If I knew then what I know now: I would have slept in less and watched the 
sunrise more. I would have went barefoot in the grass earlier in the Spring
and later in the Fall. I would have eaten Nana's Sunday dinners more slowly, 
savoring every bite. I would have read more books and watched less TV. I 
have played fetch with my dog every time he wanted to. I would have paid 
less attention to how I looked and more attention to how I treated those 

If I knew then what I know now: I would have hugged my Mom and Nana everyday 
and told them how much I loved them. I would have listened better when my
Dad told me stories of his youth. I would have argued less with my brothers. 
I would have been kinder to that little girl in school who liked me so much.
I would have rejoiced in the joys of each new day and not worried about the 
problems of tomorrow.

If I knew then what I know now: I would have danced more, laughed more, and 
sang more no matter who was watching. I would have not cared a bit what 
people thought of me. I would have cared a whole lot more, however, about 
what God thought of me. I would have been fearless in showing my love, 
my joy, and living my life.

Sadly, I didn't know then what I know now. None of us do. All we can do is 
continue to learn, to grow, and to love. All we can do is make our future 
than our past. All we can do is our best and hope it makes God and the 
angels smile.

Joseph J. Mazzella


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

Bring Your Friends to Jesus

You may have made sacrifices in your life to help others have life’s 
necessities, an education, or better opportunities. They are all worthy 
but the ultimate sacrifice is made when we step out in faith to bring 
another to Jesus. Mark tells us of four friends who did not allow seemingly 
obstacles to prevent them from bringing their friend to Jesus.
Mark 2:1-12.

Four men watched as their quadriplegic friend lay immobile, destined to a 
life of physical infirmity. The men developed an irrepressible commitment to
their friend. They purposed to bring him to Jesus on a stretcher. The day 
they did, the crowds were alarmingly large and aggressive. No one would give
up his place near Jesus so the men could bring their friend to the front to 
be healed. This did not dissuade these men. They did not stop in the face
of impossible circumstances.

Because the stakes were so great, the four persisted. They had committed to 
bringing their friend to the Lord, and they did not waver in that 
They climbed onto the roof of the building where Jesus spoke, dug a hole, 
and lowered their friend down to Jesus.

What struck Jesus first was not the man’s paralysis but rather his friends’ 
faith. They could not heal the man physically or convert him spiritually,
but they had an undaunted faith that Jesus could. The men believed that if 
they could just bring him into the presence of Jesus that He would do the 
Jesus honored that faith.

Jesus’ first move was not to heal the man’s paralysis. Instead, He 
addressed the man’s spiritual condition by forgiving his sins—a far greater 
need. Not
only did the man walk out of the house healed physically, Jesus saved him 
from eternal death and gave him eternal life. His friends could not have 
him a greater gift.

Often, we are satisfied if our families and closest friends are saved. It 
should not stop there. The paralytic may have been a neighbor, a former 
or a family friend. Like these men, when God brings people into our lives 
and places their unsaved condition on our hearts, we can trust Him to honor 
faith. Our only task is to bring them to Him. They may have no faith at all, 
but God will honor our faith.

Is there someone in your life who is unsaved? Are you committed to bringing 
that person to Jesus? You may have tried in the past with no results. George
Mueller prayed for some people for 23 years before they were saved. Will you 
commit to praying with renewed commitment for them? Do you need to invite
them to church or a small group?

Pray today that God will give you undaunted faith that your friend will 
surely come to know the Lord. Then be obedient to do your part to bring them 
before Jesus.
Enjoy 365 Biblical daily devotional emails from Michael Youssef by
registering for My Devotional today.

We are Leading The Way for people living in spiritual darkness, at home and 
around the world, to discover the light of Christ as we passionately 
uncompromising Truth. Visit us today at

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 12 Jun 2015, 8:29 pm

Today's Daily Encounter

Taking Time to Listen

"Behold, I [Jesus] stand at the door and knock. If
anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come
in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."1

In response to a Daily Encounter about the famed
violinist, Fritz Kreisler, Martha Nixon, a good friend,
who some years ago was the well-known soloist with the
famed Neil Macaulay musical team, wrote to tell me
about a fascinating experience Neil had some years ago.

On one occasion when Neil was in New York, "he paid a
'small fortune' to buy two tickets to hear the world
famous violinist Fritz Kreisler play at New
York's Carnegie Hall. Macaulay was himself a concert
musician who had been heard around the world and highly
valued the greater skill of the famous Fritz Kreisler.
The performance was brilliant and worth the money spent
on the tickets. Mid-concert, however, Kreisler made an
amazing comment. 'The reason I'm a bit weary tonight,'
he said, 'is because I played on the streets of New
York all day today dressed as a busker (street
musician) with my violin case opened for donations. It
does me good to play for the people. But not one person
stopped to listen, or gave me a cent!'"

Interesting that this famous musician was totally
ignored amidst the rush and bustle of New York City
life. People passing by didn't take the time to stop
and listen. Instead, they turned a deaf ear to him. And
yet, at night, people paid a high price to hear him.
How sad.

But how much sadder when God "speaks" to us in
innumerable ways and we turn a deaf ear to him because
he doesn't appear to us in the way or manner which we
expect. Even the religious people in Jesus's day who
were actually looking for and expecting the Promised
Messiah (Savior) totally missed him because he didn't
appear in the way or manner that they expected.

So dear reader, whatever you do, don’t turn a deaf ear
to God who, in his still small voice may be whispering
to you while he is knocking on the door of your heart
and life today.*

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to slow
down enough to stop, look, and listen when You are
trying to reach my heart. Give me the good sense to
recognize Your call and always respond in a positive
manner. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer.
Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."

*NOTE: For help to respond to God's call go to

1. Revelation 3:20 (NKJV).


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

* * * * * * *

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


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

Phone: 949-940-9050


Copyright (c) 2015 by ACTS International.

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

* * * * * * *

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List
Seasoned With Snark or Laced With Grace?

"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the 
Proverbs 16:24

I am kind of a Bible nerd. I not only love to learn the meaning behind the 
Hebrew or Greek words in Scripture, I also like to study certain English 
that catch my attention, drilling down deep to understand why a particular 
word or phrase is used.

And so when I read today’s key verse,
Proverbs 16:24,
I grew curious: Why did God use a honeycomb to describe gracious, sweet and 
healing speech? I needed only to look in my own neighborhood for my answer.

Down the street lives a teenager named Jake. He is a terrific football 
player and an avid wrestler. However, Jake is also a beekeeper who peddles 
his amber
jars of honey at local festivals and fairs. I decided to interview this high 
school entrepreneur to discover all I could about the honey-making biz. He
was very patient with all of my "whys," and his detailed answers fascinated 

Jake told me that the flavor and intensity of honey depends on what kind of 
nectar the bees drink. Clover nectar produces honey that is refreshingly 
and sweet. However, another flower’s nectar might create a murky, bitter 
product, with a lingering, unpleasant aftertaste. Wise beekeepers will be 
their beehive is strategically placed near a large patch of clover if they 
want the sweetest, most delectable honey there is.

He also emphasized the importance of situating the beehive where the sun 
will hit it early in the morning, warming up the bees and triggering them to 
busy churning out the utmost amount of sweet syrup possible.

"So," I questioned my young friend, "is it safe to say that the sweetness or 
bitterness of honey is determined by what the bee drinks and the amount of
time it spends in the sun — especially early in the morning?"

"Exactly!" he replied.

DING! DING! DING! We have a winner.

Perhaps it’s also true that the sweetness or bitterness of our words will be 
determined by what our hearts drink in each day, and the amount of time we
spend early with the Son.

Today’s key verse states, "Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul 
and healing to the bones." If we long for our words to be laced with grace,
rather than seasoned with snark, we need to think like a beekeeper: Watch 
what we drink and spend time in the Son.

By tucking God’s Word into our hearts — drinking in its life-changing truths 
daily as we spend time with Him — we can learn to speak gracious words that
are sweetly soothing to the soul and bring healing and hope. Scripture read 
daily, studied often and memorized intentionally can teach us to speak 
— yes, with words that are honest — but that are also lovingly tucked inside 
an envelope of grace.

When we lace our speech with grace, healing takes place.

So when someone else’s behavior threatens to knock the nice right out of us, 
we can pause before we pounce, taking the advice I sometimes have to give
to myself: Don’t say something permanently painful just because you are 
temporarily ticked off. Instead, impart grace: sweet, healing, life-giving 

All the humans you encounter throughout the course of the day are 
"on-purpose" people. God placed them into your life for a reason. These 
souls — whether
they are the easy-to-love variety or the scratchy sandpaper kind — can be 
used by God to mold, reshape and sometimes stretch our souls as He 
crafts us into creations that look more and more like his Son — especially 
in the way we speak.

Others are watching, sizing up what we say and how we say it. What will they 
see? Words that incite spats and squabbles? Or honey-sweet speech that 
and heals?

You choose.

Father, I pray I may carve out time to soak in Your presence, spending time 
in Your Word each day so I might speak and act more like Your Son. In Jesus’
Name, Amen.

Ecclesiastes 10:12,
"Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by 
their own lips." (NIV)

Proverbs 10:32,
"The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the 
wicked, what is perverse." (ESV)

Is There Someone In Your Life That Needs To Change
by Dean Masters

James 3:17-18
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then 
peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, 
impartial and sincere.
Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”-

Those are some of the characteristics I would most often prefer the people 
close to me would possess and for the longest time I poured my heart out to
God begging Him to change them. After all those are Godly characteristics so 
how could it not be the will of God to change the people I had to deal with
on a regular basis so they could be more “godly”, it seemed to make a lot of 
sense to me that I was praying for their good, well, and mine if they would
just change. Then one day when I was pouring my heart out to God and 
pleading my case, in that moment where I paused for a breath He asked, “what 
you”? What? ME? So I tried to explain that if these other people would 
change and this circumstance would change then well, I probably wouldn’t 
need to
because it would all be fixed.

Somehow God wasn’t buying all of that and He just really impressed on me 
that I can’t wait for everyone and everything else to change, That isn’t my 
I AM!!! Once I started praying that God would change me instead of everyone 
else, and mind you I still have to do it everyday to this day, things 
falling into place and some of the key people in my life were moving forward 
as well. No, not everyone around me has changed but my attitude toward them
and the circumstances is changing! The key wasn’t in “fixing” everyone else, 
the key was asking God to create a clean heart and a right spirit within me.

I have to admit that it isn’t always easy because the human spirit in me 
just wants to feel justified and vindicated for wrongs said or done to me, 
when I have that attitude it holds onto the anger and frustration of the 
situation. When I allow God to change ME on the inside instead I have peace 
the situation doesn’t rule my day! If you have a situation or a person in 
your life that you just know needs to change I would encourage you to pray 
that situation or person, not what needs to be changed in your eyes but in 
God’s eyes but at the same time pray that He will heal your heart and mind 
it all and create a clean heart and a right spirit within you and then rest 
in His peace that He WILL take care of it all in His time! He truly does 
your best interest at heart!

Quote: “Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or 
happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.” ~Francesca Reigler

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 11 Jun 2015, 6:47 pm

How Should We Understand the Acts of the Apostles?

How shall we describe the amazing narrative we know as The Acts of the 
Apostles? Fast-paced, expansive, sweeping, intense, surprising, gripping, 
compelling, epic? All such descriptions would apply, and more. We have not 
read Acts rightly if we’ve just noted a string of historical details. Acts 
unique in Scripture, yet it is a continuation of what its Gentile author, 
Luke, started in his Gospel when he set out to write “an orderly account” 
someone named Theophilus so that he “may know the certainty of the things 
[he had] been taught” (
Luke 1:3-4).
Acts opens with:

“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and 
to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions
through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.” (
Acts 1:1-2)

Right away Luke tells us the main characters of this narrative are the 
apostles (including Paul) and the Holy Spirit. From beginning to end, Acts 
is the
story of the Holy Spirit inspiring, empowering, and guiding the followers of 
Jesus on a world-changing mission.


El Greco, “Pentecost” 1610

To read Acts rightly, we need to keep in mind Luke’s purpose: to tell the 
story of how the gospel of Jesus the Christ broke out of the limitations of 
and Galilee and spread across the Mediterranean world, crossing the barrier 
between Jew and Gentile and becoming a truly universal spiritual movement.
Acts is about gospel and mission and Spirit. It is not a biography about the 
lives of Peter or John or even the apostle Paul. The focus is on the spread
of the message about Jesus, and the dramatic ways people either accepted it 
or rejected it.

Acts has frequently been read in the past as a description of how the 
Christian church is supposed to operate. This is understandable, as 
Christian leaders
desire to base today’s forms of ministry on a scriptural foundation. Only 
some of this is possible, however, because Luke clearly did not set out to 
a manual on church life or church policy. Yes, it is true that Acts 2 gives 
a picture of healthy spiritual devotion: “They devoted themselves to the 
teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (v. 42). 
But a couple of verses later, it says that the believers were selling their
property and possessions in order to give to others, that they met in the 
temple courts every day, and that they ate together in each other’s homes 
45-46). Churches today do not follow this pattern detail by detail. We don’t 
sell our cars, there is no temple to meet in every single day, and we don’t
ring the doorbells of each other’s houses every night to share supper. Nor 
does Acts say these practices were then followed in the churches founded in
Asia Minor or Greece or Rome.

Acts tells us what happened, which is not the same thing as telling us what 
should happen today. There were no church buildings in Acts; no pianos, 
or drums for worship. We have descriptions of the baptisms of only 
first-generation believers, and the method of baptism varied: in the name of 
in the name of Father, Son and Spirit; in bodies of water; in a jail in 
Philippi; and in the desert along the Gaza road. The leadership structure of 
early churches evolved over time, and we are not given a definition of how 
often the Lord’s Supper should take place in our churches today.

Acts is not a list of policies and formulae—it is something more 
wonderful—an account of the dynamic and oftentimes unpredictable movement of 
the Spirit
of God in the era of the apostles, which puts us in the posture of expecting 
the unexpected today.

Perhaps there is a lesson in this for us. The vitality of the church will 
always come from the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit as believers 
part of a dynamic movement. This is not to downplay the importance of church 
structure, but perhaps keep it in perspective.

There are a dizzying number of incidents reported in Acts, each of which is 
worthy of our contemplation. We ought to put ourselves in Paul’s place as he
is chased out of a town, or shipwrecked, or plodding through two years of 
teaching in Ephesus. We need to imagine what it would have been like for 
commanded in a dream to enter the home of Cornelius, a Gentile, and witness 
the unthinkable: the gospel spreading beyond the Jews. We need the maps at
the back of our Bibles to have a sense of the geography of this movement.

The structure of Acts can be summed up this way: ever outward. First, there 
is Jerusalem and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the 
of the apostles. The gospel crosses the line into the Gentile world with 
Cornelius. Peter is front and center in these early chapters. Then comes the 
of the hostile Pharisee Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the apostle. The 
story proceeds with three great missionary journeys crossing one barrier 
another until it eventually comes to the seat of the Roman Empire.

The Gospels give the gospel, and Acts, the mission of the gospel. And today 
in the 21st century, we see the cycle of proclamation, persecution, and 
repeating. It is important for believers to understand that we have been 
here before and what it all means.
Engaging with the Word of God is one of the most important things we can do 
for our spiritual heath.
About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook 
Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for 
years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help 
Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, 
most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to 

Fruit – Singular or Plural?

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

“Fruit of the Spirit” is a biblical term that sums up the nine visual 
attributes of the Christian life. These are not individual “fruits” from 
which we pick and choose. The “fruit of the Spirit” is one nine-fold fruit 
that characterizes all who truly walk in Christ. When we become Christians 
the seed of this fruit is planted in our lives.

Just as some fruit grows better in certain climates so do some attributes 
grow better in some Christians than in others. Some may find it easier to be 
more joyful than patient or more loving than peaceful because of the climate 
they live in. It could be because of the home they live in or where they 
work they find it harder to grow some attributes more than others but all 
the fruit is there in some form.

The devil does not want our fruit to grow. The Song of Solomon calls these 
deterrents foxes that need to be stopped before they destroy the fruit:

15 Catch the foxes for us.
Catch the little foxes.
They destroy our vineyards.
The vineyards are in bloom.”
The woman says, Song of Solomon 2:15 (NIrV)

We will never have perfect fruit with all the attributes until we get to 
heaven. That does not give us an excuse to let some slip by. We all need to 
let the Holy Spirit work in us to grow more of the attributes that have not 
grown much. But be warned, god may use some circumstances as fertilizer 
which one may not particularly like to be in. An example is when one prays 
for patience then they will be put in situations which will try their 
patience. So pray for the Lord to grow His fruit in your life.
by Dean W. Masters

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