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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Sun 26 Jul 2009, 1:16 pm

Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
July 21, 2009
The Comet

And God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark the seasons, and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.
--Genesis 1:14-15
A few years ago, when the Hyakutake Comet whizzed by earth, we drove to the edge of
the Mojave Desert, found a little side road, and parked near the top of the Tehachapi Mountains. When I got out of the van and looked up into the vast starry dome, it took my breath away.

The moon was low on the horizon, and the stars were like diamonds shimmering in the cold desert air. There was no haze, city lights, smog, or noise except for the air moving through pine trees. The heavy silence of the desert and mountains made the sparkling night sky awesome and dramatic. Just below the Big Dipper we spotted the comet. We could actually see the comet's tail--long, straight, streamlined, cutting right through the constellation like a white laser. And there, on the side of the mountain overlooking the desert, underneath a blanket of stars, we sang this refrain at the top of our lungs:

Angels help us to adore Him,
Ye behold Him face to face.
Sun and moon bow down before Him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Praise Him, praise Him, praise Him, praise Him,
Praise His everlasting grace.

* * * * *

The night sky is full of God's glory. Take a few minutes to cast your eyes heavenward and to thank God for expressing Himself so vividly. And while you're at it, why not sing a refrain to God? I'm sure he'd appreciate hearing it from you.


Creator God, praise You for bringing events like comets into my life to remind me that sun, moon, and stars in their courses above join with all nature in manifold witness to Your great faithfulness, mercy, and love.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Sat 11 Jul 2009, 11:06 pm

Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
July 11, 2009

Think About Him

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.
--Philippians 4:8
As a youngster, I fostered the idea that God was on an ego trip, always telling people how wonderful he was. I got the impression that God just had to be worshiped. That somehow, he needed a big crowd of people adoring him. Do you ever question exactly why God wants us to get to know him?

Question no longer. Suppose you, like God, were the most true, just, pure, lovely and praise-worthy being in existence. And what if everything else in the universe that had any of these qualities got them from you? For that matter, suppose that without you, these qualities would never have existed?

If that were the case, then for anyone around you to improve in any way, they would have to become more like you. For you to ask men to think about these good qualities would be to ask them to think about you. Their ego trips would be wrong, for then they would be centering their thoughts around sin and imperfection. But your ego trip would be glorious. So when God asked us to think about him, he asks us to think about everything that is true, just, pure, lovely and praiseworthy.

God knows that the more we get to know him, the more we will know of life - real life. He understands that by walking with him, we will better comprehend genuine love - after all, he is love. God wants us to get to know him - not because he needs our worship, but because we desperately need his strength. It has nothing to do with satisfying his ego, but everything to do with finding life.

* * * * *


Take a look at Acts 17:24-28. If the person being described were anyone other than God, you might think he was on an ego trip. But God's ego trip has a very special purpose. Locate God's purpose in this section of Scripture and make it your personal prayer today.

Help me to understand, Lord that in you I move, breathe, and have my being!

Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Fri 10 Jul 2009, 1:45 pm

Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
July 8, 2009

A Fearless Request

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
--Ephesians 6:19-20
The scene is a prison cell in Rome. Paul has been in chains for over two years. He's tired, his shackles are heavy, and his leg irons bite into his ankles. As he sits in prison, he's most likely thinking of the many missionary travels he's yet to take, of the distant lands yet to hear the gospel. Perhaps he's thinking of the fledgling churches in Philippi, Galatia and Colossae that need his encouragement. He has one chance to write his friends in Ephesus. With all these needs on his mind, he picks up his pen, so to speak, and asks them to pray.

Yet among all the pressing problems out on the field, among all his wants and wishes, what does Paul ask them to pray about? That his aches and pains might ease? That Caesar might grant him a pardon? That the charges against him might be dropped? That God might send -- as he did for Peter -- an angel to miraculously fling open the prison doors? No. In the last chapter, in the concluding sentences, Paul sums up his most important prayer request: that he might remember to share the gospel whenever he opens his mouth; that God might give him fresh words in witnessing; and that God might empower him to declare it fearlessly.

* * * * *


Today, look at the needs in your life as opportunities to share the gospel. Ask the Spirit to prompt you whenever you open your mouth. Ask him to give you fresh words to suit the occasion. Most of all, ask the Spirit to give you courage, to help you declare it fearlessly (if an apostle needed courage to be bold in witnessing, you must need it, too!).

Lord, so often my prayer requests involve relief and release from problems. Help me to "stay in my chains" today and follow Paul's lead as I declare your gospel fearlessly.
Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Thu 02 Jul 2009, 3:44 pm

Raise A Memorial!

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen.
He named it Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far has the LORD helped us.'
--1 Samuel 7:12
When the Israelites defeated the Philistines, the prophet Samuel raised a memorial to commemorate the victory. He named it "Ebenezer," which means "stone of help." It was to remind everyone, including Samuel, that God was their help.

From the beginning, God has sealed special events with some kind of physical memorial. He gave Noah a rainbow. He instituted the Passover feast as a memorial of Israel's deliverance from Egypt. When He gave the law to Moses, He wrote it on two tablets so His people could see and remember. The tabernacle, the ark itself, and the cloud that hovered over it were visible reminders of God's ever-present help. In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus declared that Mary's gift of perfume, which she poured over Him, should be a memorial. What are the memorials in your life, the tangible reminders God has given you of His ever-present help?

My wheelchair is my Ebenezer. I've raised it up as a memorial to commemorate God's grace in my life. It reminds me (and everyone who sees me smile in it) that God is my help.


* * * * *

Look for the memorials, the stones of remembrances in your life. Whatever they are - perhaps a ring, a family Bible, a pair of crutches, a pebble you picked up during a journey - they can be anchors to your soul. When pain becomes severe or sorrow crushing, you can remind yourself of that memorial set in place in a time of greater strength, and you can pray, "Oh, God, keep me faithful to that." Then rest your heart on the faithfulness of the One who has given you help in the past, that One who helped you raise the stone of remembrance in the first place.

God, Your understanding of us is so great. You know that we need visible reminders of Your faithfulness. Show me what reminders I can establish in my life that will stand in the face of all the future might bring.

Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Sun 28 Jun 2009, 8:24 pm

Drifting

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
--Hebrews 2:1
Do you recall, as a child, riding your rubber mat on the gentle waves of the ocean? I remember the warm sun and the rocking motion almost sending me off to sleep. In fact, I once did just that. When a giant swell woke me up, I raised my head and realized with horror how far from shore I had been carried away. A strong current had caught me and carried me down the beach. I don't know how it happened... and so quickly! I didn't realize how far I had drifted away until the moment I saw that great distance between me and my family further up the beach.


Drifting can be dangerous. Always, always there are currents pulling at us. Always we are swimming upstream, against the tide. There is always the temptation to drift, and we never realize how far we are carried away until we see Christ... until we see the others from whom we have parted. It is possible for any of us to drift spiritually or morally. No one is immune. Think of the powerful currents in your life that would carry you along unless you "kept at the oars" to control the direction. There is the current of social opinion or fad. There is a current of personal desire, of doing the things you want to do. Lust is a powerful undertow. Materialism is a relentless tug.


Following God does not come easy. Today, anchor yourself with a recommitment to keep at the oars, to keep rowing against those strong undertows. Let's not be lolled to sleep and carried away.

* * * * *

Someone has said, "Sow a thought, reap an action... sow an action, reap a habit... sow a habit, reap a character." Drifting from God starts in small ways with little thoughts. To keep the current of your thoughts in line, find a King James Bible and look up 2 Corinthians 10:5. Can your thoughts be controlled? Who gives you the power to do so?


Lord, you are a lighthouse for me, a center point, a high tower. I can always tell whether or not I'm drifting by looking to see how close, or how far from you I am. Keep me anchored near you.

Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright € ¦©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Sun 14 Jun 2009, 7:49 pm

The Rose

I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
--Song of Songs 2:1
Some people claim the rose is the crown jewel of the garden. It's one of my
favorites, and I enjoy capturing its intricacies with paint and brush. For
all these reasons and more I was touched by a poem sent to me a couple of
years ago. Written by a missionary, it's called "The Rose."

It's only a tiny rosebud -- a flower of God's design;
But I can't unfold the petals with these clumsy hands of mine.
The secret of unfolding flowers is not known to such as I --
The flower God opens so sweetly in my hands would fade and die.
If I cannot unfold a rosebud this flower of God's design,

Then how can I think I have wisdom to unfold this life of mine?
So I'll trust in Him for His leading each moment of every day,
And I'll look to Him for His guidance each step of the pilgrim way.
For the pathway that lies before me my Heavenly Father knows --
I'll trust Him to unfold the moments just as He unfolds the rose.


As the poem suggests, we can't grow the moments of our lives any more than
we can peel back the petals of a rose. As we look to His leading each moment
of the day, we can trust Him to unfurl each hour just as He unfurls the rose
Little wonder the Lord is called the Rose of Sharon. Like that glorious
flower, we just can't get enough of watching His glory unfold in our lives.

* * * * *
Can you trust God to unfold a lovely plan for your life? Can people see
Jesus more clearly in you as you bloom? What changes do you need to make to
be able to answer "yes" with confidence?

Sun and shower, bud to flower, a rose is like my heart - I lay it bare,
unfurl with care, each fragile fold, each part. Rose of Sharon, I take care
in offering my praise - It's yours for pleasure, yours forever, a flower for
your vase.
Blessings,
Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright € ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson
Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids,
Michigan 49530
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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Thu 28 May 2009, 1:14 pm

A Spirit of Humility

When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will
lift you up and give you honor.
--James 4:10, NLT
Pride always blows our cover. In case you doubt that, hit the concordance
key on your computer Bible software, type in the word "pride" or "proud,"
and watch a zillion verses pop up. All of them detail how the Lord detests
haughty eyes, boastful tongues, and hearts bloated by ego. Never was there
a character trait more opposite of God.

In our best moments, we want very much to be like God, to be godly... yet
what an invitation to pride! That's why it always requires humility. When
our pride has caused us to wound our friend or spouse, we walk over to them
and say, "I am so sorry for hurting you. What you have observed about me is
true: I am stubborn and very much 'in the wrong.' Please forgive me." Oh,
it is never easy! But it is richly rewarded.

An old Puritan wrote: "Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies
not so much in the nature of sin committed, as in the greatness of the
person sinned against." If we're looking for humility, we don't gaze inward
to see how greatly we've missed the mark. We gaze at the Lord Jesus. We
drag ourselves to the cross... where our pride is suffocated! "Self"
becomes "hid with Christ in God," and humility is the result.


********

Asking the Holy Spirit to roll up his sleeves and deal with pride in your
hearts, may involve several things (I speak from experience!). It may
include opening yourself to the valid criticism of others, openly confessing
your faults, or inviting your spouse or close friend to point out your blind
spots. Easy? Never! Rewarding? Always.

Lord, as the old hymn says, "When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the
Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on
all my pride." Keep me on my knees today, until I get a fresh vision of
your cross.


Blessings,
Joni and Friends

Taken from Pearls of Great Price. Copyright ©️ 2006 by Joni Eareckson Tada.
Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan
49530
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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Wed 27 May 2009, 4:45 pm

One More Stepping Stone

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the
other prisoners were listening to them.
--Acts 16:25
Anika was our German shuttle bus driver who carted us and our luggage from
the Munich airport to our hotel. As we pulled away from the curbside, I
said, "Anika, we're going to pray here in the back seat. But you're driving
so don't close your eyes!" The look she gave us in the rearview mirror said
it all: You people are odd. We were wonderful examples of I Peter 2:9, "..
a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath
called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (KJV).

But it's the odd things that stick in your mind. And sometimes your heart.
The next morning when Anika loaded us up to take us back to the airport, she
thanked us after we prayed out loud for her (we also interceded for her
live-in boyfriend, as well as her parents, whom she hadn't seen for years).
When we said goodbye, she commented with wet eyes, "I like you people.
There's something about you that makes me happy. I wish I could go with you
"

"You can," I said. "One of these days we're going to lift off, and we'll go
higher than any airplane could ever take us. It's all about following
Christ." Anika smiled. We were one more stepping stone in her long journey
which, I'm convinced, will land her in heaven.

*********

Sometimes evangelism doesn't mean delivering the whole Gospel message at a
curbside and asking for a response before the light turns green. Everything
we say or do that moves an individual one step closer to Jesus and salvation
is evangelism. And allowing our joy in Christ to just spill over and splash
on others is as powerful a witness as a three-point sermon.

Holy Spirit, fill me with your joy today as I walk in your presence and lean
on your strength. I pray for the opportunity to move at least one person at
least one step closer to heaven.


Blessings,
Joni and Friends

Taken from Pearls of Great Price. Copyright ©️ 2006 by Joni Eareckson Tada.
Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan
49530
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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Fri 15 May 2009, 12:49 pm

Jerry's Place

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he
flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place
thereof shall know it no more.
--Psalm 103:15-16 (KJV)
Francie, my secretary, lost her husband Jerry this year and, like most
widows, she shivers to think that his place will be forgotten. Even
Ecclesiastes 9:5 underscores, "For the living know that they will die, but
the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of
them is forgotten." The world deals a cruel blow to people who die. It
does its best to make sure their place will be forgotten.

Perhaps Jesus was thinking of this when he assured, "... I am going there to
prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will
come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You
know the way to the place where I am going" (John 14:2b-4). In the span of
three sentences, our Savior speaks of a man's "place" three times. The
Carpenter of Nazareth has built Jerry a place in heaven. Not one made with
hands, but by God's eternal decree. The world might erase Jerry from its
memory, but not heaven. He will never be forgotten. That's because he has
a place by Jesus' side.


* * * * * * * *

Perhaps you know a widow who is still grieving the loss of a loved one who
has gone on to heaven. Those who are grieving want you to mention their
spouse. Today, jot that person a note, sharing a special memory and letting
her know you haven't forgotten. Assure your friend that heaven has a far
grander place for their mate, handmade by Jesus Christ himself!

Lord Jesus, thank you that you have designed a specific, hand-tailored,
custom-constructed place in heaven for me. Thank you for building my home -
my special place - in heaven.


Blessings,
Joni and Friends

Taken from Pearls of Great Price. Copyright ©️ 2006 by Joni Eareckson Tada.
Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan
49530
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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Tue 12 May 2009, 3:15 pm

Jesus Came For This Reason

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. Simon and his
companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed:
Everyone is looking for you!' Jesus replied, 'Let us go somewhere else - to
the nearby villages - so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.'

--Mark 1:35-39
In the early years of my paralysis, I traveled to many faith-healing
services. My fingers and feet never seemed to get the message, though.
After one healing service, I went home and read the first chapter of the
Gospel of Mark.

Although it was still early in the morning, crowds of disabled and sick
people came to Capernaum to find Jesus. He wasn't there. He was up in the
hills praying. When the disciples found him, Jesus refused to meet with the
crowd; he simply said, "Let's go somewhere else. Let's go to other villages
so I can preach in those places for this is why I have come." It's not that
Jesus didn't care about the cancer-ridden people, or the blind or the
disabled; it's just that their illnesses weren't his focus. The Gospel was.
His message was: God is holy and you are not... he is just, your soul is
in risk of hell, but the Father sent me to show his love... now believe in
me and you will be saved. Whenever people miss this - whenever they started
coming to him to have their pains and problems removed - the Savior backed
away.

* * * * * * *

On a scale of one-to-ten, how often do you ask God to remove a painful
situation? On the same scale, how quick are you to tell people about the
Gospel, the real focus of Jesus' coming? Remember, God saved you to tell
others his good news - your painful situation just may be his best platform
to showcase the Gospel.

Jesus, may I have the same sense of urgency about the kingdom message today
as you do!


Blessings,
Joni and Friends

Taken from Pearls of Great Price. Copyright ©️ 2006 by Joni Eareckson Tada.
Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan
49530
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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Wed 06 May 2009, 7:31 pm

What God Wants

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
--Colossians 3:2-3
This is what God wants - hearts burning with a passion for future things, on
fire for kingdom realities that are out of this world. God wants his people
aflame with his hope, a "consider it a pure joy" outlook which affects the
way we live on earth. God wants us to be "cities on a hill" and "lights on
a lamp stand" so that everyone around us will be encouraged to look
heavenward (Matthew 5:14-15).

A perspective like this doesn't happen without suffering. It is affliction
which fuels the furnace of heaven-hearted hope. People whose lives are
unscathed by affliction have a less energetic hope. Oh, they are glad to
know they are going to heaven; for them, accepting Jesus was a buy-and-sell
agreement - place your sins on the counter and get an asbestos-lined soul.
Once that's taken care of, they feel they can get back to life as usual -
dating and marrying, working and vacationing, spending and saving.

But suffering obliterates such preoccupation with earthly things. Suffering
wakes us up from our spiritual slumber and turns our hearts toward the
future, like a mother turning the face of her child, insisting, "Look this
way!" Once heaven has our attention, earth's pleasures begin to pale in
comparison.

* * * * * * * *

What has suffering taken away from you? What has it diminished or robbed?
Don't allow your heart to dwell on earthly disappointments. God permits
suffering to draw our attention on heaven where that which was lost - and
more - shall be restored. Suffering forces us to look forward to the day
when God will close the curtain on all disease, death, sorrow and pain.
Until then, we have work to do! John 9:4 says, "As long as it is day, we
must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.


Lord of heaven, turn my heart toward you this day. I set my mind right now
on things above.


Blessings,
Joni and Friends

Taken from Pearls of Great Price. Copyright ©️ 2006 by Joni Eareckson Tada.
Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan
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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Sun 26 Apr 2009, 7:17 pm

God Sees...God Knows

Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but
fear your God. I am the Lord.
--Leviticus 19:14
What a strange thing for God to say, "Do not curse the deaf." Even if you
did bad-mouth a deaf person, he wouldn't be able to hear you. After all, a
deaf person can't hear! And if you placed a stumbling block in front of a
blind person, he wouldn't be able to see you do it, right? What's God
saying here?

First, he is saying that he takes the side of the poor, the lame, and those
who are deaf or blind. He is the guardian and protector of those who are
weak and infirmed. God takes the position of their advocate, which
literally means to "give voice to those who have no voice." But is there a
broader application of Leviticus 19:14?

Yes, there is: God wants you to grasp the fact that he hears your hurtful
comments, even though others are out of earshot. God sees your mischievous
behavior, even though others can't observe what you're doing. God says in
Numbers 32:23 that "... you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be
sure that your sin will find you out." Though the people you are plotting
against or gossiping about may not be aware of your malice, God is aware.
It's why he says in today's verse, "Fear God. I am the Lord."

* * * * * * * *

Find a way you can take the side of the poor, the elderly, or the disabled
today. Several couples at my church take turns on Sunday mornings to drive
to a local assisted living center to pick up Mr. and Mrs. Hill, an elderly
couple who are separated from their family. These friends from my church
are true advocates... they are true friends of God.

Lord Jesus, keep me from harmful conduct this day... and help me to reach
out to those who are poor or disabled. I want to join you in serving as a
guardian and protector of those in need.

Blessings,
Joni and Friends

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Take Heed

Post  Admin on Sat 25 Apr 2009, 6:06 pm

Take Heed

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!
--I Corinthians 10:12
How many times have you watched someone dive headlong into immorality, and
thought, Nope, not me; I'd never be caught doing that. Beware. People who
view themselves as standing firm are the most susceptible to the most gross
type of sin. Upright and obedient Noah stood alone against a carousing,
lustful world that drank itself silly - who would have thought Noah, of all
people, would end up drunk? Look at Abraham. He was ready to push
obedience to the point of sacrificing his own son - who would imagine he
would be the one to lie straight-faced to government officials? And do it
twice! Lot closed his door against the sexual sin in the streets of Sodom,
but hardly does he get delivered from the city's destruction than he falls
into incest with his own daughters.

Bold and courageous David was brave enough to go up against Goliath, but
later on, he made believe he was a madman because he feared his enemies.
Then there's Elijah. We take him to be a rather brave man as he wielded the
sword of God's vengeance against tens of thousands. But the threat of one
woman sent him plummeting into suicidal despair. Finally, there's Peter.
He was part of the Lord's inner circle, following the footsteps of Jesus
closer than anyone. Yet he ended up cursing and denying his Savior.

* * * * * * *

First Corinthians 10:11 cautions us further about the human side of Noah,
Lot, David and Elijah, "These things are examples... [and] were written down
as warnings for us." Just when you think you are doing pretty well, you
stumble into a sin which seems so out of character. But it's not. The
character of our body is of sin and death (Romans 7:13). Remember, you won
t fall as long as you're leaning on Jesus.

Lord Jesus, today I stand only in your strength and grace. Keep me from
falling into sin as I keep my eye on you.

Blessings,
Joni and Friends

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The Real Me

Post  Admin on Wed 22 Apr 2009, 2:06 pm

The Real Me

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows
up to cause trouble and defile many.
--Hebrews 12:15
The other week during a long flight home, I could not get comfortable in the
airline seat. My corset was digging me and no matter what Ken did, my blood
pressure continued to spike and my forehead kept sweating (signs that I am
in pain). Normally, it would have been enough to drive me to pray. But not
this time. I was fed up with my disability (a nice way of saying I was fed
up with God's control of the situation). My thoughts were sour and I was
not about to pull my Bible out of my backpack. Instead, I tried to get my
mind off my pain by watching the in-flight movie. Halfway through, I
thought, This is the stupidest film. Why am I watching it?!

That night after the pain subsided, my first thought was, That wasn't like
me. I'm normally not like that. But the whisper of the Holy Spirit replied
"That is you. You are like that." Suffering always tests us, examining
and sifting us and asking, "Who are you really?" Normally, we are not faced
all the time with how self-focused we are, or how sour or peevish our
attitude can be. We think we're doing pretty well. But suffering strips
off that veneer and shows us our true colors.

* * * * * * * *

Affliction does not teach you about yourself from a textbook; it teaches you
from experience. It will always show you what you love - either the God of
all comfort, or the comfort that can become your God. Think back on the
last time you got 'fed up' with your circumstances. What did this reveal
about yourself? Talk to God about that today.

Lord Jesus, I may not like affliction in my life, but I am keenly aware that
it constantly shows me who I really am. Thank you for covering every sin
with your precious blood!

Blessings,
Joni and Friends

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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Wed 22 Apr 2009, 8:38 am

Peter Alone

Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this
disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high
priest's courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other
disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on
duty there and brought Peter in. 'You are not one of his disciples, are
you?' the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, 'I am not.'
--John 18:15-17
There were many burdens Jesus carried to the cross. One of them was
abandonment. In the hour of his greatest need when he needed his closest
friends, when he needed to know he wasn't alone, that he hadn't been
forgotten, Peter forsook him. What rubbed salt into the wound was that
Peter did not deny him in front of a Roman soldier, powerful official or a
priest at the temple. It happened in front of a servant girl.

We assume that the "other disciple" was John. Somehow John was able to gain
entrance into the house where Jesus was being questioned. Peter entered the
courtyard, but did not follow John into the hearing room. Maybe he was
afraid. We have to wonder whether Peter would have denied Christ had he not
been alone, had another disciple been there. Would he have been more bold
standing next to John? Whatever, Peter was left alone in the courtyard,
surrounded by accusers and skeptics. The rest is history.

* * * * * * * *

Peter allowed his fears to overcome his faith. This happens to those who
are full of pride. It's not obvious rebellion which causes them to refute
Christ. It is the fear and intimidation of cynics. When are you most
easily tempted? Is it when you with someone you shouldn't be with? When
you are alone? Keep track of patterns of temptation and then avoid those
people or situations.

Father, help me to always seek the company of Christian friends. Convict me
if I stray into situations in which I could be tempted to forsake my Savior.

Blessings,
Joni and Friends

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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Thu 09 Apr 2009, 10:07 pm

Don't Watch the Wall

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward
Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink,
cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and
caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
--Matthew 14:29-31
My friend Dan, a race car driver, was recently talking about a terrible
accident in which a NASCAR legend was killed. The driver's car had been in
first place. Slightly bumped, it appeared he overcorrected and then, in the
next instant, crashed into the wall. I asked my friend Dan if that kind of
thing happens often on the racing circuit. "Oh yes," he said. "Guys in
their cars get into a spin, get bumped, and they see that wall coming! I'll
tell you, there's one thing they're trained to do. They must not look at
that wall. Their training tells them to keep their eyes on the track, and
steer out of the spin. If they look at the wall, they'll freeze. Your body
just reacts-you can't help it. The answer is to concentrate every nerve on
steering toward that open space."

That answer really spoke to me. Because lately I've been experiencing an
unusual amount of aches and pains, and it's had me thinking about... the
wall. It's not going to get easier, Joni. Old age is coming faster than
you realize, and boy, you'd better brace for an impact. As a result of my
fears, I've "frozen up" at times, worrying about the future and its problems
rather than the present and its opportunities.

*********

Paul writes, "Set your heart on things above," and the gospels say, "Lift up
your head, for your salvation draws nigh." It's advice worth following...
or you just might hit the wall.

Lord Jesus, sometimes my life situation makes me afraid. I feel panic
rising, my mind locks up, and my fears loom like a large wall. As best I
can today, Lord, I will fix my eyes on you, and not on my problems and fears


Blessings,
Joni and Friends

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A Willing Captive

Post  Admin on Tue 07 Apr 2009, 10:43 pm

A Willing Captive

Jesus commanded Peter, 'Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the
Father has given me?'
--John 18:11
I once read a heartwarming devotional in Tabletalk magazine about today's
verse. In John 18, Jesus declared that he would no longer pray that the cup
of God's wrath might pass from him. Here we see our Good Shepherd embrace
the cross. First, he goes to the Kidron Valley - a place well known to
Judas. Jesus would not be captured like a hunted animal but, knowing Judas
would intercept him there, he gave himself up in the garden without
restraint. Also, Jesus openly declared his identity to the soldiers - some
may have assumed Jesus would hide behind his disciples and have to be
forcefully exposed, but not our Savior! When Jesus stepped forward to
accept Judas' kiss of betrayal, he powerfully and majestically declared, "I
am." With these words, the soldiers fell back in awe and intimidation.

Jesus knew he would have to stand alone in the hour of his death, and he
faced it with royal resolve. Even when Peter impetuously drew his sword,
Jesus admonished him, saying, "No one can stop me from the task before me."
Maybe the soldiers thought they would have to drag away a reluctant captive
under the cloak of darkness, but instead they faced the King of Kings who
willingly took control of the situation.[1]

* * * * * * * *

Jesus went to the cross with a complete devotion to obey his Father, as well
as a heart full of love for his people. Do you have a difficult duty to
which God has called you? Is the Lord asking you to 'die' to a certain
habit, wish, or circumstance? Are you following the Lord's lead
reluctantly? Ask God to give you the attitude of Christ.

Lord Jesus, thank you that you laid down your life willingly for me. Thank
you that you did not balk once you accepted the will of the Father. Help me
to do the same today in every difficult situation.



[1] This idea came from a daily devotional entitled "A Willing Captive,"
Tabletalk: Ligonier Ministries, Orlando, FL, October 1997, pg 20.

Blessings,
Joni and Friends

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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Sun 29 Mar 2009, 6:35 pm

God Suffered First

A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is
enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his
master...
--Matthew 10:24-25
It was a 20-hour flight that took us from Thailand to Ethiopia. It may have
been the longest, most painful flight on which I'd ever been. Unable to get
up and walk down the aisle, I could only shift my position once in awhile in
the airplane seat. It didn't help. My corset was digging me and it felt as
though knives were stabbing my back. Ken tried to help and so did my other
two traveling companions. But they could only do so much. Besides, they
needed their sleep, too.

Knowing there was nothing else to do, I decided not to fight the pain. I
breathed slowly and deeply and tried to surrender every tense muscle in my
neck and shoulders. Others may not be able to help, but you're here, Jesus.
You're not asleep. Thank you for staying up with me. Jesus completely
understood; he, too, once suffered. When I relaxed into that powerful and
beautiful truth, an indescribable blanket of peace settled over me. I knew
I had entered another level deeper into the "fellowship of sharing in his
sufferings" (Philippians 3:10). I could endure. I would be able to make it
All because Jesus made his presence on that plane as near as Seat 3B next
to me. The next thing I knew, the sun was up and we had arrived.

* * * * * * * *

Jesus did not exempt himself from affliction but lived through it and
learned from it. He thus became the source of help for all those who obey
him. Should we suffer? A servant is never above his master. What a
privilege it is to be like our teacher... Even in affliction.

Man of Sorrows, I find complete comfort in you despite my own grief, loss
and pain. I will not resist hardship today, for I am not above you, my
Master.

Blessings,
Joni and Friends

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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Sat 28 Mar 2009, 7:24 pm

The Greatest Spectacle

Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in
Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two
others - one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
--John 19:18
When Ken and I visited Jerusalem, we visited the garden tomb. We entered a
gate through high walls and walked into a quiet, green oasis - a contrast to
the dusty, noisy street outside. We meandered along a flowered path and
came upon an empty tomb carved into the side of a hill. There is no solid
evidence that this was the actual tomb in which they placed Christ, but
there is a curious coincidence.

The coincidence is located beyond the far wall on the other side of the
garden. It is a limestone hill with a couple of natural caves near the top
- amazingly, the side of the cliff looks just like a human skull. Golgotha,
known as "hill of the skull." At the base of the cliff is a sprawling,
noisy parking lot for public buses and beyond that, the Damascus Gate, the
eastern entrance into the old city of Jerusalem. Our guide said, "See those
people waiting for buses? This is a good picture of the way it was the day
Jesus died. There were no buses then, but Jesus was crucified in a public
place where people could see him. They made a spectacle of his death."

As I left the garden, I remembered I Corinthians 4:9, "... For we are made a
spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men." Now it's our turn.

* * * * * * *

Spectacle in the Greek means, "a place of public show." Where is your
Golgotha? Can people see that you have been crucified with Christ? You may
be a fool for Christ. Don't worry; you're in godly company.

Lord Jesus, I want the world to see how I identify with you. I want them to
see that I am crucifying my worldly desires and wants. I consider it an
honor to be made 'a spectacle.'

Blessings,
Joni and Friends

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God and the Gravy Boat

Post  Admin on Fri 27 Mar 2009, 11:38 am

God and the Gravy Boat

'Do you understand what you are reading?' Philip asked. 'How can I,' he
said, 'unless someone explains to me?'
--Acts 8:30-31
When it comes to Bible stories, hymns, and things in the spiritual realm,
children can be pretty literal. For the most part, it's benign and
endearing-and can tend to excite the imagination, creating wonder and
mystery. But there was nothing wonderful about the first time I sang a
well-known Easter refrain. It was Easter Sunday, somewhere around the
mid-1950s. I stood in the pew alongside my three older sisters, all of us
in our best and frilliest garb. With hymnals in hand, Kathy, Jay, and Linda
began to sing....Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior.... I'd never
heard the song, and it seemed kind of slow and sad. But then they hit the
refrain with great gusto: Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph
o'er his foes.

What was that? "Up from the gravy he arose?" I couldn't imagine such a
thing. Why would Jesus be in the gravy? I pictured the Lord buried in
brown creamy sauce, the kind Aunt Lee served with her roast beef. It wasn't
until later that I learned to read the refrain, and with reading, came
understanding. Funny, the things we think as a child. One friend told me
she thought Pontius Pilate was a "conscious pilot." Another used to imagine
that "round yon virgin" meant that virgin was young and overweight.

It's cute, yes. But just another reminder that boys and girls -and new
believers, too- need guidance. That's why it's always helpful to take the
time to open the Word and go step-by-step and word-by-word with someone who
s young in the faith. It's one sure way to keep God out of the gravy boat.

********
Invite a child or a young believer to come and sit. Ask, "May I explain
this to you?"

Father, I bless you for those who have come alongside me at different times
in my life to help me understand more about you. Help me now to be that
individual for one of your younger children.

Blessings,
Joni and Friends

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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Sun 15 Mar 2009, 12:31 pm

Godly Questions

Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his
unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has
God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?
--Psalm 77:7-9
One night when things got as dark as dark could be, when all hope seemed
lost, I stared at the hospital ceiling from my bed and prayed, "God, if I
can't die, please show me how to live." The prayer was short and to the
point, but it left the door open for the Lord to respond. Little did I
realize he would. For, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves
those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18). Slowly, like a hibernating
animal waking up, I felt something stir in my heart. It was a magnetic pull
toward hope.

I began to sense an interest in the Bible. When I lay facedown on the
Stryker frame, I flipped the pages of a Bible with my mouth stick. I didn't
know where to turn, but the Psalms intrigued me. When I read Psalm 77, I
identified with those seven rapid-fire questions. The psalmist's despair
turned godly when it turned God-ward. The irony of questioning God is that
it honors him. Honest questions turn our hearts away from despair toward
the Lord.


* * * * * * * *

If you, or someone you know, are struggling against hopelessness today, if
everything seems dark, follow the psalmist's example in today's verse.
Gut-wrenching questions directed at the Lord are a way of encountering God,
opening ourselves up to the One and only Someone who can actually do
something about our plight. If today you are frustrated, use Psalm 77 as a
path toward a passionate desire to comprehend the Lord. Something awesome
has to happen when you choose the direct line to God.

Father, I do not understand why you do things the way you do, but I promise
to bring my questions to you. Convict me if I start talking about you
behind your back'!

Blessings,
Joni and Friends

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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Sun 15 Mar 2009, 11:39 am

He Works in Mysterious Ways

His father and mother replied, 'Isn't there an acceptable woman among your
relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised
Philistines to get a wife?' But Samson said to his father, 'Get her for me.
She's the right one for me.' (His parents did not know that this was from
the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at
that time they were ruling over Israel.)
--Judges 14:3-4
Yesterday we only began to scratch the surface of understanding the way God
works out his purposes in an evil world filled with wicked people. Oh, how
mysterious are his ways! Like the way he worked through Samson, the young,
passionate Israelite who although famous for his strength, was a pushover
when it came to pretty girls like Delilah.

In today's verse, we learn that Samson rejected his parents' pleas that he
not marry an idol-worshipping Philistine. Samson and his mom and dad
assumed it was merely a matter of matrimony. But in Judges 14:3-4 we learn
that God had a higher plan and purpose - a purpose which would ultimately
result in a glorious victory over the Philistines. Samson and his parents
never dreamed their little father-and-son talk about the birds-and-the-bees
played a role in foreign affairs! But God did. And God allowed Samson to
have his own way, to "follow his heart" and tie the knot with a girl from a
heathen nation.

* * * * * * * *

God oversees people's wicked actions. No sin happens that the Lord does not
deliberately permit. Don't misunderstand - he is not the source of people's
evil deeds, for he despises sin. Yet he steers the sin already in their
hearts so that sinners unwittingly fulfill his plans and not merely their
own. Ponder this awesome aspect of God's sovereignty today.

Lord God, I can't pretend to understand the way you work in our world and
through the hearts of both believers and pagans. But I do understand that
you are good and gracious and that your plans are always perfect!

Blessings,
Joni and Friends

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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Fri 13 Mar 2009, 5:08 pm

Hard Hearts

But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people
go.
--Exodus 8:32

But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let the Israelites
go.
--Exodus 10:20
So which is it? Who did the hardening of Pharaoh's heart? As God's
ambassador to the Egyptian king, Moses went before Pharaoh's royal throne
more than once to say, "Let my people go!" Yet Pharaoh was immovable; his
heart had been hardened against the Israelites. But when it comes to
Pharaoh's stony resolve and exactly who did the hardening, scripture points
to both Pharaoh and the Lord.

We know from James 1:13 that God does not inject the idea of evil into
anyone's heart. So how is it that "the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart?"
Through the common work of grace in our world, God is constantly staving off
evil, restraining the fury of Satan so that harm and calamity do not
overwhelm us. The devil can only do what God allows. Every once in awhile,
however - as in the case of Pharaoh - God lifts his hand of restraining
grace to allow evil men to carry out their wicked plans, only as it serves
God's higher purposes. God was inasmuch saying to Pharaoh, "So you want to
sin? Well, go ahead, but I'll make sure that when you do, your evil
intentions suit my higher purposes and plan." Even though humans have an
intellect and a will of their own, God ultimately governs all they do -
including evil intentions. And he does it all without impugning his
righteous and holy character.

* * * * * * * *

Has someone caused you harm? Hurt or maligned you? You can praise God
today that he is in control of even that painful situation. No sin ever
happens that God does not deliberately allow. We may not understand his
reasons, but we can rest in his goodness. Thank God today for his awesome
sovereignty in your life.

Holy and righteous Father, I bow before your infinite wisdom. Thank you for
running the universe - overseeing my life - the way you do.

Blessings,
Joni and Friends

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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Thu 12 Mar 2009, 12:20 pm

A 17th Century Prayer

Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?' For it is not wise
to ask such questions. Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and
benefits those who see the sun. Wisdom is a shelter..."
--Ecclesiastes 7:10-12
My mother used to say, "Getting old ain't for sissies." She was right. I
always thought it would be a cinch to "grow old gracefully;" then I crested
50 and found out differently! That's why the following prayer written by an
anonymous saint from the 17th Century means so much to me...

Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and
will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say
something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving
to straighten out everybody's affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody.
Helpful, but not bossy with my vast store of wisdom - it seems a pity not to
use it all, but Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end...

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get
to the point swiftly. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are
increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go
by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tails of others' pains,
but help me to endure them with patience. I dare not ask for improved
memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my
memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious
lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a sour old person - some of
them are so hard to live with and each one a crowning work of the devil.
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in
unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.

* * * * * * * *

I sure do see myself in this prayer; do you? If so, "pray" it again in your
own words.

Blessings,
Joni and Friends

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Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Wed 11 Mar 2009, 11:45 am

A Hard Path To Joy

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for
the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down
at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such
opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
--Hebrews 12:2-3
The path to joy is full of pitfalls, valleys and steep climbs. That's the
way it was for Jesus. But through all the hardships, he kept focused on
the joy set before him." Jesus was able to endure his cross because he kept
in mind the joy of reunion with his Father, the joy of triumph over sin, the
joy of all his divine rights finally restored to him, and perhaps most
wonderful of all, the joy of being eternally surrounded by the very people
for whom he bled and died. This is why Jesus Christ was able to endure the
cross and scorn its shame. All for joy!

It's very much the same for you and me. Our path to joy is full of pitfalls
too. But Christ has gone before us, imparting to us his enabling power to
suffer with him. Jesus assures us in Matthew 5:11, "Blessed [or happy and
joyful] are you when others revile you and persecute you... Rejoice and be
glad, for your reward is great in heaven." And exactly what is our reward
at the end of all our hardships? Our reward will be to enjoy God with the
same joy that Jesus has in his Father. Oh happy day!

* * * * * * * *

Christians have no reason to be miserable or pessimistic. There is no room
for gloom and doom when you're a believer. If your heart is troubled by
pessimism or doubts, repeat several times today's verse, especially the part
"Consider him who endured... so that you will not grow weary and lose heart
" This is the secret to finding joy. Consider him.

Lord of Joy, I delight in your gladness today and I want to honor you by
taking up my cross and joyfully following you.

Blessings,
Joni and Friends

Taken from Pearls of Great Price. Copyright ©️ 2006 by Joni Eareckson Tada.
Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan
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