Sunday, July 31, 2011

Living On The Defensive Against the Evil One

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 
1 Peter 5:8 

I spoke with a young man awhile back who told me how God’s been dealing with him and how God’s speaking to his heart. He told me how he feels so impressed to come forward, to settle some issues in his life, and to follow Jesus Christ. 

But he said there’s something that’s just resisting. “I don’t know what it is!” he told me. So I told him that Satan, as long as we’re playing the game his way, will leave us alone. But the moment we resist—the moment we’re spiritually victorious—he comes against us. The old statement is true, “When God opens the windows of heaven to bless us, the devil opens the doors of hell to blast us.” 

The truth is that Satan is much smarter than most people want to accept. He knows that one of your most vulnerable moments for attack is in times of spiritual victory when it’s easy to think that nothing can come against you. 

So whether you’re going through good times or bad, remember that you have a very real enemy who wants to take you down and will pounce on you the first chance he gets. So live on the defensive against Satan by being sober-minded and looking for evidence of his attacks in your life. 


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Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Way to Know

'My Utmost for His Highest' from Oswald Chambers 

The Way to Know 

"If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine …" — 
John 7:17 

The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience. If things are dark to me, then I may be sure there is something I will not do. Intellectual darkness comes through ignorance; spiritual darkness comes because of something I do not intend to obey. 

No man ever receives a word from God without instantly being put to the test over it. We disobey and then wonder why we don't go on spiritually. 'If when you come to the altar,' said Jesus, 'there you remember your brother hath ought against you don't say another word to Me, but first go and put that thing right.' The teaching of Jesus hits us where we live. We cannot stand as humbugs before Him for one second. He educates us down to the scruple. The Spirit of God unearths the spirit of self-vindication; He makes us sensitive to things we never thought of before. 

When Jesus brings a thing home by His word, don't shirk it. If you do, you will become a religious humbug. Watch the things you shrug your shoulders over, and you will know why you do not go on spiritually. First go - at the risk of being thought fanatical you must obey what God tells you. 

Copyright Statement
Taken from 'My Utmost for His Highest', by Oswald Chambers. © l935 by Dodd Mead & Co., renewed © 1963 by the Oswald Chambers Publications Assn., Ltd., and is used by permission of Barbour Publishing, Uhrichsville, Ohio. All rights reserved. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Can You Trust Your Conscience?

Today’s Text comes from: 

1Timothy 1:5-7 

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions. They want to be known as teachers of the law of Moses, but they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they speak so confidently. 


Today’s Notes from the Scriptures 

Let your conscience be your guide. This bit of folk wisdom seems to make sense since our conscience is designed to help us discern right from wrong. However, people cannot always trust their internal radar to steer them correctly; this is the case particularly with unbelievers, who don’t have the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and offer guidance for wise decisions. And while Christians do have God’s indwelling Spirit, they should be careful not to harbor sin in their lives, as that can interfere with the way their morality sensor functions. 

A trustworthy conscience is programmed with scriptural teaching. Believers build a stable and sensitive spiritual radar system by applying God’s truth to their lives. They are committed to thinking and acting in ways that honor and please the Lord. Then, when sinful thoughts or choices come across that radar, it will deliver a sharp warning. 

A person with a reliable conscience will have a strong desire to obey God. He won’t settle for what feels right or looks good, but instead prayerfully seeks the Lord’s will. In other words, he does not rely solely on his conscience but incorporates all of the Holy Spirit’s tools into his daily life: Scripture, prayer, etc. Moreover, when his spiritual radar sounds the alarm, he is quick to draw back and reject unwise choices. 

A conscience isn't designed to be our guide; it is a tool of the Guide. The Holy Spirit not only convicts us of sin, but He also brings to mind godly principles and leads us on a righteous path. He uses a variety of tools to conform us to the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8:29).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Role of Our Conscience

Today’s Text comes from: 

1Timothy 1:18-20 

Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples. I threw them out and handed them over to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme God. 

Today’s Notes from the Scriptures 

God gave every person a conscience, which is like a radar system meant to send warnings when a behavior or decision might be harmful. This makes it possible for people to distinguish between what is morally right and morally wrong, especially as it applies to their own lives. We ignore the conscience at our own peril. 

In a believer, the conscience is a tool of the Holy Spirit. He programs it with principles from God’s Word and sharpens it to respond quickly. Even so, our radar’s sole purpose is to send a signal; what happens next is up to us. Either we ignore the warning, or we stop to hear what the Spirit has to say about the situation. The Holy Spirit reveals God’s will or reminds us of His principles so we can make a wise decision about the warning bell ringing in our conscience. 

Paul’s letter to Timothy mentions people who had rejected God’s leadership and guidance in their lives—they’d paid no attention to the alarm of their conscience (1 Tim. 1:19). The result was shipwrecked faith. When something appears on radar that speaks of disobedience to God, we have to reject that action. Otherwise, the detection device becomes impaired and won’t work right. If we keep ignoring the alarms,
it will eventually go completely silent. 

We all know people who've “run aground” in life. A shipwrecked faith is inevitable when believers ignore their conscience and rationalize or defend disobedience. It’s far better to turn yourself over to the great captain of your soul, Jesus Christ. His Holy Spirit will guide you correctly. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Meaning of the Cross

Today’s Text Comes from: 

Matthew 16:21-27 

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem, and that He would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day He would be raised from the dead. But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand Him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. 


Today’s Notes from the Scriptures 

The theme of God’s redemptive plan runs through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. At its heart is Calvary, the place where Jesus died so we could be forgiven. As we read the Scriptures, we see that the cross symbolizes . . . 

Salvation… Jesus bore our sins upon the cross and died in our place so we could be reconciled to God and receive eternal life. 

Sacrifice… Christ, who was “in very nature God” (Phil. 2:6), chose to leave the perfection of heaven and live among sinful people. Laying aside His divine authority, He was born a helpless baby, completely dependent upon others. His first 30 years were spent in obscurity, without recognition of His Messiah-ship. During His public ministry, He faithfully carried out God’s plan all the way to His death on the cross. Jesus’ days on earth are an example to us of the sacrificial life (Rom. 12:1-2). 

Service… Jesus said He “did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Christ’s supreme act of service was dying on the cross so we might have eternal life. Our Savior calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him through sacrificial service to others (Luke 9:23). As we embrace a lifestyle of humility and servant hood, we will bring glory to our heavenly Father. 

In our culture, success is based on achievement. We admire those who perform well in athletics, business, and the arts. However, greatness in God’s kingdom is found in a life of obedience. Are you following His plan and helping others as Jesus did? Have you shared with them the Good News of Christ?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Remarkable Fruit

In His Presence: Matthew 11:29

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.


“[God] made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”(2 Corinthians 3:6).

The Holy Spirit within us makes life real; life comes alive. When we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer, life is no longer theology. It’s all right to have theology in our heads, just as long as it becomes real in our lives when we grow closer to God through the Holy Spirit.

When the Holy Spirit takes over, we begin to grow. The Holy Spirit becomes our power source behind this growth so that eventually it will become evident. “The deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” 
(Galatians 5:19-23).

The Holy Spirit is the divine enabler who produces growth in us. Every time we try to grow independently of God, we are working against Him. Many of us spend much of our time shutting God out. We are trying to produce those fruits on our own. However, God does not need our help to grow us.

One Minute Please
When the Holy Spirit takes over our spiritual growth, He will produce remarkable fruit in us. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Centrality of the Cross

Today’s Text Comes from: 

John 19:17-22 

Carrying the cross by Himself, He went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). There they nailed Him to the cross. Two others were crucified with Him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. And Pilate posted a sign over Him that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it. Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.” 

Today’s Notes from the Scriptures 

In Jesus’ day, the cross was used by the Roman government to execute criminals. God transformed it into a symbol that unites Christians everywhere. It stands at the heart of what we believe and serves as a central focus of the gospel message. 

When we consider the cross, we will think about . . . 

Jesus and His perfect life… Our Savior left heaven to dwell on earth and become one of us. While here, He obediently accomplished the work His Father had given Him (John 5:19). Because of His perfect life, He alone was qualified to be our substitute and bear God’s judgment for our sins. 

Crucifixion… Christ went willingly to the cross in order to reconcile us to God. He suffered a painful death on our behalf, and through His sacrifice, our sin debt has been paid. God’s justice was completely satisfied at Calvary. No further action is required. 

Resurrection and ascension… Three days after Jesus was buried, God raised Him from the dead. The Savior’s sacrifice on the cross was accepted as payment for our sins, and the way to heaven was opened for all who trust in Jesus. Our resurrected Lord, having appeared on earth to many people, ascended to live forever with His Father. Jesus conquered death and made it possible for us to dwell in heaven with Him someday. 

Every Sunday invite people to a place of worship. Because of the cross and what happened there, such an invitation has great value to the hearer. In fact, the events of Calvary continue to be relevant to Christians of all ages. 

Take time today to thank the Lord for the cross. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The High Cost of Wavering Faith

Today’s Text Comes from: 

Deuteronomy 1:19-40 

“But you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God and refused to go in. You complained in your tents and said, ‘The Lord must hate us. “When the Lord heard your complaining, he became very angry. So he solemnly swore, ‘Not one of you from this wicked generation will live to see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see this land because he has followed the Lord completely. I will give to him and his descendants some of the very land he explored during his scouting mission.’ Verve's 26-27a, 34-36 


Today’s Notes from the Whole Text… 

God has given believers personalities, abilities, and spiritual gifts which will equip them to accomplish His specific plans for their lives. But each one must choose to step out in faith and obedience. At times the Lord challenges us to do something that seems beyond our ability, but if we back off, we’ll miss His awesome blessings. 

Let’s learn from the Israelites who made several choices that led to unbelief, resulting in a lifetime of aimless wandering. They . . . 

• Listened to the wrong voices. To walk obediently with the Lord, we need to guard ourselves from being swayed by those who don’t understand the greatness of our God. Not only that, but we must also learn to recognize the lies of Satan. He wants us to become ineffective, accomplishing little for the kingdom of God. 

• Relied on human perspective. At times trusting God conflicts with human reasoning. But those who choose to trust Him—even when the external evidence points to impossibility—will find that He is bigger than any obstacle. 

• Let feelings overcome faith. Perhaps the biggest hindrances to obedience are fear and inadequacy. An internal focus is a trust killer. The way to overcome our feelings is to rely on the Lord and His promises. He will equip us for whatever He calls us to do. 

Every challenging call to obedience is a fork in the road of our lives. To go the way of unbelief will lead to a lifetime of regret and aimless wandering, but to courageously trust God and do what He says will result in the greatest blessing of your life. The choice is yours. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

When Faith Wavers

Today’s Text Comes from: 

James 1:5-8

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.


Today’s Notes from the Scriptures

If we believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He has promised, why do so many of us habitually waver in our prayers? Instead of exercising bold faith, we come to the Lord “hoping” He will hear us and answer our requests, but we’re just not sure He will. With this kind of thinking, we cannot expect to receive anything from Him.

One reason we are so prone to doubt is that we fail to see God at work in our circumstances. We asked, and nothing happened. But the Lord is not some cosmic bellhop who jumps in response to our requests. He sees past, present, and future and knows the right time for every answer. His invisible hand is already at work on our behalf—arranging situations to accomplish His will, opening hearts, and preparing us to receive what He wants to give.

Another cause for uncertainty is ignorance. If we don’t know God’s ways, we will be disappointed in His response. All too often our prayers are accompanied by expectations of how He will work. When He fails to intervene according to our timetable or anticipated method, we start to doubt. But placing our faith in the Lord and trusting in His good and perfect ways gives us stability as we wait for His answer.

To overcome doubts, spend time in the Word to learn God’s principles and ways. Then you’ll begin to grasp what He wants to achieve in your life and how He goes about it. Examine your past from a biblical perspective—faith will grow as you see the unexpected ways He answered your prayers.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Power of Patience

Today’s Text Comes from: 


Hebrews 6:9-15 

Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. When God made His promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for Him to swear by, He swore by Himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. 


Today’s Notes from the Scriptures 

Picture yourself waiting in a checkout line that hasn't moved for ten minutes. Many of us would feel frustrated. We live in a generation that expects instant results. 

Everyone struggles with some degree of impatience. We’re born with this trait—think about a three-month-old who wants milk in the middle of the night. The inborn reaction is to fuss at the first hint of discomfort and to keep at it until the need is met. Patterns from our old “flesh” nature make this a continual battle for most people, but one that is very worthwhile to fight. 

Let’s consider the biblical definition of patience. It can mean both long suffering and perseverance, or not giving up and yielding under pressure. In either case, it reveals itself when we are willing to wait without frustration while suffering or experiencing some strong desire. 

In other words, we accept difficult situations without giving God deadlines. What’s more, patience means accepting what the Lord gives, on His timetable—or what He chooses not to give. This quality results in inner peace and lack of stress. Meanwhile, we should pray, obey, and persist as we seek God’s direction. 

The danger of impatience is that we might miss the Lord’s perfect plan and His blessing. Only when we trust our Father’s will and timing can we rest peacefully. 

What causes you stress? Carefully examine whether you are taking matters into your own hands or releasing the circumstance to almighty God. Listen to Psalm 37:7, which say’s, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Seek His way and His timing. Anything else can be destructive.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What to do when you feel like Judas


Today’s Text is from the book of John 

By the time they shared their last supper alone together, Jesus and His disciples had been living day in and day out together for three years. They knew each other very well… or so they thought. One of them was about to betray Jesus and the moment must have been intensely awkward: 

“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.”… Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” So Jesus told him [Judas], “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him… As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. —John 13:19, 21, 27-28, 30

 Our flesh and mind are still vulnerable to temptation. This can lead to “betrayals” of many kinds. Sometimes, you might even feel like Judas… a haunting awkwardness followed by the feeling that you have left Jesus and gone out into the night by yourself. Yeah, you might feel that way, but the cool thing is that Jesus hasn't left you at all!

If you have given your life to Christ and asked Him to come into your heart, He has done just that! His Spirit now lives in your spirit. You can rest in His promise that He will never forsake you and never reject you (Hebrews 13:5). Like Judas you are the one who turns a ways from Christ, so turn around. 

PRAYER: Jesus, I praise You for Your unconditional love that is infinitely greater than my betrayals. Though I feel distant from You when I sin, I thank You for Your promise that You will be with me always (Matthew 28:20). Use my sin as a graphic reminder of Your forgiveness, mercy, and grace so that I will rest and depend on You to live through me. Amen!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

That Nagging Sense of Dissatisfaction

Today’s Text Comes from: 

Isaiah 55:1-2

“Is anyone thirsty?
Come and drink— even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk— it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food.

Today’s Notes from the Scriptures

Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the refrigerator, trying to find something to satisfy a vague sense of emptiness or discontent? You aren’t looking for anything specific, but you know you want to fill a longing. Whatever you choose will probably not do the trick, because the empty spot is not in your stomach but in your soul.

Whether the substance is food, career, possessions, or relationships, our souls are continually trying to find satisfaction. But nothing in this world will fill the void. Since we were created for relationship with God, He placed deep within us a yearning for God. 

Though we may not recognize it as such, everyone knows the feeling of dissatisfaction that at time seeps into our souls. Whenever we attempt to find fulfillment with worldly substitutes, disappointment and disillusionment are sure to follow.

There are two possible menus from which we can choose to fill our empty souls. Satan’s menu is long and full of enticing things that seem to promise fulfillment and pleasure. These could include relationships, prominence, acceptance, riches, or recognition. 

Whatever he offers looks like the good life that will bring contentment, but it’s a deception. But God’s menu is quite small. In fact, it lists just one “item”—Jesus. He is the only one who can fill the void.

What are you pursuing in life? Have you found the satisfaction you seek, or are there always a vague sense of discontent in your soul? If you’ll give Jesus a bigger place in your life and spend focused, unhurried time with Him, He’ll satisfy you as nothing else can. Give Jesus a try today and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Thirst for God

Today’s Text Comes from:

Psalm 63:1-8

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.

Today’s Notes from the Scriptures

A personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ has the potential to be more intimately satisfying than any earthly connection.

King David recorded his experience in Psalm 63. Our heavenly Father wants to have a loving bond with us just as He did with David. Making a firm commitment to know Him is the first step, which takes priority above all other matters.

David described his passion to know God as an intense thirst (v. 1); the apostle Paul likened his dedication in pursuing the Lord to a race (Heb. 12:1-2). When we pledge ourselves to the lordship of Christ and seek after Him with our hearts and minds, we will find our souls becoming satisfied.

Once we resolve to follow diligently after the Lord, our next step is to spend time in His Word. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself and His plan for the world.

Making time to read and meditate on Scripture is essential for every believer. That’s how we learn who God is, how He works, and what He desires for us and for the body of Christ.

When we strive to know and understand a biblical passage, the Holy Spirit will make the meaning spring to life. God is pleased by followers who make it their goal to deepen their relationship with Him.

Dedicating time to knowing and experiencing God is a critical step toward a satisfying walk with Him.

Begin today by making a pledge to pursue Him more diligently and taking time in your schedule for regular study and prayer.
Your heavenly Father is waiting to meet with you.

Communion with God

Today’s Text Comes from: 

Philippians 3:7-10 

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death… 

Today’s Notes from the Scriptures 

God created men and women to be in a relationship with Him. The type of communion Adam and Eve first enjoyed with Him was meant for us as well. Then sin entered the world and everything changed. God’s intended intimate relationship with mankind was broken, and it has been passed down through the generations in that damaged condition. 

But, as we know, that’s not the end of the story. God sent His Son Jesus to die in our place so our sins might be forgiven and our relationship with Him restored. Through faith in Christ, we are adopted into God’s family and belong to Him forever—just as He originally meant for it to be. He has provided us with everything we need to experience intimacy with Him. 

So what happens if, following salvation, new believers never go deeper? Some may drift away from their initial zeal for the Lord, failing to make Bible reading or church attendance a regular occurrence. Perhaps others try to focus on the Lord but allow earthly matters to distract them. Over time, some Christians settle for what’s comfortable and familiar. Sadly, they will miss out on the deep contentment God wanted to provide. Yet those who make Jesus the priority of their life will have a deepening relationship that transcends any earthly one. 

Communion with God made King David “fully satisfied as with the richest of foods” (Ps. 63:5 ). Paul viewed his accomplishments as nothing in comparison with “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:8). Draw near to your Father, and experience the blessings of knowing Him. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Answers in Times of Great Disaster

Today’s Text Comes from: 

Deuteronomy 29:29 

“The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that He has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions. 

Today’s Notes from the Scriptures 

Almighty God reserves the right to reveal some things and conceal others. Although we may not know why natural disasters occur, the biblical truths we do know with absolute certainty allow us to trust the Lord even in times of great suffering. These include: 

1. God is in control (PS. 103:19). Nothing in heaven or on earth is outside of His rule and authority. He does not react to events but sovereignly ordains or permits them to run their course. Although we cannot know for certain if He has sent a catastrophe or allowed it, we can trust in His goodness and wisdom. 

2. The Lord loves people and wants them to be saved (John 3:16-17). Giving His Son for the salvation of the world proves without a doubt that He loves each person. This truth stands firm despite the fact that many reject the Savior. He cares for us, even when we can’t feel it or won’t accept it. 

3. God ordains or permits events for His good purpose (Isa. 46:10). Though we cannot fully comprehend what He is doing in each incident, every disaster is a wake-up call for humanity. He is alerting us of the need to repent—so the lost can be saved and the saved can be revived to live totally for Him. Catastrophes open our ears to hear from the Lord. 

The One who loves us perfectly is in full control, working everything out according to His good purpose. Knowing this should fill us with hope, even in the midst of crisis situations. The Lord even promises to turn disaster to good for those who “are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Questions in Times of Great Disaster

Today’s Text comes from: 

Isaiah 55:8-9

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Today’s Notes from the Scriptures

Whenever a great disaster strikes, legitimate questions spring to mind.Why does the Lord let such things happen? Couldn’t He have stopped this? Doesn’t He care? The magnitude of death and destruction caused by earthquakes, tsunamis, or floods strips away all the everyday thoughts that normally occupy our minds and causes us to seek explanations for suffering.

Often we answer our own questions based on our relationship with God. Those who know nothing of Him have no frame of reference for understanding how He works. However, believers in Christ have the Bible to guide them as they wrestle through these issues. But even then, the accuracy of one’s perspective is determined by his or her knowledge of God’s Word. Those with a limited understanding of Scripture may very well come to inaccurate conclusions.

We must guard against attempts at forcing God to act as we think He hould. If He does something that won’t fit into the box we’ve designed for sHim, we easily become upset, angry, or confused. The Lord will never stay within the parameters we set for Him. Since we are mortal, earth-bound, and sinful, we have a very narrow perspective and understanding of life. But our eternal, sinless, sovereign, and omniscient Creator sees and knows what we cannot perceive.

We want to be sure that our viewpoint of God’s role in natural disasters comes from the Bible, not from our own limited “boxed perspective.” Scripture tells us of the Lord’s love, faithfulness, and wisdom. Whenever we cannot understand His ways, faith in His goodness must be our foundation.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How to Cry Out to God

Today’s Text Comes from: 

Matthew 14:29-30

Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

Today’s Notes from the Scriptures

The phone rings, and you answer. A sullen voice informs you of a tragedy. Your heart is so heavy that you feel as though you could die. What do you do?

Bad news, danger, and pain all cause us to look for help. As believers, we dwell with the almighty God, who is able to aid us. At those moments when we are sideswiped by life’s circumstances, we should cry out to Him.

In the Bible, crying out refers to speaking audibly with great emotion concerning an urgent need. God invites us to use this form of prayer to communicate that we desperately need His mercy.

It takes both faith and humility to share our heart’s concern aloud. Crying out, then, is a way for God’s children to express trust in the Lord’s ability and willingness to help. By calling upon Him with such urgency, we also lay down our pride and any attitude of self-sufficiency.

The Word of God assures us that our Father hears our cries and responds. In Psalm 3:4, for example, David wrote, “I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered from His holy mountain.” When we call aloud for help in Jesus’ name, we invite His power into the situation. Remember that there is strength in just speaking His name.

When we cry out to God, He may remove the problem immediately, yet we often have to wait for His perfect timing. Harsh circumstances might even be allowed to remain for His good purposes. But we can always count on His comfort and presence, which enable us to live with joy and hope.

Friday, July 15, 2011

When We Cry Out to God

Today’s Text Comes from: 

Psalm 57:1-3 

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me. He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me. My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness. 

Today’s Notes from the Scriptures 

When you face a crisis, what is your first line of defense? The natural response is to attempt to fix the problem in your own strength. God, however, gives us a different way to handle difficulty. 

David was no stranger to pressure or sudden appearances of evil. When he wrote Psalm 57, he was facing many hardships—including pursuit by King Saul, who wanted to kill him (1 Sam 24). The shepherd’s response was to cry out to God and take refuge in Him until the calamity had passed. 

Let’s learn from David’s example by exploring his words. Today, we will focus on the One to whom the psalmist cries. 

First, David refers to God as El Elyon, or Supreme Ruler; He is the Most High with all power and wisdom, the only One who can help us in our need. 

Second, the Psalm says that God is our refuge. If He is a place of shelter for our soul, then we need not fear. He hovers over us and protects us when crises arise and leave us feeling helpless. 

Third, the Psalm expresses complete confidence that the Almighty can and will accomplish all things. He will do whatever is necessary to intervene on our behalf, to hold accountable those who oppose us, and to surround us with His love and truth. 

During His time on earth, Jesus displayed great passion. Therefore, we can approach Him when emotions run high. If your heart is troubled, cry out to the Lord. Know that you come before the throne of Him who is a powerful protector, capable and willing to do all you need. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Facing the Unknown

Today’s Text Comes from:

Hebrews 11:23-29 

It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command. It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. Verses 23-25  

Today Notes from the Scriptures 

Tucked into Hebrews 11 is a short phrase that indicates Moses’ approach to life: “for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible” (v. 27). There was no shortage of uncertainty in Moses’ life. How could someone “slow of speech” address Pharaoh (Ex. 4:10)? How could a murderer become God’s chosen man? How would anyone lead these stiff-necked Israelite's? And how would they cross the Red Sea, conquer Canaan, or survive 40 years in the desert? 

Moses knew what the Lord expected of him, but he didn't have supernatural vision into the future. So he couldn't see the outcome of his obedient actions. The Israelite leader moved forward by faith—confident in the Lord’s power to guide, protect, and overcome. Moses derived security solely from God, who consistently kept His promises. 

Life hasn't gotten more certain in the millennia since Moses led the Israelite's to the Promised Land. Modern believers wonder about things too.Will I ever marry? Is my job safe? What happens to my kids if I get sick? How can I accomplish all I have to do? Thankfully, the source of security hasn’t changed in all that time. God is still the only certainty in this life. You can count on the one who is faithful (2 Tim.2:13), just (Ps. 89:14), and loving (Eph. 2:4). 

The lesson from Moses’ life is to cling tenaciously to the Lord. Even situations that look hopeless are cupped in God’s sovereign hand. Moreover, though the way looks dark and the road seems untraveled, He walks before us. Continue forward in confidence, as seeing Him who is unseen. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Being Truly Alive

“Unbeing dead isn't being alive.” —e. e. cummings

I'm sure you've already realized that this whole "identity thing" is really important to me. Knowing who we are in Christ is… well, I think it's one of the most important concepts in authentic Christian spirituality. Living it is the difference between "unbeing dead" and being truly alive.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ… —Romans 8:14-17

People who grew up in the 1960s, will say, "Anyone who says they remember the 60s clearly wasn't there." It's kind of like that with this passage. "Anyone who says they know what Romans 8 means clearly hasn't read it." Now, I'm not talking about the simple meaning of the words. I’m talking about what these words mean for us. It's profound stuff. It's mystical and full of wonder. And it's powerfully practical. Read it again. Imagine that you are living out the meaning of these words… because you can. This is who you are in Jesus Christ: 

• Now we call Him, “Abba, Daddy” 

• Led by the Spirit

• Adopted as a child of God 

• A Renewed Nature 

• An heir of the Father with a full inheritance shared with Jesus and other brothers and sisters. 


PRAYER: Abba, Daddy, my mind can only take me so far. Conform my beliefs to the truth of Your Word. Then, Lord, would You make these truths come alive in my heart? I want to follow You, Father, for who You are as my Dad, for who I am as a fully adopted child. I stand aside and submit to the leading of Your Spirit!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An Amazing Aspect of who you are in Christ

“The Word became flesh, and then, through the theologians, He became words again.” —Karl Barth

I just love theology. I also love theologians. But sometimes they can use unnecessary verbiage that bewilders simple prepositional assumptions. The same thing can happen when we use religious terms to describe simple truths. Yeah, it really sounds spiritual, but do we really understand the simplicity and the power of the message? And sometimes even if we do get the message, we can shrug it off because it seems so far from our experience.

Today, no shrugging allowed. Check out the simple straightforward meaning of these two passages:

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. —Hebrews 1:3

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. —Romans 8:29

God is at work this very moment conforming you to the image of Jesus, who is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being!

That’s not just good theology, that’s an amazing aspect of who you are in Christ.

PRAYER: Abba Father, Your Word says that Jesus is the firstborn of many brothers and sisters. I am one of those brothers and sisters! By faith, I believe that You are now my life and that You live in me. I believe that You are conforming me into the image of Your Son—the One who brings radiant glory to Your name and an earthly representation of Your being. I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief!!