Archive for May, 2012

Don’t Be Afraid

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For God So Loved The World That He Gave… John 3:16-17

 

 

 

 

 

By Max Lucado

 

 

Why are you afraid?  Is it the fear of losing your job?  Being sued?  The new kid on the block?  The clock of your life…ticking?

Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness.  We begin to wonder if God’s eyes are shut as ours grow wide.  For all the noise fear makes and room it takes, fear does little good.

Fear never cured a disease.  Never saved a marriage.  Never saved a business.  Faith did that!

The one statement Jesus made more than any other in the Gospels was “Don’t be afraid.”  He says in Matthew 14:27, “Take courage, I am here.”  In John 14:1, he says, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in me.”

Fear may fill our world, but it doesn’t have to fill our hearts.  It will always knock on the door—just don’t invite it in for dinner!

Let’s Major in God

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Thanks Dick Duerksen

 

 

 

 

 

David just showed up this morning. He clocked out of sheep watching to deliver bread and cheese to his brothers on the battle-front. That’s where David hears Goliath defying God,. . . .

Read the first words he spoke, not just in the battle, but in the Bible: “David asked the men standing near him, ‘What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?’” (1 Sam. 17:26 niv).

David shows up discussing God. The soldiers mentioned nothing about him, the brothers never spoke his name, but David takes one step onto the stage and raises the subject of the living God. . . .

No one else discusses God. David discusses no one else but God. . . .

David sees what others don’t and refuses to see what others do. All eyes, except David’s, fall on the brutal, hate-breathing hulk. . . . The people know his taunts, demands, size, and strut. They have majored in Goliath.

David majors in God. He sees the giant, mind you; he just sees God more so. Look carefully at David’s battle cry: “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Sam. 17:45).

 

Lord God, train us to walk on your path. Teach us to see you in situations that are dangerous and difficult. Like David, when we are surrounded by overwhelming challenges may our thoughts and words turn first to you. Rather than discuss the problem, remind us to discuss you. May our first thought in the morning and our last thought at night be centered on you. Rather than worry about the impossibilities, let us major in your mighty power. When we am tempted to look at the giants in our lives, we will choose to look at you, amen.

The Habit Of Rising To The Occasion— Devotion By Oswald Chambers

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Buckskin Gulch Utah

 

 

 

 

 

“That ye may know what is the hope of His calling …”

Ephesians 1:18

Remember what you are saved for – that the Son of God might be manifested in your mortal flesh. Bend the whole energy of your powers to realize your election as a child of God; rise to the occasion every time.

You cannot do anything for your salvation, but you must do something to manifest it, you must work out what God has worked in. Are you working it out with your tongue, and your brain and your nerves? If you are still the same miserable crosspatch, set on your own way, then it is a lie to say that God has saved and sanctified you.

God is the Master Engineer, He allows the difficulties to come in order to see if you can vault over them properly – “By my God have I leaped over a wall.” God will never shield you from any of the requirements of a son or daughter of His. Peter says – “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” Rise to the occasion; do the thing. It does not matter how it hurts as long as it gives God the chance to manifest Him self in your mortal flesh.

May God not find the whine in us any more, but may He find us full of spiritual pluck and athleticism, ready to face anything He brings. We have to exercise ourselves in order that the Son of God may be manifested in our mortal flesh. God never has museums. The only aim of the life is that the Son of God may be manifested, and all dictation to God vanishes. Our Lord never dictated to His Father, and we are not here to dictate to God; we are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. When we realize this, He will make us broken bread and poured out wine to feed and nourish others.

Mother’s Day and Mixed Emotions

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Post By April Motl

 

Mother’s day is today and for many the day is full of joy and celebration.  Still, there are those who might have a few mixed emotions on this holiday.  The idyllic imagery of motherhood often doesn’t match up with the reality of life — the reality that the relationships involved with motherhood are often far more complicated than we would wish.

The sting of emptiness.  Mother’s day can be hard for those without children, those who have birthed children but the children have since been adopted, those who have buried their children and those who have experienced abortion.  The emptiness can sting our hearts as we watch happy families celebrating their beloved mommies, and we feel painfully left out. We can journey into the dark hallway of “why me?”

While it may sound simplistic, God fills empty places.  I have personally watched Him reach through holes in my life to touch others with hope and healing.  And I have seen Him put broken pieces back together in ways that simply took my breath away.  He sees your hurt and He cares. (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 145:16, Isaiah 54:1)

Mistakes Made.  Then there are those who are mothers, but perhaps have not been able to embrace the task with excellence.  Sometimes life’s circumstances and baggage pull women’s hearts in ways that make them unable to give love, attention or care to their little ones.

God’s mercies are new every morning! Ask God and your family for forgiveness. Then walk in the Lord’s grace. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in your high calling as a mom. Find someone who can mentor and encourage you as you seek to remedy your past mistakes. (Lamentations 3:22-23, James 5:16, Titus 2:3-5)

The sorrow over estranged or rebellious children.  Many parents struggle under the heaviness of heart that accompanies children who have gone astray.  I have watched women who have been successful in every other area of life become utterly paralyzed with grief because of a grown child’s drug addiction, abandonment of their family or other hurtful choices.  A mom recently told me that after her son had an affair and consequently divorced his wife, she felt as if he had been unfaithful to her as well and the entire family, not just his wife.

Many grandparents are raising their grandkids because their own children have been unable to do so.  My husband and I are deeply grateful for the ways our grandparents stepped in to fill in the gap for our parents.  And while there is great good that come from such a situation, it isn’t without grief for those grandparents who long to see their own children making healthy choices.

In these situations, remember: God is sovereign. He turns the hearts of kings, so keep praying! Know that the Lord understands your sorrow because He has watched with grief as His children rebelled against Him. Nothing is too hard for Him, so hang onto hope that your children will one day walk with their Lord. After all, if you aren’t praying and believing for them, who is? (Proverbs 21:1, Isaiah 1:2, Jeremiah 32:27)

The sadness over a mother who wasn’t a mom.  I heard a comedian making light of this topic. He was joking about how as a good son you are supposed to get your mom a card for Mother’s Day, but if she really wasn’t much of a mom, how do you find a card that doesn’t rub it in or just straight out lie? While the routine was funny, the reality of it isn’t. I know kids who have been left on street corners by their mom, or dumped with strangers. The pain from abandonment, rejection, and abuse can affect you long into adulthood.

God is big enough for the hurt and disappointment, and His love can heal any mistakes our parents might have made.  These verses have meant a great deal to my heart over the years: Psalm 27:10, Isaiah 49:15-16, Jeremiah 31:3, 2 Corinthians 6:18.

The grief over a mom who has passed away.  Mother’s Day is hard for those who are missing their moms. No one can replace her, and Mother’s Day is a keen reminder of her absence.

Jesus’ response to the grief over the death of a loved one was to cry (John 11:35). He has compassion on our sorrow!  Death wasn’t part of His original design. He doesn’t like it anymore than you do!  He has, however, not left us without hope! We have hope for life in heaven with Him and our family of believers.

Give your grief over to the Lord (Psalm 147:3, Psalm 116:15, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52).  Also, if you are missing your mom, there just might be a mother out there who is grieving over a child.  Pray for the Lord to use you in the midst of your pain — you might be surprised at what He does!

At the end of the day, we have to trust that our loving and sovereign Lord has something for our good and His glory planned for us.  We don’t get to pick our moms, and we don’t get to pick our kids. None of us are perfect, so we are guaranteed to bump into each other a bit. We can choose to be disappointed and bitter with life’s lot, or we can hang on to hope that God is up to something good. We can fall on our knees and ask God to do a new work in us so that we might be godly moms and women from this day forward.

Regardless of our mistakes or the mistakes our moms made, God’s grace is big enough to cover it all — and that is definitely worth celebrating!

April Motl and her husband, Eric, minister at their church in Southern California where he is a pastor on staff.  April is the founder of In His Eyes Ministries; a teaching ministry devoted to helping women see their life from God’s perspective. For more information about the ministry visit www.InHisEyesMinistries.com.

 

Daily Deeds of Kindness

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The Exciting Photography of Dick Duerksen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Deeds of Kindness

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:16

In the final days of Jesus’ life, he shared a meal with his friends Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Within the week he would feel the sting of the Roman whip, the point of the thorny crown, and the iron of the executioner’s nail. But on this evening, he felt the love of three friends.

For Mary, however, giving the dinner was not enough. “Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house” (John 12:3). . . .

Judas criticized the deed as wasteful. Not Jesus. He received the gesture as an extravagant demonstration of love, a friend surrendering her most treasured gift. As Jesus hung on the cross, we wonder, Did he detect the fragrance on his skin?

Follow Mary’s example.

There is an elderly man in your community who just lost his wife. An hour of your time would mean the world to him.

Some kids in your city have no dad. No father takes them to movies or baseball games. Maybe you can. They can’t pay you back. They can’t even afford the popcorn or sodas. But they’ll smile like a cantaloupe slice at your kindness.

Or how about this one? Down the hall from your bedroom is a person who shares your last name. Shock that person with kindness. Something outlandish. Your homework done with no complaints. Coffee served before he awakens. A love letter written to her for no special reason. Alabaster poured, just because.

Daily do a deed for which you cannot be repaid.

—from Great Day Every Day

Precious Savior, we pass people every day who need a demonstration of your love. May we search for ways to show extravagant gestures of gracious love, and outlandish acts of kindness. Make us people who set a goal of doing daily deeds for which we cannot be repaid. Set our hearts on fire for people who do not know you. Consume us with compassion for the desperate and downtrodden. Let us pour our lives out in love . . . just because, amen.

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart…
I Peter 1:22

Son Reflectors

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 Thanks Dick Duerksen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does the moon do? She generates no light. Contrary to the lyrics of the song, this harvest moon cannot shine on. Apart from the sun, the moon is nothing more than a pitch-black, pockmarked rock. But properly positioned, the moon beams. Let her do what she was made to do, and a clod of dirt becomes a source of inspiration, yea, verily, romance. The moon reflects the greater light.

And she’s happy to do so! You never hear the moon complaining. She makes no waves about making waves. Let the cow jump over her or astronauts step on her; she never objects. Even though sunning is accepted while mooning is the butt of bad jokes, you won’t hear ol’ Cheeseface grumble. The moon is at peace in her place. And because she is, soft light touches a dark earth.

What would happen if we accepted our place as Son reflectors?

Such a shift comes so stubbornly, however. We’ve been demanding our way and stamping our feet since infancy. Aren’t we all born with a default drive set on selfishness? I want a spouse who makes me happy and coworkers who always ask my opinion. I want weather that suits me and traffic that helps me and a government that serves me. It is all about me. . . .

How can we be bumped off self-center? . . . We move from me-focus to God-focus by pondering him. Witnessing him. Following the counsel of the apostle Paul: “Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, [we] are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18 KJV).

Beholding him changes us.

—originally from It’s Not About Me

 

 

O Lord, change our focus from a me-focus to a God-focus. Work your will in our lives that we might be instruments to do your work and to tell others of your great love. Let our lives reflect your holiness through thick and thin. Help us live in pursuit of what you want rather than what we want. May we keep a firm grip on our faith no matter what hard times come our way. In all we do, may we honor you, amen. 

Sing praise to the Lord, . . . and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
Psalm 30:4

Spirit Baptism and Fellowship Groups

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 A Must Read By Pastor Dennis Smith!!


The baptism of the Holy Spirit and fellowship groups go hand in hand.  Both are necessary for the Christian to grow into the fullness of Christ.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit is essential for the core members of a fellowship group in order for the group to function as God intends.  We see this clearly illustrated in the experience of Christ and the disciples.  The 12 disciples were in a very close personal, group relationship with Christ and one another for three and a half years.  Yet we find them bickering among themselves on the way to the Passover supper just before Christ was to be taken by the mob and ultimately crucified:

“But there was also rivalry among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest” (Luke 22:24).

They had not yet attained the level of loving, committed fellowship with God or each other during those years.  Simply being a part of a fellowship group, of which Christ was the leader, was not enough to bring about the changes necessary for them to grow up into the fullness of Christ.  Later, we find that they were changed dramatically.  What made the difference?  Their receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost made the difference.  From that day forward they, and all others who were present, entered into the genuine Christian fellowship that God desires every believer to experience:

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).  “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (verses 46, 47).

The early church’s fellowship way of doing church cannot happen during the traditional Sabbath morning worship service because of the interrelational dynamics required between Spirit-filled believers.  The only way this kind of fellowship experience can happen is in small Christian fellowship groups.  The traditional Sabbath worship service is important.  The point is, that alone is not enough.

The importance of the Spirit-filled believers fellowshipping together in small groups is demonstrated by two illustrations.  Paul gives us one illustration of the necessity of a continued living connection between believers in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12.  He uses the analogy of the human body to describe the church and its members.  He points out how necessary it is for each body part to minister to the body.  Spirit-filled believers need one another.  They are to minister to one another just as your heart, right hand, eyes, etc., minister to the other parts of your body.  From this analogy it is evident that it is necessary for each body part to remain in close, living connection with the other body parts.  It is the home fellowship groups that enable the Spirit-baptized believer to keep a close, living connection with the body of Christ, which enables members of the body to minister to one another.

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as he wills.  For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ” (1 Cor. 12:7-12).

Paul also speaks about the body of Christ in Ephesians 4:11-16.

Another illustration of the importance of home fellowship groups can be seen around any campfire.  Think for a moment of a time when you were sitting around a campfire and watching the embers burn.  In order to keep the fire going it was important that you kept the embers close together and occasionally put on new wood.  If a burning ember became separated from the other burning embers it would soon lose its fire and go out.  This clearly illustrates the importance of close Christian fellowship.  In order for the Spirit-baptized believer to keep the “fire” from going out in his life, he needs not only to continually ask God for the Spirit’s infilling (Eph. 5:18), but he must also continually keep in fellowship with other Spirit-filled believers.

 

 Visit Pastor Dennis Smith’s Website To Learn More

God Is For You

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   Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.  Matthew 25:40

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Max Lucado

“I have written your name on my hand! Isaiah 49:16”

Romans 8:31 asks, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Indulge me a moment.  Four words in this verse deserve your attention.  God is for us.

Say it out loud.  God is for us.

Repeat it, emphasizing each word.  Come on, you’re not in that big of a hurry.

God is for us!  GOD IS FOR YOU.

Your parents may have forgotten you, your teachers may have neglected you, your siblings may be ashamed of you; but within reach of your prayers is the maker of the oceans.  God!

God is for you!  If he had a calendar, your birthday would be circled.  If there’s a tree in heaven, he’s carved your name in the bark.

Isaiah 49:16 says, “I have written your name on my hand!”  No one can defeat you.  You are protected.  God is for you!

His Forgetful Nature

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By Max Lucado

 

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 
Psalm 103:12”

Recently I was thanking the Father for his mercy.  And I began listing the sins he’d forgiven.  “Remember the time I…” But I stopped.  Something was wrong.  It didn’t fit.
Does he remember?

Then I remembered.  I remembered his words in Hebrews 8:12: “And I will remember their sins no more.”  Wow!

God doesn’t just forgive, he forgets.  He erases the board.  He destroys the evidence. He burns the microfilm.  He clears the computer.  He doesn’t remember!

No, he doesn’t, but I do, you do.  That horrid lie.  The time you exploded in anger.  That date.  That jealousy.  That habit.  Spiteful specters that slyly suggest, “Are you really forgiven?”

Do you think God was teasing when he said, “I will remember your sins no more?”  Of course you don’t.  You and I just need an occasional reminder of God’s nature.  His
forgetful nature!

Visit the Max Lucado website