Answers and Promises, Day 4

Today’s reading is drawn from Joel 2:12-13 and Joel 2:18-19.

Observation

Often an answer from God will come packaged and delivered in a promise — as something potentially available. That is how God dealt with his people through the prophet Joel. He answered their pleas with a call to return to him so that he could make good on promised blessings.

Application

We’d rather the answer come in concrete form — fully assembled and ready to use, with a full guarantee. But God has spoken more than 7,000 answers to our problems and questions in promise form. So how do we get these answers wrapped in “potential packaging” to become reality? God gives his answers in potential form because his greatest goal for us is not making us comfortable, it is building our characters. He makes promises reality, not through obligation, but through obedience. God’s promises are converted from potential into reality by steadfast faith and adherence to his commands. God’s promises require us to walk with him in a covenant — his promises are converted from potential into present reality through patiently waiting on him.

As we understand why his answers come in promise form, we better understand how “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3 – 4).

Prayer

Father, help me to be obedient and faithful, not only to benefit from your promises, but also to partake in your divine nature — to look more like you and give you glory!

Bible Gateway

Elizabeth, A Spiritual Mentor, Day 3

Today’s reading is taken from Luke 1:5-25 and Luke 1:57-66.

Elizabeth is described by Luke as a woman of integrity and obedience (Lk 1:6). As both the daughter and wife of a priest (v. 5), she lived a righteous life, even though she carried a quiet sorrow because of her childlessness. Then a miracle occurred. Her husband Zacharias, who served in the temple at Jerusalem, was the first person in four hundred years to receive a direct word from God that is recorded in Scripture. While he was burning incense, an angel appeared to announce that his wife Elizabeth would have a child who would be named John (v. 13).

Elizabeth was the first to recognize Mary of Nazareth as the mother of the Messiah. When Mary came to visit during Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, John leaped inside Elizabeth’s womb when Mary spoke (v. 41). Elizabeth understood immediately the imminence of the Messiah’s birth. What a joyful time the two expectant mothers must have had as the godly Elizabeth shared hospitality and wise advice with her young cousin. Her interaction with the young Mary clearly distinguishes Elizabeth as an outstanding mentor (see Titus 2:3-5).

Mary left after three months, but Elizabeth’s joy continued with the birth of her own child (see Lk 1:14,24-25). Not only did Elizabeth miraculously conceive a child in her old age, but also God once again came to his people in fulfillment of centuries of eager anticipation. John the Baptist became a powerful preacher of the message of repentance and the forerunner who introduced the Messiah. Jesus said that no one was greater than this son of Elizabeth (Mt 11:11).

Elizabeth could have faced her old age with a sense of failure and waning faith, but her vibrancy of spirit serves as a reminder that God watches over every woman with loving care. Elizabeth trusted and God rewarded her. She shared herself liberally with Mary, and undoubtedly she trained her son in the Lord while she lived out her faith before him.

Bible Gateway

Morning Evening

Morning
“Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.” — Son_2:10
Lo, I hear the voice of my Beloved! He speaks to me! Fair weather is smiling upon the face of the earth, and he would not have me spiritually asleep while nature is all around me awaking from her winter’s rest. He bids me “Rise up,” and well he may, for I have long enough been lying among the pots of worldliness. He is risen, I have risen in him, why then should I cleave unto the dust? From lower loves, desires, pursuits, and aspirations, I would rise towards him. He calls me by the sweet title of “My love,” and counts me fair; this is a good argument for my rising. If he has thus exalted me and thinks me thus comely, how can I linger in the tents of Kedar and find congenial associates among the sons of men? He bids me “Come away.” Further and further from everything selfish, groveling, worldly, sinful, he calls me; yea, from the outwardly religious world which knows him not, and has no sympathy with the mystery of the higher life, he calls me. “Come away” has no harsh sound in it to my ear, for what is there to hold me in this wilderness of vanity and sin? O my Lord, would that I could come away, but I am taken among the thorns, and cannot escape from them as I would. I would, if it were possible, have neither eyes, nor ears, nor heart for sin. Thou callest me to thyself by saying “Come away,” and this is a melodious call indeed. To come to thee is to come home from exile, to come to land out of the raging storm, to come to rest after long labor, to come to the goal of my desires and the summit of my wishes. But Lord, how can a stone rise, how can a lump of clay come away from the horrible pit? O raise me, draw me. Thy grace can do it. Send forth thy Holy Spirit to kindle sacred flames of love in my heart, and I will continue to rise until I leave life and time behind me, and indeed come away.
Evening
“If any man hears my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.” — Rev_3:20
What is your desire this evening? Is it set upon heavenly things? Do you long to enjoy the high doctrine of eternal love? Do you desire liberty in very close communion with God? Do you aspire to know the heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths? Then you must draw near to Jesus; you must get a clear sight of him in his preciousness and completeness: you must view him in his work, in his offices, in his person. He who understands Christ receives an anointing from the Holy One, by which he knows all things. Christ is the great master-key of all the chambers of God: there is no treasure-house of God which will not open and yield up all its wealth to the soul that lives near to Jesus. Are you saying, “O that he would dwell in my bosom?” “Would that he would make my heart his dwelling-place for ever?” Open the door, beloved, and he will come into your souls. He has long been knocking, and all with this object, that he may sup with you, and you with him. He sups with you because you find the house or the heart, and you with him because he brings the provision. He could not sup with you if it were not in your heart, you finding the house; nor could you sup with him, for you have a bare cupboard if he did not bring provision with him. Fling wide, then, the portals of your soul. He will come with that love which you long to feel; he will come with that joy into which you cannot work your poor depressed spirit; he will bring the peace which now you have not; he will come with his flagons of wine and sweet apples of love and cheer you till you have no other sickness but that of “love overpowering, love divine.” Only open the door to him, drive out his enemies, give him the keys of your heart, and he will dwell there forever. Oh, wondrous love, that brings such a guest to dwell in such a heart!

From The Sword Study Bible

Devotional Sermons

Jesus before Pilate

When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor — Mat_27:1-2
Pilate the Last Roman to Manage Jews
By the Jewish law, no sentence of death could be passed by night, and therefore, when the morning dawned (Mat_27:1), a second meeting of the priests and elders was convened. It was then that their formal sentence of death was passed on Jesus, and it was then that they deliberated how they should best present their case to Pilate, so as to ensure that Jesus would not escape. We know very little about Pilate, save from the Gospel story. He was a typical Roman, self-centered and self-seeking, not devoid of the Roman love of justice. But his love of self-outweighed his love of justice; and his shameful past had so eaten the heart out of him, that in the great crisis of his life he went to ruin. He was the last man in the world to manage Jews. He had outraged their feelings in the most wanton manner. We do not wonder to read in an old historian that Pilate fell into disgrace in after years, and, wearied with misfortunes, killed himself. Those who have read Scott’s story, Anne of Geierstein, will know the legend of Mount Pilatus—the mountain with the bare and jagged peaks, opposite the Rigi, at the west end of the Lake of Lucerne. The legend is that Pilate spent years of torturing remorse on that mountain, and at last drowned himself in the lake; and “a form,” says Scott, “is often seen to emerge from the water, and to go through the motions of one washing his hands.”
Accusation That Jesus Was Implicated in a Political Plot
Now the usual residence of the Roman procurator was not Jerusalem. Jerusalem was an intolerable city to the man who had revelled in the gay life of Rome. The usual residence was Caesarea, a mimic Rome down by the seashore. But whenever Jerusalem was thronged with strangers, as it was on the occasion of all the great feasts, it was the duty of the Roman governor to be there in person, to see that the peace was kept. So Pilate was in Jerusalem at the Passover, and he was living in the magnificent palace of the Herods when the hour came that flashed on him a light that was to make him visible to all the ages. In the early morning, Jesus was brought to Pilate, not into the palace (for to enter that would have been pollution to a Jew), but into the court, with its colonnade, in front of the palace. And the first question which Pilate asked showed how cunningly the charge against Jesus had been colored. Pilate did not ask, “Art Thou the Messiah?”—what did he care for Jewish superstitions? But he did ask, “Art Thou the King of the Jews?” (Mat_27:11). The question indicates how craftily the priests had gone to work. They had given a political and civil turn to the spiritual claims of Jesus, in order to play on the Roman governor’s heart. They had hinted that here was a rival to Tiberius, and Pilate would do well to silence him. Jesus did not deny the accusation. There was a glorious sense in which He was a King. And when the accusers began to heap charge on charge, and Jesus neither retorted nor retaliated, I think that Pilate began to feel His kingliness. He marveled greatly (Mat_27:14). He had never met a Jew at all like this. There was something subduing in this silent Man. Pilate resolved to do all he safely could to get this strange, sad prisoner acquitted.
Pilate’s Wife Attempted Intervention
A powerful influence now appeared to back his efforts—it was the unlooked-for intervention of Pilate’s wife. Do you remember how she had heard of Jesus? Well, perhaps in the idle days of Caesarea the tale of His deeds had enlivened the dinner table. Or perhaps that morning, when Jesus was gone to Herod, Pilate had told his wife about the Man. And then, for it was still early, Pilate’s wife had fallen asleep again, and God had visited her in a dream. Did God reveal the glory of Christ to her, so that she became a disciple of the Lord? Every Christian in Russia believes that, and the Eastern Church has made a saint of her. At least, while she slept, God touched her conscience, and she saw the unutterable horror of the deed in hand. She wakened in terror—could something still be done? She despatched a messenger to warn her husband. She bade him have nothing to do with that just Man. And again Pilate resolved to do all in his power to get this haunting prisoner acquitted.
With the Hosannas of Palm Sunday Fresh in Mind, Pilate Tried an Appeal to the Populace
Now Pilate had formed the shrewd suspicion that jealousy was at the back of the indictment (Mat_27:18). Who knew but that the prisoner might be a popular hero—had not the provincial crowds been crying Hosanna to Him? It flashed on Pilate (always thinking of self) that there was one way of releasing Jesus that might rebuild his own shattered popularity. It was a Roman custom at the Passover to liberate one prisoner chosen by the people. And it came as an inspiration to Pilate that if he summoned the people they might ask for Jesus. He summoned the people and laid two names before them—that of Jesus and the other of Barabbas. And we have a hint that Barabbas—which means “son of the father’—had another name, and it was Jesus too! Now we never can tell how the mob would have chosen had they been left alone to make their choice, for the Pharisees were busy in the crowd; they whispered that Jesus was favoured by that odious Pilate. And they so played on these poor city-hearts, and so touched the chords of their cherished prides and hates, that there grew and gathered a hoarse shout, “Barabbas”; and Jesus—”Let Him be crucified.” There was no gainsaying a hoarse mob like that. The more they were checked, the wilder grew the clamor. It was infinitely disgusting for a patrician Roman to have any discussion with such shouting beasts. He called for water, and standing on the balcony where all could see him, he washed his hands. It was an act that every Jew would understand. A silence fell on the flushed and eager crowd. What was that they heard from the balcony—Pilate protesting his innocence? Another terrible cry rang out in an instant, “His blood be upon us and on our children.” Then Pilate released Barabbas unto them, and when he had scourged Jesus, delivered Him—to be crucified (Mat_27:26).

From The Sword Study Bible

Our Daily Walk

CULTIVATING CHEERFULNESS
“A merry heart is a good medicine (causeth good healing); but a broken spirit drieth up the bones.” — Pro_17:22.
“Rejoice alway; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks.” — 1Th_5:16-17 (R.V.).
A HAPPY AND cheerful heart is a matter of cultivation. We cannot afford to abandon ourselves entirely to our moods. There are times when we feel depressed and sad, for no special reason, except that a mood is on us! It is at such times that we need to anoint our heads, and wash our faces, that we may not be consumed by our fretfulness, or impose our depression upon others, for nothing is worse than to be a wet blanket! (Mat_6:16-18.)
On the other hand, there is nothing more objectionable than to be always in the presence of a comic person who thinks that every occasion must serve for frolic. After a time one gets as tired of funny stories and perpetual punning as of gloom, but while avoiding this extreme, we must not fall into the other of wearing a lugubrious expression and giving way to a moodiness of spirit, which cannot be accounted for.
We may alter our dispositions and moods by a resolute action of the will. We can refuse to look miserable, to speak mournfully, to be pessimistic, to pass on depression. In a spirit of unselfishness we can put on a cheerful courage, array ourselves in the garments of joy, anoint ourselves with the spirit of praise and thankfulness, and go forth into the world to shed sunbeams rather than shadows on the path of life. Do not nurse your sorrow of heart, lest your spirit and the spirits of others be broken.
We can promote a cheerful heart by dwelling on the bright things of our lot; by counting up the mercies which are left, rather than dwelling on what we have lost. When the heart is full of the light and love of God, can it be other than cheerful? How can this be obtained except by a living union with Jesus Christ. In Him there is an infinitude of supply of peace and joy, sunshine and light. Let us open our hearts to him, and put on these things as we array ourselves each morning in our garments (Isa_61:3-10).
PRAYER
Through all the changing scenes of life,
In trouble and in joy,
The praises of my God shall still
My heart and tongue employ. AMEN.

From The Sword Study Bible

Day By Day By Grace

April 25
A Fragrance of Christ to God
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge . . . For we are to God the fragrance of Christ. (2Co_2:14-15)
In addition to the characteristic of triumphant living, God also wants to mark our lives with the fragrance of Christ. “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge.”
Just as there are physical fragrances that can be noticed by our physical senses, there are also spiritual fragrances that can impact us spiritually. If a person partakes of food that is heavily seasoned with garlic, others will notice the fragrance of garlic. If a person consistently presses on to know the Lord, others will be impacted by the “fragrance of His knowledge.” This is described as the “fragrance of Christ.” This is that spiritual aroma that wafts forth from the lives of those who are getting to know the Lord. It is a validating reality that the Lord Jesus Christ is dwelling in their lives and is being evidenced through their lives.
As we are getting to know the Lord more and more, this spiritual aroma of Christ is even impacting God Himself. “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ.” Yes, God is the first one who is impacted by this Christlike fragrance. “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ .”
Our ministry and testimony is always primarily unto the Lord. We who believe in Jesus Christ are called to be “proving what is acceptable to the Lord” (Eph_5:10). We are not here on earth to please ourselves. “Do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal_1:10). We are here to please our God. “Brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God” (1Th_4:1).
What ultimately pleases our heavenly Father is His beloved Son. When the Father looked down from heaven at the baptism of His Son, He exclaimed, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mat_3:17). When our Father looks down today upon our lives, He wants to enjoy the fragrance of His Son emanating forth from our lives. “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ.”
Heavenly Father, I long to bless You by the fragrance of Christ through my life. I am sorry that the stench of selfish flesh is what often emanates from me. Lord, help me to get to know You more and more, so that the knowledge of You can produce the aroma of Christ in and through me, in Jesus name, Amen.

From The Sword Study Bible

The Cost of Bitterness

Bible Gateway

“I tell you, [forgive] not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:22

Just as we must act on Scripture’s instruction to forgive, we should also consider the great cost of failing to do so. Withholding forgiveness brings on bitterness, which Neal T. Anderson says is like “battery acid in the soul.” It leads to anger, resentment, depression, health problems, isolation, struggles with addictions, and more. It continues to haunt the person until he or she comes to terms with it. People who hang on to bitterness cause more pain to themselves than to the targets of their wrath.

A second cost is equally distressing. Jesus told a parable of an unmerciful servant who, after his master forgave him a large debt, demanded payment of a small debt from another servant. The master had the first servant thrown into jail and tortured. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you,” Jesus said, “unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).

For couples who want to follow God’s way for marriage and who hope for His best in their relationship, forgiveness is not just a suggestion. It is a spiritual commandment!

Just between us…

  • Why is failing to forgive more damaging to us than to the one who wronged us?
  • Are either of us bitter about something today? Why?
  • What steps of forgiveness can we take together?
  • How can we avoid bitterness in the future?

Dear Lord, You have spoken plainly about the consequences of withholding forgiveness. Help us to hear You and obey. May we please You and bless each other with our quickness to forgive at all times. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
 

Please Read!!

Hi my Bloggers friends,  I truly need an input. I feel respondible and post way too much. I just want to ask if its OK if I slow down,  post less as I must find the time to write what will be a Book of Thanksgiving to the Lord and a hope book.

The Lord opened a door, put in my life a sweet Lady that is willing to help me,  little me. This will be a book for the Lord. God wants me to write it,  but,  I spend way too much time and energy working so hard for the Blog and you all. This work, takes away hours from my primary object,  give God Glory in anither way as well.. I must post less and I just would hope you still follow me.

Please and input about this would be nice.

Thank you.

I hope you visited me today not only to “like” but to visit for a minute sometimes. Love u all, thank you for taking the time to “like” my posts having nany peooke that u follow,  I am grateful you find time for me.I do  pray at times for all of you.

Love you in Christ Jesus, 

Later, 

Pat.

God Bless you, 

 

April 25, 2018 What Fear Won’t Tell You

LEE NIENHUIS

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

I left the notecard sitting on the counter because I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the words on it.

A friend challenged me to write out the fear that had its hook in my soul. She wanted me to name that lie, stop letting it dance in the shadows of my mind and confront it with something even more powerful: the truth of God’s Word.

I left the card with the lie sitting on my bathroom counter, unsure what to do now that I’d found words to describe one of my deepest fears. And that’s when my daughter, LexieBeth, walked into the bathroom and began reading those previously unspoken words …

I’m going to mess up my kids.

Hearing the words out loud sounded comical, but as she turned to me with confusion in her eyes, my heart dropped into my throat.

“Mama, what is this? Why would you write this?”

The look on her face said it all. She was appalled at the lie that haunted and gripped my mind. That made two of us.

The reality is I could have filled a deck of cards with lies I’ve believed about myself. Maybe you could, too. My fear whispers … I’m not enough. I’m not qualified. I’m too broken. I don’t have what it takes. I’m one hot mess and my kids will be, too.

Friends, fear has a nasty way of lying to us. That’s because fear removes God from the equation, causing us to envision a scenario where He does not show up, and that will simply never be the case.

Yes my children have a very fallible mother, but the greater truth is that God’s power grows in my weakness. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). When my abilities, my patience and my love fails them, my God is enough for all of us. Maybe even more comforting is that He’s far more committed to how my children turn out than I am.

When fear whispers unqualified, failure and way past hope, we must flip that lie in our mind and remember exactly what our God says about our neediness for Him to show up in our situations.

Second Corinthians 9:8 tells us, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (NIV). We have to grab hold of this promise in our work lives, our parenting, even the moments when it’s hard to pick up our heads off our pillows. We must tell ourselves the truth.

My God is ready, willing and able to bless me abundantly in the things I face today. He will not fail me when I need Him. He has what I need to endure, persevere and be faithful. There is no moment where He’s not paying attention and able to supply. And walking with Him, empowered by Him, I will abound in the work He sets before me.

God is like a magnet to those who admit their weakness and need for Him. It’s a perfect setup for God to show up in power. With His help, I can put my finger right on the fear that has its nasty hook in my heart and tell it the truth today. That’s what I did in the bathroom that morning with my daughter. I flipped the card over and wrote the truth.

Heavenly Father, my fear has been lying to me, and I have believed it. The truth is there will never be a time I need You when You won’t show up. I praise You that the truth is You are my provider and strength. You are my help and the giver of wisdom, and the grace I need to face every day. Thank You that Your supernatural love and power is my reality. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (NIV)

Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Brave Moms, Brave Kids: A Battle Plan for Raising Heroes sounds the battle cry for mothers who want to see their children gain spiritual ground for the kingdom of God. You’ll find confidence, guidance and tools as you embrace the all-important mission of discipling your children well.

CONNECT:
For more encouragement, guidance and tools to help you on your journey through motherhood, visit Lee’s blog at www.leenienhuis.com.

Encouraged by today’s devotion? Enter to WIN your copy of Brave Moms, Brave Kids by Lee Nienhuis. In celebration of this book, Harvest House will give away 5 copies! Just leave a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email each winner by Monday, April 30.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What lies lurk in the back of your mind? What fears nag at your heart? What truth is God trying to speak to you today?

Write your fear on a notecard, then flip the card over and write God’s truth. Place the card on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself of God’s power and presence in your life.

© 2018 by Lee Nienhuis. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House Publishers for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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