Live Loved

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.

[Ecclesiastes 3:1]

Facing the Future with God

What person passes through life surprise free? If you don’t want change, go to a soda machine; that’s the only place you won’t find any. Remember the summary of Solomon? “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) …

God dispenses life the way he manages his cosmos: through seasons. When it comes to the earth, we understand God’s management strategy. Nature needs winter to rest and spring to awaken. We don’t dash into underground shelters at the sight of spring’s tree buds. Autumn colors don’t prompt warning sirens. Earthly seasons don’t upset us. But unexpected personal ones certainly do…

Are you on the eve of change? Do you find yourself looking into a new chapter? Is the foliage of your world showing signs of a new season? Heaven’s message for you is clear: when everything else changes, God’s presence never does. You journey in the company of the Holy Spirit, who “will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you” (John 14:26).

So make friends with whatever’s next.

Embrace it. Accept it. Don’t resist it. Change is not only a part of life; change is a necessary part of God’s strategy. To use us to change the world, he alters our assignments. Gideon: from farmer to general; Mary: from peasant girl to the mother of Christ; Paul: from local rabbi to world evangelist. God transitioned Joseph from a baby brother to an Egyptian prince. He changed David from a shepherd to a king. Peter wanted to fish the Sea of Galilee. God called him to lead the first church. God makes reassignments.

But he wants you to know: you’ll never face the future without his help.

[Fearless]

Father God,

You know how frightening the future can be, with unexpected twists and turns in the road of life. Help us remember that you ordain the days of our lives. You assign each stage of the journey, but you walk the path with us,

Amen.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.

[Psalm 37:23-24]

The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.

[Proverbs 5:21]

~ Max Lucado ~

Alone With God

Matthew 17:8

“Left alone!” What different emotions these words bring to mind for each of us! To some they mean loneliness and grief, but to others they may mean rest and quiet. To be left alone without God would be too horrible for words, while being left alone with him is a taste of heaven! And if his followers spent more time alone with him, we would have spiritual giants again.

Our Master set an example for us. Remember how often he went to be alone with God? And there was a powerful purpose behind his command, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray” (Matthew 6:6 [emphasis added]).

The greatest miracles of Elijah and Elisha took place when they were alone with God. Jacob was alone with God when he became a prince (see Genesis 32:28) … Joshua was alone when the Lord came to him (see Joshua 1:1). Gideon and Jephthah were by themselves when commissioned to save Israel (see Judges 6:11; 11:29). Moses was by himself at the burning bush (see Exodus 3:1–5). Cornelius was praying by himself when the angel of God came to him (see Acts 10:1–4). No one was with Peter on the housetop when he was instructed to go to the Gentiles (see Acts 10:9–28). John the Baptist was alone in the wilderness (see Luke 1:80), and John the Beloved was alone on the island of Patmos when he was the closest to God (see Revelation 1:9).

Earnestly desire to get alone with God. If we neglect to do so, we not only rob ourselves of a blessing but rob others as well, since we will have no blessing to pass on to them. It may mean that we do less outward, visible work, but the work we do will have more depth and power. Another wonderful result will be that people will see “no one except Jesus” (Matthew 17:8) in our lives.

The impact of being alone with God in prayer cannot be overemphasized.

Walk With Jesus

UNITY AND DIVERSITY IN THE BODY

For we are members of his body.

[Ephesians 5:30]

Every cell in the human body is alike in some ways to every other. But different cells perform different functions in the body—an analogy C. S.

Lewis draws on and applies to your role in the body of Christ.

WALK WITH C. S. LEWIS

“The society into which the Christian is called is not a collective but a body. It is in fact that body of which the family unit is an image on the natural level.

“If anyone came to it with the misconception that the church was a massing together of persons as if they were pennies or chips, he would be corrected at the threshold by the discovery that the Head of this body is utterly unlike its inferior members—they share no divinity with him except by analogy.

“We are summoned at the outset to combine as creatures with our Creator, as mortals with immortal, as redeemed sinners with sinless Redeemer.

“His presence, the interaction between him and us, must always be the overwhelmingly dominant factor in the life we are to lead within the body; and any conception of Christian fellowship which does not mean primarily fellowship with him is out of order.”*

WALK CLOSER TO GOD

You are a cell in the body of Christ—like millions of other Christians.

But are you a nerve cell (to feel)? blood cell (to nourish)? brain cell (to direct)? muscle cell (to strengthen)? bone cell (to support)?

Cells are alike, yet each is different. And each is crucial to the effective functioning of the body. The nucleus of all these cells is Christ himself. Without the nucleus, the cell dies. Unity is found only in Christ; diversity of function is vital in his body.

Morning Devotional

 

Spiritual Fruit Trees

[Read Galatians 5:1–6:18]

4 Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. 5 For we are each responsible for our own conduct. 6 Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them. 7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

[Galatians 6:4-10]

Some people are just destined to leave things better off than they found them. Take, for instance, John Chapman—the real-life orchardist who inspired the Johnny Appleseed legend. Chapman spent forty years of his life traveling across western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana sowing apple seeds. Undoubtedly, many people benefited from the fruits of his labor.

Paul, too, spent much of his adult life sowing seeds. In this reading, he teaches the Galatians about sowing and reaping. He also teaches them how to distinguish between fruit produced by evil and fruit produced by the Holy Spirit. The difference, not surprisingly, is tremendous. As you read, note that all believers are seed-planters, tree-growers, and fruit-pickers. How’s your spiritual fruit?

Most people know the eternal consequences of living a life of sin. But we may not be aware of the immediate consequences of our sins. For instance, when we lie or bend the truth, we do not consider how our credibility will be damaged when the truth eventually gets out. A credibility problem is only the beginning of other problems that may result, such as losing others’ trust and friendship, losing a job, or damaging family relationships. All of these consequences could be one kind of immoral “crop.” Just think about the negative results of other sinful behaviors. They are overwhelming. By contrast, “those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit” (Galatians 6:8). When we do this, we will not only reap the benefits of eternal life, but we will also give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to produce good fruit in us (5:22-23).

What kind of seeds are you sowing in your life? Are you sowing to please your own desires? Or are you sowing to please God? If you are planting a selfish crop, try planting one that pleases God. Then have the patience to see how much more bountiful that crop will be in comparison to your own.

Streams in The Desert

Ordering the Stops

[Ps 40:1] I relied completely on the Lord, and he turned toward me and heard my cry for help.

Waiting is much more difficult than walking. Waiting requires patience, and patience is a rare virtue. It is fine to know that God builds hedges around His people—when the hedge is looked at from the viewpoint of protection. But when the hedge is kept around one until it grows so high that he cannot see over the top, and wonders whether he is ever to get out of the little sphere of influence and service in which he is pent up, it is hard for him sometimes to understand why he may not have a larger environment—hard for him to “brighten the corner” where he is. But God has a purpose in all HIS holdups. “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord,” reads Psalm 37:23.

On the margin of his Bible at this verse George Mueller had a notation, “And the stops also.” It is a sad mistake for men to break through God’s hedges. It is a vital principle of guidance for a Christian never to move out of the place in which he is sure God has placed him, until the Pillar of Cloud moves.

~ Sunday School Times ~

When we learn to wait for our Lord’s lead in everything, we shall know the strength that finds its climax in an even, steady walk. Many of us are lacking in the strength we so covet. But God gives full power for every task He appoints. Waiting, holding oneself true to His lead—this is the secret of strength. And anything that falls out of the line of obedience is a waste of time and strength. Watch for His leading.

~ S. D. Gordon ~

Must life be a failure for one compelled to stand still in enforced inaction and see the great throbbing tides of life go by? No; victory is then to be gotten by standing still, by quiet waiting. It is a thousand times harder to do this than it was in the active days to rush on in the columns of stirring life. It requires a grander heroism to stand and wait and not lose heart and not lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up work and honors to others, to be quiet, confident and rejoicing, while the happy, busy multitude go on and away. It is the grandest life “having done all, to stand.”

~ J. R. Miller ~

Evening Devotional

Isn’t that the way it always is? One minute you’re UP and the next minute you’re DOWN. Why was Jesus so immediately thrown into something scary and confusing, so difficult and tricky, after his baptism?

Perhaps what this biblical snapshot tells us is that being UP is critical to helping us navigate the places we must go when we “come back down.” When we are in the UP places we are refueling, gaining some big perspective, being encouraged — all critical tools for dealing with the less than good things of life.

Jesus was able to go into the wilderness because of his time “in the good place,” being baptized, gathering strength, being blessed. He was getting the good stuff so that he was strong enough to deal with the bad stuff – the wilderness: emptiness, loneliness, temptation, extreme hunger and thirst.

Where is the wilderness you must go this week? And where is your UP? Consider the people, places, and activities that give you strength and encourage you, and those that lead you into the wilderness.

~ Gina Yeager-Buckley ~

Live Loved

But You are the same, and Your years will have no end.
[Psalm 102:27]

Loved by an Eternal God

Life … is a cache of moments: measurable and countable increments, like change in a pocket or buttons in a can. Your pocket may be full of decades, my pocket may be down to a few years, but everyone has a certain number of moments.

Everyone, that is, except God. As we list the mind-stretching claims of Christ, let’s include this one near the top. “Before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58 nasb).

Scripture broadcasts this attribute in surround sound. God is “from everlasting” (Psalm 93:2) and the “everlasting King” (Jeremiah 10:10)… You’ll more quickly measure the salt of the ocean than measure the existence of God because “the number of His years is unsearchable” (Job 36:26).

Trace the tree back to a seed. Trace the dress back to a factory. Trace the baby back to a mommy. Trace God back to … to … to …

No one. Not even God made God. “From eternity I am He” (Isaiah 43:13 nasb).

He is eternal. He does not live sequential moments, laid out on a time line, one following the other. His world is one moment, or better stated, momentless. He doesn’t view history as a progression of centuries but as a single photo. He captures your life, your entire life, in one glance. He sees your birth and burial in one frame. He knows your beginning and your end because he has neither.

[It’s Not About Me]

Dear God,

You are our eternal Father. You have always been and will always be. When unexpected events occur, may we remember that nothing surprises you. You know the beginning of all things to the end. And our lives are in your care,

Amen.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

[1 Timothy 1:17]

The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints for is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.

[Isaiah 40:28]

For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.

[Psalm 100:5]

~ Max Lucado ~