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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Freedom From Burdens (and other devotionals)

Freedom From Carrying Your Own Burdens
Freedom From Carrying Your Own Burdens 
Guest Writer: Meet my friend Shana Schutte. We are blessed to have her as our guest writer.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18 

There have been seasons in my life, as perhaps there have been in yours, when I have tried to carry the weight of life alone. During one of these seasons, the Lord began to minister to me about trusting Him rather than living like a spiritual orphan, resting in His love rather than striving. One afternoon, with pen and notebook in hand, the following thoughts came to mind. They are written as if God is speaking. If you wrestle with striving, you have a difficult time believing the Lord will provide for you, so you live like a spiritual orphan. I hope these words are an encouragement. If you are one of Wisdom Hunters’ male readers, I am pretty sure these words still apply even though they are written in more of a feminine voice.

The daughter who has forgotten that she is fathered, that she has an Abba who loves her, will try to do life independently of Me because she isn’t sure I am with her; she isn’t convinced I will take care of her. So she strives and works and strives and works like an orphan who must take care of herself. She acts like she has no Father while she confesses that she knows Me. Indeed, she is Mine, but she isn’t allowing Me to parent her the way a good father does. Instead, she tries to carry the weight of her life and her responsibilities all on her own. She has forgotten that true rest is found in belief and faith.

And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:18-19).

The person who does not trust cannot rest even if they want to, because they are always driven  out of their unbelief, to self-protection and striving. “I will do it myself!” But the dependent child brings everything to her Daddy. She brings her worries. She brings her responsibilities. She brings her fears, financial needs, and friendships. She brings her love life and loneliness. She brings her marriage, her money, and her mate. She brings Me her life.
She lays down all of the pieces of her existence at My feet, day after day. She brings whatever burdens she is carrying and she unloads them all on Me. She knows she is loved, and she can rest because there is rest in love.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Prayer:  Lord, I praise You that You are such a faithful, loving Father. I praise You that I don’t have to carry my burdens all alone. What a wonderful God you are! Help me to remember that you want me to bring all of my concerns to You.

Application: Find a quiet place today and make a list of your concerns. Then, pray over each one and thank the Lord that you are not a spiritual orphan.

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional~
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Key #5 to Effective Prayer—Endurance
The next key to effective prayer is the need to be patient.  You need to be willing to endure.
Hebrews 6:11-15 says,
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.  For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you."  And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
Do you realize that once God gave Abraham and Sarah the promise of having a child, it was 25 years before Isaac was born?  There was some patient enduring that took place before they obtained the reality of God's promise in their lives.  And so it must be with us.
Perhaps you have been praying for things in your life, and you are getting discouraged.  You must remember that God does not always work things on our timetable.  He works according to His.
I just want to encourage you today:  Be patient.  Patience is that long-lasting quality of your faith.
A number of years ago I heard one person say that faith is like your hand and patience is like your arm.  When you exercise faith, it is like holding up your hand against the problem, and as you do, things are being worked out.  But if you take your patience down, your faith comes down with it.
Patience is the thing that keeps your faith applied until the answer comes.
Patience is a critical key to effective prayer.  Whatever you are praying for, patiently endure.

~Bayless Conley~
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Today's ReadingDaniel 11Jude 1

Today's Thoughts: In Time

 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. - Revelation 1:3

The key word in today's verse is the word "time." When the Lord says, "the time is near," He is referring to time from His perspective, not from the perspective of time that we have. Our minds cannot comprehend God's concept of time, which puts us in a place of trusting Him for His perfect timing in all things.
Time seems so finite to us on earth, but in the kingdom of God, time is very different from what we know today. Even setting the clocks back one hour throws our schedules and internal systems off. It takes many of us all week to get adjusted to the time change. How can we begin to even imagine time being eternal? But it will be eternal for our spirits, and the choice of where we will spend it is up to us. For those in Christ, eternity in Heaven awaits us and the concept of time will no longer matter. For those who die without knowing Christ as their Savior, eternity consists of a Hell too terrible to comprehend.
Today, we should value time from the perspective that it is too short and is running out fast. Let's get out and spread the Good News before time runs out. The book of Revelation is written so that we will know of what is to come and to believe that the "time is near." We must never become complacent or apathetic regarding the Lord's prophecies and promises. His words will come to pass…in time.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~
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For this our light and transitory burden of suffering is achieving for us a weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17). (Weymouth)
The question is repeatedly asked--Why is the life of man drenched with so much blood, and blistered with so many tears? The answer is to be found in the word "achieving"; these things are achieving for us something precious. They are teaching us not only the way to victory, but better still the laws of victory. There is a compensation in every sorrow, and the sorrow is working out the compensation. It is the cry of the dear old hymn:
"Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee,
E'en tho' it be a cross that raiseth me."
Joy sometimes needs pain to give it birth. Fanny Crosby could never have written her beautiful hymn, "I shall see Him face to face," were it not for the fact that she had never looked upon the green fields nor the evening sunset nor the kindly twinkle in her mother's eye. It was the loss of her own vision that helped her to gain her remarkable spiritual discernment.
It is comforting to know that sorrow tarries only for the night; it takes its leave in the morning. A thunderstorm is very brief when put alongside the long summer day. "Weeping may endure for the night but joy cometh in the morning."
--Songs in the Night
There is a peace that cometh after sorrow,
Of hope surrendered, not of hope fulfilled;
A peace that looketh not upon tomorrow,
But calmly on a tempest that it stilled.
A peace that lives not now in joy's excesses,
Nor in the happy life of love secure;
But in the unerring strength the heart possesses,
Of conflicts won while learning to endure.
A peace there is, in sacrifice secluded,
A life subdued, from will and passion free;
'Tis not the peace that over Eden brooded,

But that which triumphed in Gethsemane.

~L. B. Cowman~
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Key #6 to Effective Prayer—Humility

Humility is a very important key to effective prayer.  In 1 Peter 5:5-6 we read this,
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders.  Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.
God resists the proud.  He gives grace to the humble.
Humility, more than anything else, is an attitude of the heart that says, "I recognize I am not self-sufficient.  I am open, I am teachable, I am thankful.  God, I am willing to bow my heart before You and confess that I am in utter need of Your assistance."
Contrary to what some people say and think, humility is not to be equated with lack of courage.  In fact, it takes great courage for a person to admit they have need.  Meekness is not weakness.  Meekness is a sign of strength.
King David said in Psalm 18:35Your gentleness (or Your meekness) has made me great.  Moses was called the meekest or the humblest man on the face of the earth, and yet we don't think of him as a weak person.  He is one of the greatest leaders to ever step out of the pages of the Bible, and very few people in history have had power with God in the place of prayer like Moses did. 
Jesus, our Savior, said, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart" (KJV).  Friend, that ought to be one of the hallmark qualities of our lives— especially when we are praying.  It is a key to effective prayer.


~Bayless Conley~

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"Through," Not Engulfed ( and other devotionals)


"Through," Not Engulfed 
"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee"   (Isaiah 43:2).
Bridge there is none: we must go through the waters and feel the rush of the rivers. The presence of God in the flood is better than a ferryboat. Tried we must be, but triumphant we shall be; for Jehovah Himself, who is mightier than many waters, shall be with us. Whenever else He may be away from His people, the LORD will surely be with them in difficulties and dangers. The sorrows of life may rise to an extraordinary height, but the LORD is equal to every occasion. The enemies of God can put in our way dangers of their own making, namely, persecutions and cruel mockings, which are like a burning, fiery furnace. What then? We shall walk through the fires. God being with us, we shall not be burned; nay, not even the smell of fire shall remain upon us. Oh, the wonderful security of the heaven-born and heaven-bound pilgrim! Floods cannot drown him, nor fires burn him. Thy presence, O LORD, is the protection of Thy saints from the varied perils of the road. Be-hold, in faith I commit myself unto Thee, and my spirit enters into rest.
~Charles Spurgeon~
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It is God which worketh in you.

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God. - A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. - No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. - And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever.

Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.

PHI. 2:13. II Cor. 3:5. John 3:27. -John 6:44. Jer. 32:39. Jas. 1:16-18. Eph. 2:10. Isa. 26:12.

EVENING
The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
In the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early.

I know that in me, (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. - The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. - Our sufficiency is of God. - My grace is sufficient for thee.

MATT. 26:41 Isa. 26:8,9. Rom. 7:18,22,23. -Gal. 5:17. Phi. 4:13. II Cor. 3:5. II Cor. 12:9.
~Samuel Bagster~
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Christ's Calling
Christ's Calling 
Come follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.  Matthew 4:19–20

Disciples of Jesus are called by the Lord to minister in their homes and in the marketplace. However, Christ does call some of His followers to vocational ministry. It is a calling that often comes to ordinary men and women who accomplish extraordinary results. Whom does He call? Christ’s call comes to those who have a hungry heart for God.

Like Paul, you might have been suddenly smitten by a revelation of Jesus as Lord, or perhaps you were like David, who gradually went from feeding sheep what was perishable to feeding God’s people the imperishable. Wherever Christ calls, His first command is to love God and people. A calling without love is like a car without gasoline. It may be attractive on the outside, but it is not going anywhere. Thus, love large where the Lord has called you.

Furthermore, He has called you to endure hardship. “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary”(Revelation 2:3). Christians are not immune to conflict; in fact, your faith invites difficulty at times. So do not seek to shelter your life from adversity, but rather position yourself in obedience to Christ’s calling. It is out of your regular routine of serving Him that you will see what He has in store next.

Make sure you minister first to your spouse and children. Do not be like the cobbler who has no shoes for his family. Your creditability for Christ is seeing your faith lived out with those who know you the best. What does it profit a man if he saves the whole world and loses his family? A calling to family first frees you to evangelize and disciple with God’s favor. His calling aligns with His commands; so service for Him is seamless.

Above all, the Lord is looking for those already engaged in His Word, growing in their character, and active in sharing their faith. His calling comes to Christians who desire the Holy Spirit to conform them into the image of Christ. Your humble imitation of Jesus comes out of your intimate walk with Him. He calls those whom He can trust. So do not look for your calling. Look for Christ, and He will reveal His calling to you.

“I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him. I will bring him, and he will succeed in his mission” (Isaiah 48:15).

Prayer: What is Christ’s calling for my life? Am I steadfast in loving the Lord and people?

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional~
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 Effective Prayer - Praying From the Heart
Today we will look at the third key to effective prayer.  This key is found in Romans 10:9-10 where it says,
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Prayer must come from the heart.  These verses in particular teach us that if a person is going to pray a prayer of salvation, the heart and the mouth must get together.  It is not good enough to just have the words.  Your heart and mouth must be in agreement.
I believe this truth applies to every kind of prayer.  It is not good enough to just use eloquent words.  There has to be heart behind them if you are going to realize results from your prayers.
I think only those things that burn brightly within our hearts truly touch the heart of God.
When I was young, I would go fishing with my cousins.  At night, the bats would come out and my cousins would take a lure, and they would cast it up in the air.  Every once in a great while one of the bats would hit the lure and get snagged.
I think when we pray, it is like casting lines up into the heavens.  But it is only the prayers that come from our heart that ever hook onto anything in heaven.
Effective prayer comes from your heart.
~Bayless Conley~
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BIBLE MEDITATION:
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 “Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Can you imagine what it meant to Mary to hear the angel say to her, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus”? Or for those Jewish shepherds the night of his birth to hear the angels say, “…born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”?

What does that word “Lord” mean? What did it mean to these shepherds? It meant “Jehovah” to them. Jehovah, God Almighty. When the angel said, “a Savior which is Christ the Lord,” the angel was saying He is co-equal, co-eternal with the Almighty.

Jesus Christ is called “Lord” far more than He is called “Savior.” He’s called “Lord” 747 times in the New Testament. He is Lord. Every so often someone says, “Well, I decided to make Him Lord.” Too late for that. He is Lord.

ACTION POINT:
You cannot “make” Him Lord; He already is. Can you receive Him as Lord? Yes. You can bow your knee to Him and say, “O Lord, You are the King. Therefore, I yield my heart to You.” Receive Him today as your Lord. Will you submit to His Lordship?”
~Adrian Rogers - Love Worth Finding Ministries~
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Receiving Assurance of Salvation
How, then, do we receive assurance? The Scripture declares that the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. This inner testimony of the Holy Spirit is as vital as it is complex. It can be subjected to severe distortions, being confused with subjectivism and self-delusion. The Spirit gives His testimony with the Word and through the Word, never against the Word or without the Word.
Since it is possible to have false assurance of salvation, it is all the more urgent that we seek the Spirit's testimony in and through the Word. False assurance usually proceeds from a faulty understanding of salvation. If one fails to understand the necessary conditions for salvation, assurance would be at best a lucky guess.
Therefore, we insist that right doctrine is a crucial element in acquiring a sound basis for assurance. It may even be a necessary condition, though by no means a sufficient condition. Without sound doctrine we will have an inadequate understanding of salvation. However, having a sound understanding of salvation is no guarantee we have the salvation we so soundly understand.
Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God
Thank God for the testimony of His Spirit and His Word, which provide assurance of your salvation.
For Further Study
Philippians 2:12: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Romans 10:10: "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek."
~R. C. Sproul~
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Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts. And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hands" (2 Kings 3:16-18).
To human thinking it was simply impossible, but nothing is hard for God. Without a sound or sign, from sources invisible and apparently impossible, the floods came stealing in all night long; and when the morning dawned, those ditches were flooded with the crystal waters, and reflecting the rays of the morning sun from the red hills of Edom.
Our unbelief is always wanting some outward sign. The religion of many is largely sensational, and they are not satisfied of its genuineness without manifestations, etc.; but the greatest triumph of faith is to be still and know that He is God.
The great victory of faith is to stand before some impassable Red Sea, and hear the Master say, "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord," and "Go forward!" As we step out without any sign or sound--not a wave-splash--and wetting our very feet as we take the first step into its waters, still marching on we shall see the sea divide and the pathway open through the very midst of the waters.
If we have seen the miraculous workings of God in some marvelous case of healing or some extraordinary providential deliverance, I am sure the thing that has impressed us most has been the quietness with which it was all done, the absence of everything spectacular and sensational, and the utter sense of nothingness which came to us as we stood in the presence of this mighty God and felt how easy, it was for Him to do it all without the faintest effort on His part or the slightest help on ours.
It is not the part of faith to question, but to obey. The ditches were made, and the water came pouring in from some supernatural source. What a lesson for our faith!
Are you craving a spiritual blessing? Open the trenches, and God will fill them. And this, too, in the most unexpected places and in the most unexpected ways. Oh, for that faith that can act by faith and not by sight, and expect God to work although we see no wind or rain.
--A. B. Simpson

~L. B. Cowman~