The Crucible

 

crucible.jpg“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil

What if the very ‘blessing’ God desires to give you requires some form of trial and suffering for you to obtain it… would you enter into it? Would you turn away? Would you want it to stop or give up before reaching the goal? One of the biggest things I am asked to pray for is that someone not experience pain or suffering… I have asked for it myself. But does not learning require it? Consider anything you have of value.. did it require some form of trial and pain to obtain it? And what would it be worth if it was just given to you… if it was mediocre?

The answer is it’s worth little or nothing.

Consider the refining process of silver. The ore is heated to approximately 970 degrees and in doing so, all the ‘impurities’ called dross rise to the top and are skimmed away. Again and again the refiner returns the ore to the crucible, exposing it to the blistering heat, each time more ‘impurities’ rise to the surface, and the master gently skims them away, each time leaving behind something more precious and of greater value. To gauge his progress, the master refiner looks for his own reflection in the silver filled crucible. The more dross that is removed, the less distorted His reflection becomes. When He sees his ‘clear’ or ‘perfect’ reflection, his careful intention of producing something of great worth and value is complete.

That is what our God desires to do with you. Jeremiah writes, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” – Jeremiah 29:11. God has a tremendous plan for you, it’s amazing… even extraordinary! But to get there, to obtain His ‘perfect’ will, you must be refined. You know this from playing a sport, learning an instrument, pursuing an education, and even a career. The discipline, hard work, and sacrifice necessary to acquire anything of value in those pursuits are immense. How much more so then, when the objective is your character, faith, and ultimately love?

Suffering has a way of reminding us that we are finite and limited. Suffering makes clear our need for help and a hand up, that we are interdependent and unable to obtain autonomy. What God is offering you is greater than this; it is His very nature He desires to refine out of you. But He does not force you into the crucible, you must choose for yourself. Jeremiah goes on to say, “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (v.13). It is only when we turn and seek Him that we find the answers we are looking for… what is my purpose? Who am I? Where am I going?

How has God got your attention? What struggle are you facing? Would you even consider His plan, if you were not in pain?

Maybe your struggle or pain is the very door He has set for you to walk through in order to obtain His blessing. Would you even be considering it if He had not ‘smacked you in the face’ somehow to get your attention?

Our God has wonderful blessings prepared for you. How do I know that? Consider ‘the way’ we must travel through to receive them. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.” So if the ‘way’ to receiving Gods wonderful gifts is first through the door of Jesus’ sacrifice, and that sacrifice was made at infinite cost to Him, how valuable are the gifts we will receive on the other side by grace? Are they not therefore of ‘infinite’ worth, ‘more precious than gold or silver and precious stones?’

God stands by the crucible and invites you to get in. Our Savior implores you to enter into the furnace, and promises to go with you. He reminds you that He has been there before, that He knows the way, and has defeated the most intense of enemies, both sin and death. He reminds you of others who have gone before… Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel in the lion’s den, and maybe someone you know personally who has faced great adversity and yet their faith in Jesus shines above their tragedy….

I pray you step into Gods plan for you, allowing Him to gently and with great patience and care, skim the dross from your life, revealing His perfect reflection in you. I pray you reach out and take hold of the scarred hand that loves you with every ounce of His being, and enter into ‘the way.’

Choose wisely…

“Greater love has no man than this, that He lay down His life for His friends… you are His friend.

Praying 4 U…

Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, and grandfather with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is a member of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.

The Daily Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 6-10 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” – Romans 8:31-32

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

When the righteous rejoice, there is great glory; But when the wicked arise, men hide themselves. Proverbs 28:12

 

Things God Cannot Do

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Good morning my brothers. It’s a new day and spring is just around the corner and I can’t wait. I love this time of the year. While you are reading this, we are getting ready to host 61 of our Keswick friends on a four-day trip that will include a visit to the Flight 93 Memorial,  The Ark Encounter, The Creation Museum, and the National Aviary.

Here are some other things that our God cannot do:

  1. God cannot be imperfect. Be therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48

  2. God cannot be second in your life. You shall not have any other gods before me. Exodus 20:3

  3. God cannot leave you comfortless. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14:18

  4. God cannot forget those who serve Him. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which you have showed toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Hebrews 6:10

  5. God cannot endure a proud look. …him that has a high look and a proud hear will I not suffer. Psalm 101:5

  6. God’s mercy cannot end. O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endures forever. Psalm 107:1

  7. God’s name cannot be taken in vain. You shall not take the name of the Lord Your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain. Exodus 20:7

  8. God cannot allow ANYTHING to separate you from His love. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, for things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.
    Romans 8:38-39

  9. God’s peace cannot be understood. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

  10. God’s Word cannot return to Him void, it will accomplish what He wills. So shall my word be that goes forth from out of my mouth: it will not return to me void, but it will accomplish that which I please, and it will prosper in the thing where I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

  11. God cannot change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

  12. God cannot deal with us according to our sin. He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. Psalm 103:10-11

  13. God’s Word cannot be changed. Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Psalm 119:89

  14. God’s kingdom cannot be destroyed. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations. Psalm 145:13

  15. God cannot be unforgiving to those who ask for forgiveness. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

  16. God’s plan for my life cannot be bad. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

  17. God cannot be selfish. He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:32

  18. God cannot accept sacrifices when He asks for obedience. And Samuel said, Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings, and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
    1 Samuel 15:22

  19. God cannot be the author of confusion. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
    1 Corinthians 14:33

I will share the last of the list next week. May God bless you.

Rejoice! Pray! Give thanks!

Bill Welte
President/CEO
America’s Keswick

Written by Dr. Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: Bill has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years, and has three married kids, one that is engaged, and 10 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Genesis 44-47 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: The great struggle of my life is not trying to discern God’s will; it is trying to discern and then disown my own. —Paul Miller

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

When the righteous rejoice, there is great glory; But when the wicked arise, men hide themselves. Proverbs 28:12

What Do You See?

 

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“Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.” – Psalm 119:18

Can I see the “forest for the trees?”  When I look at circumstances, do I see obstacles or opportunities? Tell me then, what should I be looking for? I can remember my Dad saying to me, “you see what you want to see and hear what you want to hear,” to which I would reply, “I don’t see what you’re talking about.” Case in point.

“Forest for the trees” is an expression used of someone who is too involved in the details of a problem to look at the situation as a whole. I remember having a youth group come to Keswick and there being a lot of damage done to the property. My first thought was “why do they let those kids come here?” The answer? Four of them got saved that weekend.

Obstacles or opportunity, years ago my car was broke down and I had to ask for a ride from a coworker. After being cornered to having lunch with him, we actually enjoyed the company and shared lunch and had great fellowship for a year or so.

So, what should I be looking for? Heeding my Dad’s advice, not what I want to see, but rather seeing things the way God sees things.

As I walk this walk and use my eyes to direct my path, there are many roads I can go. The way to know the best road is to be in God’s word and allow Him to lead “according to His Word.” I know that there have been a number of times my feet have traveled down the wrong path and I am confronted with the reality that God didn’t lead me here, I did, because I did what I wanted to do and have allowed circumstances to dictate my walk. How many times I reasoned with thoughts of “treat people the way they treat you” instead of “treat people the way I would want to be treated?” I find that when I get to the end of my road, the outcome is usually confusion and turmoil, but God’s way brings me to peace and tranquility.

When it comes down to it, my eyes are going to interpret what I see according to what I believe. Paul tells us in 2nd Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight”, connected with Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If I walk according to God’s Word and ask Him to “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law,” then I get a godly vision and can now walk “according to His Word.”Amen!

Written by Rob Russomano. Rob Russomano is married to Terri, he is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a full time staff member. He is also available as a speaker of the grace of God with a message of Hope for church events. You can contact him at rrussomano@americaskeswick.org.

The Daily Bible Reading: Isaiah 56-61 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Every problem is a character-building opportunity, and the more difficult it is, the greater the potential for building spiritual muscle and moral fiber.” – Rick Warren

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, And a good report makes the bones healthy. Proverbs 15:30

A Frozen Fish Patty on a Bun

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“‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?’ Then Jesus said, “‘Make the people sit down.'” – John 6:9-10a (NKJV)

There’s a popular fast-food chain that puts a commercial that cracks me up. It advertises that it’s seafood lunch box is absolutely LOADED with shrimp/ fries/ biscuit/ dessert/ antacid/ napkin/ bubbly drink/ straw/ hot sauce packet with a juicy jalapeño on the side. It makes the competitor’s one, which is just a frozen fish patty on a bun (oh darn!), look very unfulfilling. But that’s what things have become now, ya can’t just have a fish sandwich and be content. Oh no, on the contrary, you must have all this other stuff to go with it or else you’ll just simply starve to death! Oh, woe is you!!

Did ya ever think you didn’t have enough to offer up to God? Like you’re really not all that gifted to handle Kingdom things and you seem to always find yourself sitting on the sideline with a frozen fish patty on a bun? If we go into the Old Testament, we see two dudes that always seemed to be in the middle of those with very little. Elijah and Elisha always seemed to find those people who are asked to give what they got and those people are going, “Whaddaya nuts? There ain’t enough here to make a dusting let alone a meal.” But somehow these two men of YHVH showed these people that YHVH could use what little they had to do bigger things.

1 Kings 17 gives an account about Elijah the Tishbite. He’ll be the guy that tells a wicked king, “As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” Then he’ll be directed to brook and be fed by ravens, and then he’ll be directed to a widow who will find out that her flour and oil won’t run out, but it won’t be until her son dies that she’ll “know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is true.” We never get their names, and they only had a little to offer, but then YHVH used it to prepare Elijah for that wicked king and his Jezebel.

2 Kings 4 gives an account about Elisha of Gilgal. This starts with a widow with very little oil and on the brink of losing her children to slavery. This account ends with every possible container in the village being filled with oil and two kids getting to stay with their mother. However, as we move towards the end of this chapter we see an account about 20 loaves of bread being brought to Elisha who commands that they be given to the people that they may eat. Which leads to the guy who has brought this gift saying, “What? Feed a hundred people with only this?” But the deed is done and there is leftover. This brings me to the feeding of the 5,000. Other than the Resurrection, this is the only miracle that all four Gospels give an account of.

The Apostle Andrew finds a young lad with what could be his lunch or his whole day’s ration and it seems that the young man has offered it up as something to feed everyone, but we get that same ole’ O.T.  response that it just ain’t enough. So, what’s THE Son of God supposed to do? Well, we know what He does and we forget, at times, that this miracle still does what it did and that is to do bigger things than we think it can do. When we’re thankful for what little we already have, and have the heart to be able to offer it (not when God wants or needs it, ‘cos He really never needs or wants,) but when we see the need in others, our God will do exceedingly, abundantly above what we see as impossible to do on our own.

Now as for the loaded seafood lunch box versus the frozen fish patty on bun is concerned, please keep in mind that Elijah the Tishbite would have made either one last a really long time (see 1Kings 17:8-16). Elisha from Gilgal would have had some leftovers from them (see 2Kings 4:42-44), and why is that? Well, with God nothing is impossible. By the way, Jesus would still be waiting for you to gather the 12 baskets from what He was able to do with it. Never think it ain’t enough to offer up, because when its offered up to THE Creator of the universe, it’s just the right amount. Amen?

Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.

The Daily Bible Reading: Job 21-22 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Jesus didn’t need that boy. Jesus didn’t need his lunch. He could have fed everyone without even missing a beat in His teaching. Jesus could have turned rocks into bread if He wanted to-but instead, He chose to use that boy. The Bible doesn’t give us many details about this kid or why Jesus chose to use him, but I can’t help but wonder if He did it to show us what happens when we offer our gifts to Him” —Austin Gutwein

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, And a good report makes the bones healthy. Proverbs 15:30

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living The Life of the Dead

Makala

“There’s a part of you – the born-again part, your spirit – that’s dead to sin. That’s why it bothers you now when you sin. The ‘wilderness’ part of you – your soul – is your unrenewed mind, out-of-control emotions, and stubborn will.” ~Joyce Meyer

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” ~Paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Romans 6

OH BELOVED, IT IS TRUE.

Each of us, even when we have begun to walk the path that He has set before us, have moments where we fall far short of the glory of G_d. Oh, we know that we are forgiven. That is not the issue of this entry. Rather, the question is what we are to do about the fact that we are forgiven.

The Christian life, from the outside, or from the inside view of someone who is not yet grown in their walk, can look like a ticket to let us do whatever we want to do. After all, Christ has paid the price for our sins. This is absolutely true. Our sins are forgiven. And we can do whatever we want. But a libertine will pay the price in this life, and on That Day, when we stand before Him to give an account.

So yes, we know that sin has consequences. But, as we grow, something else bothers us about our failure. We don’t like it. We actually begin to loathe our sin. We hate it. And we want nothing to do with it. And this, this growth of His Spirit’s work within us, is where Paul is going in the passage above.

Recently, I was praying in the morning. I had some things to confess. There are still parts of me that I just wish were not there. I am still very able to be impatient with my family and students. I am still very able to be angry in self-righteous ways. I still am very able to lust over nearly anything: a body, an opportunity, an object, or a situation…. I. Want. It. Now.

As I was praying, I was confident in His forgiveness, but I began to feel the shame of my falling short. I began to feel the loathing towards my old man. It is just so tiresome to be a man who GREATLY desires to please my Saviour, and to fall short – so often.

But, then, in one of those special moments – where we get quiet enough to listen – He answers. His sheep know His Voice. It is beautiful. So clear. So real. So true. And He answered me. He said, “You don’t understand just how dead you are.”

The Holy Spirit was simply prompting me back to all the places in His Word where it tells me that the old me is dead.  Galatians 2:20, 5:24, 6:14, Colossians 3:3-4, 1 Peter 4:1-2, 2 Timothy 2:11, 2 Corinthians 4:11, 5:17 are just a few of the passages.

CAN WE SEE IT?

Dead men don’t sin. Dead men don’t live in shame. Dead is dead – bury it. For our L_RD Christ Jesus has already done this in His own Body. He has taken us (shame and sin included) down into His death. It is gone, and it is done. And the fact that this corpse wants to flop around and act alive sometimes, is no reason to buy into its rigor-mortic twitching.

Again, this reality does not free me to go off and do more stupid things. It does not give me license to sin, any more than electricity gives me a license to electrocute myself. Oh yes, I can give myself the shock, but there is no need. For, the old man within me is dead, and the new man He has made me desires to live in true freedom.

Hopefully this is something we can see. Of course, sin is a bad idea. But, that we fall into it sometimes, and then live in shame are two sides of the same coin. Both are the promptings of a dead man. And the dead need to be left for dead. Then, we are to see who we really are: Alive in Christ, forever, whole, and free. This really does make all the difference.

So, are you bothered by your sin? Good. Confess it. Forsake it. But leave where it belongs: with the dead corpse of your old man. Tonight is your night. Time to understand just how dead you are. This alone will show you just how free you really are in Him.

Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 30-32| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: If Christ has died for me – ungodly as I am, without strength as I am – then I can no longer live in sin, but must arouse myself to love and serve Him who has redeemed me. I cannot trifle with the evil that killed my best Friend. I must be holy for his sake. How can I live in sin when He has died to save me from it? ~ Charles Spurgeon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, And a good report makes the bones healthy. Proverbs 15:30

 

Listening With Intent

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Do you hear what you’re listening to?

The greatest evidence to answering yes to that question is ‘action.’ Consider this, how many times have you been asked to do something, like ‘bring down the laundry,’ only to walk past the basket and head off to something else you were actually thinking about…?  No action done and honestly, no one ends up happy in this scenario. It is the person who listens and does something about what hears that is the ‘Doer.’ Are you a ‘Doer’ or a ‘Forgetter?’

James writes,  “But he who looks carefully into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and faithfully abides by it, not having become a [careless] listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he will be blessed and favored by God in what he does [in his life of obedience].” – James 1:25

The keys in the verse are ‘faithfully abides in the Word’ you hear, meaning you contemplate what you heard, and consider how to respond. The second key is to ‘obey’, giving action to your response. So what I am saying is, it’s not enough to just read the Bible.. it’s not enough to just hear it preached, you might as well have done anything else if you are not going to give action to what the scripture says. The Bible is the Word of God; therefore it is the owners Manual for the life He has given you. You must listen to what you’re hearing and implement its directives, if you are to live according to life’s design. Anything else is to desire Hell.

I pray that you listen to what God is saying to you right now, and implement it into your decisions today. He guarantees it will lead to harmony and contentment.

Choose wisely….

Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, and grandfather with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is a member of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.

The Daily Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 1-5 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” ~ Larson

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, And a good report makes the bones healthy. Proverbs 15:30

Praying 4 U…

Things God Cannot Do

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Good morning. Welcome to this new week of Freedom Fighter blogs. We are so thankful that you are joining us on the journey and pray that these daily posts are a blessing to you.

Last Monday I shared with you 8 Things That God Cannot Do. I have come up with 51 in total. Here are some additional ones for your consideration:

9.  God cannot stop loving you. Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with            lovingkindess I have drawn you. Jeremiah 31:3

  1. God cannot despise a contrite heart. The sacrifices of a God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:17
  1. God cannot give His glory to anyone else. I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Isaiah 42:8 
  2. God cannot stand sin. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, He will not hear. Isaiah 59:2 
  3. God cannot leave work unfinished. Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 
  4. God cannot neglect His children. If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him? Matthew 7:11 
  5. God cannot be put on a time schedule. And He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own power. Acts 1:7 
  6. God cannot be unknown to those who want to know Him. And you shall seek me, and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
  1. God cannot give me a spirit of fear. For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
    2 Timothy 1:7
     
  2. God’s Word cannot pass away. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35 
  3. God cannot be understood by human understanding. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! Romans 11:13 
  4. God’s sheep cannot be plucked from His hands. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. John 10:28

Pretty amazing? I trust this will encourage your heart as you start out this new week. May God bless you.

Rejoice! Pray! Give Thanks!

Bill Welte
President/CEO
America’s Keswick

Written by Dr. Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: He has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years, and has three married kids, one that is engaged, and 10 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Genesis 40-43| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think About This: God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to. Elizabeth Elliot

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, And a good report makes the bones healthy. Proverbs 15:30

Walk In Good Works

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“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10

I’m a “list guy.” I do better when things are written down. My wife is a list maker, she knows if she wants something done by me it needs to be written down.

In Ephesians 2, we read about our conversion, the exchange that was made upon our salvation. Verse 8 makes it clear that we have been saved by Grace and not of works. The word “works” shows up in verse 10 as a responsibility of a believer. It is written as a way to communicate to us that God may be a list maker also. “For good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” I am often asked by a new believer “now that I’m saved, what am I supposed to do?” My answer is always “Walk in good works.” As our conversation continues I go on to tell him that his new relationship with Jesus is built by being in His Word and prayer. The word “walk” can be defined as, to make one’s way, progress; to make due use of opportunities.

I find as I walk with the Lord and I am attentive to His leading, my life has meaning and purpose. The Bible teaches that we all have been given gifts from God, so not only does He give us a job but He provides the talent to carry out that purpose. What a great deal, why not walk in His ways, enjoy His fellowship, and get a few things done along the way?

The next question I get is “How do I know what God wants me to do?” First, we need to make sure that we understand God does not love us more because of our works (unlike my wife’s to-do list… just kidding!) We work to fulfill our calling and bring Glory to His name. I usually can tell if it is of God if it’s eternal, good, and profitable. “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men” (Titus 3:8).

Maybe today if you’re feeling stagnant or need a boost of encouragement, seek out God and ask Him for a job to do. If you’re thinking “I can’t do much for God because I’m physically not able,” there’s always praying, writing notes of encouragement, and being a listening ear to name a few. You can contact Americas Keswick and sign up to receive our monthly prayer calendar, we always appreciate your prayers. So, until next week, take a “Walk in good works” Amen!

Written by Rob Russomano: Rob Russomano is married to Terri, he is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a full time staff member. He is also available as a speaker of the grace of God with a message of Hope for church events. You can contact him at rrussomano@americaskeswick.org.

The Daily Bible Reading: Isaiah 51-55 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “A believer does not perform good works to live – but he lives to perform good works. The Consistent Christian, 1660.” – William Secker

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“The light of the righteous rejoices, But the lamp of the wicked will be put out.” – Proverbs 13:9

Remembering What’s Important

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“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24

We had a frightening moment this week when our unborn child, who is usually very active, wasn’t moving. My wife and I pressed, listened, and monitored until we decided it was time to call the doctors. The doctors gave us various instructions, but still no response. Emergency Room! On the way to (and while in) the emergency room, God gave us a sense of peace that everything was going to be okay. After a few hours of observing, the doctor gave us the assurance that everything is okay for now. And we were comforted.

In life, there are many different realities, various opinions, and innumerable theologies… but at the end, the truth is that ‘By His stripes we are healed.’ Ultimate healing, ultimate comfort, can only come from one source. This is essential to all believers; ‘in whom we must be saved.’ Instead of spending all week pondering over who’s right and who’s wrong, maybe it could be beneficial to go back to your first love, first encounter, the moment you knew that you were in Christ and Christ in you.

There is no other mystery that trumps, “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25) When we were confused, scared, and uncertain about the baby, nothing other than Christ and Christ alone could comfort us. What if we had this at the front our mines at all times? Return to your first love.

Written by Juan Mendez: Juan is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and full-time staff member at America’s Keswick.

The Daily Bible Reading: Job 19-20 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “When God gives you comforts, it is your great evil not to observe His hand in them.” – John Flavel

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“The light of the righteous rejoices, But the lamp of the wicked will be put out.” – Proverbs 13:9

How Great the Father’s Grace Towards Me

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“Without a heart transformed by the grace of Christ, we just continue to manage external and internal darkness.”  ~ Chandler

Amazing grace… I don’t think I can say the one word without thinking of the other. Grace, more specifically, God’s grace is amazing in that by it, I am not treated as I deserve. I broke the command…

I willfully rejected the way God designed life to work.. and justice demands I be punished. But, because I put my faith in what Jesus the Christ finished on the cross, God forgives and declares me justified.. and able to come boldly into His presence. I don’t deserve that.. and nor do you. But, I have it anyway because I am ‘saved by grace, not of (my) works’ (Eph 2:8).

I hope you understand what you have received ‘by grace’… it was not free, you know… Your sin, your willful rejection of God, doesn’t just disappear. Because God is ‘Perfect Justice’ sin must be paid for. That’s what Jesus did for you at the cross, He bore the penalty… your debt, which is all the wrath of God towards all sin. That’s the cup Jesus lamented over in the garden… but He did not walk away, He bore that suffering and infinite agony because He loves you with an infinite love. What work could you do to possibly match that?

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I am found, and now I find rest, meaning, and purpose for my life in His gift of grace.

I hope you open up His Word and discover all His Grace has opened up for you. It would be amazing to know what you discover.

Choose wisely…

Behold the man upon a cross

My sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice

Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there

Until it was accomplished

His dying breath has brought me life

I know that it is finished

Praying 4 U…

Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, and grandfather with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is a member of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 27-29 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Grace means undeserved kindness. It is the gift of God to man the moment he sees he is unworthy of God’s favor.” – Dwight L. Moody

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“The light of the righteous rejoices, But the lamp of the wicked will be put out.” – Proverbs 13:9