In The Mountains of Tioga

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“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.”

– Psalm 63:1-2 (NKJV)

I came to Tioga County in Pennsylvania to check out its version of The Grand Canyon. Pretty cool stuff to see and, as usual, there are the placards at the “Ooh-Aah” overlooks that explain that tens of thousands – or perhaps millions upon millions – of years were needed to carve this fantastic scenic spot out of the rock. Personally, I think I found those spots where Ancient Aliens came, carved out the rock and then taught the local Indian tribes to build temples to themselves so everything else could be worshipped …except The Most High God. Yeah, once that gets said we can pretty much sum things up that no matter what others may want to say, it’s always gonna point to El Elyon. Anything else is just lip service to elevate man’s humongous ego or express my sense of humor. Anyway…

Life as I know it at home needed to stop for a moment so I could fall back, think, and pray. There is something about being up in this high elevation that gives you the sense that you’re that much closer to El Elyon than you are at sea level. So, at the East Rim of this version of The Grand Canyon, my wife and I seized those moments to cry out to Him that created all this and tell Him we trust what He has planned and asked for the strength to endure the course that it runs. I usually find myself fitting into a Biblical character during these prayer times and in this moment, it’s King David.

It is the Second Book of Samuel and it starts off great, David becomes king, the Ark of Covenant arrives in Jerusalem, then as complacency sets in the sin with Bathsheba occurs and as the narrative goes on, we’ll see that an Absalom spirit has descended onto David’s court. David will be driven outta Jerusalem, by his son Absalom, and David’s priest, Zadok, will carry the Ark as he is following David out of the city. But David will turn to him and say, “Return the Ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the sight of the LORD, then He will bring me back again and show me both it and His habitation.” (2Samuel 15:25) Fascinating!! Even in the treachery that was occurring all around him, David was still putting El Elyon first.

I can touch and agree with David in one aspect of this story and feel this is where his heart was the heaviest. That is to have been driven out of Jerusalem was to be driven out of corporate worship of YHVH with God’s people. Now turn to Psalm 63.

This whole psalm is directed right at El Elyon and its not asking for protection or victory but for God, Himself, to satisfy David’s soul like water to a dry and thirsty land. With all that was going on during this part of his life, David didn’t just need to know but to feel that God’s steadfast love is better than life itself. For David, it wasn’t about asking God to save his life or to rescue Absalom from his sin but to feel his God’s presence like he could during those times of corporate worship with God’s people. When everyone shared in the solid joy of an unshakable love that only could come from YHVH Himself. My guess is that, so long as David could still feel YHVH’s love engulfing him, David would make it back to Jerusalem, back to corporate worship with God’s own people and maybe, just maybe, win Absalom back.

How about you? Has there been something that has driven you away from corporate worship and all you desire is to be back in the presence of THE God who loves you? I can tell you that you are NOT alone. Sometimes things can just go so wrong that all we think we can do is flee, and if that happens we need to be as mindful as David was when he told Zadok to go put the ark back where it belonged. We need to keep ourselves that kinda God-focused so that when we finally reach that absolute moment of thirst, the presence of God will be that much more-easier to find. So, if you’re like me today maybe a trip to the mountains is long overdue. Besides, the air is fresher up here and the water is much more purer than it is at sea level. 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: Ezekiel 37-42| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Here is a great longing I have for the corporate worship in our churches—that when we meet and sing and pray and hear the Word of God, God Himself will be so manifestly present in ‘power and glory’ that in years to come, when any of you is cut off from this immeasurable privilege, the very memory of seeing God in worship will bring Him home to you again.” — John Piper

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, Daniel 9:4

 

 

 

Don’t Ruin Your Appetite

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“But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine.” – Titus 2:1

I can still hear the echoes of my Grandmother as I would come in before dinner and reach for that tempting snack to fill my hunger, “Don’t ruin your appetite.” I heard a statement the other day that got my attention, “We are so filled up on junk food that when the main course comes, we’re not hungry”.

As I look around at all the attempts to lure people into the church I can’t help but wonder, what about sound doctrine? There’s so much excitement and entertainment to attract the lost that when it comes to the main meal, it seems like we’re not hungry anymore.

It would appear that we are falling for “Hype over Hope” as many young adults are being entertained by the latest version of Game of Thrones or Call of Duty until the middle of the night on Saturday and then wonder why Church is so boring on Sunday. We seem to have watered down the adjectives “Amazing” and “Awesome.” I can remember when someone would share how excited they were, it was because they really were excited; it was not just a marketing tactic.

So, what is keeping us from getting excited about God’s word? Maybe we have let down the guards of our household. As men, we need to be wise to what is coming in through our televisions, computers, and cell phones. Just as we make sure our doors are secured to keep out strangers, which we wouldn’t allow in to harm us or our family, we need to be guarding other ways that the enemy is creeping in, filling us with unrealistic hype. These things are competing with our minds to distract us from seeing that the real need is to be in the Truth of God’s word.

The Apostle Paul pens a short letter to Titus that gives us a picture of the “How to” be wise and discerning. We need to be “Trained by Saving Grace.”

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14

I think there is too much hype, a way to create interest in, by flamboyant or dramatic methods; promote or publicize showily which is fleeting and unstable. This can keep us from seeing our need of Hope, a steadfast immovable aspect of what God provides to keep us content and allow us to focus on what’s true.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:1,2 and 5

So, “Don’t ruin your Appetite”, get rid of the junk food and come to God’s word hungry to receive proper nourishment, 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: Proverbs 13| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “A man is hindered and distracted in proportion as he draws outward things to himself.” – Thomas a Kempis

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, Daniel 9:4

 

 

 

He’s a Good, Good Father

 

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In Chris Tomlin’s children’s book “Good Good Father,” the little bear, Tucker, runs to many animals asking their perception on the good king.

The raccoon said the good king is a good warrior, protector.

The owl mentioned he is a good teacher.

The foxes declares that The King is a good doctor who makes us well.

The squirrel describes him as a good farmer.

The turtle proclaims he is good musician, filling us with laughter and music.

As I read this narrative, I was reminded that how we see, moreover what we believe, about God is essential to true worship and honor. And it impacts how we live. A lot of times we limit our ideas to thoughts of God that fit our predispositions or current circumstances. Free yourself from your own biases; God’s Word has a plethora of insight to lead you to a right, well-rounded understanding of our good Father.

In the end, Tucker the bear realized that the king possessed all the great qualities the each animal shared and that he was indeed, a Good Good King, a loving King, a perfect King.

“And we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love; whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16)

A good, good Father.

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: Psalms 87-89| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Man has two great spiritual needs. One is for forgiveness. The other is for goodness.” – Billy Graham

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, Daniel 9:4

Faith Means Building the Boat Before you See the Rain

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‘Faith means building the boat before you see the rain.” ~ Inrig

How much of God’s blessing have we missed out on because we stayed on the shore or in the boat? What if instead we had ‘waded in’ ‘by faith’, knowing He will act, and is just waiting for us to join Him so we can be blessed through His work?

Life is full of spectators. There are many who remain in the stands because they allowed distractions, fears, anxiety, and other opinions to sideline them from what God has so wonderfully designed for their lives. I have played sports most of my life and know firsthand the scars and wounds that do occur from being in the fight. I wouldn’t trade one of them for being a spectator… each is a reminder of what was overcome and the battles won. Life is no different… there are scars to be had there too… but when I walk by faith, following my Lord into each battle, yes I may be knocked down and even wounded, but it is in a worthy cause, for my Lord fights for the hearts and minds of those who need to hear the Gospel. For that, I will get off the shoreline and out the boat and wade into any battle.

My heart bears many scars, some very fresh and not yet healed. I have come to realize that they are not something to despair over though, but are great reminders that I am a participant in God’s work and walking with the One who bears more wounds than I could conceive of, and more than anything else, who gave His life for me… I will follow Him no matter what battle He fights.

I read often through Hebrews 11 and I am encouraged by the words, ‘by faith.’ These two words portray the obedience of those who walked with God, not knowing where that path would lead or what battles they may incur. None of that mattered to them… what did matter was that they were with the One who is ‘Absolute Perfection’. With Him they knew true goodness, justice, truth, faithfulness, beauty, security, hope, and love.

I pray you are ‘building the boat while trusting His Word that the rain is coming.’

Choose wisely….

“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)

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: 2 Kings 16-20| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “”The steps of faith fall on the seeming void, but find the rock beneath.” – John Greenleaf Whittier

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, Daniel 9:4

 

Pray Without Ceasing

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“Pray without ceasing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

We have been unpacking our theme verse for the year, and on this first day of a new week, I want to talk about this second command of the Apostle Paul to “pray without ceasing.”

Thanks for joining us on this journey as we meet daily through our Freedom Fighter blogs and emails. We appreciate your participation.

Prayer is one of those disciplines that we take for granted too often. We minimize its power, we make it the last-ditch effort when facing issues, and quite frankly, I believe we sometimes just plain forget about it if we are really honest.

We tell people, “I’ll pray for you,” but do we really do it? We use this phrase too often as part of our “Christianeeze.”

When Paul gives this admonition, he is not asking us to do something he himself has not practiced. He often starts out one of his letters telling his receivers that “we have not ceased to give thanks” or “we constantly are praying for you.”

Paul is not suggesting that we should be a bunch of monks and praying 24 hours a day. Pastor Warren Wiersbe writes: “’Praying with ceasing’ does not mean we must always be mumbling prayers. The word means ‘constantly recurring,’ not continuously occurring. We are to ‘keep the receiver off the hook’ and be in touch with God so that our praying is part of a long conversation that is not broken. God knows the desires of the heart (Psalm 37:4), and He responds to those desires even when our voice is silent.”

This type of persistent, on-going prayer is a reminder that God never hangs up on us. He constantly keeps the line of communication open. In fact, think about this – we could be in a room with 10,000 people all praying out loud at the same time, and our big, omnipotent God hears every prayer and individually focuses on YOUR prayers giving His full attention with BOTH ears.

My take away is that God delights it when we continue the conversation with him throughout the day. I need to learn to pray about EVERYTHING – not just the big things – but even the small things that you might not feel are not important in the big scheme of things.

Last week the power went out at 5:55 AM. We had a full house of guests at America’s Keswick. I have to confess that I totally blew it. I want to tell you that at that moment, I rejoiced, prayed, and gave thanks!

Unfortunately that wasn’t my first line of defense, but it should have been. I drove out our entrance way to see if everyone else’s’ power was off. It was at that moment the Holy Spirit tapped me and I sensed Him saying, “Really? How about asking me to take care of this problem?” I quickly repented of my sin and rejoiced, prayed, and gave thanks. I called my wife and she told me the power was back on.

My desire is to get to that place where I will pray about EVERYTHING first rather then get in a jam, or when things are messed up. He’s there. He’s listening. He’s waiting for you and me to cry out to Him.

Lord, help me today to pray without ceasing – to remember that you are there waiting for me to call on You. Amen.

Rejoice! Pray! Give thanks!

Bill Welte, D.D.
President & CEO of 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 11 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Leviticus 19-21| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think About This: Prayer is the means by which you will be freed from your earth-bound, time-bound thinking to participate in eternity. True prayer releases His power so that His power can accomplish immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.

–Jennifer Kennedy Dean

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, Daniel 9:4

 

Big Doors, Little Hinges

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“And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; And after the fire a still small voice.”  – 1st Kings 19:12

There’s a saying that “Big doors swing on little hinges,” that’s an illustration of how a small voice or encouraging word can make a big difference in the whole picture.

In a world that is screaming to be heard and demands that we give in to fleshly living, because of how loud and in public they are, they can begin to persuade us that they are in control. When the lifestyles of those that oppose God are in front and personal, we can begin to feel defeated.

In 1st Kings 19, we read the account of Elijah. After being threatened by Jezebel, he had become discouraged and was ready to quit.

Vs 4 “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

Sometimes I feel like I am limping into Church after being beat down all week from a world gone wild. If it weren’t for my daily devotional time with the Lord, I don’t think I could make it.

I like the illustration here as God brings forth a series of turbulent conditions that would bring cause for anxiety and fear, but God was not in them, it was in the end that God shows up “and after the fire, a still small voice.”

It is important to always remember that God is still in control, with all the noise and confusion, we can still have a Hope that will carry us through and deliver us safely home. It’s the “carry us through” part that can be exhausting. That’s why gathering together with like-minded believers in Christ can give us the reminder that we’re not alone. It’s the Elisha’s and the remnant that God provides that confirms with the Holy Spirit tells us that He is still mighty to save.

The advice given to Elijah was to “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” The picture here is of physical food, but for us as believers it’s our daily bread that gets us through the day. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is”.

We cannot allow ourselves to become distracted by the turmoil and confusion that the world and news media are feeding us. Maybe in our current state we can say “then came a protest and the people demanding to be heard, but the Lord was not in that” (1st Rob 3:16).

I know it can be hard not to get angry and feel like giving up but I believe the Lord would have us to encourage one another. We have an account in the Old Testament of when the Children of Israel gave in to the masses and God became angry with them. There is a warning in Hebrews 3:13 “but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

So, listen for that “Still small voice” that wants to instruct us and keep us in the love of God. 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: Ezekiel 31-36| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Because of the empty tomb, we have peace. Because of His resurrection, we can have peace during even the most troubling of times because we know He is in control of all that happens in the world.” – Paul Chappell

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Proverbs 15:8

 

 

 

 

Absence of Reverence: Revisited

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“Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and their wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of the discerning men shall be concealed” – Isaiah 29:14 (NASB)

Being a Freedom Fighter writer for almost a decade now has given me something more than just an activity to pass my time. It has given me a record of where I once was on this journey known as the Christian Walk. A recent posting from my fellow laborer in the vineyard, Makala Doulos, had a link to something I wrote back in 2012 that caught my attention. I started that day off by quoting verses Isaiah 29:13-14 and went into a slight discourse on idolatry. I also made a plea that we do not become so familiar with the presence of El Shaddai that we reduce Him down to our level and treat Him as common. With that in mind, today I would like to revisit Isaiah 29:13… but maybe in a different light.

“Then the Lord said, ‘Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.'” I like the lip service part because sometimes we hear things as we go through the motions of doing church that sound so crisp that we almost trip over each other to say “WOW, THAT WAS SO PROPHETIC!!” But ya know something, I kinda like it said like this: “The Master said: ‘These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their hearts aren’t in it. Because they act like they’re worshiping Me but don’t mean it.'” There is a phrase out there in Secularland that gets used quite often, and I hear it used at where I work all day, but for the sake of keeping a PG rating I’ll just say that these folks talk with a tongue of dung.

We know that there are wolves among the sheep, but I ain’t here to give the wolves any acknowledgement beyond what I just wrote. I’d rather share with you something I recently stumbled on that Ray Stedman wrote in a devotional that I think sheds some light on what can happen to us from time to time. Take a look at the very first word used in the beginning of Isaiah 29…. WOE!! Okay, now remember that and then get your focus back onto verse thirteen. Ray uses a phrase that I think strikes a death blow to the saying we’re “just doing church.” The phrase is “Mechanical Religion” and in short, it’s the “meaningless, external conformity to a performance of religious things.” If you are at this point in your walk, then you are in grave danger.

Now if you feel things have become spiritually dull for you, being kinda mechanical during a church service or a Bible study, that can be a warning sign that says you are heading into the danger zone. However, it is a healthy thing to ask yourself if you have lost your zeal for The Most-High God from time to time. Scripture can sound and appear kinda dull and common place as well and singing “Majesty” or “Amazing Grace” can be just as mundane as walking but don’t ever think that God will leave you hanging there…not if you are really a child of His. Now for your moment of WOE….

“And it shall happen instantly, suddenly. From the LORD of hosts, you will be punished with thunder and earthquake and loud noise, with whirlwind and tempest and the flame of a consuming fire.” (Isaiah 29:5b-6)

And that’s just His tap on your shoulder (just kidding?). Anyway, spiritual complacency is not a good place to be. It leaves you in place where Secularland can begin to cut its groove into you and the next thing you know you’re stuck in its depth. Fortunately, there is a God that will not leave you or forsake you, but that doesn’t mean you’re gonna get something that changes the course of your walk that is covered with complete goodness. I myself am going through an ordeal that I never saw coming and it has me leaning hard on The Cross of Christ. But in the mess of it all God has sent reassurances that He is there and in that I find peace. That peace has rekindled zeal and that zeal feels good…even if my heart is heavy from what has happened.

So, from the pen of Ray Stedman, know this very thing, “God’s love for us does not tolerate pretense and external worship. Do we gratefully acknowledge His wake-up calls as His loving pursuit?” If you have comfortably agreed then I lift an AMEN with you, if not then all I got for you is a…WOE.

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: Proverbs 11-12| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “At times God will send something that wakes you up suddenly to the drift in your life. This is why He has spoken so helpfully through the prophets and the apostles, warning us of the danger of spiritual drift and the danger of living mechanically as a Christian.”—Ray Stedman

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Proverbs 15:8

 

 

 

Servanthood: Partaking in the Goodness of G_d

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Servanthood does not nullify leadership; it defines it. Jesus does not cease to be the Lion of Judah when He becomes the lamblike servant of the church. ~ John Piper

Royalty is my identity. Servanthood is my assignment. Intimacy with God is my life source. ~ Bill Johnson.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
~ Jesus, King of The Universe, in Matthew 25

Oh beloved, it is true.

Each of us may try to be someone who does some good in this world. We go out to make an impact, but usually we don’t even make a dent. We go into things with a focus on what we think is right. And while this is sometimes the case, often it is just misguided effort.

Much of this is fixed by two things.

One, we just keep failing to make a difference. We bloody and batter our heads against the wall of our situations. Each and every time we try to help, we just kind of fall pitifully short.  And, in the failure, we begin to see that our agenda was much less noble than we originally thought. We find that, instead of actually helping others, we were trying to control situations to look good, or to bring safety and comfort to ourselves.

The second flows from the first. In our realization that we really cannot do anything – of any use – apart from Him, we come to Him and find what some call a second act of Grace. Oh, this is not that we are any more “saved” than before in an eternal sense, but now we are finally getting saved from more than just our sins. We are getting saved from ourselves.

Said more simply: Both of the above dynamics show us that G_d is G_d, and we are not. And once we embrace this, things finally begin to work.

Can we see it?

Once we come to the end of our self, and its failures and messed up motivations; once we come to see Jesus for Who He really is, we begin to see things as they really are. In this space, we begin to see the exquisite beauty in others, and within the new man He has made us into.

Suddenly, instead of trying to make a difference, or trying to make things a little better, we find ourselves looking out over an incredibly rich field. This field is full of people, made in His very image, and we are literally drawn to their beauty. We don’t try to make their lives better, we simply go in and tend to the beauty, and goodness, and value, that is already there.

Some of you have found this. You find yourselves, pouring yourselves out for people to utter exhaustion of of your body and soul. But, the strangest thing is, is at the end of the pouring out, just as you have drained the last drop of you in celebration towards those around you – you feel more full, and whole, and real than you felt at the start of it.

This is servanthood. You are not improving the lot of others. You are dancing in eternal fields, celebrating the amazing beauty of the people in your midst.

So, are you worn out by trying to help people? It happens. This fool of a missionary often finds himself in this place too. However, the answer is just as simple as it has ever been: Quit trying. Let G_d be G_d. See things the way He sees them, and let the dancing begin all over again.

Tonight is your night beloved. Pour out, that you might be filled.

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: Psalms 84-86| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: Before the judgment seat of Christ my service will not be judged by how much I have done but by how much of me there is in it. No man gives at all until he has given all. No man gives anything acceptable to God until he has first given himself in love and sacrifice.
~A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Proverbs 15:8

 

Read Wisely

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“If the mailman brings you a love letter from your fiancé, don’t fall in love with the mailman” ~ Piper

When you ‘delight’ yourself in the Lord and love the One who has sent you His Words of hope, assurance, forgiveness, and grace… look in Psalm 37 at the ideas that begin to emerge. The first being trust, you can trust your very being to His care. Jesus knew this one when in the fiery crucible of the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.”

Next is to commit. When you trust someone with your very Spirit, you can ‘commit your way’ to them, and ‘dwell’ in their presence, like we do in a marriage. The rest of the ideas that follow are ‘resting in’, ‘waiting on’, and ‘not being anxious’. All of these become a part of our lives because of the ‘One’ we have come to know and love.

Many have missed out on the delight that God’s presence brings into our lives; this is because they have fallen in love with what He ‘provides’ and not ‘the One’ who provided it.  This lacks gratitude and anchors our faith back into what is temporary, as opposed to what is ‘eternally true.’

I pray you open a Bible today, and as you read, you will fall in love with ‘The One’ who has given Himself for your delight.

Read wisely….

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” (Psalms 37:23-24)

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: 2 Kings 11-15| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “The more you read the Bible; and the more you meditate on it, the more you will be astonished with it.” – Charles Spurgeon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Proverbs 15:8

 

Taking Every Thought Captive Prayer

 

Praying in the dark

Pray Without Ceasing –  1 Thessalonians 5:17


The second verse of our theme verses for 2017 is the exhortation of Paul, “Pray without ceasing.”

I am reading several books right now on prayer and what I have discovered is that one of the reasons people struggle to pray is that they do not know what to pray.
If you are honest, there are times when the enemy attempts to take us captive by filling our minds with all kinds of garbage. I recently read this helpful prayer again for “taking every thought captive.” I will have Graeme post this on the website so that you can download the prayer. I pray that it will be helpful to someone struggling.

Daily Commitment Prayer To Take Every Thought Captive – Alaine Pakkala

Father, I come to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I claim the blood of the Lord Jesus as my protection during this time of prayer. I address only the True and Living God. I refuse any involvement of Satan in my prayers.

In the name of Jesus Christ, I command Satan to leave my presence with all his wicked spirts and I bring the blood of the Lord Jesus between us.

Father, I ask that You help me during this time of prayer. I thank You that the weapons of my warfare are not carnal, human or fleshly but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge and experience of God and brings every thought into obedience to Christ.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I resist and cancel every plan, I smash and break every stronghold that has been formed against me and my priesthood. I bind Satan’s work in this area and loose his hold upon my priesthood. I submit my priesthood to You, dear Lord.

I take authority over all wicked spirits in and around the house that have been assigned to hinder me and my priesthood today. I bind you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I command all wicked spirits in the house to leave and I bind you outside the house. I submit those bonds to You, heavenly Father.

I resist and cancel every plan, I smash and break every stronghold against me for this day. I bind and destroy all the enemy’s work against my mind, my emotions, my will, my body, my nerves, my spirit and its functions, and against the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I resist all counterfeits, hindrances to my ministry and calling, my spiritual gifts, my prayers, and my authority in Christ.

Father, I thank and praise You for Your salvation and deliverance so rich and free. I praise God that while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me and ransomed me from the fall. I now claim the blood and righteousness of Christ as my only hope for salvation. I thank You that I was justified, sanctified, given eternal life, and made an heir of God and a co-heir with Christ. I claim all the blessings that are mine because of it.

I claim my union in the crucifixion where I was placed in Christ and as He died for sin, I died to sin. I put off the dead old nature with all its deceitful lusts. I reckon myself now dead indeed to sin.

I claim my union in Christ in the resurrection where I was raised to new life and I put on the new man created in righteousness and true holiness and claim the resurrection power in my life.

I thank You for my union in Christ in the glorification where Jesus was seated at the right hand of God the Father. You have placed me there in Christ. I claim my place there where all principalities, powers, and wicked spirits are put under the feet of Jesus and thus under me. I therefore declare that all principalities, powers, and wicked spirits are subject to me because of this.

I thank You for my union in Christ in Pentecost where I was baptized by the Holy Spirit. I claim the filling of the Blessed Holy Spirit, all His ministry, and His fruit in my life for this day.

I thank You for my union in Christ in the promises; that in Jesus they are all yea and amen. I claim my place as an adult son by the adoption of the Spirit where I now have all the inheritance and authority as an heir of God and co-heir with Jesus Christ. I claim _________ (any promises God has given you personally as well as Phil. 4:19; John 7:38; Eph. 1:3; etc.)

I reject and resist all the endeavors of Satan and his wicked spirits to rob me of the full will of God. I claim God’s full will for me. I surrender myself to You, Lord, as a living sacrifice. I choose not to be conformed to this world by the renewing of my mind so that I may know the full and complete will of God in experience. If the enemy has any ground or hold in my life that robs me of God’s will, I pray You will push it out and expose it that I may be totally Yours. I refuse to believe my feelings, but place my faith completely in You for victory.

I thank You for Your full provision for victory. I put on the full armor of God: the breastplate of righteousness, the girdle of truth, the sandals of peace on my feet, the helmet of salvation on my head, the sword of the Spirit in my hand, and I cover myself from head to foot with the shield of faith.

I claim all the victory the Lord Jesus Christ has provided for me where He made a show of principalities, powers and wicked spirits, leading them in a victory procession, triumphing over them by His cross. I reject them out of my life, all their insinuations, accusations, condemnations and temptations, hindering, lying, counterfeiting and distorting of the truth. Keep me aggressive in prayer mentally, physically, and spiritually to withstand the enemy in all things.

I choose to please You, Lord, in all things, to obey Your Word, and to live in harmony with You. I choose all the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in my life—His crucifixion, resurrection, and glorification, and all the work of Pentecost (the ministry, fruit and filling of the Holy Spirit). I refuse to be discouraged. You’re the God of all hope. I surrender myself to You completely.

I resist and reject every endeavor of Satan to rob me of the full will of God. I claim God’s will. I now resist and reject all the forces of Satan that are active in my life today. I do all this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Rejoice! Pray! Give thanks.

Dr. Bill Welte
President & CEO of 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 11 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Leviticus 16-18| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think About This: The infallible test of spiritual integrity, Jesus says, is your private prayer life. — Pastor Tim Keller

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Proverbs 15:8