Do it for Me?

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“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory.” – Psalm 115a

There were many times after an ultimatum was given that I either obeyed or I was sent to my room. I, being as stubborn as I am, would often take the latter and spend some time in solitaire. Shortly after the decree was given, I would get a visit from my Grandmother. This would begin with the question “I wish you would listen.” Then she would pull the always dependable request, “Do it for me?” How could I tell Grandma no?

I think sometimes when I look at things from a horizontal scale it’s easy to get caught up in the “why should I” mentality when it comes to acts of service or even just doing the right thing. In a world that rewards us for doing our job with a pay check and benefits that support our lifestyle, why should I do anything for free or for the salary I get? I should at least get the praise I deserve.

I am a believer in the saying “If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.” The attitude of our service is what makes what we do profitable towards the kingdom of God. When I’m not feeling like doing a good work or fulfilling an obligation, I can usually find a reason why I’m not going to give it my best, after all, they don’t pay me enough or I see other people slacking all the time.

It’s not until I begin to think vertically and realize that since I’ve professed to be a follower of Jesus and will be judged as a Christian that I can say “Not unto them, but unto the Lord.” I would often give in to my Grandmothers request because of the kindness and love she has shown me, but my analogy falls apart when I consider the Lord and to look upon Jesus with His nail pierced hands and feet, how can I tell Him no? In a world that is so divided, the one place a person should be able to look and see unselfishness is in the church of Jesus Christ.

My guess is if you are struggling to serve others and to put forth your best efforts at work you probably have horizontal vision. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth”, this verse in Colossians 3 relates to a lot more than our acts of service. It’s a good reminder that we serve a God who made a way for us to be with Him for eternity and provides us with His presence here on earth.

When I live my life with an “Unto the Lord” mentality, I find joy in serving a God who loves me and is calling me to live my life to a higher standard to bring glory to His name. It’s a very good testimony if someone should ask, “Why do you do what you do?” Simply say, “I do everything as unto the Lord”.

“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20,21

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: Jeremiah 47-52| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “If we give God service it must be because He gives us grace. We work for Him because He works in us.” – Charles Spurgeon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” 1 Peter 1:8

 

 

 

The Grace Test

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“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB)

Some days I just didn’t feel it. Although it is around me in the commonality of everyday life, some days I just didn’t feel it. I’ve read books on it, heard sermons about it, and I do understand that it has been granted to me (though I don’t deserve it), but some days I just didn’t feel it. Living in a world that presses in from all sides will do what it can to squeeze it out of me, but in the long run, God is able to make all grace abound toward me, that I, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. So, when it comes to God’s grace in my life, the more you try to hold me down, the more I press on!! Deal with it!! …Wrong viewpoint huh?

In its basic definition, grace refers to a smooth and pleasing way of moving or a polite and thoughtful way of behaving, but these definitions are subjugated to what man considers to be smooth, pleasing, polite, or thoughtful. That’s not to say that man doesn’t have an idea on what grace looks like, it’s just my way of saying man has, at times, a flawed view. Even we Christians can maintain a “graceful value system” that is geared more towards Christian living rather than Christian relationship, and that really holds us back from showing the grace of God in our lives towards others. We tend to show the right and wrongs of life through Biblical wisdom instead of the person of Jesus Christ.

When we look at the events that are occurring around us right now, how many of us are finding ourselves in endless debates over the moral anarchy that has become a clear and present danger? So many of us American Christians lost our minds when the plaques that had the Ten Commandments engraved upon them were removed from courthouses that you would have thought the wrath of God was just around the corner. Yes, the Ten Commandments outline a moral code that reflects the righteousness of a holy God, but all they can do to the current American mindset is bring condemnation. They can pinpoint that we all have a spiritual disease but offers no hope for a cure.

Even in my own personal walk, I was at an unfortunate crossroads with extending the same grace of God that was shown to me. It is like I became this encyclopedia of what is just and fair and wanted EVERYONE around me to understand that we have to maintain our moral compass and that my role was to be that of a watchman. Now, this may have been a good thing when it started, but I got so rigid within the idea of it that when a major storm came I took an unnecessary thrashing for all the wrong reasons and have been left pretty beaten up by the experience. So much so that I have had to sift myself through the epistle of 2nd Corinthians to see where I went wrong. And there it was, a single word, like a silent whisper in a cave…grace. I forgot to extend grace. C’est la vie….

The attributes of Jesus Christ aren’t hidden from us if we have a right relationship with Him but when we think we got this like I thought I did, all chaos and disorder breaks out. Paul encouraged the Corinthian church to, “test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith.” And then he warns ‘Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need first hand evidence, not more hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you.”

The damage from the storm is still in need of repair, I’m disheartened to tell you, but I am better in understanding God’s grace because of it. My guess is that if we don’t do a regular “accounting of ourselves” instead of accounting others, God will do it for us and we better be ready for that day. It is a humbling thing to have been brought down from the watchtower to be sifted like wheat, but God was faithful through it and He once again showed me undeserving grace. If you feel like you are being sifted be of good cheer because “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b) 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: Proverbs 1| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Because we have been crucified with Christ, we have been delivered from the law. We are no longer required to live under a system of rules that outline right and wrong behavior. We are now free to enjoy life in the Spirit. God promised the Old Testament saints that a day would come when He would write His law on the hearts of His people. That day has come!” — Steve McVey

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” 1 Peter 1:8

 

 

 

God’s Presentation

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“Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” (Romans 6:13)

I learned a few things in my short time here in the world, some profound, other general information, and some are just useless facts. One of those things, though I don’t know what category it falls in, is to dress according to the place, situation, occasion, and the like. If I’m in a court room, I must present myself in regards to the court. Job interviews alone require various attire on their own. Sports, parties, work, beach, even going to Church has a… I’m going to leave that alone. A costume for every event is a presentation.

The presentation or the representation of our members are extremely important for ourselves, the gospel, and moreover to glorify Our Lord and Savior Jesus of Christ. The way we present our members demonstrates the impact Christ has had on our life. It gives a lost world hope, a struggling believer a purpose, the name of Jesus magnified.

In my luxurious career in sin, you never had to question my level of depravity. It was obvious and I represented well, how much more should we present these new members to for the kingdom. The New Living translation states it like this, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10) We are God’s presentation, masterpiece, artwork; represent.

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: Psalm 63-65| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: The clothes we wear are what people see. Only God can look on the heart. The outward signs are important. They reveal something of what is inside. If charity is there, it will become visible outwardly, but if you have no charitable feelings, you can still obey the command. Put it on as simply and consciously as you put on a coat. You choose it; you pick it up; you put it on. This is what you want to wear.”

– Elisabeth Elliot

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” 1 Peter 1:8

 

Confidence In The Dark

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“Father, Into your care I commit my spirit.” ~ Jesus

At the darkest moment of anguish, bearing the signs of despair, loneliness, and grief… Jesus, by faith, committed what was most precious about Him into the care of our Heavenly Father.

He knew no matter the circumstance, no matter how dark life ‘seemed’ at the moment, Our God is Faithful.

In these moments, words are few. Grief is a silencing entity that takes almost all expression away. The only defense we have against it is our faith in ‘The Sovereign and Holy God who is there.’

As Christ took His final breath and entered death on our behalf, it was His faith in the ‘God who is there’ the sustained Him.

I pray you have this confidence in you that was also in Christ at His moment of crisis. I pray you will turn to Him… The God who is there.

Choose wisely…

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalms 46:10)

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 Kings 1-4| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “One way to get comfort is to plead the promise of God in prayer, show Him His handwriting; God is tender of His Word.” – Thomas Manton

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” 1 Peter 1:8

I WANT TO KNOW HIM (PART 2)

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“[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power out-flowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] …”  – Philippians 3:10 Amplified Bible

I started to share some thoughts from this text two weeks ago, then the 9th annual Family Freedom Walk came and I had to share what God did. As of today, we are at $70,000 that our great God has brought in.

This powerful mission statement written from the pen of the Apostle Paul has some amazing implications. I shared with you 7 things we need to know about Christ and what He is doing now. If you missed it, go back and re-read it.

There are four things about knowing Him that I want to share with you. Here’s the first one: Knowing His is a PERSONAL experience. I love to read and one of my favorite leadership authors is Dr. John C. Maxwell. I have literally read every one of his books. I love good fiction and I have read every one of John Grisham’s novels. While I know their books, I don’t know them personally. I probably will never have the opportunity to meet them face to face.
We will get to see Jesus face-to-face someday, but He desires that we know Him now. Personally. And we do that by:
Reading His Word daily
Meditating on His Word
Memorizing His Word
Praying—our speaking with Him
Praying –our listening to Him

We fall more and more in love with Jesus by spending time with Him. And it is all because we learn to love Him and we’ve never even seen Him. Peter wrote: “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcomes of your faith the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)

It is sort like a relationship with a pen-pal. You write each other and get to know each other through words of a paper. When you finally meet that pen-pal face-to-face, you find that you already know that person so well that you just enjoy the pleasure of that fulfilled relationship that has been cultivated.

Paul’s desire to know Him came from a deep abiding relationship with Christ. He fell in love with Jesus and what an impact he had on the world.

My prayer for you today is that you will KNOW Him – really know Him by personal experience. If you have never had a personal relationship with Jesus, you can start today. For some of you, that means trusting Him as your personal Savior. Don’t know what that is all about? Well you can check out our salvation brochure.

Have a blessed week.

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 10 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 33-36| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think About This: God has called us to be fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium. Pastor Ken Carlson

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” 1 Peter 1:8

 

I Ain’t Scared of Nothing!!!

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“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” –  2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

Is it possible to be scared to death? During the January 17, 1994 earthquake that hit the Los Angeles/Northridge area, over 100 people literally died of fright, according to Robert Kloner, cardiologist at the Good Samaritan Hospital in L.A. His research has shown that excessive fear can cause sudden cardiac death. In many cases, the terrorized brain triggers the release of a mix of chemicals so potent it causes the heart to contract so fiercely it never relaxes again. Sounds like one do-zee of a Charlie horse, don’t it? Guess this may be why Paul needed Timothy to be strengthened in his faith before he took over the church in Ephesus.

Because Timothy comes from a heritage of faith, a faith he personally possesses, Paul also encourages him to use his spiritual gift in his work at Ephesus. Throughout 2 Timothy 1:5-14 Paul will weave different themes together, all intended to encourage Timothy. As Paul should know, the Ephesians were passionate about their goddess (Diana) and the business of selling her effigies to this phony goddess’ believers. But before I end up slamming a group of people I’ve never met, let’s look at five things we can glean from this passage of Scripture.

  1. Paul identifies himself with Timothy. Paul was with Timothy when Timothy received his gift [“the gift of God.”] The plural “us” continually associates the two: God gave us a spirit of power and saved us not because of our works, but because of his grace; the Holy Spirit too lives in us. Just as God gave Paul a spirit of power, called him to suffer without shame for the gospel, saved him to a life of holiness as a teacher of that gospel, and gave him the assurance that he would keep Paul safe, so also God has done, and will do, the same for Timothy.

 

  1. Paul calls Timothy not to be ashamed of the gospel or of Paul himself (v 8). Paul is fully convinced that God can keep him safe and is therefore not ashamed (v 12), and neither should Timothy be.

 

  1. Paul encourages Timothy by calling him to share with him in suffering for the gospel (v 8); Timothy’s suffering is not simply to be endured or viewed as a deterrent.

 

  1. Paul reminds Timothy that God has not abandoned him in Ephesus, but rather will empower him to do the work. The call to suffer with Paul for the gospel is “according to the power of God” (v 8), the same power that can keep Paul’s “deposit” safe until judgment day (v 12). Likewise, as Timothy guards what God has given to him, he is to do this not in his own power but through the Holy Spirit that lives in him (v 14).

 

  1. Finally, the description of the gospel itself serves as an encouragement to Timothy. The gospel to which Timothy is called to suffer and of which he is not to be ashamed is the very gospel that declares the salvation of God and a call to obedience, based not on human merit but on God’s grace, the possession of which was Timothy’s before time but is now revealed through Christ. No matter how difficult the situation becomes in Ephesus, Timothy can draw encouragement from a proper understanding of the gospel message.

Verses 6-14 not only afford a personal look into Paul’s heart and his relationship with Timothy, but also provide a paradigm of the nature of Christian encouragement. Timothy is to hold fast to Paul’s gospel, characterized not by bitterness and quarreling but by faith and love. Since God can guard what Paul (and Timothy) has entrusted to him, Timothy should be able to guard what God has entrusted to Timothy, as always, through the power God gives him by the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we can find ourselves in “earthquake” moments but with the “Pauls” in our lives, we can endure attacks to our faith a lot easier than if we just went on our strength. It is my hope that you have been encouraged to day to seek out a Paul as a go to in your daily walk. Amen?

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

The Daily Bible Reading: Jeremiah 42-46| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “The Christian doctrine is a trust committed to us; it is of unspeakable value in itself, and will be of unspeakable advantage to us. It is committed to us, to be preserved pure and entire, yet we must not think to keep it by our own strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us; and it will not be gained by those who trust in their own hearts, and lean to their own understandings.” — Matthew Henry

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious that gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:7

 

 

Loosen the Load

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“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” – 1st Peter 5:7

I’m a visual person, so when I read and hear an analogy I immediately begin to draw a picture in my mind of what that looks like. So when I read a portion of scripture that says “Cast all your care upon Him,” I see myself walking around carrying a heavy load. If you’ve ever seen someone with their hands full, you probably wouldn’t think to ask them for something, not even for the time of day.

This verse precedes the one about our enemy, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Again, the visual gives me a picture of not being preoccupied with things that I don’t have control over. Cares and worries are usually things that pertain to circumstances beyond my control. One of the benefits to being a child of God is He invites us to give Him our burdens. When I allow myself to be preoccupied, I put myself in a vulnerable position and can easily suffer a defeat.

The key here is to have an understanding of the difference between a care and a responsibility. He is not saying to cast my responsibility on Him but to cast my cares. I believe the purpose of casting my cares is to allow me to focus and attend to my responsibilities.

Allowing God to handle the things that worry me is a way to be alert and responsive. Too many times I’ve neglected my responsibilities because of not being fully committed to the task at hand. I can become irresponsible when my full attention is not where it should be.

I’m not trying to minimize the things that concern us, the picture here is unloading the things you’re holding onto in order to be productive. This can be accomplished by a time of crying out to God in earnest prayer, writing out these prayers and having your tears soak the page. But then being able to leave them at the alter, only to return to them at a devoted time. For me, it’s in the morning, I spend my time with the Lord and He has his hands open wide to hold my cares until I come back to revisit the concern.

So P.U.S.H., (pray until something happens) but then rise to your feet, leave your cares where they belong and be about your Father’s business. 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: Job 41-42| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Fall on your knees and grow there. There is no burden of the spirit but is lighter by kneeling under it. Prayer means not always talking to Him, but waiting before Him till the dust settles and the stream runs clear.” – F.B. Meyer

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious that gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:7

 

 

 

 

The Incorrigible Old Man

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What makes authentic disciples is not visions, ecstasies, biblical mastery of chapter and verse, or spectacular success in the ministry, but a capacity for faithfulness. Buffeted by the fickle winds of failure, battered by their own unruly emotions, and bruised by rejection and ridicule, authentic disciples may have stumbled and frequently fallen, endured lapses and relapses, gotten handcuffed to the fleshpots and wandered into a far country. Yet, they kept coming back to Jesus.
~ Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

And calling the crowd to Him with Him disciples, He said to them, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
~ Jesus, King of The Universe, in Mark 8

Oh beloved, it is true.

We know that we are broken. This is the prelude to the Good News of Jesus Christ. For, when we come to the end of our belief in ourselves, we can begin to actually believe in the One Who is so mighty to save. And really, nothing gets started – until we come to the end of who we are.

The problem, though, is not just with us. The problem is that we really need to come to believe that entire system around us is broken too. Wave upon wave of history has shown us that we are more than willing to destroy everything around us.

So, there are two insidiously complementary forces at work. And this even leaves out The Satan, who works to push the boulders of our destruction even faster down the hills we have made. We are in a terrible bind, and there is no fix to the problem.

In our own personal walks, we find that it doesn’t really matter how long we have been trusting in Him. There is a dead part of us that simply will not be regenerated. We can be twenty years into getting things right, and in 20 seconds, be right back to some behavior that never got us what we wanted in the first place.

And, in the travels of our civilizations, we find that there really is nothing new under the sun either. Centuries and, even now millennia, of our history with “A.D.” (Anno Domini, or Year of Our Lord) after the year, have shown that every culture, no matter how impregnated with the Gospel, is able to walk away from the One Who set her free.

This has happened four times actually in America, with the recent 40-years being the latest.  Thankfully, there were three great awakenings in the 1730s, the early 1800s and also in the late 1850s. But, it is yet to be seen if America will awaken from her moral and spiritual near-coma, which started in the late 1960s, but which set in most fully after the 9/11 attacks.

Can we see it?

All of this points back to the very prelude of the Gospel: Blessed are the poor in spirit. And, when any of us, or any group of us, begins to think that we are rich in and of ourselves – we are in real trouble. The first thing we lose is our sense of blessedness, and begin to think we are entitled to the wonderful life we have found.

Further, our view of G_d gets small. We begin to think that we already “get it,” and that there is no need for us to continue growing as a person, or as a nation. We think to ourselves, “I have already become very rich. There is no need for me to continue in the planting and harvesting. I will take my leasure.” However, what we find, is that our lives (and even a nation’s life) actually come to an end the day we stop learning and growing.

So, are you struggling with failure? Are the sins of your past beginning to plague you again? It happens. But the solution is exactly the same as it ever has been. You, and this fool of writer, and the nations we inhabit, need to remember that we really cannot do life on our own. We are utterly poor, apart from Him. And to listen to our incorrigible old man will only hasten our demise.

Tonight is your night beloved. Time to remember Who is the Source of your strength. And time to ignore the old voice of our self.

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 60-62| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: The flood of temporal things draws us after itself, but in this flood there is, as it were, a full-grown tree: our Lord Jesus Christ. He took flesh, died, and ascended to heaven. It is as if He agreed to be in the flood of the temporal. Is this stream dragging you headlong? Hold on to Christ. He became temporal for you, so that you might become eternal, for He became temporal in such a way that He remained eternal. What difference is there between two men in a prison when one of the is a convict and the other a visitor! Sometimes a man comes to visit his friend, and it seems that both are in prison, but there is a great difference between them. One of themes is held there because of guilt, while the other has come out of love for mankind. Thus it is with our mortality: guilt holds us here, but Christ had come out of mercy. He came freely into bondage, and not as a convict.
~St. Augustine, Sermons on I John, II.10

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious that gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:7

 

Even When I Walk Through the Darkest Valley

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“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”  ~ David

The 23rd Psalm is one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written, as well as a reflection of a dark time in David’s life. The ‘shadow of darkness’ he refers to is a metaphor for the trials and hardships that invade our lives. These dark times come whether they are from sin, sickness, immorality, jealousy, anger, tragedy, or frustration on our part…or from others actions.

The thing to know and to remember above all else is; regardless of the circumstances, no matter what has cast the ‘dark shadow’, there must first be light for a shadow to exist.

Jesus is that ‘Light’.

Even though something seems to overwhelm us and we can’t see that light, it doesn’t mean that the ‘consuming’ fire of Jesus Christ has gone out. David describes Him as walking with him, and He is bearing all that is necessary to comfort you… even in the presence of what this world considers ‘evil’.

With that confidence, we can be assured that He (The Light) will burn through the darkness at the right time.  So be certain that He is authoring your faith as you wait on Him. And know that this faith is developing in you ‘virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and that all these are producing love’; “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)

God is at work in your life… even in the dark shadows that feel like death itself. Don’t give up! Don’t ever let go of that faith! His light will shine though, and you will know our God is faithful.

Choose wisely…

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

  He makes me lie down in green pastures.

  He leads me beside still waters.

  He restores my soul.

  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

   (Psalms 23:1-3)

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 Samuel 20-24| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “To learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.” – George Mueller

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious that gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:7

My Plan B Was God’s Plan A

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Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

A few Saturdays ago was our 9th Annual Family Freedom Walk at America’s Keswick. Many of you followed us on social media and I am thankful for those of you who prayed, participated, and gave so that we can reach men and women in addiction.

Our financial goal this year was $65,000, and I have to say that in the beginning I was not thinking it was such a huge amount, but as the day approached – well let’s just say – I was starting to get a little nervous.

For several years we had rain predictions and a couple of walks it rained in the morning and then cleared. One year it rained everywhere but around America’s Keswick.

But this year the prediction was for Nor’easter with 100% rain all day. On Friday, the sun was shining all day and it was beautiful. Several people on our team wanted to have a Plan B, but I was really struggling. Could I not once again trust God with the day?

We mapped out Plan B and there was complete unity on the team with the plan. We decided that even if the sun came out, we would stick with our Plan B and go from there.

It not only rained on Saturday – it poured. And I mean poured.  There was not let up at all. Apart from a miracle, there was no way that this was going to be a success. Well at least from my perspective.

We had hundreds of people praying and we saw God answer prayers in ways only traceable to HIS hand. He demonstrated His faithfulness and it was AMAZING.

Our Plan B turned out to be God’s Plan A. While we had fewer walkers, walking in the gym versus walking around the lake turned out to be so much fun. There was more buy-in from our addiction recovery grads and the men and women who are currently in the program. More people actually walked than just standing around. 95% of the group actually walked for an hour and fifteen minutes.

There was a lot of laughter, great fellowship, and we just had fun walking to the glory of God. But what would God do financially. After all, our goal was $10,000 higher than last year, we had less people, we had a lousy day weather wise.

My friend Dr. B used to say, “The Red Sea is before you – the Egyptian army is coming up behind. There are mountains on either side. Great honks! Things are ripe for a miracle.

When our CFO came to me with the paper with the financial totals, I had a deep settled peace that God would give us what He wanted us to receive from His good hand. He isn’t dependent on sunshine to provide. He really is dependent on is to raise the money. He’s God and we’re not.

To my amazement and for His glory – the total was $68,212!!! To God be the glory great things HE was done.

How often I plan and sweat and fret and fuss. His plans are far better than mine. He knows the BIGGER picture and is not limited to my puny brain and my mere plans.

I learned a big lesson. I need to trust Him with my plans and allow Him to do what only He can do.

Are the times when your Plan B turned out to be God’s Plan A? I’d love to hear your story.

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: Exodus 29-32| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think About This: “Orphans plead and beg; heirs pray and believe.” Susie Larson

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious that gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:7