The Carpenter's Chapel (9)

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  1. DHK

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    The Carpenter's Chapel (9)
    Please carry on.
     
  2. following-Him

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    I do hope that Charles will be able to post here soon.
    I hope he won't mind if I share the occassional devotional with you.
    This one is taken from Word For Today and it can be found at www.ucb.co.uk
    I hope it will be a blessing to all who read it.

    Putting God's kingdom first (1)22 Jun 2011'Seek the kingdom of God above all else...' Matthew 6:33What does it mean to put God's kingdom first in your life? It means 12 things. Read them carefully then ask, 'How do I measure up?' a) obedience to God. '"...anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven"' (Matthew 5:19 NLT) b) love. '"...love your enemies! ...If you love only those who love you, what good is that?"' (Matthew 5:44,46 NLT) c) justice. '"God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice..."' (Matthew 5:6 NLT) d) peace. '"God blesses those who work for peace..."' (Matthew 5:9 NLT) e) holy living. '"...let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father"' (Matthew 5:16 NLT) f) integrity. '"Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will' or 'No, I won't'...'' (Matthew 5:37 NLT) g) generosity.'" When you give a gift to someone in need...Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you"' (Matthew 6:2,4 NLT) h) spiritual wholeness. '"...Is anything worth more than your soul?"' (Matthew 16:26 NLT) i) biblical knowledge. '"Your problem is that you don't know the Scriptures..."' (Matthew 22:29 NLT) j) Faith in God. '"...if you had faith as small as a mustard seed...Nothing would be impossible." "...But with God everything is possible"' (Matthew 17:20; Matthew 19:26 NLT) k) blessing people. Jesus not only taught this, but His constant healing of, training, and serving others demonstrated how to do it l) disciple-making. '"Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations..."' (Matthew 28:19 NLT). According to Jesus that's the only agenda worth living for - and if necessary, dying for!
     
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    Today's devotional from Word For Today. It can be found at www.ucb.co.uk and click on Word For Today.

    Become a better listener24 Jun 2011'...Be quick to listen, slow to speak...' James 1:19Want to become a good leader? Become a good listener! Here are two stories of what happens when we don't take time to listen. The first is from a young woman hurt by a manager who constantly cut her off: 'We expected he would wait and give us answers to serious questions about our work. Many times he walked off when we were in mid-sentence, having heard nothing.' The next is from a church youth director who was fired: 'After serving the Lord there for two years, I was called into an elders' meeting. They took out a list of all the things I'd done wrong in the past two years. Most of what they said was true, for I was brand new in this work. Then they called for my resignation. What did I learn? a) not once did anyone care enough to coach or shepherd me b) I'd no idea or warning that I was doing anything wrong c) the church leaders never built a relationship with their staff.' Why is it so hard for some leaders to listen? Because leaders love to talk, and as they gain more authority there is the danger to think they have less reason to listen. Leaders by their very nature tend to be removed from the frontlines of battle. To win, they must constantly listen to those who are in the trenches and rely on that information to make wise decisions. Before Ezekiel was qualified to prophesy or lead God's people, he wrote: '...I sat among them for seven days - overwhelmed. At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me' (Ezekiel 3:15-16 NIV).
     
  4. following-Him

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    Today the devotional comes once again from Word for Today, which can be found at www.ucb.co.uk

    Samson and Delilah26 Jun 2011'...Samson went down...' Judges 14:1Samson lost everything for several reasons. First, wrong relationships. When God says no to a relationship He's not being punitive, He's being protective. 'But I feel so good when I'm with them,' you say. God sees where the road leads, you don't! It's better to want what you don't have, than end up with what you can't handle. Second, wilful disobedience. Three times we read, 'Samson went down.' The third time it was to Delilah! So, is this relationship taking you up or down? The poet wrote, 'My old companions fare thee well; I will not go with thee to hell.' The Bible says that 'Samson went down' to Timnath and married a Philistine girl, breaking God's law. And even though she betrayed him '...the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men...' (Judges 14:19 NKJV). Perhaps Samson thought God would excuse him because he was 'special'. No, 'He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed...' (Proverbs 29:1 NKJV). Repent, before you run out of time! Third, misplaced confidence. '[Delilah] said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" So he awoke... and said, "I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!" But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down...' (Judges 16:20-21 NKJV). When God's blessing is no longer upon what you're doing, it's time to realise that there's sin in your life and you must deal with it, and that the secret of your strength is in God, not you.
     
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    Today the devotional is taken once again from Word For Today, which can be found at www.ucb.co.uk

    I hope it will be a blessing to all who read it.

    How to Have a Personal Revival (1)28 Jun 2011'...Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.' Psalm 80:18The Psalmist prayed, 'Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.' Almost a century ago, A. W. Tozer laid out the steps that lead to personal revival. Some of the language may be outdated, but the principles still work today. First, get thoroughly dissatisfied with yourself. Complacency is the enemy of spiritual progress. A complacent soul is a stagnant soul. Second, set your face like a flint towards a sweeping transformation of your life. Timid experimenters are tagged for failure before they start. We must throw our whole soul into our desire for God. Third, put yourself in the way of blessing. It's a mistake to expect God's help to come as a windfall apart from conditions known and met. There are plainly marked paths which lead straight to the green pastures; let us walk in them. To desire revival, for instance, and at the same time neglect prayer and devotions, is to wish one way and walk another. Fourth, do a thorough job of repenting. Do not hurry to get it over with. Hasty repentance means shallow spiritual experience and lack of certainty in the whole life. Let godly sorrow do her healing work. Until we allow the consciousness of sin to wound us, we will never develop a fear of evil. Finally, make restitution wherever possible. If you owe a debt, pay it, or at least have a frank understanding with your creditor about your intention to pay, so your honesty will be above question. If you have quarrelled with anyone, go as far as you can in an effort to achieve reconciliation.
     
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    Today's devotional comes once again from Word for Today, which can be found at www.ucb.co.uk

    I hope all who read it will be blessed by it.

    How to Have a Personal Revival (2)29 Jun 2011'...Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.' Psalm 80:18A. W. Tozer gives us four more steps to personal revival that we must take: '(1) Bring your life into accord with such scriptures as are designed to instruct us in the way of righteousness. An honest man with an open Bible, a pad and a pencil, is sure to find out what is wrong with him very quickly. I recommend that self-examination be made on your knees, rising to obey God's commandments as they are revealed to us. (2) Be serious-minded. You can well afford to see fewer shows on TV. Unless you can break away, every spiritual impression will continue to be lost to your heart. The world used to go to the movies to escape serious thinking about God. You would not join them there, but you now enjoy spiritual communion with them in your own home. The devil's ideals, moral standards and mental attitudes are being accepted by you without your knowledge. (3) Deliberately narrow your interests. Too many projects use up time and energy without bringing us nearer to God. (4) Have faith in God. Begin to expect. Look up toward the throne where your advocate sits at the right hand of God. All of heaven is on your side. God will not disappoint you.' The Psalmist writes, 'Restore us... and we shall be saved!' (Psalm 80:19 NKJV). You say, 'Saved from what?' From ourselves! Saved from the influences that pull us away from God and towards this world. Saved to fulfil the purposes for which we have been redeemed and called into His kingdom. If you desire it, you can have a personal revival.
     
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    Today's devotional is taken from Our Daily Bread, which can be found at www.odb.org

    Until the day I was found, I didn’t know I was lost. I was going about business as usual, moving from task to task, distraction to distraction. But then I received an e-mail with the heading: “I think you’re my cousin.” As I read my cousin’s message, I learned that she and another cousin had been searching for my branch of the family for nearly 10 years. The other cousin promised her father, shortly before he died, that she would find his family.
    I hadn’t done anything to get lost, and I didn’t have to do anything to be found except acknowledge that I was the person they had been looking for. Learning that they had spent so much time and energy searching for our family made me feel special.
    This led me to think about the “lost and found” parables of Luke 15—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Whenever we wander away from God, whether intentionally like the prodigal son or unintentionally like the sheep, God looks for us. Even though we may not “feel” lost, if we have no relationship with God, we are. To be found, we need to realize that God is looking for us (Luke 19:10) and admit that we are separated from Him. By giving up our waywardness, we can be reunited with Him and restored to His family.



    The Lord has come to seek and save
    A world that is lost in sin;
    And everyone who comes to Him
    Will be restored and changed within. —Sper



    To be found, you must admit you are lost.
     
  8. following-Him

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    I have two devotionals to share with you today. I hope they will be a blessing to all who stop by and read them.

    The first is from Word For Today, which can be found at www.ucb.co.uk
    The Voice of Fear (1)01 Jul 2011''Elijah was afraid and fled for his life...'' 1 Kings 19:3The Bible says, 'Jezebel... sent this message to Elijah: "You killed my prophets, and now... I am going to kill you"... So Elijah fled for his life' (1 Kings 19:1-3 TLB). Often the voice of fear comes after you've had a mountain-top experience. Elijah had just called down fire from heaven on Mount Carmel. Then Jezebel spoke. She didn't use chariots and soldiers; she didn't need to. Her words intimidated him, depressed him and drove him into hiding. Look out! If you listen to the voice of fear you'll be afraid of the next telephone call, the next medical prognosis or the next stock market report. Who are you listening to? Who are you going to believe, God or men? Neither the wind nor the fire nor the earthquake could bring Elijah out of his cave, only the still, small voice of God could (1 Kings 19:11-13). Our fears are often the result of two things: imagination and misunderstanding. Fear causes us to think the worst instead of believing God for the best (2 Corinthians 10:5). '...fear brings with it the thought of punishment...' (1 John 4:18 AMP). When something goes wrong we wonder, 'Is God punishing me for something I've done?' No, fear and faith are present with us every day; the one you choose will rule your life. So when you come up against a fear-producing situation, do these three things: pray for God's wisdom and protection; He promises both; admit your inner struggle - you're not unique, we all battle fear; stand on His Word, for He says, '..."I will never leave you nor forsake you"' (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV).

    The second devotional is taken from Our Daily Bread, which can be found at www.odb.org

    We live in an age dominated by all kinds of public opinion polls. Decisions are being driven by the crowd, and some of that is good. Surveys can inform us about people’s experiences with products, helping us make wiser purchases. Opinion polls can give government officials a sense of how their policy initiatives will be received. While information gleaned is a matter of personal opinion, it can be helpful in shaping decision-making on a variety of levels.
    But when it comes to the most important question for all eternity, a public opinion poll cannot give us the answer. We must answer for ourselves. In Matthew 16, Jesus took His disciples to Caesarea Philippi and asked a question about public opinion: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (v.13). The answers were varied, and all were complimentary—but none was adequate. That’s why Jesus then asked His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” (v.15). Peter got the answer right: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v.16).
    Public opinion can help answer certain questions, but not the one question that will determine your eternity: Who do you say that Jesus is? If you agree with Scripture, and place your trust in Christ, you will have eternal life.



    It doesn’t matter what the crowd
    Believes about the Lord.
    What matters is: Do you believe
    What God says in His Word? —Sper



    Opinion is no substitute for the truth of God’s Word.
     
  9. following-Him

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    The Word For Today is:

    The Voice of Fear (2)02 Jul 2011''...He will work for you today...'' Exodus 14:13If you're battling fear today, listen to these words from the God Who loves you, protects you and promises to be with you. When there seems to be no way out, He says, 'Fear not; stand still (firm, confident, undismayed) and see the [deliverance] of the Lord which He will work for you today.' Notice the words, 'He will work for you today'. Start looking for evidence of His hand at work in your situation; that's how your faith grows. When the problem looks too big, He says, 'Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you' (Deuteronomy 31:6 AMP). Stop and remind yourself whose company you're in. The One 'Who goes with you' has never lost a battle, and He will win this one. When you feel like you can't cope any more, He says, '...do not look around you... and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties...' (Isaiah 41:10 AMP). Notice the words 'harden you to difficulties'. God usually doesn't lift us out of the problem, He takes us through it and toughens us up. When you lose your peace of mind, He says, 'Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance... continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace... which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds...' (Philippians 4:6-7 AMP). Don't listen to the voice of fear. God is with you today!

    This devotional can be found at www.ucb.co.uk
     
  10. following-Him

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    Today the devotional is again taken from Word For Today, which can be found at www.ucb.co.uk

    I hope it will be a blessing to all who read it.

    A Prayer for Understanding03 Jul 2011''But he knoweth the way that I take...'' Job 23:10Are you in a situation you don't know how to handle? Are people giving you conflicting opinions and advice? Are you afraid you'll make the wrong decision? If so, you're in the place where God can speak to you. Here's a prayer for you today: 'Lord, Your Word says that You are "the only wise God" and I am desperately in need of You at this time. I'm in a situation human wisdom can't explain and human ability can't fix. There's only one way out - that's through You! Send the spirit of wisdom and show me which way to go. Send the spirit of revelation to help me understand what I can't figure out, for nobody but You can get me through this. Help me to faithfully obey all You show me to do, and to remember that sometimes the wisdom of this world is foolishness to You. Help me to know the difference between human advice and godly advice, and to choose Your way. I submit this situation to You and commit myself to following You, knowing You've promised to direct my steps. Help me to walk this road with confidence in You; with the courage that comes from knowing I am Yours. Help me to cling to my convictions, yet still love those who misunderstand me. Keep me far from anger and close to Your heart. And though it's an uphill climb, take my hand, light my way and help me to walk on, for in the end I know that all things will work together for my good and Your glory: in Christ's name, Amen.'
     
  11. following-Him

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    Happy 4th July!

    I would like to share two devotionals with you today. The first is from Word For Today, which is to be found at www.ucb.co.uk

    Go Back and Make It Right04 Jul 2011''...if you are displeased, I will go back.'' Numbers 22:34A lace-maker was working on a very intricate design when she noticed a mistake at the beginning of her work. To the untrained eye it was inconspicuous and she could easily have camouflaged it, but moments like that separate the professional from the 'dabbler'. She worked all night, painstakingly unravelled her work till she reached the flaw, fixed it and started over again. When the angel blocked Balaam on the road, Balaam said, 'I have sinned. I did not realise you were standing in the road to oppose me... if you are displeased, I will go back.' There are times when you need to go back and make things right. Now, God doesn't usually send angels to tell us we're off course; He speaks through His Word, through a trusted friend, or through our conscience. One Bible teacher says, 'If the Holy Spirit reveals we've made an error, it's pointless to go on unless we go back... Sometimes you get so far in life and realise... the threads just aren't coming together; you've made a mistake somewhere along the line. Your sins have come home to roost. We do ourselves a disservice when we merely make a quick mid-course correction. If you want the ends to come together, then ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you "dropped the stitch".' Marcus Aurelius said, 'A wrongdoer is often one who has left something undone, not always one who has done something.' If the Holy Spirit is dealing with you right now about some unfinished business in your life, stop, go back and make it right. It's not easy, but God will honour your humility and
    obedience.

    The second devotional is taken from Our Daily Bread, which can be found at www.odb.org

    A case before the US Supreme Court focused on whether a religious symbol, specifically a cross, should be allowed on public land. Mark Sherman, writing for the Associated Press, said that although the cross in question was erected in 1934 as a memorial to soldiers who died in World War I, one veteran’s group that opposed it called the cross “a powerful Christian symbol” and “not a symbol of any other religion.”
    The cross has always been controversial. In the first century, the apostle Paul said that Christ had sent him “to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:17-18). As followers of Christ, we see the cross as more than a powerful Christian symbol. It is the evidence of God’s power to free us from the tyranny of our sin.
    In a diverse and pluralistic society, the controversy over religious symbols will continue. Whether a cross can be displayed on public property will likely be determined by the courts. But displaying the power of the cross through our lives will be decided in our hearts.



    Christ takes each sin, each pain, each loss,
    And by the power of His cross
    Transforms our brokenness and shame
    So that our lives exalt His name. —D. De Haan



    Nothing speaks more clearly of God’s love than the cross.
     
  12. following-Him

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    The devotional today is taken from Word For Today, which can be found at www.ucb.co.uk

    I hope all who read it will find it a blessing.

    Pray for God's Favour05 Jul 2011''I will give [you] favour...'' Exodus 3:21God told Israel, 'I will give [you] favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and... when ye go, ye shall not go empty [handed].' God promised His people two things before they left Egypt: favour with their enemies, and great provision. And when He brought them out, they had both. There's a lesson here. Your trouble is only a classroom - a controlled environment for God to work on your behalf. Look what He used to free His people from slavery and turn their situation around - flies, hailstones and frogs. The things that destroyed their enemies were the very things God used to deliver them. There's nothing God can't do. He can be your doctor, your counsellor, your stockbroker, your lawyer, and anything else you need Him to be. Notice, the frogs that invaded the homes of the Egyptians couldn't cross the property line of God's people. That's because the favour of God will protect you! Think of the things that have come right up to you, but didn't touch you. Ezra said, '...The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies...' (Ezra 8:31 NIV). Why did the same Pharaoh who repeatedly said no to Moses suddenly say yes? Timing! When the time is right God will move on your behalf. So start praying for favour: favour in unexpected places, favour that moves mountains, favour that opens doors, favour that gives you access to things you otherwise wouldn't have. If you can't cope with the future, check with the past. 'Surely [not maybe] goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life...' (Psalm 23:6).
     
  13. following-Him

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    The devotional is taken from Word For Today and I hope it will be a blessing to all who read it.

    It can also be found online at www.ucb.co.uk

    Do What You're Called to Do!06 Jul 2011''...A man must be content to receive the gift... given him from heaven...'' John 3:27We love to quote the promise, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me' (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). But that promise doesn't mean you can do whatever you want, or what somebody else does. No, Paul is saying you can do anything God calls you to do, for with each of His assignments comes His assistance. This verse actually teaches you to stay within the boundaries of what God's called you to do, and not try to undertake things that are not part of His will for you. That's not negativism, it's wisdom. God wants you looking to Him for your answers, not others. That doesn't mean you can't learn from others, it just means the plan that will lead you to success must come from God. What is God's will for your life? Find it, do it, otherwise you'll live in frustration, competing and comparing yourself with others. John the Baptist said, 'A man must be content to receive the gift which is given him from heaven.' Read the previous verses and you'll discover that some of John's disciples were getting upset because Jesus was baptising too, and the crowds were leaving John and flocking to Him. If John hadn't been secure in his God-given identity and calling, he might have become fearful and jealous. But he displayed a different attitude - one you need to take to heart. He said, ' can receive nothing [he can claim nothing, he can take unto himself nothing] except as it has been granted to him from heaven. [A man must be content to receive the gift which is given him from heaven...]' (John 3:27-29). And the same goes for you!
     
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    Word For Today is again the source of todays devotional. It can be found online at www.ucb.co.uk

    I hope it will be a blessing to all who read it.

    Show Grace07 Jul 2011''...forgiveness... in accordance with the riches of... grace...'' Ephesians 1:7Have you ever noticed how quickly we judge somebody else's shortcomings while making all kinds of allowance for our own? Paul talks about 'the riches of... grace' that God lavished on us. But we strain that grace when we refuse to extend it to others. Jesus said, '...when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so... your Father... may forgive you...' (Mark 11:25 NIV). You don't get to decide which offences you'll forgive and which ones you'll keep holding over somebody's head. We are commanded to '...love mercy...' (Micah 6:8 NIV). That means we must pursue it and make it our goal. Don't say, 'I'll forgive him when he proves he deserves it.' Biblical forgiveness isn't conditional, can't be earned, isn't deserved, and you can't bargain for it. Jesus said, '...Give as freely as you... received!' (Matthew 10:8 NLT). 'If I forgive her she'll have got away with it.' You're not letting anybody get away with anything, because even when you've forgiven the offender there's still a penalty to be paid. It's just not your job to enforce it. 'If I forgive him he'll keep hurting me.' Forgiveness doesn't mean the relationship always stays the same. It takes time to rebuild trust and make sure repentance is genuine. In fact, if the offence is abusive or puts you in danger - forgive, but maintain a safe distance. 'If I forgive her she's free to hurt me again.' The truth is, she's free to do it again anyway, just like you're free to show grace even when the offender doesn't ask or show any sign of repentance.
     
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    I would like to share two devotionals with you today. I hope you will find them a blessing.
    The first is taken from Word for Today (www.ucb.co.uk)

    Do Not Lose Your Vision08 Jul 2011''Like the blind we grope... feeling our way like men without eyes...'' Isaiah 59:10The Pilgrims landed on the shores of America full of vision. The first year they established a town. The next year they elected a council. In their third year the town council proposed building a road five miles out into the wilderness for westward expansion. But the people criticised it as a waste of public funds. Amazing! Once they had been able to see across oceans to new worlds, now they could not see five miles down the road. What happened? They lost their vision! How can you keep that from happening to you? First, refuse to become self-centred! God wants you to enjoy success, but anytime the profit margin becomes more important than the service principle, you will forfeit God's blessing. Second, do not get lost in the mundane! One successful leader writes, 'In preparation for the day, I focus on the main event and ask, "In order to make the main event a good event, what must I know? Do? Eliminate?" Some things will be fun, some will not, but with preparation the most important things will get done well.' Third, refuse to go with the flow! Most of us are married to the status quo. We want what is, not what can be. We seek safety and simple answers. To keep your vision alive you must give yourself permission to go a different way; to break new ground. The moment your eyes open each morning remind yourself, 'There is more out there than what I've experienced', then commit your day to God and get moving!

    The second devotional is taken from Our Dail Bread (www.odb.org)

    I wear only two pieces of jewelry: a wedding band on my finger and a small Celtic cross on a chain around my neck. The ring represents my vow to be faithful to Carolyn, my wife, as long as I shall live. The cross reminds me that it is not for her sake alone, but for Jesus’ sake that I do so. He has asked me to be faithful to her until death shall separate us.
    A marriage vow is more than a contract that we can break by paying damages. It is a unique vow that is explicitly intended to be binding until death separates us (Matt. 19:6). The words “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health” take into consideration the probability that it will not be easy to keep our vows. Circumstances may change and so may our spouses.
    Marriage is hard at best; disagreements and difficult adjustments abound. While no one must live in an abusive and dangerous relationship, accepting the difficulties of poverty, hardship, and disappointment can lead to happiness. A marriage vow is a binding obligation to love, honor, and cherish one another for as long as we shall live because Jesus has asked us to do so. As a friend of mine once put it, “This is the vow that keeps us faithful even when we don’t feel like keeping our vows.”



    “For better or for worse,” we pledge,
    Through sickness and through strife;
    And by the help and grace of God
    We’ll keep these vows for life. —D. De Haan



    Love is more than a feeling; it’s a commitment.
     
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    I have two devotionals to share with you again today.
    The first is taken from Word For Today, which can be found at www.ucb.co.uk

    'Seeing' People's Needs09 Jul 2011''Joseph... saw that they were sad.'' Genesis 40:6Sometimes you can tell by the look on someone's face what they are going through. 'Joseph... looked at them, and saw that they were sad.' Even though he himself was unjustly imprisoned, he found fulfilment in helping two other prisoners. Would it have been easier just to focus on his own problems? Yes, but it's self-defeating. Henry Drummond wrote, 'As you look back on your life, the moments that stand out are always the ones when you did things for others.' Joseph realised he wasn't the only one hurting, so he did what Jesus always did - treated those around him with compassion. How about you? Do you take time to try to understand what people are going through? Are you self-absorbed, or concerned about others who are hurting, especially when you've nothing to gain by it? Encouragement is like a shot of adrenaline: it can lift a person and put them back on their feet again. Writer Ren? Bazin says, 'A remedy for the evils of our time... is the gift of yourself to those who've fallen so low that even hope fails them.' Will those you give to, always give back? No, but God will. When the royal butler was released from prison he forgot the promise he made to speak to Pharaoh on Joseph's behalf. But God didn't forget! Joseph's best days were ahead. Think of his rise in Egypt, his service to a nation, his impact as a leader, and the joy of reconciling with his family. He underlines it: '...God turned into good what [others] meant for evil...' (Genesis 50:20 TLB). So, start 'seeing' the needs of those around you.

    The second devotional comes from Our Daily Bread and can be found at www.odb.org


    For the past 29 years, the annual Celebration of Life reunion in our city has brought together members of a unique family. The festive gathering reunites doctors, nurses, and staff from Colorado Springs’ Memorial Hospital for Children with former patients from its neonatal intensive care unit. Some are infants in strollers while others are young teens. Their parents have come with them to say thank you to those who saved their children’s lives and gave them a second chance. Edward Paik’s article in The Gazette quoted Dr. Bob Kiley’s heartfelt response: “Both professionally and personally, for all the staff, this solidifies why we’re in this job.”
    I wonder if in heaven there will be many such times when spiritual caregivers and those they helped as “babes in Christ” will reunite to share stories and give praise to God. The New Testament describes how Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy worked among the young believers in Thessalonica with gentleness, “just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children” (1 Thess. 2:7), and with comfort and encouragement, “as a father does his own children” (v.11).
    Helping new believers at a critical stage in their faith is a labor of love that will be cause for great rejoicing at the “family” reunion in heaven.



    Friends will be there I have loved long ago,
    Joy like a river around me will flow;
    Yet, just a smile from my Savior, I know,
    Will through the ages be glory for me. —Gabriel



    One of heaven’s pleasures will be to share our earthly stories.
     
  17. following-Him

    following-Him
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    The Word For Today is the first of two devotionals today. It is to be found at www.ucb.co.uk

    Growing Stronger through Change (1)10 Jul 2011''...under pressure... your faith... shows...'' James 1:3The one thing we can count on in life is change. We try to resist it but it says, 'Ready or not, here I come.' In order to grow stronger through change we must give up, wise up and toughen up. First, don't be an escape artist, trying to avoid the stress that accompanies change. There is no escape; change is inevitable. Stop regarding it as an enemy and make it your friend. Only when you decide to ride the horse in the direction it's going, will you get to where you need to be. Second, when we're hit with sudden change, our 'fight or flight' instincts aren't very good at handling it. But there's a solution. By entrusting our lives fully into God's care and asking for His wisdom, '...he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into... change' (Romans 2:4 TM). God loves us the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. Finally, someone quipped, 'If it wasn't for stress, I'd have no energy at all.' Stop and take inventory. Are you making it harder on yourself than it needs to be? Are you speaking faith or fear? Are you convincing yourself you can't handle the changes? Are you ready to give up without even trying, or trusting God? If you're struggling to make sense of the situation you're in, read these words: '...under [the pressure of change], your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed...' (James 1:3-4 TM).


    The second devotional comes from Our Dail Bread, which can be found at www.odb.org

    I pray that those who read these devotionals will find them a blessing.

    Inevitably, trouble will invade our lives: A bad report from a medical test, the betrayal of a trusted friend, a child who rejects us, or a spouse who leaves us. The list of possibilities is long, but there are only two options: forge ahead on our own, or turn to God.
    Flying solo into the face of trouble is not a good idea. It can lead to bad behavior patterns, blaming God, and retreating into defeat. Like the Israelites, we may spin out of control and into despair (Num. 14:1-4).
    When the majority of the spies brought a report of intimidating giants and dangers ahead, they used the pronoun “we” seven times with no reference to the Lord (13:31-33). The Israelites were on the cusp of the ultimate blessing that God promised to them. They were eyewitnesses to the miracles in Egypt and their feet had walked the dry bottom of the Red Sea in jaw-dropping victory. God’s faithfulness had been amazingly evident. What short memories! What disappointing faithlessness! Sadly, they turned their backs on God and left the blessing behind.
    Caleb and Joshua, on the other hand, opted to turn to the Lord with this confidence: “The Lord is with us” (14:9). When your giants show up, what will you do?



    In this world of sin and trouble
    Where so many ills are known,
    If I shun the ways of evil,
    I am kept by Him alone. —Smith



    God’s presence is a life preserver that keeps
    the soul from sinking in a sea of trouble.
     
  18. following-Him

    following-Him
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    Today I would again like to share two devotionals with you. I do hope they will be an encouragement to you.

    The first is Word For Today, which is taken from www.ucb.co.uk

    Growing Stronger through Change (2) 11 Jul 2011''We get up again and keep going.'' 2 Corinthians 4:9Max Gunther quipped, 'When you're in a tug-of-war with a tiger, give him the rope before he gets to your arm. You can always buy a new rope!' Resistance to change just creates ulcers, sleeplessness and stress. So here are some attitudes you may need to adjust. Stop thinking like a victim, expecting others to rescue you, feel sorry for you or reduce your stress levels. Get behind the wheel of your own life! You're not helpless, and the situation is not hopeless. God's Word promises you 'can do everything... with the help of Christ' (Philippians 4:13 TLB). Then, stop deciding not to change. Instead of banging your head against the wall of reality, invest your efforts into changing what you can -such as your attitude and your approach! It takes more energy to hang on to old habits and beliefs than to embrace new ones. Stop playing the new game by the old rules. When a car that's stuck in second gear keeps trying to do 100mph, guess what happens - meltdown! If you don't want to burn out, learn to change gears. When your life's seasons, assignments or relationships change, begin to adjust. Learn to play by the new rules, otherwise you'll keep losing. Stop trying to control the uncontrollable. When the music changes, it's time to learn some new dance steps, otherwise you'll finish up sitting on the sidelines. You may not like the changes, but you can learn to flow with them. 'We are perplexed... but we don't give up and quit... We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going' (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 TLB).


    The second devotional is taken from Our Daily Bread, which can be found at www.odb.org

    My occupation is words. Whether I am writing or editing, I am using words to convey ideas so that readers can understand. I can usually see what’s wrong with someone else’s writing (though sometimes not with my own) and figure out how to fix it.
    As an editor, I am paid for being critical. My job is to see what’s wrong with the way words are used. This ability becomes a disability when I carry it over into my personal life and always look for what is wrong. Focusing on what’s wrong can cause us to miss everything that’s good.
    The apostle Paul had reason to focus on what was wrong in the Philippian church. Certain people were preaching the gospel out of selfish ambition to add to Paul’s suffering (Phil. 1:16). But instead of concentrating on the negative, he chose to look at the positive and rejoice in it: Jesus Christ was being preached (v.18).
    God wants us to be discerning—we need to know good from bad—but He doesn’t want us to focus on the bad and become critical or discouraged. Even in circumstances that are less than ideal (Paul was writing from prison), we can find something good because in times of trouble God is still at work.



    The eyes of faith when fixed on Christ
    Give hope for what’s ahead,
    But focus on life’s obstacles
    And faith gives way to dread. —D. De Haan



    When your outlook is blurred by problems, focus on Christ.
     
  19. following-Him

    following-Him
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    Today I would again like to share two devotionals with you. I do hope and pray that you find them a blessing.

    The first is Word For Today, which can be found at www.ucb.co.uk

    Growing Stronger through Change (3) 12 Jul 2011''...I have learned to be content...'' Philippians 4:11Since you can't escape change or the stress that goes with it, here are some steps you can take to help you handle it. First, choose your battles wisely. Answer these questions: do you instinctively give in to fear and oppose change, even when it might benefit you? Do you keep throwing yourself across the tracks, hoping to stop the freight train of reality? Do you think that no issue is too small to be ignored? Waging war on too many fronts always results in fatigue and defeat, so choose battles big enough to matter. Second, try to become more adaptable. What's your most common response to change? Dragging your feet? Assuming a 'have to' attitude? Doing only what's necessary? Once you stop caring, life loses its sparkle, and ironically, you become even more stressed. So learn to become resilient. Paul said, 'I have learned (it's a process that takes time) in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.' Third, welcome new experiences. If you're moving forward in life your surroundings will be constantly changing. If they're not, you're going in circles. Clinging to the familiar just buys you comfort today at tomorrow's expense. Draw on God's grace, plunge in and take the bull by the horns! Fourth, learn to live with uncertainty. Always struggling to 'stabilise' in a constantly changing world is like trying to push water uphill - as soon as you get tired and stop, it runs back down over you. Learn to live with loose ends; 'wing it' a little more, instead of struggling to make sure that life always happens on your terms.

    The second devotional is Our Daily Bread, which can be found at www.odb.org

    As we hurtle through the first part of this new century, we see an increase in people questioning time-honored standards. This was plainly detailed recently by a teen pop star—a girl who professes faith in Jesus.
    While discussing standards for modesty in how she dresses, she discounted criticism of her skimpy clothing by saying, “That’s so old school.”
    This young woman is both right and wrong. In a sense, she’s right. The standards of dress for Christians are “old school.” They were written down more than 2,000 years ago. But her attitude that suggests ancient standards can be set aside is wrong. In the truest sense, the principles in the Bible are not “old” as much as they are timeless. While written ages ago, they are still fresh and applicable.
    As to the question of modesty, when the Bible says women should “adorn themselves in modest apparel” (1 Tim. 2:9), it is still true today that we shouldn’t dress to draw attention to ourselves. A more general principle, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed” (Rom. 12:2), is a 2011 command that can guide the question of how we dress.
    So whether you’re a pop star or a pew sitter, don’t worry about being “old school” if what you are doing is done according to the Book.



    Dear Lord, help us to follow the timeless
    standards of the Bible in speech, clothing,
    and other lifestyle matters. May all
    we say and do bring glory to You. Amen.



    Do my choices bring glory to God or draw attention to me?
     
  20. following-Him

    following-Him
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    Two devotionals to share with you today. I hope you will find them a blessing.

    The first is Word For Today, which can be found at www.ucb.co.uk

    Growing Stronger through Change (4)13 Jul 2011''I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love...'' Psalm 31:7There's an old Chinese proverb that says, 'A diamond cannot be polished without friction, and a person can't be perfected without trials'. We all want to live stress free without having to work at it, but it can't be done. So, look at these 15 suggestions. 1) Take time each day to pray and read God's Word; it'll transform your outlook. 2) If you still look like your old passport photo, take a holiday; you need one! 3) What goes up must come down, so cut back on caffeine and sugar! 4) Eat right - a balanced diet isn't having a cookie in each hand! 5) Exercise three to five times a week for 30 minutes; it's nature's magic bullet for stress. 6) Develop better time management habits: 'use it or lose it'. 7) Make room in your life for fun and relaxation. 8) Get eight hours of sleep when possible. 9) Maintain your sense of humour: 'A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired' (Proverbs 17:22 TM). 10) Start counting your blessings. The Psalmist said, 'Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits' (Psalm 103:2 NKJV). 11) When you talk to yourself, say the right things. Your words affect you more than others. 12) Simplify your life by eliminating clutter. If you haven't used it for two years, you probably don't need it. 13) Develop a sense of purpose by seeking God and setting personal goals. 14) Forgive; grudges are too heavy to carry: 'If you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive [you]' (Matthew 6:15 NLT). 15) Read the last chapter - we win!

    The second devotional is taken from Our Daily Bread and this can be found at www.odb.org

    Celebrating my 60th birthday really changed my perspective on life— I used to think people in their sixties were “old.” Then I started counting the number of productive years I might have left and set the number at 10. I went along with this dead-end kind of thinking until I remembered a very productive co-worker who was 85. So I sought him out to ask what life after 60 was like. He told me of some of the wonderful ministry opportunities the Lord had given him over the last 25 years.
    The apostle Paul, referring to himself as “aged” in Philemon 1:9, really resonates with my own sense of aging: “Being such a one as Paul, the aged, . . . I appeal to you for my son Onesimus” (vv.9-10). Paul was asking Philemon to take back his runaway servant Onesimus. Some scholars believe Paul was in his late forties or early fifties when he wrote this—certainly not a senior citizen by today’s standards. But life expectancy in those days was much shorter. Yet despite awareness of his mature years, Paul went on to serve the Lord for several more years.
    While we may experience physical or other kinds of limitations, what really matters is that we continue doing what we can for the Lord until He calls us Home.



    Think not your work of no account
    Although it may be small;
    The Lord marks well your faithfulness
    When you give Him your all. —D. De Haan



    God can use you at any age—if you are willing.
     
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