Hate What God Hates

This is an excellent article by Franklin Graham from the October 2017 issue of Decision Magazine.

I recently had the privilege to pray for our nation and its leaders at a gathering led by President Donald Trump.

I asked for God’s help and wisdom for our president and Vice President Mike Pence, along with our congressmen as they attempt to help steer our troubled country through some very turbulent times.

America has flaunted its sexual immorality to the world. We’ve neglected many of the poor and suffering and are guilty of much injustice, pride and self-indulgence. We are broken spiritually, adrift morally and divided politically and racially—following whichever direction the bankrupt culture seems to drive us.

Sadly, the voices of hate have grown increasingly loud and insulting, and it was my prayer then and now that God would silence these voices like he shut the mouths of the lions when Daniel was hurled into the den.

While those hateful voices have been raised on both sides of the political aisle, we must realize that ultimately what is transpiring in our nation is an increasing hatred of God, His Word and His ways.

In my lifetime, I have never seen such blatant and incessant animosity toward Christ and His followers. We should not be surprised, because the Scripture tells us that if they hated the Lord Jesus Christ, they surely would despise those who worship and serve Him.

I think of the recent ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Bremerton, Wash., high school football coach Joe Kennedy. For eight years, Coach Kennedy took a knee and prayed silently after games. But in 2015, he was suspended by the school district when he refused to discontinue his prayers, and his contract was not renewed.

The federal appeals court said in their appalling ruling: “When Kennedy kneeled and prayed on the 50-yard line immediately after games, while in view of students and parents, he spoke as a public employee … and his speech therefore was constitutionally unprotected.”

Can you believe it?

Read the rest here.

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Revive to Thrive

Revive to Thrive

By Patricia Knight

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On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting” (Acts 20:7-8).

The Apostle Paul didn’t typically preach a marathon through the day and evening, but the new believers in Troas hungered to feast their souls on the Word of God, creating a sweet spirit of fellowship during the last night of Paul’s week-long crusade.

Many torches provided the light source in the meeting room, likely causing a poorly ventilated, heated environment. Eutychus was a young man seated on a windowsill. By midnight, as Eutychus’ eyelids grew heavy and his body relaxed, he fell sound asleep. Eutychus abruptly careened out the window, falling three floors, dying instantly when he hit the ground below. “Paul went down, threw himself on the young man, and put his arms around him. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said, ‘He’s alive.'” (Acts 20:10)

Basic resuscitation technique at the time advocated surrounding a victim with body heat from another person to stimulate blood flow. So how did Paul revive Eutychus from a traumatic death merely by the transfer of body heat? Paul possessed special gifts assigned directly by Jesus. Before ascending to heaven, Jesus empowered His apostles with sovereign authority. “‘Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy {and} drive out demons'” (Matthew 10:8). Christ sent His apostles to minister with credentials similar to what He possessed. Though it appeared Paul’s only action was surrounding Eutychus with his own body heat, the risen Christ enabled Paul to revive Eutychus from premature death. “The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted” (Acts 20:12).

John20-30-31--AMPHistorians in Jesus’ lifetime attest that Jesus literally healed thousands during his three-year ministry. Though we only have anecdotal records of a small cross-section of healings in God’s Word, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).

Each healing miracle by Jesus was magnificent and unique. Jesus rarely employed the same healing technique twice, individualizing care. He made a mud pack, applied it to the man’s eyes, and restored his sight (John 9:6). Jesus’ ability was endless, as He demonstrated by converting the dust of the earth into a medium of healing. Another time people brought to Jesus a deaf-mute. “Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue” (Mark 7:33). Next, Jesus prayed to His Father in heaven, saying in Aramaic, “‘Ephphatha,’ which means ‘be opened'”( v. 34). Instantaneously, the man’s hearing and speech were restored.

Ministering with an overwhelming pattern of healing on earth, Christ faithfully fulfilled prophecy from the Old Testament centuries earlier. “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy” (Isaiah 35:5-6).

The most frequently repeated act of compassion Jesus used for healing was His personal touch, conveying gentleness and loving kindness, as He laid His hands on the affected body part. Imagine the impact His gesture of touch made on the leper, who had received no personal contact for years. According to Jewish law, those suffering leprosy were required to live in colonies outside of town, an early form of quarantine. “Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured” (Mark 1:41-42).

When Jesus’ apostles healed disease, they were the Savior’s health agents. Jesus administered His healing miracles through human conduit, delegating authority from His throne in heaven. Neither Jesus nor His methods have changed. Our modern healthcare workers provide sophisticated medical treatments, surgery, and transplants, only because the Great Physician offers them knowledge and wisdom, powerful and compassionate gifts that Jesus liberally extends to humankind.

On earth Jesus could have healed every disease with one stroke of His sovereign hand. But Jesus always reinstated health for the benefit of spirit and body. Complete cleansing was His goal. He confirmed that the person He cured believed in Him, requiring that Jesus interact with each individual.

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And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them”
(Romans 8:28, NLT).

God’s plans are perfect. He already knows the outcome before we are aware of a problem. Though believers aren’t always aware of His purposes regarding their health status, He consistently promises more of Himself: His love, presence, and comfort for our spiritual wellness. God never abandons us to our own unreliable resources. And, He is fully capable of confounding earthly physicians with miraculous healings they cannot explain in scientific terms.

God designs our immune systems with the innate ability to release microscopic armies of militia cells to combat toxins that invade during illness. He strengthens our mental tenacity and physical endurance to wait upon Him for improvement or cure. God created you; He knew you before you were born, continuing to care for you throughout your entire lifetime. God delights in you and He loves you in enormous proportions.

Aren’t you thrilled that God is the Master Physician responsible for your medical care? He has more education, more experience, more patients, and the best healing rate on the planet. You will never wait for an appointment; His services are complementary. His power and authority extend throughout heaven and earth. And, His Son practices with Him to provide the most superlative care available. Father and Son answer every call personally. Where could you locate another physician so divinely invested in your life?

On the cross, our Savior suffered the very depths of human depravity to restore physical and spiritual wellness. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Trust the Savior, the Great Physician, for He is always available and responsive to you.

Sunday Praise and Worship: Psalm 99

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Here is another wonderful psalm of praise to our Creator. In this one, we are exalting the Lord because of His greatness, power and loving forgiveness. Please join me in singing this praise and worship psalm in your heart today.

Psalm 99

The Lord reigns,
    let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
    let the earth shake.
Great is the Lord in Zion;
    he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name—
    he is holy.

The King is mighty, he loves justice—
    you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
    what is just and right.
Exalt the Lord our God
    and worship at his footstool;
    he is holy.

Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
    Samuel was among those who called on his name;
they called on the Lord
    and he answered them.
He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud;
    they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.

Lord our God,
    you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
    though you punished their misdeeds.
Exalt the Lord our God
    and worship at his holy mountain,
    for the Lord our God is holy.


New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Crushed but not Broken

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Crushed but not Broken

By Patricia Knight

Crowds of people pose unique and sometimes bizarre dynamics. A peaceful gathering meets to discuss, to listen, or to resolve issues. A crowd often degenerates into a mob by assembling to complain or to demonstrate.  Over-zealous behavior at rallies may lead to violence and injury. Crowds at sports arenas or long lines at retail stores may initiate pushing and shoving.

Crushing frequently occurs due to the compactness of a group, heightened by difficulty of individual movement. Some people may be physically propelled by the energy and intent of a multitude. Anyone attempting to exit the gathering could be trapped from within and seriously injured.

Jesus was the unlikely victim of crowd manipulation. “As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him” (Luke 8:42b). Some of those gathered around Jesus were thirsty for knowledge or in need of healing; others yearned to witness Jesus’ miracles.  In the midst of the mass where Jesus was pushed and jostled, He possessed the compassion to focus on one individual, patiently discerning that person’s need, and providing the specific attention required.

When Jesus detected a tug on His robe, He demanded, “Who touched me?”  His disciple, Peter, informed his Master of the futility of locating one individual within a multitude of people.  Peter argued,  “‘The people are crowding and pressing against you’” (Luke 8:45). Not satisfied with Peter’s complacent attitude, Jesus persisted. He identified the person’s touch as light but deliberate. Someone had a motive of healing in mind! Dr. Luke writes that the moment the woman with a twelve-year history of a hemorrhagic disease touched Jesus’ robe, her bleeding ceased immediately (Luke 8:44).

http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/jairus-daughter/

Jesus was on His way to heal another person, but suddenly He stopped, diverting His attention to the person in the crowd who tugged at His garment, transferring healing power from his body to hers. Jesus wouldn’t allow the woman to slink away from the crowd without commending her faith and assuring her of the permanence of her healing.  She learned that memorable day, “The Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

Jesus’ reaction to a gentle outreach on His clothing or on His heart always initiates a tender, loving response. What prevents us from calling on Him for each one of our needs, whether minor or major? “Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and he will say, ’Here am I’” (Isaiah 58:9).

When we are squeezed by unfamiliar circumstances, we may regress into anxiety or panic. We feel so crowded, we find it hard to breathe deeply or to move in the right direction. Every day we are bombarded with challenges to our faith. Calamities occur that threaten our ability to function: financial devastation, serious health issues, frayed relationships, loss of employment. We feel crushed by the enormity of the situation. We doubt recovery. We grieve losses. We are discouraged and distressed. Where do we find solace?

Frequently, Jesus escaped His followers, favoring a place of solitude and prayer. He sought spiritual enrichment:  re-connecting with His Father to fill His heart with heavenly goals and His mind with sovereign wisdom. By seeking His Father’s will at all times, Jesus renewed His strength and clarity of mission. We aren’t aware of the specific content of Jesus’ prayers, but we have evidence of the result:  refreshment, renewal, and rejoicing. For the Son of God, it was an opportunity to evaluate His priorities and to problem-solve; to worship and to glorify the Father. Jesus sought seclusion in prayer, the example He taught us to follow.

Our Savior understands our responses of anger, sadness, and confusion because He experienced similar emotions as an incarnated man on earth. Jesus was the subject of disbelief by His own siblings. He was humiliated, disrespected, criticized, and falsely attacked by opponents. Church leaders detested Him and sought His annihilation. What was His response?  “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:45). Jesus possessed high energy levels to accomplish a demanding ministry by spending quality time in secluded, secret prayer with His heavenly Father.

God’s children aren’t exempt from troubles. However, God assures us that He will comfort, protect, and provide for those who cry out to Him for deliverance. Our Lord is faithful, the unfailing deliverer of the righteous, who also holds the wicked accountable for their hostility aimed at God’s followers. Jesus was crushed by crowds, but they were unable to adversely affect His ability to respond to individuals among  throngs of followers. Jesus hasn’t changed. He still listens intently to our prayers and intercedes with victory for those who believe.

During those experiences when we feel crushed or broken, remember, “God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34: 18-19).

Call on Jesus, lavishing Him with praise and gratitude. Call on Him to communicate and maintain a consistent bond of fellowship. Jesus wants to supply you with the antidote of spiritual joy of heart and peace of mind. To acknowledge that our heavenly Father is within easy access provides tremendous comfort. We are invited to confide in Him anytime, anywhere. “How gracious he {God} will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you” (Isaiah 30:19).

We may be crowded by an energetic group of people, as Jesus was, or we could be crushed by circumstances beyond our control. Either has the potential to threaten our strength or security, but Jesus offers the solution. Rejoice, for He has the desire and the ability to rescue us from all adversity. We are motivated to worship our Lord in the splendor of His majesty, glorifying His name at every opportunity. Father and Son deserve our personal best, for they have sacrificed their ultimate for each of us!

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise” (Psalm 48:1).

#Majesty and #Mercy

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  In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

—Matthew 6:9-13

Rain Clouds

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If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth. —Ecclesiastes 11:3

If we believe the message of this verse, then why do we dread the clouds that darken our sky? It is true that for a while the dark clouds hide the sun, but it is not extinguished and it will soon shine again. Meanwhile those clouds are filled with rain, and the darker they are, the more likely they are to bring plentiful showers.

How can we have rain without clouds? Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will, for they are the dark chariots of God’s bright and glorious grace. Before long the clouds will be emptied, and every tender plant will be happier due to the showers. Our God may drench us with grief, but He will refresh us with His mercy. Our Lord’s love letters often come to us in dark envelopes. His wagons may rumble noisily across the sky, but they are loaded with benefits. And His rod blossoms with sweet flowers and nourishing fruits. So let us not worry about the clouds. Instead, let us sing because May flowers are brought to us through April clouds and showers.

O Lord, “clouds are the dust of [your] feet”! (Nah. 1:3). Help us remember how near You are during the dark and cloudy days! Love beholds You and is glad. Faith sees the clouds emptying themselves and thereby making the hills on every side rejoice. —Charles H. Spurgeon

What seems so dark to thy dim sight
May be a shadow, seen aright
Making some brightness doubly bright.
The flash that struck thy tree–no more
To shelter thee–lets heaven’s blue floor
Shine where it never shone before.
The cry wrung from thy spirit’s pain
May echo on some far-off plain,
And guide a wanderer home again.

“The blue of heaven is larger than the clouds.”


© Copyright 1997. Streams in the Desert, by L. B. CowmanZondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

#Forgiveness

Another great and pertinent piece from GraceThruFaith.

Forgiveness

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Some one once said that if we ever realized just how much the Lord has forgiven us, we wouldn’t hesitate a moment in forgiving others. I wonder. I think the Lord pretty much nailed us in His parable of the unmerciful servant. It’s in Matt 18:21-35. Peter began the dialogue by asking how many times we’re required to forgive a brother who sins against us, “up to seven times?”

“Not seven times but 70 times 7,” replied the Lord. I think that means, “As often as he asks.” Then He gave them and us the parable. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version.

The Unmerciful Servant

A servant owed his master a debt he could never hope to repay.  When the day of reckoning came he appeared before the master, hat in hand.  Asking only for more time to pay, he was completely forgiven, and the debt was canceled.  Imagine his relief.

Upon leaving his master’s office he came upon a fellow servant who owed him a small sum. He demanded immediate payment but the fellow servant asked him for more time, just as he had asked the master. But he refused the request and had his debtor thrown into prison until he could pay in full.

Upon learning this, the master was enraged. “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had on you?” He then had the servant turned over to the jailer to be tortured until he could repay all he owes. The Lord concluded with this admonition. “This is how my Heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Each subject and object in a parable is symbolic.

Read the rest here.

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