With skillful hands he led them

Here is another great devotional from Streams in the Desert.1 This one  really adds weight to all those times when we feel like God is not hearing us when we’re waiting for certain things to happen. I like what what J. Vernon McGee has to say about this passage:

David is a type of Him who is David’s Lord and David’s Son. God was faithful to them, and He is faithful to us today, my friend.2

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And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
   with skillful hands he led them.
—Psalm 78:72
 
When you are unsure which course to take, totally submit your own judgment to that of the Spirit of God, asking Him to shut every door except the right one. But meanwhile keep moving ahead and consider the absence of a direct indication from God to be the evidence of His will that you are on His path. And as you continue down the long road, you will find that He has gone before you, locking doors you otherwise would have been inclined to enter. Yet you can be sure that somewhere beyond the locked doors is one He has left unlocked. And when you open it and walk through, you will find yourself face to face with a turn in the river of opportunity—one that is broader and deeper than anything you ever dared to imagine, even in your wildest dreams. So set sail on it, because it flows to the open sea.
 
God often guides us through our circumstances. One moment, our way may seem totally blocked, but then suddenly some seemingly trivial incident occurs, appearing as nothing to others but speaking volumes to the keen eye of faith. And sometimes these events are repeated in various ways in response to our prayers. They certainly are not haphazard results of chance but are God opening up the way we should walk, by directing our circumstances. And they begin to multiply as we advance toward our goal, just as the lights of a city seem to increase as we speed toward it while traveling at night.
—F. B. Meyer
 
If you go to God for guidance, He will guide you. But do not expect Him to console you by showing you His list of purposes concering you, when you have displayed distrust of even half-trust in Him. What He will do, if you will trust Him and go cheerfully ahead when He shows you the way, is to guide you still farther.
—Horace Bushnell
 
As moves my fragile bark across the storm-swept sea,
Great waves beat o’er her side, as north wind blows;
Deep in the darkness hid lie threat’ning rocks and shoals;
But all of these, and more, my Pilot knows.
 
Sometimes when dark the night, and every light gone out,
I wonder to what port my frail ship goes;
Still though the night be long, and restless all my hours,
My distant goal, I’m sure, my Pilot knows.
—Thomas Curtis Clark

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

2 Copyright © 1982. Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, by J. Vernon McGee. Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers.

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5 Birthmarks of the Christian: How to be Certain of Your Salvation

This is a great piece by David Jeremiah which I read at Crosswalk.com. He breaks this down into five C’s: Confession, Change, Compassion, Conflict and Conduct.

5 Birthmarks of the Christian:
How to be Certain of Your Salvation

While the entire Bible stresses certainty and assurance, there’s one section of Scripture that stakes out this theme as its central focus—the letter of 1 John.

As we carefully read through 1 John, we notice a five-fold argument for the assurance of salvation—five of the birthmarks of the Christian.

The Birthmark of Confession

The first is the birthmark of confession, described in 1 John 5:1: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” Before you can have assurance of salvation, you have to believe and be saved. You have to confess Jesus Christ as Lord. Some people assume they are saved because they grew up in a Christian culture, or they have gone to church all their lives, or they have been baptized, or they have tried to live a good life. Yet they’ve never distinctly and personally confessed Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

The Bible teaches that we are sinners, separated from God by a sinful nature. We can never earn, buy, or climb our way into heaven. By our own efforts or goodness, we can never be saved. That’s why God became a man who lived a wholly righteous life, died on the cross, shed His blood for us, and rose from the dead. He paid our penalty, took our judgment upon Himself, and He offers us the opportunity to be born again.

Read the rest here.

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The Lord has done great things for us

Psalm 126

A Song of Ascents.

When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter
and our tongue with joyful shouting;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.

Restore our captivity, O Lord,
as the streams in the South.
Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
he who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.1

It seemed too good to be true that they were able to return to Jerusalem. It was like a dream—they couldn’t believe it. Now they want to give a testimony to the world.

The remnant of Israel that returned to their land after the Babylonian captivity does not exhaust the meaning of this psalm. It also looks forward to their national restoration when their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, returns.

Let me quote Dr. Gaebelein’s comment at the conclusion of this Psalm. “Beautiful is the ending of this Psalm of prophecy. We must think first of all of Him who came in humility and sowed His precious seed with tears, our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Only His Father knows the many tears which He shed in His presence in secret prayer . . .  And it is perfectly proper to apply this to ourselves also. So let us weep and scatter the seed! ‘Let us not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not’ (Gal. 6:9)” (The Book of Psalms, p. 456).2

1New American Standard Bible (NASB)Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

2J. Vernon McGee, Through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983).

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How to strengthen your faith

There is a great question and answer section on Billy Graham’s site titled “Answers.” Today’s post is from there and is an excellent reminder for all of us. While you’re there, please check out the wealth of resources at Billy Graham’s wonderful site.

Q: I admit my faith is weak, but I know it would be strong if I could only see Jesus with my own eyes, even for just one minute. Why shouldn’t I ask God to do this for me?

A: God has already given you everything you need to make your faith stronger. Instead of praying for Jesus to appear to you somehow (which He never promised to do), you should be praying instead for the discipline to use the means He has given you to strengthen your faith. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

I often think of the similarity between physical strength and spiritual strength. What do we need to stay physically strong and healthy? We need two things: food and exercise. If we don’t eat, we’ll grow weaker, waste away and eventually die. And if we don’t exercise, we’ll also grow weak and won’t be useful or helpful to others.

Read the rest here.

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The Throne of Grace

Heb4-16-TiredManTruckCab--AMPLet us then with confidence draw near to the
throne of grace,

that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help in time of need. 

Hebrews 4:16

“That will be ten dollars.” Miriam looked expectantly down at her customer, who couldn’t have been more than five years old.

The tiny girl carefully placed several coins on the counter. “Is that enough?”

Miriam could see right away that there was not nearly enough to pay for the pink slippers. What to do now? She looked down again at the little girl. Her simple sundress was clean but neatly patched in several different areas.

“Who are these slippers for, sweetie?”

A bright smile lit up the girl’s face. “It’s my Mommy’s birthday.” She stroked the slippers with her index finger. “They’re so soft. Maybe now Mommy can walk.”

“Oh, I’m sure your mother will love these.” Miriam frowned. “Does she have trouble walking?”

The little girl shrugged. “She sits in a chair with big wheels.”

“You mean a wheelchair?”

The little girl’s face brightened. “Yeah, a wheelchair! I forgot the word.” Then she frowned. “I got enough money, don’t I? I saved it from my ‘lowance for three whole months.”

Miriam looked around. “Did you come here alone?” 

“Yep.” She nodded. “It’s real close. I got a tire swing in front of my house!”

Miriam raised her eyebrows. She knew which house the little girl was talking about, a tiny bungalow a few doors down the street with a wheelchair ramp down one side of the front steps. The house was in desperate need of repair. In a small town like this, everyone knew that the Clarks had been going through bad times since Joe Clark’s warehouse job had been eliminated. He had been looking for work for the last six months.

“I’ll tell you what,” Miriam made a quick decision. “Since this is a birthday present, I’ll wrap them up for you.”

The little girl watched in fascination as Miriam placed the slippers in a box and deftly covered it with wrapping paper and ribbon. “There, all done.” She handed the package to the little girl, who hugged it close to her body.

“Thanks, Lady!” She took a few steps but then frowned and turned back. “It’s enough?” She pointed to the money still on the counter.

Miriam smiled. “It sure is. Now why don’t you get that present home to your mother?”

The little girl’s face lit up and she thanked Miriam again before leaving the small drug store.

Miriam picked up the thirty-seven cents’ worth of coins and stared at them for several seconds. Then she reached into her purse under the counter, drew out a ten-dollar bill and stuffed it and the coins into the cash register.

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Beloved, did you know that You can approach God with the same kind of confidence this little girl showed toward Miriam?

It is somewhat overwhelming to think of God’s throne of grace as being so easily accessible, but that’s exactly what God wants. He yearns for us to be comfortable enough with Him that we will not hesitate to bring our cares and concerns confidently to Him so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

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Living in Deep Darkness

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I will give you the treasures of darkness. —Isaiah 45:3

In the famous lace shops of Brussels, there are special rooms devoted to the spinning of the world’s finest lace, all with the most delicate patterns. The rooms are kept completely dark, except for the light that falls on the developing pattern, from one very small window. Only one person sits in each small room, where the narrow rays of light fall upon the threads he is weaving, for lace is always more beautifully and delicately woven when the weaver himself is in the dark, with only his work in the light.

Sometimes the darkness in our lives is worse, because we cannot even see the web we are weaving or understand what we are doing. Therefore we are unable to see any beauty of any possible good arising from our experience. Yet if we are faithful to forge ahead and “if we do not give up” (Galations 6:9), someday we will know that the most exquisite work of our lives was done during those days when it was the darkest.

If you seem to be living in deep darkness because God is working in strange and mysterious ways, do not be afraid. Simply go forward in faith and in love, never doubting Him. He is watching and will bring goodness and beauty from all of your pain and tears. –J. R. Miller (from Streams in the Desert Devotional)

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Living a Life of being Filled with and Walking in the Spirit

Beloved, as a follower of and believer in Jesus Christ, are you living a life filled with the Holy Spirit? And are you walking in the Spirit? This is an excellent explanation of what it means to be filled with and walk in the Spirit by my bloggy friend, Raymond Candy. Please spend some time perusing other wonderful posts on his blog, As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith.

Living a Life of being Filled with and Walking in the Spirit

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”  (Eph. 5:18)

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  (Gal. 5:25)

Since the beginning of the early Christian Church there have been many different doctrines and beliefs as to what it means to “walk in the Spirit”.

The same holds true today.

Satan does not want you to discover how to walk in the Spirit.

At the very most he would like to see you fall in your Christian walk, give up, and turn from the faith.

At the very least he would like to see you continuously stumble and falter so that your faith would be weak and ineffectual.

Before we establish our belief as to what it is to “walk in the Spirit”, let us see what it is not.

Read the rest here.

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Differences in Withstanding the Storm

Here is another great devotional by John MacArthur. Please visit his Grace to You site, where you will find tons of wonderful Biblical information, sermons, studies, links and other resources. This was last Saturday’s daily Bible reading, which I subscribe to via email.  Matt7-25-StormySky-35--AMP

July 11 – Differences in Withstanding the Storm

“‘The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. . . . The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against the house; and it fell—and great was its fall’” (Matthew 7:25, 27). Everyone’s religion, whether true or false, will be tried one day. That test will determine with great finality who are the wheat and who are the tares—in other words, the unredeemed will be revealed from the redeemed. When the storm of final test comes, those whose houses are on the bedrock of Jesus Christ and His Word will be spared “from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). However, those whose houses are on the sand will not be spared, but, like the goats in Jesus’ prophecy of the end times, “will go away into eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46; cf. Ex. 12:23; Rev. 20:12, 15). The house of the wise man—the life and ministry of the genuine believer—is spared because he has built carefully and faithfully, with a sense of substance and divine importance. After obediently doing all that God commands, he humbly realizes he was only doing his duty (Luke 17:10). The house of the foolish man—the life and ministry of the pseudo-believer—suffers a devastating judgment from the storm and is destined for eternal punishment. Because of this inevitability, everyone who claims to be a Christian must carefully heed James’s words: “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). The greatest difference between “wise” and “foolish” resides in what promise from God they can claim. To the wise He says, in the words of the hymn, “Though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake!” Ask Yourself Those who are foolish in planning and preparation are often foolish as well in their assessment of the damage. Why do some whose lives are falling apart not seem to notice? How can you help one you know? From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610,www.moodypublishers.com. BlogSL2-smallest