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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God is Looking for Intercessors

This is another of Greg Laurie’s great daily devotionals on his Harvest.org site. Why not browse his site while you’re there reading the rest of his post?

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God is Looking for Intercessors

By Greg Laurie

Then the Lord said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are. Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation.”

 

Moses had many frustrations with the Israelites. He had complained to God on multiple occasions about them. But when God told Moses that He was going to wipe them out, Moses pleaded with God to relent.

Read the rest here.

Used by permission from Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie, PO Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.

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Holy Spirit, You are welcome here

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I hope you enjoyed last Sunday’s Holy, Holy, Holy Praise and Worship post. I’m excited to see what God has planned for these Sunday posts!

Our lives are so filled with activity and work that even though we attend church on Sunday (those of us who can), do we allow ourselves to relax and rest in our corporate praise and worship? Or do thoughts of all the to-do’s on our lists keep us from fully worshiping and praising our Creator?

I’ve been listening to this song so much that it is always playing in my mind lately. Whether you are able to worship with your church congregation or are in the privacy of your home, allow the Holy Spirit to saturate your heart and mind while viewing this video.

Holy Spirit
(Chorus)

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory,God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

The video below is a version of “Holy Spirit” sung by  Francesca Battistelli with lyrics:

If for any reason you cannot view the video, go here to read the lyrics, written by Bryan & Katie Torwalt.

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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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Why You Can Trust in God’s Provision – and Not Worry

God’s provision. This is a subject that all of us think about, and sometimes we even worry about it. Randy Alcorn of Eternal Perspectives Ministries (EPM), has written a wonderful piece about this in his blog.

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Why You Can Trust in God’s Provision – and Not Worry

By Randy Alcorn

Jesus tells us to “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [what you eat, drink, and wear] will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Unlike the pagans who “run after all these things” and “worry about tomorrow,” believers are told to follow Christ, live a radical life of faith, and trust God to provide (Matthew 6:25-34).

In this passage, Jesus says that God cares for the birds. Yet birds aren’t created in God’s image. Christ didn’t die for birds. The Holy Spirit doesn’t indwell birds. Birds won’t reign with Christ. But we will! So Christ asks his disciples, “Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26). If he takes care of the less valuable creatures, will he not take care of us, who are far more valuable?

Read the rest here.

While you’re at EPM, please spend some time looking around this great site where you’ll find tons of information and resources. 

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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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What does the Bible mean that we are not to judge others?

Another good one from the GotQuestions? site. This one was last week’s Question of the Week.

Question: “What does the Bible mean that we are not to judge others?”

Answer: Jesus’ command not to judge others could be the most widely quoted of His sayings, even though it is almost invariably quoted in complete disregard of its context. Here is Jesus’ statement: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). Many people use this verse in an attempt to silence their critics, interpreting Jesus’ meaning as “You don’t have the right tell me I’m wrong.” Taken in isolation, Jesus’ command “Do not judge” does indeed seem to preclude all negative assessments. However, there is much more to the passage than those three words.

The Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean we cannot show discernment. Immediately after Jesus says, “Do not judge,” He says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs” (Matthew 7:6). A little later in the same sermon, He says, “Watch out for false prophets. . . . By their fruit you will recognize them” (verses 15–16). How are we to discern who are the “dogs” and “pigs” and “false prophets” unless we have the ability to make a judgment call on doctrines and deeds? Jesus is giving us permission to tell right from wrong.

Read more here.

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This is Impossible for God to Do

This is from another of my favorite blogs, Radical, which:

exists to serve the church in accomplishing the mission of Christ…making disciples who make disciples who make disciples throughout the world – from our neighbors across the street to the unreached people groups across the globe – all for the glory of God.

Read on!
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in hope of eternal life,
which God, who never lies,
promised before the ages began.
—Titus 1:2

This is Impossible for God to Do

By David Burnette

It may surprise you to learn that there’s something God can’t do.

Of course, Jesus tells us that with God “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), and we certainly don’t want to deny that God is all-powerful or that he has all authority. No one can thwart his purposes (Daniel 4:35). Still, according to Scripture, there is something that God can’tdo, but it turns out that it’s actually for our good—he cannot lie. This attribute of God, his faithfulness, is the last of several snapshots we’ve taken of his character (see also God’s holiness, mercy, and wrath). To know that God “never lies” (Titus 1:2) should change the way we think about and respond to him.

Lies and Truth

It goes without saying that human relationships are often marked by unfaithfulness. Marriages, friendships, and businesses suffer as a result of dishonesty and deception. When it comes to our political leaders, we don’t even expect them to fulfill their campaign promises. Sometimes our unfaithfulness is intentional, but often we simply forget to do what we said, or else we are unable to keep our word due to circumstances or limitations. Whatever the case, we are often wary of placing too much confidence in people or institutions. Thankfully, we don’t need to be skeptical when it comes to God.

Read more here, and please spend some time looking around the awesome Radical site.

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The closer His embrace

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He has chosen not to heal me,
but to hold me.
The more intense the pain,
the closer His embrace.
-Joni Eareckson Tada, A Place of Healing:
Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering,
Pain, and God’s Sovereignty

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An Old Telephone

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The trumpet-shaped hand-held listening device is suspended from a metal cradle on the side of the imposing oak cabinet. While listening to conversation with one instrument, one would talk into the protruding snout on the front of the large, antique telephone. The old, original telephone is now mounted on the wall in my parent’s home. The wood has been refinished but stress marks remain from years of use.

By the time I was enamored with the telephone in my teen years, the communication apparatus had diminished in size to a small plastic box with an all-in-one listening and speaking hand set. I was physically limited only by the length of the cord attaching the hand set to the phone box.

Today I use either a cordless telephone or a cell phone, an electronic wonder the size of a deck of cards. I can use the cordless phone throughout my house and around the yard. The amazing cell phone seems limitless with the ability to send electronic messages, click photographs, or transmit and receive messages even as we travel in a vehicle. What incredible changes have occurred during the century since Alexander Graham Bell invented the first rudimentary telephone in 1876!

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The concept of a massive network of telephone cables transmitting messages between countries, traversing oceans, and penetrating remote areas would have seemed unfathomable to its original inventor. Yet, electronics have now significantly shortened the distance between people and nations. The universal 911 emergency call system, providing immediate medical response, has proved an unforeseen adjunct to the telephone.

As sophisticated as we consider our present day system of communication to be, there are still dead spots with cell phones or power interruptions with land-based telephones. Isn’t it a relief that we don’t have to depend upon a man-made device in order to communicate with God? 

Do we operate on the assumption that God is in heaven and we are on earth, creating light years of travel between us? God’s Word dispels that notion: “Those who obey His commandments live in Him, and He in them” (1 John 3:24).  The Creator spoke earth and its inhabitants into existence. He walked and talked with the first humans in the Garden of Eden. Ever since those early times, God has communicated with man and encouraged His children to talk with Him. God desires to live within our hearts, creating a unique, intimate emotional and spiritual relationship.

Our finite minds misconstrue our human boundaries with God’s omnipotence, minimizing His power. We dare not expect God to conform to our human limits. He is the Almighty God, our sovereign Lord, and supreme Creator. We are His creation. God merely speaks and His children hear His voice. Because He loves us, God desires to fellowship with each of us. “And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Not all of us understand the technology of sound waves, but we respond by talking. When God speaks through the Holy Spirit, we readily hear Him, although we may not fully understand the intimacy of the Trinity.

When God spoke, Elijah didn’t hear Him in the fantastic windstorm, the earthquake, or in the fire (2 Kings 19:11-12) as might be expected, but in a gentle whisper which Elijah clearly heard. God is not in the habit of shouting to converse with His children. He speaks in love and peace, just as a parent cradling a child closely speaks in a soft voice. As His children, we are attuned to the voice of our heavenly Father. “He who belongs to God hears what God says (John 8:47).

Some people may hold the view that love and verbal communication developed among men as they evolved into social beings. However, we are commanded, “Let us love one another, for love comes from God”  (1 John 4:7). God is the author of love and conversation, which He initiated with the first people He created and promises with all who follow Him. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

It is to our advantage that our conversation with God is quiet and reliable. The Holy Spirit can discern our thoughts; able to convert our mere groans into requests to God, for He hears everything we say (Romans 8:26). Occasionally interferences occur with man’s inventions, but with God there is never a loss of power or bad connections with heavenly communication. God hears and responds to every one of our prayers. “This is the assurance we have in approaching God:  that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14). 

Try casting your cell phone aside for a day and grasp the confidence that assures your connection to the greatest source of power in the universe. God is only a spoken word away, lovingly inhabiting our inner being, always waiting to hear from His creation.  Spend time in heavenly conversation, pouring out the needs and desires of your heart, tempered with praise and thanksgiving for your Lord and His marvelous works.

Over thePs46-10-StarryCometSky--AMP years, as the telephone has transitioned into more sophisticated technology, usage and maintenance fees have sky-rocketed, presenting us with the opportune time for conversation with our heavenly Father, with absolutely no associated financial costs.  We need never consider prayer a burden, reminding us of the towering, imposing antique telephone, but a joyful privilege with the One who loves us with holy passion. It simply requires that we express our emotions to the God who always hears our words and answers in His precise timing.

Don’t ever hang up prematurely on your call to the Lord; keep an open dialogue. And, remember; don’t do all the talking. Listen for God’s quiet voice. Prayer, like a good phone call, is the conduit for a two-way conversation. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  In the stillness, God will speak to you.

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