The Power of #Weakness

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The Power of Weakness

By Brian Biggers

And He said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
—2 Corinthians 12:9

This is one of the greatest mysteries in the Kingdom; that God will never allow His power to rest on human strength or ability, only on human weakness.  It goes completely contrary to rational thinking.

All our lives we’ve been taught ‘do your best and God will do the rest’ or ‘God helps those who help themselves’.  The reality of Scripture is that He waits until I’m completely hopeless before He steps in and does for me what I can’t do.  When in lifeguard training we were taught that when someone was drowning we were to swim to where they were but not to attempt to help them as long as they were still struggling.  If you did they would drown both of you.  Wait until they had no more energy and were going under, then you can reach in and save them.  I don’t need Him to help “me” do anything, since “apart from ME you can do nothing”.  A life that will experience the power and presence of God’s Spirit being in me and through me what I could never be begins not with trying to do His will, but by bending my knee in His presence and humbly confessing my total inability to do anything without Him.  This is the place in His Divine mystery that His power will meet me in my weakness and I will find that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

Marriage: So much more than a partnership

This great article about marriage is reblogged from a wonderful site, Oceans Never Fill.

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MARRIAGE: SO MUCH MORE THAN A PARTNERSHIP

My husband recently matched into a residency program on the other side of the country, far from the area I have considered home the entirety of my short life. The Pacific Northwest, with its mountains kissing ocean, its gloomy rain and gloomier culture, has shaped my childhood and most of my adulthood. The enormity of this move isn’t something we took lightly when my husband applied for residency programs, but when you look at the whole of life: our purpose and what’s truly important, suddenly the comfort of home, familiarity, and even preference, fade in light of the hope of following  God wherever he leads. It’s a bit terrifying as we gaze at this great chasm of eternity that opens up with limitless, unknown possibilities for our future; but simultaneously peaceful as we rest in the knowledge that our eternal future is already secured, and all these moments in between are held in the hand of a good God.

Through the process of applying to residencies I had countless people ask me how I felt about the move; if I wanted to go wherever it was my husband’s career took him; or if I was okay with his specialty choice. It was a weird line of questioning to me. Of course I want to go wherever my husband’s career takes him.

Read the rest here.

Lamplighters

 Photo credit: The Victorianist

Photo credit: The Victorianist

Lamplighters

By Patricia Knight

Before the innovation of electricity, the local lamplighter was a familiar figure at dusk and dawn. It was his responsibility to illumine and extinguish city lights. Initially, oil or candles were used, eventually progressing to gas lights. Whatever the type of lamp, the citizens gained a modicum of security at night from the predictable illumination of their walkways.

Every night at dusk the lamplighter walked or rode between individual lamp posts spaced throughout city streets. Some lamplighters carried a ladder, while others gained the appropriate height to reach tall lamp posts from the back of a horse. Still others carried long poles with a source of combustion at the tip, providing the length necessary to reach the lamp post. A sole lamplighter extended his staff to ignite each secluded, dark lamp stem with a small flame. Light flooded the space behind the lamplighter as he continued forward to punctuate darkness along his route.

The original source of light penetrating darkness occurred at the creation of the world when God commanded, “ ‘And, let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day” (Genesis 1:3-5).

Exclusively by His power, God led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt. He promised His children He would guide them on their journey to the Promised Land. “You {God} go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night” (Numbers 14:14). Just as God’s pillars of cloud and fire consistently led the Israelites long ago, Jesus provides His guiding light in our world today. As Jesus reflects His light to us, we absorb it and disseminate love to others. Jesus said, “ ‘You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven’” (Matthew 5:14a,16). Jesus fulfilled His mission as the Light of the World when He walked this earth. Now that He has returned to heaven, Jesus commands His followers to continue His light-bearing work.

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We are admonished to “Shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15b).When we gaze at millions of stars piercing the night sky with dazzling points of light, we are reminded that God views Christians as His own beacons of light piercing a dark world. It is our purpose to bring glory to God by expanding His outreach of light to others.

In the summertime, twittering fireflies shower the night sky with thousands of sparkling lights. In a similar way, Christians radiate Christ’s light in a dark world. If each of us were to introduce one flicker of sovereign light, soon individual flashes would be so numerous, they would coalesce to form a massive glow of love. Kind words, intercessory prayers, or warm smiles convey encouragement, distributing the light of Jesus into all areas.

In the Old Testament, light was symbolic of life and blessing; darkness represented evil and death.  Darkness is projected in the expression of a grumpy, foreboding person, whereas light shines through those who are positive and encouraging.

By New Testament times there was no further need of a symbolic representation of God’s presence like the pillars of cloud or fire. Centuries later, God’s Son, the Light of the World, came to earth to shine His love, power, and grace on His followers. By sacrificially offering His unblemished life to redeem us from sin, Jesus transferred His light to those who believe in Him.

As Jesus’ disciples in current times, God’s glory shines His infinite light through our lives. Like a magnet attracts metal, we are drawn to heavenly light. Those who trust in Jesus depend upon Him to illuminate lives and to light walkways. “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105), without which we would only grope in darkness.

The old lamp lighter left a linear trail of visible light in his path, but we have the ability to perpetuate light in all directions from our hearts. We reflect love and grace from Jesus to those whose vision needs the supplemental light of guidance and mercy. Immersed in Jesus’ light, we are then prepared to minister Christlikeness to others.

Just as the sun supplies the physical light of our world, Jesus embodies spiritual light. “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5b, 7). The moon has no illumination of its own, reflecting light from the sun.  So too, Christians have no inherent light source. Jesus’ light is reflected in His followers. We are feckless without a personal infusion from the Light of the World, enabling us access to His profuse energy, irrepressible light, and dynamic power.

Light symbolizes the glory and radiance, beauty and love, splendor and majesty of God the Father and God the Son. Light represents the absolute purity and holiness of God, who moves without casting a shadow. His characteristic is light; His light and glory are harmonious. Christ is the lamplighter of our souls. Once His light lavishes our hearts, we are filled to capacity with the inherited qualities of Jesus, spreading the goodness of spiritual light wherever we go. As we identify with Jesus, we appropriate His attributes of love, kindness, and humility.

“It started when God said, ’Light up the darkness!’ and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful” (2 Corinthians 4:6, The Msg). Through the love and enthusiasm we share, people we meet breathe in the exquisite fragrance of the Savior. Like a perfect flower blossom in form and fragrance, our spiritual transparency allows the Light of the World to shine through, illuminating the darkness of this world one small light beam at a time. Let us make heavenly light distribution our high priority.

“In Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, He brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on their way to salvation—an aroma redolent with life” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15a, The Msg.).

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

Sunday #Praise and #Worship: Lord, I Need You

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Life is admittedly tough. Just when you think things are going smoothly, something suddenly happens that threatens to shake our faith. But those of us who have placed our trust in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ have the power of His Word to hang onto. In the pages of the Bible are many words of power, comfort, peace, faith and truth.

No matter what’s happening in our lives, let’s not forget that our ultimate hope and JOY is in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ and no one or nothing else. The song “Lord, I Need You” sung by Matt Maher has been running through my mind lately, especially when I’m struggling with life in my little corner of the world.

As you listen to this song, ponder the words of comfort and peace Jesus speaks to His disciples:

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

—John 14:27

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If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

Sorrowful Yet Always #REJOICING

As you know, my theme this year is all about JOY. When I read the following in my daily Streams in the Desert devotional recently, I knew I must share it with you. It is wonderful!

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…sorrowful, yet always REJOICING.
—2 Corinthians 6:10

SORROW was beautiful, but his beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the woods. His gentle light made little pools of silver here and there on the soft green moss of the forest floor. And when he sang, his song was like the low, sweet calls of the nightingale, and in his eyes was the unexpectant gaze of someone who has ceased to look for coming GLADNESS. He could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to REJOICE with those who REJOICE was unknown to him.

JOY was beautiful, too, but hers was the radiant beauty of a summer morning. Her eyes still held the HAPPY laughter of childhood, and her hair glistened with the sunshine’s kiss. When she sang, her voice soared upward like a skylark’s, and her steps were the march of a conqueror who has never known defeat. She could REJOICE with anyone who REJOICES, but to weep with those who weep was unknown to her.

SORROW longingly said, “We can never be united as one.”

“No, never,” responded JOY, with eyes misting as she spoke, “for my path lies through the sunlit meadows, the sweetest roses bloom when I arrive, and songbirds await my coming to sing their most JOYOUS melodies.”

“Yes, and my path,” said SORROW, turning slowly away, “leads through the dark forest, and moonflowers, which open only at night, will fill my hands. Yet the sweetest of all earthly songs—the love song of the night—will be mine. So farewell, dear JOY,  farewell.”

Yet even as SORROW spoke, he and JOY became aware of someone standing beside them. In spite of the dim light, they sensed a kingly Presence, and suddenly a great and holy awe overwhelmed them. They then sank to their knees before Him.

“I see Him as the King of JOY,” whispered SORROW, “for on His head are many crowns, and the nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great victory. And before Him all my SORROW is melting away into deathless love and GLADNESS. I now give myself to Him forever.”

“No, SORROW,” said JOY softly, “for I see Him as the King of SORROW, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns, and the nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of terrible agony. I also give myself to Him forever, for SORROW with Him must be sweeter than any JOY I have ever known.”

“Then we are one in Him,” they cried in GLADNESS, “for no one but He could unite JOY and SORROW.” Therefore they walked hand in hand into the world, to follow Him through storms and sunshine, through winter’s severe cold and the warmth of summer’s GLADNESS, and to be “SORROWFUL, yet always REJOICING.”

All emphasis mine

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

The Marriage Triangle: Living for Jesus in Your Home #LoveWins

Please visit TRC to read more of the great articles in this issue!

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The Marriage Triangle:
Living for Jesus in Your Home

by Anna Popescu

Marriage is a very strong yet fragile bond. It is both wonderful and difficult. That makes it somewhat of a paradox. We enter into marriage with the intent of staying true to our vows, but eventually real life breaks in and sometimes we end up treating our friends better than our spouses. Or we show our better side to our friends more often than to our spouses.

Why is that?

How do we get to the point where we’re on our best behavior for everyone but the person with whom we pledged to spend the rest of our life?

Living creatively for Christ in the home is the acid test for any Christian man or woman. It is far easier to live an excellent life among your friends, when you are putting your best foot forward and are conscious of public opinion, than it is to live for Christ in your home.1

Living under the same roof with anyone is difficult, whether that means spouses, children, extended family or friends. Dwelling in close quarters with others means we see can easily each other’s faults. Disagreements over the smallest things can easily escalate into huge arguments. We often forget to take into account individual preferences for food, TV shows, internet usage and noise levels. Often there are introverts who must figure out a way to get along with extroverts. One person may prefer neatness while another is a slob.

There is no easy way to live with other people unless you do your utmost to be respectful and polite to each other at all times. How realistic is that? It takes way too much work. So it’s no wonder that we eventually shut down or explode at home when nerves are frayed or someone rubs us the wrong way. It is so much easier is it to show your best self in public. After all, you’re not with them 24/7, so you can afford to be more laid-back. At home, you’re in one another’s face and bound to get overly caught up in the hyper emotion of the moment.

If you’re part of a married couple, it gets even more complicated. Satan is in the business of trying to demolish the bond that holds husbands and wives together, and he will do everything possible to see that happen.

In the six thousand years since the Garden of Eden, two of Satan’s most strategic assaults have been focused on destroying the sanctity of the marriage covenant and the unity of our homes. A detailed study of God’s Word will show us that the devil is focused on ripping our families apart. Satan will use any tactic he can; he will capitalize on every advantage imaginable to disrupt the harmony in our homes. 2

How do we combat this? By setting Jesus as the head of our home and marriage.

If you look closely at the Marriage Triangle image, you’ll read: The closer a husband and wife get to Jesus, the closer they get to each other! How is this done?

Pray-Together

  • It is imperative that we each make time everyday in the Word, learning more about Jesus and how He wants us to live. This will bring us closer to Him.
  • Pray daily for God to order your steps (Psalm 37:23-24), showing you how to love your spouse better. As you pray, mentally put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) and keep Him in your mind as you go about your day.
  • Pray for your spouse, that God will fill him/her with the desire to want to know more about Him.
  • Pray with your spouse for each other.
  • Pray for yourself, that God will show you exactly how to be the spouse He wants you to be. Ask God to open your eyes to ways you can serve your spouse with much love.
  • Finally, look for ways each day to uplift and treat your spouse the way you would want them to treat you. God has specific guidelines for this (Ephesians 5:22-33).

Throughout our marriage my husband has noticed a trend in my behavior. Maybe you can relate? I smile, laugh and engage with friends and family, only to jump into the car or leave with my husband and exhale how I really feel. My face scrunches up, my attitude turns cold, I sometimes snap at my husband with stern words or slump down with defeat.

My husband kindly expressed how he felt about me giving my best to others, mentioning that he wants me to be real and honest with him, but he would also love to be around the version of me that is kind, compassionate, joyful, and all the other ways I engage with others.(emphasis mine) 3

Do you remember your courtship days? Weren’t you on your finest behavior most of the time? Didn’t you want your date to think the best of you? Why should that change just because you’re married?

Beloved, let’s try to remember to show kindness and respect to the one who God has blessed us with as a mate—no matter how busy we are. Our marriages will reap untold benefits and blessings.

Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministry shared an excellent prayer for couples. This is the intro:

I would encourage you to take your spouse’s hand and either have someone read this prayer over you or read it together. Use it as a reminder and recommitment.

And if your marriage isn’t at a place where that’s possible, pray this in the quiet shrine of your heart. As our key verse, Psalm 34:15 tells us, God hears you. He knows. He loves you. He will show you the way.4

Please take the time to read the rest of this wonderful prayer here.Couples-Love-God-First

When couples love God first
they love each other better. 

–Brela Delahoussaye

Beloved, life is hard. There are too many ways our lives can get messed up and mixed up by what’s going on in the world today. Don’t dwell on the negatives. Instead, keep your eyes on Jesus and strive to put your spouse first, even though that idea goes against what we hear in the current society of “what’s in it for me?” attitudes. I have learned firsthand that not only does God bless a loving and giving attitude, but your marriage will thrive.


1 Live Creatively for Christ, by Billy Graham

2 The Reality of Spiritual Warfare in the Home

3 Do You Give Your Husband Your Best?

4 A Wedding Prayer, A Marriage Prayer