“For those questioning the effectiveness of prayer after the Sutherland Springs shooting” 11/12/2017 Written by Elihu Anderson for “Courage”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

 

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Written by Elihu Anderson  for “Courage” @   http://www.thecourage.com

Original post @  http://www.thecourage.com/for-those-questioning-the-effectiveness-of-prayer-after-the-sutherland-springs-shooting/

 

For those questioning the effectiveness of prayer after the Sutherland Springs shooting

In the aftermath of the mass shooting at Sutherland Springs Baptist Church, there’s been plenty of blame and finger-pointing. There’s also been something else: People mocking those praying for the situation.

This derisive attitude toward prayer is nothing new, but it may stir up doubts as to the effectiveness of prayer or the power of God. If these thoughts are troubling you, consider the following and be encouraged:

Death is not the end

The early Christians were able to face death and torture with peace because of their unshakeable confidence in eternal life. In their minds, life was a brief journey; the real joy awaited them in heaven. To the world, death is the end; to the Christian, death is the beginning of better things.

Faith is tested most when confronted by the weightiness of life and death. As C.S. Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed,

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”

We either have faith in God’s promises or we do not trust them at all. To the world, our faith is insanity. They draw comfort from our suffering as though it validates their lack of faith. To them, the suffering of a Christian is proof of God’s weakness and prayer’s ineffectiveness. To us, it is a reminder that this earth is not paradise and better things await us in heaven. When we remain steadfast in our suffering, it is a witness to the world of the power of Christ within us. It is in the darkness that the light of Christ has the opportunity to shine most brightly. To us, it is a reminder that this earth is not paradise and better things await us in heaven.

Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, said,

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him…For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

Death causes grief to us who remain, but to the Christian who has passed on, it is relief from all the suffering of this earth. We never know the when or how or why, but if we cling to God’s hand in faith, we can face death with peaceful assurance.

Read this: Why should I keep praying if I don’t see answers?

Compassion is born out of prayer

In spite of what the world thinks, we should take this tragedy to the throne of God in prayer. Ask the Lord to enfold them in comfort, make provision for their needs, and strengthen them for the days ahead. In addition to these requests, ask the Lord to open doors of opportunity for you to help the grieving. After you pray, be on the lookout for these opportunities.

My fellow TheCourage contributor, Ashleigh Slater, recently released her book, Braving Sorrow Together, in which she shares how we can be supportive of one another through our grief and pain. What our fellow believers need at this moment are those who will help them through this pain. We might not be able to go to East Texas and assist, but there are other things we can do—including prayer.

Since I have not lost a loved one in this shooting, I can analyze it with detached rationality, but I cannot say what my reaction would be if I were the one grieving. The people of Sutherland Springs are experiencing razor-sharp grief which demands a better balm than words or logic. They need hugs, cards of sympathy, financial support for funeral costs, and counseling to deal with this traumatic loss in a healthy way.

Prayer is effective

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise…Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”             (James 5.13-16)

Prayers are effective. The world will encourage you to give up on prayer because they do not believe in God or His power. Will you listen to people who put their confidence in themselves or will you listen to our Mighty God who has the power to do more than we ask or imagine? God is more than able to make beauty from these ashes.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”    (1 Peter 5.6-9)

 

Keep on praying. Keep on trusting. Keep on working.

Now read this: Pastor’s incredible answer to prayer on national TV


Elihu Anderson is a surviving California native currently thriving in West Texas. When she isn’t writing for Elihu’s Corner, she is teaching, researching, walking, and book-worming with a cup of chai. Visit Elihu at elihuscorner.com

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P.S. (from bruce) If you are not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…    https://godsmanforever.com/2014/10/26/the-truth-about-sin-10262014-by-bruce-reposted-from-7112013/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

 

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“Don’t Lose Your Balance!” 11/11/2017 Written by Patrick Hawthorne for “SGM”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

Written by Patrick Hawthorne for “SGM” @    http://servinggrace.com

Original post @  https://servinggrace.com/2017/11/10/dont-lose-your-balance/

 

Don’t Lose Your Balance!

By Patrick Hawthorne

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I am writing this article with much pause.  I have to be careful because I know there are two sides to every road and both usually end up being a deep ditch.  One ditch leads to severe laziness within the church while the other leads to extreme works.

As I have written in the past, something that is good may not be particularly good for all.  For example, being called to pastor a church is a good thing.  However, stepping into the role of a pastor when one is called to be in a helps ministry is not a good thing. What defines something as good is relative to the situation.

Oswald Chambers wrote something very interesting in My Utmost for His Highest.  He wrote, “The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough.  The good is always the enemy of best.”

So often we make good choices in the name of the Lord.   By this I mean, we run here and run there…do this and do that for the glory of the Lord.  Yet, do we stop and ask the Lord if that is what He wanted?  In other words, is our “good” the enemy of His “best” for us?

Now, I am going to tell off on myself.  I am one who is inclined to drift towards the ditch of laziness within the Church.  To be honest, I could easily become a social hermit living with minimal people interaction.  I have always been wired that way and struggle often with getting out of my comfort zone.

Some, on the other hand, are social butterflies flitting here, there, and yonder.  These are the ones who tend to drift towards the other ditch of extreme works. Often, they begin their race with great gusto and excitement only to come crashing hard to the ground as they trip over one of life’s little hurdles.

Ultimately each of us must find the right balance so that we neither become “Lazy unto the Lord,” or “Over stressed and over stretched unto the Lord.”  We do this by seeking the Lord and determining what is His best versus what is our good.  As we do, He either instructs us to add to or take away from those things that keep us weak on the Vine.  Be blessed.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10”38-42 ESV

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P.S. (from bruce)  For those who are not “born again” Christians, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…    https://godsmanforever.com/2014/10/26/the-truth-about-sin-10262014-by-bruce-reposted-from-7112013/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…  I welcome any comments to improve upon it !!

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“Believing is a heart issue” 11/10/2017 Written by Mel Wild for “In My Father’s House”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org/

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

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Written by Mel Wild for “In My Father’s House”  @  https://melwild.wordpress.com

Original post @  https://melwild.wordpress.com/2017/11/06/believing-is-a-heart-issue/

 

Believing is a heart issue

If there’s anything my recent foray into Christian apologetics has confirmed it’s that no amount of “facts” will ever persuade or dissuade someone from believing or disbelieving in God. It’s a heart issue.

Every good salesman knows that people make “buying” decisions emotionally and justify their decision with the facts afterward. Likewise, people will believe what they want to believe first and justify it with an argument afterward.

This has to be frustrating for those who believe in the notion that science will eventually destroy religious faith, or for those who believe their perfect apologetic argument will convince an atheist to convert. Both are fanciful myths. Paul pretty much located the real issue for us:

10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified….(Rom.10:10 NIV *)

As Proverbs says, it’s the heart that determines the course our life will take:

23 Guard your heart above all else,
  for it determines the course of your life. (Prov.4:23 NIV *)

When the Bible uses “heart” in this way it’s referring to what moves you and motivates you to do (or not do) what you do. The condition of your heart will either enrich or impoverish your relationships and expand or limit your perspective on what it means to be alive:

11-13 Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! (2 Cor.6:11-13 MSG *)

The reality is, science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. As Eugenie Scott said while Director of the National Center for Science Education:

“Science neither denies nor opposes the supernatural, but ignores the supernatural for methodological reasons.”

In other words, science is indifferent to the question because it cannot test something outside the natural world. As Nobel Prize winning biologist Sir Peter Medawar said, these are “questions that science cannot answer and that no conceivable advance of science would empower it to answer.” (“The Limits of Science,” p.66)

But those who want to attack theists try to do this very thing with science; and theists try to do the same with atheists. It’s an exercise in futility.

It’s not that facts and science aren’t important. Science has methodology to help us understand the regularities of nature and it has benefited us enormously. I also believe apologetics (from the Greek word, apologia, meaning “to answer”) is beneficial to show that we theists have plausible reasons for our faith, that it’s not just an emotional decision that has no relevance to reality.

And Jesus was not against showing tangible proof for who He said He was. He said to those He ministered to that if they didn’t believe Him to believe the miraculous works He did (John 10:38). After His resurrection,  Jesus’ interaction with Thomas, who said he would not believe unless he saw the nail marks and could put his hand in Jesus’ side, was profound:

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29 NIV *)

You might say, Thomas was given evidence to believe. Yes, but it was his willing heart that led to faith. Many others saw Jesus’ miracles and still did not believe. Jesus said something rather startling about this to the Pharisees in His parable about Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31). The rich man wanted Father Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers so they would not end up like him. Here’s how this Abraham answers his request:

31 But Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone were to rise from death.’” (Luke 16:31 GNT)

Do you understand what Jesus is saying here? He’s talking about the nature of faith. No amount of proof, even seeing someone be raised from the dead, will cause someone to believe unless they are willing to believe.

It all comes down to a matter of faith in the end. And faith is a heart issue.

Quick story. We had an atheist come to our church a few years back (a relative of someone who regularly attends our church). During ministry time, we prayed for people to be healed. He had responded (don’t know why!) to have his injured arm prayed for. He reported to his family afterward that his arm had no more pain and appeared to be completely restored. But did this cause him to believe? No.  He just shrugged it off, saying he had no explanation for it. I’ve seen this happen time and time again.

As C.S. Lewis said in his article, “The Seeing Eye,” to some God is discoverable everywhere, to others nowhere. And that’s because believing is a matter of the heart.

* All emphasis in quotes are added.

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P.S. (from bruce) To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross below with those in need…  I welcome any comments to improve upon it !!  For those who are not “born again” Christians, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…    https://godsmanforever.com/2014/10/26/the-truth-about-sin-10262014-by-bruce-reposted-from-7112013/

 

 

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“HOW TO MAKE SURE GOD ISN’T JUST YOUR ‘GOD’ LUCK CHARM…” 11/09/2017 Written by Minister Aldtric Johnson for “Be Blessified”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org/

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

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Written by Minister Aldtric Johnson for “Be Blessified”  @  https://beblesstified.com

Original post @  https://beblesstified.com/2017/11/04/how-to-make-sure-god-isnt-your-god-luck-charm/

 

God wants a REAL relationship with us. It’s almost become cliché to say that He wants relationship and not religion, but it’s very easy, if we aren’t careful to slip into…

Religion…

Ritual…

Even let our faith be reduced to Superstition…yes just like a rabbit’s foot… a good luck charm.

It’s easy just to go with the flow of what you’ve been taught growing up.

It’s easy to ‘come to God’ simply because you are looking for something (not necessarily someone) to make your life better, or to get it on track.

It’s easy to worship and go to church because you think it’s the right thing to do.

But, God wants to be just as real to us as the people in our lives, and to be treated as such.

You spend quality time with the people you love. You communicate with the people you love (communication is talking and listening). You sacrifice for the people you love. You give to the people you love without expecting nothing but love in return. You give your life for the people you love…You would die for the people you love!

So, family of God! Take a moment and look at your relationship with God to make sure that it’s just that…relationship. Here’s a quick relationship counseling session for your marriage with God.

Isaiah 54:5 (NKJV)

For your Maker is your husband,
The Lord of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.

ALLOW YOUR FAITH TO BE PROVEN THROUGH BEING CHALLENGED

No relationship is proven until it’s challenged. No marriage. No friendship…None. When a real rival or threat challenges a relationship, love is proven. Sometimes that love may be denied or even betrayed, but if it survives the challenge, then it’s proven. So it goes with our faith. Our faith will be challenged. Sometimes you may doubt God’s Word. Sometimes you may wonder if He’s really there. Sometimes you may entertain other religions, but if your faith in God is strong enough, if you really believe His word is truth. If you really WANT to love Him, your faith will sustain and grow. Remember, when we present Christ to someone of another faith, we challenging their faith.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NKJV)

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

MAKE SURE THAT READING GOD’S WORD ISN’T REDUCED TO A RITUALISTIC VERSE OF THE DAY

There’s nothing wrong with reading a verse of the day if you will truly meditate on it and incorporate it into your thinking…into your life. But, if you read a verse of the day simply because you think it impresses God, that you think it’s going to make your day magically go well, or you’re afraid something will go wrong if you don’t – it’s been reduced to ritual and superstition. Read a verse of the day, but never neglect not just reading, but studying God’s Word, so you can grow.

1 Peter 2:2 (NKJV)

as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,[a]

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

DON’T JUST GIVE SO YOU CAN BE BLESSED

Don’t allow the promise of giving to become a stumbling block to you…

Malachi 3:10 (NKJV)

10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

It’s easy to allow your giving to be driven by wanting a blessing to be poured out that you don’t have room to receive. But, the true purpose of giving is so that needs can be met, ministry can go forward, and prayers can be confirmed. We should give out of genuine love for God, His people, His Kingdom and people in general How many times have you heard this scripture preached or taught…

Luke 6:35 (NKJV)

35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, HOPING FOR NOTHING IN RETURN; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

It’s easy to allow giving to be reduced to a good luck charm or no different from any of your other ‘bills’. People don’t pay their car payment or mortgage because they love the finance company or bank. People don’t pay their utility bill because they love the utility company. They do it because they want to keep their car, their house…to keep their lights on. Don’t just give because you don’t want God to ‘cut off’ your blessings. Examine your true motives and intentions as to why you give.

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 (NKJV)

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written:

“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”[a]

10 Now may[b] He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for yourliberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

WITNESS TO SOMEONE WHO IS NOT A BELIEVER

Many of us witness and testify of God’s goodness to our friends, family, church family and other Christians…and that’s good. But, intentionally witnessing to someone who doesn’t believe is a good exercise in making sure your relationship with God is real. Witnessing to unbelievers makes us vulnerable. It puts us at risk of rejection, insults, ridicule and sometimes harm. But, you don’t make yourself vulnerable to that level for someone who isn’t real, someone you don’t love, or someone with whom your relationship isn’t important. Remember we are ambassadors for Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV)

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

ALLOW SOME THINGS TO BE BETWEEN JUST YOU AND GOD

Have you ever had an issue, problem or situation and just needed to talk to someone? It’s good to be able to talk to people, but sometimes we have to let some situations be between us and God. We sometimes say we ‘take our burdens to God and leave them there’, but may not feel real peace until we have talked to a ‘real person’. Make up in your mind that you will trust some situations ONLY to God. Pray about it, know He heard you and then feel confident that He is going to work it out to your good.

Let God be real to you! Make sure your relationship with Him is as real as any others in your life. Don’t let worshiping Him become ‘going through the motions’.

Don’t let God be your GOD luck charm.

BE BLESSTIFIED!

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P.S. (from bruce) Is God urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…    https://godsmanforever.com/2014/10/26/the-truth-about-sin-10262014-by-bruce-reposted-from-7112013/

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“I Have Engraved You” 11/08/2017 Posted by Alister Begg for “Truth for Life”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

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Posted by Alister Begg for “Truth for Life”  @  http://info.truthforlife.org

Original post @  http://info.truthforlife.org/devo-nov7-2017?ecid=ACsprvvTxh2qZjZ2waLBhnX6QUySZ5rKjs2trKPfjyKS1awtFwGH4k0FHnpOWxDAfNS6mCiXgjl6&utm_campaign=Daily%20Devotion%20Emails&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=58117309&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–reYJGybkfgVeYqMOpjFBQxcPeaiptZLN6_ePOmdw9BEXC-CF7xMVBL-5Z6hiJqrJsZ6k__upa3-XP4OuuQfzbhGIdJ4PDiGtMDesdhTmchw-AUAI&_hsmi=58117309

 

DAILY DEVOTIONAL NOVEMBER 7, 2017

I Have Engraved You

 

Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.
Isaiah 49:16

No doubt part of the wonder that is concentrated in the word “Behold” is on account of the contrast with the unbelieving lament of the preceding sentence. Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” How amazed the divine mind seems to be at this wicked unbelief!

What can be more astounding than the unfounded doubts and fears of God’s favored people? The Lord’s loving word of rebuke should make us blush.

He cries, “How can I have forgotten you, when I have engraved you on the palms of My hands? How dare you doubt My constant remembrance when the memorial is carved upon My own flesh?” O unbelief, what a strange marvel you are! We do not know what to wonder at most-the faithfulness of God or the unbelief of His people. He keeps His promise a thousand times, and yet the next trial makes us doubt Him.

He never fails; He is never a dry well; He is never as a setting sun, a passing meteor, or a melting vapor; and yet we are as continually troubled with anxieties, molested with suspicions, and disturbed with fears as if our God were a mirage of the desert.

“Behold” is a word intended to stir our admiration. Here, indeed, we have a theme for marveling. Heaven and earth may well be astonished that rebels should obtain such a closeness to the heart of infinite love as to be written on the palms of His hands. “I have engraved you.” It does not say, “your name.”

The name is there, but that is not all: “I have engraved you.” Consider the depth of this! “I have engraved your person, your image, your circumstances, your sins, your temptations, your weaknesses, your wants, your works; I have engraved you, everything about you, all that concerns you; I have put all of this together here.”

Will you ever say again that your God has forsaken you when He has engraved you on His own palms?

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Good News Publishers and used by Truth For Life with written permission.

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P.S. (from bruce) Is God urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how Gods grace is received to become a Christian in Gods eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…    https://godsmanforever.com/2014/10/26/the-truth-about-sin-10262014-by-bruce-reposted-from-7112013/

 

 

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“God is jealous?! and he takes it out on the children?!” 11/07/2017 Written by Steven Teske for “Salvageable”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org/

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

                                           Image result for picture God is jealous Bible

Written by Steven Teske for “Salvageable”  @  https://salvageable04.wordpress.com

Original post @  https://salvageable04.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/god-is-jealous-and-he-takes-it-out-on-the-children/

 

God is jealous?! and he takes it out on the children?!

 

God says, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments”               (Exodus 20:5-6).

Yes, God himself says that he is jealous. But jealousy is not always the same as envy and coveting. At root, the meaning of jealousy is wanting to keep that which is one’s own. A husband who is jealous does not want to share his wife with other men. His jealousy may tempt him into sinful behavior, but the desire that one’s wife or husband remain faithful is not sinful. In fact, a man who willingly shares his wife with others shows that he does not love her.

God loves his people. He does not want to share his people with false gods. God does not envy false gods, because he needs and wants nothing from them. But he is jealous, wanting his people not to have other gods or to worship graven images. Whether the false gods are those worshiped by ancient religions—Baal, Zeus, Thor, Osiris, and the rest—or whether they are the modern false gods of money, fame, pleasure, political causes, and the like—God does not want to share. He loves his people too much to let them be deceived and harmed by anything that looks like a god and sounds like a god but cannot accomplish what God alone can do.

For that reason, God allows us to see the price of evil, the damage that it causes. He intends that we see what is wrong with evil and prefer that which is good. Evil is unfair, but God is fair. He would not punish children for the sins of their parents. Through Moses, he forbade the government of Israel to follow that practice (Deuteronomy 24:16). Other ancient governments did that, reasoning that a man’s concern for his family might deter him from crime even more than his concern for self-protection. But God says, “The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).

Unfortunately some translations do misinterpret Exodus 20:5-6, reporting that God punishes the children for the sins of the fathers. These translations miss the sense of “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.” That visit of iniquity is not a punishment from God; it is a consequence of sin and evil. God does not work this way, but the sinful world works this way.

Children who were abused by their parents often become parents who abuse their children. It’s not fair, but it happens. Children whose parents misuse alcohol or other drugs are more likely to misuse the same drugs. It’s not fair, but it happens. It’s not fair that some children are born with defects, and others are born already addicted to drugs, because of bad decisions their mothers made during pregnancy. It happens because evil is unfair, and God wants us to see evil for what it really is.

When iniquity visits, it stays for a while. The consequences of sin do not disappear, not even when the sin is already forgiven through the sacrifice of Christ. God measures the durability of evil as lasting “to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” He contrasts that with his love. God’s love lasts for a thousand generations. (According to the Bibles account, nowhere near that number of generations has yet lived on the earth.) Rather than resenting God for the evil he permits—and he does so for good reasons—God’s people rejoice to know that the love of God and his mercy overwhelm the power of evil. All  victims are rescued because God himself became a victim, suffering unfairly on the cross so he could redeem those who trust in him. And that really isn’t fair either, but it is unfairness that is given for our benefit. J.

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P.S. (from bruce) Is God urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how Gods grace is received to become a Christian in Gods eyes; through understanding and obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…    https://godsmanforever.com/2014/10/26/the-truth-about-sin-10262014-by-bruce-reposted-from-7112013/

 

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“Three Roadblocks to Following Jesus” 11/06/2017 Written by Cody Deevers for “Lifeway/Pastors”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org/

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

Written by Cody Deevers for “Lifeway/Pastors”  @  http://www.lifeway.com

Original post @  http://www.lifeway.com/pastors/2017/10/16/three-roadblocks-following-jesus/

 

shepherd sheep dogs

Three Roadblocks to Following Jesus

Most people that I encounter really like Jesus, or at least their concept of Him. They see Jesus as loving, gracious, forgiving, and anti-establishment. That concept is not entirely wrong. It is difficult for them to imagine Jesus promoting any type of exclusivity. But, He is the one who erected certain discipleship roadblocks. 

In Luke 14, Jesus turns to the great crowds that accompanied him and says three times, “you cannot be my disciple if…” Let that sink in for a minute. Jesus turned. He stopped what he was doing to front-load the expectations and define the relationship. Here are three roadblocks—expressed as if statements—that, according to Jesus, would preclude one from being His disciple.

If you love your family and your life more than Jesus.

In verse 26 Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus is not commanding us to hate our families. He is, however, saying we have to be more devoted to him than to our earthly blood relationships.

I love my family and I loved my life in Oklahoma. But, Jesus called me to plant a church in Arizona. I loved my proximity to wheat fields, working cattle, hunting, and actual winters. But, Jesus called me to plant a church in Phoenix, where there never really is a winter. I loved Christmas Eve at 5:30 pm with my momma. But, Christmas Eve services in Phoenix are huge opportunities to present the gospel to pre-Christians.

If you will not bear your own cross and follow Jesus.

In verse 27, Jesus says, “Come after me.” Discipleship is really just this: following Jesus. If you will not follow, you can’t be a disciple. And following after Jesus necessarily means some suffering and cross-bearing.

Planting Valley Life Church is harder than I feared or imagined, but it has been totally worth it. Jesus has saved and is saving his people here. His people are being born again and I have been invited into the delivery room. That joy far outweighs any “loss” I have suffered. I have learned more about myself and more about the sufficiency of Christ in doing planting this church.

If you will not renounce all that you have.

Before moving to Phoenix we had a massive garage sale. I sold vehicles, trailers, equipment, saddles and tack, guns—all kinds of “stuff.” With each monetary exchange, I felt the sting of loss. Loss of safety, comfort, and security. Loss of a way of life. But, again, it has been totally worth it.

Jesus demands worth-ship above everything. Our possessions, relationships, and traditions, while not necessarily evil, are all too often idolatrous. Jesus will not suffer any idols in our lives. For his glory and our deepest joy, he will expose, confront, and purge our hearts and affections.

Here is what I am learning. First, following Jesus is about moving toward him and letting go of what we hold most dear. Second, Jesus was up front about the cost of following Him and I should be also. Finally, because Jesus has been kind enough to save, I will spend an eternity of infinitely better  Christmas Eves with family than the previous, earthly forty-two.

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P.S. (from bruce) Are you a “born again” Christian ??  Is God urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…    https://godsmanforever.com/2014/10/26/the-truth-about-sin-10262014-by-bruce-reposted-from-7112013/

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