CharlesStanley: " Hope: The Anchor of the Soul"

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Hope: The Anchor of the Soul
Charles Stanley

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Hope is a healthy attitude. Anticipating good brings comfort to the mind and heart. In contrast, a state of hopelessness is a terrible condition in which to find oneself. It's overwhelming and depressing to think that what you're facing cannot be changed or resolved. For the person who has lost all hope, life looks like a long dark tunnel going nowhere.

Included in Proverbs is a verse that describes the result of this oppressive feeling: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Prov. 13:12). Emotional, physical, and even mental illness haunt a person who feels trapped in a bleak situation. But I want to tell you, my friend, that as long as there is a God, no situation is hopeless. In Him, we have the promise of the second half of that proverb: "Desire fulfilled is a tree of life."

Believers have a hope that anchors their souls. Our relationship with Jesus Christ brings us close to the throne of heaven, where we can cast all our burdens before an omnipotent God. Moreover, we can cling to Him through whatever trials are facing us. Because of the Lord's great love, He provides strength for weary bodies, peace for anxious minds, and comfort for grieving hearts. In short, He lights that darkened tunnel and tenderly guides us through trying situations.

An anchor was a popular image in the ancient Mediterranean world. In an economy that depended on shipping, the anchor symbolized safety and steadiness. The writer of Hebrews used the word to remind believers that God has given a hope that holds firm in any storm

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BobCoy: "Thick and Thin"

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Thick and Thin

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Have you ever had one of those experiences where it feels like you just came down from the mountaintop? You know, the kind where you've just gone through something great, glorious, and grand…only to find yourself in a situation that's the exact opposite? For every mountain peak there's a valley below, and if life teaches us anything, it's that we seldom experience one without the other.

Psalm 120 is a Psalm that typifies coming down from the mountaintop. If you take a look at the previous Psalm, Chapter 119, you'll see it was a summit of spiritual experience. Verse after verse, it's a song about how wonderful and sufficient God's Word is. It doesn't get much better than that! Now notice how Psalm 120 starts. No longer is the Psalmist standing on top of the world; now he's in the valley of distress, in the depths of despair.

 

But we can't miss the one constant. Even in the pit of anguish, the Lord is there. He's there for the Psalmist to cry out to, and He's there to hear and respond.

 

That's an important observation for us to make, because it reminds us that God is not just the God of the mountaintop, but of the valley below as well. He's with us through thick and thin, regardless of our environment and circumstances.

 

So where are you at this very moment? Are you standing on top of the world spiritually, are you in the valley of distress, or are you somewhere in between? Wherever you are, be encouraged in knowing you have a constant companion who will walk with you to the highest height and stand by your side in the lowest of lows. Through thick and thin, the Lord is always there for you.

  

Lord of the mountain and of the valley, thank you for always being with us. Thank you for never leaving or forsaking us and for guiding us every step of the way.

 Think About It… 
What does this passage reveal to me about God?

What does this passage reveal to me about myself?
Based on this, what changes do I need to make?
What is my prayer for today?   

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JesusSaid: Love Your Enemies "What if they Kill Me?"

JesusSaid: Love Your Enemies "It isn't Practical"

MarkBalmer: "God is Close on this Day"

God is Close on this Day 


Based on “Unlimited Opportunities, Part 1” by Pastor Mark Balmer; 1/8-9/11,

Message #MB446; Daily Devotional #3 - “God is Close on this Day”

 

Preparing the Soil (Introduction):  Everyone wants change for their future; change for the better, that is. That is exactly what God wants for our future, too (Jeremiah 29:11). Our future begins today and is shaped, in part, by the decisions we make each day.  And of course, the best decision we can make today is to trust in the One who gave us this day.  Consider the way our days are represented by the four seasons.  Winter could represent the cold hard reality of loss, that rest is needed, or that activity has slowed for a season.  It is a time to give and receive the love of the Lord, for God is close on this day.  Spring could represent hope abounding, bringing with it new life in the revelation of God’s amazing grace, and we find God is close on this day.  Summer brings the fullness of the Holy Spirit breaking forth, joy increasing with the glory of God shining all around us, and God is close on this day.  Fall reminds us that winter is coming and is a time to prepare our hearts for spiritual battle and to reach out to others, for without the Lord, the days would be dark and cold.  But with His warmth, hearts change and turn to Him, and God is close on this day. No matter the season, He says, “….Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).  We have today.  This day was given to us that we might love God, love others, and make wise use of our time.

 

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): As you start this New Year, you are in one of the seasons mentioned above, and God is close on this day.  You are free to worship God today, free to love others for Him, and free to make your plans and commit them to Him (Proverbs 16:3).  No matter what the season of our life, we are making plans.  We are living life, and hopefully we are allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us.  Then we can rest knowing, If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. (Psalm 37:23-24) A Christ follower wants to live his day blameless before God.  Why?  The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. (Psalm 37:18)   No one is promised tomorrow, only today.  This is the day the Lord has made (Psalm 118:24), let us give God our praise and worship.  If we fill our hearts with the things of God, the seasons may come and go, but our spirit will sprout new wings and fly above our circumstances with renewed strength.

 

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Heavenly Father, we are thankful for today. It is a day to seek forgiveness for yesterday’s sins, a day to find comfort in your amazing love, and a day to let your Word teach us new truths for our own lives. It is a time to gather strength for the seasons to come. Bless us today that we, in turn, might be a blessing to others.  Thank you for saving us and calling us sons and daughters.  May we go out today and face an unbelieving world with grace, truth, and above all, love. Thank you, God, for being close on this day.  Amen.

 

Cultivating (Additional Reading):  Psalm 119:1-8

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MikeMacintosh: "Prayer"

 

Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:19

Prayer, whether filled with joy or anguish, is heard by God. It is communication. It is walking and talking together with God. It is an altar of sacrifice, where we meet God and lay ourselves down before Him in total honesty with Him. In prayer, we empty ourselves like a sacrificial lamb lying on the altar with all of its blood draining out. When we lay our heart before God on His altar, He accepts it as our sacrifice.

In our pain and anguish, God hears our affliction. When pain comes, it is not a time to run away or to take refuge in drinks or drugs. It is not a time to scurry about, seeking a short-term, feel-good remedy. It is a time to get on our knees and face God. When He hears our cry, He will come down from heaven and take us back where we belong. He will straighten everything out.

Lay your prayers on the altar. Lay yourself on the altar. God will lovingly receive your sacrifice and respond with compassion.

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GodCalling: "Friends Unseen"

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Never despair, never despond. Be just a channel of helpfulness for others.

Have more sympathy. Feel more tenderness towards others. Your lives shall not be all care. Gold does not stay in the crucible - only until it is refined.  Already I hear the music and the marching of the unseen host, rejoicing at your victory.

No follower of Mine would ever err or fall, if once the veil were withdrawn which prevents him seeing how these slips delight the evil spirits, and the pain and the disappointment of those who long for him to conquer in My Strength, and Name, and the ecstasy of rejoicing when victory is won.

My Strength is the same as that in which I conquered Satan in the Wilderness - depression and sorrow in the Garden, and even Death on Calvary.

Think of that.

Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5:7


blessings to you and yours this day and always ...

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Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25

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GregLaurie: "The Traitor's Traitor"

 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Traitor's Traitor

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?" And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. —Matthew 26:14-15

The most mysterious, and perhaps the most misunderstood, of the twelve disciples is Judas Iscariot. His very name is synonymous with evil and treachery. Judas is the traitor's traitor, ending his life in suicide after he sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. But there is more to Judas than that.

I think if we could travel back in time to the first century and actually see Jesus and His disciples, we wouldn't be able point out Judas. I don't think he would be the sinister man we would suspect—at least outwardly. In fact, Judas might even appear to be relatively compassionate.

For example, when Jesus and the disciples were at the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary in Bethany, Mary brought out some expensive perfume and began to wipe Jesus' feet with it. Jesus was deeply touched by this sacrificial act, but it was Judas who pointed out that this costly perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Those listening may have thought, That is a good point. You know, Judas is a good steward. He is frugal. He is thoughtful. Let's give Judas a round of applause.

But John gives us a little insight into why Judas said this: "This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it" (John 12:6). Some have portrayed Judas as someone who got caught up in the drama, and things just sort of backfired. But Judas did what he did because of his greed. He could have changed his course had he chosen to. He certainly was given opportunities.

This reminds us that things are not always as they appear. And Judas' covert greed ultimately destroyed him. 

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