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“Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever more. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
Waking up with a cough in the wee hours of the morning is actually good for something, I discovered this past weekend.
It’s a perfect time to stargaze.
So this past Saturday morning, around 3 am, I pulled on a robe and my slippers and went out our back door to stand in the yard and look up. It helped a lot that it was still around 60 degrees (we’ve had a warm November here in the Texas Hill Country), but even when I lived in Minnesota, I occasionally braved a frigid winter midnight to admire the star-studded heavens. As always, the simple truth that I’m looking at stars burning gazillions of miles away astounds me, let alone knowing that the light I see actually left those stars even more gazillion years ago! I’m entranced, intrigued, and awed all at the same time, and every time I make a midnight visit to the universe, I can’t believe I’m not spending my life gazing at those stars.
Nerdy? Maybe. Reverent? You bet. Nothing makes me feel smaller, and yet so incredibly blessed, than to witness God’s work of the heavens. I want to set up a honking big speaker system and shout out to everyone to look at what God has created…but I don’t expect my neighbors would exactly appreciate that at three in the morning. So instead, I praise God, I embrace the night sky studded with a million stars, and when I begin to feel the cold seeping in under my robe, I go back inside and get in bed. As I fall asleep, I say a prayer for all the people who are unaware of the nightly spectacle and the nearness and largesse of God, and I thank God for all the blessings in my life.
“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.” Psalm 33:6
Jan Dunlap is the author of the new suspense novel Heaven’s Gate: Archangels Book I, the bestselling memoir Saved by Gracie: How a Rough-and-tumble Rescue Dog Dragged Me Back to Health, Happiness and God (Authentic Publishing) and the acclaimed Birder Murder Mystery series (North Star Press, Inc.). She holds MA degrees in Theology and English Studies and lives in the Hill Country of Texas where she spends every clear night marveling at the stars and the brilliance of God’s creation. She is a frequent contributor to FaithHappenings.com and welcomes visitors at www.jandunlap.com and on Facebook at her two author pages BirderMurderMama and Archangels.
More of Jan Dunlap: http://www.jandunlap.com/
From: The Cure
By John Lynch
In my eagerness to "fix" conflicts, I often push people to apologize. But no one stays "fixed" when I force the issue. I can say "I'm sorry," but sometimes those are just words. Nothing has been reconciled. We're left each defending our turf, still just as resentful, even if the "right" words have been spoken. Grace always invites rather than demands reconciliation. An apology may push the issue away for the moment, but it won't heal a relationship, and it rarely solves any issue.
I AM FULFILLED WHEN I HAVE EXPERIENCED LOVE. Love completely satisfies our longing, ambitions, and potential. God, the ultimate fulfiller, invites us to trust Him. Those who hang out long enough in the Room of Grace experience too much love to return to their previous existence. Received love turns shaky pretenders into confident dreamers. It turns miserably self-sufficient strivers into wonderfully released receivers. It turns cynical and smug judges into safe and discerning protectors. It turns anxious self-protectors into daring lovers.
These posts first appeared on the TrueFace website or Facebook Page and are shared here with permission. TrueFace works to see hundreds of thousands of high-trust cultures of grace multiplied around the world. TrueFace pursues this vision by building and restoring trust in leaders and those who follow them. We do this by teaching leaders how to "trust God and others with themselves."
More of John Lynch, Bruce McNicol and Bill Thrall - TrueFace: www.trueface.org
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. —Matthew 5:28
I was walking through the Beatitudes with my 9th grade small group, and we came across the dreaded passage (today’s Scripture passage above). After we talked about it a bit, I made what I thought was a bold statement. I said, “I’m just going to assume that all of you guys are struggling with pornography. If you’re not, that’s great! But, I’m going to start with the assumption that it’s a struggle for everyone. Let me know if it’s not a struggle.”
Every one of those guys admitted that pornography is a struggle in some way. Several made commitments to have an accountability program (XXXchurch.com) installed on their computer. A few even listed me as their accountability partner.
Some weeks later, I got an email alert from XXXchurch.com regarding one of the guys in the group, listing the inappropriate sites he had been visiting. I forwarded the email to the boy and wrote, “It looks like Thursday was a difficult day for you. I’m praying for you right now. Let’s get together and talk. I know you can win this battle. I believe in you! I love you.”
The boy replied back saying, “I was having a more serious problem than I really admitted. It was really pretty bad until I got the accountability software. Now that I have it, I find myself on websites that are as close to porn as it gets without being porn by its core definition. Thank you again so much for showing me this software. I’m trying very hard to get out of the habit. It’s literally like withdrawals from an addiction.”
Pornography is insidious. Its lure is powerful, and its addictive capacity is a bottomless pit. These days, with porn just a mouse click away, there’s never been greater access to such a destructive evil. Everyone is vulnerable, from teens to parents to Christian leaders. One survey found that 87% of men admit to using porn in the past month. Another study set out to research the affects of porn on men compared to those who had never viewed it. When researchers couldn’t find any men who had not viewed porn, the study was abandoned!
The Scriptures warn us (with good reason!) to flee immorality. No good thing will ever come to your life, relationships, marriage, family, or ministry from exposure to pornography.
If you haven’t been caught in porn’s snare, wonderful! Keep doing what you are doing and know that everyone, even you, is vulnerable. If you have been ensnared by porn, let me encourage (and challenge) you: involvement with pornography isn’t the unpardonable sin. Do your best to flee. God wants to help you. Use accountability tools. Talk to someone. Help is available. Get help. And let me tell you, as I told the guy in my small group, I know you can win this battle. I believe in you!
1. To what extent has pornography influenced your life?
2. What practical steps do you need to take to guard your life and your family from the insidious snare of pornography?
1 Corinthians 6:18; Colossians 3:5; Philippians 4:8
DOUG FIELDS is the senior director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University and the co-founder of Downloadyouthministry.com. Doug has been a youth and teaching pastor at Mariners Church and Saddleback Church for 30 years and has authored more than fifty books. He is a passionate speaker reaching thousands of leaders, teenagers, and parents every year. Doug resides with his wife and three children in Southern California.
More of Doug Fields: www.homeword.com
BY MRS. CHARLES COWMAN
"He putteth forth his own sheep." - John10:4
Oh, this is bitter work for Him and us--bitter for us to go, but equally bitter for Him to cause us pain; yet it must be done. It would not be conducive to our true welfare to stay always in one happy and comfortable lot. He therefore puts us forth. The fold is deserted, that the sheep may wander over the bracing mountain slope. The laborers must be thrust out into the harvest, else the golden grain would spoil.
Take heart! it could not be better to stay when He determines otherwise; and if the loving hand of our Lord puts us forth, it must be well. On, in His name, to green pastures and still waters and mountain heights! He goeth before thee. Whatever awaits us is encountered first by Him. Faith's eye can always discern His majestic presence in front; and when that cannot be seen, it is dangerous to move forward. Bind this comfort to your heart, that the Savior has tried for Himself all the experiences through which He asks you to pass; and He would not ask you to pass through them unless He was sure that they were not too difficult for your feet, or too trying for your strength.
This is the Blessed Life--not anxious to see far in front, nor careful about the next step, not eager to choose the path, nor weighted with the heavy responsibilities of the future, but quietly following behind the Shepherd, one step at a time.
Dark is the sky! and veiled the unknown morrowl
Dark is life's way, for night is not yet o'er;
The longed-for glimpse I may not meanwhile borrow;
But, this I know, HE GOETH ON BEFORE.
Dangers are nigh! and fears my mind are shaking;
Heart seems to dread what life may hold in store;
But I am His--He knows the way I'm taking,
More blessed still--HE GOETH ON BEFORE.
Doubts cast their weird, unwelcome shadows o'er me,
Doubts that life's best--life's choicest things are o'er;
What but His Word can strengthen, can restore me,
And this blest fact; that still HE GOES BEFORE.
HE GOES BEFORE! Be this my consolation!
He goes before! On this my heart would dwell!
He goes before! This guarantees salvation!
HE GOES BEFORE! And therefore all is well.
--J. D. Smith
The Oriental shepherd was always ahead of his sheep. He was down in front. Any attack upon them had to take him into account. Now God is down in front. He is in the tomorrows. It is tomorrow that fills men with dread. God is there already. All the tomorrows of our life have to pass Him before they can get to us. --F. B. M.
"God is in every tomorrow,
Therefore I live for today,
Certain of finding at sunrise,
Guidance and strength for the way;
Power for each moment of weakness,
Hope for each moment of pain,
Comfort for every sorrow,
Sunshine and joy after rain."
The public domain version of this classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert.
Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website.
More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions