Daily Devotional

Blessings Follow Testing:

Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. Genesis 26:12-13
We must learn from Isaac's example to be firm in our faith so that we don't doubt or waver when hardships come our way. After Isaac sinned, God lovingly forgave him and even blessed him. We learn from this that God doesn't remain angry forever. If we rely on his promises, we can remain faithful when things go wrong and say, "The Lord who asked me to believe in him will keep his promises. Meanwhile, I will cling to him and trust him." The Psalms remind us: "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD" (Psalm 27:14). "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD" (Psalm 31:24).
Believers can remain confident even in the worst dangers and hardships because God has promised to take care of them: "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).
It's important for believers to be tested by trials. Without these tests, our faith would grow cold and weak. It could eventually disappear completely. But if we are tested with hardships, we will discover what faith is and will be strengthened in our knowledge of Christ. We will become so strong that even when we have troubles and anxieties, we can be just as happy as we are in good times. We can look at each hardship as if it were a cloud or a fog that will soon vanish.
Devotion by: Martin Luther
God bless,
God And His Attributes

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you." - 2 Corinthians 13:14

In this single verse we have, not only each person of the Trinity clearly named, but also each of their distinctive roles in salvation summarized.
It was because of God the Father's everlasting love that He sent His only Son into the world to take on human flesh, live in a sin-cursed world, and finally die a horrible death on behalf of His people. It was the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (not the nails, and definitley not your worth) that kept Him on the cross as His Father poured upon Him an eternity of wrath for the sins of His people. And it is the communion of the Holy Ghost as He irresistibly and lovingly and transformingly takes up residence in our hearts-that allows us to now enjoy the sanctifying, hope-providing, love-inspiring salvation of God right here and now.

May this grace, this love, this communion be ever with you, ever on your mind, ever influencing your decisions, ever saturating your life's work. May this Trinitarian display of almighty, all loving, all-sufficient mercy be your guide and hope and delight.

BBH Daily Devotion

God bless,

My righteous one will live by faith. (Hebrews 10:38)

Often our feelings and emotions are mistakenly substituted for faith. Pleasurable emotions and deep, satisfying experiences are part of the Christian life, but they are not the essence of it. Trials, conflicts, battles, and testings lie along the way and are to be counted not as misfortunes but rather as part of our necessary discipline.

In all of these various experiences, we are to rely on the indwelling of Christ in our hearts, regardless of our feelings, as we walk obediently before Him. And this is where many Christians get into trouble. They try to walk by feelings rather than by faith.

A believer once related that it seemed as if God had totally withdrawn Himself from her. His mercy seemed completely gone. Her loneliness lasted for six weeks, until the heavenly Lover seemed to say to her, "You have looked for Me in the outside world of emotions, yet all the while I have been waiting inside for you. Meet Me now in the inner chamber of your spirit, for I am there."

Be sure to distinquish between the fact of God's presence and the feeling of the fact. It is actually a wonderful thing when our soul feels lonely and deserted, as long as our faith can say, "I do not see You, Lord, nor do I feel Your presene, but I know for certain You are graciously here--exactly where I am and aware of my circumstances." Remind yourself again and again with these words: "Lord, You are here. And though the bush before me does not seem to burn, it does burn. I will take the shoes from my feet, 'for the place where [I am] standing is holy ground."' (Ex. 3:5). London Christian

Trust God's Word and His power more than you trust your own feelings and experiences. Remember, your Rock is Christ, and it is the sea that ebbs and flows with the tides, not Him. Samuel Rutherford

Keep your eyes firmly fixed on the infinite greatness of Christ's finished work and His righteousness. Look to Jesus and believe-look to Jesus and live! In fact, as you look to Him, unfurl your sails and bravely face the raging storms on the sea of life. Do not exhibit your distrust by staying in the security of the calm harbor or by sleeping comfortably through your life of ease. Do not allow your life and emotions to be tossed back and forth against each other like ships idly moored at port. The Christian life is not one of listless brooding over our emotions or slowly drifting our keel of faith through shallow water. Nor is it one of dragging our anchor of hope through the settling mud of the bay, as if we were afraid of encountering a healthy breeze.

Sail away! Spread your sail toward the storm and trust in Him who rules the raging seas. A brightly colored bird is safest when in flight. If its nest is near the ground or if it flies too low, it exposes itself to the hunter's net or trap. In the same way, if we cower in the lowlands of feelings and emotions, we will find ourselves entangled in a thousand nets of doubt, despair, temptation, and unbelief. "How useless to spread a net in full view of ALL THE BIRDS!" (Prov. 1:17). "Put your hope in God" (Ps. 42:5). J.R. Macduff

When I cannot feel the faith of assurance, I live by the fact of God's faithfulness. Matthew Henry

By: L.B. Cowman

God bless,
Who Will Come To Jesus?
"Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17)

God's invitation to men is broad but not unqualified. The words "whosoever will may come" throw the door open, indeed, but the church is carrying the gospel invitation far beyond its proper bounds, turning it into something more human and less divine than that found in the sacred Scriptures.

What we tend to overlook is that the word "whosoever" never stands by itself. Always its meaning is modified by the word "believe" or "will" or "come."
According to the teachings of Christ no one will or can come and believe unless there has been done within him a prevenient work of God enabling him to do so.

In the sixth chapter of John, Jesus teaches us that no one can come of himself; he must first be drawn by the Father. "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing," Jesus said (6:63).

Before any man or woman can be saved, he or she must feel a consuming spiritual hunger. Where a hungry heart is found, we may be sure that God was there first--"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you" (John 15:16)

By: A.W. Tozer

God bless,

Pruning the Branches
He cuts off every branch in me that bears not fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:2
Christ says his Father is the gardner, who tends and looks after his vine. God separates the wild branches from the others so that they won't spread and spoil the true vine. God singles them out to protect the true vine. He determines which ones should be cut off and tossed into the fire.​
But it all appears very different to us. We see these wild branches growing and spreading. They are much stronger and thicker than the others. They look like the only true ones that will produce fruit. In contrast, we appear small, puny, and unfruitful. Yes, people want to root us out and cut us off as useless and unfit. But the false vines appear as if they will remain forever, and the entire world respects them highly.​
We need spiritual understanding and vision. No matter how many scoundrels rise up against Christians, God always cuts them off and preserves a remnant of believers. From the time of the apostles until now, many heresies have challenged the teachings of Christ, of baptism, of the Lord's Supper, of justification by faith, and so on. These heresies are so pervasive that it appears they are correct teachings and the Christian church might pass away. But God has cut off all of these wild branches and preserved his true branches, so that we nevertheless hold on to right teaching, baptism, and the Lord's Supper as the apostles gave them to us. Beginning with Abel, faith has pushed forward throughout the world and will prevail as long as there are believers. Not one of them will be cut off the vine. All will remain there. So we must not look at how large and strong these wild branches are. Instead, we should look for the true branches in Christ.​
By: Martin Luther
God bless,
The Art of Faith
"Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed." Galatians 3:23

Grace is present when your heart is restored by the promise of God's free mercy. Then your heart can say with the author of Psalm 42, "O my soul, why are you so troubled and restless? Do you see only the law, sin, terror, sadness, despair, death, hell, and the devil? Aren't grace, forgiveness of sins, righteousness, comfort, joy, peace, life, heaven, Christ, and God also present? Stop being troubled, my soul. What are the law, sin, and everything evil compared to them? Trust God. He didn't spare his own Son but offered him up to death on a cross for your sins."

So when you are frightened by the law, you can say, "Lady Law, you are not the only things, and you are not everything.. Besides you there is something even greater and better, specifically, grace, faith, and blessing. They don't accuse, frighten, or condemn me. They comfort me, tell me to expect the best, and assure me of my certain victory and salvation in Christ. So there's no reason for me to despair."

Whoever truly understands this can be called a theologian. Certain leaders who are always boasting about the Spirit believe that they understand living by faith extremely well. I, however, and others like me know that we scarcely possess the fundamentals. We are diligent students in the school where the art of faith is taught. No matter how well it's taught, as long as we remain in these sinful bodies, we will never finish learning.

By: Martin Luther
God bless,
Strife Spreading

"A perverse man spreads strife." Proverbs 16:28
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9
Have you ever tried to have a relationship with someone who has a habit of nursing grudges, demands huge apologies or has a chronically unforgiving spirit? Avoid such people.​
Why is spreading strife perverse? Because any person who has been miraculously reconciled to God through the work of Jesus Christ has received the Holy Spirit, and in receiving the Holy Spirit, that person has also received the spirit of reconciliation. Anytime a problem arises in a relationship, the Spirit of God starts whispering to that person, "Let's not blow this up. Let's resolve this quickly." Anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ but enjoys spreading strife has chosen not to listen to the voice of reconciliation that speaks within, and has deliberately turned away from what is right.​
Such a person delights in dwelling on disputes and alienating friends and can have no lasting place among people who want to walk together through life. Which would you rather have on your team? One who spreads strife among friends or one who is a peacemaker? One whom the Bible calls perverse or one whom Jesus calls blessed? It's ours to choose.​
By: Bill Hybels
God bless,
Pour Yourself Out
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth." John 16:13

Science declares that nature abhors a vacuum. It should be happy knowledge to us, then, that the same principle is true in the kingdom of God--when you empty yourself, God Almighty rushes in!

The Creator God who fills the universe and overflows into immensity can never be surrounded by that little thing we call our brain, our mind, our intellect. Never can we rise to face God by what we are and by what we know!

Only by love and faith are we lifted thus to know Him and adore Him!

What a happy hour it becomes when we are drawn out of ourselves, and into that vacuum rushes the blessed Presence.

How wonderful in our humanity to sense the reality of the Holy Spirit's invitation: "Pour yourself out! Give yourself to Me! Empty yourself! Bring your empty earthen vessels! Come in meekness like a child!"

Drawn out of ourselves by the Holy Spirit of God--for who knows the things of God but the Holy Spirit?

We are delivered from ourselves when we finally seek God for Himself alone!

By: A.W. Tozer

God bless,

Quiet Enough to Listen

"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." 1 Kings 19:11-12

Listen to God. These moments in God's presence are the ones that really matter. This is where authentic Christianity emanates from - the unhurried, silent communing of God's Spirit with ours. You can't become an authentic Christian on a diet of constant activity, even if the activity is all church related. Ministry, Christian rock concerts, weekend conferences, church committee meetings - these all may be valuable, but they are not your main source of strength. Strength comes out of solitude. Decisions that change the entire course of your lfie usually come out of the holy of holies.

The archenemy of spiritual authenticity is busyness. It's time to slow down, reflect and listen.

By: Bill Hybels

God bless,

God Works in Secret

"So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt." Genesis 37:28

God humbles his people before he elevates them. He kills them in order to bring them back to life. He devastates them before honoring them. He knocks them down in order to pick them up. God's methods show the highest artistry and wisdom. We cannot understand how events like these are a part of God's plan until we see his plan completed. When these events are happening, they can't be understood, except through faith alone.

In the same way, faith in the Son of God will comfort me when I leave this earth. Even so, my body will be buried in the ground and eaten by worms; it will rot and decay (Job 17:14). I don't see God's plan for me when I look at death. Yet God has promised that I will come back to life. Christ said, "Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19). But how will I live? I will live in eternal life, in a body that is brighter and more beautiful than the sun. I can't see or feeel any of this yet. But I believe it, and I can tolerate the short delay. Eternal life is already prepared. As Paul says, "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day" (2 Timothy 4:8).

But God does everything in secret. We have to be patient while God hides his intentions from us. Jacob and Joseph couldn't see the future prize. But with the sale of Joseph to the Ishmaelites, the future was being prepared God sees everything as if it has all taken place already. Everything he wants to happen will certainly happen!

By: Martin Luther

God bless,

"See how the lilies of the field grow." (Matthew 6:28)

Many years ago there was a monk who needed olive oil, so he planted an olive tree sapling. After he finished planting it, he prayed, "Lord, my tree needs rain so its tender roots may drink and grow. Send gentle showers. "And the Lord sent gentle showers. Then the monk prayed, "Lord, my tree needs sun. Please send it sun." And the sun shone, gilding the once-dripping clouds. "Now send frost, dear Lord, to strengthen its branches." cried the monk. And soon the little tree was covered in sparkling frost, but by evening it had died.

The monk sought out a brother monk in his cell and told him of his strange experience. After hearing the story, the other monk said, "I also have planted a little tree. See how it is thriving! But I entrust my tree to its God. He who made it knows better than a man like me what it needs. I gave God no constraints or conditions, except to pray, 'Lord, send what it needs--whether that be a storm or sunshine, wind, rain, or frost. You made it, and you know best what it needs.'"

Yes, leave it with Him,
The lilies all do,
And they grow--
They grow in the rain,
And they grow in the dew--
Yes, they grow:
They grow in the darkness, all hid in the night-
They grow in the sunshine, revealed by the light-
Still they grow.
Yes, leave it with Him,
It's more dear to His heart,
You will know,
Than the lilies that bloom,
Or the flowers that start
'Neath the snow:
Whatever you need, if you seek it in prayer,
You can leave it with Him--for you are His care.
You, you know.
God bless,
The wind was against it. (Matthew 14:24)
The winds of March are often cruel and blustery. And yet they typify the stormy seasons of my life. Indeed, I should be glad to have the opportunity to come to know these seasons. It is better for the rains to descend and the floods to come than to always live in the legendary land of Lotus or the lush Valley of Avalon, where the sun always shines and strong winds never blow. The storms of temptation may appear cruel, but don't they lead to a greater intensity and earnestness in my prayer life? Don't they compel me to cling to God's promises with a tighter grasp? And don't they leave me with Character that is more refined?
The storms of sorrow through bereavement are intense, but they are one of the Father's ways of driving me to Himself. His purpose is to softly and tenderly speak to my heart in the secret, hidden place of His presence. There is a certain glory of the Master that can only be seen when the wind is contrary and my ship is being tossed by the waves.
Jesus Christ is not my security against the storms of life,
but He is my perfect security in the storms. He has never
promised me an easy passage, only a safe landing.
By: Streams Devotionals
God bless,
"They looked....and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud." (Exodus 16:10)

You should get into the habit of looking for the silver lining of storm clouds. And once you have found it, continue to focus on it rather than the dark gray of the center. Do not yield to discouragement no matter how severely stressed or surrounded by problems you may be. A discouraged soul is in a helpless state, being neither able to "stand against the devil's schemes" (Eph. 6:11) himself nor able to prevail in prayer for others. Flee every symptom of the deadly foe of discouragement as you would run from a snake. Never be slow to turn your back on it, unless you desire to eat the dust of bitter defeat.

Search for specific promises of God, saying aloud of each one, "This promise is mine." Then if you still experience feelings of doubt and discouragement, pour your heart out to God, asking Him to rebuke the Adversary who is so mercilessly harassing you.

The very instant you wholeheartedly turn away from every symptom of discouragement and lack of trust, the blessed Holy Spirit will reawaken your faith and breathe God's divine strength into your soul. Initially you may be unaware that this is happening, but as you determine to uncompromisingly shun every attack of even the tendency toward doubt and depression, you will quickly see the powers of darkness being turned back.

Oh, if only our eyes could see the mighty armies of strength and power that are always behind our turning away from the hosts of darkness toward God, there would be no attention given to the efforts of our cunning Foe to distress, depress, or discourage us! All the miraculous attributes of the Godhead are marshaled on the side of even the weakest believer who, in the name of Christ and in simple, childlike trust, yields himself to God and turns to Him for help and guidance.

One day in autumn, while on the open prairie, I saw an eagle mortally wounded by a rifle shot. With his eyes still gleaming like small circles of light, he slowly turned his head, giving one last searching and longing look toward the sky. He had often swept those starry spaces with his wonderful wings. The beautiful sky was the home of his heart. It was the eagle's domain. it was there he had displayed his splendid strength a thousand times. In those lofty heights, he had played with the lightning and raced the wind. And now, far below his home, the eagle lay dying. He faced death because--just once--he forgot and flew too low.

My soul is that eagle. This is not its home. It must never lose its skyward look. I must keep faith, I must keep hope, I must keep courage, I must keep Christ. It would be better to crawl immediately from the battlefield than to not be brave. There is no time for my soul to retreat. Keep your skyward look, my soul; keep your skyward look!

By: Streams Devotionals

God bless,

April 5, 2012

"On Him they laid the cross, that He might bear it after Jesus." Luke 23:26
We see in Simon's carrying the cross a picture of the work of the Church throughout all generations; she is the cross-bearer after Jesus. Mark then, Christian, Jesus does not suffer so as to exclude your suffering. He bears a cross, not that you may escape it, but that you may endure it. Christ exempts you from sin, but not from sorrow. Remember that, and expect to suffer.​
But let us comfort ourselves with this thought, that in our case, as in Simon's, it is not our cross, but Christ's cross which we carry. When you are molested for your piety; when your religion brings the trial of cruel mockings upon you, then remember it is not your cross, it is Christ's cross; and how delightful is it to carry the cross of our Lord Jesus!​
You carry the cross after Him. You have blessed company; your path is marked with the footprints of your Lord. The mark of His blood-red shoulder is upon that heavy burden. 'Tis His cross, and He goes before you as a shepherd goes before his sheep. Take up your cross daily, and follow Him.​
Do not forget, also, that you bear this cross in partnership. It is the opinion of some that Simon only carried one end of the cross, and not the whole of it. That is very possible; Christ may have carried the heavier part, against the transverse beam, and Simon may have borne the lighter end. Certainly it is so with you; you do but carry the light end of the cross, Christ bore the heavier end.​
And, remember, though Simon had to bear the cross for a very little while, it gave him lasting honour. Even so the cross we carry is only for a little while at most, and then we shall receive the crown, the glory. Surely we should love the cross, and, instead of shrinking from it, count it very dear, when it works out for us "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."​
By: C. H. Spurgeon
God bless,
"Everything is against me." (Genesis 42:36)
"All things God works for the good of those who love him." (Romans 8:28)
Many people are lacking when it comes to power. But how is the power produced?
The other day, my friend and I were passing by the power plant that produces electricity for the streetcars. We heard the hum and roar of the countless wheels of the turbines, and I asked my friend, "How is the power produced?" He replied, "It simply is generated by the turning of those wheels and the friction they create. The rubbing produces the electric current."
In a similar way, when God desires to create more power in your life, He creates more friction. He uses this pressure to generate spiritual power. Some people cannot handle it, and run from the pressure instead of receiving the power and using it to rise above the painful experience that produced it.
Opposition is essential to maintaining true balance between forces. It is the centripetal and centrifugal forces acting in oppsoition to each other that keep our planet in the proper orbit. The propelling action coupled with the repelling counteraction keep the earth in orbit around the sun instead of flinging it into space and a path of certain destruction.
God guides our lives in the same way. It is not enough to have only a propelling force. We need an equal repelling force, so He holds us back through the testing ordeals of life. The pressures of temptations and trials and all the things that seem to be against us further our progress and strengthen our foundation.
Let us thank Him for both the weights and the wings He produces. And realizing we are divinely propelled, let us press on with faith and patience in our high and heavenly calling.
By: A.B. Simpson
God bless,
"Tell me what charges you have against me." (Job 10:2)

O tested soul, perhaps the Lord is sending you through this trial to develop your gifts. You have some gifts that would never have been discovered if not for trials. Do you not know that your faith never appears as great in the warm summer weather as it does during a cold winter? Your love is all too often like a fire-fly, showing very little light except when surrounded by darkness. And hope is like the stars---unseen in the sunshine of prosperity and only discovered during a night of adversity. Afflictions are often the dark settings God uses to mount the jewels of His children's gifts, causing them to shine even brighter.

Wasn't it just a short time ago that on your knees you prayed, "Lord, I seem to have no faith. Please show me that I do"? Wasn't your prayer, even though you may not have realized it at the time, actually asking for trials? For how can you know if you have faith, until your faith is exercised? You can depend upon the fact that God often sends trials so our gifts may be discovered and so we may be certain of their existence. And there is more than just discovering our gifts---we experience real growth in grace as another result of our trials being sanctified by Him.

God trains His soldiers not in tents of ease and luxury but by causing them to endure lengthy marches and difficult service. He makes them wade across streams, swim through rivers, climb mountains, and walk many tiring miles with heavy backpacks.

Dear Christian, could this not account for the troubles you are now experiencing? Could this not be the reason He is dealing with you?

By: Charles H. Spurgeon

Being left alone by Satan is not evidence of being blessed.

God bless,