Refresh Friday

It’s Friday — time to take a deep breath and let it out! The Lord carried you in His strength through this week’s tangle of pressing obligations, daily tasks, difficult situations, challenging people, and all the things that make up this weary world.
Some reflections for your day on the sure sovereignty of God Almighty:

little-anchor

“Nothing in all the vast universe can come to pass otherwise than God has eternally purposed. Here is a foundation of faith. Here is a resting place for the intellect. Here is an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast. It is not blind fate, unbridled evil, man or Devil, but the Lord Almighty who is ruling the world, ruling it according to His own good pleasure and for His own eternal glory.

— A.W. Pink
I pray you will take a moment to realize that you really can rest in His sovereignty. You don’t have to understand it all or figure everything out. Know that your heavenly Father is working out His plan and purpose for good — the good that He determines and sees in His infinitely wise vision with far greater clarity than ours. Whatever storms you face today, I pray He is your anchor!
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What is True Freedom?

This weekend, many people here in the United States will be celebrating “freedom.” A large number of those people don’t really know what true freedom is.

I encourage those of you who are believers to take some moments of time outside of barbecues, fireworks, and splashing in the lake to pray for those near you who may not know the true meaning of freedom. Take the time to share how they can have a freedom that doesn’t begin with laws or more education or a better job. If you tell just one person the gospel this weekend, you have been a messenger of true freedom.

…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Rom. 10: 9-10, 14 ESV)

Photo caption: ohbeloved.blogspot.com

Photo caption: ohbeloved.blogspot.com

Are you a person who doesn’t know Christ? Or perhaps you call yourself a Christian, but you’re not really sure what that means and it hasn’t changed your life in any way.

I invite you to check out the resources below. Or feel free to email me through my About – Contact Me form if you’ve had honest questions about Christ that have gone unanswered or if you’d like help understanding more about walking with Him.

Resources:
What is freedom in Christ?
What is the gospel message?
Who is Jesus Christ?

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23 ESV)

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I pray that you have a safe and blessed weekend.

Refresh Friday

We’re exhorted in scripture to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), but have we stopped to think what it means when we persist in prayer? Brief thoughts from Hunter.

Persistence [in prayer] is an act of humility as well as an expression of faith. This attitude is diametrically opposite the popular notion that if we are importunate over a long enough period, God will eventually see the strength of our desire and respond.

Photo credit: advindicate.com

Photo credit: advindicate.com

That is manipulation. It says, “Look at me; Look at Me; LOOK AT ME!” while humility says, “I’m looking to you; I’m looking to You; I’m looking to YOU.” The point? Great faith in God always expresses itself in humble acknowledgment of dependency.

— W. Bingham Hunter, The God Who Hears

Refresh Friday

Do you sometimes think that if you just “do all the right things” and obey all of God’s commands to the best of your Spirit-driven ability, everything will be stable and calm in your life? Christ’s disciples experienced storms in spite of following His commands and so will we.

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. [Mark 4:35-37 ESV]

In this passage of scripture, the disciples were obeying His command, yet they encountered the fiercest of storms…. In their distress, they cried out for Christ’s assistance.

38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”  [Mark 4:38-39 ESV]

Christ may delay coming to us during our times of distress, but it is simply so our faith may be tested and strengthened. Gently rebuking His disciples, Christ asked,

40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” [Mark 4:40 ESV]

In effect, He was saying, “Why didn’t you face the storm victoriously and shout to the raging winds and rolling waves, ‘You cannot harm us, for Christ, the mighty Savior, is on board?”

Photo credit: wallpaperest.com

Photo credit: wallpaperest.com

Of course is it much easier to trust God when the sun is shining than to trust Him when the storm is raging around us. Yet we will never know our level of genuine faith until it is tested in a fierce storm….

If you are ever to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power (Eph. 6:10), your strength will be born during a storm.

— L.B. Cowman, Streams in the Desert

15 Practical Tips for Listening to Teaching in Church

Thought this was excellent and wanted to share!

15 Practical Tips for Receiving the Word – by Leadership Resources

1. Prepare your heart in prayer. Pray to have listening ears and that the Spirit would sow the Word into your heart. Confess your sin and examine yourself to see if any cares of the world might be choking out your desire to receive the Word and obey it (Mark 4:18-19).

2. Pray for the proclamation of the Word. Pray for your pastor to faithfully proclaim the Word in the Spirit’s power. Pray that the congregation would be challenged, instructed, and built up from the preaching of the Word.

3. Read the passage to be preached before the service starts. This is done preferably at home to set your mind on the eternal truth you will receive during the message. Humbly pray over the passage for the Spirit’s illumination and help applying it.

bible14. Prepare your mind and body for receiving the Word. This means getting a good night’s rest the night before and avoiding activities that might make it hard to wake up and focus. This may also mean refraining from watching TV or checking email before the service to ensure a clear mind.

5. Arrive at church early. While this may seem impossible for some, it will reap rewards. Arriving early (or at least on time) will make it so you don’t miss anything in the service, will help avoid unnecessary anxiety from running late, and allow you to fellowship with the body of Christ with your extra time.

6. Listen to the sermon with an open Bible. Follow along in your Bible when Scripture is read and referenced. In a discerning Berean-like spirit check your pastor’s word with what God says and submit yourself to God’s truth.

Read the whole article at How to Listen to a Sermon: 15 Practical Tips for Receiving the Word « Leadership Resources.

Refresh Friday

In his gospel account, Matthew recorded that when Christ looked upon the crowds of people, he “had compassion for them.” [Matt. 9:36] Charles Spurgeon noted in one of his sermons* that the original word denoting compassion “is expressive of the deepest emotion; a striving of the bowels—a yearning of the innermost nature with pity.”

Photo credit: heuning.co.za

Photo credit: heuning.co.za

David also wrote about the Lord’s compassion:

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.

— Psalm 145:8-9 NIV

Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless.

— Henri Nouwen

Today as you take a few moments to refresh yourself after a long week, reflect on the compassion of Christ during His earthly ministry and in turn the compassion you can show others in His name.

*Whole sermon from Charles Spurgeon here: The Compassion of Jesus

Just One Opportunity

Do you think to yourself, if I could just start with something small and prove myself faithful?!? I have been praying recently that each day God would give me just one opportunity to share Christ with another person — even in the smallest, tiniest, faintest of ways, but to at least bring Him up or bring scripture into a conversation.

“A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in the little things is a great thing.” — Hudson Taylor

And I prayed that He would give me the words and be there in the conversation so that it would not be in my own strength and power. Just as the Lord encouraged Zerubbabel in the rebuilding of the temple (Zech. 4:6 ESV), so I have been asking the Lord that it all be fueled by Him:

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit….”

This Makes Me Nervous…

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