Wednesday, October 17, 2018

290 - Do we believe in a God that is Living and Alive today?

Today's Reading: Jer. 27-28 and John 11

Today in John 11, we read about the story of Lazarus death. Every time I read this story, I think of the three common beliefs we have as Christians. 

Let me explain:

When Jesus arrived FINALLY... four days late... Lazarus was already dead! And Martha asked Jesus, why He wasn't there four days ago, for if He had been, Lazarus would not have died. 

In other words, Martha believed in the Jesus of YESTERDAY. If He'd been there four days ago, Lazarus could not have died.

Jesus responds by saying, "Lazarus will rise again!" Immediately now, Martha's faith jumps to the future... "I know he will rise again at the resurrection." By stating this, she is saying, "Yes, I believe in the God of the FUTURE! I believe he will rise again!" But was Jesus talking about the resurrection at the last days? No! He was talking about TODAY, that day! 

But Martha wasn't sure about the God of today... She wasn't sure if he could bring Lazarus to life that day, and this is evident by the fact that she continues to protest when Jesus asks for the stone to be rolled away! 

So my question for us today... We all know about the God of the past, and we also all know about the God of the future... but do we believe in the living God of TODAY?

Tomorrow's Reading: Jer. 29-31 and Ps. 119:-1-24

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Day 289 - Life and Life More Abundant

Tomorrow's Reading: Jer. 25-26 and John 10

I wrote down many notes from today's reading, but don't have much time to share, however here's a few quick thoughts. 

In these verses we basically see that the Lord has a controversy with the nations. His people are not listening to His voice, and so 70 years of captivity is foretold. Unfortunately the people want to kill Jeremiah because of the dark future that he speaks of. Thankfully, later he is acquitted. However, the future remains dark for Israel... and I can't help but wonder about the parallels to us today. 

Another different point that I love from today's reading is John 10. 

John is just packed full of wisdom and richness. I love the verse in John 10:10 which tells us how Jesus is sent to bring us life and life more abundant. In other words, it's not His will that we have a superficial mediocre wilderness like life. No, He came to bring LIFE and LIFE MORE ABUNDANT!!!! But do we see who is trying to keep us from experiencing this abundant life? It is the enemy! 

The enemy comes to STEAL, to KILL and to DESTROY. I think he comes to steal our courage, to kill our hope, and to destroy our faith and trust in God. Anything he can do to keep us from moving forward, to keep us from drawing close to God... He will do. If we look at every trial and circumstance in that light, it makes more sense. But let us not forget that it is God's purpose to bring abundant life to His children. 

Tomorrow's Reading: Jer. 27-28 and John 11

Monday, October 15, 2018

Day 288 - Give us Eyes to See!

Today's Reading: Jer. 23-24 and John 9

In John 9, in today's reading, we see the beautiful story of Jesus healing the blind man. The blind man couldn't see, but he believed, and felt at Jesus' feet in worship. Inspiration tells us: "The [man born blind] cast himself at the Savior's feet in worship. Not only had his natural sight been restored, but the eyes of his understanding had been opened. Christ had been revealed to his soul, and he received Him [Jesus] as sent from God." (Desire of Ages, p. 475)

However, it's interesting to note that while the blind man was made whole and able to see, the Pharisees were made blind it seems.

John 9:39 - "And Jesus said, For judgement I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind."

What in the world?

Again, I so appreciate the thoughts from Inspiration, divinely given to help bring these texts to greater light.

"To all who realized their need, Christ came with infinite help. But the Pharisees would confess no need; they refused to come to Christ, and hence they were left in blindness--a blindness for which they were themselves guilty. Jesus said, "Your sin remaineth." (Desire of Ages, p. 475)

Oh that Christ might open our eyes, and that we would daily realize our desperate need.

Tomorrow's Reading: Jer. 25-26 and John 10

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Day 287 - It is Better to Trust in the Lord

Today's Reading: Jer. 21-22 and Ps. 117-118

This morning's thought will be brief! As we stand in a very sobering time in earth's history I thought this was perfect.... especially for today! This is my prayer today!

"I called upon the Lord in my distress : The Lord answered me and set me in a large place. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what man can do unto me. The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man... I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord." (Ps. 118:5-8,17)

Very fitting words for today!

Tomorrow's Reading: Jer. 23-24 and John 9

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Day 286 - Stop Throwing Stones!

Today's Reading: Jer. 19-20 and John 8

I'm stretched pretty thin right now as we are attending Annual Council meetings in Battle Creek MI. Serious times in our church history, and if ever there was a time we should be praying, it is now. So the next few days, if I manage to get thoughts blogged, they will be brief...

Just reading in John 8 where the woman was caught in adultery, and all the proud Pharisees are trying to lay a trap to snare Jesus. "She should be stoned!" they shouted. Jesus calmly replies, "He that is without sin among you may cast the first stone..."

Then He stooped down and wrote in the sand, and slowly one by one they slinked away...
"Those who are forward in accusing others, and zealous in bringing them to justice, are often in their own lives more guilty than they. Men hate the sinner, while they love the sin. Christ hates the sin, but loves the sinner. This will be the spirit of all who follow Him. Christian love is slow to censure, quick to discern penitence, ready to forgive, to encourage, to set the wanderer in the path of holiness, and to stay his feet therein." (Desire of Ages, p. 462)
Dear friends, so often we are like the Pharisees and Saducees in accusing others... we want to throw stones! But we've forgotten that we ourselves are guilty (much more guilty than those we accuse) and worthy of being stoned ourselves. And yet He's pardoned us!!! Let's stop throwing stones and pray. If you want to see change... that's where the power is, because prayer moves the arm that moves the world. And the only leaders who will really make a difference for the Kingdom are those men who humble themselves before God's throne, put down their stones, and pray!

[Note: If you want to join us in praying for our church right now... I have some prayer focus thoughts I've put together for this coming week. E-mail me!]

Tomorrows' Reading: Jer 21-22 and Ps. 117-118

Friday, October 12, 2018

Day 285 - Our Hearts are Desperately Wicked

Today's Reading: Jer. 17-18 and John 7

What a somber title for a post! But do we feel it? Do we understand it? Do we understand our broken and sinful condition apart from Christ?

This morning I was thinking about motives and how even my good actions are so often tainted by self-centered motives. "Oh Lord, forgive me!" I prayed... "How can I be who You've called me to be?" I take comfort in promises like Ezek. 36:26.

But let's focus a bit on the brokenness first. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us like it is: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it."

Reading the thought that goes along with this from Christ Object Lessons, really brings this concept to greater clarity. This is a bit long, but so eye-opening. Let me share:
No man can of himself understand his errors. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who canknow it?” Jeremiah 17:9. The lips may express a poverty ofsoul that the heart does not acknowledge. While speaking to God of poverty of spirit, the heart may be swelling with the conceit of its own superior humility and exalted righteousness. In one way only can a true knowledge of self be obtained. We must behold Christ. It is ignorance of Him that makes men so uplifted in their own righteousness. When we contemplate Hispurity and excellence, we shall see our own weakness and poverty and defects as they really are. We shall see ourselves lost and hopeless, clad in garments of self-righteousness, like every other sinner. We shall see that if we are ever saved, it will not be through our own goodness, but through God’s infinite grace. 
The prayer of the publican was heard because it showed dependence reaching forth to lay hold upon Omnipotence. Self to the publican appeared nothing but shame. Thus it must be seen by all who seek God. By faith—faith that renounces all self-trust—the needy suppliant is to lay hold upon infinite power.  
No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work. Then the language of the soul will be, Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul. 
It is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that this renunciation of self is to be made. At every advance step heavenward it is to be renewed. All our good works are dependent on a power outside of ourselves. Therefore there needs to be a continual reaching out of the heart after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the soul before Him. Only by constant renunciation of self and dependence on Christ can we walk safely.  
The nearer we come to Jesus and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly we shall discern the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the less we shall feel like exalting ourselves. Those whom heaven recognizes as holy ones are the last to parade their own goodness. The apostle Peter became a faithful minister of Christ, and he was greatly honored with divine light and power; he had an active part in the upbuilding of Christ’s church; but Peter never forgot the fearful experience of his humiliation; his sin was forgiven; yet well he knew that for the weakness of character which had caused his fall only the grace of Christ could avail. He found in himself nothing in which to glory. 
None of the apostles or prophets ever claimed to be without sin. Men who have lived nearest to God, men who would sacrifice life itself rather than knowingly commit a wrong act, men whom God had honored with divine light and power, have confessed the sinfulness of their own nature. They have put no confidence in the flesh, have claimed no righteousness of their own, but have trusted wholly in the righteousness of Christ. So will it be with all who behold Christ. (From Christ Object Lessons, p. 159-160)
Let me repeat this one sentence: The nearer we come to Jesus and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly we shall discern the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the less we shall feel like exalting ourselves. 

Let us never forget our focus on Christ! It is He, not us! We can put no confidence in ourselves.

Tomorrow's Reading: Jer. 19-20 and John 8

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Day 284 - How Can we Thank God for His Blessings?

Today's Reading: Jer. 15-16 and Ps. 116

I love this question that we find in Psalm 116:12. "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?"

Have you thought about that? Have you thought about all the blessings that God gives you day after day? Of course, we should be paying our tithes and offerings, we should be giving Him the allegiance of our hearts... but what else do we give Him?

This thought from Inspiration is beautiful and reminds us why we need to look back and review God's blessing and leading in our lives:
The Christian should often review his past life and recall with gratitude the precious deliverances that God has wrought for him, supporting him in trial, opening ways before him when all seemed dark and forbidding, refreshing him when ready to faint. He should recognize all of them as evidences of the watchcare of heavenly angels. In view of these innumerable blessings he should often ask, with subdued and grateful heart, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” Psalm 116:12. 
Our time, our talents, our property, should be sacredly devoted to Him who has given us these blessings in trust. Whenever a special deliverance is wrought in our behalf, or new and unexpected favors are granted us, we should acknowledge God’s goodness, not only by expressing our gratitude in words, but, like Jacob, by gifts and offerings to His cause. As we are continually receiving the blessings of God, so we are to be continually giving. (From Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 187)
Think of it this way... when we love someone, our natural desire is to give! What can we give the Lord to show our love?

Tomorrow's Reading: Jer. 17-18 and John 7

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Day 283 - Pray for the Lost while we Still can!

Today's Reading: Jer. 13-14 and John 6

More sobering reading in today's chapters of Jeremiah, as we see the results and the reward given to the people that have turned away from God. "My soul will weep in secret places for your pride; and my eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive." Jeremiah writes.

In another passage the appeal is made to the Shepherds of Israel, the tenders of the flock: "Where is the flock that was given thee?" You see, even the pastors and spiritual leaders have failed and forsaken God. And they have led their flocks astray...

I found it startling to read in these passages, both yesterday and today, that there comes a point that God says, "Don't even pray for them anymore! I'm done. I'm not listening to your prayers on their behalf anymore..."

Jeremiah 11:14 says, "Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble."

Then in today's reading I saw it again in Jeremiah 14:11-12: "Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence."

Why does God no longer hear? It's because Israel has given themselves over to Baal. And it's like God is finally say, "Enough is enough! Serve Baal. He can't help you, but that's fine. Serve him and don't cry to me anymore, because I won't hear you..."

It takes a long time of forbearance to get to this point, and I think that we are so use to the mercy of God that we take it for granted. We teach, "But He will always forgive!" Yes, He forgives and He is a God of mercy, but a day is coming when His mercy will no longer be extended, and our prayers won't make a difference anymore for those who have chosen the path of destruction... wow!! So sobering! Heartbreaking. In fact, in these passages, even Jeremiah is crying... "My eyes run down with tears night and day, for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach." (Jer. 14:17)

Probation is running out. Let's PRAY and use the time while we still have it. Let's pray while we still can, for the deliverance of God's people from destruction... Don't stop praying yet!

Tomorrow's Reading: Jer. 15-16 and Ps. 116

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Day 282 - Life is in God's Word!

Today's Reading: Jer. 11-12 and John 5

In today's reading of John 5, the Bible tells us, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hearth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (vs. 24)

I love what Ellen White writes in Christ Object Lessons: "In every command and in every promise of the Word of God is the power, the very life of God, by which the command may be fulfilled and the promise realized. He who by faith receives the word is receiving the very life and character of God." (p. 38)

And even Christ when He was on earth, did not live for Himself, but for the will of His Father. "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgements is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." (John 5:30)

Again, Inspiration writes: "So utterly was Christ emptied of self that He made no plans for Himself. He accepted God's plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will." (Desire of Ages, p. 208)

However, in contrast to what I've shared above, as I read in Jeremiah this morning, I saw a different picture, a people who had been given a great gift--God's Word in the form of His covenant, and yet they did not obey it, they did not reverence it. "Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant." (Jer. 11:3)

"Only as a reverence for God’s Holy Word was cherished in the hearts of the people, could they hope to fulfill the divine purpose. It was regard for the law of God that gave Israel strength during the reign of David and the earlier years of Solomon’s rule; it was through faith in the living word that reformation was wrought in the days of Elijah and of Josiah. And it was to these same Scriptures of truth, Israel’s richest heritage, that Jeremiah appealed in his efforts toward reform. Wherever he ministered he met the people with the earnest plea, “Hear ye the words of this covenant,” words which would bring them a full understanding of God’s purpose to extend to all nations a knowledge of saving truth. Jeremiah 11:2." (Prophets and Kings, p. 465)

Let's no neglect God's Word... it is what leads us to our source of life, God Himself! Let's cherish it in our hearts!

[Authors endnote: Many people ask me "How much time do you spend on these blogs each day? This must take you so much time?... Well, to be honest, sometimes it takes more time than others, especially when I bear my soul in lengthy testimonies, but the average time is not very long. This post took me less than 10 minutes to write and post. Just sharing tidbits of inspiration I find each day is a blessing and helps me remember what I've read... ]

Tomorrow's Reading: Jer. 13-14 and John 6

Monday, October 08, 2018

Day 281 - Let us Glory in This...

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 9-10 and John 4

Here is true wisdom and here is true glory! Jeremiah 9:23-24 says the following:

"Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD."

Our only glory, our only HOPE is that we know God! It's not just about an intellectual relationship, it's about a relationship. This "knoweth" is the same Hebrew word as is used when Adam first "knew" his wife. It is an intimate knowing, an intimate understanding. 

As we have been reading in Jeremiah, we've been seeing that judgement is coming upon the land. God's people have turned away. Their hearts have compromised with the world. Yet, in this passage of Jeremiah 9:24, we are reminded afresh of God's compassion and hesitancy to punish His people. 

Ellen White writes the following: 
"The unwillingness of the Lord to chastise is here vividly shown. He stays His judgments that He may plead with the impenitent. He who exercises 'loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth' yearns over His erring children; in every way possible He seeks to teach them the way of life everlasting. Jeremiah 9:24. He had brought the Israelites out of bondage that they might serve Him, the only true and living God. Though they had wandered long in idolatry and had slighted His warnings, yet He now declares His willingness to defer chastisement and grant yet another opportunity for repentance. He makes plain the fact that only by the most thorough heart reformation could the impending doom be averted. In vain would be the trust they might place in the temple and its services. Rites and ceremonies could not atone for sin. Notwithstanding their claim to be the chosen people of God, reformation of heart and of the life practice alone could save them from the inevitable result of continued transgression." (Prophets and Kings, p. 413)
There are many things we could glory in... and people do. But there's no power in strength, in worldly wisdom, in wealth or influence. Our only power and safety is in the fact that we know God. Let us not walk our only path any longer. As Jeremiah 10:23 reminds us, "It is not in man that walketh to direct His steps."

We need a reformation of heart and life! We need to fall in love again with our Lord!

Tomorrow's Reading: Jeremiah 11-12 and John 5

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Day 280 - Spiders, Spiders, Everywhere!

Today's Reading: Jer. 7-8, and Ps. 114,115

"Are you afraid of spiders?" If you had asked me this question previously, I probably would have answered, maybe a bit too pridefully, "I'm not! I'm a country girl. I can handle spiders." However, lately this seems to be changing...

This morning, before I share about my Bible reading in Jeremiah, I want to share a personal testimony. You see, this fall I've been having a spider problem in my apartment. At odd and random times, I will walk into a room and discover a gigantic spider sitting in the middle of the floor. Where he came from, I know not... but with shaking hands, I grab as much tissue as I can find, or a big book, and go after him. Usually, spiders do not phase me... however... these ones I've been encountering lately are of a different kind. And they will make the bravest soul shake in their boots! (Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but that's how I feel... because I always thought I was brave.)

Anyway, so this past Friday evening, as Sabbath was opening, I was calmly reading in my living room when this large spider went running across my floor. I immediately got up to chase it with the nearest book in hand, which turned into my weapon. Unfortunately this spider got away, and is still running around free somewhere in my little apartment. (And I'm still shaking as a result!)

However, the story is not over. Immediately after this unfruitful chase, I opened my front door to spray RAID around the entrance and cracks in my door (I have an older two-door entrance that doesn’t seal properly at the bottom), so I was hoping by spraying RAID that I would detour any further outside visitors that might try to sneak in through the cracks. Well, when I opened my front door, what did I discover sitting under my door at that very moment, but another HUGE spider just waiting for a opportunity to sneak inside! He was so big that I grabbed my phone and took a quick video... followed up by another video of my “scared goosebumps” reaction after the battle with this spider had ended. I then posted these videos on Instagram for all my 678 followers to see. Looking back a day later, my reaction and fright all seems rather foolish and I was asking myself last night, “Why did you share those videos on social media?” I’m sure everyone’s laughing and thinking, “Melody! You’re a country girl... get a grip! It was only a spider!” Perhaps my reactions were a bit over dramatized and perhaps it was foolish to share. However, these spiders episodes that I've been having lately have really got me thinking...

You see, since the invasion of the spiders this fall, I've become pretty hyper sensitive and vigilant.  In fact, if I have to get up in the middle of the night, I turn on the lights so I don't accidentally step on a spider. And when I do discover one, I go after it like a wild woman. I can hardly rest until he's been obliterated. But after this past Friday night, I've been thinking to myself: These spiders are too big for me. I need help fighting these spiders. 

So, here's the Spiritual Application!

What if we attacked sin and the spiritual compromises that sneak into our life with the same ferocity that I've been going after these spiders. What if instead of sitting passively by, and watching the devil eat away at our lives, we began to open God's Word with fresh determination, and asking Him to shed light upon our path that we will not stumble into sin and be overcome by temptation. What if instead of accepting the "giant spiders" of spiritual failure, the "evil spiders" of compromise and sin, or the "ugly spiders" of spiritual apathy, we began trembling in our boots and crying out, "Lord, this battle is too much for me! These spiders are too big for me! I thought I was brave. I thought I was strong. But I'm not! Please help me! Forgive me for my apathy. Forgive me for the the cracks and footholds I've given to the enemy... Help me fill in the breaches in my walls. Help me to be fortified and strong in You and Your Word once again." 

What if this was our cry... What if we reacted to sin the same way I've been reacting to these crazy little spiders???

Reading these chapters in Jeremiah has been so sobering, but also very eye-opening the last several days. In fact, I feel like I've been reading a book about the church of today... not just of Jeremiah's time. We as a church have compromised in so many ways spiritually that our walls of protection have fallen, and the world has started marching in on all sides. There are spiders, spiders, everywhere. Yet, for the most part, it seems like God's people are just sitting by passively watching the parade... in fact, some of them are even laughing at those of us seeking to put up a fight. "Why are you being so sensitive?" they ask. "Those things are not a big deal... Those compromises that you call sin are just a little spiders. They are harmless! They are nothing to get all worked up about!" And they laugh some more. But these little spiders (sins) are coming in by the trainloads... and God's church is in distress as a result. Our walls are falling!

Yet, God continues to plead with His people. He's still offering us another chance, if we will humble ourselves and repent. All is not yet lost. There's still hope!
"Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these. For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor; If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever." (Jer. 7:3-7)
God's promise to the people of Israel is for us, but it requires action. Let us awaken out of our spiritual lethargy and recognize the seriousness of the times. This is not the time to sit still. We are in a spiritual war, not against each other, not against the leaders of our church, or against any human being, not against physical spiders (like I've been freaking out about lately) but against something much bigger. We are in war against principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places. We are in war against the very enemy of our souls. But where are God's soldiers? It seem's no one is trembling these days, because our enemy has snuck in through a thousand cracks in our life. He's snuck in camouflaged as little spiders... 

It's time we get into God's Word, to allow Him to shine the spotlight of truth upon our hearts (Ps. 139:23,24). It's time we learn to pray... and I mean REALLY PRAY! It's time we put on our spiritual armor...and keep it on (Eph. 6).

This morning as I was reading in Jeremiah 7 and 8, I was marveling at the patience and mercy of God and how long He waited for His people. You would think that Israel would have listened to his appeal. But the Bible tells us sadly: "But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.... This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth." (Jer. 7:24,28)

What a sad fate came to Israel because they would not hear the truth of God's Word. May the same fate not fall upon us...

I say, it's time to wage war on the spiders. Your spiders might look different than mine. Perhaps your spiders have to do with a secret private addiction, an attitude you carry with you, a lust or an appetite for something that is harmful that you have not yet overcome. Perhaps your spider is called "doubt" as you look at God and His Word. Or perhaps your spider has to do with some worldly love or idol, or a relationship that is leading you away from God. Perhaps your spider is a subtle growing "bitterness" against the church. Whatever it is, let's pray that God would help us to be spiritually fortified once again! Like I said... It's time to stop laughing and it's time, through God's power, to wage war on these spiders!

Tomorrow's Reading: Jer. 9-10 and John 4

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Day 279 - Where are the MEN of backbone?

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 5-6 and John 3

In these chapters we see Judah's complete rejection of the Lord. Obviously there seems to be a lack of godly strong men...

So the appeal is made in Jeremiah 5:1. "Run ye to and fro...and see if you can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgement, and that seeketh truth."

Where are the men who are really seeking TRUTH? Where are the men who will stand for TRUTH no matter the cost? We live in a generation that is largely lacking, especially in the area of godly strong men....

This plea from Jeremiah 5 reminds me of the quote from Education, "The greatest want of the world is the want of men--men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for right though the heavens fall."

How do such men come to be? Ellen White continues: "But such a character is not the result of accident; it is not due to special favors or endowments of Providence. A noble character is the result of self-discipline, of the subjection of the lower to the higher nature--the surrender of self for the service of love to God and man." (Education, p. 57)

Let us pray that God will raise up more men (and of course women too, because the challenge applies to us all) that will be self-controlled, controlled by Christ and who will stand, no matter the cost!

Tomorrow's Reading: Jeremiah 7-8 and Ps. 114, 115

Friday, October 05, 2018

Day 278 - Do we have Tears of Repentance?

Today's Reading: Jer. 3-4 and John 2

Over and over in today's reading, I see the Lord crying, "Return oh backsliding Israel... return and I will have mercy upon you. Just acknowledge your iniquity..."

God says, because of your sins, "therefore the showers have been held back and there has been no latter rain" for the harvest.

It's interesting that in old times, a punishment for sin was lack of physical rain. Today we experience droughts as well, but how much more do we experience a drought of the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit will not be poured out on a people that are stubbornly walking their own way. We need to pray for true repentance and change of heart in our church. First and foremost we need to pray this for our own selves.

Ellen White writes in the following paragraphs about true repentance:
"We often sorrow because our evil deeds bring unpleasant consequences to ourselves; but this is not repentance. Real sorrow for sin is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit reveals the ingratitude of the heart that has slighted and grieved the Saviour, and brings us in contrition to the foot of the cross. By every sin Jesus is wounded afresh; and as we look upon Him whom we have pierced, we mourn for the sins that have brought anguish upon Him. Such mourning will lead to the renunciation of sin.  
The worldling may pronounce this sorrow a weakness; but it is the strength which binds the penitent to the Infinite One with links that cannot be broken. It shows that the angels of God are bringing back to the soul the graces that were lost through hardness of heart and transgression. The tears of the penitent are only the raindrops that precede the sunshine of holiness. This sorrow heralds a joy which will be a living fountain in the soul. “Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God;” “and I will not cause Mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 3:13, 12. “Unto them that mourn in Zion,” He has appointed to give “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Isaiah 61:3. (DA 300)
Beautiful! Love that thought... "The tears of the penitent are only the raindrops that precede the sunshine of holiness."

Tomorrow's Reading: Jer. 5-6 and John 3

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Day 277 - Before you were born, I knew you!

Today's Reading: Jer. 1-2 and Ps. 112-113

Today we start Jeremiah.... I love the passages in Jer. 1:5-9 which talk about how God knew Jeremiah before he was even formed in the womb. This reminds us that there are no accidental "Oooops" births among God's people. God has a purpose for our life long before our parents even know that we will be born!

I also love how Jeremiah says, "I can't speak... I am child...." I'm not a prophet like Jeremiah, but how I relate to those feelings he expressed. I feel that way all the time when asked to speak. I mean all the time. "Lord, why are you asking me to speak... I feel like a child... I understand and know so little. Can't you find someone else?"

Here's Jeremiah's conversation with the Lord:
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou lamest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth."
Oh that He would put His words in our mouth... but how often do we go forward, and walk and work with our own words. How often do we try to work in our own might and our own strength instead of humbly leaning upon the Lord.

Jeremiah's life was definitely filled with purpose and Ellen White talks about his life in ministry in the following paragraphs:
For forty years Jeremiah was to stand before the nation as a witness for truth and righteousness. In a time of unparalleled apostasy he was to exemplify in life and character the worship of the only true God. During the terrible sieges of Jerusalem he was to be the mouthpiece of Jehovah. He was to predict the downfall of the house of David and the destruction of the beautiful temple built by Solomon. And when imprisoned because of his fearless utterances, he was still to speak plainly against sin in high places. Despised, hated, rejected of men, he was finally to witness the literal fulfillment of his own prophecies of impending doom, and share in the sorrow and woe that should follow the destruction of the fated city. 
Yet amid the general ruin into which the nation was rapidly passing, Jeremiah was often permitted to look beyond the distressing scenes of the present to the glorious prospects of the future, when God’s people should be ransomed from the land of the enemy and planted again in Zion. He foresaw the time when the Lord would renew His covenant relationship with them. “Their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.” Jeremiah 31:12. (Prophets and Kings, p. 408)
There's a lot of depth in the book of Jeremiah, and I'm excited to read through this book of Jeremiah again.

Tomorrow's Reading: Jer. 1-2 and Ps. 112-113

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Day 276 - To Tremble at His Word!

Today's Reading: Isa. 65-66 and John 1

Just read this inspiring passage in Isaiah 66:1-2 this morning. “Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and [who] trembleth at my word.” 

What does it mean to tremble at God’s Word?? I don’t think this is fear or fright, but rather a “holy awe.” If you’ve ever received a love letter, you know the eagerness, joy and expectancy that hangs upon every word written by the one you love. That’s how I think it should be when we read God’s Word. Our heart hangs upon His every Word and soaks it up with eager readiness. “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.” (Jer. 15:16) 

Beyond intellectual respect, we have a sacred esteem for the divine inspiration of Scripture that says, “Anything You say in Your Word Lord, I’m ready to obey, for this is not the mere words of men!” To tremble also means humility. In Desire of Ages, EGW writes: “The sincere, contrite soul is precious in the sight of God. He places His own signet upon men, not by their rank, not by their wealth, not by their intellectual greatness, but by their oneness with Christ. The Lord of glory is satisfied with those who are meek and lowly in heart.” (DA 437)

Speaking of trembling at the Word of God as we finish the book of Isaiah, how fitting that we are just now beginning the book of John. It starts off... 

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...and the Word was made flesh..." John 1:1,14

Jesus came and He gave us a living love letter, a living picture of God the Father. What an incredible gift we have with God's Word!

Tomorrow's Reading: Jer. 1-2 and Ps. 112-113

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Day 275 - The White Robe of Christ's Righteousness

Today's Reading: Isa. 63-64 and Hebrews 13

If you ever have the slightest leanings that you might can earn your way to heaven by your good behavior, Isa. 64:6 sets the record straight.

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."

How we desperately need the blood of Christ to cleanse us from all sin, and to wash us and make us clean.

This thought from Inspiration is in the margin of my Bible:
"The white robe of innocence was worn by our first parents when they were placed by God in holy Eden. They lived in perfect conformity to the will of God. All the strength of their affections was given to their heavenly Father. A beautiful soft light, the light of God, enshrouded the holy pair. This robe of light was a symbol of their spiritual garments of heavenly innocence. Had they remained true to God it would ever have continued to enshroud them. But when sin entered, they severed their connection with God, and the light that had encircled them departed. Naked and ashamed, they tried to supply the place of the heavenly garments by sewing together fig leaves for a covering.  
This is what the transgressors of God’s law have done ever since the day of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. They have sewed together fig leaves to cover the nakedness caused by transgression. They have worn the garments of their own devising, by works of their own they have tried to cover their sins, and make themselves acceptable with God. 
But this they can never do. Nothing can man devise to supply the place of his lost robe of innocence. No fig-leaf garment, no worldly citizen dress, can be worn by those who sit down with Christ and angels at the marriage supper of the Lamb. 
Only the covering which Christ Himself has provided can make us meet to appear in God’s presence. This covering, the robe of His own righteousness, Christ will put upon every repenting, believing soul." (Christ Object Lessons, p. 310-311)
The following is another quote from EGW, published in the Australian Union Record (I think it is). This really encourages my heart:
"Christ has pledged Himself to be our substitute and surety, and He neglects no one. There is an inexhaustible fund of perfect obedience accruing from His obedience. In heaven His merits, His self-denial and self-sacrifice, are treasured as incense to be offered up with the prayers of His people. As the sinner’s sincere, humble prayers ascend to the throne of God, Christ mingles with them the merits of His own life of perfect obedience. Our prayers are made fragrant by this incense. Christ has pledged Himself to intercede in our behalf, and the Father always hears His Son." (AUCR June 1, 1900, Art. A, par. 14) 
Let's ask God for the white robe of His righteousness today!

Tomorrow's Reading: Isa. 65-66 and John 1

Monday, October 01, 2018

Day 274 - A Crown for my Lord!

Today's Reading: Isa. 61-62 and Hebrews. 12

Love the encouragement of Isa. 61:3 where God promises to give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. How beautiful to see that God will someday take away all our tears and pain...

However, what I really LOVE about today's reading is Isa. 62:3.... but first, let me share some background. I've blogged about this before...

In Proverbs 12:4 we are told, "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband!" I think this is a beautiful illustration of what a godly woman should be to her earthly husband, as she brings him honor and helps him shine for God's glory. But I believe the deeper meaning is this: we as the church are Christ' bride, and when we are faithful, we are actually a CROWN of GLORY to JESUS! Isn't this amazing?

Look at this corresponding Bible passage from today's: "Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God..." (Isa. 62:3) See the Bible says it right here! :-)

Wow! I want to be a crown of glory in the hand of my Lord! How about you?

Tomorrow's Reading: Isa. 63-64 and Hebrews 13

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Day 273 - Roadblocks to Prayer

Today's Reading: Isa. 59-60 and Ps. 110-111

Isa. 59:1-2 hits me right off as I'm reminded of one of the biggest roadblocks in prayer.

"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."

This also reminds me of another passage in Psalms that makes things very clear: "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." (Ps. 66:18)

Sin and compromise clogs the channels, you might say. It is these things, unconfessed, that hold back God's blessings.

Let us remove these roadblocks, let us humble our hearts that God can work as He desires to do!

[Note: Sorry for the late posting. I was traveling early this morning, and with all the hubbub, I kinda got distracted and forgot to post today.]

Tomorrow's Reading: Isa. 61-62 and Hebrews. 12

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Day 272 - Faith versus Presumption!

Today's Reading: Isa. 57-58 and Hebrews 11

Well it's time to open the great FAITH chapter. I simply cannot allow Hebrews 11 to go by without comment.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by faith Abel... by faith Enoch... by faith Noah... by faith Abraham...

I could talk about the journey of faith and the incredible men and woman who walked before us who lived lives of faith. However, something that I think we often find confused in the Christian walk is faith and presumption.

Hebrews 11:6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."

So if we just BELIEVE... does that mean what we want will happen? I'd like to share a passage from Inspiration that really brings clarity to this topic of faith versus presumption.
"When Satan quoted the promise, “He shall give His angels charge over Thee,” he omitted the words, “to keep Thee in all Thy ways;” that is, in all the ways of God’s choosing. Jesus refused to go outside the path of obedience. While manifesting perfect trust in His Father, He would not place Himself, unbidden, in a position that would necessitate the interposition of His Father to save Him from death. He would not force Providence to come to His rescue, and thus fail of giving man an example of trust and submission. 
Jesus declared to Satan, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” These words were spoken by Moses to the children of Israel when they thirsted in the desert, and demanded that Moses should give them water, exclaiming, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” Exodus 17:7. God had wrought marvelously for them; yet in trouble they doubted Him, and demanded evidence that He was with them. In their unbelief they sought to put Him to the test. And Satan was urging Christ to do the same thing. God had already testified that Jesus was His Son; and now to ask for proof that He was the Son of God would be putting God’s word to the test,—tempting Him. And the same would be true of asking for that which God had not promised. It would manifest distrust, and be really proving, or tempting, Him. We should not present our petitions to God to prove whether He will fulfill His word, but because He will fulfill it; not to prove that He loves us, but because He loves us. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6. 
But faith is in no sense allied to presumption. Only he who has true faith is secure against presumption. For presumption is Satan’s counterfeit of faith. Faith claims God’s promises, and brings forth fruit in obedience. Presumption also claims the promises, but uses them as Satan did, to excuse transgression. Faith would have led our first parents to trust the love of God, and to obey His commands. Presumption led them to transgress His law, believing that His great love would save them from the consequence of their sin. It is not faith that claims the favor of Heaven without complying with the conditions on which mercy is to be granted. Genuine faith has its foundation in the promises and provisions of the Scriptures.  
Often when Satan has failed of exciting distrust, he succeeds in leading us to presumption. If he can cause us to place ourselves unnecessarily in the way of temptation, he knows that the victory is his. God will preserve all who walk in the path of obedience; but to depart from it is to venture on Satan’s ground. There we are sure to fall. The Saviour has bidden us, “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” Mark 14:38. Meditation and prayer would keep us from rushing unbidden into the way of danger, and thus we should be saved from many a defeat." (Desire of Ages, p. 125-126)
Let's make sure our faith brings forth fruit in obedience! And let's surrender our faith and our desires always and daily to God's Word... Not my will, but thy will be done! Then we shall be safe!

Tomorrow's Reading: Isa. 59-60, and Ps. 110-111.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Day 271 - His Thoughts are Far Beyond Anything we can Imagine!

Today's Reading: Isa. 55-56 and Hebrews 10

Love these chapters in Isaiah. Today I'm going to mention briefly Isa. 55:8-9. I love these passages because they always reminds me of the incredible magnitude of the God we serve.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

I love looking at the stars at night. But how do we comprehend a God whose ways are as the heavens higher than the earth. Just how far are the heavens above the earth? Have you ever stopped to think about it?

I'm going to post here something I shared in my book, Daring to Ask for More, that really brought things into perspective for me years ago when I thought about this verse:
While God’s power cannot be measured by human standards, let’s pause here a moment. As we know, the basic unit of measurement in the universe is a light-year. To understand the significance of a light-year, let’s do some simple mathematical calculation. 
Scientific research has shown that light travels at an amazing speed of 186,000 miles per second, which, according to NASA, is so fast that in the time it takes you to snap your fingers, light can circle the earth over seven times. That’s pretty fast, but we are just getting started! 
If we calculate further, we find that in one-minutelight travels a little over 11 million miles. If we multiple that by 1,440 (that’s how many minutes there are in 24 hours), we find that in one daylight will travel approximately 16 billion, 70 million, 400 thousand miles. If we multiply this by 365 days per year, we find that light travels a whopping 5 trillion, 865 billion, 696 million miles. And that, dear friends, is just one light year!

However, according to scientific calculations, the outer edge of the observable universe is estimated to be about 46-47 billion light-years away—a distance so vast that we can’t even begin to comprehend the sheer magnitude of these numbers in human thinking.

Of course, even the best of human calculations don’t come close to estimating the reality of God’s expansive universe; much less help us understand the incredible vastness of the love of God. 
Inspiration tells us, “The mightiest intellects of earth cannot comprehend God. Men may be ever searching, ever learning, and still there is an infinity beyond.” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 116)
Wow! I think our God is big enough... He can handle the issues and struggles that we face. He is in control.

Tomorrow's Reading: Isa. 57-58 and Hebrews 11

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Day 270 - I am a Mother too!

Today's Reading: Isa. 53-54 and Ps. 108-109

Included in today's reading is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible—Isaiah 54! So here goes another one of my “bare your soul” kind of blog postings. (I simply can't let this chapter pass by without sharing some testimony!)

As many know, my childhood dream was first and foremost to be a wife and mother. There was nothing I wanted more. As a child I'd line up all my dolls in a row on the couch and tell them Bible stories as I’d dream about being a mother and teaching my own children someday. 

Later, as I was entering my teens, my baby brothers arrived—three of them, all in a row. (One by adoption, two by birth!) How I loved being second mom to them, whether that meant rocking them to sleep in my arms, changing their dirty diapers, potty training them, teaching them songs, or reading them Bible stories. 

By the time I was 15, I knew I was ready to be a mom! But... the years slowly went by, and it didn't seem that it was in God’s best plan to give me a family of my own.... This hurt a lot, especially as I neared my 30's and most of my friends were now already married and sprouting children left and right. I cried, I prayed, I fasted, and I cried some more. I asked a lot of "why" questions too. God knew this was my one desire. He knew I would love a husband and children with all my heart. He knew I would give my all to be a good mother. He knew all the things I wanted to do with my own family. So why did He withhold this gift? 

Then one day I discovered Isaiah 54. I mean I personally discovered Isa. 54. I'd read it before, but this time it was for ME!

How my heart thrilled as I saw that God promises to be my husband and He also promises to give me many many children. 

Let's look again at this incredible promise for the barren woman, the woman who was refused in her youth:
“Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee." (Isa. 54:1-7)
Just reading these passages again this morning brings tears to my eyes... 

Even now, I still struggle at times as I watch my friends parent their children, as I watch friends who I grew up with sending their kids to college...and some of these children have already gotten married and started having children of their own. At times I find myself thinking, "Wow! That could be my child! I could have children in college... I could even have children married by now..."

But then God stops me and reminds me of Isaiah 54...

When I read these passages and they really sunk into my heart in a personal way for the first time (I can't remember how many years ago now that this was),  I heard God saying to me, "I’m going to use your desolate experience and your barrenness, to birth many more spiritual children (seed) than you could ever possibly have had physically. And my dear Melody, these spiritual children will bring souls to the Cross and make the desolate cities of heaven to be inhabited." 

Wow!! How this promise gave me peace and has comforted me over the years. And when I find myself starting to feel sorry for myself or discouraged, these passages comfort me still.

To be honest, even if having my own children was an option now, I don’t think I’d choose this path anymore. Those who have known about my love for children might find this shift in mindset startling. But God is so good, and He's given me peace and contentment in this area. (And I'm so happy because I get to be an "Auntie" to many children!) But now I recognize that God has called me to ministry for His church, to help people fall in love with Him and get ready for His soon coming. If I was raising little ones, I wouldn't be able to do what I do. Of course, the first and most significant ministry is to our family, and I admire all the moms I know who are ministering so faithfully to their families and children. I watch them and I'm inspired by them... But today, this post is not for the wonderful moms who are serving so amazingly in their homes. This is for the single woman out there who never had the opportunity to birth biological children and who may be hurting and grieving their barrenness. 

Dear single sisters, I want to encourage you to read Isa. 54 again and see that God has not forsaken you. Also, a new perspective that might help you. When you feel that pain of loss, consider this pain of loss as “birthing pains” for Kingdom seed and for Kingdom children. Unfortunately it's a birthing process that takes years rather than hours. Perhaps for some of us it will take an entire lifetime. But someday soon God will introduce us to all our spiritual children... and it will be worth the wait! 

Just remember, in God's eyes, we are mother's too!

Tomorrow's Reading: Isa. 55-56 and Heb. 10

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Day 269 - The Lord comforts His People!

Today's Reading: Isa. 51,52 and Heb. 9

Reading Isaiah 51 and 52 today, we see much comfort shared for God's people.

I love this first verse: "For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody." (Isa. 51:3)

I remember a specific discouraging time I was going through years ago, and I wondered if I could even be saved. And God showed me this verse, and it was like He was telling me, "You feel like you are in a desert and wilderness now, but I can make your desert become the garden of the Lord. I will bring you joy and gladness, and I will listen to YOUR VOICE, Melody." How special that was...

But the passages of Isaiah go on giving hope and courage to God's people.
"Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall bedpan their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; andsorrow and mourning shall flee away. I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; And forget test the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth..." (Isa. 51:11-13)
In these passages I see God asking, "Why do you fear man who dies when I am your creator, and I am the one that stretched out the heavens and laid the foundation of the earth. I alone can help you! I am your comforter..."

So looking forward to the day when all sorrow and sadness will flee away...

Tomorrow's Reading: Isa. 53-54 and Ps. 108-109  

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Day 268 - He has us In His Hands!

Today's Reading: Isa. 49-50 and Heb. 8

So much beautiful depth packed into these chapters... as there is everyday. In Isaiah 49 we see the Lord asking a question.

"Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." (Isa. 49:15,16)

However, even though God doesn't forget us... our children grow up and they forget God. The enemy is constantly at work to draw their hearts after the world, to distract them from the God of their fathers. He's constantly at work to steal and kill and destroy. And he's successfully taking many captive. I'm not a parent, but yet my heart aches for the children, the friends the loved ones that the enemy is leading astray. However, there is more beautiful encouragement in this chapter.

Isa. 49:25 says the following: "But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children."

What a promise to hold on to!

Ellen White adds the following thoughts:
"The Lord God through Jesus Christ holds out His hand all the day long in invitation to the sinful and fallen. He will receive all. He welcomes all. It is His glory to pardon the chief of sinners. He will take the prey from the mighty, He will deliver the captive, He will pluck the brand from the burning. He will lower the golden chain of His mercy to the lowest depths of human wretchedness, and lift up the debased soul contaminated with sin." (Ministry of Healing, p. 161)
There's still hope for our loved ones... He is doing all in His power to save. Let's keep praying until the victory is accomplished. And let's remember, He cares more about their salvation even than we do, for He's graven their names (and our names) in the palm of His hands...

Tomorrow's Reading: Isa. 51-52 and Hebrews 9 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Day 267 - In the Furnace of Affliction

Today's Reading: Isa. 47-48 and Heb. 7

This passage really spoke to me today: "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." (Isa. 48:10)

It seems this theme keeps coming back to me over and over again in my Bible reading... God's faithfulness even in our affliction, His patience carrying us through the fire, the testing that makes us like gold. In fact, in this passage above, we see that He choses us in the furnace of affliction...

Ellen White writes the following encouraging thoughts: 
"Many who sincerely consecrate their lives to God’s service are surprised and disappointed to find themselves, as never before, confronted by obstacles and beset by trials and perplexities. They pray for Christlikeness of character, for a fitness for the Lord’s work, and they are placed in circumstances that seem to call forth all the evil of their nature. Faults are revealed of which they did not even suspect the existence. Like Israel of old they question, “If God is leading us, why do all these things come upon us?”  
It is because God is leading them that these things come upon them. Trials and obstacles are the Lord’s chosen methods of discipline and His appointed conditions of success. He who reads the hearts of men knows their characters better than they themselves know them. He sees that some have powers and susceptibilities which, rightly directed, might be used in the advancement of His work. In His providence He brings these persons into different positions and varied circumstances that they may discover in their character the defects which have been concealed from their own knowledge. He gives them opportunity to correct these defects and to fit themselves for His service. Often He permits the fires of affliction to assail them that they may be purified. 
The fact that we are called upon to endure trial shows that the Lord Jesus sees in us something precious which He desires to develop. If He saw in us nothing whereby He might glorify His name, He would not spend time in refining us. He does not cast worthless stones into His furnace. It is valuable ore that He refines. The blacksmith puts the iron and steel into the fire that he may know what manner of metal they are. The Lord allows His chosen ones to be placed in the furnace of affliction to prove what temper they are of and whether they can be fashioned for His work." (Ministry of Healing, p. 470-471)
 So if you are going through the furnace of affliction... remember that the Lord is there with you!

Tomorrow's Reading: Isa. 49-50 and Heb. 8

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Day 266 - The Lord, He is Good!

Today's Reading: Isa. 45-46 and Psalm 107

I'm going to comment on the Psalm 107 reading this morning, although I will reference Isaiah briefly as Psalm 107 actually references Isaiah 45, which is amazing!

Anyway, throughout Psalm 107 we see reminders that the Lord is good... Whenever you see something repeated in the Bible, you know it's important... it's VERY important that we take this to heart. Not just when life is good and all is going well... even when life is bad and everything seems to be going wrong, God is still good. Can we trust that? Can we trust His Word?

Check out these passages that really speak to me today:
"O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." vs. 1 
"Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" vs. 8 
"For he satisfieth the longing soul, and fillets the hungry soul with goodness." vs. 9 
"Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" vs. 15 
"For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder." vs. 16 - Direct reference to Isaiah 45:2 which reads, "I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron." 
"Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" vs. 21 
"Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" vs. 31 
What is interesting is that almost each one of these passages is preceded by the backsliding and rebellion of Israel, of God's people... but THEN... every time they turn to Him in humility and repentance, He answers and delivers... God's goodness is His response to our ungoodness and wounding. What amazing grace... what an exchange... We treat Him wrong, and then we ask forgiveness and He is there ready to take us back again... His goodness is so great, it's beyond our comprehension... What an amazing God we serve!

Tomorrow's Reading: Isa. 47-48 and Heb. 7

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Day 265 - When You Pass through the Waters... be a Witness!

Today's Reading: Isa. 43-44 and Hebrews 6

Happy Sabbath! Today's reading offers more encouragement for our weary lives... I love these passages.
"Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passes through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."
I was thinking about this the other day. We hear a lot of "why?" questions along the journey. "Why am I going through this? Why is God allowing this trial? Why this suffering? Why am I going thru such testings?!” You might be asking... Here’s what I think. It’s because God knows He can trust you, and He’s going to use YOUR TEST to make a beautiful TESTIMONY to help others thru their testing.... So hold on! He only holds us in the fire long enough to get those impurities burned out. "But He knoweth the way that I take. When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold..." (Job 23:10)

Ellen Whites the following in Desire of Ages:
"Those who accept Christ as their personal Savior are not left as orphans, to bear the trials of life alone. He receives them as members of the heavenly family; He bids them call His Father their Father. They are His “little ones,” dear to the heart of God, bound to Him by the most tender and abiding ties. He has toward them an exceeding tenderness, as far surpassing what our father or mother has felt toward us in our helplessness as the divine is above the human." (Desire of Ages, 327)
I also love Isa. 43:12, "Therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God."

Here's one more passage from Desire of Ages:
"Our confession of His faithfulness is Heaven’s chosen agency for revealing Christ to the world. We are to acknowledge His grace as made known through the holy men of old; but that which will be most effectual is the testimony of our own experience. We are witnesses for God as we reveal in ourselves the working of a power that is divine. Every individual has a life distinct from all others, and an experience differing essentially from theirs. God desires that our praise shall ascend to Him, marked by our own individuality. These precious acknowledgments to the praise of the glory of Disgrace, when supported by a Christlike life, have an irresistible power, that works for the salvation of souls."(Desire ofAges, 347)
 So let's take the fires of affliction, the storms of life...and allow God to grow us that we can be witnesses for His glory! I don't think there's a stronger testimony than someone who has sailed the stormy seas and come through victorious...

Tomorrow's Reading: Isa. 45-46 and Ps. 107

Friday, September 21, 2018

Day 264 - He's Holding Your Hand

Today's Reading: Isa. 41-42 and Hebrews 5

We live in a world of trials, pain, suffering... it's so encouraging, at least for me, to know that we serve a personal God. In fact, He promises to take our hand in His and help us along the way... How often I've turned to these very passages for comfort. Consider the following words of encouragement:
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." Isa. 41:10 
"For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee." Isa. 41:13 
"I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles." Isa. 42:6 
"And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them." Isa. 42:16
These verses remind me that God really does care for us in a personal way. We don't have to walk this life journey alone... He gives us His hand... and He takes ours. "Come walk with me. I will show you the way," He softly whispers.

As long as we keep our hand in His...we will be okay...

Tomorrow's Reading: Isa. 43-44 and Heb. 6

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Day 263 - God is not Weary!

Today's Reading: Isa. 39-40 and Ps. 106

Any of you weary out there? I sure am! I'm physically weary from work, from travels, from not getting enough sleep at night, and the list goes on. I'm also emotionally weary of the constant spiritual attacks, the pain, the questions, the uncertainties of life... But thankfully our God never grows weary and this gives me great comfort.

I love today's passages in Isaiah 40, and I claim these promises often. Perhaps they are what you need today too:

"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isa. 40:28-31)

What courage and promises in these passages. I also love the following thoughts from Ellen White:
"From the stars that in their trackless course through space, follow from age to age their appointed path, down to the minutest atom, the things of nature obey the Creator’s will. And God cares for everything and sustains everything that he has created. He who upholds the unnumbered worlds throughout immensity, at the same time cares for the wants of the little brown sparrow that sings its humble song without a fear. When men go forth to their daily toil, as when they engage in prayer; when they lie down at night, and when they rise in the morning; when the rich man feasts in his palace, or when the poor man gathers his children about the scanty board, each is tenderly watched by the heavenly Father. No tears are shed that God does not notice. There is no smile that he does not mark.  
If we would but fully believe this, all undue anxieties would be dismissed. Our lives would not be filled with disappointment as now; for everything, whether great or small, would be left in the hands of God, who is not perplexed by the multiplicity of cares, or overwhelmed by their weight. We would then enjoy a rest of soul to which many have long been strangers." (Christian Education, p. 54-55)
If we would fully believe... we are tenderly watched by our heavenly Father! He's not sleeping on the job. He's got all things in control...

Tomorrow's Reading: Isa. 41-42 and Heb. 5