Weekly Spiritual Readings

August 19, 2016



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Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God's plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins. Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out his wonderful plan of love. - Eric Liddell

When we think about our problems, we see dead ends, but when we think about God, we see a way through.

Often we are too busy to notice the creative work of God. We are so caught up in our daily routines, with the hustle and bustle of our lives, that we do not stop for even a moment to take in what God has created — the heavens and the earth. When we slow down long enough to observe God’s handiwork, we will be filled with praise and be ready to live each day with a sense of awe at the glory of our God. Today let's praise God for the beauty of creation.

We serve God when we serve others.

When we despair, remember Jeremiah’s great faith — and every morning rise in prayer, thankful for our Creator’s mercies and faithfulness!

Prayer, Bible reading, and a growing faith can prepare any of us to confidently share the knowledge of Christ — whether out in the wide, wide world or in our little corner of it.

Jesus reminds us that we don’t have to struggle on our own with fears, worries, or trials that weigh us down. He invites each of us to come to him when we are tired from carrying heavy burdens and promises that we will find rest. That’s a promise we can always rely on. God is always ready to share the weight of our burdens.

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A Boll Weevil Blessing by Steve Troxel
For the past several days, my family and I have enjoyed the gracious hospitality of some dear friends in the small Alabama town of Enterprise. Located about an hour north of the Florida coast, Enterprise is filled with genuinely friendly people and good gospel-preaching churches. It is also home of the "famed" Boll Weevil Monument.
In the early 1900's the town of Enterprise was almost completely dependent on the farming of cotton. The economy of the small town rose and fell with the price of cotton and the amount of rain, but most people were able to scratch out a living. Then in 1915, disaster struck. The Boll Weevil attacked and destroyed 60% of the cotton crop - the devastation in the following year was even more complete. The economy was dead and the lives of this close-knit town were in shambles.
Rather than quitting and moving from the area, the people of Enterprise diversified their crops and in 1917 planted peanuts. This move turned out to be a financial blessing which changed the economic make-up of the community for the remainder of the century. Peanuts were better suited to the south Alabama climate and soil - and had a much larger profit margin than cotton.
This blessing was so immediate that in December 1919, the people of Enterprise erected a monument to the Boll Weevil - and rather than calling the Boll Weevil a hated pest, the plaque in front of the monument is written in appreciation to "The Herald of Prosperity."
Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
The people of Enterprise showed great willingness to adapt to adversity - without any assurance of success. As Children of God, we must be willing to show even greater determination because we have God's promise of hope - ALL things are working together for the good.
Let's not wait until the good has been revealed by the passing of time before we rejoice and give glory to God - let's begin to rejoice even as the trial is upon us because we KNOW by faith that the good is on it's way. The next time the crops of life look like they're being destroyed, let's praise God and begin looking for a Boll Weevil blessing.

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A New Thing Author Unknown
Isaiah 43:18-19 – Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (NIV 2011)
Last summer, I was in the hospital suffering from very high blood pressure, when the doctor tried something new on me. He put the pill aside and just gave me the liquid medicine to drink. It worked. The Lord had done a new thing and I had my life back again. I was allergic to the other things that they used to make up the pills. "A new thing, Iris" — and it saved my life. Thank You, Lord!
Are you feeling tired and fed up today, wishing that your days could be brightened by something new and different? Look what God is saying to you in today's Scripture: Forget what is past, especially those things that didn't please you. You are tired and fed up with trying. Don't dwell on the past. All the past does is tire and deflate us, and we are not satisfied with our lives. What can we do about it?
If we are growing old and past retirement, even past "old age", much of what we feel is normal aging, but the Lord still promises us a new thing that He is doing. Wow, that is exciting! Just thinking about the possibilities gives me the shivers.
Yes, the Lord is "making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland". Can you and I not perceive it? Maybe we are not close enough to the Lord for His activity in our lives to show up. Perhaps we are in the wasteland in some way? What might we be wasting: our time, our health, our money? Are we ignoring our neighbour's needs, or failing to follow through on a promise? And yet God speaks to us in the Scriptures, through Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit, Who is always seeking to lead us beyond our daily wasteland.
I wonder where He is leading us today. As we follow the Lord, we may be sure that our days will contain the needed direction. All we must do is to keep praying and trusting Him as the streams flow past wasted days, for the Lord promises a new way.
Indeed, He is showing you and me how to be happy serving Him in whatever way is needed. For sure, it will be along a road that we had at first ignored, but now His light reveals the way to the new thing, the God-worked thing. We just need to trust Him and follow His leading. Wow, how wonderful!
What new thing are you expecting God to do in your life today?
Prayer: Lord, show us the way to follow Your will as we live through each day. We thank You for giving our lives a great joy with new and lively things to do. Your power brings about a new thing, changing what we do with eternal light and love. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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Today is a New Day by Lisa Evans
How often have you heard that phrase, “Today is a new day!” It’s pretty common, but how often do we forfeit what that truly means? Too often a new day comes, and we don’t enjoy it to the fullest potential because we are trying to walk out the blessings of a “new day” while still trying to carry the weights of yesterday.
I know it is easier said than done, but with God it is possible to put away yesterday’s weight.
Don’t allow the enemy of your soul to rob you of your new day! The devil’s objective is to kill, steal, and destroy any way possible. He wants to kill your will to walk it out, he wants to steal your joy, and he certainly wants to destroy any plans you have to succeed in your walk with the Lord.
Your past does not define who you are. Your mistakes are not who you are. Through the strength of God you can stand in the truth of who you are. When we choose to do that, we then can put off every weight that sets out to hinder us and we can march on knowing that we serve a God of second chances. We serve a God of “new beginnings,” and a God who is able to meet us where we are.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Make a choice to enjoy the blessings of our “new day.” Maybe everything is not going how we planned. Maybe everything is not perfect and this day may not be our best day . . . but God is good even on our worst day.
I like to think on these simple truths:
Think about the faithfulness of God. Let’s remind ourselves that God has always come through in the past and He will again!
Take off the weight. As a child of God, the victory is ours. The fight has already been fought and the price has been paid for us. If we believe that, then we have confidence and the will to embrace our “new day.” Today, let’s make a choice to put aside bad attitudes, remove lies and replace them with truth, recognize distractions, and remove negativity from our life.
“Sometimes we don’t even realize the weight of what we carry until we let it go and feel the weight of its release.” —author unknown
Run. Yes, run! There is no time to sit idle. You may trip and sometimes fall, but get up and keep going. Keep running and as the Scripture says, “. . . fix your eyes on Jesus! He is the author and perfecter of our faith!” What He starts, He finishes. He never said the road would not be hard at times, but He promised to be faithful to His children.
Dear friend, sometimes we have to say it out loud. Sometimes, we need to declare the truth audibly—out loud, so we can hear it.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
God is so faithful. Prayers and blessings to each of you as we run this race together!

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I’ve Just Had Enough by Adessa Holden
This morning I’d had enough.
Crying at my kitchen table, I said, “I’m at the end of my rope. I just can’t take anymore.”
I’d been up all night dealing with a chronic physical issue and I was so discouraged. Even though I knew what it was and have dealt with it many times before, last night it just grated on my nerves. Even though I knew I had to get dressed and go to an event, I have to admit the temptation was real to blow it off and continue blubbering into my tea.
But I’m a big girl and I have responsibilities. So as I put on my makeup, I prayed, “Dear Jesus, please help me get through today.” Thankfully He did.
Acts 17:28 says, “For in him we live and move and have our being.”
Today, I was keenly more aware of that truth than other days. Because through the power of Jesus I was able to meet my obligation and even have a good day. Tonight I feel nothing but peace. What a difference a day makes. Yet I know that it’s really “what a difference that Jesus makes” when I am weak and He gives me strength.
We will have days when we feel less than ideal. Days when serving others may be a struggle. Perhaps today you feel finished, spent, or unheard. Today may be a day you just don’t feel like trying. Maybe it’s a financial issue a relationship, a problem at work, or like me, a physical issue.
Let me encourage you to cry out to Jesus and ask for His strength. Maybe on your own you can’t take another step, but through Him you can do all things. See if His strength doesn’t help you rise above even your most difficult of days. Ask Him today to help you live and breathe and move and be who He wants you to be.

 
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The Surprise by Lynne Phipps
Matthew 7:11 – If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (NIV)
When we replaced our septic tank last year, it required a lot of digging and earthmoving, which resulted in the loss of our biggest grazing area for the horses and goats. In another year or two, our greenery will be restored, but in the meantime, having to feed extra hay during the summer months was getting expensive. So I decided to pray about it. I simply asked God to help me to find some really great, inexpensive hay. And He did.
The fact that He supplied the hay was not a surprise. The way that He supplied it, however, was. I was busy working the counter at the hardware store when one of my neighbours from down the road came in and stopped to chat for awhile. In the course of our conversation, he told me that his lawn mower was broken, and if I wanted to bring the horses and goats down to graze, he would be quite happy for them to do the "mowing".
Wow! I was in awe at his offer that had come so quickly after my prayer, which no one knew about except God.
So now, every morning around seven, the horses and our biggest goat take a short walk to my neighbour's property, where they spend a good portion of the day "mowing" his lawn.
My neighbour is happy. The goat and the horses are happy. And I'm happy — happy that I serve a God Who enjoys answering prayer with such good gifts simply because He loves me, just as He loves you and all of mankind.
So today, don't be shy about asking God for what you need, and you, too, might end up with a wonderful surprise!
Prayer: Father God, how marvellous You are in Your love for us. Thank You that we can talk to You about everything and anything, and not only know that You hear us, but also know that we can count on You to answer us with the greatest gift of all: Your good and perfect will. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.


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Lord, Prop Us Up on Our Leaning Side
Every time I am asked to pray, I think of the old fellow who always prayed, "Lord, prop us up on our leaning side." After hearing him pray that prayer many times, someone asked him why he prayed that prayer so fervently.
He answered, "Well sir, you see, it’s like this... I got an old barn out back. It’s been there a long time. It’s withstood a lot of weather, it’s gone through a lot of storms, and it’s stood for many years. It’s still standing. But one day I noticed it was leaning to one side a bit. So I went and got some pine poles and propped it up on its leaning side so it wouldn’t fall.
Then I got to thinking about how much I was like that old barn. I’ve been around a long time. I’ve withstood a lot of life’s storms, and I’ve withstood a lot of bad weather in life, I’ve withstood a lot of hard times, and I’m still standing, too. But I find myself leaning to one side from time to time, so I like to ask the Lord to prop me up on my leaning side.
I figure a lot of us get to leaning at times. Sometimes we get to leaning toward anger, leaning toward bitterness, leaning toward hatred, leaning toward cursing, leaning toward a lot of things that we shouldn’t. So we need to pray, "Lord, prop us up on our leaning side, so we will stand straight and tall again to glorify You.”
We need You, Lord, to give us the strength to stand whenever we get out of balance. In those times, “Lord, prop us up on our leaning side.”
"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)


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Small Straws In A Soft Wind by Marsha Burns
Step back for a moment from the intensity of being on the front lines to gain perspective of your overall position. Know that where you are now and how you deal with current issues will be a determining factor in the direction and outcome of your future. It is not often that you need to make this assessment, but this is one of those times, says the Lord. I will help you see where you are. Jeremiah 33:3 Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

I will lead you to victory in the days ahead. You will know without equivocation that I am with you to show you the way to optimize your potential benefits, says the Lord. I will give you strength and renewed hope in fulfilling your purpose. Move forward knowing that My grand design is being worked out in your life. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Be attentive, and I will show you all that you must do. Do not underestimate My ability to break in on you and give you the wisdom and understanding necessary to deal with your current situation. I know you. I know your heart. I know what is best for you, and I will reveal My plans to you. Pay attention, says the Lord. 1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

In a vision I saw a group of people walking around blindfolded. They were aimless because they could not see where they were going. Each one had the ability to take the blindfold off, but they were afraid. To see clearly would mean they would have to assess their current position and make course corrections that would require solid decisions. My sense was that they would rather be victims of their blindness and justified by their helplessness than to take responsibility for their condition. I heard the Lord speaking to their hearts to trust in Him to bring them out of their bondage. Isaiah 42:16 I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.

When you ask for wisdom and direction, do not be afraid that you will not receive it. Your fear puts you in a position of being double-minded, and you will most certainly not receive. Rather, ask for wisdom and be confident that I will give you what you ask and will show you the way, says the Lord. It is My good pleasure to speak to you in ways that you can understand. Be bold. Psalms 138:3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.

Beloved, you are still in a very dry time spiritually as you finish up what you started some time ago. You have to get through this time before you can find the fresh anointing for the next season. Don't get ahead of yourself. Take one step at a time and deal with one thing at a time to get through this tedious place that will require patience and perseverance, says the Lord. I will give you the strength to endure. James 1:4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

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The Trumpet by Bill Burns
"Set the trumpet to your mouth!" Hosea 8:1
Stand up! Rise up! Become one with Me and you will indeed have the victory that is promised in My word. Fight the good fight of faith. Declare your victory before you can see it. Rise up against the enemy of your soul. Do the warfare and you will be victorious and come through in great glory at this time in this high place. I am raising you up to be a glorious church, a glorious people. Believe it, receive it, and apply it.

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The Best Is Yet To Be by Carol Hicks
One day I lost my heart
I had no way to find it.
I searched in woods and byways,
And places no one minded.
My eyes turned toward heaven
Saying, “Lord, I need a guide.”
‘Twas then He stirred my spirit
And drew me to His side.
“Like a sheep, you’ve gone astray,”
But still, I have a plan.
You just need a shepherd,
To take you by the hand.”
“You must listen to him closely.
Hear the message he imparts.
If you walk along beside him,
He can help you find your heart.”
So I followed God’s direction,
And this shepherd helped me see,
Though my heart had known some trials,
“The Best Is Yet To Be!”

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Running To You Author Unknown
When I run to you my problems fade.
You show me light in so many ways
You make me strong when I am weak.
I run to you even in my sleep.
You show me love when I call.
Your always there when I fall.
All my problems seem to disappear.
Because your presence is so near.
That is why I run to you
Because I know
your love is true.


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Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Ephesians 2:10 – We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. - Mark 12:30

Jesus said, “Whoever serves me must follow me. Wherever I am, there my servant will also be. My Father will honor whoever serves me.” - John 12:26

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:22-23

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. - Psalm 68:19

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Waiting on God by Os Hillman
"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!" Isaiah 30:18
Have you ever noticed that God is not in a hurry? It took 40 years for Moses to receive his commission to lead the people out of Egypt. It took 17 years of preparation before Joseph was delivered from slavery and imprisonment. It took 20 years before Jacob was released from Laban's control. Abraham and Sarah were in their old age when they finally received the son of promise, Isaac. So why isn't God in a hurry?
God called each of these servants to accomplish a certain task in His Kingdom, yet He was in no hurry to bring their mission into fulfillment. First, He accomplished what He wanted in them. We are often more focused on outcome than the process that He is accomplishing in our lives each day. When we experience His presence daily, one day we wake up and realize that God has done something special in and through our lives. However, the accomplishment is no longer what excites us. Instead, what excites us is knowing Him. Through those times, we become more acquainted with His love, grace, and power in our lives. When this happens, we are no longer focused on the outcome because the outcome is a result of our walk with Him. It is not the goal of our walk, but the by-product. Hence, when Joseph came to power in Egypt, he probably couldn't have cared less. He had come to a place of complete surrender so that he was not anxious about tomorrow or his circumstances.
This is the lesson for us. We must wait for God's timing and embrace wherever we are in the process. When we find contentment in that place, we begin to experience God in ways we never thought possible.


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Dear Jesus, Help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. Prayer Of Mother Teresa

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Read Through The Bible
Psalm 28
1 Unto thee will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. 2 Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle. 3 Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts. 4 Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert. 5 Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up. 6 Blessed be the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. 7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. 8 The Lord is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed. 9 Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.

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Bless me, heavenly Father, forgive my erring ways. Grant me strength to serve Thee, put purpose in my days. Give me understanding, enough to make me kind. So I may judge all people with my heart, not my mind. Teach me to be patient in everything I do, Content to trust Your wisdom and to follow after You. Help me when I falter and hear me when I pray, And receive me in Your kingdom to dwell with Thee someday. Amen.


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