Weekly Spiritual Readings

February 20, 2015

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Nothing is impossible with God. NOTHING. Not even that thing. Your thing. The One Thing that seems to defy all attempts to defeat it, restore it, heal it, change it, overcome it, undo it, or just to get through it. God cares and He is a God who CAN. Believe it. Experience it. God is Able. - Priscilla Shirer 

God’s Word continually commands us to love one another. In the Bible, love is not something you feel; love is something you do. --Jay Kesler

Trust God’s love. His perfect love. Don’t fear He will discover your past. He already has. Don’t fear disappointing Him in the future. He can show you the chapter in which you will. With perfect knowledge of the past and perfect vision of the future, He loves you perfectly in spite of both. --Max Lucado

The best way for us to demonstrate that we have understood and accepted God’s love is to learn to imitate Him as closely as possible in the way we treat others. --Chip Ingram

God … can be everywhere at once and attend to billions of problems at once. He can be touching me and also touching you. He can be so close that His breath is sweeping my skin, yet He can be that close to you as well, even if you’re across the world from me. He can hear all my prayers and not just give me what I ask for, but thankfully, He can assess what’s best for me given His purpose for my life and the desires of my heart. ---Terri Blackstock

God is our refuge, and what comfort that brings! He is your refuge when you awaken in the night filled with fear, and cold sweat breaks out. He is your refuge, your strength, a very present help when events transpire that you cannot understand. --Charles Swindoll

Today is a new day. Each moment is a new moment to start over and begin again. God wants to walk with you. He wants to love you and help you make adjustments. He wants you to realize your potential. You don’t have to be famous, you don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to pay and you don’t have to be something you aren’t. All you have to do is believe God is whom he says he is and will do what he promises to do. All you have to do is let him love you and commit to a personal relationship with him. You have to want to let him love you and want to love him back. He will only do what you are willing to let him do. --Melinda Clements


Seeing God Author Unknown
I had a decidedly bad attitude the other day.
In the morning, I was taking a homeless man to a clinic for his bad back and found myself drumming my fingers, thinking, "How late am I going to be to work?"
The man called while I was in a meeting at work to have me pick him up and bring him back to his camp and I was thinking, "Great, I've interrupted this meeting and now I'm going to miss lunch." There were problems at work, problems I couldn't fix for some reason. I was being rather snippy with people.
On the way home, I was scheduled to give another homeless man a ride so he could stay at our house and be close to where he was working the next morning. Heavy sigh. I'd have to make sure he had dinner as well as fixing something for the kids.
After dinner, I was tired, wanting to be left alone. A voice (it sounded like my own) suggested I treat myself to some frozen custard a couple miles from the house. I loaded my son in the back seat and off we went.
Halfway there, on the other side of the road, I could see a large, unkempt-looking man hitchhiking. That's pretty unusual in the affluent neighborhood I was driving through. Part of me thought, "Thank God I'm not going that way. I don't have to give him a ride." But I realized that, 10 minutes later, I'd be coming back.
"God," I found myself praying, as I watched car after car passing that man by, "Please let someone else pick him up. You know I'll stop if he's still there on the way back. But Lord, I'm just tired. Send someone else. I need a holiday."
Yes, a holiday, my mind echoed. That would be great... I got my frozen custard - to go - and started driving back, eyes scanning ahead on the roadside for any sign of the hitchhiker.
There he was. Car after car ahead of me drove blissfully by the man. My car coasted to a stop next to him. He climbed in.
He didn't look good. It had been a very hot day -- over 100 degrees – yet he wasn't perspiring. Just breathing heavily.
"Where you going?" I asked. "The hospital," he breathed. "I need to get my blood pressure checked."
God, I thought, please tell me you aren't going to give this man a heart attack in my car!
The hospital was less than a mile away. I dropped him at the entrance, helping him out of the car and making sure he felt able to get inside.
"God bless you and your family," he said. "I never would have been able to walk here."
Then he extended his hand and said, with no trace of a smile: "My name's Holiday."


I’m Loved By God! Author Unknown
One of the most beautiful passages in Scripture is found in Isaiah, Chapter 43: “...you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned... For I am the Lord, your God... you are precious and honored in My sight, and... I love you...” (Isaiah 43:1-4 NIV).
Write down that last phrase on a card and carry it with you: “You are precious and honored in My sight... I love you.” Wow! You are loved by God. Who else do you need to impress? What other ladder do you need to climb? What are you going to add to your CV that will top that?
Make your life an experiment of living in the love of God. Every morning when you wake up let your first words be “I am loved by God.” And every night when you go to sleep let your last words echo, “I’m loved by God.” Write those words down on a card and carry them with you. When you are tempted to despair because you have blown it, take out the card and look at it. When you are overwhelmed by all you have to do, read it over and over to yourself. Take it out when you’re tempted to sin, to dishonor God, to lash out in anger and hurt someone, or deceive someone, or use someone.
When you are afraid, when you’re anxious, when you’re alone, remember and feast on the words that give life: “I’m loved by God.”


Let God Love You by Max Lucado
When my girls were little, I’d come home, shout their names and watch them run to me with extended arms and squealing voices. For the next few moments we’d roll on the floor, gobble bellies, and tickle tummies and laugh and play. We delighted in each other’s presence. They made no requests of me, with the exception of, “Let’s play, Daddy. And I made no demands of them except, “Don’t hit daddy with the hammer.” My kids let me love them.
But suppose they’d approached me as we often approach God. “Hey, Dad, glad you’re home. Here’s what I want!” “Whoa,” I would have to say. “Why don’t you just climb up on Daddy’s lap and let me tell you how much I love you?” Ever thought God might want to do the same with you? How long since you let God love you?
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (I John 3:1).


BANK ON IT by Rhonda Rhea
I don't want to admit how debit-card-dependent I am. It's getting embarrassing. One day this week I couldn't find my card. I looked everywhere. Even by the next morning there was still no trace of the card. I searched high and low, near and far- even under the sofa cushions. I found 37 cents, three marbles, a T-shirt (how had we ignored that lump?), seven M & M's, a screwdriver, my favorite sunglasses, and the TV remote (hey, we'd been looking for that thing)- but no card.
I checked our bank account online to make sure no one had used the rogue card. Nope, no extra charges (although how in the world could all those charges be mine?). Still, I was just this side of panic.
Why is it that I wait until panic starts to set in before I remember where I really need to turn? Finally I thought,"I'll have my quiet time with the Lord and then I can resume the hunt with more peace, less panic." I opened my Bible and guess what fell out; my card! I had absentmindedly stuck it between the pages the morning prior to mark a passage.
What a lesson my Father taught me about where I should run first. I found such treasure in His Word that morning and, believe it or not, the real treasure was not even card-related. Psalm 119:14-16 says it best: "I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." Ah, it's great to be rich!
Suggested Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, let your Holy Spirit fill me and transform my heart and mind that I may choose life - abundant life in you and with you. And give me the courage and strength to always discern good from evil and to reject everything that is false and contrary to your holy will."


SOMETHING NEW: HOPE By Joel Vande Werken
He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. —1 Peter 1:3
Are you without hope?
It’s easy to lose hope in our everyday lives. Months of unemployment, years of dealing with disease, constant bickering in the family, a lengthy prison sentence—any of these situations will quickly sap our hope and leave us despairing about our future.
In the midst of such circumstances, the apostle Peter writes of hope. Jesus has risen from the dead! This new reality does not mean all of our suffering will disappear. But just as Jesus’ sufferings gave way to resurrection, so also our trials will be followed by glory.
Through Jesus, God has given believers “a living hope.” So often we place our hope in something lifeless: a new job, a better education, a new year. But Jesus is not lifeless: he is alive! In him, we have an inheritance, a constant source of strength and life, because our hope comes not from someone who is dead but someone who is alive.
The greatest good news of all is that God has given us hope. We do not remain victims of our sins or of our circumstances. Jesus has the power to redeem every dying expectation and replace it with living hope.
Do you live with hope in Christ? In his strength, you can!
Prayer: Living God, we praise you for the gift of hope. May the life of the risen Christ inspire us to hope and confidence today, even in the midst of our struggles. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


The Presence of His Love By Rev. John F. Perling
The passengers on the bus watched sympathetically as the attractive young woman with the white cane made her way carefully up the steps. She paid the driver and, using her hands to feel the location of the seats, walked down the aisle and found the seat he'd told her was empty. Then she settled in, placed her briefcase on her lap and rested her cane against her leg.
It had been a year since Susan, thirty-four, became blind. Due to a medical misdiagnosis she had been rendered sightless, and she was suddenly thrown into a world of darkness, anger, frustration and self-pity. Once a fiercely independent woman, Susan now felt condemned by this terrible twist of fate to become a powerless, helpless burden on everyone around her.
"How could this have happened to me?" she would plead, her heart knotted with anger. But no matter how much she cried or ranted or prayed, she knew the painful truth her sight was never going to return. A cloud of depression hung over Susan's once optimistic spirit. Just getting through each day was an exercise in frustration and exhaustion. And all she had to cling to was her husband Mark.
Mark was an Air Force officer and he loved Susan with all of his heart. When she first lost her sight, he watched her sink into despair and was determined to help his wife gain the strength and confidence she needed to become independent again. Mark's military background had trained him well to deal with sensitive situations, and yet he know this was the most difficult battle he would ever face.
Finally, Susan felt ready to return to her job, but how would she get there? She used to take the bus, but was now too frightened to get around the city by herself. Mark volunteered to drive her to work each day, even though they worked at opposite ends of the city. At first, this comforted Susan and fulfilled Mark's need to protect his sightless wife who was so insecure about performing the slightest task.
Soon, however, Mark realized that this arrangement wasn't working - it was hectic, and costly. Susan is going to have to start taking the bus again, he admitted to himself. But just the thought of mentioning it to her made him cringe. She was still so fragile, so angry. How would she react?
Just as Mark predicted, Susan was horrified at the idea of taking the bus again. "I'm blind!" she responded bitterly. "How am I supposed to know where I'm going? I feel like you're abandoning me."
Mark's heart broke to hear these words, but he knew what had to be done. He promised Susan that each morning and evening he would ride the bus with her, for as long as it took, until she got the hang of it. And that is exactly what happened.
For two solid weeks, Mark, military uniform and all, accompanied Susan to and from work each day. He taught her how to rely on her other senses, specifically her hearing, to determine where she was and how to adapt to her new environment. He helped her befriend the bus drivers who could watch out for her, and save her a seat. He made her laugh, even on those not-so-good days when she would trip exiting the bus, or drop her briefcase.
Each morning they made the journey together, and Mark would take a cab back to his office. Although this routine was even more costly and exhausting than the previous one, Mark knew it was only a matter of time before Susan would be able to ride the bus on her own. He believed in her, in the Susan he used to know before she'd lost her sight, who wasn't afraid of any challenge and who would never, ever quit.
Finally, Susan decided that she was ready to try the trip on her own. Monday morning arrived, and before she left, she threw her arms around Mark, her temporary bus riding companion, her husband, and her best friend. Her eyes filled with tears of gratitude for his loyalty, his patience, his love. She said good-bye, and for the first time, they went their separate ways. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday... Each day on her own went perfectly, and Susan had never felt better. She was doing it! She was going to work all by herself!
On Friday morning, Susan took the bus to work as usual. As she was paying for her fare to exit the bus, the driver said, "Boy, I sure envy you." Susan wasn't sure if the driver was speaking to her or not. After all, who on earth would ever envy a blind woman who had struggled just to find the courage to live for the past year? Curious, she asked the driver, "Why do you say that you envy me?"
The driver responded, "It must feel so good to be taken care of and protected like you are." Susan had no idea what the driver was talking about, and asked again, "What do you mean?"
The driver answered, "You know, every morning for the past week, a fine looking gentleman in a military uniform has been standing across the corner watching you when you get off the bus. He makes sure you cross the street safely and he watches you until you enter your office building. Then he blows you a kiss, gives you a little salute and walks away. You are one blessed lady."
Tears of happiness poured down Susan's cheeks. For although she couldn't physically see him, she had always felt Mark's presence. She was blessed, so blessed, for he had given her a gift more powerful than sight, a gift she didn't need to see to believe - the gift of love that can bring light where there had been darkness.
God watches over us in just the same way. We may not know He is present. We may not be able to see His face, but He is there nonetheless! Be blessed in this thought: "God Loves You - even when you are not looking."


Small Straws In A Soft Wind by Marsha Burns
Set yourself to receive wisdom and direction that will change your routines in ways that will result in better quality of life. What seems to be a minor change will result in major benefit. But, you must be willing to let go of habits and behaviors that have ultimately created more harm than good. It is My desire for you to live in optimum strength and spiritual awareness, says the Lord. Let Me show you the way. Psalms 139:24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

In a vision I saw a clock being fixed. I believe this was a sign that for many of God's people it has seemed as though time has stood still and that no progress has been made. You are now in a time when you will begin to see breakthrough moments. As they come, recognize these events as significant first steps in resuming your divine progression in the process of fulfilling destiny. 1 Timothy 4:15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.

When you walk in My ways, says the LORD, you will set an example that others can follow if they want to live in peace and blessing. Those that live and walk in the Spirit are able access everything that is available to them through faith. It is worth it to make the changes necessary to live in righteousness and always do good. Psalms 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

Rise up spiritually into My presence and receive the fresh and powerful anointing that is being poured out on those who desire it. There are things for you to do, but the accomplishment of those things will require the anointing. Access a new infilling of My Holy Spirit for this season and allow spiritual power, gifts and fruit to manifest in your life, says the Lord. 1 John 2:27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

I speak to many of you, My people, who feel exhausted. You will not be able to rectify this condition in the natural realm. Your refreshment will come from being in My presence. Much of what feels like being extremely tired comes from discouragement because of circumstances and natural conditions. Encourage yourself in Me--in spiritual truth--and take the time to be rejuvenated, says the Lord. 1 Samuel 30:6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.


The Trumpet by Bill Burns
"Set the trumpet to your mouth!" Hosea 8:1
You have heard Me, and you have listened. Now make that dynamic connection with Me that you so desire. It is by faith that you do so. All you must do is believe My word and position yourself to receive that which I am doing this day, in this hour, in this very minute. For, I have come to connect you to My life, to My power, to My joy, to My peace, so that you may know Me, fellowship with Me, and truly walk with Me, says the Lord. Today is a day of new beginnings for you, if you so choose.


Bookmarks in the Scrapbook of Life By Sheila Gosney
It's really through the trials and hard things in life
that we see God for all He can do!
While our faith is tested, we are made to look up
toward the One Who can help us get through!
It's times of desperation when the heart is broken
and we discover how deep the pain goes,
Yet we find in that brokenness, the ability to cope
by the GRACE that God quietly shows!
It's times of disappointment that leave the soul aching
and tears falling for what has been shattered,
Yet they show us the value we have in God's eyes
when the world didn't care for what mattered.
It's lean times when money is "tighter than tight"
and financial encouragement is rare,
That God beckons us to see Him as the Ultimate Provider
while He proves He is ALREADY there!
Good times are special pages in the scrapbook of life
for they are blessings from a God Who is true!
But the difficult seasons bookmark Spiritual blessings
when they show us what our God can do!
"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest Who has passed through the Heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest Who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV


Peggie Bohanon
Love is when someone is there
To share a hurt and hug a care.
Love is when he stands so tall
And smiles and eats a burned meatball!
Love is when your heart belongs
In arms familiar, safe and strong.
Love between a man and wife
Is much like God, Who gave His life.
He meets our needs; He shares and cares;
He gives His love in answered prayer.
So far beyond all earthly loves,
This God awaits your heart's deep love.
For love is when He grace imparts
To fill your life, and win your heart!


Jesus said to the father of the boy with an evil spirit, "Everything is possible for him who believes." Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief." Mark 9:23-24

Thus says the LORD: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

Jesus said, "As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." John 9:4

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14

Encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14


It was a long time coming, but it finally happened! It probably wasn't big news where you live but it made the headlines of the papers here. It was even mentioned on television during the evening news!
What did you miss? What was this milestone event???
My old high school football team finally won a game! For the first time in 35 games, a span covering 4 years, the longest losing streak in NC high school football finally came to an end!
As I read the details the next day in the newspaper, what caught my attention wasn't the final score or the action photo from the game, it was something that the coach had told his players when the contest was over.
He told his team, "...we need to be a lot more interested in starting a winning streak than ending a losing streak." What was important to the coach was that his players not worry about the past, but rather focus on today and the future.
I couldn't help but think about how true this is in our lives as well...
Someone once concluded that 92% of the things that people worry about fall into one of three categories: things that have already happened, things that haven't yet and may not happen, and things that we have no control over.
Perhaps you can relate to that...
But Jesus gave us a different example. With Jesus, what was important was today with a focus on the future!
As Jesus was dying on the cross, there on either side of him, were criminals who were also being crucified. One of these men acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God, and asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, TODAY you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43 (NIV - emphasis mine)
In that defining moment, what was most important wasn't the man's past - it was his future!
And so it is for each of us!
By the shed blood of Jesus Christ, our past - our sins - have been forgiven! It no longer exists! The Bible describes it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (NIV)
How about you?
Ending a losing streak or starting a winning streak. Frederick W. Faber said it this way: "They always win who side with God."
Are you living in the past or looking toward the future? Are you ready to start a winning streak in your life by living for the Lord?
It can happen today!


Lord, when our faith falters, remind us that wherever we see love at work, we can see you. Amen.


Read Through The Bible
Esther 2
Esther Becomes Queen
1 After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus subsided, he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what had been decreed against her. 2 Then the king’s servants who attended him said: “Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king; 3 and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women’s quarters, under the custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given them. 4 Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This thing pleased the king, and he did so. 5 In Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite. 6 Kish had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been captured with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. 7 And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. 8 So it was, when the king’s command and decree were heard, and when many young women were gathered at Shushan the citadel, under the custody of Hegai, that Esther also was taken to the king’s palace, into the care of Hegai the custodian of the women. 9 Now the young woman pleased him, and she obtained his favor; so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance. Then seven choice maidservants were provided for her from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maidservants to the best place in the house of the women. 10 Esther had not revealed her people or family, for Mordecai had charged her not to reveal it. 11 And every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women’s quarters, to learn of Esther’s welfare and what was happening to her. 12 Each young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after she had completed twelve months’ preparation, according to the regulations for the women, for thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women. 13 Thus prepared, each young woman went to the king, and she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the women’s quarters to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned to the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who kept the concubines. She would not go in to the king again unless the king delighted in her and called for her by name. 15 Now when the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his daughter, to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her. 16 So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. 17 The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king made a great feast, the Feast of Esther, for all his officials and servants; and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces and gave gifts according to the generosity of a king.
Mordecai Discovers a Plot
19 When virgins were gathered together a second time, Mordecai sat within the king’s gate. 20 Now Esther had not revealed her family and her people, just as Mordecai had charged her, for Esther obeyed the command of Mordecai as when she was brought up by him. 21 In those days, while Mordecai sat within the king’s gate, two of the king’s eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, doorkeepers, became furious and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 22 So the matter became known to Mordecai, who told Queen Esther, and Esther informed the king in Mordecai’s name. 23 And when an inquiry was made into the matter, it was confirmed, and both were hanged on a gallows; and it was written in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.


God, our shepherd, hear our prayers, be our guide, and lead us on the right paths. Be patient with us and help us to be willing workers for your kingdom. Amen.
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