Weekly Spiritual Readings

March 20, 2015



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God is able to transform us. He knows what is best. He knows what it takes. He will, as the loving, all-powerful sculptor, chip away until Jesus is seen in the hardened hunk of our lives.  --Joseph Stowell

God, in Your goodness give me Yourself, for You are enough for me. And only in You do I have everything. Amen. --Julian of Norwich

We are lifted above our circumstances when we look into the face of Jesus. --Gigi Graham Tchividjian

The seasons of life roll by at an astonishing rate. Only our great God and His Word remain unchanged. --Charles Swindoll

God’s patience is infinite. --Sadhu Sundar Singh

To shape me into His image, sometimes God allows me to go through difficulties I would not normally choose for myself. --Rocky Henriques

Down through the centuries in times of trouble and trial God has brought courage to the hearts of those who love Him. The Bible is filled with assurances of God’s help and comfort in every kind of trouble which might cause fears to arise in the human heart. You can look ahead with promise, hope and joy. --Billy Graham

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God’s Power Lifts Us Up Author Unknown
Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm.
While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.
When the storms of life come upon us – and all of us will experience them – we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief toward God. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God’s power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment in our lives. We can soar above the storm.
Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down; it is how we handle them. The Bible says, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.” Isaiah 40:31

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How your attitude can affect everything by Senior Living Ministries
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. - Philippians 4:8
Norman Cousins, a prominent writer of the 20th century, was diagnosed with a rare, crippling, and incurable disease. Tired of being in the hospital for so long and with little real hope for recovery, he checked himself out and went home.
There, he began his own treatment to comfort the pain. He borrowed a movie projector and watched old Marx Brothers films and Candid Camera reruns. He soon found that after 10 minutes of good laughter, he could sleep peacefully for two hours. When the pain returned, he would simply flick the projector back on and he’d have another two hours of painless sleep.
Attitude matters. When you’re fighting tough battles in life and it’s hard to see a way forward, the attitude you have during the struggle will most certainly determine how it affects you. This isn’t just emotional. Your attitude can affect you both mentally and physically.
Whether it’s sickness, hard emotional times, or grief, find reasons to laugh. Instead of withdrawing, do something you enjoy and spend time with others who can bring you up. Be positive no matter what challenge you’re facing and you’ll be renewed both mentally and physically!
Prayer Challenge: Pray and ask God to help you face the challenges you encounter with a healthy attitude.
Questions for Thought: Why do you think it’s so easy to fall into a cycle of negative thinking in hard times? What’s one thing you love doing? Is it possible that spending time doing that when you’re facing challenges would help you physically and mentally?

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A Wonder Of Creation by Parise Arakelian
Genesis 1:20 – Then God said, "Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens." (NASB)
During the week between this past Christmas and New Year's, two white, pea-size eggs were carefully deposited in a nest the dimensions of an enlarged, thumb-sized thimble. The nest had been painstakingly constructed from spider webs and soft plant parts, and was lined with soft plant down, then adorned with bits of gray-green lichen to camouflage it perfectly. However, this nest was in full view on a bare, horizontal branch of a California sycamore tree, the leaves having fallen to the ground.
This phenomenon stirred the attention and hearts of residents and employees alike. A steady line of walkers and wheelchairs came to observe the mother hummingbird keeping the eggs and babies warm after they hatched. For several days, they are unable to generate their own body heat, so the female had to deal with the conflict of gathering food for them, while not being off the nest for long stretches. When the female leaves the nest to forage, she collects nectar, pollen, and tiny insects and returns to the nest, where she regurgitates the energy-rich slurry into the mouths of the nestlings — a magnificent sight!
It was three weeks before the eggs hatched; the total elapsed time from egg-laying to fledging was approximately five to six weeks. When the nestlings finally left the nest, they were completely grown and naturally able to begin foraging on their own. Their human onlookers expressed sadness to see that the two birds and their mother had left the nest.
Observing this miracle of creation, so up-close-and-personal, gave me thought: If God takes care of the birds so lovingly, will He not care for us as well?
Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (NIV)
The birds are a witness to God's compassionate, providential care. God feeds the birds. It is virtually a miracle that the birds can sustain themselves. But God is the provider. If so, the birds point us toward God's continual care for us. Jesus used the birds as an illustration of why not to worry. The apostle Peter carries on that theme:
1 Peter 5:7 – Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (NKJV)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for providing us with this living example of Your creation and providential care for the birds of the air. Grant us the understanding and appreciation of Your continual care for us each and every day. This we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

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Life Above the Sun by Mrs. P's Devotional
When you are not enjoying abundant life, you will feel as if life is full of toil. In your heart, life is meaningless and empty. You feel like someone “grasping for the wind”. (Ecclesiastes 2:11)
It seems as if nothing you do adds up to much. The Bible calls this life “under the sun”. (Ecclesiastes 2:11) Someone who lives life under the sun may or may not know God, but God is either forgotten or not the center of things in his life. His thoughts are earthly and he does things to gratify his flesh. In the end, he finds life depressing and unfulfilled. Life under the sun is full of despair.
But this is not so with someone who lives life above the sun with God. For life with Him is filled with joy and pleasures at His right hand. (Psalm 16:11) Life is abundantly full and good just as Jesus promised — “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”.
When you live life above the sun, your thoughts are heavenward and you become Christ-occupied. You live for Him because you know that all things were created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16) When you live for His glory, your life takes on a new meaning and purpose.
God’s Word says, “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:17) The Greek word for “consist” means “held together”. In Christ, all things are held together. And that is why when Christ is the central figure in your life, you will have it all together. Your mind will be held together. Your hopes and dreams will be held together. Your family will be held together by the cords of His love.
Your life will not be empty, but full of God’s goodness because “Christ in you, [is] the hope of glory”. (Colossians 1:27) It is a wonderful life — this life lived above the sun. And you will have an even more wonderful life to come in heaven!
John 10:10 - I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

 
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The Sweet Song of the Second Fiddle By Max Lucado
For thousands of years, the relationship had been perfect. As far back as any one could remember, the moon had faithfully reflected the sun's rays into the dark night. It was the greatest duo in the universe. Other stars and planets marveled at the reliability of the team. Generation after generation of earthlings were captivated by the reflection. The moon became the symbol of romance, high hopes, and even nursery rhymes.
"Shine on, harvest moon," the people would sing. And he did. Well, in a way he did. You see, the moon didn't actually shine. He reflected. He took the light given to him by the sun and redirected it toward the earth. A simple task of receiving illumination and sharing it.
You would think such a combo would last forever. It almost did. But one day, a nearby star planted a thought in the moon's core.
"It must be tough being a moon," the star suggested.
"What do you mean? I love it! I've got an important job to do. When it gets dark, people look to me for help. And I look to the sun. He gives me what I need and I give the people what they need. People depend on me to light up their world. And I depend on the sun."
"So, you and the sun must be pretty tight."
"Tight? Why, we are like Huntley and Brinkley, Hope and Crosby, Benny and Day!"
"Or maybe Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy?"
"Who?"
"You know, the man and the dummy."
"Well, I don't know about the dummy part."
"That's exactly what I mean. You are the dummy. You don't have any light of your own. You depend on the sun. You're the sidekick. You don't have any name for yourself."
"Name for yourself?"
"Yeah, you've been playing second fiddle for too long. You need to step out on your own."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean stop reflecting and start generating. Do your own thing. Be your own boss. Get people to see you for who you really are."
"Who am I?"
"Well, you are, uh, well, uh, well, that's what you need to find out. You need to find out who you are."
The moon paused and thought for a moment. What the star said made sense. Though he had never considered it, the moon was suddenly aware of all the inequities of the relationship.
Why should he have to work the night shift all the time? And why should he be the one the astronauts stepped on first? And why should he always be accused of making waves? And why don't the dogs and wolves howl at the sun for a change?
"You are right!" asserted the moon. "It's high time we had a solar-lunar equity up here."
"Now you're talking," prodded the star. "Go discover the real moon!"
Such was the beginning of the breakup. Rather than turning his attention toward the sun, the moon began turning his attention toward himself.
He set out on the course of self-enhancement. After all, his complexion was a disgrace, so full of craters and all. His wardrobe was sadly limited to three sizes; full-length, half-cast, and quarter-clad. And his coloring was an anemic yellow.
So, girded with determination, he set out to reach for the moon.
He ordered glacier packs for his complexion. He changed his appearance to include new shapes such as triangular and square. And for coloring he opted for a punk-rock orange. "No one is going to call me cheese-face anymore."
The new moon was slimmed down and shaped up. His surface was as smooth as a baby's bottom. Everything was fine for a while.
Initially, his new look left him basking in his own moonlight. Passing meteors would pause and visit. Distant stars would call and compliment. Fellow moons would invite him over to their orbits.
He had friends. He had fame. He didn't need the sun - until the trends changed. Suddenly "punk" was out and "prep" was in. The compliments stopped and the giggles began as the moon was slow to realize that he was out of style. Just as he finally caught on and had his orange changed to pinstripe, the style went to "country."
It was the painful poking of the rhinestones into his surface that caused him to finally ask himself, "What's this all for anyway? You're on the cover of the magazine one day and forgotten the next. Living off the praise of others is an erratic diet."
For the first time since he'd begun his campaign to find himself, the moon thought of the sun. He remembered the good ol' millenniums when praise was not a concern. What people thought of him was immaterial since he wasn't in the business of getting people to look at himself. Any praise that came his way was quickly passed on to the boss. The sun's plan was beginning to dawn on the moon. "He may have been doing me a favor."
He looked down upon the earth. The earthlings had been getting quite a show. They never knew what to expect: first punk, then preppie, now country. Odds-makers in Las Vegas were making bets as to whether the next style would be chic or macho. Rather than be the light of their world he was the butt of their jokes.
Even the cow refused to jump over him.
But it was the cold that bothered him the most. Absence from the sunlight left him with a persistent chill. No warmth. No glow. His full-length overcoat didn't help. It couldn't help; the shiver was from the inside, an icy shiver from deep within his core that left him feeling cold and alone.
Which is exactly what he was.
One night as he looked down upon the people walking in the dark, he was struck by the futility of it all. He thought of the sun. He gave me everything I needed. I served a purpose. I was warm. I was content. I was what I was made to be.
Suddenly, he felt the old familiar warmth. He turned and there was the sun. The sun had never moved. "I'm glad you're back," the sun said. "Let's get back to work."
"You bet!" agreed the moon.
The coat came off. The roundness returned, and a light was seen in the dark sky. A light even fuller was seen in the dark sky. A light even brighter.
And to this day whenever the sun shines and the moon reflects and the darkness is illuminated, the moon doesn't complain or get jealous. He does what he was intended to do all along.
The moon beams.
Sound like this could maybe be an analogy??? Like maybe of the way that we as God's children are supposed to be?


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Power Lines by June Heale
Matthew 6:13 – And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (NKJV)
The message on the billboard caught my attention as we travelled the highway to home. It read, "STAY AWAY FROM POWER LINES", in large bold letters, along with an icon of a power pole. The message was obvious: the local power company was trying to keep people safe.
My mind started contemplating. Connecting with one of those high-tension power lines would give us a great jolt of electricity and would more than likely kill us. But there is one power line that we do not want to stay away from: the power from our Lord. God's power might zap us "real good" sometimes to get our attention, but unlike the power from this utility source, the power of the Holy Spirit will touch us and heal us if we let Him.
Through Christ's death on the cross, we have been given access to this life-saving power simply by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. No high-tension wires needed here — just simple faith.
Romans 1:3-4 – Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. (NKJV)
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for the never-ending power available to us through the resurrection of Your beloved Son Jesus. May we fully realize that we can have this power by believing that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that You invite us to draw eternal life from this mighty power line. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


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Small Straws In A Soft Wind by Marsha Burns
Release yourself from all regret. You cannot change the past, but you can use your past experiences to gain understanding of what motivates yourself and others. You can access wisdom from the evaluation of the past that will help you become a better human being. Most importantly, you will have opportunities to learn the value of forgiveness, says the Lord. Matthew 6:15 "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

I am well aware that you have been in the doldrums and that it has been more difficult to think and be aware of the nuances in your surroundings. This phase of what seems to be sleep-walking will soon be a thing of the past as you begin to awaken. Know that you are not alone and that many are enduring a similar annoyance, says the Lord. Rest in the hope of better things. Hebrews 6:9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.

You are in a time of preparation that will equip you for the days ahead. Do not be afraid that you will miss what I am about to do, says the Lord. When the time comes you will able to see clearly and know without reservation how to respond and move with the flow of My Spirit. The events of this season will make you ready. Psalms 31:19 Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men

Be on guard, beloved. You will have opportunities to get involved in quarrels of various kinds. But, you would do well to back away from conflict. If you can bring positive instruction, do so with a humble and contrite spirit. Otherwise, such an encounter could escalate very quickly into something you really do not want, says the Lord. A soft answer will turn away wrath. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Be thankful and express your gratitude by extending a helping hand to others. What I have given you is not yours alone, but is a blessing to those you show mercy to, says the Lord. You are not your own; you are Mine. You are designed to be My hand extended, and My mouth to encourage and exhort. Let your heart reflect My heart. Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."

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The Trumpet by Bill Burns
"Set the trumpet to your mouth!" Hosea 8:1
I am giving you signs in this season. Signs of confirmation. Signs that will enable you believe without the doubt that has plagued you in past seasons. For, this is the time of the growing up of My people; the perfecting of My saints. This is the time for you to come into what I have called you to be. This is the time to enjoy the journey that I have prepared for you. This is the time to walk with Me on that journey. Great joy and great peace shall be yours in this season if you will walk with Me, says the Lord.

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When I Said Author Unknown
When I said to the Lord "I am so short of where you want me to be."
He gently answered "That's okay. That's all the farther you and I can walk together."
When I said to the Lord "I don't know who I am."
He gently answered "That's okay. I know who you are."
When I said to the Lord "I am so tired of fighting."
He gently answered "That's okay. Satan is down for the count."
When I said to the Lord "My actions aren't reflecting my heart."
He gently answered "That's okay. Mine did."
When I said to the Lord "My mind is corrupted."
He gently answered "That's okay. Use mine for awhile."
When I said to the Lord "I don't know how to love."
He gently answered "That's okay. I will give you free lessons."

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NOT WHAT I WILL by Barbara Philbrook
Not what I will or what others desire,
Tis to Your Will Father that I aspire.
Not what I'd like or wish could be;
Instead what You desire for and from me.
Not as I hope or dream in my sleep,
nor any family tradition I used to keep.
Nothing inherited from generations past,
no earthly possession that can't last.
Not what I imagine will eventually be;
only Dear Father what You want for me.
Not what I will while this life I live,
only what You Dear Father desire to give!


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You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

The LORD has heard my supplication; the LORD accepts my prayer. Psalm 6:9

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Proverbs 13:10

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Luke 6:37

If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when our enemies attacked us, then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us. Psalm 124:2-3

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

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Jesus Paid It All For Us by Max Lucado, from Grace Happens Here
Back in our elementary school days, my brother received a BB gun for Christmas. We immediately set up a firing range in the backyard and spent the afternoon shooting at an archery target. Growing bored with the ease of hitting the circle, my brother sent me to fetch a hand mirror. He placed the gun backward on his shoulder, spotted the archery bull’s-eye in the mirror, and did his best Buffalo Bill imitation.
But he missed the target.
He also missed the storehouse behind the target and the fence behind the storehouse. We had no idea where the BB pellet flew. Our neighbor across the alley knew, however.
He soon appeared at the back fence, asking who had shot the BB gun and who was going to pay for his sliding-glass door.
At this point I disowned my brother. I changed my last name and claimed to be a holiday visitor from Canada.
My father was more noble than I. Hearing the noise, he appeared in the backyard, freshly rousted from his Christmas Day nap, and talked with the neighbor. Among his words were these:
“Yes, they are my children.”
“Yes, I’ll pay for their mistakes.”
Christ says the same about you. He knows you miss the target. He knows you can’t pay for your mistakes. But He can.
God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. - Romans 3:25


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God of all creation, we offer You our gratitude for the gift of springtime renewal in our lives. As we hear the birds sing and the anticipation of warming comfort grows, let us use this time to draw closer to You, finding Christ in all that we do. Amen

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Read Through The Bible
Esther 6
The King Honors Mordecai
1 That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, the doorkeepers who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 3 Then the king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” And the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” 4 So the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. 5 The king’s servants said to him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” 6 So Haman came in, and the king asked him, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” Now Haman thought in his heart, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” 7 And Haman answered the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, 8 let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head. 9 Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’” 10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king’s gate! Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken.” 11 So Haman took the robe and the horse, arrayed Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!” 12 Afterward Mordecai went back to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. 13 When Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him.” 14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs came, and hastened to bring Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared.

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Keep Me Calm
Keep me calm and still I pray,
throughout the storms of this rough day.
A tempest cannot stir and brew
when all my heart is filled with You.
With confidence, "This too shall pass",
confusion cannot mount and mass.
Whatsoever comes this day,
keep me calm and still I pray.
--Terri McPherson


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