Weekly Spiritual Readings

April 29, 2016



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"On my own, I don't measure up at all. But 'in Christ,' I do. So when I started meditating primarily on Jesus and His work and less on myself, something counterintuitive happened: I actually wanted to spend more time with God, and I started thinking more about God and His word, and I started living out my faith more authentically because it felt more joyous, lively, delightful, and even natural." - Jared C. Wilson

When we pray to receive our daily bread, we are asking for more than just physical nourishment. Daily bread is also spiritual, mental, and emotional strengthening. God cares about our total well-being and will nourish us daily in many ways.

When we have an experience of God’s joy, peace, assurance and loving presence that deepens our relationship, we view things through a different lens and gain a new perspective — one that brings us into closer intimacy with God.

When we focus on God, we can be more open to the transforming love of our Creator.

From scripture, we know how much God cares about our circumstances and is willing and able to help us. Even though a situation may seem hopeless — a prodigal adult child, an incurable illness, or a fear that doesn’t seem to leave us alone — we can pray, confident that God hears us.

God cares about us even more than we can imagine.

Whether we read scripture, pray, sing, or offer other spiritual gifts, Christ asks us to strengthen the faith of our brothers and sisters. When we allow God’s Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we can encourage and show others how to grow in their relationship with Christ.

God gives us gifts so that we can share them with others.

God has promised to always be present and faithful in giving us strength to find victory over the struggle.

We can relax, knowing that love doesn’t originate with us, but comes from an endless, abounding, overflowing, and incredible supply. We can draw on God’s love and let it overflow to and through us. God’s love may lead us to some surprising places and circumstances, but God will already be there. God sets an example of sacrificial love for us. Because God’s love is sacrificial, we can expect to make some sacrifice as well. We love because God first loved us.

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Ready for a Vacation from Stress? by Joyce Meyer
One of the most comforting scriptures in the Bible is Matthew 11:28. In this verse, Jesus tells us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]”
I think it’s interesting to note here that Jesus said He would “ease and relieve and refresh” our souls, not our bodies. It sounds like He’s saying we need to give our souls a vacation.
The Inner and Outer Lives
We all have two lives: an inner life and an outer life. Your inner life is your soul life, which includes your mind, will and emotions. Your outer life is your physical life. And while God cares about every detail of your life, He is more concerned with your inner life than your outer life.
I have found that it’s possible to give your body rest but not your soul. For example, have you ever had trouble going to sleep because you were worrying about a problem and couldn’t stop thinking about it? This kind of activity just wears us out inwardly. We can also wear our souls out with too many thoughts running on, too many decisions to make, too much talking, and too much multitasking. Worry, fear, excessive concern about what other people think and insecurity are also common reasons people are worn-out and don’t have any peace.
I remember when I used to be jealous of Dave and the peace he had. I was worn-out most of the time, worrying about problems but he wasn’t. Now, we had the same problems, but while they wore me out, Dave was still peaceful and happy because he would cast his cares on God. One of his favorite scriptures is 1 Peter 5:7, which says, “Cast all your anxiety on [God] because he cares for you” (NIV). And even now, anytime someone goes to Dave with a problem, he’ll encourage them to “cast your care” and give them that scripture.
It used to make me so mad when he wouldn’t get upset when I was upset, but eventually, I got to the place where I was desperate to have what he had. So I prayed and told God I would do whatever I had to do to be peaceful, and He taught me how to change my approach to life.
The Revelation That Changed My Life
I came to realize that the world is not going to change, the devil is not going to change, and all of the people who bother me probably aren’t going to change, so I have to decide to change.
In John 14:27 (AMP), Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give…to you. …Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]” So we can be peaceful and make the decision not to be troubled, afraid, agitated and disturbed, but it won’t just happen automatically.
The truth is, we won’t have peace if we don’t pursue it on purpose, because there will always be opportunities to get upset or offended about something. For example, you lose your car keys when you’re running late, or you get caught in a traffic jam, or someone at work gets the promotion you wanted, or the electric bill is higher than you expected it to be…and on and on. There can be an endless cycle of stuff that happens that we can get upset about.
We also have to remember that we have an enemy who wants to keep us worn-out. The devil is a peace stealer and he works hard to set us up to get upset. But we can learn how to change our approach so we don’t live upset all of the time. And Jesus gives us the best example to follow.
The Key to Living in Peace
Jesus didn’t conform to the world—He walked in the Spirit. When He felt tired and pressured from the crowds who wanted Him to help them, He took time to walk away and get rest. He spent time in prayer, alone with the Father, because He knew He wouldn’t be any good to anybody if He didn’t get refreshed.
It’s so easy to let other people’s needs and emergencies control and manipulate us. And when we let others run our lives, we can get to the point that we’re falling apart! It’s not wrong to want to help or please people, but we need to take care of ourselves, calm down and stop getting upset about things that usually don’t really matter anyway.
Make the decision today to commit your ways to the Lord and rest in Him. Cast your cares on Him, knowing He loves and cares about you all the time, in every situation of your life. He’ll meet you where you are and ease, relieve and refresh your soul!

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Where to take your worries and cares by Senior Living Ministries
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:6-7
In the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee their home during the Thirty Years War. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down crying. Then, Gerhardt too went out in the garden and wept himself.
At that time, he felt the Lord’s presence anew. Taking his pen, he wrote the famous hymn, “Give to the Winds Thy Fears” that has since given comfort to many. The hymn begins,
Give to the winds thy fears,
Hope and be undismayed.
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears,
God shall lift up thy head.
Through waves and clouds and storms,
He gently clears thy way;
Wait thou His time; so shall this night
Soon end in joyous day.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htCkTwCAJ_Y
That night, Gerhardt was impressed with a real and living truth: God often makes His presence known most clearly in our darkest hours. He uses our pain and our sorrow to show us that He is our only source of strength.
Perhaps today, you’re facing a trial of loneliness or pain—a trial that maybe you think is hopeless. But put yourself in God’s hands, wait for His timing, and trust that at the end of your night will come a joyous day!
Prayer Challenge: Pray and tell God your worries, fears, and cares. Entrust them to Him and wait for His perfect plan to unfold.
Questions for Thought: What worries and cares are heavy on your heart today? What would it look like to give those worries and cares to God and trust in His plan for you?

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Be Your Authentic Self by Katherine Walden
God loves the authentic you – honestly, He does. Not only does He love you, He actually likes you and enjoys being around you. He created you; He delights in you. He looks at you every day and says, “That’s my kid, isn’t he or she grand?”
Most of the people who matter the most to you like the authentic you as well. Stop trying to impress them by being something or someone you aren’t. You wouldn’t be you if you were just like _____ (fill in the blank.) Your gifts are your own; your talents are your own. Their gifts and talents are their own. You are not less than someone just because they excel at something, and you don’t excel at the same thing.
There are plenty of toys for everyone to play with. God notices you, He’s aware of you, He sees you. The greatest confirmation of that attentive love was demonstrated on the cross. Celebrate that you are a cherished child of God.
While it is healthy and wise to set goals for yourself and to look ahead to your future, live an authentic life right where you are at today. If you feel God is leading you toward a ministry where you will reach thousands with His love, then show that love in the sphere of influence you have access to today. If you feel called to the poor in Africa, serve the poor in your hometown until the day comes that God releases you to go to Africa, but do so from a place of authenticity and humility, go as a servant of Christ and as His faithful pupil. Always keep in mind the truth that Paul discovered through His Damascus experience. It was never all about him proving to the world that he was deserving of God’s favor, it was always all about God loving him despite his imperfections and Paul loving others from that foundational truth.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 – 1 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

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The Cure by Lynne Phipps
Matthew 19:26 – Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (NIV)
My mare, Mama had a crippled front leg when I bought her. How it happened, I don't know. For many years, she wore a leg brace, which was helpful in keeping her comfortable and mobile. One morning, however, we looked out to the corral and saw that she was limping badly. The limp quickly grew worse, and then came the morning when she was on three legs.
The time had come. A horse can't get around on three legs. We had the grave dug. I notified the vet to let her know, and asked if there was anything else that we could possibly do to avoid the inevitable.
An e-mail response arrived back, outlining the possibility of some hope. I was to stop by the clinic and pick up a prescription for a drug which would either work or not work in her situation. Mama was to receive five injections over a four-to-five-month period.
The first injection was administered. Mama began to improve slowly. A month later, the second injection was shot home, and then, the incredible happened. Within days, Mama was running and rolling and chasing about the corral. The whole family was stunned. How could this be? In the seven years that we had had her, never had we seen the likes of what was happening in front of us: amazing — totally amazing!
This transformation brought to my mind how Peter, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, commanded a man crippled from birth to walk:
Acts 3:7-8 – Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. (NIV)
How amazing, totally amazing! Both cures came from God. In each case, God worked through man to bring about the cure. In Mama's case, it was God-given medical wisdom that brought about the discovery of a helpful drug. In the beggar's case, it was the Holy Spirit's healing power coursing through a disciple of Jesus.
Both of these cases seemed hopeless, and yet they were not. God brought about a cure in His own way and in His own time.
Sometimes, I feel hopeless, too, about things which need healing in my life, things which I have no control over. Perhaps you go through similar periods. Yet with God, the Scriptures tell us that all things are possible and that God is not a liar. Therefore, we are never without hope. We may not know how God will change our situation or when or where or why. But as we continue to place our faith in Him, even amidst our hopelessness, we can definitely trust and know that only good things will be the ultimate outcome — a healing power within itself.
Jeremiah 29:11 – "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." (NIV)
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your healing power. Bless each of us today in whatever way we need it the most. And though we believe, Lord, help us in our unbelief, that our faith might be increased and refreshed, blessing us with the light and joy of hope renewed. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.

 
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Tomorrow: Trust is the Antidote for Frustration by Patrick Morley
Matthew 6:34 Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. — Matthew 6:34
On peaceful days I feel in absolute accord with the will of Christ. Other times, when a sense of frustration sweeps over me, I am anxious about where Christ is taking my life. The difference always boils down to trust, and trust always swirls in the realm of the future.
Are you frustrated about your future? Do you doubt that God’s plan is the best plan? I have never doubted that God’s plan is the best plan for my life, but I don’t always like it. Sometimes a rebellion rises up within me, and I want a break from God’s plan — to see things take a different direction.
Do you ever get frustrated because you would like to lead a more important life, a more exciting life, a more rewarding life? These desires are the embers of ambition. God can initiate our ambitions, or we can do it on our own. If you are frustrated, if worry over your plans consumes your thoughts, your ambitions are your own. Yield them to Christ.
Making plans from self-initiated ambition leads to rebellion against the will of God. When once we start a rebellion against the will of God, frustration and worry over tomorrow mark our present. Christ says simply, “Do not worry about tomorrow.”
Trust is the antidote for frustration.
I Surrender: Lord Jesus, I have been frustrated about my future, nervous about my life. I confess that I have not trusted tomorrow to You, but I have been seeking to orchestrate my own future. Help me to be content with my life and to take no thought for the morrow. I will trust You. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you worried about tomorrow? Your future? Your retirement, job security, health, family, the safety of your children, your home, community, safety? Is it making you happier to bear all of that frustration and worry? Healthier? More peaceful?


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Kodak Moment
A little boy walked to and from school daily. Though the weather that morning was questionable and clouds were forming, he made his daily trek to the elementary school. As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped up, along with thunder and lightning. The mother of the little boy felt concerned that her son would be frightened as he walked home from school and she herself feared that the electrical storm might harm her child. Following the roar of thunder, lightning would cut through the sky like a flaming sword. Full of concern, the mother quickly got into her car and drove along the route to her child's school. As she did so, she saw her little boy walking along, but at each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up and smile. Another and another were to follow quickly and with each flash the little boy would look at the streak of light and smile. When the mother's car drew up beside the child, she lowered the window and called to him, "What are you doing? Why do you keep stopping?" The child answered, "I am trying to look nice. God keeps taking my picture." May God bless you today as you face the storms that come your way. And don't forget to SMILE!

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Don't Give them Vinegar Author Unknown
The preacher placed two identical jars on the table next to the pulpit.
He quoted 1 Samuel 16:7 'The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
"These jars came from the same factory, were made of the same materials, and can hold the same amount. But they are different," he explained. Then he upset one and it oozed out honey. He turned over the other, and vinegar spilled out.
"When a jar is upset, whatever is in it comes out. Until the jars were upset, they looked alike. The difference was within, and could not be seen. When they were upset, their contents were revealed. Until we are upset we put on a good front. But when we are upset, we reveal our innermost thoughts and attitudes, for 'out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.'" (Luke 6:45)
What if someone tipped you over today??
What would flow out??
Would you reveal the "honey" of grace and patience, or the "vinegar" of anger and sarcasm?
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (1Peter 4:8)
Have a terrific day knowing that the one who upsets you may be just looking for some honey - Don't give them vinegar

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Small Straws In A Soft Wind by Marsha Burns
Take time to review all of the changes that have occurred in the past year. In doing this, you will be able to see more clearly the texture of the future. You won't know the details, but you will be able to see a trend, says the Lord. Be assured that I am leading you. Psalms 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.

Be on high alert when things seem to be difficult or falling apart. The enemy of your soul will try to blind-side you to get you off track and to cause you to question what you thought you knew. Go back to the fundamentals of what you believe about your situation and why. You will have to regroup and make sure you are still on the right track, says the Lord. 2 Timothy 3:14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them.

Hunker down and get serious about serving Me, says the Lord. The days of complacency must come to an end before you can forge ahead in newness of life. Life in the Spirit will be more rewarding than you ever imagined, but you must make the decision and put forth the effort necessary to achieve this position. Deuteronomy 4:29 "But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul."

I will show you ways to get in order so that you will be more efficient and effective in all that you have been given to do. Simplicity is the order of the day. Be open and sensitive to My leading in this regard. I would have you be unencumbered to the extent that you can focus more fully on spiritual matters and spend more time with Me, says the Lord. I am calling you to come and dine. Revelation 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."

Position yourself in a place of peace, and completely let go of the fears that you have secretly nurtured. Fear is neither productive nor will it yield positive results. Calm down. Get your thoughts under control, and put your trust in Me, for I will bring you through this time, says the Lord. Let Me lead you out.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

You are about to move out of the doldrums, but you may need to adjust your mindset and make corrections to your attitude in order to make the best of your circumstances. Open your mind and heart to new things even when you are afraid of being vulnerable. Put your trust in Me to protect you from real danger, says the Lord. John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

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The Trumpet by Bill Burns
"Set the trumpet to your mouth!" Hosea 8:1
My desire is that My people really do, in this time frame, listen and pay attention to that which I’m doing. Because those that do not will miss out on the glory of the season, and they will be extremely disappointed after the fact. So, it will behoove you to pay attention. Let your faith be attached to what I am doing, says the Lord, and you will be okay.

You will now find yourself in “defining moments”. This time of transition will define your journey and establish your path into the future. You will soon realize that you are on the path of no return. New developments will come quickly, and will create a spiritual rippling effect throughout your life. World conditions will be upset, and things will never be the same. These days will be like the days when Israel came out of Egypt and entered the land of promise.

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The Showers of Your Love
When I’m not feeling well,
And tired, I can get so down,
Down with others,
Down with myself,
Down with everything,
My spirit withers within me.
I become like a flower in a dry land,
Desperate for rain,
Just wishing to feel better,
So I can enjoy my life again.
Lord, make haste to help me,
Send the showers of your love upon me,
So that like flowers refreshed in rain,
I can lift up my drooping head,
And rejoice in you instead.
Amen

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Lead Me Through The Night by Don Moen
Lord You are
My refuge and my shelter
In Your presence I will hide
I Will wait for the God of my salvation
He will hear me when I cry
Though I fall
I will rise
High above the storm
Like an eagle I will fly
In the dark
You are my light
Bright and morning star
Come and lead me through the night
O lead me through the night
Lord You are my help in times of trouble
When others leave You will abide (yes, You will)
You're a friend that's closer than a brother
You will never leave my side
Lead me through the night

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“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

This is love: not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. - 1 John 4:10

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

"...let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." Matthew 5:16

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. Psalm 34:19

The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him. Psalm 37:39-40

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:25

Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. Psalm 143:8

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Are Your Lights On? By Pat Young
I know most of us or perhaps all of us at one time in our lives have experienced the lights going out, whether in our homes, or in a place of business, school or church. Some of you may have experienced having your lights turned off because you forgot to pay your light bill, or just could not afford to pay the bill on time. I have experienced my lights going out several times through circumstances I had no control over. Usually a storm or an accident in the neighborhood causes it. Then "out go the lights."
Well, we know when the lights are out we are in darkness. We cannot see a thing. If we are not familiar with the surroundings, we are not able to even feel our way around to get to flash lights, candles, matches, or whatever we need. So it's a bad situation to be in -- DARKNESS.
Now, when things are functioning properly, we go home, turn on the light switch and we have light. We see everything. Sometimes things we don't want to see! Furniture needs dusting, floors need cleaning, and the list goes on. But it is still good to have light.
Before we gave our lives to Christ we were lost in darkness. Someone had to come along with his or her light shining bright, and tell us how to come out of darkness and into Christ's marvelous light.
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12).
Jesus paid the price for all of us in full. He died on the cross and rose again. When we accept Christ in our lives our lights never have to go out. No matter what circumstances come our way, we never have to worry about paying our bill on time. It's been paid in full forever.
Without lights you're walking around in darkness, trying to make it, or trying to find your way. But you need the light of Christ. No one living in darkness will ever find their way without it. Like the saying "there's a light at the end of the tunnel", Jesus is that light at the end of everyone's tunnel.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8).
No matter what problems arise, we can still let our lights shine. When people treat you bad -- let your light shine. When sickness comes upon you -- let your light shine. If money runs out -- let your light shine. We choose daily whom we will serve. Let us choose to serve Christ and let our lights shine BRIGHT!


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Lord, thank you for the generous gifts of your love given without conditions, a love that does not count the cost. To all who open their hearts to you you never refuse the gift of your love. May our hearts rejoice in thanking you for the abundant goodness you share with us, for the love you give to all. Amen

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Read Through The Bible
Psalm 12
1 Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. 2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. 3 The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: 4 Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us? 5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him. 6 The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. 8 The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.

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Lord, you wished to comfort those heavy and overburdened with cares, so they could find rest for their souls. Comfort me now, to lighten my cares, help me to feel precious in your sight. Lord, come close to me, touch me. Amen.


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