Weekly Spiritual Readings

June 24, 2016



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Jesus loves you and is with you. 

Because I am a child of God, I am always loved.

The world constantly changes and will eventually fade away, but God’s love for us will outlast the world.

Regardless of what touches our lives, God has not stopped loving us. God loved us in the past, loves us in the present, and will love us eternally. Even when we have questions, we can learn to trust God’s love, mercy, and goodness.

God is at work in us, creating a masterpiece of love.

Each of us is imperfect -- and warmly welcomed by God.

Feelings may change, but God's love for us is changeless.

As we nurture spiritual growth, our faith can flourish and produce God's fruit.

God gives to us in order that we may give to others.

God draws each of us along our unique path toward wholeness.

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Holding Your Hand Author Unknown
"He will never leave you or forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5)
I read about the experience of a man who underwent open-heart surgery. He said, "The day before surgery a nurse came into my room to visit. She took hold of my hand and told me to feel it and hold it."
"Now," she said, "during the surgery tomorrow you will be disconnected from your heart and you will be kept alive only by virtue of certain machines. When your heart is finally restored and the operation is over and you are recovering, you will eventually awaken in a special recovery room.
You will be immobile for as long as six hours. You may be unable to move, or speak, or even to open your eyes, but you will be perfectly conscious. You will hear and you will know everything that is going on around you.
During those six hours, I will be at your side and I will hold your hand, exactly as I am doing now. I will stay with you until you are fully recovered. Although you may feel absolutely helpless, when you feel my hand, you will know that I will not leave you."
"It happened exactly as the nurse told me. I awoke and could do nothing. But I could feel the nurse's hand in my hand for hours. And that made all the difference!"
Jesus' favorite word for His promised presence in the Holy Spirit is "Paraclete - the One called alongside." Engrave the words of Jesus on your mind until they are such a part of you that even during the hardest times of your life, regardless of how you feel, you will know that He is with you - holding your hand - and he will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

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He Loves Me Too
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)
Each day, for about four weeks, while enjoying my first cup of morning coffee, I have been watching the constant antics of two black squirrels. It didn't matter when I happened to glance out the window, rain or shine, they were tearing up and down this huge tree, chasing each other, pausing briefly to nibble something in the grass, then racing back up the tree. It has been highly entertaining and quite engrossing, as I have mentally joined in the game, wondering if it were a "hot romance", nest building, or simply filling up their stomachs.
A few days ago, I noticed that one had disappeared. The other one sat alone on a bare branch in the drizzling rain, a motionless little black bump swaying back and forth in the icy wind.
I felt a strange sadness as I watched the furry little creature through the rain drops trickling down my picture window. As I stood there, several questions flickered through my mind. What happened to its mate? Do squirrels have emotions? If so, how is it feeling? Abandoned? Frightened? Lonely? What will it do now? And why am I feeling this strange sadness over a squirrel?
I shook my head at these silly thoughts and busied myself with the long list of jobs that were waiting for me. However, I still caught myself snatching peeks out of the window several times during the day.
For the next few days, I caught occasional glimpses of the squirrel, and once again, I wondered why its aloneness seemed to touch me in such a way. Perhaps God was whispering some new lesson in my ear. Could it be that there was someone I knew who needed a phone call, or a cheery card, or even more importantly, a visit? Loneliness is a heavy burden to bear, especially on one's own.
We sing a touching little song that says:
God sees the little sparrow fall,
It meets His tender view;
If God so loves the little birds,
I know He loves me too.
- Maria Straub, 1874
On second thought, I no longer consider my feelings toward that lonely little creature as silly, because it has brought to mind once again the immeasurable depth of the love of my wonderful God and the awesome fact that He, Who is love, loves me, too.
May I leave one question with you, my reader? Is there someone you know who might need a helping hand, a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, or even a warm hug? He loves them, too, and He may be calling you to pass along His love.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us always to be aware of the unspoken needs of others and to remember the words of today's verse that remind us that You, our loving God, are aware of the needs of the sparrows, and will always be there to whisper new messages of love into our hearts. Amen.

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8 Reasons to Celebrate by Joyce Meyer
We have so much to be thankful for in life. I’m reminded of it every time I wake up in the morning—because God truly has worked out every negative thing that has happened to me for my good. Not only that, He’s made it possible for us to work together to accomplish some incredible things!
For each of the stories of God’s transforming love that we share with you from around the globe through our magazine and TV broadcasts, there are many thousands more. Together, God is using us to share Christ and love people all over the world—and I am so thankful for that!
Back in January, I set a goal for myself to be thankful every day of the year. I’ve tried my best to do that, and in the process, I’ve realized that complaining doesn’t change a thing! But choosing a thankful attitude can help me enjoy a perfectly lousy day.
I am so encouraged by this scripture and I hope it encourages you. John 10:10 says, The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).
You see, through every storm of life, we can be strengthened by God’s love, refreshed by His Word, and fully energized to press on in our journey of faith. Instead of focusing on the negative, we can choose to remember the good things He’s doing and celebrate!
Through the years, I have made many lists to remind myself of the reasons I have to be thankful to God. And to this day, I can look at them and be encouraged. A few of my favorites include:
God’s provision
The love of my family and friends
Our partners
The privilege of teaching God’s Word
The gifts of the Holy Spirit
Being able to help people
Clean water and good food
All the beautiful things that God has created
Each time I look at these things, I am blessed all over again! I encourage you to join me in this year of thanks. Write lists of thanksgiving for the good things God has done. Not only will it cheer you up in hard times, it will strengthen your relationship with God. He is so worthy of our gratitude!
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad. —Psalm 32:11 (NIV)

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My Most Precious Possession Author Unknown
In a devotional in the Mississippi Baptist Record in May 1979, Bill Rittenhouse wrote that while on a vacation trip, he found a suitcase on the side of the road. Trying to determine who owned it, he opened the suitcase, only to find the usual items you would expect to find in a man's luggage. There was only one clue as to who the owner was: a white box with a rubber band around it had a $20 gold piece between two layers of cotton inside. Around the gold piece was a band with the words, "Twenty years loyal and faithful service" on one side. On the other was printed "Presented to Otis Sampson by Northwestern States Portland Cement Company." No city was named.
Bro. Rittenhouse mailed seventy-five letters before he received a reply from a Portland Cement Company, saying that several years before there had been a Mr. Otis Sampson in their employment, but that he had retired. They sent his address. Rittenhouse wrote Mr. Sampson to tell him that he had his suitcase. Mr. Sampson replied immediately, identifying the contents. He asked that Rittenhouse dispose of the suitcase and all contents, except the gold piece. Several times in the letter, Mr. Sampson referred to the gold piece as his "most precious possession."
So Bro. Rittenhouse returned the gold piece, and used the opportunity to tell Mr. Sampson of his most precious possession - his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He didn't hear from Mr. Sampson until a year later, when he sent a Christmas box to the Rittenhouse family. Inside the box was a smaller white box with a rubber band around it and the $20 gold piece inside. A note was enclosed, which read:
"Last Sunday my wife and I were baptized in a little church here in Colorado. We want you to have the gold piece to carry with you at all times. We are two old people; I'm 74 years old, my wife is 72. You are the first one who told us of Jesus Christ. Now He is our most precious possession."

 
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He Wants My Whole Life by Dean Register
Not too long ago [written in 1990] I knelt beside my son’s bed to pray with him. He seemed unusually pensive, especially for a Little League baseball player and an active young athlete. When I finished our prayer, he began to weep softly. He turned his head toward the wall. As most parents know, when you ask, “What’s wrong?” you often get an answer that sounds like a muffled, “Nothing.”
I probed a little deeper, and finally he said, “Well, Dad, do you remember a few weeks ago when those boys got in trouble at the church for marking all over the walls in the Royal Ambassador room?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Well, Dad, it wasn’t just them,” he sobbed. “It was me, too!”
Suddenly, I felt as if I were experiencing a holy moment. My mind swirled with thoughts of all the times I, too, had come face to face with my own wrong. As an earthly father, I had an opportunity to take my son in my arms and say: “You are forgiven. I forgive you, and I love you.”
And with tears coursing down my own cheeks, I lifted my head to my Heavenly Father and said: “Father, do you know all those things that get others in trouble? Well, it’s not just them, Lord. It’s me, too. Forgive me, Father.”


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LESSONS FROM A VIOLET
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
After returning from a long vacation, I retrieved my African violets from a friend. Three of the four plants had lovely purple flowers and deep green leaves. The fourth had soft, yellow leaves and no blooms. I was surprised, but then I recalled that I hadn’t seen blossoms on that plant for at least two years.
Patiently, I continued to water all my violets, even the fourth plant. Gradually, its leaves turned from pure yellow to a pretty shade of yellow-green, but it remained flowerless. Eventually a tiny purple flower appeared! It seemed to be hiding under the leaves — just waiting to be discovered. Then, more blooms popped up among the now-green leaves. Each day brought me joy as I checked for more flowers.
What spiritual life lessons this hardy little plant provided! God is with us, even when we least expect it. Patience, persistence, faith, and prayer will bring us blessings. How many of us have found our prayers answered after we had already given up hope! We may encounter people and situations that turn out to be just the answer to our prayers. Like the unexpected bloom, situations like these remind us that God is working in our lives. --Linda Kinde
Thought for the Day: God’s answers to prayer can transcend anything I can imagine.
Prayer: Dear God, help us to be hopeful and to trust you. May we always expect your nearness, protection, guidance, and love. Amen.

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Small Straws In A Soft Wind by Marsha Burns
You are embarking on a new journey that will seem strange and unfamiliar. You will need my wisdom in navigating the uncharted waters of your life and circumstances. Unbridled faith and trust in Me will be required at this time as you leave the past behind and launch out into newness of life, says the Lord. Draw near to Me. Psalms 73:28 But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.

Hide yourself in Me, says the Lord, when it seems as though you have no control over your circumstances. Refuse to allow your emotions to take you off course. Set yourself in a position of faith that I will give you the necessary wisdom to get you through this difficult time. I will help you, but you must quiet your soul so that you can receive spiritual direction. Isaiah 26:20 Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past.

You will overcome the obstacles that you have recently encountered. It has been a struggle, but you have fought the good fight, and victory is assured. Stay focused and keep your eyes on the prize. The destination will be worth the journey, says the Lord. Refuse to get discouraged! 1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Be strong and stay focused on things that actually matter--things of eternal value. Do not get distracted from abiding in My presence, says the Lord. Stay present with Me. Then, everything else will be taken care of as you move in the power of My Spirit. Put first things first every hour. Feed on things that have spiritual substance. Psalms 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

Live in Me! Never depart from My presence. Relationship does not consist of having a brief, one-sided conversation in prayer once a day or once a week and then going about your life in the flesh. You can say that you love Me and that you belong to Me, but the proof of that declaration is in the depth of your life in the Spirit, says the Lord. Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

I will bring light to the shadowy areas of your life--those places that you justify as not being so terrible because what you are doing in the shadows is not as bad as other people you know. The light will reveal those areas for what they are so that you can make better choices, says the Lord. Be righteous! Job 12:22 He uncovers deep things out of darkness, And brings the shadow of death to light.

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The Trumpet by Bill Burns
"Set the trumpet to your mouth!" Hosea 8:1
Let My glory be upon you so that the light will lead, guide, strengthen, and help you walk into the fullness of that which I am preparing for you. For, indeed you are living in perilous times. But, be reminded that you are a Kingdom child--achild of the light. You can walk in the glory of the light of My kingdom with the fullness of My blessings in your life. For, I am the Lord that gives. I bring the glory to bear in your life, says the Lord. Live in the glory and the light of this present hour.

My people, rise up with determination. Come fully into the kingdom that has been established for you--My kingdom, the kingdom of glory, the kingdome where you will find peace, joy, and love. Set your heart on pilgrimage. Take this journey into the fullness and the goodness of that which I have provided for you. Do not allow the enemy to dissuade you. Do not allow him to hinder you. Come! Get up from your place and come forth to receive that which I am doing in this hour, says the Lord. For, indeed I am bringing forth a glorious church in the land, and My glory shall rest upon her. My glory shall manifest in and through her. Come and rejoice, for this is the day of My power--the day of great joy, the day in which I manifest Myself not only among My people but in and through My people. Encourage yourself and come forth into the understanding that I am with you and for you. I will never leave nor forsake you. My presence will lead you forth in triumph.

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What God Has Promised By Annie Johnson Flint
God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through.
God has not promised sun without rain,
Day without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, Light for the way.
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
Undying love . . .

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Joy In Living by Rebecca
There are so many blessings,
God has given unto me.
They are such special people,
who help my heart to see,
that there is joy with every breath,
each new day we awake,
and there's no need for sorrow.
No need for hearts to ache.
They trust in God with all their hearts,
and all their mind and soul.
They show me that in doing this,
I'll reach my every goal.
Today my goal, is just to be,
exactly what God wills.
To love and live a life of joy,
forgetting all life ills.
To pass it on to every soul,
God brings into my life.
That I might be His vessel.
Dispelling all their strife.


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Colossians 3:13 – Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Psalm 121:7-8 – The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

3You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4

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)

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. (NKJV)

1 Peter 5:7 – Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (NKJV)

Isaiah 41:10 – 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. (NKJV)

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WHERE IS YOUR TREASURE? by Tom Norvell
Jesus often talked to His disciples and interested followers about the danger of becoming too attached to the physical things of the world. In the midst of increasing opposition to His teaching and the cross that loomed on the horizon, Jesus reminded His disciples of importance of maintaining their focus on what was (and is) really important (Luke 12:22-34).
He begins by explaining the futility of worrying (12:22-26). Don’t worry about your life, your food, your body, or your clothing. Birds are cared for by the Father. You are much more valuable than the birds. Worrying does not change anything, so don’t worry about these things.
In 12:27-31 He uses the flowers that grow in the fields as an example of God’s care and provision. The lilies do nothing but grow. God takes care of them. The pagan world worries about these things, you don’t need to because the Father knows what you need. So seek His Kingdom and these things will be provided.
Then, in 12:32-33 He reminds them that there is no reason to fear. What a great reminder for us in this age where fear is promoted as the natural way of life! Focus on helping the poor and not focusing on your possessions. Focus on Kingdom things, not earthly things. Kingdom things cannot be destroyed. Earthly things can be. So, examine your heart to see what’s there.
Now the question: Where is your treasure?
Worry, anxiety and fear come as a result of making our treasure the things of this world. Do worry, anxiety and fear describe you? Then, your treasure is in the wrong place. Your heart is focused on stuff.
The remedy? Get rid of some of it. Give some of it away to those who really need it. The more you have the more you want and the more you want the more you worry about hanging on to it. It is a vicious cycle. I know that sounds idealistic in our world of “give me more,” but it is God’s way that will bring us peace and calm.
What are the things that you really treasure? What is that you hold on to so tightly? What is it that occupies and preoccupies so much of your time and energy trying to protect and maintain? What are the things that you believe will give you peace and provide security? What is it that you think about when you wake up in the middle of the night? What weighs on you most heavily when just before you drift off to sleep at night? Stuff? Clothes? Food? Your physical health?
Jesus wants us to know that there is a better way. When our focus in Him and on His Kingdom all that stuff that we need He will provide. Many of us have more that we can use. Our refrigerators and pantries are over stocked. Our garages are so full we cannot park our car(s) in them. Our closets are full of clothes we never wear. Our schedules are over-booked and our minds are over-loaded. Stress, hypertension, and panic attacks are common ailments that plague us and increase or levels of stress, hypertension, and panic attacks.
When will it stop? Today would be good time. Change your focus. Exchange your treasure for new treasure. The things that matter to God. Let Him be the manager of your life. Let go of some of the control. Put Him in charge. He is already in charge, so let Him. Stop worrying and start enjoying.
Where is your treasure?


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Dear heavenly Father, thank you for guiding us through life. Thank you for your wisdom that shows us what to do when we are faced with difficult decisions. Amen.

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Read Through The Bible
Psalm 20
1 The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; 2 Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion; 3 Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice; Selah. 4 Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel. 5 We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners: the Lord fulfil all thy petitions. 6 Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand. 7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. 8 They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright. 9 Save, Lord: let the king hear us when we call.

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Lord God, thank you for gracious mercy. Help us look to you for grace and forgiveness and support one another in faith with the promise of your word.

Wherever you are in life, whatever you've done, you can begin again. If you do not have Jesus in your life and wish to ask Jesus into your life please go to this link now to do so:  http://www.bluidkiti.com/forums/showthread.php?t=130  .  
Jesus is calling you to live a life that matters.
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