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LIVING IN HARMONY


by Neil Anderson

September 1

Romans 8:38, 39
I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord

When I was born physically I had a father. As Marvin Anderson’s son, is there anything that I could possibly do which would change my blood relationship to him? What if I ran away from home and changed my name? Would I still be his son? Of course! We’re related by blood and nothing can change that. But is there anything I could do which would affect the harmony of our relationship as father and son? Yes, indeed! The harmony of our relationship was interrupted countless times by my behavior.

In the spiritual realm, when I was born again I became a member of God’s family. God is my Father and I enjoy an eternal relationship with Him through the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18, 19). I am a child of God, in spiritual union with Him by His grace which I received through faith. My relationship with God was forever settled when I was born into His family. But is there anything I can do which will interfere with the harmony of my relationship with God? Absolutely. Living in harmony with God is based on the same issue as harmony with my earthly father: obedience. When I don’t obey God, the harmony of our relationship is disturbed and my life is usually miserable as a result. I love my heavenly Father and I want to be in harmony with Him so I strive to obey Him. But even when we are in disharmony because of my disobedience, my relationship with Him is not at stake because we are related by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Paul was convinced that nothing could separate him from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39). Jesus said, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27, 28 NIV ). Focus on your obedience to God so you may live in harmony with Him.

Prayer: Thank You, heavenly Father, for the eternal relationship I enjoy with You because of the precious blood of Jesus. Teach me to obey that I may live in harmony with You.

Ps 30 Wailing 2 Dancing TL


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Sorrow Into Joy

Ps 30 Wailing 2 Dancing TL

A devotion from Cheryl Zelenka’s soon to be released book of devotions FACING STORMS. Available on Amazon this October.

“No one will calmly and quietly submit to bear the cross except those who have learned to seek their happiness beyond this world.” John Calvin

“For His anger is but for a moment, 
His favor is for life; 
Weeping may endure for a night, 
but joy comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5 (NKJV)

“You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; 
are they not in Your book?”  Psalm 56:8 (NKJV)

“Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.” You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing Your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise You forever.”  Psalm 30:10-13 (NIV)

Have you ever heard somebody say, “You’ve got to praise Him in the storm?”  This concept might seem insensitive or even ridiculous to you, especially if eating, speaking, and even waking up requires a monumental effort. The idea of lifting your voice in praise during your dark moment may even be offensive, especially if you can barely manage to get out of bed or utter a few words over your morning coffee. But let me ask you this one question: Does God deserve our accolades and appreciation in good times AND bad?

After my brother died(Over 25 years ago), I had many disturbing dreams.  None of them were comforting. I longed to hug him one last time and hear an assurance that he was okay. I desperately wanted to say goodbye and enjoy one last conversation, even if it were only in a dream. This never happened. My grief was devastating and at the age of twenty-five my grief left me shattered and broken.

My sorrow drove me out into a black and very deep sea of depression. One moment I was drowning in despair and the next moment I was tossed to the beach. On dry land I had but a few seconds to catch my breath before high tide pulled me back into my living grave. Hopeless and exhausted, my tears would then mix with the seawater. It seemed as though this endless cycle would never end. 

How then do we recover from depression and despair? It is only by crying out to God and accepting His helping hand that we are able to overcome our greatest sorrows. When we finally choose to lay down our wills and surrender our complaints, trusting in His goodness, we permit Him to mold and work us into the image of His son. Through yielding to His sovereignty and by declaring His right to work within us, without the slightest need for understanding, we enter into an even deeper and more intimate walk. 

As we forgo our urge to wrestle with past events and their painful effects, we experience the rolling back of suffering. In its stead, we find ourselves within the supernatural peace that transcends all understanding. Through our submission to His will, and by acknowledging His ways to be so much higher than our own, our tragedy becomes bearable. He had a plan, and it included the circumstances of our heartache even before He knit us together.  At all times, our need for understanding must side step when faith wants to take the lead. 

Turning our wailing and sorrows into joy and dancing will happen with the passing of seasons. By allowing some time to pass, we will eventually look behind us and thank God for the precious moments, days, and years we had with the special someone we so dearly loved, or the life we were so content to play out. Faith helps us to accept and find comfort in knowing that “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  (Ro. 8:28). 

Loss, be it the death of a loved one, deteriorating health, lost dreams, or some kind of divine interruption ….. Will usually include a measure of pain.  Your positive attitude, perspective change, and faith are what will turn your wailing into praise and joyful dancing. The Lord equips you to sing songs of joy in good times and bad times. On some days you may have to look a little harder for the blessings in your life but they are always present.

God rescues His children from pits filled with vipers, caves, cisterns, and sinking ships rocked by hurricanes. Sorrow is only for a moment and joy WILL come! Since we are called to praise Him at ALL times, even when our hearts are breaking, a hushed and barely audible “thank you” is considered a glorious sacrifice of praise….  A very pleasing one indeed.

May the grace of our God be with you always. As He has turned my wailings into dancing, I humbly ask that you too find yourself in the same place I am now resting….in joyful wonder and awe of His miraculous healing power and love. 

TAKE SOME TIME TO CONTEMPLATE THE FOLLOWING WORDS 

“Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.”  John 16:20 (NKJV)

“Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old, together; for I will turn their mourning to joy, 
will comfort them, 
and make them rejoice rather than sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:13 (NKJV) 

“We can experience joy in adverse circumstances by holding God’s benefits in such esteem that the recognition of them and meditation upon them shall overcome all sorrow.”  ~John Calvin


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ONE BASIS FOR TEMPTATION


by Neil Anderson

August 31

Titus 3:14
Let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful
.

We all have basic human needs to feel loved, accepted and worthwhile. When these needs go unmet, it’s very important that we express them to our family members and fellow Christians in a positive way and allow others to minister to those needs. I believe that one basis for temptation is unmet legitimate needs. When you are too proud to say, “I don’t feel loved.” or when you push others away by saying, “You don’t love me anymore,” your need for love goes unmet. So Satan comes along with a tempting alternative: “Your wife doesn’t love you like you deserve. But have you noticed the affectionate gleam in your secretary’s eye?”

Other than Himself, God’s primary resource for meeting your needs and keeping you pure is other believers. The problem is that many go to Sunday school, church and Bible study wearing a sanctimonious mask. Wanting to appear strong and together, they rob themselves of the opportunity of having their needs met in the warmth and safety of the Christian community. In the process, they rob the community of the opportunity to minister to their needs. By denying the fellowship of believers the privilege of meeting your legitimate needs, you are acting independently of God. You are vulnerable to the temptation of thinking that you can have your needs met in the world, the flesh and the devil.

Instead, follow the guidance of Hebrews 10:24, 25: “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”

Prayer: Lord, grant me the humility to confess my needs and hurts to my Christian family in order to allow You to meet my needs in Your way.


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Revealed: Letting the cat out of the bag

Just reading a book by John Bevere called EXTRAORDINARY. It has certainly been a journey and an eye-opening one at that.

In His book John maintains that we as humans have three images our “projected’ image, our “perceived” image and of course our “actual” image.

Must admit I took a bit of a gulp when I read that because his words hit their mark with me straight away. – I would just like to share some of the things he wrote and my own thoughts on this vital message of how God really ‘sees’ us.

John goes on further to say that your ‘perceived’ image is how others see you – your ‘projected’ image is how you desire others to see and your ‘actual’ image is who you really are.

This really got me thinking – how often do we live in a world of ‘projected’ images – living to please others – going to and behaving in a manner that suits the occasion – like going to church and putting on your ‘spiritual’ face, talking in the ‘spiritual’ way with all the ‘spiritual’ cliche’s.

If you were raised in Sunday School like I was – you know all the ‘right’ things to say to rise to almost any situation you are put into when it comes to holding your own in a ‘religious’ sort of way. You can carry on a discussion in a Bible study or lead a group, pray in church and do copious amounts of Bible reading with the best of them. BUT…

Where does that actually leave you in the “actual image’ department?

Take Jesus for example (and you couldn’t get a better one) – His ‘perceived’ image was atrocious – He was slandered, mocked, abused, labelled as a blasphemer and even accused of being demon possessed. He had hardly any friends and those who were, abandoned him quick enough. BUT His ‘actual’ image was altogether different.

In Hebrews we are told that He is the express image of the Father. So while humans saw their ‘perceived’ image of Jesus – God saw His “actual” image. And the “actual” image of us – it what God sees too!

Our “perceived” image does not mean a thing to God – we can look as good as we can and go to all the right places. We can meet all the right people and say all the right things but God sees who we really are.

Jesus was the same with the people He met on a daily basis as He was the Father – can we say that??? Would God be welcome to share every thought we have and every conversation?

Maybe you can see now why I took that BIG gulp after reading just a few pages of John’s book.

Jesus didn’t try to boost his reputation – he didn’t try to get the accolades and win applause by the crowds – he actually hid himself away on many occasions. He wasn’t interested in the approval of mankind.

Jesus only cared about what was important to the Father God – and we should imitate Jesus in that way.


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A Friend full of Promises

A Friend full of promises

 
 

We still sing the old hymns at our church.  We like them.  We like many of the newer Christian songs as well and sing them too.  But we still sing Great is Thy Faithfulness, There is Power in the Blood, Blessed Assurance, Amazing Grace…we love them all.  But not long ago we sang Standing on the Promises.

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.
 
Refrain
Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.
 
Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.
 
Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.
 
Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.
 
Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.
 
I love that song!  And I love the promises of God…the ones I know.  But how many do I know?  I really started to think about it while going through a small trial.  I’ve been studying, with the ladies of my church, how to pray scripture and stay grounded in His Word during my communion with my Father.   When you are attempting to pray God’s Words back to Him, you really find out how deep, vast and wide the love of God is.  You see His mercy and immutability in a new light.  You discover just what honors and glorifies Him.  And, you understand more confidently just exactly what His promises toward you really are!
 
While praying through this trial, miraculously :), the chapter we were studying was about Praying in the Name of Jesus and what that really means (that needs a separate post).  The author directed us to John 15:15 which says,
 
I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
 
So, those who are His are given the privilege of prayer and knowing, among many things, the promises of God!  We have the means for understanding and knowing all that God has given and will give to us. He comforts us through the presence of the Holy Spirit and through the promises laid out for us in His Word.  We get a new camera, smart phone, or gadget and we intently read that instruction book so that we can know all the things that new gadget can do and all it can offer us to make our lives, not only easier, but more fulfilling.  How much more should we earnestly seek out God’s Word, search for wisdom as silver, discover His promises, and feast on his love, mercy and riches?
 
 
 
I love that He is showing me His promises as I am learning to pray His Word back to Him!  I don’t have to remind God what His promises to me are, but they sure are comforting in my little finite mind as I tell Him, “Lord, your Word says you will never leave me nor forsake me!  And nothing…NOTHING…not height or depth or anything else in all creation will be able to separate me from your love through Christ Jesus!”  
 
So, I am on a quest to discover all His promises as I find I need them more than food or air!  Next up on the blog:  The IF/THEN’s of scripture!!  Stay tuned! :) 
 
“You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Psalm 16:11


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TORONTO CANCELS JESUS PARADE

Originally posted on VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED:

Though other parades and protests have been permittted the City of Toronto is saying a parade celebrating Jesus can’t proceed because of construction. Will media coverage change their mind?

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EXPRESSING YOUR NEEDS


by Neil Anderson

August 30

Proverbs 15:1
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger

If you have legitimate needs in a relationship, and they are not being met, should you risk expressing your needs? Yes, but express them in such a way that you don’t impugn the other person’s character or act as his conscience. For example, you may feel unloved in a relationship and say, “You don’t love me any more.” Or you feel that your spouse doesn’t value you and say, “You make me feel worthless.” Or you feel a distance developing between you and your friend and say, “You never write or call.” You have expressed your need, but you have played the role of the conscience in that person. You are usurping the role of the Holy Spirit. And by pushing off your need as his problem, he will probably respond by getting defensive, further straining the relationship.

What if you expressed your needs this way: “I don’t feel loved any more”; “I feel like a worthless, unimportant person”; “I miss it when we don’t communicate regularly”? By changing the “you” accusation to an “I” message, you express your need without blaming anyone. Your nonjudgmental approach allows God to deal with the person’s conscience. The other person is free to respond to your need instead of defend himself against your attack.

When we assume the responsibility of another person’s conscience, we misdirect that person’s battle with God to ourselves, and we are insufficient for the task. We are under the commandment of God to love one another. So when a legitimate need is made known, trust God to bring the conviction that will move that person to meet the need.

Prayer: Lord, enable me to express my needs and seek Your supply without judging or criticizing others.