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God’s love in times of darkness

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 12.04.2014 09:35

12 April, 2014
Today's Free Devotional from Ellel Ministries International
God’s love in times of darkness

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and staff, they comfort me.”


As a small community we have just been through a traumatic time. One of our local farming families lost a mother in tragic circumstances. She was driving her quad-bike on one of the narrow country roads and met head-on a land rover coming in the opposite direction on a blind summit. She was killed outright. She was only 43 years old. It is a real tragedy for her husband and three teenage children, and has sent shock-waves throughout the community.

Her husband is a strong believer, his brother is a pastor who was to take the service, and together they decided to make her funeral an opportunity to give a really powerful message of God’s love and protection, knowing that there would probably be many people there with little or no faith. The chapel, which seats around 650 people was filled to the brim, with people standing down both sides and in the porch, probably around 900 were there – an amazing turn-out for a community of approximately 3,000 – and what they heard was a wonderful message based on the 23rd Psalm, for Susan* was a farmer in her own right. We sang the song: “Blessed be the name of the Lord” which contains the words:
"You give and take away, You give and take away,
My heart will choose to say: Lord, blessed be Your name."

It is so easy in times of darkness to get angry with God: why didn’t He stop the accident; why did this thing happen to me? It is easy for our faith to waver at these times, and we need to be like the snowdrops which have planted themselves so deeply along the riverbank, that even when the river floods and they are covered by fast-flowing water, they stand firm. The message that came across loud and clear was the same as the one we get from David in his shepherd’s psalm: God is there in the darkness, sustaining and supporting, and ready to comfort the ones in distress. It is right to grieve, and we may go through days of pain and distress, but God truly is there and will never leave us nor forsake us.

Prayer for those in distress: Heavenly loving Father, I don’t understand what has happened nor why it had to happen, but I reach out to You today, trusting that You know what is best, and that You will sustain me through the dark days ahead. Please help me to be aware of Your loving presence in my loneliness and sadness. Thank You, Father. Amen.

*not her real name

As a postscript to this, today I met someone who was at the funeral who is now considering coming to church because she was so touched by the strong faith of the family!

Today's Writer : Angela Weir
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Viestit: 3288
Liittynyt: 24.11.2013 21:34

The Dawn is Coming

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 13.04.2014 11:02

13 April, 2014
Today's Free Devotional from Ellel Ministries International
The Dawn is Coming

"There will be special favour for those who are ready and waiting for his return."
Luke12:37, NLT

I woke up early the other morning to discover that it was still dark, assumed it was still the middle of the night and thought I could enjoy another few hours of sleep. As I lay trying to drift off to sleep again I was conscious that I could hear bird song coming in through a nearby window. As I lay there pondering why the birds should be singing in the middle of the night, I took a glance at the bedside clock, only to discover it was, in fact, early morning. The birds knew something I was unaware of - that dawn was on its way. Of course the birds were right, and within twenty minutes or so it was beginning to get light.

What a lesson and challenge to us, the Church, as we look forward to the return of Jesus! The birds were preparing for a new day, and announcing to the world that the dawn was coming. How about us? Are we that confident and assured that when Jesus said ‘I will come again’ it’s true, and it really will happen (John14:3)? Are we prepared, and courageous enough, to tell others to be ready for that time?

Our headlines are regularly filled with the unrest and uncertainty in global political, financial, social, geographical, and climatic spheres. As we compare all this with what the bible says concerning events prior to the Lord’s return, we realise we need to give careful attention to the signs of the times. To those who are discerning these signs would indicate that the Lord’s return is not too far away. The expectation we should have is expressed in the words of an old hymn by Henry Burton:

‘There’s a light upon the mountains,
And the day is at the spring,
When ours eyes shall see the beauty
And the glory of the King:
Weary was our heart with waiting,
And the night watch seemed so long,
But his triumph day is breaking
And we hail it with a song’.


The second verse starts with:

‘In the fading of the starlight
We may see the coming morn;
And the lights of men are paling
In the splendours of the dawn’.


And a later verse reads:


‘He is breaking down the barriers,
He is casting up the way;
He is calling for His angels
To build up the gates of day:
But His angels here are human,
Not the shining hosts above;
For the drum beats of His army
Are the heartbeats of our love’.

So let’s take a fresh look at what Paul says to the Church in Thessalonica concerning these things: ‘But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. For you are all children of the light and of the day: we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like others. Stay alert and be sober’ (1 Thessalonians 5:4-7).

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help us to interpret the signs of the times correctly in line with Your word. Help us to be ready for Your return, and help us to encourage others to be ready for it. Amen.

Today's Writer : Malcolm Wood
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Annukka
 
Viestit: 3288
Liittynyt: 24.11.2013 21:34

Fingerprints

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 14.04.2014 09:32

14 April, 2014
Today's Free Devotional from Ellel Ministries International
Fingerprints

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother‘s womb. I praise you, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
Psalm 139:13-14, NIV

I was listening to a news programme on the radio recently when there was a report on the way the police can detect and use fingerprints that are left at a crime scene. Each person’s fingerprints are different, making it possible for the police to identify whoever was present at a crime. That has been possible for a long time, but the report was highlighting recent developments that have made it possible not only to trace the fingerprints to individuals, but also to discover more about the person and what he or she may have been doing prior to the crime. For instance, from the fingerprints they can now detect the person’s gender, what they had been eating or drinking, and whether they had been using illegal drugs or handling explosives.

As I was pondering on this, I was impacted afresh by the amazing way that God has made each one of us to be unique. This is evidenced physically by the individuality of each person’s fingerprints. However, this is perhaps just an outward sign of how uniquely God has made us on the inside. We are created by Him with a spirit and soul containing our individual identity and personality. No two people are the same! You are unique!

If it is true from this news report that our fingerprints can reveal something of our lifestyle, it is also true that our spirit and soul can bear the effects of harmful experiences in our lives. For instance, if we have been involved in occult practices, our spirit may well have been defiled by those things and be carrying the effect long afterwards. If we have been controlled or dominated by others, we may have a residue of fear or shyness in our inner being. Any wounding that we have experienced in our lives can affect us on the inside.

However, just as God knows the unique identity that He has given each one of us, so too He knows all the ways that we have been affected by wounding throughout our lives and by the wrong choices that we have made. All of these will have left their mark on us, just as a person’s fingerprints can bear evidence of harmful things that have been touched. However, the good news is that God wants to cleanse and heal us of all past issues, if we are willing to cooperate with Him, and He wants to restore us into the unique identity that He has given each one of us.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that I am unique. Thank you that You know everything that has happened in my life and the effect that these things have had on me. Please help me to come into more of the healing that You have for me, so that I can live more fully in the unique identity you have given me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today's Writer : Jilly Lyon Taylor
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Annukka
 
Viestit: 3288
Liittynyt: 24.11.2013 21:34

Seeing Him Who is Invisible

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 14.04.2014 19:20

Seeing Him Who is Invisible

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Let me tell you how to experience God: Get your heart pure, and you will see God with the eyes of faith.

You see, Jesus is not talking about your physical body. You get your spiritual heart right and your spiritual eyes will see.

Hebrews 11:27 says that Moses “endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” You get your heart right and you’ll see the invisible God…

...in circumstances

...in nature

...in the face of your spouse, your child, your grandchild.

You’ll see Him in the Scriptures. God will become a bright, living reality to you.

ACTION POINT:
Put on the eyes of faith today and find God creating and sustaining life. Maybe there is a garden newly abloom with spring flowers. Do you see the hand of God?

View or Share online | Discover Jesus | LWF.org | Today's Message

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AR_headshot.jpgDevotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
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Annukka
 
Viestit: 3288
Liittynyt: 24.11.2013 21:34

Foundations

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 15.04.2014 10:03

15 April, 2014
Today's Free Devotional from Ellel Ministries International
Foundations

"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock."
Matthew 7:24-25, NIV

I had an interesting conversation with a good friend recently. She was telling me about a very tall block of flats they were working on close to where she lives, and how deep the foundations of this building actually were. This got me thinking and I decided to do a bit of research.

The world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, opened in Dubai in January 2010. This building stands at 828 meters high and is twice the height of the renowned Empire State building. It captured several world records, e.g. the tallest man-made structure, the building with the most floors (160+), and fastest elevators (10 metres per second). But although most of the focus is on the height of this lofty structure, the more important fact to consider is what lies beneath this impressive building. The foundation of this building is more than 50 meters deep and it took almost a year just to lay this foundation, using 12 500 cubic meters of concrete weighing about 12 000 tons! The foundation was subjected to rigorous testing, as even the slightest rotation in the foundational structure would be magnified at the top of the structure, with disastrous consequences!

How about us? At times I’ve wondered why God allows us to go through tough trials, pruning us in uncomfortable and painful ways. We may go through seasons of prayer and fasting, of pressing in, and of persevering through difficulties, yet not experience the breakthrough we want. We may spend time with Him, studying His Word and standing on His promises, and doing everything we know to do, yet not see His hand! What could the reason be?

As I was discussing this with my friend over a cup of coffee, I came to realise that God needs us to have a deep and solid foundation, so He can trust us with the weight of His calling on our lives. What seems to be wasted time, painful faith, tests and needless tears, is God laying a strong foundation, preparing us to be useful and effective in our walk with Him.

Take courage, child of God! Don’t let your heart grow despondent at your current situation. Don’t look back and despise the trials that are behind you, or dread what you see ahead of you. Supporting any truly great life is a solid foundation. It’s built on hard work, obedience to God’s Word, faith, perseverance and testing, but even more importantly, it’s built on the ‘Rock’! God loves us more than we can imagine and His plans are to prosper us. He sees the end result, when we only see the messy ‘building rubble’. Let His truth be your foundation and anchor. He’s building your life’s foundation so they can be strong and unmovable.

Prayer: Lord, I’m so grateful that You’re so patiently teaching me to trust You, as You build strong foundations into my life. Help me to trust Your methods, and to rejoice through the times of testing! Amen.

Today's Writer : Christel Baxter
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Annukka
 
Viestit: 3288
Liittynyt: 24.11.2013 21:34

Turning Points

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 16.04.2014 09:33

16 April, 2014
Today's Free Devotional from Ellel Ministries International
Turning Points

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.
Jeremiah 29:11, NLT

This year, April 16 is a particularly special day for me. It’s the 20th anniversary of the day I fell 35 feet from a cliff. It was 10.30pm at night, hiking in an isolated ravine in the mountains west of Sydney, Australia. The hike was a part of a Missions Training School I was doing, preparing to serve the Lord on the mission field. I was not a hiker, but here I was set in a situation I had little control of. All I could do was suppress the fear within me and trust Jesus with everything I had.

After hiking for over 3 hours in the dark, with few torches and only a few minutes away from where we were going to camp for the night, my left foot slipped on the terrain and I began to fall. I thought I was going to land in the river below, but thankfully I was wrong. I didn’t land in the river, where I could have drowned, but on the dry creek bed next to it. As I awoke some minutes later, my body wracked with pain, and my mind feeling like I was in a dream, my life had changed.

April 16 1994 was a ‘turning point’ in my life. I’d gone from being a happy, healthy young woman with life before me to a life filled with pain, disability, depression and a hopeless future. There are times in each of our lives when we have turning points. Some of course can be good, like when you gave your heart to Jesus, the day you were married or the birth of your children. These are major turning points in people’s lives. However some turning points carry with them a negative change, such as what happened to me. Maybe you had a major accident, went through a divorce or were a victim of some kind of abuse. It could also be the day when you lost someone very dear, a family member, and it was like a part of you died too. Even as you are reading this your mind has gone straight to the moment that your turning point came and you can feel the pain as you remember.

I want you to know today that Jesus is right there in your suffering, whether it was yesterday or many years ago. He knows what you went through, He understands your pain. And even more than that His heart is to bring you healing. Today’s verse is written by the prophet Jeremiah to the Israelite exiles being held captive in Babylon. These exiles had gone through unimaginable suffering, losing everything and being exiled in another country. And yet this is the heart of God, to bring healing and hope for the future. By the grace of God Jesus healed me at an Ellel Ministries conference in 1996. All the physical pain, all the depression, all the fatigue was gone in one night!! It was another turning point for me, this time however Jesus was giving me a future filled with life, health and hope.

So no matter what hardship and suffering you’ve faced Jesus wants to heal your heart and re-write your future. I’m so glad that I trusted Jesus. Indeed the journey has at times been difficult. I won’t ever be able to forget April 16 1994 for the rest of my life. However I can see now that the suffering I’ve been through has made me who I am today and I’m actually the better for it. And so it can be with you too.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, today I bring you the ‘turning point’ that’s on my heart. I know that You know what I went through and you understand the pain I have carried. Please forgive me if in any way I have blamed You for letting this happen to me. I’m sorry. I ask You to take me through the process of healing any unresolved pain. Please restore my life and hope again, and show me a picture of the wonderful future You’ve planned for me. Bring me to the place in Your time where I can even be thankful for my ‘turning point.’ In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today's Writer : Lynda Scott
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Annukka
 
Viestit: 3288
Liittynyt: 24.11.2013 21:34

Jesus Was Perfect

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 16.04.2014 18:25

Jesus Was Perfect

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
What an amazing life the Lord Jesus lived. Do you realize that Jesus never corrected, withdrew, or amended any statement He ever made? I wish I could say that! Jesus Christ never apologized for anything He ever did or said. Jesus Christ never sought advice from anyone, never had to ask for forgiveness.

Jesus Christ doesn’t have any strong points. For Him to have strong points, He would have to have weak points. Robert Clark has rightly given this assessment of his character:

“There was meekness without weakness, tenderness without feebleness, firmness without coarseness, love without sentimentality, holiness without sanctimoniousness, lowliness without lowness, truth without error, enthusiasm without fanaticism, passion without prejudice, heavenly mindedness without forgetfulness, carefreeness without carelessness, service without servility, self exaltation without egotism, judgment without harshness, seriousness without somberness, mercy without softness.”

What a person was the Lord Jesus Christ!

ACTION POINT:
The greatest question that can be asked was the question Pontius Pilate asked the crowd when Jesus stood before him: "Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus, which is called Christ?" Now I'm going to ask that question of you. What will you do with Jesus? No greater question could be asked.

View or Share online | Discover Jesus | LWF.org | Today's Message
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AR_headshot.jpgDevotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
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Annukka
 
Viestit: 3288
Liittynyt: 24.11.2013 21:34

Finding God

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 17.04.2014 10:00

17 April, 2014
Today's Free Devotional from Ellel Ministries International
Finding God

"Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me. Let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell."
Psalm 43:3, NIV

Today’s verse says something quite remarkable – it says that if you follow light and truth, you will find God. It comes from Psalm 43. The psalmist says to God, ‘send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me. Let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell’.

That’s an interesting thought to ponder. God’s light and truth will lead us to Him. It has to be the real thing; not our own version of truth, nor our own source of light and understanding, but the real thing.

The people of the western world often tell us that there’s no such thing as truth, that it’s all relative. If it’s true for you, they say, then that’s good enough. But have you noticed that it doesn’t bring you to God?

The idea that there’s no such thing as truth runs counter to our common sense, yet so many of us buy into it, perhaps because it’s more comfortable to agree with the culture around us. But it only leads us to ‘our own God’, a god of our own making, who isn’t real and isn’t satisfying either. He (or she) certainly can’t give us real peace. A god of our own making is just like the idols of wood or gold that people used to make. It can’t do anything for us because it only exists in our own heads. It isn’t real. It isn’t truth.

Fortunately, there is a real God! He’s the source of truth. In fact He’s the source of all good things! Jesus once said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ and He went on, ‘no-one can come to the Father, except through me’ (John 14:6). On another occasion, He said ‘I am the light of the world’ (John 8:12). Jesus Himself is the way to God, and He mentions truth at the same time, because we need to come to God in truth and honesty. We need to come into the light.

Hiding will not lead us to God. We can’t follow the light while we’re standing in darkness, trying to hide. We need to be real with God. The thing that makes us want to hide is sin. Sin makes us feel ashamed. But the reason Jesus came was so that you and I can be totally forgiven and washed clean on the inside. Nothing’s too hard for Him.

There’s no peace or joy in darkness. If we’re truthful - honest with ourselves and with God - letting Him see the worst and most shameful things, we discover that He doesn’t criticise, condemn or reject. Instead He accepts us with open arms, just like the Father in the Prodigal Son story. He washes us clean, loves us and blesses us beyond our wildest dreams. It really is worth doing!

Truth and light are a gift from God to lead us to Him. When we stop hiding and are finally really honest, coming to God through Jesus, then we will find true peace. And more love than we could ever dream of!

Prayer: Father, I want to bring into the light all the things I have been hiding from you. And please show me if there are things I am hiding from myself. Thank You that there’s nothing too difficult for you to put right. Thank You that You love and accept me as I am, and You want to help me. I bring these things to You now. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today's Writer : Grace Marshall
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Annukka
 
Viestit: 3288
Liittynyt: 24.11.2013 21:34

The Beauty of Grace

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 17.04.2014 20:02

Joni and Friends Daily Devotional April 17, 2014

The Beauty of Grace

"But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it."

Ephesians 4:7

Grace is what beauty looks like when it moves. God's grace is what He looks like when He moves, acting out His will through us.

Those on whom God's grace rests are truly... gracious. They are truly beautiful. The cerebral-palsied young man who smiles despite a dreary existence in a nursing home. The elderly woman who always seems to think of others rather than her aches and pains. The mother of two toddlers who is happy to baby-sit a neighbor's little boy. The pastor and his wife who take in a homeless couple for a week while they look for lodging. These people shine with a hint of glory. They shine because of God's grace.

Grace is God's energy, all bright, beautiful, and full of power. And grace is most beautiful when God is moving through us to touch the lives of others who hurt.

Grace binds you with far stronger cords

than the cords of duty or obligation can bind you.

Grace is free, but when once you take it,

you are bound forever to the Giver and bound to

catch the spirit of the Giver. Like produces like.

Grace makes you gracious, the Giver makes you give. *[1]

E. Stanley Jones
___________________________________________

Do you desire to be gracious? Christ apportions grace. First, a small measure in accordance with your faith, which may be small. But then, like morning sun dawning, your faith grows and grace fills you with its full and excellent brightness.

God of grace, I long to be beautiful in You, I long to be gracious to others. May Your beauty shine through me today as I move in Your will.
_____________________________________________________________________

*Draper, Edythe, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, 1992, p.282

Blessings,

Joni and Friends
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Annukka
 
Viestit: 3288
Liittynyt: 24.11.2013 21:34

And Now for the Really Good News!

ViestiKirjoittaja Annukka » 20.04.2014 15:00

20 April, 2014
Today's Free Devotional from Ellel Ministries International
And Now for the Really Good News!

‘While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see, a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see, I have."
Luke 24:36-39, NIV

Sometimes even really good news is so extraordinary, and so outside of our capacity to believe, that at first we cannot take it in! It`s sometimes easier not to believe than to believe what your eyes, your ears and all your senses are telling you.

Jesus had told the disciples in advance that he was going to Jerusalem to die. He also told them that on the third day he would be raised again to life. While this knowledge of what Jesus had said would certainly have been in their minds, the reality of seeing this promise fulfilled was so far outside their previous experience that to believe it was stretching their capacity to understand!

It certainly seemed as though what Jesus had said would happen, had happened. For his body was certainly not in the tomb, but no one seemed to know where he was. Had He really been raised from the dead? Their natural understanding of life and death had limits beyond which there ordinary senses could not go. So, Jesus himself appeared to them all and made himself visible before their very eyes. Their first reaction was to think that they were seeing an apparition, a ghost, so Jesus had to say to them, "a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see, I have."

I would love to have been there when the disciples put out their hands and touched his hands and his feet and realised that the One who was standing in front of them really was their Jesus, the one they had walked with and talked with and been blessed by for the past three years. They were indeed experiencing the miracle of the resurrection first-hand.

Yes, a few days ago they had lived through the terrible news of the death of Jesus, but now the good news of the Resurrection was exploding on their understanding and was about to explode into the world. May I encourage you to celebrate today with great thanksgiving and give yourself afresh to the Lord as a loving response to the one who gave everything for you.

Prayer: I am so thrilled, today, Lord, at the wonderful news that we celebrate as believers. I choose, today, to love and serve You as my Saviour and my Lord, both now and for the rest of my days. Amen.


Today's Writer : Peter Horrobin
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Annukka
 
Viestit: 3288
Liittynyt: 24.11.2013 21:34

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