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Today's Word with Joel and Victoria
Today’s Scripture
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
(Psalm 121:1–2, NIV)

Just Look Up!
Anytime you are facing an issue, the first thing you should do before you call your friend, before you search the internet should be to simply look up. When you look up with your spiritual eyes toward God, that’s when you have your perspective in the right place. That’s when His love will empower you and lead you. He already has the answer to your problems anyway. When you look to Him, you’ll find help!

Don’t let the enemy distract you with the cares of this earthly realm. Just look up by keeping your heart and mind focused on Him.

A Prayer for Today
“Father, I know that when I keep my mind stayed on You, I will find peace in the midst of the storm. Thank You for giving me the answers I need and for being my help in troubled times in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm - May 31

SPIRITUAL WEAPONS

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4

Helen Berhane was imprisoned for almost three years in the shipping container prisons in Eritrea. She shares how a Muslim man with epilepsy was also imprisoned. She says in her testimonial book titled Song of the Nightingale.

I noticed that he wore two charms on his belt. I pointed at them, “Where did you get those charms from?”

“I saw a witch doctor, before I was arrested, about my fits. He said that they would make me better, but I should never take them off.”

“Jemal,” I said, “those charms cannot heal you. Only prayer to God can do that.”

As I spoke he began to have a fit, and so I prayed for him. I did this often until, miraculously, he agreed to take the charms off. I took them away and burnt them, but whatever was in them smelled awful, and the guards demanded to know what I had been doing, which gave me the opportunity to explain to them that only prayer can heal a person, not charms from a witch doctor.

Jemal’s health improved and his fits became less frequent. I was delighted but he was worried.

“Helen, if they know that I am feeling better they will keep me here, and I want to be released.”

“If you continue to trust in God, no one can keep you from going home, not if God wills that you should be released.”

I was very pleased when he was released shortly afterwards.

RESPONSE:

Today I will live in the awareness that the spiritual battle rages all around me and I can be used to counter Satan’s bondage over people.

PRAYER:

Lord, you have given me the spiritual weapons with which to demolish the strongholds of the spiritual battle that I find myself against today. Help me not to depend on the weapons of the world.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Today's Word with Joel and Victoria
Today’s Scripture
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1, NLT)

Embrace Your Season
God has ordained seasons and cycles in our lives. Sometimes, when our dreams aren’t coming to pass on our timetable, we can be tempted to get frustrated. We have to be careful not to allow our attitude to keep us from moving forward.

In God’s kingdom, every season is not harvest. There are plowing seasons, planting seasons and watering seasons. Sure, we would love for every season to be a time of increase; but without the other seasons, we wouldn’t be prepared. It’s during the plowing seasons that God brings issues to light that we need to deal with. He’s getting us prepared for promotion. If you’re not making as much progress as you would like, the key is not to lose any ground. Don’t go backwards. Hold your position by keeping an attitude of faith and expectancy, even when it’s hard. Keep plowing by speaking the Word daily. Keep pressing through because soon you will come in to your due season!

A Prayer for Today
“Father, thank You for Your faithfulness in all seasons of my life. I trust that my time is coming, and I choose to remain faithful. I submit my ways to You today and trust that You have the best plan for my life in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Today's Word with Joel and Victoria
Today’s Scripture
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
(Colossians 3:15, NIV)

Be Thankful
As believers, we are commanded to be thankful. A thankful attitude and peace go hand in hand. Did you know that you can choose to have peace? You don’t have to let things upset you. You don’t have to be anxious and worried. That word peace means to set at one again. When you set your mind at one with God and His Word, you will automatically have peace. When you have peace, you can’t help but be thankful! You will have a song in your heart and a spring in your step!

Choose today to let the peace of God rule in your heart. Have an attitude of gratitude. Even if you have things that are upsetting you, take a step of faith and thank God for His goodness in your life. Thank Him for working behind the scenes on your behalf. Choose to be thankful and embrace the peace and blessing God has for you!

A Prayer for Today
“Father, thank You for Your peace that rules my heart. I choose Your peace today and thank You for guiding my every step. I choose to be thankful today and bless You for Your faithfulness in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 30

BATTLEFRONT

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 6:12

A Filipino pastor, who is a former Muslim, lives on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. He was a notorious gang leader and spent years in prison for robbery and murder. But there in prison he met Jesus Christ.

After his release, he was so effective in leading Muslims to Jesus back home in Mindanao that Muslim extremists in his area kidnapped his fourteen-year-old daughter. They would only return her, he was told, if he stopped preaching about Jesus and returned to Islam.

He and his wife prayed intensely about this and felt they could not give in to this blackmail. He continued to preach faithfully for three years with no definite news about his little girl.
He concludes, "Despite the terrible things they have done to my daughter, I fear no one but God alone! Pray for my daughter and that I will continue to preach Christ."

Three years later, he received a letter from his daughter. She shared with her parents that she had been sold into prostitution in neighboring East Malaysia. But God had helped her escape. She was then taken in by a sympathetic Malaysian family and hidden for her safety. And then she fell in love with a young man and married him. She and her parents planned to visit together in a safe place.

Spiritual warfare is the cosmic conflict that rages between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Remember we are not talking about two equal kingdoms battling-it-out for victory. Satan is only a created being. Christ has all authority and power. Satan's power was broken at the cross. The Apostle Paul records for us in Colossians 2:15, "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." So the only power Satan has today is the power to deceive the people of the world - to blind them from seeing the glory of God (II Corinthians 4:3-4).

Satan's primary strategy is to divide and conquer. His key tactics include accusation, deception, and the interruption of our relationships with the Father and with each other. He is actively leading mankind to defile the land, which is God’s, in order to keep humanity in darkness. This is one reason unity in the Body of Christ is so critical for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

Why would someone lost in the chaos of the world want to be part of a fellowship of people that is disorderly, dysfunctional, and even destructive? The Church of Jesus Christ must be ruled by love. We must be a refuge, a place of safety!

RESPONSE:

I will be alert to Satan’s spiritual warfare tactics today without getting distracted from the Lord’s primary ministry directions.

PRAYER:

Pray for witnessing brothers and sisters on the frontlines who experience Satan’s greatest fury.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks


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Standing Strong Through the Storm - May 29

GOD IN CONTROL

“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.”
Proverbs 10:25

Throughout the Bible, God reveals that He is always in control over His vast universe and even our seemingly insignificant lives. Here is a true-life story from the persecuted church.

“I was the only convert of a man who died thinking he was useless to God. Both our crimes were for violent robbery and we actually shared a prison cell together.

“He told me about how—by mistake—he had been placed into a cell with a group of Christians. They were singing hymns at night and praising God together. He saw them as a soft touch and robbed them of their food parcels. He even beat them to show who was boss. For the first time in years he felt powerful again. But somehow they were not afraid of him and repeatedly shared their faith in Christ.

“One day in a fit of anger he took his knife to kill one of them. But something—or someone—blocked him from bringing down the knife. For the first time, he was up against a force more powerful than himself, and one he could not understand.

“At that moment he put his trust in Christ. The prison authorities realized he had been allocated to the wrong cell and they moved him to solitary confinement. There he pleaded with God, ‘Lord, let me witness Your power and love before I die.’

“One night the prison was overcrowded and I was put into his cell. I could see he was far-gone, barely conscious. He beckoned me close to his lips told me all about Jesus and how He loved me and wanted to save me.

“When I woke up in the morning, he was cold and dead. I was to be moved to a hard labor camp that day but the truck that was to take me there broke down. So I ended up in another cell—the one full of Christians.

“My truck was delayed a week. In that time the Christians told me the whole story about this man. They were delighted to learn he had witnessed to me before he died. The night before I was moved, I too trusted Christ.

“That’s the strength of suffering for Christ. It kept a dying man going because he wanted to witness. It kept those Christian prisoners buoyant all through their captivity. It gave me hope when I looked ahead at eight years of hard labor camp. I would have died if not for Christ.”

RESPONSE:

Today I will live in the awareness and peace that God has everything under control—no matter what storms I face.

PRAYER:

Pray that all those living in conditions as described above will also understand God’s purposes for their lives and realize the strength and meaningfulness in suffering for Christ.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Standing Strong Through the Storm - May 28

Revival

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17,18,21

A few years ago I was leading a group from my home church in Canada on a mission trip to Cuba. The church in Cuba had experienced a significant revival movement and the fast-growing house church movement was overflowing with new believers.

In Havana we visited the Baptist Seminary and were delighted to have some time with its elderly president, Dr. Vegilla. He spoke perfect English and shared with us how he had spent five years in Castro’s prison system in the 1960’s just because he was a Christian pastor. He further itemized the pressures the church had experienced at the hand of the regime over the past five decades. Then he smiled and in his very positive style of expression concluded, “But we have learned three things through all of this. We learned not to fear, not to hate and not to harm!”

I have meditated on this statement for some time and concluded that it expresses very succinctly the biblical essence of standing strong through any storm.

Learning “not to fear” infers a development of boldness and courage. Learning “not to hate” implies a focus on love, forgiveness and grace. And learning “not to harm” indicates a commitment to the biblical principles of non-violence and aggressive love.

RESPONSE:

Today I want to live in boldness, love and non-violence. I am committed not to fear, not to hate, and not to harm anyone.

PRAYER:

Lord, this kind of living is counter-culture. I need Your strength and power to live this way. Help me—as well as Your persecuted church—to keep this as my focus.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Today's Word with Joel and Victoria
Today’s Scripture
“What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?”
(Romans 3:3, NIV)

Don’t Let Others Limit Your Dreams
Have the opinions of other people caused you to water down your dreams? There will always be critics and naysayers in life. It’s not what’s said about you that affects your life, but what you say and believe about yourself.

One of the most important things you can learn is that other people don’t have to believe in you in order for your dreams to come to pass. Other people don’t set the limits for your life — you do. In Romans 3:3, the Apostle Paul is saying, “It doesn’t matter if other people don’t believe. Their unbelief is not going to keep me from believing in my dreams.” When God puts a promise in your heart, it’s not up to other people to bring it to pass, it’s up to you! You don’t need everyone to validate you. You have to follow the voice of God for yourself and allow Him to order your steps.

Remember, God sees the hidden treasures that you’ve had buried on the inside of you. He wants to bring those treasures out and make your dreams reality! As you get rid of old, defeated thoughts and replace them with what God says about you, you will remove the limits and live the abundant life God has in store for you!

A Prayer for Today
“Father, thank You for another day to see Your goodness in my life. Today, I take off the limits and embrace the dreams You’ve placed in my heart. Empower me by Your Spirit to fulfill Your plan for me in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm - May 27

FOR THE GLORY OF JESUS

“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Revelation 12:11

Within overcomers is the ultimate secret of victory that destroys any consideration for reputation, safety, comfort or freedom. They make themselves a willing self-offering patterned on Christ’s own life—a repeated message in the Gospels. Not just martyrdom, but loyalty to Jesus ahead of comfort, safety and security.

In March 2007, a co-worker had the joy of training a group of Arab Christians who were preparing for an outreach to various Muslim countries in North Africa. His teaching focused on bringing glory to God and also on a biblical understanding of opposition, persecution, hardship and possible martyrdom. The students ended the week with a declaration, as they stood up one by one, committing themselves to live to the glory of God. They declared to live a life to be forgotten so that Christ can be remembered.

A month later two outreach teams from the school travelled to Sudan. One team was sent to the Juba Mountains in partnership with a local church. The team was staying in a village and went out to a rural area to show the Jesus Film. While they were travelling in a truck back to the village at about 10:30 pm, they were ambushed by armed gunmen. The truck driver drove away as quickly as possible, but a number of Sudanese and Egyptians on the truck were wounded in the shooting. Three Sudanese and one Egyptian were killed.

They first drove franticly to the nearest town looking for a clinic to tend to the wounded and the dead. With no facilities or medicine there, they then had to drive a further five hours to the nearest hospital for help. The darkness and hopelessness turned the journey into an eternity. The questions, the fear and yet the serenity of it all made it seem surreal. When they finally reached the hospital it was too late for Daniel, one of the wounded Egyptians. Daniel died in the arms of one of the leaders. His last words to his faithful friend reflected the words of his commitment to his beloved Savior: “Tell my father that I died for the glory of Jesus.”

Two years later, our co-worker trained another group who were again on their way to Sudan. The group committed themselves to go back to the very region of the traumatic event, not despite the tragedy but because of the tragedy.

Our co-worker concluded, “I realized anew that the battle is real but also that victory only belongs to those who participate. So often I hear Christians say ‘we are more than conquerors!’ You can only say that if you are part of the battle.”

When martyrs meet torture and death without fear, they demonstrate power over Satan’s attempts to try and control us by fear. Evil is defeated because it cannot ultimately win. Then you are an overcomer!

RESPONSE: Today I recommit myself to live a life to be forgotten so that Christ can be remembered.

PRAYER: Jesus I adore You; lay my life before You; how I love You.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks


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Today's Word with Joel and Victoria
Today’s Scripture
“...If God is for us, who can be against us?”
(Romans 8:31, NIV)

God is on Your Side
As a believer in Jesus and a child of His, God is on your side today! If you haven’t thought about it yet today, remember, you were created for greatness. You have the seed of Almighty God inside of you. There is no obstacle that can stop you. There is no disadvantage that can hold you back! You’re in the palm of God’s hand, and He has equipped and empowered you for everything.

When God is on your side, He sets the right people in your path. In fact, He’s already released favor into your future. He’s planning for you to come into new seasons of increase. He has a plan for victory in every area of your life!

Let that sink down into your heart today. Begin to expect His favor. Expect Him to work in your life. Focus on the fact that God has equipped you. He has anointed you. Your best days are still out in front of you! If God is for you, no one can rise against you! Meditate on this promise so you can walk in the favor and victory God has in store for you!

A Prayer for Today
“Father, thank You for being on my side today. Thank You for equipping and empowering me to accomplish everything You’ve called me to. Give me a revelation of Your love for me today in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Edited by: PURPLEPEONY at: 5/27/2015 (13:17)
"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 26

MORE THAN CONQUERORS

“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Revelation 12:11

Overcoming believers also declare Christ’s love and forgiveness aloud to themselves, to Satan, and to the world. It is the second way we become “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).

Daniel was called by the Lord to the north of Vietnam where he soon found himself in the midst of a revival. People were coming to know the Lord and Daniel immediately started a training program to equip these new believers. He also witnessed the power of God as people were healed and many were delivered from their addiction to opium. The inevitable soon happened and Daniel was sent to prison, his “training school,” for three years. With a smile that illuminated the room, Daniel shared his experiences in prison.

“After my arrest I was put in solitary confinement and chained to the ground for six months. This was a very hard time for me. The cell was small, there were no lights in the cell and I only had one bowl of rice and salt a day. A piece of bamboo was stuck over my crossed legs and chained to the ground. Being chained to the ground for such a long time also resulted in my body swelling and creating a lot of pain. I felt totally deserted. I asked the Lord to take my life. It was too much for me. I prayed a lot but thankfully the Lord did not do what I asked.

“One night in my prison cell, chained to the ground, I saw a vision of the Lord. He did not speak a word. He just placed his hand on me and I felt how new strength filled my body. I cried and repented before the Lord. Then I knew the Lord was saying to me that He would not allow me to leave this world defeated, that when He takes me ‘home’ it will be victoriously.

“The next day the police came and took me to another cell with other prisoners. Today I can see why God allowed this difficult time. I could share the Gospel with many people in prison. After three years in prison there is a church in every area where I spent time in a prison and more than 200 inmates came to know the Lord while I was in prison. Three other prisoners who came to know the Lord also started churches in prison. When I was released from prison, I found my church in the village had grown to 500 people.”

As Daniel concluded his testimony co-workers could positively see the grace and love of the Lord in this humble man. He looked at them and summed up a life of sacrifice with the following words. “I know that God has a good plan—He sent me to prison to preach the Gospel and to become a strong warrior for Him.”

RESPONSE: I will overcome today by speaking out the word of my testimony to myself, to Satan and to the world.

PRAYER: Lord, even though I am not in prison, I can be a faithful overcomer today by sharing your love with others I meet through the word of my testimony.

STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM (SSTS) -A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks



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Today’s Scripture
“Dear friend, I am praying that all is well with you and that your body is as healthy as I know your soul is.”
(3 John 1:2, TLB)

Make Health a Priority
We all set priorities in our lives, whether consciously or unconsciously. We all organize our time based on what’s important to us. Scripture encourages us to make our health a priority. When we are at our best physically, every other area of our life seems more manageable.

God created you to be active and healthy so you can be ready for what He has in store for you. What can you do today to invest in your health? Can you change one thing in your diet? Can you add 10 minutes of exercise to your schedule each day? Being physically healthy is not just a good idea — it’s a good spiritual idea, so make health a priority!

A Prayer for Today
“Father, today I dedicate my body to Your service and glory. Help me to honor You and make good decisions for my health in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 25

COMPLETELY FORGIVEN

“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Revelation 12:11

On the cross Jesus conquered forever the worst that sin and evil could do to Him. He met the full assault of evil and overcame it. Those who have entrusted their lives to Him share in that victory over evil.

In the context of this verse, Satan is noted to be the “accuser” of the brethren. It is also through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (the blood of the lamb) that sin is forgiven. When we receive by faith what Christ has done, our sins are wiped out. We are cleansed by faith in Christ’s blood. His saving grace and a willingness to receive us as sinners saved by grace is the key to this principle, not our feelings of worthiness.

And when we are forgiven there is nothing for which we can possibly be accused by Satan. There is no possible accusation he can make against one who is completely forgiven! Thus we overcome him first, by the blood of the lamb.

Charles Wesley wrote about it in this verse in one of his beloved hymns:

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

RESPONSE: Today I will overcome my enemy, Satan, by faith in the shed blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord for providing all I need to be an overcomer.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks


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Today's Word with Joel and Victoria
Today’s Scripture
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
(Colossians 2:6–7, NIV)

Overflow with Thankfulness
Are you overflowing with thankfulness? Is your thankfulness spilling out on to the people around you? Don’t just think your thanks, show it! Don’t let the kindness of others go unnoticed. Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted the people who are closest to us, but those are the people we should thank the most. Your family, your friends, the ones who love and support you are the ones who should feel your thankfulness the most.

And notice this verse says to live in Christ and be built up in Him. When you build yourself up by studying the Word and praying in the Spirit, then the second part of the verse will just come naturally — you will be strengthened in your faith, and your heart will be filled with thankfulness.

Take a step of faith today and begin to show your thankfulness to those around you. Let it overflow! Sow seeds of gratitude and blessing so you can reap an abundant harvest of blessing in return!

A Prayer for Today
“Father, thank You for strengthening me with Your faith and love today. Help me be a blessing to those around me and give me creative ways to let my life overflow with thankfulness. I bless You today in Jesus’ name. Amen”

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 24

VICTORY!

“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Revelation 12:11

The only original disciple of Jesus spared from martyrdom was the Apostle John who experienced persecution in different ways. While exiled on the island of Patmos he was given the revelation of Jesus which he wrote down for the churches of his day—and ultimately for us too. He describes our enemy Satan and the cosmic spiritual battle he wages against us as disciples of Jesus. John also points out that Satan is especially angry as he realizes his time is short.

The letter of Revelation is written in a Chiasm form (a well known structure of ancient literature) which uses the central section as the focus and climax of the writing or teaching. In Revelation, chapter twelve is the central section and verse eleven is the central and focused idea. John reveals in this climactic message that our enemy, Satan, will ultimately be overcome and defeated. We accomplish this victory as disciples of Jesus in three ways:

by the blood of the lamb

by the word of our testimony

by willingness to sacrifice our own physical life

Darrell Johnson in his excellent book, Discipleship on the Edge, writes “…since Jesus overcomes evil not by being a Lion who hurts others, but by being a Lamb who absorbs hurt, so too we overcome evil in the world, not by inflicting more hurt, but by absorbing the hurt, even if it costs us our lives…in losing our lives we actually win, ‘overcome,’ just as Jesus did.”

Over the next three days we’ll look more closely at these three elements of our victory over Satan.

RESPONSE: Today I will rejoice in the guarantee that I can be a victor over Satan, my enemy.

PRAYER: Lord, may I be willing to absorb hurt, even as Jesus did, in order to overcome evil in the world.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 23

LIFE-GIVING FELLOWSHIP

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household…” Ephesians 2:19

As Christians we are called to belong—not just believe. We are not meant to be loners but true members of his body—part of Jesus’ family. It is thus important for Christians to spend time together to share their spiritual lives, encourage each other and have fellowship.

Satan brings all his efforts to bear upon Christians to prevent this fellowship. He realizes that believers need to help and strengthen each other, so he will try to prevent it by promoting indifference or by using the force of circumstances (Hebrews 10:24,25). Even informal or casual meetings can be used of the Lord for strengthening Christians, especially when formal meetings and large group fellowships are forbidden. Of course, large meetings can be useful, too. But normally, more help is given one-to-one in small “cell” groups where specific needs can be shared, discussed and ministered to in-depth.

Mona’s story is a good illustration. It wasn’t only that she was raped when she sneaked across the border into Malaysia. It wasn’t simply because she sent her daughter back to Burma and had never seen her since she was a baby. It wasn’t just the violence of those terrifying days in the ‘80’s in Rangoon when students and soldiers clashed in the streets forcing her husband (then a student) and her to flee the country.

It was the thousand nights of loneliness. The trauma of the past that haunted her. The papers she needed to stay in Malaysia legally. Papers that she could not acquire. The possibility of arrest and punishment by police.

The nightmares came on leathery wings of fear, dug their claws deeply and took up residence in her psyche. Her mind, once sound and clear, clouded with doubts and delusions: the sound of voices she did not know and horrifying images that would not go away.

But hers was not a life destined for darkness. The clouds were pulled away slowly, partly by the psychiatrist at the General Hospital, secured for her by the volunteers at the free medical clinic. Also by the kindness of strangers who reached out their hands in generosity.

It was the moment Mona was able to tell another woman in her own language of her troubles; this was when the first ray of light cut through the cloud and shone the possibility of hope into her circumstance.

Later, it was the time she spent with other women from Burma at the church. It was the songs they sang, the shared experience and language, the friendship, the food, the games.

Fellowship is life-giving to those who have been deprived of it.

RESPONSE: Today I will seek to experience true fellowship in Christ.

PRAYER: Pray for opportunities to support others who need a listening ear or a word of encouragement.

STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM (SSTS) -A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Today's Word with Joel and Victoria

Today’s Scripture
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
(Colossians 2:6–7, NIV)

Overflow with Thankfulness
Are you overflowing with thankfulness? Is your thankfulness spilling out on to the people around you? Don’t just think your thanks, show it! Don’t let the kindness of others go unnoticed. Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted the people who are closest to us, but those are the people we should thank the most. Your family, your friends, the ones who love and support you are the ones who should feel your thankfulness the most.

And notice this verse says to live in Christ and be built up in Him. When you build yourself up by studying the Word and praying in the Spirit, then the second part of the verse will just come naturally — you will be strengthened in your faith, and your heart will be filled with thankfulness.

Take a step of faith today and begin to show your thankfulness to those around you. Let it overflow! Sow seeds of gratitude and blessing so you can reap an abundant harvest of blessing in return!

A Prayer for Today
“Father, thank You for strengthening me with Your faith and love today. Help me be a blessing to those around me and give me creative ways to let my life overflow with thankfulness. I bless You today in Jesus’ name. Amen”

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 22

DECLARING GOD’S GLORY

“…Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:23-24

All true believers recognize the privilege and responsibility to worship God. This worship begins when the Holy Spirit enters our being and grows and continues throughout our lifetime. Every believer should worship the Lord privately as well as gather together with other believers to worship whenever possible. We can worship the Lord because of who He is, because of what He has done in creation and redemption, and because of all that He has done for us individually.

Worship in Scripture seems to revolve around praising God. This is an act of the will not necessarily related to how a person "feels" or the immediate circumstances of life. In other words, we should praise the Lord even when things seem to be going wrong. This is an act of submission to His divine will and pleases the Lord (Psalm 67:3; Hebrews 13:15; Isaiah 12:1).

Worship is evidently a matter of attitude that may be expressed outwardly in prayer, various bodily positions (such as kneeling), singing, dancing, clapping etc. Music plays a very important part in the heartfelt worship of most believers. The form of worship should reflect the believer’s cultural methods of showing adoration as long as it does not conflict with biblical guidelines.

Worship in the early church was simply an outpouring of thanksgiving from a heart that rejoiced in the Lord in complete disregard of circumstances. This type of worship cannot be stopped by anyone. A group of Christians in hostile surroundings can worship in this simple way without being limited to a certain building, a special time, or a prescribed program.

Worship is basically recognizing and declaring God's glory, holiness and worth. An act of worship is an expression of this recognition. The New Testament writers seemed to assume that all people knew how to worship. They give us few examples of how the early Christians worshipped. Participation in the Lord's Supper appears to have been their highest expression of worship. As they prayerfully remembered Jesus and His sacrificial death upon the cross for their sins, they were worshipping.

There are scriptural references to other times of worship such as Peter's prayer (Acts 4:23-28), and Paul and Silas' experience in prison (Acts 16:23-25). Pastor Jack Hayford enjoys sharing the story of Paul and Silas as told by his favourite African-American preacher. “Paul and Silas’ prison cell singing was heard all the way to the heavenly throne room of God. God began to tap his toe to the music. And since heaven is His throne and the earth is His footstool, that toe tapping created an earthquake!!!”

RESPONSE: Today I desire every aspect of my life to declare God’s glory, holiness and worth.

PRAYER: Pray today for Christians in countries like North Korea who rarely have opportunity to express openly and publically their worship of Almighty God.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks


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Today’s Scripture
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul...”
(Psalm 23:1–3, NASB)

He Restores Your Soul
God wants to restore your soul. Your soul is your mind, your will and your emotions. You are a three-part being: you have a spirit — that’s the part of you that lives for eternity, you have a soul, and you have your body while you’re here on earth. Your soul is where the enemy tries to wound you and hold you back. Your soul is where you may have brokenness from the past, or hurts and disappointments. But when God restores your soul, He brings His healing power to those broken places. He makes you whole again. When God restores you, He makes you better off than you were before!

Notice the picture painted in this verse: He leads us beside quiet waters. He makes us lie down in green pastures. This is a picture of rest. When we are resting in Him, He is able to do a work in our lives. He is able to bring that restoration. Don’t let the busyness of life keep you going so fast that you don’t stop and rest. Take time to be still before the Lord and meditate on His Word. Let Him restore and heal your soul so you can live the life of victory God has prepared for you!

A Prayer for Today
“Father, thank You for another day to praise You. Thank You for Your plan to lead me into rest so that You can restore my soul. I surrender my brokenness to You and open my heart to receive Your healing in every area of my life today in Jesus’ name. Amen"

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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I have seen something else under the sun: the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant, or favor to the learned, but time and chance happen to them all.
As humans, we all struggle with things that we cannot solve. Sins, health problems, financial difficulties, worrisome children, etc. etc. etc. We ask ourselves, “Why me?” Here’s the answer: it’s time and chance, not anything that we have done. Just the human condition. Just because “that’s life!” What is to be done? I think of the story I used to read to my students…the one about the Tortoise and the Hare. The Tortoise and the Hare decided to run a race one day. The Hare was confident that he would win it…after all, he was so much faster than the Tortoise. But the Hare kept getting so far ahead of the Tortoise that he would decide to take a little nap, and while the Hare was asleep the Tortoise would pass him. Eventually the Tortoise won the race. Here is the moral: the race won’t always be won by the swift, but the one who perseveres will cross the finish line. St. James says, “Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of the perseverance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, because the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (James 5:11) So, we’re not lying down, we’re not taking a nap, we’re running the race, however slowly, confident that God will bring us to the finish line, no matter what!


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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 21

HEALING HURTS

“…to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Ephesians 4:12

Another function of the church is ministry. As Christians we need to be aware of the spiritual needs of others and sensitively seek to help them at every opportunity—both fellow-believers and non-believers. A word of encouragement or a small act of kindness may be the deciding factor in whether or not a struggling friend is able to stand against the enemy.

in a tribal area of northeast India, the poor Christians of one tribe made great sacrifices and took great risks to aid and encourage the new believers in another tribe after their leader, his wife and ten-year-old daughter were killed for their witness.

Ministry is demonstrating God’s love to others by meeting their needs and healing their hurts in the name of Jesus. Each time you reach out in love to others you are ministering to them. The church is to equip the saints to do the work of ministry.

A co-worker and his family were visiting in the southern part of the Ukraine. As they entered the hotel after a tiring day in the streets, their daughter came sobbing into their room. “I saw a man today begging for money. He had no legs and was sitting on a skateboard. He looked so poor and lonely.” The tears rolled down her cheeks. She truly felt compassion for a sight that they didn’t even notice.

“I think Jesus wants us to give him a Bible when we see him again,” she commented after they prayed together.

The following morning early, as they started their journey through the streets of Odessa, it wasn’t long before she saw him. They knew that there was a certain amount of risk involved in handing out Bibles in the streets and thus didn’t want to make it too obvious. He opened the Bible and slowly started paging through it. He reached down and took all the money in the handkerchief next to him and offered it to them.

They suddenly realized that he must be under the impression that they were selling the Bible on the black market and therefore the offer of all his savings. “Nyet, gift, gift,” and they pushed back his hand with the money. He took the Bible, pressed it against his chest and then tears started rolling down his cheeks. He opened the Bible spending several minutes reading and paging through a book that he had obviously heard about but had never seen. They left him with hearts overflowing with gratitude.

Jesus made ministry so simple. It can be as easy as offering a thirsty person a glass of water in His name!

RESPONSE: Today I will look for opportunities to minister to needy hearts in Jesus’ name.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I ask You to show me today those to whom I can minister in Your name.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 20

DISCIPLESHIP

“…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - Matthew 28:20

Another related function of the church is discipleship. Once we have seen a friend or loved-one come to Christ we have a responsibility to see that they grow in the Lord. In some cultures, if a person saves another’s life, that person becomes responsible for the one saved. This is a good concept for the Christian. If we lead someone else into new life in Christ, we are responsible to see that person learns what the Bible teaches about the Christian life.

The Bible is so important to Christian growth that many Christians want to immediately give a Bible to anyone they may lead to the Lord. In some countries, like China or North Korea, faithful Christians have carried on for years without Bibles, but it was very difficult. They had to depend on Scripture verses that one of their members memorized at some earlier time, or perhaps heard on a Christian radio broadcast. The almost desperate hunger for the Bible among Christians who have been cut off from it for an extended period, dramatically illustrates just how important the Bible is to the Christian life.

If formal training centers have been closed, it is especially imperative that local churches take very seriously their responsibilities to teach (11 Timothy 2:2). This teaching may have to be done on a one-to-one basis whenever a mature Christian and a young Christian can get together.

There are many examples in the Bible of leaders being trained in this way. Besides the clear example of Christ teaching His disciples, we see Barnabas teaching Mark (Acts 12:25; 15:39), Priscilla and Aquila helping Apollos (Acts 18:24-26), and Paul training Timothy (Acts 16:1-3). Paul gives us the most detailed approach to “disciple” a young believer. He taught first by example (I Corinthians 4:16), then he openly gave himself to his disciples, living with them and sharing all he had (Acts 20:34). His relationship with them was not just "student/ teacher." Rather, he became very personally involved with them (I Timothy 1:1-2). He gave them responsibilities while they were still in training, and kept in close touch with them even after they had become leaders themselves (I & II Timothy and Titus).

In a prison in Sudan, a pastor quietly discipled a young believer from Muslim background as they were forced to work together. After his release, the young Christian became a dynamic witness for Christ.

RESPONSE: Discipleship is another function of the church and is crucial in the life of a follower of Jesus.

PRAYER: Pray for those in difficult circumstances—such as prison—trying to disciple new believers.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks


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Holding on to Hope

by Joyce Meyer - posted May 20, 2015

And now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in You. Psalm 39:7

God’s Word says that He wants us to be blessed (see Deuteronomy 29:9). It states we can and will be blessed in every way when we walk in God’s will. Satan wants to keep people fearful and hopeless. Hopelessness steals our God-given peace and joy.

The enemy tells people they will never have anything, their life will never change, and things will never get better. And when people believe his lies, they remain hopeless and discouraged. We receive what we believe, whether it is positive or negative, so it’s vitally important for us to have faith in God constantly, like Mark 11:22–24 tells us to do.

Refuse to be hopeless and put your trust in God’s Word. Be like Abraham, of whom it is said that although he had no reason to hope, he hoped in faith that God’s promises would come to pass in his life. As he waited, he gave praise and glory to God, and Satan was not able to defeat him with doubt and unbelief (see Romans 4:18–20).

Prayer of Thanks
Father, thank You for the power of hope. I am grateful that no matter what the circumstances around me look like, I can place my hope in You and in Your Word. I am at peace today because You are the source of my hope.


"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 19

ARE YOU WORKING OR FUNCTIONING?

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Matthew 28:19

Johan Companjen, past President of Open Doors International, was travelling in the Philippines. Finding it extremely hot in his hotel room, he called for a staff person. “Is the air-conditioning not working?” he asked. “Oh yes sir,” the man replied, “It’s working. It’s just not functioning!”

Jesus Christ ordained five functions for His church to be involved in for Him. We are to evangelize (Matthew 28:19); to disciple or train those who are evangelized (Matthew 28:20); to minister or serve people demonstrating God’s love (Matthew 22:39; Ephesians 4:12); to fellowship together (Ephesians 2:19; Galatians 6:10); and to worship together (Matthew 4:10; John 4:23). In the Bible, there is not necessarily a priority order for these five purposes. They are all equally important.

Evangelism is one primary function. If we really have come to know Christ as Lord and Savior, we will want to share this wonderful experience with those we love. It sometimes seems hard or embarrassing to share the Gospel with our friends and relatives. But if we really love them, and if we really believe that without Christ they will suffer for eternity separated from God, we will tell them no matter how oppressive the culture or the political situation may be.

Restrictions on the church cause new creative means of evangelism to arise. In a restricted country of Asia, one such creative method is to hire a bus and invite relatives and friends to a free outing to the beach. Once in the bus, the pastor with a hand-held loudspeaker starts preaching to his “captive audience” about the love of Christ. At the beach the sharing and fellowship continues…as well as a water baptism for new believers.

In Soviet Russia, a group of Christians took advantage of the funeral of a small daughter of one of the members to present a public evangelistic witness. On the way to the cemetery, they stopped every few hundred meters to sing triumphant songs of praise. The father of the dead child also gave a clear message of salvation in Christ. Many listeners along the way were deeply touched.

In Vietnam, Pastor Ho Hieu Ha spent over six years in prison for pastoring a growing church right under the noses of the unhappy authorities. But he felt that his imprisonment was not a waste because he used the time to witness to others who were also in prison. When he was released, he had led 96 people to Jesus and discipled them.

RESPONSE: I am committed to sharing Christ’s love with others. It is a primary function of the church.

PRAYER: Pray for those in restricted environments as they creatively find ways to witness about their faith.

STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM (SSTS) -A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Today’s Scripture
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
(Philippians 2:13, NLT)

The Desire to Please Him
Do you desire to please Him? When you become a believer by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, God begins working in you. He changes your desires from self-seeking to God-seeking. When you make a wrong choice or do something that displeases Him, most times, you know it immediately. There’s uneasiness on the inside of you. You might even feel a little sick to your stomach. That’s because the desire to please God is built inside of you. That “feeling” is the Spirit’s gentle conviction that keeps us on the path He has for us.

But notice He didn’t just give you the desire to please Him; He gave you the power to please Him, too. He didn’t just call you; He equipped you! Follow that inner prompting. Even when you make a mistake, even when you have a setback, God is always ready to help you. He loves you so much, and He wants the best for you. His plans and purposes for your life are good. And when you are submitted to Him, nothing can stop Almighty God from accomplishing great things in and through you!

A Prayer for Today
“Father, thank You for filling me with the desire to please You. I know that as I follow Your promptings, You are leading me in the path of life. I love You and bless Your holy name in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 18

COMMIT IT ALL TO THE LORD

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

The Bible makes it clear that Christians will suffer. Some pastors have the idea that teaching this fact will drive away new believers. Note that when Paul traveled throughout Asia Minor, he told the new believers, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). He was preparing them for the future as well as explaining their present situation. We should prepare for the same. Paul showed us an example of this when he prayed three times for the removal of his “thorn in the flesh.”Then he saw that it was God’s will for him, and he accepted it. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

When suffering Christians are not sure they are in the will of God they will be unsure if their suffering is really God’s will. However, our great God “works for the good of those who love him...”(Romans 8:28). If we consciously submit to His will, He will give His divine direction. Our suffering and persecution can be placed in His hands by an act of our will. No believer needs to suffer alone and in doubt. Commit it all to the Lord (Proverbs 16:3).

As a young Muslim boy, twelve years of age, Abdul, experienced a tragedy that would change his life forever. Abdul drowned and was dead for more than an hour.

During his death he had a vision of angels coming to fetch him and then bringing him to a closed door. A man met him at the door and asked him where he was going. Abdul answered that he was on his way to heaven. The man answered that he would not be allowed in because Abdul still had a lot of work to do on earth. He woke up on his bed to find a pastor praying for him.

This happened twenty years ago and ever since, Abdul’s life has been changed. Even though Abdul only completed fifth grade in school, he is currently the pastor of a small church in a very poor village on the island of Mindanao in the Philippine Islands.

In his own words Abdul says, “I don’t understand God’s purposes in my suffering, but I now know the Lord.”

Abdul has a ministry in healing and is a source of great encouragement in his village.

RESPONSE: Today I will accept that suffering accomplishes purposes unknown to us now.

PRAYER: Pray for Christians who are suffering today and cannot accept this as God’s will. Praise God that someday we will understand all things fully.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Pursue and Seek Love

by Joyce Meyer - posted May 18, 2015

Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest]. 1 Corinthians 14:1

Developing a love walk like the one displayed in the life of Jesus is like digging for gold. True Christ-like love is not found on the surface of life. It cannot just be seen and picked up. The Bible says you must eagerly pursue and seek it. This means you must go after love with all your might, as if you cannot live without it.

You must learn all you can about love and familiarize yourself with everything Jesus and the apostles said about it. However, not only are you to learn about love, you are also to seek, pursue, and acquire it.

Tonight, ask God to help you seek and acquire His kind of love—the love that can make a meaningful difference in your life . . . and in the lives of those around you.

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 17

SPIRITUAL WORK

“Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” Philippians 1:14

A pastor imprisoned for his faith in Eritrea recently wrote to his wife:

God, by His holy will, has prolonged my prison sentence to five years and four month. I very much long for the day that I will be reunited with you my dear wife, our children and God's people in the church.

My dear, listen to me—not only as a wife, but also as a Christian woman who has come to understand who God is and how deep and mysterious His ways are. Yes! I love you, I love the children, and I would love to be free in order to serve God. But, in here, God has made menot only a sufferer for His Name's sake in a prison of this world over which Christ has won victory, but also a prisoner of His indescribable love and grace. I am testing and experiencing the love and care of our Lord every day.

When they first brought me to this prison, I had thoughts which were contrary to what the Bible says. I thought the devil had prevailed over the Church and over me. I thought the work of the Gospel in Eritrea was over. But it did not take one day for the Lord to show me that He is a sovereign God and that He is in control of all things - even here in prison.

The moment I entered my cell, one of the prisoners called me and said, “Pastor, come over here. Everyone in this cell are [unsaved]. You are very much needed here.” So, on the same day I was put in prison, I carried on my spiritual work.

My dear, the longer I stay in here, the more I love my Savior and tell the people here about His goodness. His grace is enabling me to overcome the coldness and the longing that I feel for you and for our children. Sometimes I ask myself, “Am I out of my mind? Am I a fool?” Well, isn't that what the Apostle Paul said, “Whether I am of sound mind or out of my mind, I am Christ's!”

My most respected wife, I love you more than I can say. Please help the children understand that I am here as a prisoner of Christ for the greater cause of the Gospel.

RESPONSE: Today I will live in the awareness that God is in control of all that happens in my life. My suffering can contribute to the spiritual strength of others.

PRAYER: Please pray for the wives and families of pastors imprisoned for their faith. Pray that they will be strengthened and an encouragement to others, despite their own pain.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Standing Strong Through the Storm - May 16

FLY TO JESUS

“Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” Hebrews 12:10

Christmas is a time of peace and joy for those who are fortunate enough to celebrate the birth of their Savior in freedom. For Marko and his two fellow believers it was the fifteenth Christmas that they had to celebrate behind the bars of a prison cell in a Muslim country.

The next day some colleagues felt they had to visit Marko and his friends as an encouragement and confirm to them once again the love of Immanuel—God with us.

Even though they often heard the saying that a prison cell in the Middle East is the closest to hell that you will experience on earth, nothing prepared them for the sense of hopelessness that they experienced in that waiting room of despair.

As the prisoners entered, it was not difficult to recognize Marko and his two friends. Beaming eyes and smiling faces immediately assured them Marko and friends knew they had not been separated from the love of God.

Tears flowed freely as they shared how lonely they were on Christmas day and how joyful they were to know that they were not forgotten.

“It was so difficult yesterday.” Marko spoke softly. “Apart from being Christian prisoners in a Muslim prison, it was also a fast day of Ramadan. We were not allowed out of our cells and we were not allowed to talk to anyone. Fortunately, a week ago the three of us got hold of pieces of a cake and we hid them underneath our cushions especially for Christmas day. Yesterday, when the fast was broken, we simply walked to one another, held the slices of cake together and said “Merry Christmas!”

The visiting hour flew past and soon it was time to say goodbye. Before being marched back to his prison cell, we looked at Marko and asked him a final question. “What are you going to do when you get to your cell and are once again all alone?

Marko smiled and answered, “I will simply spread the wings of my spirit and fly to Jesus.”

RESPONSE: Today I will seek to understand the biblical principle that suffering makes our lives more holy.

PRAYER: Lord, help me, like Marko, to keep my eyes fixed on You regardless of my circumstances.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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MAKING CHANGES TO FULFILL GOD'S PLAN

Matthew 16:24-27

As god’s adopted children, we’ve been given a new purpose: glorifying our Father through righteous living. Yesterday we saw that this means making certain modifications in our life. Let’s consider two more changes that may be necessary for followers of Jesus.

One potential adjustment relates to our belief system: A Christian’s thinking should match Jesus’. The world’s influence is strong—if we listened to the culture, we’d push ahead of others, take all the credit for our accomplishments, and keep material possessions for our own use. But Scripture teaches that the last shall be first (Mark 9:35), God is the one deserving our praise (Psalms 96:4), and Christians are to be generous people (1 Timothy 6:18). What we believe needs to match what the Bible says is true.

Lastly, we may have to redefine our commitments to be sure the Lord comes first. His desires for us should take precedence over what we want and what others ask us to do. We must evaluate our choices in light of God’s plan for us. This may mean letting go of a favorite activity, taking on a new responsibility, or remaining where we are despite yearning to leave. Our Father wants and deserves His children’s full devotion (Matthew 22:37).

These changes do not all happen instantly at salvation; rather, they take place over a lifetime. Whenever the Holy Spirit reveals a deeper truth or calls us to a new work, we will have additional alterations to make. But such changes are accompanied by the confidence of knowing that God will use us to fulfill His plan.

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Psalm 92: 14-16: Whoever clings to me I will deliver; whoever knows my name I will set on high. All who call on me I will answer; I will be with them in distress; I will deliver them and give them honor. With length of days I will satisfy them and show them my saving power.
Instead of my own thoughts, I would like to share this hymn by Fanny Crosby, which I think captures the essence of the Scripture passage:

Thou art with me, blessed Savior, every moment, every hour;
I adore thee for thy mercy and thy wondrous keeping power.
O’er my life, thy love presiding, step by step my way is guiding;
In the Rock my soul is hiding—Rock of Ages, cleft for me.

I am resting on thy promise, I am trusting only thee;
And rejoicing in the fullness of thy grace that makes me free.
Thou hast led me, O my Savior, and thy hand will lead me still;
Through the valley and the shadow I shall walk and fear no ill.

Hope you enjoy!!!!!


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WHEN WE ARE LONELY

Hebrews 13:1-5

God created humanity for companionship with Himself and each other. He doesn’t want people to suffer the emotional turmoil of loneliness. That’s why His Word contains pledges of His constant presence as well as instructions to prevent loneliness among church members.

The Lord stressed His unceasing presence because He knows our need for assurance, especially when we feel deserted or isolated. His vow never to forsake believers is found throughout the Bible: This comforting word was spoken to Joshua, the Israelites, and the disciples who were about to witness Jesus’ ascension (Joshua 1:5; Matthew 28:20). Some biblical saints picked up the theme in their writing as well. David often sought God’s solace (Psalms 25:16). And the apostle Paul preached that nothing compared with drawing close to Christ (Philippians 3:8). God wants every believer to trust implicitly that He is near.

The church is designed to meet our need for person-to-person connection. A spiritual body works much like a human body—parts are both independent and interdependent, each needing others in order to function well. We require support from our brothers and sisters in Christ. Knowing this, Paul admonished people to accept one another (Romans 15:7), bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and avoid judging (Romans 14:13).

Loneliness can cripple a person emotionally and spiritually. Human beings are not designed to walk through this world alone. We are made for relationship, which God gladly supplies. Lest we forget that the Lord is near, He gave the Bible this consistent theme: I love you and I am with you always.



"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 15

THE UNLIMITED HOLY SPIRIT

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Suffering burns away pride, as it did in Paul’s life. When Paul prayed three times for the removal of his “thorn in the flesh,” he saw that it was God’s will for him, and he accepted it. Many Christians are defeated at this point because they are not sure that they are in the will of God, so they are not sure if the suffering is really His will for them. Without going aside into a Bible study on knowing the will of God, we can just present this thought. Our great God "works for the good of those who love him…” (Romans 8:28). If we consciously submit to His will, He will give His divine direction. Our suffering and persecution can be placed in His hands by a simple act of our will. No believer needs to suffer alone and in doubt. Commit it all to the Lord (Proverbs 16:3).

In an unscheduled visit to Lat Village in Vietnam, a co-worker had the joy of visiting Father Tranh, the leader of the local church. Realizing the isolation and loneliness of this leader the group with our co-worker immediately asked how they could pray for him.

Not having an abundance of fellowship, he started sharing his hardships and needs. He confirmed the persecution and discrimination against the tribal people as already expressed by all the leaders they had met in Saigon. He shared the hardship of ministering to his people and the difficulties of restriction both by the police as well as the dense forest that limited his movements.

Father Thanh had 6,000 members in his congregation and found it an overwhelming task to be the only leader. “How do you do it brother?” the group asked. “How many people assist you in this enormous task?”

“I am only me!” he responded and immediately went on to conclude his answer, “but even though I am limited, the Holy Spirit is unlimited.”

RESPONSE: Today I will recognize that God may send suffering into my life to burn away my pride.

PRAYER: Pray for suffering church leaders around the world today—especially Father Thanh.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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THE REAL WAR

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

The enemy’s primary strategy against the believer is deception. We learn from 2 Corinthians 11:14 that Satan often “disguises himself as an angel of light.” In fact, Jesus called him “the father of lies” (John 8:44). Thus, our best weapon is the truth, which sets us free from deception’s bondage (v. 32).

It is hard to avoid deception when you are not aware of the adversary’s schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11). One of his oldest deceptions, which goes back to Adam and Eve, is the temptation to doubt what the Lord has said. To do so means to doubt God’s heart and character, which is similar to a soldier on the front line setting down his weapon as the enemy approaches—mistrusting God sets you up to be knocked down repeatedly by the evil one. If you listen to this voice of doubt, you give Satan a foothold. That will weaken you so that he can gear up to bring about further destruction.

Another scheme of the devil is to distract the believer. A distraction is anything that drags you away from what is most important at the moment and makes you so busy that you lose focus. Satan doesn't use just blatantly sinful or superficial things to divert us from abiding in Christ—he will even use good things to subtly build up a wall of “noise” around you so that you gradually stop listening to God’s voice.

Ask the Lord to reveal any area in your life where you may be susceptible to deception. He will give you power to claim the truth and walk in freedom.


"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 14

HE IS WORTHY

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7

Christian singer, Helen Berhane was arrested for sharing her faith in her home country of Eritrea. She spent almost three years in prison, much of this time in a metal shipping container. Because she would not deny her faith or stop sharing her faith, she was beaten so severely she could not walk. During her time in the containers she wrote new Christian songs and spent her time encouraging other Christian prisoners, as well as witnessing to the prison guards.

After her release, she resettled in Europe and has written her prison memoirs in a small book titled, Song of the Nightingale. In the introduction when describing her feelings inside the shipping container prison, she writes, “Sometimes I cannot believe that this is my life—these four metal walls, all of us corralled like cattle, the pain, the hunger, the fear. All because of my belief in a God who is risen, who charges me to share my faith with those who do not yet know him. A God who I am forbidden to worship. I think back to a question I have been asked many times over my months in prison. “Is your faith worth this, Helen?” As the guards continue on their rounds, I whisper the answer: “Yes.”

RESPONSE: Today I will accept suffering as something that can prove and purify my faith.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for those trials and challenges that help me be more like You. You are worth it all and more!

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Standing Strong Through the Storm - May 13

HAS MY ATTITUDE CHANGED?

"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Matthew 18:35

In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a street-witnessing team became involved in an extraordinary situation. A young Mexican called Samuel would walk for two hours each day to join them and act as an interpreter. They discovered that Samuel's mother and sister had been murdered and that he witnessed the killings but, despite trying to intervene, was unable to stop them. He said he knew the man who did it.

He had a desire to go and avenge the killings, but then became a Christian and his whole attitude changed. He began a Bible study group now attended by twenty people. On the final night of the meetings, he saw the man he believed had murdered his mother and sister go forward to receive Jesus Christ as his Savior. Samuel made his way through the throng of people and shook his hand and welcomed him “into the Kingdom.” Samuel was able to forgive him.

In Jesus’ teaching, there is little doubt that, as a Christian, I MUST forgive those who have wronged me. Then our human, time-bound minds cry out with the loud fleshly inquiry—“WHY?”

Again Philip Yancey points out that through the process of forgiveness we realize we are not as different from the wrongdoer as we would like to think. And we end up linked on the same side.

In essence, God linked Himself with us humans in the incarnation. Somehow God had to come to terms with these creatures He desperately wanted to love. On earth, living among us, he learned what it was like to be human—yet without sin. But He put Himself on our side. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us.

Forgiveness is a key component of the victorious, overcomer. This is the way of the cross to becoming “more than conquerors.”

As a young Christian in Cambodia, Cham witnessed a Khmer Rouge soldier—a youth he knew from school—bludgeon his mother to death by hitting her repeatedly over the head with a wooden board.

Cham suffered from severe depression over memories of that incident for many months. But eventually the Lord helped him gain victory over it.

Ten years later, Cham was walking down the main street of Phnom Penh and saw that young man who had killed his mother. The young man was very fearful of revenge when he recognized Cham approaching him. With moist eyes Cham looked at him and said, “In the name of Jesus, I forgive you!” Cham was free.

RESPONSE: I accept today that forgiveness is a must for me as a follower of Jesus.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for so many rich examples of the freeing beauty of forgiveness.

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God's Gifts

by Joyce Meyer - posted May 13, 2015

Therefore it is said, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men. Ephesians 4:8

I am gifted in communication. My worship leader is gifted musically. My two sons are gifted in business administration. My husband is gifted in wisdom and financial management. We make a good team because we have different abilities. We complement and complete each other. A lot of people never do anything because they cannot do everything. They are negative people who concentrate on what they cannot do instead of seeing what they can do and then do it.

If you confidently step out and do your part, God will surround you with people who have the gifts and abilities that you don't have. However, when a person lacks confidence, quite often they cannot receive help from other people. They are too busy making comparisons to receive the help God has sent them. Insecurity and a lack of confidence will steal the wonderful life that God has planned for you. It causes us to be jealous of and resent those whom we should appreciate.

You don't have to be prepared to do the entire job by yourself; just prepare yourself to do the best that you can do and remember that God will add what you don't have.

Lord, You have designed me with gifts and abilities to develop and use in service with others. Keep me from being jealous of others, and help me to enjoy the journey. Amen.


"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Today’s Scripture
“...Let them say continually, ‘The LORD be magnified, Who delights in the prosperity of His servant.’ ”
(Psalm 35:27, NASB)

He Delights in Your Prosperity
God desires that you be blessed and prosperous in all that you do! He desires that you be so blessed that you can turn around and be a blessing everywhere you go. He wants you to have so much peace, joy and victory that when other people get around you, it spills over onto them. In the Psalms, David said, “My cup runs over.” He was saying, “I’m so full of God, I’m overflowing!

Don’t settle for a barely-get-by-mentality. Jesus came so that you can live an abundant life. That means an abundance of joy, an abundance of peace, an abundance of health, an abundance of finances. You may not see it right now, and maybe you haven’t experienced it in the past, but don’t get complacent and just settle where you are. Get a vision for your future! Get a vision for what God wants to do in your life — He delights in your prosperity!

A Prayer for Today
“Father, thank You for Your hand of blessing on my life. Help me develop a vision for the abundant life You have in store and show me how to be a blessing everywhere I go in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun to rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” Matthew 5: 44 & 45
I am thinking of someone who has made me upset and angry, I can feel the hatred and malice stirring in me right now. What can I do to get back at this person??? The Scripture reading says to PRAY FOR HIM. My upset and anger come from my perceptions, from my ego. When I feel this much offended, it is pretty plain that I have set myself up to feel special. I have forgotten that both I and my perceived offender are both CHILDREN OF GOD and both loved by him. We are siblings!!! Neither one of us is more or less than the other in his eyes. He is sending his blessings on both of us impartially. If I am cursing someone who is my sister or brother, I am cursing myself. If I bless someone who is my sister or brother, I am blessing myself. To be worthy of God’s blessings, I must bless everyone in God’s way…impartially. Just down the road, the situation may be reversed; I may be the offender and my brother or sister may be the one feeling the anger and malice. Can I hope that they too will pray for me?????


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Standing Strong Through the Storm - May 11

AN ACT OF FAITH

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

To understand forgiveness we must realize what forgiveness is NOT:
• Forgiveness is not forgetting. Deep hurts can rarely be wiped out of one’s awareness.
• Forgiveness is not reconciliation. Reconciliation takes two persons, but an injured party can forgive an offender without reconciliation.
• Forgiveness is not condoning. Forgiveness does not necessarily excuse bad or hurtful behavior.
• Forgiveness is not dismissing. It involves taking the offense seriously, not passing it off as inconsequential or insignificant.
• Forgiveness is not a vague notion of “tolerance.” This is, at best, a low-grade parody of forgiveness. At worst, it’s a way of sweeping the real issues in life under the carpet.
• Forgiveness is not pardoning. A pardon is a legal transaction that releases an offender from the consequences of an action, such as a penalty.

Throughout the Old Testament we read that only God can forgive sins. We hear David exclaim, “He forgives all my sins…” (Psalm 103:3). We also see examples of human forgiveness—even in pain—like Joseph forgiving his brothers for selling him into slavery. Joseph gains true freedom. He then names his son Manasseh, “one who causes to be forgotten.”

In the New Testament we see Jesus, the Lamb of God, come into to the world to die for our sins. Through His shed blood we can once and for all receive ultimate forgiveness. This is the pure “gospel of grace.” This forgiveness is a gift. We do not deserve it but God, in His grace, reached out to provide forgiveness to a dying world.

Then we read in the verse above the impact of this on those of us who have received that forgiveness. Its ethical challenge parallels “love your enemies” and “pray for your persecutors.”

In the final analysis, forgiveness is an act of faith. By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am. By forgiving, I release my own right to get even and leave all issues of fairness for God to work out. I leave in God’s hands the scales that must balance justice and mercy. I simply forgive others and leave them to God.

RESPONSE: Today I will leave fairness and justice in God’s hands. I will obediently forgive others just as the Lord forgave me.

PRAYER: Lord, grant me the faith to trust You with the offenses committed against me. I will forgive.

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Today’s Scripture
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”
(Ephesians 4:31, NIV)


Refuse Bitterness
Bitterness is an extremely destructive force. It seeps into the depths of your heart when you choose not to forgive someone. When you harbor unforgiveness, it closes the door to God’s power working in your life. The Bible even tells us that if we choose not to forgive others, God cannot even hear our prayers. Thank God that He has empowered us to forgive and release bitterness! You can make the choice to get rid of bitterness so you can live in freedom!

You may have been through unfair situations in your life, but it’s not over until God says it’s over. God always has the final say, and He is a God of justice. God sees every wrong that’s ever been done to you. He sees every unfair situation. If you will stay in faith, He’ll bring justice into your life. Your attitude should be, “It may have been unfair. They may have done me wrong, but I refuse to get bitter. I know my time of blessing is coming.”

A Prayer Today
“Father, today I refuse bitterness. I refuse to allow the past to keep me stuck. Right now I forgive those who have hurt me. I pray blessing on them and pray they would come to know Your truth. Thank You for setting my heart free today in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Today's Word with Joel and Victoria

Today’s Scripture
“So give your father and mother joy! May she who gave you birth be happy.”
(Proverbs 23:25, NLT)

God Bless Mothers
Today we celebrate Mother’s Day. We honor their love, life and investment into families. Proverbs 31 talks about the woman who honors the Lord and tells us that she deserves honor. In verse 28 it says, “Her children arise and call her blessed.”

Today, we rise up and bless the mothers, but we also rise up and bless all who honor the Lord! Psalm one says that when we take delight in His laws, when we put Him first place, we open the door to His blessing in our lives.

A Prayer Today
“Father, today I choose to bless and honor You as I bless and honor my own mother. Thank You for the gift of family and for showing us Your nurturing nature through the heart of a mother in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm May 9

FORGIVENESS

…“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

A Spanish father and son were estranged. The father later went to search for his son. When he could not find him, the father put the following ad in the Madrid newspaper.

"Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father.”

Saturday noon, 800 Pacos showed up at the office looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful actions that Christians can perform. The world does not understand the ability or reasons to do this because it is most unnatural in a dog-eat-dog world. There is also pain to be overcome because behind every act of forgiveness lies the wound of betrayal; but there is far more pain and emotional, social, physical damage done when we do not forgive.

An Asian Christian apologist says, “If I am asked what separates Christianity from other religions, or ‘what’s different about Christianity, aren’t all religions the same when you get down to it?’ one of the first things that I would say is bound up in this one beautiful word: forgiveness.”

Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive a brother who sins against him. He thinks he is magnanimous and suggests seven times! Jesus makes his famous reply, “…not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22).

Jesus then shares a parable about a man who, after much pleading for mercy, was forgiven for much and yet would not forgive another person who owed him little. In the parable, the master throws the man into jail to be tortured until he pays back his large debt. Then comes the conclusion, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).

RESPONSE: Today I will forgive others who hurt me because God has commanded it and because my own forgiveness depends on it.

PRAYER: Lord, give me a spirit of forgiveness toward others who hurt me, just as You have forgiven me.

STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM (SSTS) -A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Standing Strong Through the Storm - May 8

OBEDIENCE

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

Jesus said He would not leave us alone but would give us a Helper to be with us forever (John 14: 16-18). He taught us that the Holy Spirit would be our Counselor (John 14: 26). Jesus also called Him the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17).

Two sisters in southern China came to Christ in a house church meeting. Twenty months later a friend from Hong Kong visited them and asked what they had been doing since their conversion. "Starting home meetings," was their timid response.

"How many home meetings?"

"Only thirty," was their halting reply.

"How many attend your meetings?" was the next nonchalant question.

"Well, at the smallest one about two hundred and eighty!"

Now the questioner was totally involved and quickly continued,

"How many attend your largest meeting?"

"Not even 5000, only about four thousand nine hundred!"

The Hong Kong Christian was flabbergasted. And in his excitement quickly asked, “How do you ladies—both new Christians—know what to do?"

They simply replied, “We pray. And after we pray, the Holy Spirit tells us what to do!”

It is also obvious that these two ladies were then obedient to the Holy Spirit’s direction. The goal of all Christians should be to live so completely under the control of the Holy Spirit that it can be said we are walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). As Paul reminded the Galatians Christians, they began their Christian lives by a miracle work of God, new birth in Jesus, and they could only expect to continue it by God’s power. This fact is even more evident in a hostile environment.

RESPONSE: The Holy Spirit wants to be my guide and counselor today. I will be obedient to His leading.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to walk this day in the power of Your Holy Spirit. May I also keep in step!

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Power in the Word

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“Your word have I laid up in my heart that I might not sin against You.”
(Psalm 119:11, AMP)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
The Word of God is living and active! It’s powerful in our lives! Did you know that the Word of God has the power to protect you and keep you from sin?

God’s Word comes in written form, the Bible, but His spoken word can come in many other ways. In scripture, His word came through a burning bush, a still small voice, and even a donkey! He might speak to your heart through a friend or through a worship song. He may speak to you through creation. When He does speak, your spirit knows it. There is confirmation in your inner man. You know it’s His voice because He always speaks truth, and truth always sets you free!

Hold God’s Word close to your heart. Let it protect you. Meditate on His Word day and night. Let His truth transform you and lead you in the way everlasting!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for Your Word which strengthens and protects me. Thank You for speaking truth to my heart. Help me hear Your voice more clearly so I can live a life pleasing to You in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm, May 7

PRAY FOR THOSE WHO MISTREAT YOU

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

In Luke chapter six, Jesus defines persecution with four verbs: hatred, exclusion, insult and rejection (Luke 6:22). But later in the chapter Jesus gives much more emphasis on how you and I are to respond to persecution that comes our way.

One of the great lessons from the Persecuted Church is praying for those who persecute you. This is a parallel principle with loving your enemies. Multiple examples can be shared how God has honored this principle of prayer.

Noskie was a former Imam in the southern part of the Philippines. He was a devout Muslim and one who generated respect from that little community in which he lived. Coming home from a fishing expedition one day, he was shocked to discover that his two daughters had converted to Christianity. He was well aware of the shame that this would bring to the whole community.

In his anger, he mercilessly beat them hoping that they would renounce their new faith. But the daughters remained faithful. They loved their father and knew that nothing was impossible with God so they started praying for their father’s conversion.

Sometime later, while fishing, Noskie felt a sudden piercing pain in his stomach. As the pain intensified, his belly began to balloon. He writhed in unbearable pain. He prayed but nothing happened. In desperation he cried out to the God of his daughters, Jesus Christ, and was instantly healed.

Noskie emerged from the experience a new person. He submitted his heart and surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Today he faithfully serves the Lord as a lay pastor. His daughters help in the ministry.

RESPONSE: I am committed to respond to persecution with non-violence as Jesus taught.

PRAYER: Lord, I realize today that when I pray for my enemy and love my enemy, he is no longer my enemy. Help me to always respond this way.

STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM (SSTS) -A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Being Spiritually Mature

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
(1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Spiritual maturity isn’t measured by how long you’ve been a Christian, or how much you know, or how often you go to church. Spiritual maturity is measured by the way you treat other people. It’s measured by the love you allow to operate through you.

First Corinthians 13 tells us about the characteristics of love. When we are walking in love, we treat other people with courtesy and respect. Are you kind to the person at the checkout counter that may be moving too slowly? Are you gentle when you are driving down the highway and someone cuts you off? Are you patient with your family and coworkers? These are all ways we show love.

Scripture also tells us that love is patient. It is kind. It does not envy; it is not proud. It is not rude. Love is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love never fails. Notice that these characteristics don’t have anything to do with feelings. That’s because love is a choice. You can choose to walk in love toward people even when you don’t feel like it — and that’s what being spiritually mature is all about!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for loving me so that I can show love to others. Teach me to be patient and kind and treat others the way You always treat me in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm, May 6

USE SIMPLE WORDS

“Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.” James 5:17

Rev. Dr. David Cho who pastors the largest church in the world—a cell group based church—is also very strong on the significance of prayer. As a pastor of a growing Korean church, he felt he could not pray less than five hours a day.

He distinguishes between the type of prayer we usually think of—fellowship prayer—and what he calls “task” prayer. Both are important forms of prayer but task prayer is terrific labor and takes much energy. It is closest to intercessory prayer and is usually very focused prayer about an intense need.

Here are the characteristics of “task” prayer:

Have a clear goal – be very focused

Use simple words

Mobilize all the emotion in your heart

Be persistent (Luck 18:1-8)

Believers in China are very much involved in this type of prayer. Here is one description of believers who had gathered for a special meeting in a cave twenty-five feet below ground level. After a three-hour message, they prayed with tears running down from their eyes, and the stream of tears intermingled with their “noserun,” dripping down like transparent noodles, which they ignored. For their hearts were so turned to the face of Christ that they became totally oblivious to their own unkempt state. One sister prayed for over 45 minutes standing, pleading with the Lord to release her fellow-evangelist and her fiancé from prison. He had fasted for many days and refused to divulge any information on the church's evangelistic activity.

RESPONSE: When I have an intense need, I will practice task prayer.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to have the faith, persistence and emotion of Elijah when I pray.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Develop Your Gift

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“Do not neglect your gift...”
(1 Timothy 4:14, NIV)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
You were created and designed for a specific purpose. God has placed gifts inside of you to equip you to fulfill your purpose. Do you know what those gifts are? What are you passionate about? What can you do better than other people? What would you choose to do if there were no obstacles? God wants you to develop and pursue the gift inside of you because your gift is a part of your destiny.

The gifts God gives aren’t just for us. He gives us gifts to help build other people. You have a specific role to play in the body of Christ. That doesn’t mean God’s going to send you to a third world country or make you preach. But, there are people all around you that only you can reach. Are you using your gifts to build the kingdom? Are you serving in your local church? Even if you are still discovering what your gifts are, you can simply take a step and volunteer. Everyone has something to give. You can give a smile, a handshake or an encouraging word. When you step out and serve others, that’s how you develop your gift and move forward in the destiny He has for you!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for equipping me to fulfill my destiny. Thank You for walking with me and guiding me. Show me ways to develop the gifts You have given me so that I can be a blessing everywhere I go in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


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Standing Strong Through the Storm - May 5

FREEDOM TO MEMORIZE THE BIBLE

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

When China’s best-known pastor, Wang Ming-dao, was finally released from prison, he stated, “In these past 20 years, I have not had a copy of the Bible. Happily between the ages of 21 to 24, I spent my time at home doing the housework and studying the Scriptures. I memorized many passages. These passages in my heart came out one by one and strengthened me. Had it not been for those words of God, not only I, but many others, would also have been defeated.”

Pastor Lamb in southern China was in prison for many years at that same time. “I understood then why I had memorized so much of God’s Word while in Bible school,” he says. “I kept my sanity only by repeating Bible verses over and over.”

The best way the church can prepare for trials and persecution is by seriously studying and learning the Word of God. Christians need an overview of the whole Bible. Understanding God’s outline for mankind in the Bible aids in memorization as well.

What is the right attitude to bring to Bible study? Some read and study the Bible with the intent to get something from it to teach to others. But first, we should approach the Bible with the desire to see the goodness and loving-kindness of God and understand how “wide and long and high and deep”is His love for us (Ephesians 3:17-19). Let His love show you His supply for your own need and then you are better able to meet the needs of others.

Second, approach the Bible with humility. Study the Bible to discover what God has said. Bible study is meant not merely to inform but to transform.

In restricted countries where Bibles are in short supply, pastors are often in a quandary as to which of the many spiritually needy he should share these precious books with. Progress in Bible memorization is one method they can use for determining who will receive the available Bibles. One house church group in Vietnam decided to give them to the believers who were most determined to use them. The criterion used was memory work. So Bibles were shared only with those who recited flawlessly Psalm 119—all 176 verses!

Open Doors is committed to provide God’s Word to those for whom it is not available. “It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes....”(Romans 1:16)

RESPONSE: Today I will memorize a new verse from God’s Word, the Bible.

PRAYER: Pray for the Christians in restricted countries where there is a shortage of God’s Word.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Know His Kindness

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“...the kindness of God leads you to repentance.”
(Romans 2:4, NASB)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
In the natural, when we’ve wronged someone, sometimes it’s easier to avoid them than to face potential rejection. Sometimes we mistakenly look at God the way we view other people, but God isn’t like that. He’s not mad at you; He’s waiting for you with open arms. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, know that His kindness leads you to repentance. He wants to help you get past that obstacle. He doesn’t want there to be anything in the way of your relationship with Him.

Don’t ever let condemnation keep you from going to God. Know His kindness today. Experience His goodness. Trust His faithfulness. He’s promised He’ll never leave you nor forsake you. Turn to Him today and let Him pour His lovingkindness on you!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for loving me today. Thank You for Your kindness. I come to You and repent of anything that stands in the way of our relationship today in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm, May 4

FREEDOM TO CHERISH THE BIBLE

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. “ 1 Peter 1:22-23

The Bible has always been an important resource to those who have not had access to it… especially those in prison. Christian singer, Helen Berhane shares how she smuggled a Bible into a shipping container prison in Eritrea and later was moved to another container which already held eighteen Christian women who had refused to give up their faith. She writes in her book, Song of the Nightingale, how the word of God impacted her and the other women.

“We were very overcrowded, but I was happy to join a Christian group again. Since I was the longest serving prisoner, I took charge. I wanted to help them as much as I could, because I knew they would be comforted by the thought that someone cared for them. I would fold the older ladies’ blankets when they went out to the toilet in the morning, and I would stay behind to clean the container [of human waste].

“Many of them were worried about their husbands and children, so I tried to keep them busy and establish a routine. I would start by preparing breakfast; at this point we got four bread rolls each, two in the morning and two in the evening, with weak lentil soup, and a cup of tea.

Then I would lead a Bible meditation and then I would sing. A month after I was first imprisoned I had managed to smuggle a Bible past the guards. I can’t tell you exactly how I did it, as people still use this method and it is important that the authorities don’t find out how it’s done, but I can say it was a whole Bible split into five smaller sections. This made it easier for me to hide it. Previously I had just read it alone, but now we did group readings every day. I also sang new songs to the group that I had written in prison.

RESPONSE: Today I will cherish my Bible and make sure that in my freedom I internalize it as much as those in prison for the faith.

PRAYER: Pray that all Christian prisoners will somehow gain access to a Bible or the message of the Bible today for encouragement and hope.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Open Windows

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
(Malachi 3:10, AMP)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
God wants to open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings on you today! But, you have to do your part first. Your part is to be a faithful tither and be obedient to the Lord with your finances. We are all stewards over the resources God has given us. When we are faithful stewards, the Lord entrusts us with more. He opens the windows of heaven! Have you ever thought about what kind of blessing would be so great that there would not be room enough to receive it? It may be hard to comprehend, but that’s what God’s Word promises.

Choose to be a giver today. Be a tither. Prove the Lord and get ready to watch Him move mightily on your behalf!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for choosing to bless me. Thank You for opening the windows of heaven in my life. I choose to be obedient to Your Word. I choose to be a giver. I choose to be a faithful steward of Your resources in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm - May 3

FREEDOM IN CHRIST

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. “ Galatians 5:1

Claiming one's freedom in Christ is central to the faith and fighting fear. For example, in China when authorities threaten house church leaders with the confiscation of their property, they reply, “If you want this farm, you need to talk to Jesus, as I have given it to Him. But if you do take it, I am free to trust God for my daily bread.”

When Chinese Christians are threatened with torture, they claim they are “free to trust God for healing.”

When they are imprisoned, they proclaim that they are then “free to share their faith with other prisoners.”

When Chinese believers are told they will be killed, they state that then they are “free to be with Jesus.”

The country of Bulgaria is plagued by a prevailing spirit of fear. Even many Christians suffer from it. It’s a country that was occupied by the Turks for five centuries (1396-1878) followed by several wars. After 1946, it was ruled with an iron hand by the Communists. This long story of repression and sufferings passed on for generations from the parents to the children has left durable marks in their spirits which results in a deep anguish. It acts like a spiritual yoke and creates, as a consequence, the fear of taking any initiative. In families, this anguish has been passed on through generations like a legacy. It has become a vicious circle from which it is difficult to escape. A popular Bulgarian proverb says, “Fear has big eyes!”

Our co-workers were thus surprised when they delivered Bibles to Bulgarian Pastor Simeon Popov. He appeared radiant and serene. The absence of anguish could be explained as much by the action of the Holy Spirit, who releases us from yokes, as by the influence of his study time in Germany. According to the pastor, he not only studied theology, but he also learned to claim his freedom in Christ.

So this draws me to a significant conclusion and principle. If you are a Christian, filled with the Holy Spirit, and have lost your fear of death, you are unstoppable until God calls you home to Heaven!

RESPONSE: Today I will claim my freedom in Christ and live in the power He gives me.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord for freedom from fear that comes only from You.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks


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You are Anointed

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
(Acts 10:38, NASB)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
When Jesus walked the earth, He was on a mission. Not only did He come to die on the cross and save us from our sins, He had a mission to set people free from every kind of brokenness and oppression. He was anointed, or empowered by God, to fulfill His mission. Notice it doesn’t say that He went around doing good to some people or healing some people. No, it says that He went around doing good and healing all. That was His mission, and He is still fulfilling that mission in the earth today. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the Bible says that you become an ambassador of His. That means you are His representative. As His representative, you have access to the same power and authority that He has. You are empowered to fulfill His mission in the earth. You are anointed to do good and heal those who are oppressed by the enemy.

Is there someone in your life who needs a touch from God today? You are His hands and feet. You are anointed to do good. You are anointed to pray for the sick. As you reach out to others and allow God to use you, you will see His power flow through you, and you will be empowered as you empower others. Remember, you are anointed!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for choosing me. Thank You for doing good in my life and setting me free! Show me how I can be an instrument of Your goodness and healing to those around me today in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


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Standing Strong Through the Storm - May 2

WHERE HAS THE LORD CALLED YOU?

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Fear of dying is the number one universal fear for human beings. Virtually every fear has a relationship to death and a connection to dying. For example, why are we afraid of flying? The plane may crash and we may die. Here are seven scriptural principles that enable us to conquer our fear of death:

1. God is in control. Read Psalm 91. (Mark 4:35-41; Phil 4:6-7)

2. Focus on fearing God and dying to self. (Acts 5:29; Galatians 2:20)

3. We are strangers and pilgrims on this earth. (Hebrews 10:32 ff)

4. God always brings good from evil. (Genesis 50:20)

5. The enemy can only harm our body, not our soul. (Matthew 10:28)

6. Absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Timothy 2:11-12)

7. There is a crown of life for the faithful to death. (Revelation 2:10)

Co-workers had just finished an SSTS seminar on the island of Timor when a young pastor suddenly jumped up and proclaimed before all his colleagues “Now I am ready to die for Jesus!” These were no idle words. Every single pastor attending the seminar was directly or indirectly impacted by the massacres on the island of Ambon. Many of their churches had been burned and several had lost loved ones in the attacks on Christians.

As the meeting concluded, our colleague saw that young pastor making his way towards him. “Your being here has inspired me to go out and share the gospel in other areas,” he announced.

“I am happy to hear that brother. Where has the Lord called you to?” he enquired. “To Ambon!”

“My brother, are you sure. This is like signing your own death certificate. You know that most Christians are fleeing the massacre and you want to return?”

His response was simple and without pretense. “If I don’t go back to tell the people about Jesus, who will do it? I am willing to give my life for Jesus!”

RESPONSE: Today I will live prepared to die, and die prepared to live!

PRAYER: When I fear you, Lord, I fear nothing else—even death. Today I pray for those who do not fear You and thus fear everything else—especially death.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Bring Out the Best

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“...love is kind...”
(1 Corinthians 13:4, NIV)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
One translation of today’s verse says, “Love looks for a way to be constructive.” In other words, love looks for ways to improve someone else’s life. Love brings out the best in other people. Don’t just get up in the morning thinking about yourself or how you can make your own life better. Think about how you can make someone else’s life better. Ask yourself, “Who can I encourage today?” “Who can I build up?” Someone in your life needs your encouragement. Someone in your life needs to know that you believe in them. I believe God will hold us responsible for the people He’s put in our lives. He’s counting on us to bring out the best in our family and friends.

Are you improving the lives of those around you? Are you giving them confidence? Ask the Lord to give you creative ways to invest in those around you. As you sow seeds of encouragement and bring out the best in others, God will send people along your path that will build you up, too and help you move forward into the blessing He has in store for you!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for loving me. Thank You for believing in me and always building me up. I ask that You show me creative ways to encourage and build up the people around me. Help me to be an example of Your love today and always in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Here's another study from Max Lucado, thought you would enjoy also...

Let God Have You - UpWords - Week of May 1-7

by Max Lucado

How long has it been since you let God have you? I mean really have you? How long since you gave him a portion of undiluted, uninterrupted time listening for his voice?

Apparently, Jesus did. He made a deliberate effort to spend time with God. Spend much time reading about the listening life of Jesus and a distinct pattern emerges. He spent regular time with God, praying and listening. Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Luke tells us, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

Let me ask the obvious. If Jesus, the Son of God, the sinless Savior of humankind, thought it worthwhile to clear his calendar to pray, wouldn’t we be wise to do the same?

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Standing Strong Through the Storm - May 1

BE NOT AFRAID!

"I sought the Lord and he answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

The one positive fear that the Bible endorses is the fear of God. Wise Solomon said fearing God is the beginning of wisdom. It was Oswald Chambers who added, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

In Eritrea, Helen Berhane was frequently tortured during her almost three years in the shipping container prison. In spite of that she had no fear. Once when interrogated for teaching the Bible to the guards outside her cell, she replied, “I am always looking for opportunities to talk about my faith and to spread the news about Jesus. I am not ashamed of the gospel and I will talk to anyone and to everyone. Jesus does not just want me to tell the prisoners about him, he wants me to tell the guards too. Even if the president were to visit the prison, I would tell him about the gospel.

“I am not afraid of you. You can do what you want to me, but ultimately all you can do is kill my body; you cannot touch my soul. You cannot even kill me unless it is God’s will that I should die.”

Her persecutors had no answer and returned her to her shipping container.

David Aikman writes in his book Great Souls about the personal life of Pope John Paul II—especially his personal prayer life. When he became pope in 1978, the result of all that personal prayer was evident in his inaugural sermon. “Be not afraid!” he said.

He recognized that fear is a sin because it denies the sovereignty of God. And he recognized that as a leader of a large Church, and unwaveringly opposed to the powerful communist Empire, he had to give people the courage to resist evil.

And courageous he was. When he saw Russian tanks poised to invade Poland, the Pope announced he would go and stand with his people if the Soviets crossed the border. The Soviet tanks did not move.

The Pope knew he might face assassination—and indeed, someone did try to assassinate him—yet he continued to tell the world, “Be not afraid.”

RESPONSE: Today I will live in the fear of God so that I will not fear anything or anyone else.

PRAYER: Pray that all Christians in fearful situations today will have the attitude of trust in the Lord and not fear for their lives.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Standing Strong Through the Storm - April 30

FEAR OR FOCUS?

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

Satan uses and plays on one of the basic elements and instincts of our nature—fear. It is natural for finite man to fear—especially the fear of the unknown, the fear of being hurt and the fear of death. There is nothing more Satan would like than to see us paralyzed with fear just like King Saul when facing the Philistines and Goliath.

Why do we allow fear to be so controlling? On the one hand, we have past experiences that we don’t want to relive and on the other hand, we are very hesitant about what might lie ahead. But often the events and situations creating most fear in people have no basis in reality.

All fear is based on perception. Thus fear has been described in the English language as an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real”. If we could consciously remember this, it would help us to allay many fears. But that false evidence sometimes is so convincing! However, we must always realize that dread and fear—like other tactics of the enemy—are based on a lie. This is why throughout the Scriptures we are repeatedly commanded—366 times—to “fear not.” It is intensely liberating for our witness when we personally overcome the fear of death. This allows us to focus on Christ and His kingdom.

Living as a Christian under Romania’s dictatorship posed extreme difficulties and dangers. Even though Rev. Joseph Tson had counted the cost and served the Lord and His flock faithfully, he feared the day that he would be called in by security. He knew the possibility of facing death was inevitable.

The day that Joseph feared arrived. Security officers arrived at his home one day and took him to their headquarters. He was instructed to sit on a chair and a gun was put to his head. “The choice is easy,” came the commander’s voice. “Deny Jesus or we pull the trigger.”

This was indeed the moment that Joseph feared all through his ministry. But suddenly the Spirit of the Lord filled his whole being. “If you kill me today you will do me a great favor. All my sermons that were recorded will be in great demand because I will be a martyr for Christ. You will help me greatly to share my messages. You will also help me to go to my Lord quickly!” Joseph fearlessly replied.

The officer dropped the gun. “You Christians are crazy,” he shouted and then commanded the officers to take Joseph back home.

Joseph’s life was spared but in a sense he lost it that day. “Never again did I fear what man can do to me. Never again did I fear to lose my life,” Joseph concluded.

RESPONSE: Today I will not allow Satan’s favorite tactic of fear and intimidation to conquer me in any way.

PRAYER: Lord, enable me to overcome the fear of dying as I realize that I am already dead to myself in You. May this be true today too for believers in conflict zones of our world.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Standing Strong Through the Storm - April 29

PRESSURE COOKER FAITH

“…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4

We often think that faith is our duty, or something we can give back to God. In reality, we cannot even do that on our own. There is nothing we can give to God. We must rely on Him for everything - even our faith. When we accept it as His precious gift, we find victory over sin and trials. We could never have this victory if we relied only on our own tenuous faith. “Faith does not always provide exemption from suffering, but it does keep us from being defeated at the hands of suffering.”

One Christian leader in a restricted country shared the situation there in these words:

In our country, we live in the midst of a pressure cooker. To survive as Christians, we must have a pressure cooker faith. Our young people decide for Christ not because He offers them the most, or because it is fashionable, but because they consider that here is One worth dying for. That may even be what their discipleship may have for them.

Standing Strong Through The Storm examines persecution and the results of persecution – suffering and martyrdom. Satan wants to dishearten us and create hopelessness because of persecution and suffering. We will expose Satan’s lies and show how by faith we can experience God’s restoration of our hope—“the oxygen of the human spirit.”

RESPONSE: Today I will rely on the Lord to walk by faith and not by sight, no matter what happens.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to ignore Satan’s lies and live victoriously today by faith in the hope which only You can give and restore.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Offer Continually

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.”
(Hebrews 13:15, NLT)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Praise is more than just singing songs in church on Sunday. Praise is an attitude of the heart. Praise can manifest many different ways. Every day, your words, your actions and your example are all ways you give God praise. How do your actions give God praise? When you obey His Word, when you continually follow His commands — even when it’s uncomfortable, even when you don’t feel like it, even when you are tired — that’s offering a sacrifice of praise to Him.

Remember, praise is a powerful weapon. Many times in the Old Testament, when God’s people would go into battle, they would send the worshipers out first. That’s because praise precedes the victory! Prepare the way for continual victory by offering Him continual praise!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I choose to offer You continual praise. I choose to follow Your Word so that You may be glorified through me. Thank You for leading me into victory in every area of my life in Jesus’ name! Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm - April 28

PREPARE TO TAKE YOUR STAND

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11

In the 1980’s, an Open Doors co-worker visited Pastor Tu in Vietnam—leader of the fastest growing house church network. It was reported that the authorities were threatening him with imprisonment. He told our colleague, “I know it is coming. I have prepared my people for my imprisonment. I am ready for prison.”

Shortly after that, Pastor Tu did spend three years in prison. When he was released, he found his house church network had grown three hundred per cent in his absence. I received a Christmas card from him the following year that read: “…God greatly gives our church 20,203 more new believers this year. Hallelujah!”

The pastor’s comment to our colleague reveals three areas of preparation for coming storms:

Intellectually – “I know it is coming.”

Practically – “I have prepared my people for my imprisonment.”

Spiritually – “I am ready for prison.”

1. Preparation intellectually involves:

- understanding what the Bible teaches about persecution

- understanding what is God’s purpose in persecution

2. Preparation practically involves:

- practicing the do’s and don’ts so not to invite persecution

- knowing what programs and forms to undertake so the church can continue to function under pressure and persecution

- knowing your rights as a citizen (Acts 22 & 25)

3. Preparation spiritually involves:

- engaging in activities that stress the importance of fighting the spiritual battle

RESPONSE: Today I will prepare intellectually, practically and spiritually for any coming storms by first putting on the full armor of God.

PRAYER: Pray for Christians in restricted countries that they will understand these three aspects of the spiritual battle and prepare.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks


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Thankful for
the Kingdom

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”
(Hebrews 12:28, NIV)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Scripture says that we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken! The kingdom is simply God’s system. It’s His way of doing things. The Bible tells us that His kingdom is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. In God’s kingdom, when you give, it comes back to you pressed down, shaken together and running over. In God’s kingdom, you can have peace and prosperity in your spirit, soul and body no matter what’s happening around you. If the stock market goes down, God’s kingdom is still strong. If the housing market goes down, God’s kingdom is still strong. If gas prices go up, God’s kingdom is still strong.

Today, be thankful for God’s kingdom. Thank Him for His system of blessing that cannot be shaken. As you keep an attitude of gratitude and walk in His ways, you’ll experience His hand of blessing all the days of your life!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for Your kingdom! Thank You for Your system to bless my life. I open my heart to You. Please show me Your ways so that I can walk with You all the days of my life in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm, April 27

Overcomers

“To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Revelation 3:21
Christians in areas of persecution have used many metaphors and similes to describe the victory of following Jesus and becoming an overcomer as He was. Here are some examples:

Overcomers are like nails. The harder you hit them, the deeper they go!

Overcomers are like bamboo. The more you cut them down, the faster and stronger they grow back.

Overcomers are like rubber balls. The harder you throw them down on the floor, the higher they rebound!

Overcomers are like flowers. The more you crush them, the stronger and sweeter the fragrance.

Overcomers are like stained-glass cathedral windows at night. Their true beauty is revealed only when there is light from within.

Overcomers are like tea bags. You have to put them in hot water to know how strong they are!

You can be an overcomer! And you can stand strong through the storm!

RESPONSE: Today I will be an overcomer standing strong through the storm.

PRAYER: Pray that all Christians living under severe persecution will be encouraged and understand what it means to be an overcomer…as well as anticipate the many rewards Jesus promises to overcomers.

-A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Lift Your Eyes

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
(Psalm 121:1–2, ESV)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
What are you looking at today? Not in the natural, but with your spiritual eyes. Are you facing challenges? Don’t just look at your problems day in and day out. Lift up your eyes and look toward heaven.

In the natural, you will move in the direction that your eyes are looking. The same is true in the spiritual realm. If you are always looking at your problems — meditating on them, feeling sorry for yourself, telling everybody about them — you will become consumed by them. But when you look up, your life will start to move up.

When you keep your eyes on Jesus, it is a sign of your faith and expectancy. Faith is what gets God’s attention. When you have an attitude of faith and expectancy, you open the door for His power in your life. Today, lift up your eyes and your heart and rise up into the victorious life He has prepared for you!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, today I lift my eyes to You. You are my help. Thank You for showing me Your salvation and deliverance as I keep my focus on You. I bless You today in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm - April 26

THE WINNER!

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

The five-year-old soccer goalie of Team One was an outstanding athlete, but he was no match for three or four on Team Two who were also very good and they began to score on him. The goalie gave it everything he had, recklessly throwing his body in front of incoming balls, trying valiantly to stop them.

After the third goal was scored against him, he could see it was no use; he couldn't stop them. He didn't quit, but he became quietly desperate. Futility was written all over him.

After the fourth goal, the little boy needed help so badly, and there was no help to be had. He retrieved the ball from the net and handed it to the referee - and then he fell to his knees and cried the tears of the helpless and brokenhearted.

His father ran onto the field and said, "Scotty, I'm so proud of you. You were great out there. I want everybody to know that you are my son."

"Daddy," the boy sobbed, "I couldn't stop them. I tried, Daddy, I tried and tried, and they scored on me."

"Scotty, it doesn't matter how many times they scored on you. You're my son, and I'm proud of you. I want you to go back out there and finish the game. I know you want to quit, but you can't. And, son, you're going to get scored on again, but it doesn't matter. Go on, now." The little guy ran back on to the field and they scored two more times. But it was okay.

I get scored on every day. I try so hard. I recklessly throw my body in every direction. I fume with rage. I struggle with temptation and sin with every ounce of my being - and Satan laughs. And he scores again, and the tears come, and I go to my knees - sinful, convicted, helpless. And my Father rushes right out on the field - right in front of the whole jeering, laughing world - and he picks me up, and he hugs me and he says, "Son, I'm so proud of you. You were great out there. I want everybody to know that you are my son. And because I control the outcome of this game, I declare you - The Winner!"

RESPONSE: Today I will rejoice in my Father’s love and support. I will not give up as the battle rages.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord for Your love and for declaring me a winner!

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Your Appointed Time

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time...though it tarry, wait for it...”
(Habakkuk 2:3, KJV)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
God has an appointed time to fulfill the visions, dreams and desires in your heart. Just because it has taken a long time or because you’ve tried and failed doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen. Don’t give up on those dreams! Don’t be complacent about pursuing what God has placed in your heart. Our God is a faithful God. No matter how long it’s been, no matter how impossible things looks, if you’ll stay in faith, your appointed time is coming.

Remember, every dream that’s in your heart, every promise that has taken root, God put it there. Not only that, but He has every intention of bringing it to pass. Hold on to that vision today and declare, “My time is coming. God is working behind the scenes on my behalf. I will fulfill my destiny!” As you hold on to your vision and speak life over your dreams, you’ll see them begin to take shape. You’ll see your faith grow; you’ll see your hope strengthen, and you’ll see yourself step into the appointed time God has for you!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for setting an appointed time for me. I ask that You ignite my heart with Your holy fire so that I can pursue Your perfect plan for my life. Make my thoughts and words agreeable to Your will in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Your Heart, His Home - UpWords - Week of Apr. 24 - 30

Ears to Hear

by Max Lucado

“Let he who has ears to hear, use them.” Jesus said these words more than once. We’re reminded that it’s not just enough to have ears—it’s necessary to use them.

Scripture has always placed a premium on hearing God’s voice. “Happy are those who listen to me” is the promise of Proverbs 8:34. When John wrote to each of the seven churches in Revelation, they were addressed in the same manner: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” John 10:3-5 says, “The sheep recognize his voice…” They follow because they are familiar with the shepherd’s voice.

Our ears, unlike our eyes, do not have lids. They are to remain open, but how easily they close. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing.” How long has it been since you had your hearing checked?

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A Door of Opportunity

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
(Colossians 3:2, NIV)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
God is ready to present you with new opportunities! He wants to open new doors before you. It doesn’t matter what’s happening in the world around you, God’s Word remains true!

In an instant, God can bring the right people into your life, the right opportunities, and the right resources to take you to a whole new level. But in order to go to a higher level, you have to have a higher way of thinking. You can’t allow worry and fear to fill your thoughts because fear actually blocks the door of God’s blessing. Instead, fill your mind with the Word of God. Let His truth empower you because His ways are always higher than our ways, and even now He is working behind the scenes on your behalf to open a door of opportunity!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for opening doors for me that no one can close! I believe that You are faithful, and You are a rewarder of those who seek after You. Fill me with Your peace and joy today as I seek You and look for the door of opportunity in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen

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Standing Strong Through the Storm April 25, 2015

SOLDIERS OF THE CROSS

“Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10

In Ambon, Indonesia, a Christian youth camp was held in early 1999 with the theme “Soldiers of the Cross!” The camp was attacked by an angry group of Muslim extremists and a 15-year-old boy named Roy Pontoh was singled out for carrying his Bible and interrogated.

When asked, “Who are you?” he replied, “I am a soldier of Jesus Christ.” The angry mob chopped at his left arm with a machete. The questioning continued, “Who are you?” And again Roy answered, “I am a soldier of Jesus Christ.” Then they chopped at his right arm.

When they tried to force him to say, “Allahu Akbar,” he replied, “As far as I know, Jesus Christ is the only Lord.” Now the seething angry crowd cut open his stomach and demanded again, “Who are you?” With his last breath, Roy gasped, “I am a soldier of Jesus Christ.” The mob cut off his head and threw his body in a ditch.

Martyrdom may be the end result of those who endure. In addition to Jesus, three martyrs are named in the New Testament—John the Baptist, Stephen and James. Some of the unnamed heroes of the faith mentioned in Hebrews 11:37 were also martyred.

Martyrdom is described as a legitimate response to persecution. This is not easily understood in our day and in our culture that specializes in personal “rights” and the avoidance of suffering. But a special crown is awaiting those who lay down their lives for their faith. The appropriate response to persecution that one chooses depends on that person’s intimate relationship with God the Holy Spirit and openness to His direction.

No doubt if you and I had talked to Roy Pontoh before his death, we may not have detected such bravery and loyalty to Jesus. Roy passed the hot water test with flying colors. He graduated to a special place with his Lord as a victorious overcomer.

Overcomers are like tea bags. You have to put them in hot water to know how strong they are!

RESPONSE: Today I will live in faith and assurance that even in the test and threat of death I can be a victorious overcomer.

PRAYER: Pray that all those who may face physical death today for the cause of Christ will walk in faith and realize they will never die.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Standing Strong Through the Storm April 24, 2015

ONE IN OUR DIFFERENCES

“’Master,’ said John, ‘we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.’ ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said, ‘for whoever is not against you is for you.’” Luke 9:49-50

The disciples complained to the Lord Jesus that some other men who were not of their group were ministering in Jesus’ name. The disciples had forbidden them to continue, but Jesus rebuked them. Peter found this a very hard lesson to learn. The Lord had to deal with him very specifically through a vision and a dramatic experience before he could say, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right” (Acts 10: 34,35).

The Apostle Paul enlarged on this idea in Romans 14. He summarized his teaching when he said, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” (Romans 14:4). “You then, why do you judge your brother?…for we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:10).

We must be very careful about rejecting someone simply because they do not serve the Lord the same way we do. If we quietly go about the work the Lord has given us, we need not be overly concerned about how others feel led to serve Him.

In Eritrea, Helen Berhane experienced differences among believers even in the horrible conditions of the shipping container prison. She writes in her book, Song of the Nightingale, “It was an incredible experience to share my imprisonment with others who were also imprisoned for their faith. However, with Christians from six different denominations in one container, we often found that we disagreed.

“For example, there was one lady who was a traditional Orthodox Christian; a very strong believer. If I told a joke as part of my Bible teachings she disapproved, so she actually began to pray and worship alone, and even eat alone. I found it amazing that even in a container she would not socialize with Christians she perceived to be too worldly! Other people argued over how we prayed. Some people preferred to pray silently, while others would pray out loud, and in such a small space it was easy to see why this was a problem.

“I had to remind them, “We are not in our churches now. In our own church halls we can do as we please, but here we must tolerate each other’s differences. If we keep fighting they may send us to the underground prisons in the mountains, so we must be thankful for our freedom to worship together here, and not argue about the ways we used to worship when we were free.”

RESPONSE: Today I will be very careful about rejecting someone simply because they do not serve the Lord the same way I do.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to be humble in dealing with believers who see things differently than I.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks



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When God Smiles

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“They did not conquer by their own strength and skill, but by your mighty power and because you smiled upon them and favored them.”
(Psalm 44:3, TLB)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Do you need supernatural strength to conquer something in your life today? Maybe you need strength on your job or to overcome an addiction. Maybe you need strength to deal with a difficult person in your life. No matter what you may be facing, God has supernatural strength for you in every situation!

It’s interesting that this verse says they conquered “because God smiled upon them and favored them.” When God smiles on you, He is empowering you. Did you know that simply calling on God causes Him to smile? It pleases Him when you come to Him. When you surrender yourself to Him, that’s when you receive His favor and strength.

Today, know that God loves to show Himself strong on your behalf. Turn to Him, call on Him and surrender every area of your life to Him. Let Him fill you with His joy and supernatural strength to overcome in every area of your life!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for smiling on me today. Show me Your favor so I can walk in Your strength today. Thank You for equipping me with everything I need to live as an overcomer. I bless You and honor You in everything I do in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


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Be a Prisoner of Hope

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.”
(Zechariah 9:12, NKJV)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Are you in an emotional prison today? You may not have thought about it that way, but if you are holding unforgiveness or bitterness toward someone who has wronged you — whether it was five, ten or thirty years ago — that is an emotional prison. God’s Word promises that if you’ll step out of that prison and become a prisoner of hope, He will restore back to you double for your trouble! That means if someone wrongs you, instead of getting negative and bitter, your attitude should be, “They just did me a favor. They just qualified me for double!” That’s the attitude of a prisoner of hope. Lock into the attitude of victory that says, “I will not be defeated! It may look impossible, but I know God can do the impossible. They may have treated me wrongly, but I’m not worried. I know God is my vindicator. It may be taking a long time, but in due season, I know I will reap if I just don’t give up.” Stay strong and in the place of hope knowing that you will come out with double for your trouble!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, today I choose to release those who have wronged me. I know You are my vindicator. You are my redeemer. Today I choose to be a prisoner of hope. Thank You for giving back double for my trouble in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm April 23, 2015

THE TRUE CHURCH

“Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” Acts 5:42

The place in which a church meets varies. The use of big buildings, complex organizations, involved programs, huge budgets that provide for schools, hospitals, orphanages and other social activities are only possible in financially strong unrestricted societies.

Although the Lord has blessed these activities in many places in the world, we must recognize that they are not essential to the existence of the church. In some countries these activities are forbidden by the government, while in others, the local economic situation makes them impossible. Still the church can thrive, because it is not dependent on these things. Serious problems have arisen when Christians have become confused on this point.

A number of years ago, for example, some Vietnamese leaders thought that their lack of funds for such things was the cause of the slow growth of Christianity there. On one occasion, the following conversation was overheard.

"Do you have communists in your part of the country?" the observer asked.

"Most assuredly. They are there," the leader replied.

“Are they growing in numbers and influence?" he then asked.

The leader hesitated momentarily, then admitted sadly, “Yes, they are growing very fast."

“Can you show me their meeting places and schools or introduce me to their leaders?" the observer continued.

"Certainly not," the leader said in disgust. "If they are known, they will be arrested."

"You mean they are secret, without buildings or property and still they grow in number?" the observer asked in amazement.

"Yes, you could say that," the leader responded.

"Then it must be that their growing influence does not depend on such things. If they can be wrong in their beliefs and still grow without money and buildings, why do you think the church of Jesus Christ needs these things?" the man concluded.

If God provides these things, then use them for His glory. If He does not, remember that the New Testament church had none of these things, but they turned their world upside down (Acts 17:6). The early Christians did not confuse the church’s functions with methods. If they had done so, the church would have died in the bondage of Jewish legalism. The early churches were not encumbered by the presence of buildings, nor hindered by the lack of them. They met in public places, when they were permitted to do so, but when they were not, they went from house to house.

RESPONSE: I will no longer confuse the forms of the church with the biblical functions of the church.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for those who use their homes as centers for Your worship and declaration of the good news of Your love.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Standing Strong Through the Storm - April 22

SECRET WORSHIP

“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” Ephesians 1:22-23

Rene looked carefully both ways as he turned the corner. No one seemed to be watching. Wiping the perspiration from his forehead he glanced at his watch. He was five minutes early. He walked slowly around the block a second time to arrive at the large gate at exactly 7:14. He pressed the bell three times; short...long...short. It was the newly changed code to indicate he was a fellow-believer. The gate and closed quickly as Rene slipped inside. In two hours time there were several hundred believers gathered secretly in the basement for fellowship.

Rene sat quietly waiting for the others. He remembered reading in a magazine about a small group in China that gathered weekly in the back room of a small store to worship together. It was the era of the infamous Cultural Revolution. Since the believers could easily be overheard by anyone entering the store, they "sang" hymns together without words or music. Someone whispered the name of the song and they would silently move their lips and simply think of the words and music.

He chuckled out loud. The memory came of Pastor Wally saying, "We are an underground church like the believers behind the Bamboo Curtain, but the difference is that we can praise in full voice because the facilities are sound proofed. Not even our closest neighbour can hear us." This is a description of a church group in Saudi Arabia - a country that has not had an official church in over fourteen hundred years. And yet many believers meet together secretly and at great risk all over the country.

The most common way for the church to express its faith in western societies has been through the institutional pattern. Consequently, this is the only pattern with which many Christians are familiar. But this form can be easily eliminated by a repressive government, is difficult to maintain in other hostile environments, and may not be appropriate to local cultural needs. There are other options if you and your fellow believers were under the rule of those who were trying to repress Christianity.

RESPONSE: Today I will accept that there are many forms of church to fulfill the five biblical functions of the church.

PRAYER: Pray for those around the world who must meet in secret for worship services.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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Unhindered Prayers

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“...Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”
(1 Peter 3:7, NLT)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Did you know that the way you treat people has an impact on the effectiveness of your prayers? The Bible says that the prayer of the righteous person is powerful. But if we aren’t treating others with honor, kindness and respect, then we aren’t allowing His righteousness to operate in us. When we don’t treat others the way we should, it closes the door to God’s power and hinders our prayers.

This is especially true in a marriage relationship. Marriage isn’t just an agreement between two people to live life together. Marriage is a God-ordained institution that helps us understand love and unity. When two people are married, they become one physically, spiritually and emotionally. This particular passage is directed toward husbands, but it applies to all believers as well. We should all treat others “with understanding,” which means considering the needs of others above our own. We should always aim to treat others with kindness, dignity, and respect and quickly choose forgiveness. The Bible says that the way we treat others is the way we treat God. So choose love and treat others with respect so that your prayers will not be hindered!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, teach me to live in Your ways. Help me to always treat others with love and respect, which shows that I honor You. Show me how to be a blessing to others so that my prayers will be effective in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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@ PAPAW402161

You are in my prayers.
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"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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I will be going back into the hospital today. The inner incision from my operation has opened up. I will be in for about three days. I will be at Audubon. The surgery will be done today at 10:30.

My name is Herbert but they call me Herb
I live in Louisville Kentucky the home of KFC. I think this may be why I am on SP now. LOL



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He is Attentive to
Your Prayers

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), and His ears are attentive to their prayer...”
(1 Peter 3:12, AMP)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Do you ever wonder if the Lord hears your prayers? This verse promises that He is attentive to the prayers of the righteous! If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior and asked Him to cleanse you of your past sins, then you are righteous by the blood of Jesus.

God longs to show Himself strong on your behalf. Your prayers open the door for Him to move in your life. You can be sure that He is attentive and listening when you call on Him. Keep standing, keep believing and keep praying knowing that God is on your side. He’s working behind the scenes and orchestrating things in your favor. Thank Him today for listening. Thank Him for making you righteous. Don’t shrink back. Move forward in confidence knowing that the eyes of the Lord are on you, and He is attentive to your prayers!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for making me righteous. Thank You for making me clean and new. I trust that You hear my prayers today. I cast my cares and burdens on You knowing that You are working in my life today in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Standing Strong Through the Storm - April 20

LOVING CHRIST ABOVE ALL

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26
A Christian medical doctor in China shares his experience when he refused to bow down or "kowtow" to an image of Mao because of his love for Jesus. After severe beatings did not succeed in influencing him, the authorities resorted to a more subtle strategy by getting his whole family to stand around him and weep.

“I had seven children, he said, “as well as my wife all surrounding me and weeping. Crying bitterly, my wife said to me, ‘If you don't kowtow you will surely die and then what will we do?’ For three days they stood around me weeping until my wife’s eyes were dreadfully swollen.’“After you have died, what will happen to these children? Please, for the sake of your family, just kowtow.’ They cried and cried. I really did not know what to do. I felt that I had no more strength so I prayed, ‘Lord I have no strength left, what must I do?’

“On the third day, the Lord’s word [Luke 14:26] came,Hallelujah! There is no word of the Lord that is without power. The Lord through His Word filled me with the life and power of God. I said to my wife, ‘Stop crying. It’s no use your crying. I am the Lord’s disciple. For the Lord’s sake I am ready to die!’

“Then the day came when the authorities called me and said, ‘You had better consider your situation carefully. If you want to live, you must kowtow otherwise it will mean certain death for you. Tonight we will make you eat the “steel bean” (bullet). You will be executed! This is your very last opportunity!’ And so he sent me back to think it over.

“There was, however, no need for me to think it over. I was ready for the bullet. But the night passed without my being called. Next day I saw that outside folk were running hither and thither and I wondered whatever had happened to cause such alarm. Later I was to learn that immediately after I had left the office, black swellings appeared on the prison warden’s legs and it was frightfully painful. Because he was the chief, all the doctors in the hospital were rushed to his side to give him aid. But within twenty-four hours he was dead.”

The doctor was later released from prison and returned to his family and medical practice.

RESPONSE: I recommit myself to the Lord. My love for Him will be even more than my love for family.

PRAYER: Lord, help to prove my love for You above all others regardless of the circumstances.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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A word from the Word
April 20 - - - wisdom and prudence

Ephesians 1:8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;"

Where in: refers back to the grace mentioned in previous verse where it says “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”

Grace is the “receiving of that which we do not deserve”. Because of our sin we deserve the wrath of God but God chose to give us forgives of sin through the blood of Jesus.

The entire first chapter of Ephesians shows us the grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Over and over in the first chapter of Ephesians it tells us who we are and what we have received in Christ Jesus. God, in His grace, has provided everything that is needed, and more, to make His plan of salvation through Jesus work for the believer.

It goes on to say “Wherein he hath abounded” meaning to extend to the maximum. Not just a little bet of grace but the maximum amount of Grace.

Isn’t that just like God always doing everything to the maximum including His GRACE? - - - - - - In Christ Jesus.

Just a thought.

Note: My wife Anna and I will be married 59 years tomorrow April 21.

---------------

Pray for our Churches. If revival is going to come it will come through the believer. 2 Chronicles 714 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

(Note: This will be the last post for about a week. I ask for your prayers.)


My name is Herbert but they call me Herb
I live in Louisville Kentucky the home of KFC. I think this may be why I am on SP now. LOL



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Standing Strong Through the Storm - April 19

THE WAY OF THE CROSS

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…” Philippians 3:10

Members of the persecuted church around the world have long understood the true significance of the cross of Christ. Pastor Allen Yuan in China, who spent almost 22 years in prison for his faith away from his large family, often talks about his sufferings over those years. But he invariably concludes with the statement, “They are nothing compared with the Cross!”

The best known and loved pastor in China was Watchman Nee who was martyred in the early 1970’s. One of his elderly co-workers said recently, “If we call ourselves Christians—people following Christ—we should know what road we are taking. Christ went the way of the Cross. We should be prepared to do likewise.”

A Canadian Christian aid worker was overwhelmed at the enormous need among the believers of southern Sudan. He recalls some children in a village wearing nothing but hand carved bone crosses fashioned in necklaces around their necks. He pointed to the cross on one emaciated child and questioned her with hand motions. She smiled broadly, took off the necklace and handed it to him.

His surmised that “that little act symbolizes the state of the suffering church in Sudan. With absolutely nothing in the way of material possessions, they still have the cross of Jesus Christ. They are prepared to share its hope - even though it means death.”

Indian missionary and martyr, Sadhu Sundar Singh, wrote in his diary, “It is easy to die for Christ. It is hard to live for him. Dying takes only an hour or two but to live for Christ means to die daily [to self].”

A thirty-two-year-old pastor works in Upper Egypt, an area of intense persecution for Christians. He runs a day care centre, a medical clinic, a literacy training program as well as caring for the families of those in prison. He has been beaten twice by Muslim extremists and threatened daily with death. He knows they are trying to kill him...but he continues to daily bear his cross.

A leading pastor in Egypt shared about a parishioner who tearfully came for counselling. Young people she had trained at her work were recently promoted to be her supervisors. She was passed over solely because she was a Christian. The pastor concluded, “That's the cross we must bear here in Egypt!”

The essence of these examples is that instead of exercising and asserting my will, I learn to co-operate with God's wishes and comply with His will.

RESPONSE: Today I will walk the way of the cross with Jesus and comply with His will.

PRAYER: Pray for believers under severe persecution who today will take up their cross to follow Jesus.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks



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What is Faith?

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
(Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Faith is more than a feeling. Faith is a confidence that comes from knowing God and His promises. When you know a person well, and you know they always keep their word, and they tell you they are coming to your house at 6:00pm, then you have faith that they will come to your house at 6:00pm. You aren’t going to call them at 5:30pm and ask if they are still coming. No, you trust that they are faithful to do what they said.

Faith in God works the same way. When we know God’s character and His promises, faith begins to grow. That’s why Romans says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. That’s how we get to know Him.

Today, I encourage you to build your faith by spending time in God’s Word. Get to know Him and His plans that are for your good. Let faith rise up in your heart and bring to pass all that you’ve been hoping for!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for confident hope and assurance found in You. Show me Your ways as I study Your Word. Let faith rise in my heart as I seek You first in all that I do in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


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A word from the Word
April 19 - - - “Through His blood”

Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

It says “In whom we have redemption through His (Jesus) blood”. The payment for our redemption, our salvation was, made at the cross.

Hebrews 9:22 "Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission". - - Without the shed blood of Jesus Christ there could be no forgiveness of sins!

We don’t talk much about the blood of Jesus anymore. When was the last time you heard a good sermon on the blood of Jesus? Some people get uncomfortable when we talk about blood in fact some denominations today have taken from their hymnbooks songs that speak of the "blood of Jesus". They believe that they are too primitive for today’s world and yet it was the very blood of Jesus that paid the price for our redemption.

The blood of Jesus was shed for the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness of sin is the loosing of a person from that which not only separates a person from God but also binds him in captivity to that very sin.

How does the old hymn go?

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Just a thought

---------------

Pray for our Churches. If revival is going to come it will come through the believer. 2 Chronicles 714 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.


My name is Herbert but they call me Herb
I live in Louisville Kentucky the home of KFC. I think this may be why I am on SP now. LOL



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4/19/15 8:02 A

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Appointed Favor

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
(Ephesians 2:10, NASB)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
God has already prepared paths for you to take in your future! When God laid out the plan for your life, He lined up the right people, the right circumstances, and the right breaks. In your future, He’s already released favor, supernatural opportunities, and divine connections. The breaks you need in life have already been preordained to come across your path. If you will stay in faith and go out each day and be a person of excellence, you’ll walk into these appointments of favor. It will be just as if you stumbled into God’s blessings!

When you really understand this principle, you’ll begin to get excited about the opportunities in every single day! You’ll have a spring in your step as you think about what blessing is coming next. It could be today. It could be tomorrow. It could be next week! Keep expecting. Keep believing. Stay focused on the fact that God has already released into your future everything you need to fulfill your destiny. Start declaring seasons of increase over your life. Declare that favor is on you and opportunities are coming. Then, get ready to move forward in the favor and blessing God has ordered for you!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for setting up a good life for me. Thank You for ordering blessings for my future. Help me to know Your ways so that I can walk with You in the paths You have for me all the days of my life in Jesus name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen

"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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4/18/15 1:48 P
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Standing Strong Through the Storm - April 18

THE BLOOD OF AN OVERCOMER

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Dr. Felix Ruh, a Jewish doctor in Paris, had a granddaughter who died of black diphtheria. Vowing to find out what had killed her, he locked himself in his laboratory for days and emerged with a fierce determination to prove, with his colleague, Louis Pasteur, the germ theory. The medical association had disapproved of Pasteur and had succeeded in getting him exiled, but he hid in the forest near Paris and erected a laboratory for his forbidden research.

Twenty beautiful horses were led out into the forest to the improvised laboratory. Scientists, doctors, and nurses came to watch the experiment. Ruh opened a steel vault and took out a large pail filled with black diphtheria germs, which he had cultured carefully for months. There were enough germs in that pail to kill everyone in France.

The scientist went to each horse and swabbed its nostrils, tongue, throat, and eyes with the deadly germs. Every horse except one developed a terrific fever and died. Most of the doctors and scientists wearied of the experiment and did not remain for what they thought would be the death of the remaining horse.

For several more days this final horse lingered, lying pathetically on the ground. While Ruh, Pasteur, and several others were sleeping on cots in the stables, the orderly on duty had been instructed to awaken the scientists should there be any change in the animal's temperature during the night. About two a.m., the temperature showed a half degree decrease, and the orderly wakened Dr. Ruh. By morning the thermometer had dropped two more degrees. By night the fever was entirely gone, and the horse was able to stand, eat, and drink.

Then Dr. Ruh took a sledgehammer and struck that beautiful horse a deathblow between the eyes. The scientists drew blood from the veins of this animal that had developed the black diphtheria but had overcome it. They drove as fast as they could to the Paris municipal hospital and forced their way past the superintendent and the guards. They went into the ward where three hundred babies lay, segregated to die from black diphtheria. With the blood of the horse, they inoculated every one of the babies. All but three lived and recovered completely.

The blood of an overcomer saved them. The blood of an Overcomer has also spiritually saved many people. He too had to die to bring life to others.

RESPONSE: Today I will repeatedly praise Jesus for the blood He shed as an Overcomer for my sin.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for sacrificing Yourself, an Overcomer, so that I might have abundant and eternal life.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

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4/18/15 9:10 A

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Troubles Won’t Last

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”
(2 Corinthians 4:17, NLT)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
In this life, God warns that we will have trials and tribulations. The good news is that He also promises to deliver us from them all! Now, He doesn’t necessarily say that He will deliver us instantly, or the way we expect, or on our schedule. It can be tempting to get discouraged when things don’t happen the way you expect. But when you feel like trouble is surrounding you, that’s when you have to dig your heels in and say, “I’m not giving up because God promised me victory!”

If you are going through a dark time today, keep moving through it! Remember, it’s always darkest just before the dawn appears. That difficulty didn’t come to stay, it came to pass. Your job is to stay in faith and keep praising and thanking Him for delivering you. Set your hope in Him, stir up your faith, and keep believing because soon you will see the victory God has prepared for you!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for giving me the strength to overcome every obstacle I face in life. I set my mind on You. I set my hope on Your love knowing that You are paving the way to victory all the days of my life in Jesus’ name! Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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4/18/15 9:10 A

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A word from the Word
April 18 - - - In whom we have redemption

Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Redemption meaning deliverance from sin; salvation, atonement for guilt, repurchase, as of something sold. paying off, as of a mortgage, bond, or note. Repurchase, paying off, as in the story I use to tell the children in children church years ago - - many years ago.

Once upon a time – all children stories begin with this – A young boy and his father built a small boat together. This young boy loved this little boat dearly. Everywhere he went he took this boat with him. One day he took his little boat to the ocean and as he was playing the boat drifted away from him and was lost at sea. Some fisherman caught the little boat in their nets and brought it to a little store and sold it to the shopkeeper.

One day as the little boy was walking through town he saw the little boat in the shopkeeper’s window. He told the shopkeeper how he and his father had made the boat together and how it was lost at sea.

The shopkeeper told the little boy that if he wanted the little boat he would have to punches it. So the little boy went home and got the money needed to buy back the little boat that was once his.

THE LITTLE BOY REDEAMED HIS LITTLE BOAT.

Oh by the way the story ends by the little boy saying. The boat is mine now two times. Once because I made it and again because I redeemed it.

Jesus redeamed us with his blood. Romans 3:23 The wages of sin is death. Jesus paid this wage for us by His death on the cross.

Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Our redemption is also found in the Lord Jesus Christ

Just a thought

---------------

Pray for our Churches. If revival is going to come it will come through the believer. 2 Chronicles 714 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.



My name is Herbert but they call me Herb
I live in Louisville Kentucky the home of KFC. I think this may be why I am on SP now. LOL



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4/17/15 5:33 P
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Standing Strong Through the Storm, April 17

UNITY IN LOVE

“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”Colossians 3:12-14

Salim Manayer who heads a significant reconciliation ministry in Israel between Israeli believers and Palestinian believers tells this story of learning about true love for others in the body of Christ during a visit to Denmark.

“I experienced something so beautiful. The love and acceptance of the Messiah through the lives of the people who took me around, opened up their homes, took me shopping, took care of me when I was sick and took time out of their busy lives to drive me from one end of the country to the other. I was so moved by their kindness, their hospitality, their compassion, their honesty and their love. Through long country drives they shared and explained to me their reasoning for various traditions and teachings.

And who were these people? Well, if you want to get technical they were Lutherans. Lutherans who belong to the state church – many of them pastors. Yes, we are different – I am an Israeli believer who does not hold to these traditions, but we are called to love each other in spite of our differences. Put all of these labels aside, these amazing people were my brothers and sisters, they are my family because we belong to the family of God and they embraced me as their family.

I was moved as I sat around the kitchen table drinking coffee after confirmation class with one pastor and while eating apple crisp on Rosh Hashanah with another pastor, attentively listening to them as they shared their passion to see the lost people in their communities and parishes find God and believe in him. It left an impression on my heart and encouraged and inspired me to reach the people in my own community.

Sometimes stereotypes and prejudices are there in the back of your head and you don’t realize it until God places those same people you held stereotypes about in your face and they begin to show you the love God requires of his children…

Maybe I was sent to Denmark to impress upon, encourage, challenge and impart to the Danish believers to become reconcilers in their local communities; to bless them and show them that it is possible to break down the walls of bitterness and hatred, demolish their stereotypes and prejudices and to love their brothers and sisters. And yet, that is exactly what they taught me."

RESPONSE: I commit this day to show true love to my brothers and sisters breaking down prejudices.

PRAYER: Lord, I need Your help today to follow Your command to love all my brothers and sisters.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks


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4/17/15 6:31 A

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A word from the Word
April 17 - - -Unto the adoption of children

Ephesians 1:5-65 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Let us look at the word “adoption”. Paul gives us a picture of us being brought into the family of God by adoption. Being adopted by God means that we are accepted into His family and brings a multitude of blessings but also responsibilities. Being adopted by God also means that we receive new rights. Rights that we never had before.

Under Roman law, if you were an adopted son, you had the same legal rights as a son born of natural birth into the family. An adopted son had the right to the family name and rights to the father’s inheritance. So being adopted we stand before God with legal right to the Family name and with full rights to the family inheritance.

But an inheritance takes place only at the death of a person but be assured God is not dead. It was Jesus and His death on the cross that brought us into this adoption and also brought us into this inheritance.

Galatians 4:4-7 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Ephesians Verse 6 tells us why we have been adopted – It says we are adopted so we would be able to praise God for His glory and His grace. In other words, if we had never been adopted we would have never known God’s glory or God’s grace.

Oh by the way, YOU CAN NEVER BE UN-ADOPTED.

Just a thought

---------------

Pray for our Churches. If revival is going to come it will come through the believer. 2 Chronicles 714 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.


My name is Herbert but they call me Herb
I live in Louisville Kentucky the home of KFC. I think this may be why I am on SP now. LOL



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4/17/15 12:29 A
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Standing Strong Through the Storm - April 16

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:44

Perhaps the most difficult of Jesus’ commands is to love even our enemies. A true Christian always seeks another person’s highest good—even when mistreated. Brother Andrew says “The Christian’s only method of destroying his enemies is to ‘love’ them into being his friends.”

Romanian pastor, Dr. Paul Negrut, was visiting an old friend in Romania named Trian Dors in his humble home. As Paul entered, he realized that Trian was bleeding from open wounds. He asked, "What happened?"

Trian replied, "The secret police just left my home. They came and confiscated my manuscripts. Then they beat me."

Paul says, "I began to complain about the heavy tactics of the secret police. But Trian stopped me saying, 'Brother Paul, it is so sweet to suffer for Jesus. God didn't bring us together tonight to complain but to praise him. Let's kneel down and pray.'

"He knelt and began praying for the secret police. He asked God to bless them and save them. He told God how much he loved them. He said, 'God, if they will come back in the next few days, I pray that you will prepare me to minister to them.'"

Paul continued, "By this time I was ashamed. I thought I had been living the most difficult life in Romania for the Lord. And I was bitter about that."

Trian Dors then shared with Paul how the secret police had been coming to his home regularly for several years. They beat him twice every week. They confiscated all his papers. After the beating he would talk to the officer in charge. Trian would look into his eyes and say, "Mister, I love you. And I want you to know that if our next meeting is before the judgement throne of God, you will not go to hell because I hate you but because you rejected love." Trian would repeat these words after every beating.

Years later that officer came alone to his home one night. Trian prepared himself for another beating. But the officer spoke kindly and said, "Mr. Dors, the next time we meet will be before the judgement throne of God. I came tonight to apologize for what I did to you and to tell you that your love moved my heart. I have asked Christ to save me. But two days ago the doctor discovered that I have a very severe case of cancer and I have only a few weeks to live before I go to be with God. I came tonight to tell you that we will be together on the other side."

RESPONSE: Today I will destroy my enemies only with love.

PRAYER: God give me Your kind of love for my enemies—so they too will love You.

A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks


judithscott.wordpress.com/

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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4/16/15 2:40 P

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The Greatness of
His Favor

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us...raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
(Ephesians 2:4–7, NKJ)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Oftentimes, people set their focus on what God has done in the past — how He parted the Red Sea or stopped the sun for Joshua or fed thousands of people with just a little boy’s small lunch. Yes, God has performed many amazing miracles throughout history, and it’s important that we give Him glory for those things. But at the same time, we also need to look for what God wants to do in our lives today!

In today’s verse, Paul says that “in the ages to come” God would do things that far supersede anything He’s ever done before. I believe that the “ages to come” is this day and time we’re living in right now. God wants to outdo Himself in our generation!

Today, know that God has greater levels of His favor and blessing in store for you! Dare to believe, dare to dream big, and dare to take hold of every blessing that He has in store for you!


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for Your faithfulness in my life. Today I look for the greatness of Your favor! Thank you for increasing me in every area of life! Use me for Your glory in Jesus’ name, Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen


"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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