Why Become a Member?

Soul Care/Family & Marriage Care

Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints...


-Ephesians 1:18

Why do I need so much encouragement to become the Christian I aspire to be?

This question plagues me often. It seems like I can never do enough to keep myself on track with Bible study, prayer, Christian alms-giving and service; I’m easily distracted from my lofty goals by the minutiae of everyday life. Then, when I read a particularly inspiring book about faith or hear the story of someone’s amazingly committed and fruitful discipleship, I feel even more of a failure as a Christian! Why can’t I just ‘get’ there?

Maybe, as I’ve recently grown to appreciate, my short-comings as a Christian aren’t so much a failure, as a thorn to remind me that ‘Christian’ isn’t the name of an accomplishment. It’s the name of the Way to God. That means it’s a day-in, day-out, walk; a continual appraisal and revision of priorities; an ongoing developmental journey deeper into the reality of what it means to follow Jesus Christ in the world today. And perhaps most notably, it’s not a Way that’s intended to be walked alone. Christ gives us companions to share the journey, and one of the most important duties of companions is to offer encouragement. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing,” reads 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

Did you catch the second part of that verse? We’re SUPPOSED to be encouraging each other, which means that Christ knew that his people would often fall short and feel inadequate to walking the Christian journey. After reading that, I feel better already! From now on, I’m happily taking all the encouragement I can get, and I’m praising God for giving me books to read, companions for sharing, audios for listening, videos to watch, and stories to hear. Needing Christian encouragement isn’t a failing – it’s a gift!

Jan Dunlap is the author of the new suspense novel Heaven’s Gate: Archangels Book I, the bestselling memoir Saved by Gracie: How a Rough-and-tumble Rescue Dog Dragged Me Back to Health, Happiness and God (Authentic Publishing) and the acclaimed Birder Murder Mystery series (North Star Press, Inc.). She holds MA degrees in Theology and English Studies and lives in the Hill Country of Texas where she spends every clear night marveling at the stars and the brilliance of God’s creation. She is a frequent contributor to FaithHappenings.com and welcomes visitors at www.jandunlap.com and on Facebook at her two author pages BirderMurderMama and Archangels.

More of Jan Dunlap: http://www.jandunlap.com/

A DESERT ROSE - 

In Lessons on Living

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the excellency of our God. - Isaiah 35:1-2

Boulder Dam was built in order to bring water to areas that had been desert. During the building of this dam, several workmen lost their lives. After its completion, a plaque was placed on the dam with the names of those who had been killed, with the following inscription: "These died that the desert might rejoice and blossom as the rose."

God revealed to Isaiah that Israel also would one day be restored. The land that had been devastated and destroyed until it was nothing more than a desert would be revived and become a place of beauty and fruitfulness.

To a certain degree, this prophecy has been realized. With the aid of technology and significant irrigation, Israel has restored many areas of the land to fruitfulness. Ultimately, however, Isaiah's prophecy will find fulfillment during the millennial reign of the Messiah. Then, not only will the nations beat their spears into pruning hooks (2:4) and the lion eat straw like the ox (11:7), but Israel will become an agricultural paradise. God promised it, so you can believe it.

Yet in a spiritual sense, this fulfillment can take place now. If your life has been a spiritual desert, Jesus can make it blossom. When you receive Him as your Savior, you become spiritually alive (Eph. 2:1). With the cultivation of the Holy Spirit, you will produce spiritual fruit a hundred times over (Matt. 13:23). Don't put that day off to some future time; do it now. Your life can blossom in the grace and mercy of God.

A surrendered heart is always a fruitful field.


- See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/a-desert-rose#sthash.zll2bs3M.dpuf

Dr. Woodrow Kroll served as President and Senior Bible Teacher at Back to the Bible from 1990-2013. Author of more than 50 books, Dr. Kroll's passion is to increase Bible literacy in America by engaging people in the Bible and connecting them with the Author. His clear, incisive teaching of the Word keeps him in demand as a speaker all over the world. - See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/authors/woodrow-kroll#sthash.7Yrcap6W.dpuf

More of Dr. Woodrow Kroll: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions

INGREDIENTS FOR SERVICE - 

In Early in the Morning

And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai and present thyself there to Me in the top of the mount.

The man who bows the lowest in the presence of God stands the straightest in the presence of sin. If this truth was known by anyone in the Old Testament, it was known by Moses. Time after time he had to stand straight and tall in the face of Israel's sin. Once even while Moses was communing with God on the top of Sinai, Israel was brewing a pot of sin. Upon his descent from the mount, viewing the golden calf and the licentious behavior of Israel, Moses' righteous indignation caused him to cast the tables of God's Law to the ground, crushing them to pieces (Exodus 32:19). The people were rebuked for their sin, 3,000 men were capitally punished, Moses interceded for the lives of the rest and the golden calf crisis was over.

But there would be more sin, and the tables of stone had to be replaced. Thus the Lord issued Moses another summons to Sinai with these instructions: "And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to Me in the top of the mount" (Exodus 34:2). Note the words, "be ready," "come up," and "present thyself." Moses' renewed call to service contained these three essential ingredients found in every call to service that God issues.

Be ready. The man God uses is the man who is ready, willing, and able to be used. If we are not ready, God will bypass us for someone who is; and we will miss the blessing that could have been ours. The apostle Paul was a man who was ready. In Romans 1:15 he was "ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also." With Paul, preaching was a passion: "For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 21:13). After a long life of service to his Lord, Paul exclaimed, "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:6-7). Paul was ready to preach, ready to suffer, even ready to die in the service of the Lord.

Come up. We cannot be of service to God until we first come to Him in salvation. But Jehovah's call to Moses was not to salvation, but to communion and service. Once the Lord has called us to be saved, He then calls us to "come and dine" (John 21:12). In other words, as Moses, we are called to fellowship with the Lord. We "come up" to the Lord God in prayer. Like salvation, prayer and communion with God precede service (Ephesians 6:18-20).

Present thyself. The final ingredient in preparing for service to God and standing in the face of sin is to present ourselves to Him. Paul begged the Roman believers to "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). Being ready to serve God is necessary. Coming up to God in prayer is likewise necessary in preparing for useful service. But unless we are willing to present ourselves to God body, mind, and soul as Moses did, there is little chance that He will use us or that we will successfully stand straight and tall in the presence of sin.

When the call of God came, Moses prepared a second pair of stone tablets for the law of God and "rose up early in the morning, and went up unto Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him" (Exodus 34:4). Moses was ready for service, early in the morning, for he knew that there was a lot of sin yet to be dealt with in the camp of Israel. Moses must stand straight and tall in the presence of that sin, as each believer must. Are you ready to rise early each morning and come to God in prayer, presenting yourself in service to Him? Your day will go much better if you are.


MORNING HYMN 

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, 

Ye soldiers of the cross; 

Lift high His royal banner, 

It must not suffer loss: 

From vict'ry unto vict'ry 

His army shall He lead, 

Till ev'ry foe is vanquished, 

And Christ is Lord indeed.


Devotional is used with permission from the author. It may be used solely for personal, noncommercial, and informational purposes. Republication or redistribution of this devotional is prohibited.

- See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/ingredients-for-service#sthash.qZOgZ38t.dpuf

Dr. Woodrow Kroll served as President and Senior Bible Teacher at Back to the Bible from 1990-2013. Author of more than 50 books, Dr. Kroll's passion is to increase Bible literacy in America by engaging people in the Bible and connecting them with the Author. His clear, incisive teaching of the Word keeps him in demand as a speaker all over the world. - See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/authors/woodrow-kroll#sthash.7Yrcap6W.dpuf

More of Dr. Woodrow Kroll: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions

FLUTTERING SPIRIT 

BY MRS. CHARLES COWMAN

In Streams in the Desert

"And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings" (Ezek. 1:25).


That is the letting down of the wings? People so often say, "How do you get the voice of the Lord?" Here is the secret. They heard the voice when they stood and let down their wings.


We have seen a bird with fluttering wings; though standing still, its wings are fluttering. But here we are told they heard the voice when they stood and had let down their wings.


Do we not sometimes kneel or sit before the Lord and yet feel conscious of a fluttering of our spirits? Not a real stillness in His presence.


A dear one told me several days ago of a certain thing she prayed about, "But," said she, "I did not wait until the answer came."


She did not get still enough to hear Him speak, but went away and followed her own thought in the matter. And the result proved disastrous and she had to retrace her steps.


Oh, how much energy is wasted! How much time is lost by not letting down the wings of our spirit and getting very quiet before Him! Oh, the calm, the rest, the peace which come as we wait In His presence until we hear from Him!


Then, ah then, we can go like lightning, and turn not as we go but go straight forward whithersoever the Spirit goes. (Ezek. 1:1, 20)


"Be still! Just now be still! 

Something thy soul hath never heard, 

Something unknown to any song of bird, 

Something unknown to any wind, or wave, or star, 

A message from the Fatherland afar, 

That with sweet joy the homesick soul shall thrill, 

Cometh to thee if thou canst but be still.


"Be still! Just now be still! 

There comes a presence very mild and sweet; 

White are the sandals of His noiseless feet. 

It is the Comforter whom Jesus sent 

To teach thee what the words He uttered meant. 

The willing, waiting spirit, He doth fill. 

If thou would'st hear His message, 

Dear soul, be still!"


The public domain version of this classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert.

- See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/fluttering-spirit#sthash.iOt2ngc5.dpuf

Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website. 

More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions

FaithHappenings Blogs