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Jesus: Fullers' Soap – Jesus Makes us New

 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap (Malachi 3:2, KJV).

Jesus is likened to Fullers' Soap, which was the best cleansing and whitening agent of its day. Before dying, Fullers' Soap was used to completely clean woven cloth from oily or gummy substances found on natural raw fiber. The cloth was soaked in water, then spread and sprinkled with powdered ashes (alkali or lye), then wrung together and pounded so the soap would penetrate every fiber. The cloth was rinsed continually in a running stream to wash away the alkali or lye, then spread out to dry. Today’s Scripture is set in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when He judges His people. Jesus is compared to soap that will penetrate every fiber of our being to determine the credibility of our faith.

Lord Jesus, I know You are coming back to judge all people. I know You will judge rightly and You will judge deeply. Cleanse me now so I will be ready for judgment in the future.

Because Jesus will judge us like the process of Fullers' soap, make sure you are cleansed through and through from sin. Only faith in Jesus will make us a Christian. Make sure you are like those who appeared before God in Heaven, who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14). No one can gain perfection by their own works, and no one can live without sin. But all can be perfectly clean by His blood. 

Lord Jesus, I know I have sinned and I am not perfect, but I have believed in You. Cleanse me from every sin. Amen.

PrimeTime with God or ChurchGrowth.org.

Happy Resurrection Day 2017!

We get excited this time of year as we look forward to a special time of remembering and celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, our Redeemer, our Lord and Savior. We are grateful and humbled when we really meditate on what Jesus experienced on this earth, particularly on His way to the cross and the agony He experienced being separated from His Father. We think of Mary, His Mother, and the burden she must have felt as she became more aware of what her son would suffer as our Sacrificial Lamb= There are so many things that we ponder. But the one thing that encourages us and redirects our thinking is knowing and believing His promises and knowing that He yet lives, interceding for us and that He will one day welcome us home at the end of this earthly journey. This makes us want to shout “Hallelujah!” Thank You for loving me so much!!!

The Depth and Width of Your Calling
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1, by Os Hillman

"If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer." - 2 Corinthians 1:6

"God must love you a lot! He doesn't allow someone to go through the kinds of adversity you have experienced unless He has a special calling on your life." Those were the words said to me by two different mentors at two different times within a three-year period. Later I would learn another related truth from a respected man of God - a man who lives in another country, a man whom God uses throughout the globe. "The depth and width of your faith experiences are directly proportional to your calling." What were these men of God saying?

They were describing a process of preparation that God takes each of His leaders through when He plans to use them in significant ways. A "faith experience" is an event or "spiritual marker" in your life about which you can say, "That is where I saw God personally moving in my life." It is an unmistakable event in which God showed Himself personally to you. It was the burning bush for Moses; the crossing of the Red Sea or the Jordan River for the nation of Israel; Jacob's encounter with the angel. It was the feeding of the 5,000 for the disciples. It was the time when you saw God face to face in your life.

If God has plans of using you in the lives of many others, you can expect that He is going to allow certain faith experiences to come into your life in order to build a foundation that will be solid. That foundation is what you will be able to look back on to keep you faithful to Him in the times of testing. Each of us must have personal faith experiences in which we experience God personally so that we can move in faith to whatever He may call us. Do you need a personal faith experience right now in your life? Pray that God will reveal Himself to you. He delights in doing that.

It's Time for a Funeral
TGIF Today God Is First by Os Hillman

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (Gal 2:20).

"There's nothing wrong with you that a good funeral won't solve," I said to the woman. "I'll even send you flowers!" She smiled in response. I was speaking figuratively to the woman who was stressing out about an issue in her life.

Her problem was the same problem most of us have - too much of "us" and not enough of Jesus and the cross. Many of the daily problems in life can be solved by coming to an end of ourselves so Jesus can take over. I believe this is what the psalmist meant when he said: "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints" (Ps 116:15).

The apostle Paul recognized the need for a funeral too when he penned these words: "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Rom 6:1-4).

Whenever we stress over a matter, get angry over a daily circumstance, or seek to have our own way - it is a sign there is still life in the grave. We need to fill it with dirt and smother the life of our flesh so that Christ may live freely, unhindered by the "old" man. Send yourself some flowers today. Have a good funeral.

God-Inspired Delays
TGIF Today God Is First by Os Hillman

Yet when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days. - John 11:6

Delays in our life are not always easy to handle or to reconcile in our minds. Often, when God does not answer our prayers in the time that we feel He should, we appoint all sorts of characteristics to God's nature that imply He does not care. Such was the case with Lazarus' sisters when Lazarus became ill and died. Jesus was a close friend to Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha.

(Mary, you may recall, was the woman who came and poured perfume on Jesus' feet.) When Jesus arrived two days later, Martha shamed Him by saying, "If You had come he would not have died." She implied that He didn't care enough to come when sent for. It was a matter of priorities for Jesus, not lack of love.

God often has to delay His work in us in order to accomplish something for His purposes that can be achieved only in the delay. Jesus had to let Lazarus die in order for the miracle that was about to take place to have its full effect. If Jesus had simply healed a sick man, the impact of the miracle would not have been as newsworthy as resurrecting a man who had been dead for four days. This is Jesus' greatest "public relations act" of His whole ministry. What many do not realize is that the key to the whole story is in the next chapter.

Many people, because they had heard that He had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet Him. So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after Him!" (John 12:18-19) If Jesus had not raised Lazarus from the dead, there would have been no crowds to cheer the Lord when He came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.

God often sets the stage so that His glory is revealed through the events that He orchestrates. He did this with Moses and Pharaoh, allowing delay after delay for release of the Israelites from Egypt. He did this with Abraham and Sarah for the promised child, Isaac. God granted Sarah a baby past the age of childbearing in order to demonstrate His power.

Don't take the delays lightly. Do not faint as God places you in what seems to be a holding pattern. God is at work. God knows the purposes for His delays. Don't give up, for they are for His greater glory; so we need to remain faithful.

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The Purpose of the Desert TGIF Today God Is First by Os Hillman 01-07-2015

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. - Hosea 2:14

If you have an important message to convey to someone, what is the best means of getting the message through? Have you ever tried to talk with someone who was so busy you could not get him to hear you? Distractions prevent us from giving our undivided attention to the messenger. So too, God has His way of taking us aside to get our undivided attention. For Paul, it was Arabia for three years; for Moses, it was 40 years in the desert; for Joseph, it was 13 years in Egypt; for David, it was many years of fleeing from King Saul.

God knows the stubborn human heart. He knows that if He is to accomplish His deepest work, He must take us into the desert in order to give us the privilege to be used in His Kingdom. In the desert God changes us and removes things that hinder us. He forces us to draw deep upon His grace. The desert is only a season in our life. When He has accomplished what He wants in our lives in the desert, He will bring us out. He has given us a mission to fulfill that can only be fulfilled after we have spent adequate time in preparation in the desert. Fear not the desert, for it is here you will hear God's voice like never before. It is here you become His bride. It is here you will have the idols of your life removed. It is here you begin to experience the reality of a living God like never before. Someone once said, "God uses enlarged trials to produce enlarged saints so He can put them in enlarged places!"

He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me (2 Samuel 22:20).

The Perfect Gift

"MERRY CHRISTMAS!"

 “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” We remember with fondness how, as children, our parents always seemed to come up with the perfect Christmas gift for us.  How thrilled we were!  When we remember those special gifts of Christmas, we also remember God‘s most precious and perfect Gift to us, His children.

Our earthly parents love us, but our Heavenly Father loves us even more.  He gave us His only Son to be our Prince of Peace and Savior.  He gave us the only Perfect Gift—The only gift that could bring peace with God.  He is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.  In Him alone we have the gift of eternal life—God’s most Precious Gift—Jesus Christ!

We thank God today for the gift of salvation. This is a Gift that we cannot, nor do we want to, return it or exchange it.  We need it to live a peaceful and joyful life.  It is worth more than silver or gold, for it was bought with Christ’s previous blood at Calvary.  Even though some choose not to receive it, God does not take it back.  He continues to offer it.

The Christmas season is a time for great joy. Yet, for some, it is also a time of intense loneliness or sadness.  This is because we tend to concentrate on our problems rather than on the major blessings God continues to grant us.

Jesus was very aware of the human tendency.  This is why He asked His disciples shortly before His departure not to concentrate on their problems; but rather on the blessings that were theirs as a result of their fellowship with Him.  Surely they would experience loneliness and persecution; but they were told to “be of good cheer” because He had “overcome the world” through His life and death.  He had overcome the enmity that existed between God and the world.  So, if you are one of these individuals who are experiencing loneliness, discouragement, hardship, “be of good cheer,” this Perfect Gift is waiting for you to open your heart to the wonderful experience of His love, grace and comforting peace.

Laden with the sin of the world, Jesus also bore the hatred and inhospitality of His enemies as He reconciled the world to God.  He brought us peace with the Heavenly Father, peace for this world and peace within ourselves.  His mission was to lead us into His kingdom of grace and to bless us.  So we sing with great joy:  “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”

Soon after Christmas celebrations and all the decorative lights come down, we put Christmas away for another year.  But the Christmas message is of such a nature that we, like Mary, Must “ponder it in our hearts” throughout the year.  Christ is the Light of the world, not only at Christmas; but every day.  As the sun rises each morning to give us light, so Christ the Son of Righteousness, enlightens our dark world with the promise of His daily presence and peace.  He grants us daily forgiveness that we need for our sin sick souls—the forgiveness that was purchased for us on Calvary’s cross. 

So, like Mary, Abiding Faith Family, let us “meditate” upon His goodness and upon Him, and prepare to celebrate His life this Christmas Season 2014.  May our souls “proclaim His greatness” and we to sing: “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come”!!  Merry Christmas, Abiding Faith Family!

Paul's Personal Mission Statement

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, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11 - Acts 21:11-12

Paul understood his personal mission, which should be the personal mission of every believer in Jesus Christ. It is the one summary statement that best describes the purpose of our existence on earth and the goal of our Christian experience. It can be reduced to three important characteristics.

To know Christ.
To know and experience His power.
To identify with His sufferings.

All that flows from these three objectives becomes a by-product. Salvation is a by-product. Miracles are a by-product. Christlikeness is a by-product. Paul's focus was on relationship. He understood that the deeper the relationship, the more power he would experience. He also understood that as he grew in this relationship, there would be suffering. Whenever the Kingdom of Light confronts the kingdom of darkness, there is a battle, and this often results in casualties. Christ confronted these earthly kingdoms and suffered for it. If we are living at this level of obedience, we, too, will face similar battles; it simply comes with the territory.

Does this sound like your personal mission statement? Is your focus in life centered on knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection? If not, press into Him today in order to begin experiencing Christ more intimately.

Today God Is First
(TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace
Leaders.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Thankfulness is a prominent Bible theme. First Thessalonians 5:16-18says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Did you catch that? Give thanks in all circumstances. Thankfulness should be a way of life for us, naturally flowing from our hearts and mouths.

Digging into the Scriptures a little more deeply, we understand why we should be thankful and also how to have gratitude in different circumstances.

Psalm 136:6 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Here we have two reasons to be thankful: God’s constant goodness and His steadfast love. When we recognize the nature of our depravity and understand that, apart from God, there is only death (John 10:10; Romans 7:5), our natural response is to be grateful for the life He gives.

Psalm 30 gives praise to God for His deliverance. David writes, “I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O Lord, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit. . . . You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:1-12). Here David gives thanks to God following an obviously difficult circumstance. This psalm of thanksgiving not only praises God in the moment but remembers God’s past faithfulness. It is a statement of God’s character, which is so wonderful that praise is the only appropriate response.

We also have examples of being thankful in the midst of hard circumstances. Psalm 28, for example, depicts David’s distress. It is a cry to God for mercy, protection, and justice. After David cries out to God, he writes, “Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song” (Psalm 28:6-7). In the midst of hardship, David remembers who God is and, as a result of knowing and trusting God, gives thanks. Job had a similar attitude of praise, even in the face of death: “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21).

There are examples of believers’ thankfulness in the New Testament as well. Paul was heavily persecuted, yet he wrote, “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (2 Corinthians 2:14). The writer of Hebrews says, “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). Peter gives a reason to be thankful for “grief and all kinds of trials,” saying that, through the hardships, our faith “may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

The people of God are thankful people, for they realize how much they have been given. One of the characteristics of the last days is a lack of thanksgiving, according to 2 Timothy 3:2. Wicked people will be “ungrateful.”

We should be thankful because God is worthy of our thanksgiving. It is only right to credit Him for “every good and perfect gift” He gives (James 1:17). When we are thankful, our focus moves off selfish desires and off the pain of current circumstances. Expressing thankfulness helps us remember that God is in control. Thankfulness, then, is not only appropriate; it is actually healthy and beneficial to us. It reminds us of the bigger picture, that we belong to God, and that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3). Truly, we have an abundant life (John 10:10), and gratefulness is fitting.

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I Don't Know What to Pray

We do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us. Romans 8:26, HCSB

Sometimes life becomes so complicated and our problems become so bewildering that we aren't even sure how we ought to pray about them. We want the best for ourselves and our friends, yet we're not always sure what God's best would be. Would it really be best if our friend got that job, or made that team, or took that trip? We're not sure. What if we ask God to give something to our friend that goes against God's will?

God has an answer for that.

He has given each Christian his Holy Spirit, who always knows God's will. As we pray, the Spirit will guide us to ask for what God wants to give. At times we'll be at a loss to know what to pray. We won't even be able to put our prayer into words. Yet the Holy Spirit will take our groanings and translate them into an effective prayer.

When you don't know what to pray for someone, pray anyway. You may need to be quiet and allow God to speak to you first. It may be that you need to let God put thoughts and prayers into your mind so that you can pray. Perhaps you can only groan in anguish over a friend's suffering.

Whatever it is you feel you need to do, begin praying and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Remember that God doesn't need your words to know your heart.

What's something you've been feeling this way about lately?

Read Up: 1 Chronicles 28:9, Matthew 6:5-8

This devotional is courtesy of TQ.
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Growing Inside

“Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day”. 2 Corinthians 4:16, HCSB

Teenagers are often teased about how much time they spend in front of the mirror. Actually, people of all ages spend thousands of hours over their lifetimes keeping their bodies presentable: the showers, the haircuts, the teeth brushings. Add it all together, and the time we spend on grooming tasks is pretty substantial.

Yet although we give our bodies the best of care, they are still only temporary and will one day pass away. This doesn't mean you should stop combing your hair, but it's important to keep the right perspective.

Paul was never one to mince his words, like when he wrote: "Our outer person is being destroyed," or "is wasting away." Our souls, however, are eternal and will never grow old.

When we feed our souls on God's Word, when we take time to pray, when we love the people around us, our efforts are never wasted. Rather than withering away, our souls become fresher and more vibrant each day, even as our physical bodies are inching one day closer to death. Every day for as long as we live, our inner selves are able to experience more and more of life as we grow in our relationship to Christ.

Think about how much time you spend caring for your body. Then compare this to the amount of time you spend nurturing your soul. Never forget, your soul will be around long after your body is not. So be sure to take good care of it.

This devotional is courtesy of TQ.

Self-Control

In the same way the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked Him and said, "He saved others, but He cannot save Himself! He is the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him." Matthew 27: 41-42, HCSB.

The last of the nine fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 is self-control. It is interesting that Paul puts self-control last. Other religions would put it first. Confucianism taught that self-control would help produce the "superior" man. Hinduism thinks self-control will produce the "realized" man.

Stoicism thought self-control produced the "detached" man. Modern cults believe self-control produces the "happy" man. They all go about it the wrong way. We do not gain Christ through self-control; we gain self-control through Christ.

"Self-control" is used here as a by-product of love. When you begin with love, you end up with self-control. If you attempt it the other way around, then you end up with a nervous breakdown. The self-control that comes by the Spirit is not a nervous, anxious self-control; it is a control that is unstrained, therefore beautiful.

No wonder a great thinker said, "Love Christ and do what you like," for when you do, then you will like what He likes. That's the kind of self-control the Spirit gives. We delight to control what needs to be controlled because we desire to please Him.??

Daily Prayer:
Blessed Holy Spirit, I am so thankful that You are working in me to produce the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. May the aspects of His nature show through me more and more every day. For His name's sake. Amen.

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The Best is Yet to Come

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy, has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (I Peter 1:3-5).

What a marvelous promise upon which to meditate today. The good news is that the best is yet to come in your life because of God's promises. Because you are a Believer, you have glorious promises by a Savior who conquered death, hell, and the grave.

The best is yet to come because He is coming back. Jesus hasn't forgotten you; He will come back for His bride. The earth is groaning now and travailing. Every day, newspaper headlines proclaim the signs of the times.

The best is yet to come because of your position in Jesus. You have been raised up and seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. You have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb.

The best is yet to come because Jesus is interceding for you right now. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).  (Mike Evans, Jerusalem Prayer Team)

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