The Morning Watch

The Morning Watch

Every morning He wakes me. He teaches me to listen like a student. The Lord God helps me learn . . . – Isaiah 50:4-5 NCV

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Each new day is a gift from God, and if you are wise, you will spend a few quiet moments each morning thanking the Giver. When you do, you’ll discover that time spent with God can lift your spirits and relieve your stress.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “Surrender your mind to the Lord at the beginning of each day.” That is sound advice. When you begin each day with your head bowed and your heart lifted, you are reminded of God’s love, His protection, and His commandments. Then, you can align your priorities for the coming day with the teachings and commandments that God has placed upon your heart.

So, if you’ve acquired the unfortunate habit of trying to “squeeze” God into the corners of your life, it’s time to reshuffle the items on your to-do list by placing God first. And if you haven’t already done so, form the habit of spending quality time with your Father in heaven. He deserves it . . . and so do you.

How paltry must be the devotions of those who are always in a hurry. – William Law

How motivating it has been for me to view my early morning devotions as time of retreat alone with Jesus, who desires that I “come with Him by myself to a quiet place” in order to pray, read His Word, listen for His voice, and be renewed in my spirit. – Anne Graham Lotz

I suggest you discipline yourself to spend time daily in a systematic reading of God’s Word. Make this “quiet time” a priority that nobody can change. – Warren Wiersbe

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, help me to hear Your direction for my life in the quiet moments when I study Your Holy Word. And as I go about my daily activities, let everything that I say and do be pleasing to You. Amen

 

Reading God’s Mind

Reading God’s Mind

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” – 1 Corinthians 3:19-20

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Have you ever said to yourself, “if only I knew God’s thoughts?”  Some people seem presumptuous to think that they do know God’s thoughts. They’re full of advice and act as if they understand exactly what God thinks and what He would do in every situation.  Too often such people fail to recognize that God’s thoughts and ways are far beyond our ability to understand. His ways are typically not our ways.

On the other hand, God’s Word does give a glimpse into His thoughts and desires. He calls you to forsake your worldly thought patterns and learn His principles for life because conventional, worldly wisdom is often the exact opposite of God’s ways. By saturating your mind with God’s Word you begin to see both God’s message and His method. You’ll see how He worked in history. If you pause and reflect on your own life you’ll see how he has worked in your life. And you’ll see that it wasn’t how you would have designed it in either case.

God’s words to the prophet Isaiah give great hope. “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

Get to know God, but don’t try to be His mind-reader.

A glimpse of God will save you. To gaze at Him will sanctify you. – Manley Beasley

 

Wise Counsel

Wise Counsel

But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the Lord” – 1 Kings 22:5

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If you desire spiritual growth, then you’ll need wise counselors in your life. Even Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, recognized the need for wise and godly counsel. Turning to trustworthy counselors in times of confusion or uncertainty can help you preserve your spiritual strength.

In the book of Proverbs, Solomon gave this advice, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many counselors, bring success.” (15:22)  He also said, “. . . with many counselors there is safety.”(Proverbs 11:14)

Where else can you look for wise counsel? Solomon’s father David looked to God’s Word, saying, “Your decrees please me; they give me wise advice.” (Psalm 119:24) And the prophet Isaiah made it clear that the Messiah himself would be our great counselor when he came. He said, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Jesus is the one who grants wisdom, hope, and purpose to life, even and especially in times of confusion or trouble. Good counsel comes from God’s word and from godly people. It can come from professionally trained pastors, counselors, or from people who understand your specific issues and care for you. Whatever the case, don’t isolate. You’ll do yourself a great service if you seek wise counsel.

Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom. – Walter Benjamin

The fellowship of true friends who can hear you out, share your joys, help carry your burdens, and correctly counsel you is priceless. – Ezra Taft Benson

 

God is in Control

God Is In Control

And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory. – Isaiah 6:3

godincontrol.newlifeDid you know there is now a modern day version of the Golden Rule? It says that “He who has the gold sets the rules”.

Who sets the rules for you? Your supervisor? The company president? The government? Whoever sets the rules has great power. Sometimes we feel like that particular person has too much power and control over our lives. We long to be that person who has the gold and sets the rules.

On the highest level, God is the one who sets the rules and has the greatest power over us. We make choices in life, but He is the ultimate boss. Through the prophet Isaiah, God told us to “maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed. Blessed is the man who keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

It’s good to know that God is kind and just. In our daily decisions, we need to follow God’s rules that are found in the Bible. Hopefully, you follow those rules in grateful response to Christ and what He’s done for you, not in an effort to earn your way into heaven.

Sometimes when people around us are flaunting their power, it’s easy to forget who is ultimately in control. I challenge you today to obey God’s rules for your life. Turn your situation over to God. He is in control.

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.’ – C. S. Lewis

Anything under God’s control is never out of control. – Chuck Swindoll

Facing Fears

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for  I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
ISAIAH 41:10 NLT

We live in a world that is, at times, a frightening place. We live in a world that is, at times, a discouraging place. We live in a world where life-changing losses can be so painful and so profound that it seems we will never recover. But, with God’s help, and with the help of encouraging family members and friends, we can recover.

During the darker days of life, we are wise to remember the words of Jesus, who reassured His disciples, saying, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27 NIV). Then, with God’s comfort and His love in our hearts, we can offer encouragement to others. And by helping them face their fears, we can, in turn, tackle our own problems with courage, determination, and faith.

God knows that the strength that comes from wrestling with our fear will give us wings to fly.   ~Paula Rinehart

His hand on me is a father’s hand, gently guiding and encouraging. His hand lets me know He is with me, so I am not afraid. ~Mary Morrison Suggs

Adversity is always unexpected and unwelcomed. It is an intruder and a thief, and yet in the hands of God, adversity becomes the means through which His supernatural power is demonstrated. Charles Stanley

Facing our deepest fears means making peace with our seen self and with our unseen self.   ~Sheila Walsh

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because You are with me. Thank You, Lord, for Your perfect love, a love that casts out fear and gives me strength and courage to meet the challenges  of this world. Amen

Isaiah

Steve Arterburn

God called Isaiah to be a prophet.  His ministry extended for more than forty years.  
All we know about this prophet indicates that he was one of the greatest people of his time.  His name means, ‘The Lord is salvation.’ This meaning is especially appropriate since he speaks throughout his book of God’s gracious promises of comfort and deliverance for his people.  His book is a masterpiece, suggesting that Isaiah possessed considerable intelligence and education.  But that’s not all; Isaiah was also a husband and a father.  

So what can modern men learn from this prophet of old?  Although Isaiah had many gifts, his success was primarily a result of his humility and faithfulness to God’s will for his life.  When God called him, Isaiah had an overwhelming sense of his own sinfulness.  He started where all men need to start:  He admitted his sin and sought God for cleansing and renewal.  Then, when God revealed his will for Isaiah, the prophet pursued God’s plan with determination.  He spoke and lived out God’s will for him despite the opposition he faced.  As a result, God used him to confront his people with their sin and to comfort his people as they faced a painful future.  Through his words and life, Isaiah has blazed a trail for the spiritual growth of all men.  

If you’re a man, you’re called to lead well’to lead well you need to begin with humility and faith.

The Wait

Steve Arterburn

Do you find waiting tough?  Most twenty-first century people do.  We don’t want to wait in traffic, wait in line, wait for the economy, or wait for a table. So the thought of waiting on God sets us back on our heels. We think our timing is what matters and then God says, ‘Wait!’ and it can be especially difficult to wait on God.  

Look at this great promise from the prophet, Isaiah. ‘Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength.  They will fly high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not grow faint’ (40:31).  And the prophet, Jeremiah, said, ‘The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek him.  

The Lord will reward you for waiting upon him.  You can remain calm when it appears that nothing is happening when you think it should. Waiting is a response contrary to the ways of the world. But when you learn to wait, you’ll find the winds of adversity will lift you up, like wind beneath the wings of an eagle, instead of knocking you down.  As you develop a patient faith in God, you will be able to endure to the end of the race’and win.  As you seek God and wait on Him to complete His work in your life, you will be find strength. Try it and see!

Listening To Guilt

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1 NKJV

All of us have made mistakes. Sometimes, we are swept up by events that encourage us to behave in ways that we later come to regret. And sometimes, even when our intentions are honorable, we make errors in judgment that have long-lasting consequences. When we look back at our actions with remorse, we may experience intense feelings of guilt. But God has an answer for the guilt that we feel. That answer is His forgiveness.

Sometimes, long after God has forgiven us, we may continue to withhold forgiveness from ourselves. Instead of accepting God’s mercy and accepting our past, we may think far too long and hard about the things that ‘might have been,’ the things that ‘could have been,’ or the things that ‘should have been.’

Are you troubled by feelings of guilt, even after you’ve received God’s forgiveness? Are you still struggling with painful memories of mistakes you made long ago? Are you focused so intently on yesterday that your vision of today is clouded? If so, you still have work to do’spiritual work. You should ask your Heavenly Father not for forgiveness (He granted that gift the very first time you asked Him!) but instead for acceptance and trust: acceptance of the past and trust in God’s plan for your life.

If you find yourself plagued by feelings of guilt or shame, consult God’s survival guide: His Holy Word. And as you do so, consider the following Biblically-based tips for overcoming those feelings of guilt once and for all:

1. Stop doing the things that make you feel guilty: How can you expect not to feel guilty if you should feel guilty? (Acts 26:20) 2. Ask God for forgiveness. When you ask for it, He will give it. (1 John 1:9) 3. Ask forgiveness from the people you have harmed: This step is hard, but helpful. And even if the other folks cannot find it in their hearts to forgive you, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you asked. (Proverbs 28:13) 4. Forgive yourself: if you’re no longer misbehaving, it’s the right thing to do. And today is the right day to do it. (Romans 14:22) 5. Become more diligent in your daily time of prayer and Bible study. A regular time of quiet reflection and prayer will allow you to praise your Creator, to focus your thoughts, to remind yourself of His love, and to seek His guidance in matters great and small. (Isaiah 50:45) 6. Get busy making the world a better place. Now that God has forgiven you, it’s time for you to show your gratitude by serving Him. (Matthew 23:11-12)

Guilt is a gift that leads us to grace. Franklin Graham

Character builder
If you’ve asked for God’s forgiveness, He has given it. But have you forgiven yourself? If not, the best moment to do so is this one.

One Attitude Required

Humility doesn’t save a man eternally, but is sure saves him a ton of grief. Humility doesn’t change a man’s circumstances, but it helps him submit to God’s purposes amidst his circumstances. Humility doesn’t speed up answers to prayer, but it accelerates the acceptance of God’s will. Humility doesn’t make decisions for a man, but it inclines his heart toward decisions consistent with God’s plan. Humility doesn’t earn a man more of God’s love, but it helps him experience God’s love at a deeper level.

 

For these reasons Scripture has a great deal to say on the topic of humility:

 

Psalm 25:9 says ‘God guides and teaches the humble.’

Psalm 147:6 says ‘The Lord sustains the humble.’

Proverbs 11:2 says ‘Wisdom belongs to the humble.’

Proverbs 22:4 says ‘True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.’

Isaiah 57:15 says that the Lord personally dwells with and refreshes the humble.

Matthew 23:12 says that the humble with be exalted, and the exalted will be humbled.

And James 4:6 says that God is gracious to the humble.

 

Rewards, sustenance, wisdom, guidance, intimacy, grace, renewal, and revelation’all hinge on an attitude that accompanies our faith. The early-twentieth-century preacher and theologian Oswald Chambers called humility ‘the great characteristic of a saint.’ For all its benefits and blessings, humility is the best way to go for God’s man. In fact, it’s the only way to go.

The Saddest Word: 25 Great Promises from God

Excerpted from “When You Are Unhappy and Upset” by Mike Yorkey

When You’re in Distress:
1. Psalm 51:12 – God gives joy.
2. Isaiah 26:3 – God will give you peace.
3. John 15:9-11 – Christ wants your joy to be full.
4. John 15:11 – Christ’s joy will remain in you.
5. Philippians 4:6-9 – You can have peace

When You Need Help:
6. Deuteronomy 10:18 – God promises to provide justice, food, and raiment to the fatherless.
7. Deuteronomy 14:29 – God promises sufficient food for the fatherless.
8. Psalm 10:14 – God promises to help the fatherless.
9. Psalm 40:17 – God knows you and will help you.
10. Psalm 46:1 – God is a very present help in trouble.
11. Psalm 68:5 – God promises to be a father to the fatherless

When You Feel Your Efforts Are in Vain:
12. Psalm 30:5 – Your weeping won’t last forever.
13. Proverbs 22:6 – If you train your children in the way they should go, even if you don’t see signs now, they will not depart from it when they grow up.

When You Can’t Take It Any More:
14. Psalm 18:32 – God girds you with strength.
15. Ephesians 3:16-20 – God will strengthen your inner self.
16. Philippians 4:7 – God will keep your heart and mind.

When You Don’t Feel Smart Enough:
17. Proverbs 2:6-7 – God stores up wisdom for you.
18. Proverbs 3:5-6 – God will direct your path.

When You Have Your Own Needs:
19. Isaiah 54:5 – God tells Israel that He is her husband (a great promise for singles).
20. Matthew 21:22 – God will answer your prayers.
21. Philippians 4:19 – God will supply your needs.

When You Have Failed:
22. Joshua 1:8-9 – You can be successful if you make the right choices.
23. Psalm 37:4-5 – If you trust Him, He will work things out.
24. Colossians 1:13-14; 2:13 – God will forgive you.
25. Ephesians 1:6 – You are accepted in Christ.

Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries