Keep following Jesus, and God will always be right there

[Jesus told the Jewish leaders], “The one who sent me is with me.  He has not deserted me, for I always do those things that are pleasing to him.”  Then many who heard him say these things believed in him.  Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings.”  (John 8:29-31)

The Father is pleased — and he will not desert you — when you walk with him in his ways.  Jesus always walked in God’s ways; commit yourself to following him and you will too!  Keep obeying Jesus’ teachings and rejoice in God’s promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

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Today’s protocol

Today’s protocol:  Testing now.  Patience now.  Endurance now.  Loving God now.  Crown of life afterward.

“Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.  For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. … God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”  (James 1:2-4,12 NLT’96)

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Amos: No word candy for earnest worshipers

Amos 5 offers no word candy to the earnest people who sing worship songs and make the required sacrifices, because good people are being oppressed and the poor deprived of justice.  The day of the LORD, so eagerly awaited, will only bring darkness and disaster.  The entire nation will be devoured when the LORD roars through Israel like a fire.  Those left will waste away in exile.

Yet there is hope.  The LORD God Almighty may yet have mercy on his people, if they love what is good and run from evil.  Establish God’s true justice in the land — a river of righteous living that will never run dry.  Perhaps the LORD who turns darkness into morning will have mercy and allow you to live.

Earnest religion is not the same thing as true religion.

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Why do we keep silent?

Dragged before the rulers for healing a crippled beggar and preaching a politically incorrect doctrine, Peter and John were commanded to no longer speak in the name of Jesus.  They replied, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)

Yet many church members will not talk about Jesus under any circumstances. Perhaps it is because they have not witnessed life-transforming acts of kindness that bring healing to crippled beggars in the name of Jesus. Perhaps they themselves are still crippled.

If a cripple is healed in the name of Jesus, won’t he tell everyone he knows? Why don’t more of us testify?

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Review: Journey into Justice

Über-kind words from our friend Melissa Deming, reviewing Journey into Justice:

melissa[This book] isn’t just for people interested in justice ministries, nor is it solely for those who love missions. Journey into Justice is for all believers who desire to see God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. … The book connects the dots between the gospel and true biblical justice. So, if you’ve ever wondered what social ministries have to do with spiritual realities, you need this book!

[Journey into Justice] is truly a biblical theology of justice, tracing the larger theme of justice throughout the Scriptures beginning with God’s first kingdom in Genesis and culminating in his new kingdom in Revelation. Above all, social justice is about God’s kingdom and his original intent for the people living in it. The book offers full and accessible definitions of popular terms – mercy, justice, repentance, transformation, faith, etc. He carefully roots these concepts in the full context of the biblical story.

This book is about redemptive relationships – with God and with others – as Jesus’ disciples walk in his ways and multiply themselves. Each chapter offers real-life stories of the transformation that comes from God’s justice and the people who pursue it. So, Journey into Justice isn’t a book to brow-beat you into adding another item to your “spiritual check-list.” It’s a book to challenge you to return to the King.

Read the full review by clicking here. If you are a mother who wants to maximize the Mission in her life and family, you should be following Melissa at her excellent blog,! She’s also the author of Daughters of the King – a 10-week Bible study that helps women find their place in the biblical story.

Cross-posted at Multiply Justice!

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Your Malachi 3 tithing sermon


A social justice perspective on tithing

Originally posted on Multiply Justice:

tithing-retirementAre you about to preach on tithing from Malachi 3?

It’s that time of year. The summer financial crunch compounds the pain of reduced giving caused by a struggling economy. Church leaders are wrestling with next year’s dismal budget figures. And pulpiteers are charting a course over treacherous terrain: preaching about money to people who keep most of theirs for themselves.

The typical text being considered, from Malachi 3:8-10, is very familiar: “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse. If you do, I will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you!”

Preachers know only too well that people are touchy about subjects they feel guilty about. You try to strike…

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‘Sometimes you have to harden your heart in order to serve’

UpsideDownDevotion_N144111_300dpi_RGBA great excerpt from Taylor Field’s Upside-Down Devotion: Extreme Action for a Remarkable God:

“‘… Sometimes you have to harden your heart in order to serve.’ … There is a certain kind of toughening that has to happen if we are to be truly devoted. We will encounter hurt feelings and discouragements and defeats, and it would be easy to simply bail when the first disappointments comes. So around the heart of compassion, I am always looking for toughness to develop, an unwillingness to quit, a bulldog steadfastness that is going to keep on, no matter what. In a lot of areas of service, I think tenacity is a lot more important than talent.”


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