VIDEO Sweet Land

Dec 4, 2016

A mail-order bride (Inge) arrives in Minnesota in 1920 to marry a young Norwegian farmer named Olaf. Her German heritage and lack of official immigration papers makes her an object of suspicion in the small town.

“I’m Really Scared . . .”

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

“I’m really scared.” This was the poignant note a teenager posted to friends on Facebook as she told them of some upcoming medical tests. She was facing hospitalization and a series of procedures in a city three hours from home and anxiously waited as doctors tried to discover the source of some serious medical problems she was experiencing.

Who of us, in youth or later years, has not felt similar fears when facing unwanted life events that are truly frightening? And where can we turn for help? What comfort can we find from Scripture to give us courage in these kinds of situations?

Dear heavenly Father, when I am afraid, remind me that You hold my hand and give me peace.

The reality that God will go with us through our trial can help us to hope. Isaiah 41:13 tells us, “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’ ”

In addition, God offers indescribable, heart-guarding peace when we present our difficulties to Him in prayer (Phil. 4:6–7).

Through God’s unfailing presence and His peace that “transcends all understanding” (v. 7), we can find the hope and help we need to endure situations in which we are really scared.

Dear heavenly Father, when I am afraid, remind me that You hold my hand and give me peace. I’m grateful that I can lean into Your arms and find help when I’m scared. You are good to me.

God is with us in all our struggles.

By Dave Branon 

INSIGHT:Peter, Paul, and Silas had many reasons to worry. Acts 12 describes Peter’s unjust imprisonment by King Herod for seven to eight days and his upcoming trial—with death the nearly certain outcome (vv. 2–6). But Peter didn’t lose any sleep over his trial and impending death; the Scriptures record he “was sleeping between two soldiers” (v. 6). Peter experienced the peace that can come only through trusting God.

Paul and Silas were brutally beaten and unjustly imprisoned (Acts 16:22–24). Instead of worrying, they praised God through the night (v. 25). They experienced joy and peace in the midst of life’s terrors.

This is the tranquility Paul wrote about in Philippians 4:6–7. When we can’t sleep because we’re troubled by the trials of life, we can talk to our Good Shepherd. We can cast all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Surely we can say with David, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe” (Ps. 4:8 nlt).

Are you struggling with anxiety? Why not meditate on Psalm 16:7–11 and ask God to help you experience the joy and peace that come from Him. Sim Kay Tee

The Benefits of Wisdom

Proverbs 3:13-18

Human wisdom is meaningless in the Lord’s eyes. The truth is, God’s “foolishness” is wiser than man’s understanding. (See 1 Cor. 1:25.) While it may feel risky to set aside our own reasoning to seek after the Lord’s, the benefits of walking in His wisdom are great.

The first blessing is greater knowledge of God. The Lord is personally involved in every facet of our lives. The better we know His character, the more we will understand His viewpoint, recognize where He is working, and be able to respond properly to life’s circumstances.

A second way we profit is by receiving clear guidance. God sees everything—His perspective is eternal, and every decision of His is right. He knows exactly what is needed to accomplish His will in our life and what it will take to resolve problems in a godly way, making us more like Christ.

A third benefit is divine protection. As Proverbs 28:26 tells us, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.” We are not to rely upon our emotions, which are easily influenced by ungodliness. Nor can we trust the world’s opinions. Wisdom’s protection comes when we have a discerning spirit—one that is sensitive to the Lord’s purpose and will for our life. With it, we gain insight into the unseen and the unspoken because nothing is hidden from the Spirit of God.

Knowing God, clear guidance, divine protection—human wisdom can’t provide any of these. They come only from the heavenly Father, and He offers them freely to all who believe.

Praise at the Incarnation

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” (Luke 1:68-69)

These words of praise, uttered by Zacharias the priest at the birth of John the Baptist, comprise one of seven great doxologies given by men and women in connection with the entrance of the Savior into the human family. Even before this was the testimony of His mother Mary in her Magnificat: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (vv. 46-47).

But the first was uttered by Elizabeth: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. . . . And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord” (vv. 42, 45).

Then, when Christ was born, there were the shepherds who, after seeing Him, “returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (2:20). Eight days later, at His circumcision in Jerusalem, the aged prophet Simeon “blessed God, and said . . . mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (vv. 28, 30-32). The prophetess Anna “gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (v. 38).

Finally, perhaps two years later, Gentile wise men, after a long journey from the east, “fell down, and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:11). Humble Jewish shepherds and great Gentile scholars joined with priest and prophet and three godly women to praise the Lord for the gift of His Son and to worship Him. Can we do any less? HMM

“Shall a man make gods unto himself?”

Isaiah 44:9-20

One of the most telling satires upon the worship of idols is to be found in the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 44:9-12

They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things or favourite idols

If they had any sort of sense they would themselves testify to the uselessness of their idols. They will not allow their minds to be disabused, or else their own experience would undeceive them;

These mighty good-for-nothing gods, when are they made divine? at what period become they worthy of adoration?

The stupid idol and its senseless votaries shall be alike laughed to scorn. Let both makers and worshippers, and all who have a hand in the business, come forth and answer a few questions which will shame them:

The prophet commences with the last workman from whom the idol comes, he takes us to the smith’s forge, when the coating of precious metal is fashioned. But this maker of gods has human weaknesses, he is thirsty, and having no water he faints. A mighty god-maker this! Surely the god is not in the craftsman’s shop.

Isaiah 44:13

Now he goes a little further back, to the place where the frame-work of the idol is made, and shews us the carpenter with his line, plane and chisel; surely amid this pencilling and marking no trace of god-head is visible.

Isaiah 44:14

Lest it should be imagined that there was some antecedent sacredness in the wood before it came into the shop, the prophet takes us a step further and shows it to us growing, planted and watered like other trees.

Isaiah 44:15

Here we see the timber felled, and, lo, it serves the double purpose of baking bread and making a god.

Isaiah 44:16-17

One portion of the tree cooks meat, and blazes on the hearth till men are gladdened with the blaze, the rest is addressed in pleading tones, “Deliver me, for thou art my god.” O sottish stupidity!

Isaiah 44:18

Surely a judicial blindness is over the minds of idolaters. If men were men, and not lovers of sin, they would give up this absurdity.

Isaiah 44:20

Man has fallen so low through sin that he makes food for himself of that which is unsubstantial as the wind; his reason is perverted, his love of sin has blinded him, he believes lies which are as palpable in their falsehood as if they lay in his open palm. O Lord, have pity on man’s madness, and save him from himself. Amen.

 

Here’s What the Holy Spirit Wants To Produce in You!

Galatians 5:22, 23

One day while visiting a remote village in southern Moldova, a precious Moldavian family invited our family to come to their home for lunch. When we arrived, we could see a huge table set up outside the house under a veranda. The veranda was covered with luscious green vines laden with the biggest grapes I had ever seen anywhere in the world.

As I sat there with Denise and our boys, I looked up to examine the green, white, red, and purple grapes—mixtures of grapes I had never seen before. Soon it was time for dessert, but instead of ice cream or cake, oversized platters overflowing with grapes were placed on the table right before us. We had never seen such plump, colorful grapes, so at first we just looked at them in amazement. When we finally put them in our mouth and bit down, the juices literally flowed. That was the sweetest fruit we had ever tasted in our lives! My taste buds can almost taste them again as I write about it now.

Fruit is wonderful! It is healthy, beneficial, and delicious. This is one reason the apostle Paul used the word “fruit” to describe the wonderful things the Holy Spirit wants to produce inside our lives!

After Paul discusses the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21, he begins to elaborate about the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in a believer’s life. In Galatians 5:22 and 23, he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance….”

Just as Paul previously described the works of the flesh, now he tells us what the Holy Spirit wants to produce in us—and what a contrast there is between the flesh and the Spirit! The flesh produces “works”—from the Greek word ergos, which implies hard work or hard labor. As noted earlier (see July 14), a life dominated by the flesh is filled with excess, imbalance, unhealthy extremes, laziness, self-abuse, hatred, strife, bitterness, irresponsibility, and neglect. It is the hardest route for any individual, yet the flesh still cries out to be in charge, screaming to have its own way, demanding to be the boss. On the other hand, a life dominated by the Holy Spirit is filled with benefits and blessings!

Look at what the Spirit produces—fruit! The word “fruit” is from the Greek word karpos, which describes the fruit of plants, the fruit of trees, or the fruit of one’s body, such as a person’s children or offspring.

Regardless of whether it is a plant, an animal, or a human, all fruit is produced from some kind of seed. If there is no seed, there is no fruit—and the kind of seed that is sown determines the fruit that will be produced (Genesis 1:11, 12). Apples always produce apples; oranges always produce oranges; dogs always produce dogs; cats always produce cats; humans always produce humans. The character of the seed determines the fruit.

The moment you received Jesus as your Savior by faith, God sowed His Spirit and Word into your heart like a seed, and you were spiritually born again by the incorruptible seed of the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23). And just like apples always produce apples and oranges always produce oranges, God’s seed inside you immediately began to produce God! The kind of seed always determines the outcome of the fruit; therefore, you should expect your life to yield the fruits of the Spirit, for that is the seed God has sown into your heart.

Does a vinedresser worry that his grapevines might produce oranges? Of course not! He knows that grapevines only produce grapes. Does the owner of an orange grove run to the orchard to see if his tress produced watermelons? Of course not! He knows his tress will produce oranges because orange trees only produce oranges. If someone wants to grow watermelons, he has to plant watermelon seeds. Once those watermelon seeds are in the ground, he can rest assured that eventually he will have long vines growing juicy watermelons in his garden.

The same principle holds true in the spiritual realm. To get what you want, you have to plant the right seed, because seed always produces fruit after its kind.

So if God has sown His Spirit and His Word into your heart, you have every right to expect divine fruit to be produced inside you! The fruit that the Spirit produces is wonderful, godly fruit, overflowing with blessings and life. As you allow the Holy Spirit to produce these fruits in you, you’ll find that people love to be near you because you’re such a pleasurable experience for them. Once they partake of the love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance that is evident in your life, they will want to come back for multiple servings of that luscious fruit!

So don’t give way to the flesh and allow it to produce its ugly work in your life. Instead, yield to the Spirit and allow the seed of God’s Spirit and Word to produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life. You are the one who makes the ultimate decision of who is going to rule you, so choose wisely today. Do you want to walk in the cruel, hard, bitter works of the flesh? Or would you prefer to mortify the deeds of the flesh and allow the Holy Spirit to produce His wonderful fruit in you? Which path are you going to choose?

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, thank You for sowing Your Spirit and Word into my life. Forgive me for allowing the flesh to dominate so much of my life. Help me yield to the divine seed You have planted inside me. I know that Your life resides in me, longing to be released, so today I make the choice to let Your Spirit start working mightily inside me. Thank You for the life of God that is flowing up from my spirit right now, producing the life and the nature of Jesus Christ in me!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that the Holy Spirit lives in me and is producing His fruit in my life. The flesh no longer rules or dominates me, for I yield to the peaceful fruit of the Holy Spirit in every sphere of my life. I demonstrate love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance in my life. God has sown His Spirit and His Word into my heart; therefore, I expect this divine fruit to be produced inside me.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Can you think of one person who manifests the character of Jesus Christ so much that when you are with him or her, you feel as if you have been with Jesus? What specific qualities are exhibited in the life of this person that make you feel that way?
  2. What steps do you need to take so the Holy Spirit can more readily produce this godly fruit in your own life? For instance, what role do you think prayer or reading your Bible has in developing the fruit of the Spirit in your life?
  3. If you were to ask others what kind of fruit they see in your life, how do you think they would answer?

The moment you received Jesus as your Savior by faith, God sowed His Spirit and Word into your heart like a seed, and you were spiritually born again by the incorruptible seed of the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23). And just like apples always produce apples and oranges always produce oranges, God’s seed inside you immediately began to produce God!

 

In Moderation

“Men driven by ambition often succeed outwardly and fail inwardly.

 

“Their outer resources multiply at the cost of their spiritual energy. Yet they go blindly forward with small consideration that happy leisure is worth more than drive; for nothing belongs to us except time. Precious existence is squandered in stupid drudgery.

 

Overwork is the mother of greed and the substitute for boredom.

 

Be not crushed under success, and be not crushed under envy! To be so is to trample upon life and suffocate the spirit. Enjoy a little more, strive a little less. The wise man extends his lifes work to prolong his life.

 

At age 70, can you imagine anyone lamenting: “If only I had spent more time at the office and less time at home with my wife and kids!

 

Hardly.

 

So… just what is success?

 

Well, to win the track and field event known as the “pentathlon,” it is not necessarily triumphing in any one of the five events that guarantees the prize. Rather, it is adequately excelling in each event well enough to garner the highest aggregate score.

 

So it is in the game of life: Success may be defined as placing God at the center of our lives, and then balancing the remaining competing demands:

 

Family – Ministry – Career – Personal, and ________________(you fill in the blank)

 

Like a teenager surfing the waves of Waikiki, maintaining balance in life is the continual act of adroitly adjusting to life’s changing demands and circumstances. The ability to understand the balance, and then respond by making the necessary adjustments is only possible by maintaining a clear orientation to Biblical values and priorities.

 

Perhaps Solomon’s wise counsel is appropriate here:

 

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” (Proverbs 23:4)

 

 

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