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Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

-2 Thessalonians 1:4-5



In Joy and Strength

The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you. - 1 THESSALONIANS 3:12

IF we love God, we know what loving is,

For love is God's, He sent it to the earth, 

Half-human, half-divine, all glorious!--

Half-human, half-divine, but wholly His;

Not loving God, we know not love's true worth,

We taste not the great gift He gave to us.


LET us see that whenever we have failed to be loving, we have also failed to be wise; that whenever we have been blind to our neighbors' interests, we have also been blind to our own; whenever we have hurt others, we have hurt ourselves still more. Let us, at this blessed Whitsuntide, ask forgiveness of God for all acts of malice and uncharitableness, blindness and hardness of heart; and pray for the spirit of true charity, which alone is true wisdom. And let us come to Holy Communion in charity with each other and with all; determined henceforth to feel for each other, and with each other; to put ourselves in our neighbors' places; to see with their eyes, and to feel with their hearts, so far as God shall give us that great grace; determined to make allowances for their mistakes and failings; to give and forgive, even as God gives and forgives, for ever; that so we may be indeed the children of our Father in heaven, whose name is Love. 


This is a public domain version of Joy and Strength.

- See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/our-failure#sthash.v22li8HV.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



In Strength for the Journey

Exodus 20:1-17

The Mosaic Law was not given to produce salvation. The purpose of the Law was to help people see how far short they had fallen of God's righteous demands so they would cast themselves on the grace of God.

Even during the time of the Law, grace was made available through the specified sacrifices for sin. These pointed forward to the Lord Jesus Christ, who was the sacrifice for sin.

But because Jesus Christ came and offered Himself as the sacrifice for sin, the Law is no longer needed.

According to Romans 5:20, the Law was given so that God could reveal more of His grace: "Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."

When the people gathered at Mount Sinai and heard God speak, they became frightened and "stood afar off" (Ex. 20:18). This is also the result of today's preaching of the Law apart from the context of the grace of God.

Law set forth what man ought to be; grace sets forth what God is. We behold the face of Christ in the Holy Scriptures, and we see who God is by beholding Christ, "for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9).

We know and understand what Christ has done for us as we study the Scriptures and see Him revealed in even the Mosaic Law.

"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Gal. 3:24).

- See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/law-reveals-need-of-grace#sthash.0QbHFmcj.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

Just Passing Through?   

This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt


But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. —Psalm 33:11


Did you know that this year worldwide, it’s estimated that over 57 million people will die? We hear, read, or see a lot about deaths due to violence, war, disease and accidents. Yet, it amazes me to consider just how many people die annually of all causes combined. There’s just no escaping the fact that everyone dies sooner or later from one cause or another. It’s a good reminder of just how fleeting our lives are.


For me, time seems to be moving faster and faster the older I get and it is strange to think that I have fewer ticks of the clock left than those that have already gone by. I’m also reminded, however, that our time on earth is not the entire story. God’s story—His plan for the world—is continually unfolding. And, everyone has a role to play.


Make no mistake about it: you are part of God’s story! God has chosen that people be given temporary charge of the planet. Further, Christ-followers are given temporary charge as God’s ambassadors—His personal representatives to be His messengers to enlarge His place in the hearts and minds of people. With these “charges” also come responsibility and accountability. According to the Scriptures, there will be a judgment day where we will have to give an account for our stewardship.


In a world of over 7 billion people, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that in God’s story, every person matters. You may feel sometimes like just another lemming in the crowd on the way to the end of the cliff! But, I believe that what God said to Jeremiah applies to each person, “Before you were born, I knew you; before you were born, I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5).


In God’s story, you matter! We may not be able to see beyond the current chapter of how our lives play out in His story. But as Christ-followers, I do know this: our most important tasks involve doing the necessary things that lead to growth in our relationship with Jesus so that we may in ever-increasing fashion reflect Jesus in all we do. In this way, we pass on this unfolding story of what God has done and what He is doing in the world to following generations. Then, at the end of our days, we can rest assured that we have kept God’s story moving along. 



1. Think of someone whose faith has been beneficial to your own faith. Sometime in the next couple of days, thank him or her for being part of God’s work in your life.


2. What “chapter” will you write today as part of God’s story?



Psalm 90:2; Corinthians 3:18, 5:9-10,20; Hebrews 9:27;1 Corinthians 4:2

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

Nurse Trees -  

My backyard, I’ve discovered, is filled with nurses. Not the human kind, but the tree type of nurse: sturdy, fast-growing trees that shelter a host of baby trees growing up beneath their protective branches. In our case, the nurse trees are the brushy ashe junipers that cover our property. Their tangled lower limbs form a strong barrier to any creature – primarily deer – that would gladly eat the tender shoots of oaks, elms and maples, while providing the shade and shelter from the wind that those sprouting seeds need to survive.

This protection of the nurse trees is so good, in fact, that we didn’t even know we had dozens of baby trees scattered under our mess of junipers until my husband began to clear out dead branches. The first time he discovered an oak sapling nestled next to a mature juniper, we were thrilled since we had been planning to plant oaks in our effort to restore some of the native habitat; by the time we’d identified almost a hundred more seedlings, we were stunned by what the nurse trees had facilitated.

Here’s the thing about finding those healthy seedlings, sprouts, and saplings, though: now that we’ve found them by clearing out the nurse tree’s protective arms, we have to take responsibility for the next stage of their growth. So guess who’s spending time these days constructing little wire cages to keep the deer from chomping on our future mixed-woods forest until those saplings can hold their own against predators?

Got wire crimpers?

In some ways, it’s like raising children, I’ve realized. (Except that the trees won’t be asking to get driving permits in another 15 years, thank goodness.) While they’re infants, we wrap our children in security so they can thrive. As they grow, we gradually withdraw our protection to expose them to the elements of life so they can be toughened up to prepare to stand on their own resources. Hopefully, by the time they are mature adults, they’ll be able to live well in the world.

God does the same thing with us. He is our mighty nurse tree, hiding us beneath his branches as we root deeply into the soil of faith. At some point, He will begin to clear out the protective coverings, leaving us to face adversity and challenge as we grow stronger and more capable. Finally, we find ourselves in the full sun of life, ready to do the will of our Lord. Just as trees differ in their growing stages, some of us, however, take longer to stand in faith than others. That doesn’t make any Christian less than another; it simply makes us all individuals – and individuality is what makes God’s Kingdom especially strong and beautiful. As I’ve learned from our yard, mixed-wood forests are the result of cooperation, and every tree has its role as it contributes to the health of the whole biome.

So who are you these days in your faith development? Are you a nurse tree? A sprout? A sapling? An oak? No matter where you are in your faith development now, take heart and continue to grow, for even the strongest tree in the forest begins as a seed.

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2

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/

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