Gems From Pastor Jim

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by Jim Hughes

CrossProv. 8:10-11 Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge over pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can be compared with it.

The world has it all wrong. It measures the worth of people with how much money and stuff they have. Those who have a lot are deemed to be more important than those who don’t (yes, even in the church). They get preferential treatment and envied by those who don’t have as much. The quest of the world is always to get more of what they have. No matter how little or much one has, the desire for more drives them all. The world lives for what money can buy and they lavish in the comforts and things it buys.

Wise are those who don’t buy into the world’s ways. Instead of obsessing one’s life over the riches of earth, one should be obsessed with obtaining the knowledge of heaven. Far better off are those who know the Lord and His ways. Earthly treasures come and go, but God’s truths are eternal. The things we learn from God endure regardless of the circumstances of life.

Those who learn from God gain wisdom from God. They discover how to apply to life the things they learn from God. They learn how to live life in anticipation of eternity. They discover that the only thing that will prepare them for eternity is wisdom from God. They know that eternity is fleshed out in the lives of the believer. They cease to be anxious about what is going on in the world, for they know that God is in control and is working all things out for our good and His glory. They never have to worry about gaining or losing wealth because they possess that which will last forever which nothing can destroy or take from them.

Wisdom is far more valuable than all the wealth of earth combined. It is the only thing that will stand the test of time and keep the soul anchored in Christ. It is essential for our spiritual growth and the key to eternal life. Jesus is our wisdom from God and blessed are those who live in Him.

Before and After the Honeymoon

About the Author:

Jim HughesSpending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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Devotional for June 5, 2017

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by Mark Malcolm

3  They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, And fought against me without cause.

4  In return for my love they act as my accusers; But I am in prayer.

Psalm 109:3-4 (NASB)

If you read all of Psalm 109 you get the sense that this is more a request for revenge or retribution rather than an act of selfless compassion. I do not believe it is an act of selfless compassion, yet that is what these two verses taken together, and out of context read as, an act of compassion. That is at once a cautionary tale to always read in context and a warning when selecting scripture of any type.

What this selection of scripture does point out is that despite the content of the prayers being uttered, the author (we presume it to be King David as it is labeled as such) is unquestionably in prayer. This, then is our goal, prayer. While the content of this prayer may or may not be worthy of us looking to help others, prayer is a worthy goal and the circumstances surrounding this one are worthy of attention as well.

Not everyone we set out to help is going to be grateful. Some will see our assistance as intrusive. Others might want that assistance to come in a different form and be unwilling to accept what we have to offer. Take for example the homeless person with a sign that reads “will work for food” when offered to be taken to the grocery store. Some insist on the good Samaritan simply providing money. Should we provide the cash? Should we argue the point? Should we simply go on our way? I don’t know, but the Holy Spirit does.

Prayer is never a bad thing to do for someone. Even if we were to believe the non-believer who scoffs openly at prayer, our willingness to think nice thoughts about another human being is nothing short of reaffirming their worth if nothing else. But what if it isn’t just words? What if it isn’t just thinking about someone else? What if it really is everything scripture tells us it is?

If prayer has the power ascribed to it in scripture, then a true believer of the faith is not just a powerful ally to have on your side, but a miraculous one. Scripture tells us if we ask a mountain to move, if we pray for that mountain to be shifted from its bedrock, and have faith as tiny as a mustard seed, IT-WILL-MOVE. Now, Christ taught in parables and so does God. I don’t for a moment believe we can pray and move a mountain off the rocks of the ground by the words of the prayer. I DO believe that Christ’s point was and is that the faithful can do amazing things through the power of prayer when asked for from a faithful heart.

How are those two positions not incompatible? Simple. I believe in a God of honor, truth, and fairness. God set the rules in motion for this thing we call Life, and He keeps them. That doesn’t mean He can’t break them if He wants to. It means He won’t. So how does God fulfill prayer if He doesn’t break the rules? That’s simple too. He’s God. He understands the totality of this physical existence fully. He understands the physical laws, He understands the spiritual laws, and He understands the laws of human interaction completely. He created it all, after all. He can provide stimulus, encouragement, or opportunities that can produce any outcome desired. Whether He does or not is up to Him, and we will only truly understand why He did or did not when we see Him and talk about it with Him.

Bio from my web site :

Smiling Mark IIMark Malcolm is a child of God, husband, father, project manager, technical writer, gamer, fiction writer, Marine (’87-’91), has practiced Shao Lin Kung Fu and Tai Chi, been published in magazines and newspapers (editorial anyway), and seen the Southern Cross.

The goals he has currently are to more accurately identify the path God has for him to walk, continue to provide for his family, establish a solid web presence, build a career writing novels through both traditional and independent publishing, and learn to better relate to the people around him.

http://www.firstchevalier.com/about-the-cavalier/

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You Don’t Climb Alone

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by Rebekah Beene

The Illinois monument at Vicksburg came to mind yesterday morning. There are forty-seven steps in the long stairway, one for each day of the Siege of Vicksburg.

How high and steep they were! I wanted to climb them but fear kept me on the ground. Instead I sent fearless Danny up. Quickly he loved it and the view from the top.
Oh beloved. There comes a time we must all face our own set of steps. We must make the climb and we don’t know how many steps there will be. Others can’t walk it for us.

But you beloved don’t walk it alone. You have enough inner strength today to do whatever is before you by virtue of the Holy Spirit. Within you is great faith and strong resolve. Whatever you are facing you will overcome. This present situation is already a victory for you. Just climb and rejoice all the way!

God loves you and He is for you. Remember that you do nothing in your own flesh but by the Spirit you will scale the heights and see the view from the top. Praise the Lord that you can live in the power of the resurrection life!

John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Zechariah 4:6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.

Romans 8:37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

About the Author:

Rebekah Beene

In a Christian Women’s meeting in 1983, Rebekah was given a prophetic message that she would write books. Several years ago she began writing stories about special holiday memories and travels, sharing God’s love and care through each story. God has gifted Rebekah with the ability to look at the natural and see the supernatural. Both Rebekah and her husband Danny have a heart to share the Gospel and the riches of life in Christ to everyone they meet. They have served in the local church and in ministry to motorcyclists. Danny is an ordained minister and they both have been Bible study teachers for many years. Rebekah also speaks at women’s retreats and conferences. Her tag line says it all “God loves you and He’s for you”.

My website is http://rebekahbeene.wordpress.com

My first book in print is Oh Beloved! Live in the Light of His Word.
Link to buying the book via paypal is on the website.
As well a link to purchasing the ebook on Amazon is there too.
I’m also on twitter @rebekahbeene, tumblr http://rebekah-beene.tumblr.com/
and of course facebook as Rebekah Beene (Warren) I included my maiden name for old friends.
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“Be of Good Cheer”

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by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

My Lord’s words are true as to the tribulation. I have my share of it beyond all doubt. The flail is not hung up out of the way, nor can I hope that it will be laid aside so long as I lie upon the threshing floor, How can I look to be at home in the enemy’s country, joyful while in exile, or comfortable in a wilderness? This is not my rest. This is the place of the furnace, and the forge, and the hammer. My experience tallies with my Lord’s words.

I note how He bids me “be of good cheer.” Alas! I am far too apt to be downcast. My spirit soon sinks when I am sorely tried. But I must not give way to this feeling. When my Lord bids me cheer up I must not dare to be cast down.

What is the argument which He uses to encourage me? Why, it is His own victory. He says, “I have overcome the world.” His battle was much more severe than mine. I have not yet resisted unto blood. Why do I despair of overcoming? See, my soul, the enemy has been once overcome. I fight with a beaten foe. O world, Jesus has already vanquished thee; and in me, by His grace, He will overcome thee again. Therefore am I of good cheer and sing unto my conquering Lord.

If you would like your own copy of Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotionals by Charles Haddon Spurgeon click the image below.

Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Devotionals

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Gems From Pastor Jim

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by Jim Hughes

CrossProv. 4:25-27 Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet, then stick to the path and stay safe. Don’t get sidetracked, keep your feet from following evil.

We fall into sin when we lose our focus on Christ. When we let our minds stray we fall prey to sin. It is that simple. As long as we are focused on Christ, sin does not allure us. When we are captivated by the righteousness and glory of Christ, nothing else matters. When we begin to look around us to see what else is there, we are easily drawn away.

We need to see Jesus who is ahead of us and focus our thoughts on him. We need to mark out a straight path to Him and stick to it. Many of us keep wandering off because we have not marked off our path. We don’t have a plan on how to stay on the path. We begin our journey without any idea how we are going to make it home to be with our Lord. Shame on us.

In order to walk straight, we must steady ourselves. We must be students and disciples of the Word. We must determine to know as much about God and His Word as we can. We must spend as much time in fellowship with the Lord as we can. We must learn the joys of prayer and stay in constant touch with Him. We must be observant and learn how to appreciate the beauty of our walk. We must develop grateful hearts for our ability to walk and all the help the Lord gives us along the way. We must choose to keep walking on a straight path and not get sidetracked.

The walk of faith is not an easy one because we have a very alluring enemy who dogs our every step. He has the ability to distract us and allure us away from the path. He is very crafty and will not hesitate to use all of his resources to get us to take our eyes off of Christ. We must be aware of his tactics and determine before we encounter him that we will not let him lure us off our path.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your salvation.

Before and After the Honeymoon

About the Author:

Jim HughesSpending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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Courage in Writing

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by Suzanne D. Williams

When I decided to write fiction, I didn’t have any idea what I was getting into and, along the way, have learned a few important things about the writing process. The greatest came when I arrived at a scene in my first novel, MISSING. It was a sweet wedding night scene, the couple having an awkward moment because this was her second marriage and she didn’t know how to behave. I sat there staring at my screen, unsure how far to push the boundaries.

Which brings me to the point of this article and a few how-to’s for your first draft. Keep in mind this is for the FIRST draft, the copy no one sees but you.

Write what’s daring.

Write what you’re afraid of.

Write what makes you uncomfortable.

Write all of it the first time. Draw back later.

A lot depends on your genre and whether you’re writing general fiction for the secular market or Christian fiction for housewives or YA for teens. You must know that because it will affect what you include before you release the story to the public. But behind closed doors, where it’s just you and the screen it’s best to go all out.

If you’re sitting there asking yourself if you should include a more graphic or racy scene, that’s a key moment when you need to start writing.

I had to get past my embarrassment at writing certain elements of romance. Let’s be honest, when people ask what I do, and I say I write romance, the automatically assume that means sex. And, yes, it does mean sex, even in Christian stories. (Though not every story requires it, it is always implied.) But this thought also extends to violence in novels, including common triggers, crime scenes, and depictions of death. All of those can be nerve-wracking to pen, and a writer SHOULD be constantly asking if it’s necessary and how far to go.

In your first draft, however, GO ALL THE WAY. Include the outbursts, the cursing, the sex scene. Write like there’s no holds barred. Set aside the condemning voices, including your own, and anything telling you to pull back. You will do that in edits. Push yourself to pen things that make you uneasy.

As a side note:  I make sure I’m in the right frame of mind, in the most comfortable writing position for me, with the right atmosphere when I have to face scenes like that. I like to be alone and to not have other voices distracting me. I have a particular chair I sit in, and I choose a time of day when I’m feeling awake and without the need to do other things. I don’t worry about overall word count or have any hourly word count goal. I am strictly there to stretch my creativity as far as possible, whether that’s two sentences or twenty.

Other writers may have their own methods, but that’s what works for me. I’d rather write one really good paragraph staring at the issue than two pages of bunk that skirts around it.

Which is another good point:  Be direct. I’ve gotten more and more direct, the more books I’ve written. There are things I fought over at the beginning of my career that I don’t think about at all now. I have no problem writing wedding night scenes, for instance, and that particular one in MISSING is very tame, almost non-existent by comparison to others later on.

If you blush when you write it, good. If you sweat and are nervous, good. And when you do get to edits, don’t delete it unless you’re sure it isn’t necessary. I’ve taken out good scenes that didn’t fit. I’ve left scenes I knew needed to be there but had struggled to write.

Every story is different. I always consider the market. For general fiction, for instance, I put in way more sensuality because that’s what readers expect. For teens, I take it out for the most part or tame it down. Nothing bugs me worse than YA that sounds like adult erotica. Yes, that exists, sadly. You should always tailor your edits to who you want to read your book.

But … do what’s best for the story. And give the story time to develop. If the story is edgier than you usually write, set it aside and let it percolate before you release it. Whenever I rush to release something that I’m unsure of, I make mistakes. I’ve found my perspective changes greatly over time, and I can see a better overall picture when I come back to it.

In the end, you, the writer, have to be happy and at peace with your story, but don’t let other people’s expectations stop you from writing what needs to be in it. As a Christian, I lean a lot on prayer and the morality of God’s Word to decide my final draft. (There is always a line I won’t cross.) I listen to what God is speaking to me for that story. Then, when I am done and the editor has weighed in on it (You should have an editor that knows YOUR STYLE), I can put the book on sale because me and God aren’t arguing over it.

I’ve poured my effort into the story. I’ve put myself into every word I selected, and any negativity I receive afterward doesn’t bother me because I KNOW I did my best. Readers have their own perspective, of course, and you’ll get a few crackerjacks who comment. But my conscience is clear, and that’s the most important thing. My conscience not simply from a moral side either, but in that I wasn’t too soft or afraid to say what needed to be said.

Writing takes courage and too often people don’t realize it.

Now Available!

http://amzn.to/2pqVSK1

Book 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suzanne  D. WilliamsBest-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.

To learn more about what she’s doing and check out her extensive catalog of stories, visit http://www.feelgoodromance.com.

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What in the World Is Steampunk and Why Would a Christian Write About It?

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by Mary C. Findley

long sophronia signature pic

I don’t know why it’s become popular to attach “punk” to music, fashion, and literary genre, but it is what it is. Steampunk can find expression in all these outlets, but many people say it originated in fashion or clothing. It’s a style that draws on the Victorian time period, including top hats, cravats, corsets, spats, veils and parasols, but adds a speculative alternative history based on the possibility that we might have gone with steam power instead of petroleum. It includes goggles for the amazing gadgets like airships and coal-powered vehicles, often made of bronze and running with clockwork mechanisms.

Alexander legacy 0

I haven’t gotten into the music aspects so I don’t know about those. But when it comes to the literary genre, I’m learning more all the time. I was immediately attracted to the Victorian setting, because I love books written in the time period. And many Steampunk books include famous literary characters like Sherlock Holmes. I really got bitten by the Steampunk bug when I saw the movie League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I wanted to write about characters I loved and those early scientific rumblings.

But I didn’t like some aspects of Steampunk. It’s supposed to test the boundaries of Victorian morality, and I would rather uphold strong morality than see how far I can push it before it breaks. That’s already being done too much today. It also tends to focus on feminism, and I’ve never been a fan of that. Steampunk combines some of my favorite literary elements: historical, scifi, and fantasy.

dodge bench

So I wanted to make my own Steampunk series, with characters who stay true to the classic books I loved. I included characters from Louisa May Alcott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Jane Austen, and Edward S. O’Reilly. I also wanted to lift up married love, romance with restraint, true courage, camaraderie, and generosity. Be warned: There’s mild reference to smoking, dancing, and alcohol consumption. Evil men do evil things, but there’s not a lot of detail. The stories contain adventure, mystery, suspense, and a strong message of people who will dare anything and sacrifice anything to tap into the power of God to fight evil.

A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist is the first book in the series, and the ebook version is free. It also has a print and illustrated version. The Pinocchio Factor is the second book, and features a grown-up Oliver Twist as an eccentric inventor. The third book is The Most Dangerous Game, featuring Pecos Bill and hi wife, Sluefoot Sue (in case you ever wanted to know what her riding that giant catfish was all about).

catfish 1

myBook.to/Alexander_legacy_3_series

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Emotion, Decision, Courage, Go!

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by Precarious Yates

Our emotions are very powerful. God wants to meet us in all of our emotions. He gave us emotions and they are a gift from Him. He not only wants to bring healing to our emotions, He will give us emotions that bring healing to others!

Have you ever had someone sit with you when you were grieving and simply say, “I’m sorry, this is really awful.”

I have, and it transformed the situation completely! Even though it seems like such a simple task, sitting with someone in their grief and sorrow is very powerful.

Not only are our emotions very powerful, but so are our decisions. God wants us to make wise and loving decisions.

Have you ever made a bad decision that you regretted? I know I’ve made a gazillion. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not much of one!

Decision making is difficult, to say the least!

Have you ever made a decision you knew was right but everyone got upset at you anyway? I usually find I’m second guessing myself when this happens. It’s really hard to stick with a decision that people are upset about. But if our decision was rooted in love, we can trust God to help others understand.

When we make our decisions based on love and faithfulness, we become a safe place for others, even if people get upset with our decisions at first.

In addition to love and faithfulness, there is one more thing God wants us to have in our hearts: courage!

It takes courage to love. It takes courage to pray. It takes courage to be faithful. Sometimes our friends may stop being our friends without telling us why. Sometimes those who love us will hurt us. We need to love anyway, and to love like this takes courage. It takes courage because rejection is the scariest thing in the world, sometimes. It’s scarier than bears, lions, and scorpions. It’s scarier than leopards, cobra snakes, and even great white sharks. We can bury that fear, but it comes up over and over again. We can’t run away from it. We need to face this fear head on.

God wants us to face that fear with Him. Why?

Because He will never reject us. When we take even the first step of this journey with Him, the first thing He does is look at us and say, “Your heart is beautiful and perfect!” He will never reject us!

Also, He wants us to take this journey with Him because He knows what it’s like to be rejected. He was rejected by family (John 7:3-5), by friends (Mark 14:56), by His own people (John 1:11). Jesus knows the pain and sting of rejection more acutely than anyone. We’ll be exploring this further later on.

Have you ever been rejected by people you love? By someone to whom you had been a faithful friend? How much courage did it take to forgive and love people again?

About the Author:

Precarious YatesPrecarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their big dogs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.

Links:

Facebook Amazon Author Page

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Gems From Pastor Jim

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by Jim Hughes

CrossProv. 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.

How well are you guarding your heart? What are you doing to protect if? There are several things we all should be doing. We should first of all determine in our hearts that we are not going to let sin in. If the will is not there, nothing else we do is going to matter much. We must make a commitment to the Lord that we are going to strive to protect our hearts. We must watch what we feast on. What goes in through our eyes affects what our hearts are made of. We must be careful what we listen to. What we hear often lodges in our brains and filters down into our hearts. If we don’t make a covenant with the Lord regarding what we see and hear, our hearts will be poisoned with sin.

We guard our hearts by spending much needed time with the Lord in the Word, prayer, worship, and fellowship. We cannot rob ourselves of the time we need with the Lord and expect to have a heart that is right with Him. The more we are with the Lord, the more of Him we assimilate into our lives.

We guard our hearts by spending quality time with other believers. We learn from each other how to live in Christ in a world that hates Christ. We learn that there is joy and peace in Christ. We learn that it does matter to others how we live. We learn that there are others just like us who struggle with living by faith and are doing it. We learn that together we can accomplish great things for the Lord that we can’t do on our own.

Guarding our hearts is not easy and is never ending. We need to always be on the alert for danger. We must never compromise the integrity of our hearts. What is in our hearts affects everything we do and say. And, what we say and do is our witness in the world. In all you do, do it as unto the Lord and you will be blessed.

Before and After the Honeymoon

About the Author:

Jim HughesSpending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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Song of Confidence

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by Charles Hadddon Spurgeon

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. (Psalm 138:7)

Wretched walking in the midst of trouble. Nay, blessed walking, since there is a special promise for it. Give me a promise, and what is the trouble? What doth my Lord teach me here to say? Why this—”Thou wilt revive me.” I shall have more life, more energy, more faith. Is it not often so, that trouble revives us, like a breath of cold air when one is ready to faint?

How angry are my enemies and especially the archenemy! Shall I stretch forth my hand and fight my foes! No, my hand is better employed in doing service for my Lord. Besides, there is no need, for my God will use His far-reaching arm, and He will deal with them far better than I could if I were to try. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” He will with His own right hand of power and wisdom save me, and what more can I desire?

Come, my heart, talk this promise over to thyself till thou canst use it as the song of thy confidence, the solace of thy holiness. Pray to be revived thyself and leave the rest with the Lord, who performeth all things for thee.

If you would like your own copy of Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotionals by Charles Haddon Spurgeon click the image below.

Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Devotionals

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