A Deeper Satisfaction

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I can vividly recall a time in my life when spiritual things were not very high on my list of personal priorities. At that time, I didn’t realize that we are all born with a “spiritual vacuum” inside our hearts and this vacuum can only be filled by God in Christ. Little wonder that everything I tried to use to fill that “inner spiritual void” simply could not bring the deeper satisfaction and fulfillment I craved, no matter how hard I tried.

Yet, God in His love, patience, mercy and grace let me exhaust my creative ideas for living life on my terms until finally I keenly realized I had no place to run but straight into the arms of our loving Heavenly Father. Knowing “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sins upon His cross,” was enough to persuade me to re-prioritize my entire life and start re-orienting all things toward eternity, not just this temporal world chock full of trivial pursuits I once considered so important.

Yet, ironically, these great truths are so personally phenomenal that they simply cannot be fully realized in words alone—they must be experienced by oneself—then and only then can this wonderful ‘soul satisfaction’ be known for all it’s absolute beauty, power and transformation.

When we have grown weary of the world’s temporal “fixes” and we desire ‘something more, something better’ we can look to Christ and at His cross we can find what our hearts desire more than anything else; unconditional love, abiding peace and overflowing joy through His Holy Spirit.

Today is the First Day of Autumn!

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The autumn of life is a strange mixture of nostalgia, blessings, and potential. It yields the harvest of seeds we’ve sown throughout life and braces us for colder days to come.

When life’s autumn arrives, we look back and better understand the way God led us; but we still have work to do—the best and fullest. It’s a good transition time.

“Autumn” only occurs once in the Bible. In Jude 1:12, false teachers are compared to “autumn trees without fruit,” implying that autumn should be a fruitful season, the most abundant of the year. How can we take advantage of the “autumn of life”?

The Unchanging Nature of God

The seasons come and go, so focus on the God who remains unchanged and unchanging. “LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:1-2).

There’s a lot of unwelcome change in our world. Moral and societal changes brother us most when we turn on our television or glance at the magazines. We’re painfully aware our kids are growing up in a world far different from the one we knew as children.

And personal changes—children leaving home, the passing of dear friends, and the slow, steady decline in our vitality and health. Sometimes we feel outdated at work.

But amid all the changes, one thing, one person, never changes—our eternal God. Remember this verse from “Abide with Me”?

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away; Change and decay in all around I see; O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
–Henry F. Lyte

J. I. Packer points out that God does not change. His life is always the same. His character is always dependable. His truth, ways, and purposes do not change. His Son does not change. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

His children will enjoy His fellowship a million years from now. The world may fade, the stars may fall, the seasons may change, and winter may come. But the God who has been our help in ages past is our hope for years to come. In Him we have permanence, stability, joy unshakable, and life unending.

The Divine Foresight of God

We’ve all suffered setbacks along the way. But God promised, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. . . . You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God” (Joel 2:25-26). His divine forethought knew it all in advance, and He can be trusted with what has happened to us in years past.

Our omniscient Savior knows the end from the beginning, and He will bless whatever is yielded to Him. Focus on His foreknowledge, providence, and sovereignty.

The Wonderful Blessings of God

The autumn of life is a great time to focus on God’s wonderful blessings—family, friends, strength, shelter, provision, guidance, care, fruitful ministry, opportunities to serve, more time to pray and study His Word, and eternal life still to come.

During life’s autumn, we have a richer perspective and can count more blessings than ever before.

A Renewed Commitment to God

Autumn is a good time to focus on your commitment to God. Some of the saddest words in the Bible are in Jeremiah 8:20, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” If you’ve never made a commitment to Jesus Christ, do it now, while there is still time.

If you are a follower of Christ, remember to remain close to Him during the shifting seasons of life. Christ is our only solid anchor in every storm, our only hope in the complex and ever-changing landscape of our culture and future. He is the Creator of each season. Let Him be your Lord today and He will reveal the many colors of His love, grace, peace and power to you through all the colors of this autumn season.

 

Pray for All Affected by Hurricane Florence

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From: David Crews
Latest Update: Saturday, September 15, 5:30 AM
🙏🌀🌊⛈️
Florence is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and South Carolina with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding. Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70 mph, and it’s at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 mph.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from its center. Florence is producing tropical storm-force wind gusts in Florence, South Carolina, about 60 miles from the coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

 North Carolina Flooding Expected to Worsen

The National Weather Service says 14 to 15 inches of rain has already fallen north of Swansboro, North Carolina, and it’s only going to get worse. Weather Prediction Center senior forecaster David Roth said catastrophic flash flooding is expected to continue to worsen Friday.

Roth said the heavy rainfall for southeast North Carolina is only one-third to one-quarter the way over.

“Plenty of heavy rain remains in the future for this region,” Roth wrote in the weather center’s rain forecast discussion.

 More Than 2,100 Flights Grounded

Airlines have canceled more than 2,100 U.S. flights from the storm’s approach on Wednesday through Sunday, according to tracking service FlightAware. The region’s two largest airports, in Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, had more than 200 cancellations on Friday.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says Charleston International Airport in South Carolina isn’t expected to reopen until Monday night. Wilmington International in North Carolina expects to reopen at noon Saturday.

 Rainfall Totals Could Be Staggering

Ryan Maue, a meteorologist at weathermodels dot com, calculates that Florence is forecast to dump about 18 trillion gallons of rain in seven days over the Carolinas and Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

That doesn’t quite measure up to the 25 trillion gallons Harvey dropped on Texas and Louisiana last year. Maue said Harvey stalled longer and stayed closer to the coast, which enabled it to keep sucking moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

Still, 18 trillion gallons is as much water as there is in the entire Chesapeake Bay. It’s enough to cover the entire state of Texas with nearly four inches of water. That much rain is 2.4 trillion cubic feet. It’s enough to cover Manhattan with nearly 3,800 feet of water, more than twice as high as the island’s tallest building.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough rain to cover the Tar Heel state in about 10 inches of water. Maue calculates that 34 million people will get at least 3 inches, with more than 5.7 million getting at least a foot and about 1.5 million getting 20 inches or more.

 5 Deaths Reported So Far

At least five people were killed during the storm, authorities said. A mother and an infant were killed when a tree fell onto their home in Wilmington on Friday. The father was injured and transported to a nearby hospital, The Wilmington Police Department said.

Images showed firefighters responding to the scene and kneeling to pray. The firefighters were shaken up by what they witnessed at the scene, CBS affiliate WWAY reports.

 Massive Power Outages Along the Coast

At least 490,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage dot us, which tracks the nation’s electrical grid.

The numbers are expected to soar as the storm’s winds and torrential rains sweep over more land. Duke anticipates 1 million to 3 million of their 4 million customers in the Carolinas will lose power from Florence.

Hurricane Florence could inflict the hardest hurricane punch North Carolina has seen in more than 60 years. In 1954, the state was hit by a Category 4 storm, Hurricane Hazel.

“Hazel stands as a benchmark storm in North Carolina’s history,” said Jay Barnes, author of books on the hurricane histories of both North Carolina and Florida. “We had a tremendous amount of destruction all across the state.”

 Florence Hovering Near Cape Fear….Literally

The center of Hurricane Florence is hovering inland near Cape Fear, North Carolina. It remains a Category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 80 mph, but stronger wind gusts have been reported.

Florence was centered about 20 miles southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 55 miles east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. advisory. It was crawling west-southwest at 3 mph, lifting huge amounts of ocean moisture and dumping it far from the coast.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles.

 People worry and fear the worst for their property and possessions, and rightly so. Many may return to find destruction and ruin.

But they don’t have to find despair.

As a Christian, I want people to know God loves them and hasn’t forgotten them. A lot of people think when a storm comes that maybe God is mad at them, and He’s not. We share this simple, yet profound truth as we minister in crisis situations.

Franklin Graham said that Chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association are already ministering to people who have fled to evacuation centers. And as soon as the storm has passed, they will be going into hard hit areas with our Samaritan’s Purse teams who will be responding to the physical needs.

We don’t run from disasters – we run to them. We go to help people in Jesus’ Name. We work all over the world like this. And in every heartbreaking situation, I hear people from all walks of life say: “We’re just glad we have our lives and each other,” and, “My faith in God is the one thing that’s giving me hope.”

 Fear. Storm. Flood. Fire. Tornado. Disease. Famine. War.

No matter the calamity, no matter the outcome, I want people who are suffering to know that God is their “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

You see, God’s not just there for us when things are going well, or when we still have a home. He’s there when the going is tough and the rug has been ripped out from under our feet – or soaked in the floodwaters.

And God uses people to bring hope and healing in times of trouble. Too often, especially here in America, we are guilty of seeing what divides us more often that what unites us: our common, intrinsic value as God’s creation, highly valued and greatly loved by Him.

Franklin Graham said “Every time I go out to a wrecked home where our volunteers are helping begin the recovery process, I am privileged to see that love shared and human dignity affirmed, often through tears, smiles, and sweaty hugs among hard-working people from all over the country.”

When you’re hurting, or are in a time of uncertainty, or don’t know where to turn, I want to encourage you to first turn upward and ask God for His help. He is always there. Then, turn to your left and right, find the people around you – some who you may not have met until this storm – and flash them a smile, give them a word of encouragement, and most of all, reach out with a helping hand.

As Christians who sincerely care, these is not a time for any theological speculation as to the “why’s” of this catastrophic, natural disaster—this is a “time for prayer”—for the millions who are forced to deal with loss, property damage, even death. Fortunately, many believers have taken up this prayer need and are praying as we speak.

David Crews 

More Peace in a Stressful World

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“How important is peace of mind to you?”

Seems like this fast-paced, rapidly-changing, I-phone, tech world we live in today is getting more chaotic and crazy with each passing day.

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
 
Rebekah Hargraves writes……
 
I don’t have to tell you that we live in a world today that is seriously lacking in peace. Women everywhere I talk to are stressed, worried, anxious, concerned, exhausted, overworked, fearful, overwhelmed, emotional, and on and on the list goes….
 
I’m sure one or more of those words could well describe you in this very moment. Unfortunately, as women, our first response to these feelings or issues is oftentimes to turn and cry out to our best friend, to overindulge in the wonders of chocolate (don’t get me wrong, sister-I am a big fan of chocolate myself! 😉), to give way to our fears and concerns, to complain and lash out, to binge-watch our favorite show on Netflix, or to get lost in some comfort food.
 
The problem is that not one of those reactions or sources we turn to for comfort, were ever meant to actually provide us with the peace for which our hearts long. They cannot fill the void in our lives or provide us with the lasting comfort we need. Though we, as Christians, trust Christ to provide us with eternal peace, we too often turn to anyone and anything other than Christ to provide us with the peace we long for in the here and now.
 
“Why is this?”
 
I believe our problem sometimes is that, though we believe and rely on the Word of God for salvation, we feel like it is not adequate to bring us help and peace in our day-to-day lives. Or perhaps we lack the self-control and self-discipline required to calmly sit down and pour over the Scriptures or to cry out to God in prayer. Perhaps we mistakenly think He isn’t really listening to us after all. We think we have to instead read the latest self-help book, or seek the advice of a friend, or else just wallow in the mire with a woe-is-me attitude.
 
But, friends, let us not make the mistake of forgetting that the Word carries with it the very power and teaching of Almighty God, that it is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12), and that it does indeed bring “great peace” to those who love it (Psalm 119:165). (Psalm 29:11) says the Lord brings peace to His people, (Isaiah 26:3) says we will have “perfect peace” when our minds are fixed on the Lord, Jesus tells us repeatedly that He gives us peace (John 14:27, John 16:33), (1 Corinthians 14:33) says God is a God of peace, one of Jesus’ names is Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and (2 Thessalonians 3:16) refers to the Lord as “the Lord of peace”.
 
If you want supernatural, true, lasting, ultimate peace, dear reader, peace down deep in your heart that will see you through every trial and trouble you face, supernatural peace that is abiding and unwavering even in the midst of life’s worst difficulties, then cling to the Lord. If you want the “peace of God” to “rule in your heart”, then “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Immerse yourself daily in His Word. Talk to God about whatever you are going through (Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7).
 
Sing to and worship the Lord (note the importance of this in our Colossians passage above!). The result is that that peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

How is that for deep, unwavering peace?

More peace is available for you, right now, no matter what situation you are in or what adversity you are now facing. God’s supernatural peace is not based on being in “ideal circumstances.” His peace is above and beyond the superficial peace of this world, the kind of fragile peace which happens when everything is perfect. We all know this is temporal at best. Life is not perfect, things happen and we need deep, strong, spiritual peace to help us thrive when maybe all we are hoping for is just to survive. 

Friends, I know this real. I know because I’ve faced severe testing and trial, yet I reached out to Jesus for His peace and I got it. I know it’s available for you, if you want it.

Please re-read this post. Take it to heart. Do what God tells you and you will also experience more peace than you’ve ever dreamed. Remember, God wants to give you MORE of His peace. It’s a gift. You don’t have to try and do a bunch of good deeds. It’s by His grace. Open your heart and receive His supernatural peace and then you’ll ENJOY what you’ve been missing, I promise you.

God’s Shalom Peace to You!

David Crews, Ph.D. 

Making a Difference with Your Life

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I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

— 2 Timothy 4:7

One morning in 1888, the inventor of dynamite awoke to read his own obituary, which was printed as a result of an error when the paper had gone to print. His brother had died and the paper carelessly printed the obituary of the wrong brother.

Anyone would have been disturbed at such a thing. But for this man, it was particularly overwhelming because he discovered himself as the world saw him, the “Dynamite King” who had made an immense fortune from explosives.

After reading his obituary, he resolved to make clear to the world the true meaning and purpose of life, which he did through the final disposition of his fortune. So the last will and testament of the inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel, included an endowment of five annual prizes for outstanding contributions to the world. The most valuable of these was given for the promotion of peace… the Nobel Peace Prize.

Wherever you are today, it’s never too late to start making a difference with your life. It doesn’t have to be on the grand scale of a peace prize—maybe it’s sharing Christ with the people right around you. Impact others with your life and leave a legacy far beyond your years!

Prayer Challenge
Ask God to show you how you can make the most of your time here and leave a lasting legacy of faith to others.
Questions for Thought
1. Who in your life left a lasting impact?
2. What did they do that left such an impression on you?
3. What things are you doing now to make a difference in other’s lives?
4. What would you like your legacy to be after you’re gone?

A Meteor Shower of “What If’s”

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Max Lucado writes, “Anxiety is like a meteor shower of “what-ifs.” The sky is falling, and it’s falling disproportionately on you.”

Anxiety ain’t fun! One would think Christians would be exempt from worry but we are not. It’s enough to make us wonder if the apostle Paul was out of touch with reality when he wrote in (Philippians 4:6), “Be anxious for nothing.”

Is that what he meant? Not exactly. He wrote the phrase in the present active tense—implying an ongoing state. “Don’t let anything in life leave you perpetually breathless and in angst.” The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional.

Could you use some calm? Of course you could. We all could! We all could use a word of comfort and God is ready to give it. Just look up, not to the meteor shower of what-if’s, but the marvelous shower of God’s riches in glory for you in Christ Jesus.