The “One Thing” In Your Life

Imagine the power, simplicity, and clarity of having “one thing” that you desire most in your life. What would that “one thing” be? In a world that claws at you from every direction to install itself as your main thing, consider these words of the Psalmist:

One thing I ask from the Lord,

    this only do I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

    all the days of my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the Lord

    and to seek him in his temple.

(Psalm 27:4)

Where is this temple? How can we gaze upon the beauty of the Lord? Written thousands of years ago, the temple likely referred to the temple in Jerusalem. To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord could refer to the Holy of Holies in which the presence of the Lord lived, and which could be accessed only once a year and by only the Chief High Priest. With Christ, however, the temple lives in everyone’s heart and can be reached with prayer through faith.

If our “one thing” is Christ, he becomes our power, simplicity, and clarity.

More

Open my mind that I know that you are “more”; more than enough, greater than my problems, a never-ending stream of mercy and grace. Trusting that your will “will be done” is more than sufficient for me to face what is wrong in this world.
(From Morning and Evening Prayers)

Idols Are Worthless And Detestable

Idols compete with God for God in our lives. This is what Isaiah said about them.

“Tell us, you idols,

    what is going to happen.

Tell us what the former things were,

    so that we may consider them

    and know their final outcome.

Or declare to us the things to come,

    tell us what the future holds,

    so we may know that you are gods.

Do something, whether good or bad,

    so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.

But you are less than nothing

    and your works are utterly worthless;

    whoever chooses you is detestable.”

Isaiah 41:22-24 NIV

Clean Your Mac

I regularly get a message to “clean my Mac” from an app that deletes unneeded junk, protects against threats, and speeds performance. It will also empty trash bins, uninstall useless applications, and shred files.

Do you see where I am going with this?

The Bible, study, prayer, forgiveness…all these help to clean the Mac of my soul.

When the app completes its work, it sends the message, “CleanMyMac has just finished cleaning up and perfecting your Mac.”

That’s the message we can receive daily when we allow the Spirit to do its job.

What Delights God?

I ask God for many things, I express gratitude, intercede for others, praise Him, and converse with Him throughout the day. These are all “me-centered” actions. It occurs to me that I have never asked God what delights Him, a “God-centered” approach. Not, “what must I do?” but “Lord, tell me what makes you happy, what pleases you, what makes you smile—how may I delight you?”

So, today I will ask.

The Bible gives us insight into this question. A good starting point is Psalm 147:11.

“the Lord delights in those who fear (to revere, hold in awe) him,

    who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (NIV)

The many different translations broaden context:

To worship, trust, respect, serve, and wait for his mercy.

Isaiah 1:17 adds “Learn to do good, to be fair, and to help the poor, the fatherless, and widows.”

For simplicity and clarity, we hear Christ say,  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

And we hear God say,

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Matthew 17:5

All these I know and have heard many times, but this is all mind-stuff and knowledge without truly embracing how God really feels. And so, like a father to a child, as we are to Him, I will ask “what delights you?” that I might delight Him.

Be Held In Faith

Is it too easy to abandon faith, to question it, when life starts to fall apart. Too often we stumble into the trap of using our own resources to rebuild what has been damaged. Instead, be held in faith. Not in doctrine, creeds, rituals, sophisticated arguments—nothing authored by man. Only Christ has the sure, steady, and gentle hands that can support us and make us whole again. (Inspired by Help! My Loved One Is Deconstructing Their Faith, by Meredith N Mills)

Wisdom Cannot Save Us

This is the tragic story of Solomon, the wisest of the wise. His gift of wisdom enabled him to rule Israel to its greatest period of peace and prosperity. Yet, sadly, it did not guard him from succumbing to passions which turned him from God. He had hundreds of wives, many who worshiped false gods. They, in turn, drew Solomon from his one God.

The lesson we draw from this story is that wisdom alone cannot save us. Nor can any gift, unguided; Solomon also had gifts that gave him the ability to acquire knowledge, fortune, and to build great structures (see Ecclesiastes).

Nothing that we seek and acquire for its own purpose will be totally fulfilling.

Solomon needed a savior and so do we. We cannot worship our gifts. But, we can worship the One who alone can save—Christ.

Is It Well With Your Soul?

Horatio Spafford wrote the lyrics to the classic hymn “It is Well With My Soul” after a series of tragic events. His two sons died in the Chicago fire of 1871 and the rest of his family perished two years later when their ship crossing the Atlantic sank. Yet, he wrote:

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

Where does this soulful serenity, peace—even joy—come from?

In the mid-to-late century BC, the prophet Habakkuk wrote these words on the brink of foreign invasion when one could easily abandon faith in God and His justice:

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation, God, the Lord, is my strength” (Habakkuk 3:17-19b)

To be well with our soul is not something we can manufacture or through strength of character and sheer determination create on our own. It is only through the power of choice—choosing God over all else—that we can overcome and “be well.”

Who Runs Your Life?

Will Graham, son of Billy Graham, said this about his teenage years: ““As I got into my teenage years, it wasn’t that I did not believe in God. I just didn’t want God running my life,” (interview with The Epoch Times).

Who runs your life? This is an excellent question, a profound question, and a frightening one. For, to be totally honest—despite all I read and write, say and pray, think and do—I cannot say that I want God to totally run my life. Perhaps just a portion of it. And this frightens me. Where am I weak? Why? And what can I do to being totally under God’s rule?

This commitment requires more than my resolve and this is why I continue to pray, “Lord I believe. Help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24

“What Do You See?”

God asks Jeremiah, “What do you see?” (Jeremiah 1:11) God had chosen Jeremiah to be a prophet to Jerusalem, announcing Judah’s annihilation for its turning away from God and lack of repentance.. That’s not a very comfortable message for someone to deliver. The point, however, is that God asks a question that is relevant to all of us at all times; what do we see? What eyes do we see with? What prejudices block out reality? Use Holy Scripture, prayer, study, worship—all the means of seeing, that the downfall of Judah and the Israelite nation is not our personal downfall.

The Power Of Turning

There are many things in life to be saved from: disaster, ruin, heartbreak, despair, and much, much more. These are the things of life; they are inescapable. God is with us, if we choose, to overcome them or at least to deal with them. They may require immense effort and time

There is one thing, however, that can be instantaneous and ludicrously easy and that is being saved for eternity with God.
Isaiah 45:22
“Turn to me and be saved,
all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.
NIV
This is salvation and it is already done—accomplished through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ; we have merely to ask for it. It is like reaching into a closet and pulling out a royal garment. This is what is meant by “Turn to me and be saved.”

What Good Is An Engine If You Have No Fuel?

Whether that engine is mechanical, physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, if you have no fuel you have no power and without power your engine is useless. Why live with a useless engine; actually, if your engine is useless, you are not really living.

So you are tired and dispirited. Your tank is empty. How do you fuel up?

Isaiah has a solution. Consider 40:29 in these two different translations:

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (New International Version)

He gives power to the weary, And to him who lacks vigor He increases might. (Voice)

Power. Vigor. Strength. Might. Fuel!

The trap that we fall into is to look for fuel is all the wrong places. We look inward to our own, limited resources. We look outward to specialists who, though helpful, have their own limits. And we look for advice out of desperation from anyone who offers it—but to no true and lasting end. So, where do we fuel up?

We have a fueling station and it’s called the Bible. We have a pump and it’s called prayer. Our fuel is transported by the Holy Spirit. And the source of our fuel is Christ.

What Value Is Gold If It Remains In The Mine?

Gold has value only when it is extracted and claimed. So, too, with Christ. To know of Him, but not extract His love and not claim His love as your own is to leave gold in the mine. Claim Him as your redeemer, know that He lives in your life, as Job does, ‘I know that my redeemer liveth.” Job 19:25aist read Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon for April 21

You Have Weathered The Waves.
Now Beware The Undercurrent.

The great trials in life are not only things to be feared. Having survived the crashing waves, beware of letting your guard down lest you be pulled back into despair by the undercurrent of hidden forces.

 

Burdens

We are not meant to carry our burdens alone.

Cast your cares on the Lord

    and he will sustain you;

he will never let

    the righteous be shaken.

Psalm 55:22

Look carefully at three words to gain a greater sense of the power of this verse:

Cast: to throw, hurl, banish, shed. This is not a simple, gentle laying down but a forceful, intentional act. 

Sustain: to hold, seize, provide (as in supplies and food).

Shaken: toppled, cause to fail, to bring down, uprooted

More than just words of comfort, verse 22 is a call to be forceful and proactive in lightening burdens with the assurance that the Lord will hear and respond.

He Calls You By Name To Leave The Darkness Behind

He calls us by name to move out of the prison of darkness to a new life in Him, for there is no other life worth living. It is a call—almost a command—to break the chains of grief, fear, and hopelessness and move forward in a tenacious quest to fulfill your mission, strengthened by Him.

In our gloom of dark despair, we cannot know when, how, or by whom this call will come. But faith teaches and compels us to believe it will come. Let this be the beginning of our freedom.

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

John 20:16

What Chains Bind Us? Do We Want Them Broken?

“We sit too often like chained eagles fastened to the rock, only that, unlike the eagle, we begin to love our chain, and would, perhaps, if it came really to the test, be loath to have it snapped.”

My Upmost For His Highest April 3

What? Three Thoughts To Focus On Today

What do you need to make it through the day?

What steals your joy?

What if God removed all His protection from you?

Are You Spiritual?

“I am spiritual” is an expression often heard. It typically means “I don’t go to church but I am a religious person,” whatever that means. Here is the definition from Oswald Chambers:

“The lasting characteristic of a spiritual man is the ability to understand correctly the meaning of the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, and the ability to explain the purposes of God to others.”
—My Upmost For His Highest, April 2

Are you spiritual?

How Do You Look At The World?

Corrie Ten Boom, a holocaust survivor who lost her father and sister in a concentration camp, said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.”

The Easter Message

How will we reread our lives in the context of faith? How will we read familiar texts with new eyes? How will we interpret the promises of the Old Testament in light of the Resurrection?  Will we see that when we worship that which is not God, when we behave in a way that distorts humanity, we will realize that we are subject to death from sin, not life from Resurrection.

The Easter message is that the Resurrection is the final defeat of death, where death is all that fights against God and where death is the  ultimate weapon of tyranny, godlessness, and Satan.

The Significance Of Holy Saturday

This day that falls between the crucifixion and the resurrection has its unique place in our lives, a place of quiet, confident hope. It is absent the action and drama of Good Friday and is not yet a day of joyful celebration. What can this day teach us about our lives that are lived between pain and happiness, sorrow and delight, failure and triumph?

We can learn that God is at work in the stillness. That hope does not vanish simply because the dawn has not arrived. That, though the work has been done, the benefit has yet to be realized.

Our personal holy Saturdays may be more than 24 hours; they may be 24 years. We just don’t know. But the work has been done and the benefit will arrive, in God’s time and in God’s way. Pray for a holy patience and understanding.

What If You Were In Jerusalem On Good Friday

Imagine that you are a tourist in modern day Israel and, through a time-warp, you found yourself on Calvary at the tiime of the crucifiction? What would you do? Take a selfie or worship?

How Being Good Can Be A Bad Thing

“Goodness and purity should never be traits that draw attention to themselves, but should simply be magnets that draw people to Jesus Christ. If my holiness is not drawing others to Him, it is not the right kind of holiness; it is only an influence which awakens undue emotions and evil desires in people and diverts them from heading in the right direction. A person who is a beautiful saint can be a hindrance in leading people to the Lord by presenting only what Christ has done for him, instead of presenting Jesus Christ Himself. Others will be left with this thought— ‘What a fine person that man is!'”
—My Upmost For His Highest, Daily Devotional, Oswald Chambers, March 25

Our conclusion may be this: be good, do good to shine light upon God’s glory, not your own.

Where Are You Going?

Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason— a life of knowing Him who calls us to go. Faith is rooted in the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest traps we fall into is the belief that if we have faith, God will surely lead us to success in the world.

When What You Thought Works No Longer Does

It is common, in conversations that have God in them, for someone to say, “I’m doing quite well without Him” or words to that effect. This brings me to a crossroad—how do I react, what do I say? Do I try to refute, give my own testimony, stay silent? I recently found a better way, consistent with my personality and style.

In a recent post, Mark Yarbrough, President of Dallas Theological Seminary, speaks to a similar situation that he is regularly confronted with. Here is his response:

“Hey, I’ll tell you what. The path you’re going down is likely to end up in what I call ‘life bankruptcy.’ When you hit bottom, give me a call. I’m here to tell you a better way—about a God who has the answers for the mess we’re all in and who reveals Himself in a clear, credible manner.” 

I might use slightly different language but the response is clear: offer to be friend who will share openly and honestly “a better way” when what you thought works no longer does.

Grace In Abundance

Grace, whether its work be to pardon, to cleanse, to preserve, to strengthen, to enlighten, to quicken, or to restore, is ever to be had from Christ freely and without price. As we day by day receive grace from Jesus,  let us make daily use of our riches.

From Charles Spurgeon Morning And Evening, March 15

Uninspired? Lack Enthusiasm? Is Life Dull?

When you have no vision from God, no enthusiasm left in your life, and no one watching and encouraging you, it requires the grace of Almighty God to take the next step in your devotion to Him, in the reading and studying of His Word, in your family life, or in your duty to Him. It takes much more of the grace of God, and a much greater awareness of drawing upon Him, to take that next step, than it does to preach the gospel.

We lose interest and give up when we have no vision, no encouragement, and no improvement, but only experience our everyday life with its trivial tasks. The thing that really testifies for God and for the people of God in the long run is steady perseverance, even when the work cannot be seen by others. And the only way to live an undefeated life is to live looking to God. Ask God to keep the eyes of your spirit open to the risen Christ, and it will be impossible for drudgery to discourage you.

(From My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers, Daily Devotional, March 6)

“Don’t Love What Cannot Or Will Not Love You Back.”

(Heard on Sirius Radio Comedy Station)

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Love’s Depth Chart

When God is pushed to the sidelines or knocked down in the depth chart of our devotion, something is clearly competing for our love and adoration. In many cases, it comes down to our hearts and the place of honor God occupies in our lives.

Source: Joel Ryan from iBelieve, 5 Signs Sports Is Becoming an Idol

Give New Life To Old Dreams

We all have many dreams and aspirations when we are young, but sooner or later we realize we have no power to accomplish them. We cannot do the things we long to do, so our tendency is to think of our dreams and aspirations as dead. But God comes and says to us, “Arise from the dead.”

(Chambers, February 16 on Ephesians 5:14)

We Forget That We Are Soldiers In A Constant Battle With A Powerful Adversary

We constantly fight battles throughout our lives; some big, many small. Some we are thrown into, some we enlist into. Regardless, we battle constantly.

Two important questions are, for what and for whom do we fight?

It has taken me a lifetime to realize that I am a soldier in God’s army, defending my faith against an adversary that seeks to devour me.

Fighting constant battles is draining and it is especially daunting when surrounded by the abundance of a blessed life; how easy it is to ignore the battle in the comfort of abundance. This is why Spurgeon’s warning is critical:

“It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous” for, in prosperity “We are full and we forget God: satisfied with earth, we are content to do without heaven.” (Morning And Evening Devotionals, February 10)

Let us put on the armor of God while we enjoy His blessings and be prepared for our daily battles.

Is There A More Beautiful Prayer?

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

The Source Of All Blessings

We pray for mercy, forgiveness, deliverance, help, resistance to temptation and our daily bread of sustenance. We pray for all things from One God. We are constant beggars and this is rightly so, for God is merciful and generous to those who call upon Him. Do no cease to pray and ask.

The Chicken Hawk Circles Above

This expression is taken from an old Jamaican saying that describes the unseen threat circling above little chicks playing on the ground, oblivious to impending doom.

It is not for farmyard chickens alone. It is for us, our community, and our nation.

Satan is the chicken hawk seeking to devour us. Christ is our refuge and stronghold.

Teach Me How To Live

Teach me how to live in your perfect peace that I am not tormented of judgment from you or paralyzed or depressed by fear about the future. Let the power of your love so abide in me that I may always walk in your light, mindful of your calming presence at all times.

Art Thou Gloomy?

It’s easy to become gloomy, dulled by drudgery, and empty of enthusiasm. Spurgeon has a remedy for this in his January 24 Morning Devotional:.

“Forget not what thy God has done for thee; there must surely be some precious milestone along the road of life not quite grown over with moss, on which thou canst read a happy memorial of his mercy towards thee?”

Remember God’s mercies. Read the entire devotional and become revitalized.

Satan Says/God Says

Satan says, “I will make you happy.” God says, “I will bring you peace.”

Satan says, “worship me and I will give you everything you want.” God says, “worship me and I will give you everything you need.”

Happiness is transitory and depends upon conditions out of our control and which may be changed at any time. When we worship our wants we forfeit our true needs. Who do we listen to?

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7 Uncommon Ways To Worship

We are all familiar with traditional worship*: praying and liturgical services. Is this all? Colossians 3:17 speaks in vastly broader terms, “all that you do”.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Here are 7 uncommon—but easy and well known—ways to worship throughout the day:

1. Smile

2. Say a kind word

3. Perform a loving action

4. Offer enthusiasm

5. Be encouraging

6. Support endurance

7. Be firm with tenacity

There is a dual blessing when you offer these to yourself as well as to others.

*There are many definitions of worship. This one fits well with the thought of this message: “the acknowledgment of God and all His power and glory in everything we do.”

The Promises Of God

Do as you promised,” (2 Samuel 7:25)

“God’s promises were never meant to be thrown aside as waste paper; he intended that they should be used. Nothing pleases our Lord better than to see his promises put in circulation; he loves to see his children bring them up to him, and say, “Lord, do as thou hast said.” We glorify God when we plead his promises.” (Spurgeon Morning/Evening January 15)

When faced with a problem, especially one that seems insurmountable, focus on God’s promises, not your fears.

Little Faith?

Fleming Rutledge, Episcopal priest and author, addresses a situation she often encounters in her ministry, where individuals question their faith or lack of it. She writes in Help My Unbelief,

“They have this idea that a certain specific amount of faith is required, and they are convinced that whatever the necessary amount is, they don’t have it and they aren’t ever going to have it. Sometime, it seems as though they have deified their unbelief; their very doubts have become articles of faith.”

Her message is the Gospel message: believe in God. He is your article of faith.

Spiritual X-Ray

The thought of having an x-ray taken disturbs me. X-rays search in areas I cannot see and may find something I would prefer to remain unseen, such as a medical problem that must be healed. But to ignore such a problem would be foolish, and the wise approach is to face reality.

Psalm 139 is such a reality check, but of our souls. In magnificent words, it acknowledges that God knows more about us than we do, and invites Him to cleanse us of all that is known and unknown to us. God’s purifying vehicle is the Holy Spirit.

To be purified in such a manner—through the faithful workings of the Holy Spirit—gave Oswald Chambers an immense sense of confidence that he was no longer condemned for known and unknown sins. Feel that freedom in this paraphrasing of Psalm 139 by Chambers (Utmost, January 9):

“Thou art the God of the early mornings, the God of the late at nights, the God of the mountain peaks, and the God of the sea; but, my God, my soul has further horizons than the early mornings, deeper darkness than the nights of earth, higher peaks than any mountain peaks, greater depths than any sea in nature — Thou Who art the God of all these, be my God. I cannot reach to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot trace, dreams I cannot get at — my God, search me out.”

Change Requires Power

Change—meaningful change—requires change at two levels. The first level is a change in direction; overcoming inertia or its opposite, redirecting momentum, requires power. The second level is the power to continue in the changed direction. Depending upon our own power—first to change then to continue—is a losing proposition. Only power beyond ours is sufficient and that power comes from the Spirit. Discover that power in Christ and maintain it through your relationship with Him. “Follow me.” (John 21:19)

A New Year’s Day Commitment

Today I will go forth rejoicing in the power of the Spirit to live a life focused on Christ, with a faith based on confident expectation, not wishful thinking.

The Unequal Equation

It’s not what we have to offer God, but what He has given us that we may return to Him.

Faith To Accept The Sword

What do we need to step confidently into the New Year?

Three verses ground us in reality and provide wise guidance:

“I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword.”
Matthew 10:34

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

“The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.”
Galatians 2:20

What these verses are saying:

  1. The future holds trouble. Some of these troubles come from following Christ. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, “If you follow Christ, you shall have all the dogs of the world yelping at your heels…men will resent your unflinching fidelity, since it is a testimony against their iniquities.” This is the sword in Matthew, an allusion to the slashing of relationships.
  2. Faith brings peace. These troubles need not deprive us of peace, for the world of troubles has been overcome, defeated. Again, in Spurgeon’s words, faith in Christ establishes “a living, sensible, and delightful union which casts forth streams of love, confidence, sympathy, complacency, and joy” and gives us “the courage of a lion.”

Face the New Year with the faith that brings peace.

Quotations from Charles H Spurgeon, Morning and Evening Devotionals, December 28

Searching For Wisdom In The New Year

Of all the resolutions, plans, or goals for the new year you could make, would the search for wisdom be among them? Consider these two verses from the Psalms and how, together, they simply yet completely encompass a meaningful guide for living.

Psalm 90:12 (New International Version, NIV)

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalms 139:23-24 (New Living Translation, NLT)

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

*Wisdom: a God-given and God-centered discernment regarding the practical issues in life.

Turning Point

Like the light that guided the Magi to Christ, what if your next words could be a turning point in the life of someone?

Bathe In Unconditional Love

The word “unconditional” implies more than “without conditions.” It implies abundance without limit, love without merit. And to be bathed in such a way suggests immersion to the fullest, luxury to the highest. There is only one source of unconditional love. How will you bathe in it this day?

The Power Of Light Is The Fullness Of Joy

The quality of light to penetrate darkness belies its complementary quality to fill up; beyond erasing the negative nature of darkness, light unfolds the positive characteristics of life. And, much like a laser cuts, it also may weld

This positive quality of light is expressed as fullness:

“and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:19

“and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.”
Colossians 2:10.

Fullness is a beguiling word with a richness that deserves to be explored. Taken from the Greek, it means to make full, make complete, bring to fruition, basketfuls, and, perhaps its most precious meaning, “all in all.”

The light of Christ—His power—destroys darkness and fills us with such a fullness and abundance  of joy that we are brought to fruitful completion, the all in all of our lives.

The Power Of THE LIGHT

There is power in light to clarify, direct, and strengthen our way through the darkness of everyday living. Our decision is what power source to choose.

If we choose our own mind, abilities, and resources we may shed some light on difficulties, but it is the equivalent of using a penlight in place of a powerful beacon; the energy source is too limited, too weak.

Christ defines Himself as The Light, meaning His energy source is without limit, the beam of His light dispels all darkness.

The lesson is clear: use the most powerful light from a source that can never be exhausted.

“The boundless reservoir of thy grace can never be exhausted, and the overflowing storehouse of thy strength can never be emptied by thy friends or rifled by thine enemies.” (Spurgeon, Morning December 22)

The Power Of Light

As we approach Christmas, I am reminded of the images of light in the Gospel stories. In Luke 2, we encounter theshepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them…’ In Matthew 2, the Magi go to Herod and report “We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Glory and stars are metaphors for light.

Light is important in the Bible because it is important to our lives. Darkness means confusion, fear, uncertainty, and danger. Light that dispels darkness means clarity, confidence, and safety.

Jesus said he is the light of the world (John 8:12) and shines His light in a dark world so that we do not wander in darkness (John 12:46). Psalm 119: 105 proclaims “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

Let the power of Christ’s light bless you this day.

Why Do We Need Christ?

There are happy pagans and comfortable atheists, so why do we need Christ in our lives? It is simply because His peace, joy, comfort, a truly abundant life  and all other blessings are part of a higher standard we cannot obtain without Him, understand apart from Him, or fully experience separated from Him.

Stop Wrestling With God

Will stop wrestling with God when I find myself, like Jacob, alone, afraid, and completely broken—just where God wants me to be. I will surrender and then ask for His blessings, unmerited by me. I wrestle every time I seek my will, and God lets me prevail, though I go away limping spiritually. Far better to wrestle before God with things that distance me from Him and ask for His strength.

Reshape Your Worries

Worrying about worry is like trying to damn the stream, stop the tide, or defy gravity: its force is too great to resist. Use its force against itself. Divert worry, deflect the arrow, parry the sword and reshape worry through petition, praise, and prayer.

Philippians 4:6

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers”

Message Bible

In The Midst Of Trouble

Lord, I delight in watching how you will unravel this thing.
Based on Chambers, Utmost December 14

Who Can Measure Us?

Our personality is unique and too vast for us even to comprehend. “We don’t know the great depths of our being, therefore we cannot measure ourselves. We start out thinking we can, but soon realize that there is really only one Being who fully understands us, and that is our Creator.”
     Chambers, Utmost December 12

What is Christmas if not…

Meeting the Divine

Even in simple things,

And becoming like a child again.

Inspired by Scrooge, A Christmas Carole  by Charles Dickens

A Holiday Prayer For Joy
In A World With Too Little Of It

Lord, I’m not feeling particularly joyful today. In fact, I’m feeling a little empty, drained, and uninspired, with nothing to look forward to other than the same old same old. But I also know that you are the author of all joy, that you desire it for us, and that to look to you is to find joy. I recall that there is joy in knowing you, following you, obeying you, glorifying you. There is joy in trusting you, believing your word. Help me this moment to reap this joy that lays before me.

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
Psalm 4:7

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11

Be Redeemed By Sacrifice, Not Sorrow

Today I will base my forgiveness, redemption, and the healing of my relationship with God on Christ’s sacrifice, not on my sorrow. There is no power in my sorrow; it is only the door to acceptance.

Entrance Into The Kingdom

The entrance into the Kingdom is through the panging pains of repentance crashing into a man’s respectable goodness;
Oswald Chambers, Utmost, December 7

A Strategy To Defeat Stress

The tendency is to fight stress with activity, to beat it into submission. But this only feeds the beast. Try rest, especially resting in God. Set aside quiet time. Tell God what is not going well in your life, and listen with your heart to what He has to say.

“Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The LORD is the everlasting God; he created all the world. He never grows tired or weary.”

Isaiah 40:28 (GNT)

Where Is Your Personal Story Going?

How God Can Edit The Story Of Your Life

Do you read your life like a story whose next page is unwritten? Are you fearful of what will appear on that next page? Are dark things from the past clouding your hope for a better future and happy ending?

If we think of the abundant life as a story to be written, then there can be no greater editor than God. We create the typos; he fixes them.

There are actions we can and should take now to influence our story; let us be guided by wisdom and discernment. There are other actions in situations that are beyond our control where despair shrouds hope and healing seems impossible. Is this writer’s block, or might faith contribute a special edit?

Consider how God, through Christ, edited the story of The Man Born Blind (John 9). We read about a man blind from birth who, in the daily actions of his life, crosses paths with Jesus. He is brought to Jesus’s attention by his disciples for a theological discussion, not one of compassion. This discussion has a lesson of its own and worthy of understanding, but for the purpose of this message let’s simply look at the outcome of this apparently chance encounter. The blind man, without even asking, is healed so that he may see with his eyes, but also with his heart; he was physically and spiritually healed. The next chapter of his life was transformed from what should have been bleak to one that offered him a new reason for living.

What This Story Is Telling Us

There is no story so bleak that cannot be redeemed by Christ. We cross paths with Christ in many ways and in these encounters there is always the hope for healing and for sight to be restored. God, as author, has limitless resources for creative and bountiful edits. Look with faith for these encounters with His Son through the Holy Spirit and be prepared for amazing grace to enter your life’s story.

“The Lord is able to give thee much more than this.”

“How much more?” might be our question. Would a “grain of heart’s-ease (be) of more value than a ton of gold?” Would a smile from God be desired over a palace? (Spurgeon Nov. 30 Morning) God’s “much more” is greater than we could imagine. It is up to us to decide how much less we would accept without Him.

Scripture source: 2 Chronicles 25:9

Beware The Holiness Movements

“The holiness movements of today have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them. There is nothing about them that needs the death of Jesus Christ. All that is required is a pious atmosphere, prayer, and devotion. This type of experience is not supernatural nor miraculous. It did not cost the sufferings of God,” (Utmost, November 29)

It is great to be uplifted and inspired but, as Oswald Chambers warns, beware that what we feel is not the essence of Christ. Christ is more than a cheerleader at His pep rally, a mascot for His team. He is God, sufferer and redeemer, worthy of our total surrender and transformation. He is nothing less than awe-inspiring.

Recharge With Gratitude

Are you depleted? Is you emotional tank empty? No energy, no desire to do anythig? You need to recharge, and one priceless yet free source of energy is gratitude. Gratitude is an energy source because it draws us to the ultimate energy source, God.

Where Do You Choose To Live?

We live at two levels: the upper, external level influenced by the circumstances of life, and the lower, foundational level of the Cross of Christ. The apostle Paul was unmoved by the emotions and state of the external things in his life because he was rooted and grounded in the consistency of God. Where do you choose to live?

Jailbreak

We all live in a prison of some sort at some time. Not necessarily a room with iron bars, but a room in our minds and souls with invisible bars that prevent us from breaking free to a life of meaning, peace, and abundance. Ironically, we are the ones who incarcerate ourselves. We imprison ourselves by living a life apart from God, a life of personal independence that, ultimately, results in a type of slavery that is as constricting as being bound by chains.

If we were to look at ourselves as God sees us, we would ask, “Why can’t we see that we are free?” We don’t see because we don’t look, or we look with eyes clouded by our own sense of frailty, weakness, and self-doubt. The freedom that we truly seek, the freedom that God desires for us, is found when we seek Him. Jeremiah said it boldly and clearly: “you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

In Acts 16, Paul and fellow traveler Silas were imprisoned after Paul freed a female slave from a spirit by which she predicted the future. Unfortunately for Paul, the woman was used by her owners to make great sums of money by telling fortunes. The slave owners, furious at their loss of revenue, caused Paul to be stripped, beaten with rods, severely flogged, and thrown into prison where his feet were fasted in stocks. We read:

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” The jailer, at risk for losing his life if the prisoners escaped, asked  Paul, “what must I do to be saved?” Paul answered, “ “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”

Paul was in the type of jail that we so often find ourselves—one where there appears to be no escape. We are put there because the life we live is fraught with unfairness, brutality, evil, and bad choices. But Paul did not allow his spirit to be bound, and neither must we, for his hope was in Christ. It was this belief and trust that loosened his chains and broke open the prison doors.

This is more than just a nice story. It is a story of freedom. Believing in the Lord Jesus is our jailbreak. In the life we live, the physical prison doors may not always be thrown open but the door to our heart, where we are free to serve God, is opened. What are we waiting for?

Gratitude—The Practical Side

Why be grateful? What’s in it for you? If you do not express gratitude, are you truly grateful?

Am I alone in sensing that there is less gratitude being expressed in life today? Have we become so self-centered that there is no room for gratitude? Has a sense of unlimited entitlements pushed thanksgiving from our consciousness?

If so, perhaps a practical look at gratitude may change our thinking.

“So many of his (David’s) psalms focus on thankfulness, reaffirming how gratefulness is not dependent upon our circumstances but rather on the condition of our hearts instead of what’s going on around us in our situations. Like thankfulness helped David to stay close to God, giving thanks keeps the attitudes of our hearts softened and turned toward Him rather than focused on what problems are taking place in the world.”

(Source: https://www.crosswalk.com/ written by Lynette Kittle)

Gratitude expressed is life-enhancing. Without gratitude, the picture of your life is incomplete. Enrich your life with a sense of ever-flowing gratitude.

Is The Only Thing You See Is All That You Lack?

The world is not my home.

I’m just a-passing through.

The only thing that you can see is all that you lack.

You got to come on up to the house.

     Words and lyrics by Tom Waits

     From the documentary Sly.

 

We live Life In A Vacuum

Actually, we live life in two vacuums. The first vacuum is in our daily lives. We tend to focus on the vacuum of lacking more. It is the desire to have more, be more, and do more. This vacuum makes us ungrateful.

The second vacuum is the vacuum of the soul. We are made to desire God and anything less than God will leave us empty. And who can have too much of God?

The solution to both types of vacuums is surprisingly simple. Being grateful in our daily lives will generate gratitude for the gifts, blessings, and grace that already abound. This, in turn, will fill us with the soul-satisfying essence of God Himself.

The Most Valuable Advice

When asked what is the most valuable advice he could give a missionary in her work, Desmond Tutu responded, “God. Is. Love.” An amazing trinity of words.

Complementing this is Paul’s desire expressed in Ephesians 3:18. “”And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”

When Life Doesn’t Work

The world is broken, my life is a mess, there’s no one to help me, and my wifi is down. Why shouldn’t I just give up?

Giving up—waving the white flag of surrender—is always an option. And there are innumerable books and articles that tell you why you shouldn’t. Above all reasons, and rarely mentioned in this broken world, is the fact that we belong to another world and are not made to give up.

Trial Of Faith 

Never confound the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life. Much that we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. (Chambers, My Upmost October 31) 

What is the discipline of life? It is that bad things happen to faithful people. What is the trial of faith? It is the discipline of remaining true to God, to trust in His Word when blessings seem to vanish.