Can there be a greater gift than to be able to start over, to leave the past behind with all its baggage?
False gods are screaming out to us, “trust me, believe what I say.” What false gods are you worshiping, that you trust? Destroy these false gods before they destroy you
Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.
Courage to Look Inside
We do not know envy when we see it, or laziness, or pride. Jesus reveals to us all that this body has been harbouring before His grace began to work. How many of us have learned to look in with courage?
What is the Parable of YourLife?
Can you sum up your life with a simple, short story? What is the deep meaning it holds?
You Are More
Don’t dull your life by missing this point: You are more than statistical chance, more than a marriage of heredity and society, more than a confluence of inherited chromosomes and childhood trauma. More than a walking weather vane whipped about by the cold winds of fate. Thanks to God, you have been “sculpted from nothing into something.”
(Psalm 139:15 The Message Bible)
How Do You Handle A Crisis?
“I did not care whether everyone knew how bad I was, I cared for nothing on earth, saving to get out of my present condition.”Oswald Chambers on responding to God’s call in his crisis.
In My Utmost For His Highest
There are two types of wisdom; wisdom to address worldly matters, and the higher wisdom to connect with God, to know how to please Him. “Prayer is life’s greatest time-saver, so don’t remain confused. Ask God for His wisdom.” Charles F. Stanley Bible Study Notes
Whom to Seek for Enlightenment?
“People might tell you to ask the fortune-tellers, consult the babbling astrologers, conjure the dead to tell the living what’s to come, but shouldn’t they ask their God?”
NASB Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible Notes
What Is Competing For Your Attention?
A warning which needs to be reiterated is that the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things entering in, will choke all that God puts in.
From My Utmost for His Highest Classic Edition, January 27
A Snow Day
God’s grace is like a snow day. Think back to when you were a child. When it snowed you had a snow day-a day to relax, free from school, homework and tests. It just came down from heaven.
Give Someone Good News
Someone is hurting today. Give that person some good news. It may be as simple as a smile, kind word or loving action. It may take the form of enthusiasm or encouragement. Or perhaps what is needed is endurance or tenacity. Whatever it is, brighten someone’s day with good news.
We all have visions. They may be of two natures: ours and God-inspired. Our visions without God’s blessings may appear important, but in God’s grand scheme are not, so why pursue them? God’s visions require God’s power. If, then, we become discouraged in our ability to pursue His visions for us, it is only because we have not sought His power. The choice is: leave the vision unfinished or allow Him to empower us to finish it.
So Why Try?
You Cannot Argue Someone Into Being a Christ Follower.
So why try?
The desire must come from within and these are those kinds of desires:
The desire to change where change seems impossible.
The desire for hope when hope is not present.
The desire to possess something that is not attainable by human means.
The desire for meaning when surrounded by a life that sucks the meaning out of you.
The desire to be truly alive when the glitter of life falls to the ground.
The desire for unmerited blessings when everything you possess is not enough.
The desire to be forgiven when you realize that you need forgiveness.
The desire to be loved when you realize that you are unlovable.
No one but Christ can fulfill these desires.
Who is your Eli that needs to hear God’s message? (Samuel telling Eli of God’s message against Israel.)
1 Samuel 3:15
Worship In Truth
Are you noticing what is important to the Lord? It’s not the size of your offering that matters; it is the trust of your heart to give everything you are and dedicate everything you have to Him. It is not the beauty of your praising, giving thanks, singing, praying, or giving financially that moves Him; it’s your motivation—your true feelings of love and adoration for the Lord.
As you prepare to worship God in spirit and in truth, examine the reason you are approaching His throne. Is it to further your goals or to experience His loving presence? Is it to get something you want or to give Him your utmost devotion? As Philippians 3:3 instructs, “Worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” It will not only satisfy your being but will also build intimacy in your relationship with Him.
NASB Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible on Psalm 51
What is Faith?
To believe without seeing, to go without knowing, to walk without fainting, to succeed without success
Who To Hold Onto?
When the best of me is barely breathin’
When I’m not somebody I believe in
Hold on to me
When I miss the light the night has stolen
When I’m slammin’ all the doors You’ve opened
Hold on to me (Hey)
Hold on to me
Hold on to me when it’s too dark to see You
When I am sure I have reached the end
Hold on to me when I forget I need You
When I let go, hold me again
By Lauren Daigle
Your Solar System
What is the center of your life? What does your life orbit look like? What is the gravity that holds your life together?
In The Grasp
What are you holding onto that is holding you back? What has you in its grasp that you must destroy? What part of you are you reluctant to lose? Therein you will discover your false god.
The Great Irony
The invisible God we worship is more real than the reality we see.
You cannot remain alive if your heart goes on holiday.
You cannot remain moral if you take a moral holiday.
You cannot remain spiritual if you take a spiritual holiday.
Did The Bottle Let You Down?
Tonight the bottle let me down
And let your memory come around
The one true friend I thought I’d found
Tonight the bottle let me down
Words and music by Merle Haggard
The bottle is a metaphor for all the false gods we turn to, to do for us what they cannot do. We believe they are true friends, but they are not. There is only one True Friend.
1 John 3:2
Dear friends, now we are children of God
New International Version
What is your true you? How much makeup do you have on? What happens when the tears fall? Are you performing for the crowd, or do you have a more important audience?
Is Your Smile Painted On?
While the tears on my makeup melts my painted smile into a frown
The crowd thinks I’m a dandy, I’m Bandy the rodeo clown.
Bandy The Rodeo Clown, sung by Moe Bandy
What is your true you? How much makeup do you have on? What happens when the tears fall? Are you performing for the crowd, or do you have a more important audience?
one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
New International Version
What IsYour Job?
Your job is to do what you can do, not what you cannot do.
“…my job now became only to provide the loaves and fish. It’s His job to perform the miracles and produce the results.”
Dallas Jenkins explaining the success of his TV show, The Chosen, and how it was born of failure.
Matthew 14: 17, 21
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish.
The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
New International Version
How To Live Abundantly
Living abundantly does not mean spending lavishly. In fact, it may mean the opposite, depending upon how you define abundance.
If living abundantly means enjoying free gifts, then it is merely a matter of discovering these gifts.
If it is a sense of freedom, then we must brake the chains that bind us.
If it is not about things, then we need to look at relationships.
If it is not about getting, then we must look at giving.
If it is not about worldly activities, then there are higher pursuits to consider.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
I will abundantly supply what she needs; I will give her poor all the food they need.
New English Translation
Knowing that your future is absolutely assured can free you to live abundantly today. Because I am infinite in all My ways, you need not fear that I will run out of resources. Abundance is at the very heart of who I am. Come to me in joyful expectation of receiving all you need-and sometimes much more! I delight in showering blessings on My beloved children. Com to Me with open hands and heart, ready to receive all I have for you.
Jesus Calling for Christmas, Sarah Young
1 Peter 1:4
…an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.
New English Translation
Be The Miracle
“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.”
And All Shall Be Well (Julian of Norwich)
This declaration that “all manner of thing shall be well” does not eliminate misfortune, sickness or death. It is pointing to what all the respected wise ones say about the ability to find peace, and even joy, in the eye of the storm — to come to trust that there is something that transcends chaos and impermanence. (Found on Google)
Herein is the key to this expression-trust. It is not sufficient to merely say the words, but to trust in them, to believe them. And to believe them one must embrace the foundation of this belief.
Our Life’s Work
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned”
It is clear that we are not to live a life unto ourselves: a life for ourselves only. Our purpose is to live to bear fruit, blessings to others. And we cannot do this apart from being in, abiding in, drawing vitality and endurance from Christ.
What Do You Want?
What Do You Want?
If you want to be joyful, attach yourself to someone who is pure joy.
If you want peace, connect with someone who gives total peace.
If you desire security, invest in someone who is unchangeable.
If you must change, believe in someone who has unlimited strength.
If you truly want to live, accept the one who gives life.
Whatever it is you want, desire, need-seek the One who is the source of all.
It’s Easy To Go To The Wrong Place
Where do you go to change what you cannot change? To find what you lack to make you whole?
Have you gone to the Bible and left confused? To religion and left empty? To church and left disappointed?
These are not wrong places to go, but they are not THE place. THE place is a person, not a book, not a ritual, and not A place. Christ said, “Come to me.” (Matthew 11:28). The Bible, religion, church, and so many other good things are good because they point to what is supremely good, and that is Christ.
A Way To Start The Day
Listen for, be alert to, seek eagerly, look longingly for instruction.
And once instructed, go and sustain the weary.
The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
God Is Not A Commodity
God is not an ATM machine of blessings to be used by inserting our faith card any time we need “more.” The Holy Spirit is not a get-out-of-jail card whenever we are in trouble. And Jesus’ name is not a magic incantation to be used to change our life. This Trinity is a relationship of love to be entered into with gratitude and faith, and it is through our relationship that the abundant life is lived; blessings received, problems confronted, and joy experienced.
The Folly of Striking an Empty Piñata
It’s what inside the piñata that counts. An empty piñata offers nothing for the effect, and frustration for the unfulfilled expectations. Fill it with candy and trinkets and you get candy and trinkets-nothing more.
Our life is like a piñata and what we fill it with makes all the difference. Fill it with love, service, and gratitude and we get the abundant life. Fill it with anger, jealousy, and self-gratification and we get a vacuum of satisfaction. Fill it with tasty treats and toys (often expensive) and we get an unsatisfied craving for more. In other words, fill it with anything but what is wholesome and holy and it is still empty. What’s inside your personal piñata?
Where Is The Central Source of Your Power?
Say “Yes” to God and join Him in your journey.
Inspired by “The Chosen”
What are you really seeking and from whom?
Where is the “where” you are frantically seeking?
“Come unto me”
On what are your expectations built?
“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.”
Matthew 7:25 The Message Bible
The Prisoner You Set Free With Forgiveness Is…You.
To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
Isaiah 42:7 KJV
What Paths Are You Following?
I will lead the blind on roads they have never known; I will guide them on paths they have never traveled. Their road is dark and rough, but I will give light to keep them from stumbling. This is my solemn promise.
Contemporary English Version
Relationship comes before action but is the basis for response.
People do not want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is a source of deep offence to the educated mind of to-day that does not want Him in any other way than as a Comrade. Our Lord’s first obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of men; the saving of men was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. If I am devoted to the cause of humanity only, I will soon be exhausted and come to the place where my love will falter; but if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity though men treat me as a door-mat.
My Utmost for His Highest, June 19
God Is Not Your Scapegoat
A fellow priest of Fr. Brown throws a hammer off the tower of his church in raging anger over the heinous sin of his brother. It was thrown with the intent of destroying the brother. But the priest does not accept guilt until Fr. Brown confronts him. If the priest does not confess to the crime, an innocent woman will be hanged.
Priest: “My brother is dead. It was by God’s hand, not mine.”
Fr. Brown: “Your actions were yours and yours alone. Is it God’s will that she hangs for your crime?”
Priest: “God will save her.”
Fr. Brown: “God-he’s not your scapegoat.”
From the Fr. Brown TV series, Season 1 Episode 1 “The Hammer of God”
Feeling unworthy? Join the club.
It’s the club of “I’m not good enough: not in life, not in faith.” Well, that is true when our standard is God. But that’s not the final answer because God provided the means-the Atonement-whereby we are judged not by what we are but by in whom we place our faith. So, in a way that is ludicrous to many, we can appear as Christ. Think of a robe of righteousness (right relationship) that is thrown over us, obscuring what we are.
Time Is Your Life
Don’t squander your time because time is your life.
2 Corinthians 6:1, The Message Bible
The Miracle of Touch
When is a touch more than a touch?
In the Gospel of Mark Chapter 5 we are introduced to a woman with a medical condition that has consumed all her money, is the cause of social out-casting, and has only grown worse after 12 years. In others words, she has exhausted all avenues of relief, at least relief that was available at the time. But, she has not exhausted one last avenue and that is built upon faith, belief, and perhaps outrageous hope in the form of an itinerant rabbi known for his healing. Jesus is passing through her community and is crowded by people-and no doubt he is jostled and brushed up against. This woman seeks only to touch his cloak-not even his person-and she believes that this will heal her. She does and she is immediately healed.
How many in the crowd needed healing of some sort? And how many of these touched his garments, perhaps even touched his arm as he was walking? Many, but we are not told of any other healing.
Importanty, and not to be missed, is the requirement of some act. The woman touched. Earlier in Chapter 5 the leader of the local synagogue came and pleaded (and his daughter was brought back to life.) In other passages we read, “come, follow, ask, seek, open” and more. The remarkable fact of these actions is that God’s response is infinitely greater than the act.
So, it is faith, belief, hope in a person that makes a touch more than a touch.
We cannot touch Christ’s garments today, but we can reach out and touch Him with the long arm of prayer and be healed.
Are You In The Grip?
Are you gripped by someone or something?
All of us are gripped by someone or something. Is it what we desire or have we complacently fallen into it? It is healthy or destructive? Do we wish to loosen the cords? Where are we heading?
Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.
Phillipians 3:12, Phillips Translation
I do not know, but God knows—
2 Corinthians 12:3
Indeed, who knows? Such a simple question and a simple answer. We do not know but God knows. How much simpler life would be if we simply acknowledged this fact!
This is not a matter of not knowing:
For God knows… (Genesis 3:5)
The Mighty One, the Lord! He knows! (Joshua 22:22)
…for the Lord is a God who knows (1 Samuel 2:3)
…he knows the secrets of the heart (Psalm 44:21)
…but God knows your hearts (Luke 16:15)
The Lord knows (2 Timothy 2:19}
…the Lord knows (2 Peter 2:9}
…he knows everything (1 John 3:20)
All above verses from NIV
God only knows
The Beach Boys
In the remarkable TV series The Chosen which dramatizes the ministry of Christ from the viewpoint of those who were with him, the episode leading up to the Sermon on the Mount, where the Beatitudes were presented, depicts Jesus coming to grips with how his message of salvation can be effectively communicated. I readily saw myself in the same circumstance, pacing back and forth with different thoughts fighting each other for a logical place in the message I wished to give to various audiences during my personal and professional life.
In explaining his intention to a curious disciple, Matthew, who is acting as stenographer, Jesus says, “I want to give them a roadmap.” Later in the broadcast, during a post-episode interview, we hear the expression “give little bits of information to digest.”
Taken together, these two thoughts-a roadmap given in little bits that are easy to digest-provide a simple path to one’s own spiritual journey and helping others on their journey. We all need a roadmap to find Christ in our lives and that roadmap must be fed to us in easily digestible morsels.
The Non-Existent Debt
The idea is that because we have received something, we owe something. The problem is the nonexistent debt. The love we receive, or money, or time–or anything that causes us to feel obligated–should be accepted as a gift.
“Gift” implies no strings attached. All that’s really needed is gratitude. The giver has no expectation that the present will provide a return. It was simply provided because someone loved someone and wanted to do something for him or her. Period.
Christ Is Not a Vitamin Supplement
The power for living the abundant life comes not from taking something like a Jesus supplement or spiritual protein shake but in having Christ in us.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
When I pray — “Lord, show me what sanctification means for me,” He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: it is Himself in me.
My Utmost For His Highest, July 22
Cast Your Burdens Upon The Lord
Blessed be the Lord, who bears our burden day by day (Psalm 68:19, Amplified Bible*)
10 Ways Our Burdens Are Lifted
Calm The Storm In Your Mind. Too often our burdens are magnified beyond reality in our minds. Asking Christ to calm the mind can help us think clearly.
Perspective Change. Too often we see only a narrow range of reality, and too often that is the negative side. Changing or broadening our perspective can present a refreshing, affirming alternative.
Focus Change. Working in harness with Calming The Storm and Perspective Change, changing focus from narrow to broad or vice-versa can help align our strengths with the burdens we face.
Apply Different Strengths. We have many strengths that may go unrecognized. Ask the Lord to reveal to you all the strengths that He has blessed you with.
Power Of Reality. There are at least two powerful realities to consider. First is the reality of your current situation unmasked by fears. The second is the reality of the working of God’s grace in your life. Embrace both.
A Friend. We are never alone and knowing that we have a friend in Christ can support us through troubling times.
Shalom. More that the absence of peace, shalom means wholeness at all times in all things, even when there is no apparent peace. This “peace” is pronounced many times in the Gospels, beginning with the announcement of the Lord’s birth by the angels to the shepherds.
Acceptance. Aligning with the Power of Reality, Acceptance of what is can be the springboard to what we desire.
Remove Guilt and Shame. There are some things that only Christ can remove-try Him, ask Him.
The Big Picture. We are part of an infinitely beautiful and vast future. By always keeping this picture in perspective and focus we can unburden ourselves.
*To get a bigger idea of this Psalm, other translations include “loadeth us with benefits, carries us day by day, supports us, rescues us, bears us up)
Discernment: What Is It? Why Is It Important? Where To Find It?
Discernment (Gr. diakriseis, spiritual judgment, understanding) is faithful living and listening to God’s love and direction so that we can fulfill our individual calling and shared mission.
We need it because we are lost:
“As I let my eyes look deeply into my own heart and yours, I am increasingly aware of how lost we are. Those of us who are wealthy and successful are no less lost than those of us who are poor and experience life as a failure. Those of us who are healthy and strong are no less lost than those of us who are frail and weak. Those of us who are priests and ministers are no less lost than those of us who are lawyers, doctors, or business people. Those of us who are active in the church and society are no less lost than those of us who have resigned ourselves to passive waiting for the end of life. Those of us who are excited about new projects or full of energy to bring about changes here and there are no less lost than those who have become skeptical or cynical about the possibility of a better world.” Nouwen, Henri J. M.. Discernment
We need it to go from darkness to light, from aimless wandering to being found.
Discover it at Discernment and discover the abundant life.
The Calm In The Storm
Storms are all around us, all the time. How comforting it is to have someone who is watching out for us in our difficulties, takes action to aid us, can “walk” above the turmoil, infuse us with courage, and bring calm out of chaos. We only need to bid him “come.”
He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Although the Declaration of Independence guarantees the right to the pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of happiness is not the path to happiness.
“You become happy by living a life that means something. The happiest people you know are probably not the richest or most famous, probably not the ones who work hardest at being happy by reading the articles and buying the books and latching on to the latest fads. I suspect that the happiest people you know are the ones who work at being kind, helpful, and reliable, and happiness sneaks into their lives while they are busy doing those things.” (Kushner, When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough)
So, don’t listen to the world. Don’t pursue happiness. Let it invade you though a noble, meaningful life, and live abundantly.
The problem with illusions is that they are eventually exposed for what they are-something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality-which leads to cynicism* and away from the abundant life. Yet we are surrounded by forces, events, and our own expectations that generate these illusions. What are we to do?
Place your ultimate trust and reality on the “only one Being Who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Chambers)
*Based of the following definition of cynicism (Wikipedia) and our experiences in life, it is difficult to argue against assuming a cynical attitude toward life. But this is the dark way to approach life and begs us to search for a way to live life positively and abundantly even amid so much that is negative.
Cynicism is an attitude characterized by a general distrust of others’ motives. A cynic may have a general lack of faith or hope in people motivated by ambition, desire, greed, gratification, materialism, goals, and opinions that a cynic perceives as vain, unobtainable, or ultimately meaningless and therefore deserving of ridicule or admonishment.
Frustration And The Abundant Life: What Do You Do?
You long for something, perhaps even with a great desire. It could be something to acquire or to shed. It may be for noble, selfless reasons. There may be real emotional, physical or spiritual pain involved. You pray, again and again, earnestly and passionately. And the “something” is not granted, as least in a way you recognize.
“Deep inside, you know that only God can fill your need—which further frustrates matters and reveals your complete lack of control. You cannot successfully meet your own need or compel God to comply with your personal desires, time schedule, or concept of how it should be accomplished. So what are you to do?”
NKJV Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible Notes
You choose. You choose to fall toward God or away from God. But you must choose.
Does contemporary life guide to a true choice? Where will you find guidance? How can you continue to count on or trust a god that does not deliver what you want, when you want it, and how?
Try this: pray. Pray for understanding. If you do not receive understanding pray for wisdom. If you do not receive wisdom pray for endurance. If you are at the last ounce of endurance pray that you will not abandon God. Ready to abandon God? Then pray for the supernatural power to praise and worship Him, no matter what. But pray unceasingly. And this is the right choice that will lead to the abundant life.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Jame 1:4 (NIV)
You Are Called
You are called by the Almighty for a noble service.
You have been given a special gift to bless your service.
Discover your gift, unwrap it and serve, living a life worthy of His calling.
Based on Ephesians 4
I Invite You
I invite you to let me walk beside you in your pain and to bring you the strength, hope and healing comfort of Scripture. Scripture is a gift. Like any gift it must be unwrapped. It is a healing garment. Like any garment it must we worn. It is an amazing garment that fits all sizes.
Do You Consider Yourself Rich?
What do you possess that makes you believe you are rich, including but beyond money; which of these would make you soWhat do you possess that makes you believe you are rich, including but beyond money; which of these would make you sorrowful to surrender, to place above your love of God? Comfort, reputation, security, possessions, family, faith? Which of these must you offer as gifts to God that you may find your joy in Him and not be sorrowful? Am you prepared to sell all that you have (Luke 18:22), that is, to rid yourself of self-acquired obstacles, that you may possess Him?
The Power Of Powerlessness
Are you powerful enough not to cry? Can you resist all evil? Have troubles you cannot overcome? Brokenhearted? Crushed?
These are the conditions mentioned in Psalm 34 for the righteous-that’s all of us who have a right relationship with our God. And if we encounter these as righteous, how are we to overcome?
Ephesians 6 shows us the way: Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. What does this mean?
The troubles, difficulties, and pains we encounter in our worldly lives are symptoms of evil in the spiritual realm (cosmic powers of darkness) and it is spiritual armor that St. Paul urges us to “put on” to defend ourselves and to stand firm. The armor includes truth, righteousness, faith, and the word of God.
The key thought here is that only by acknowledging our powerlessness can we be in a position to gain the power that only God can provide. And the key issue is, can we accept our powerlessness.
Is peace high on your agenda? Does it rank above success and prosperity?
What I find interesting in the concept of peace is that it has two identities. There is the peace that we try to acquire on our own, and there is peace which is a gift. The peace we seek by our own means is what is referred to as the world’s peace. This is an illusion at best. The gift of peace is something that when offered we must accept, unwrap, and wear much like a garment. It is only available through a higher power. The questions then are, “is it a priority in your life and where do you look?”
“I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace.”
The Passion Translation
Poison Of The Heart
What poison is in you that you need to expel? That leaches out and poisons others?
“Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
We may look and function normally on the outside but inside we are being poisoned, poisoned with hate, greed, envy, arrogance, self-importance—you get the point. This poison is difficult to detect and often masquerades as something innocent or trivial. But it is what ultimately destroys us, our relationship with others, and—most importantly—our relationship with God.
What Christ was warning us against was outward appearances vs. inner character; we happily accept investment returns from companies that oppress workers or defile the environment; we smile to our adversary but, inside, wish them harm. The ultimate passive-aggressive situation.
The remedy is not cleansing our outward appearance but our inner heart. And that is why we have a savior.
(View a sermon on this topic on YouTube at 15:45)
Joy Vs. Happiness
I hear a lot about happiness but very little about joy. Could we have a wrong idea of what they are?
To me, happiness is what we chase and it is something we depend upon others to give or circumstances to provide. For example,
I could say that I am happy when I win my tennis match or when someone compliments my serve. But, I am not happy when I lose or when someone criticizes my double faults. Question: could you possibly be happy when life goes in the tank?
On the other hand, to me, joy transcends circumstances and the fickleness of others. It comes from actions that are outer-directed, that is, with others in mind. It is service-oriented. And it is in the service that joy finds me. Question: could you be joyful when life goes in the tank?
“Man’s idea of joy is to be as happy as he can by leaving God out of his life. The Lord taught that real joy comes by taking God into
one’s life as much as possible.” (Believers Bible Commentary).
I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.
If you could chose only one—joy or happiness—which would it be?
What nourishes you, gives you strength, purpose and joy? How do you nourish others?
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
What relationships compete for your total loyalty? Parents, spouse, children, even yourself? Who or what has the primary claim on your life?
“You gave them (those to whom Christ revealed His Father) to me.”
The Test of Life
If we approach the test of life confident only in our own abilities or the abilities of others, we have failed the test before it is even given.
It is prayer alone that will guide, sustain, and strengthen us, for only prayer connects us with our Higher Power.
Begin The Day By Cleansing The Heart
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen
From the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer
Are You Crisis-Ready?
When a crisis hits, are you battle-ready? If you rely on your own strengths you have lost the battle before it is begun. “If you have not been worshiping in everyday occasions, when you get involved in God’s work, you will not only be useless yourself but also a hindrance to those around you.” (Oswald Chambers)
How To Untangle The Mind
Humility is the path to simplicity. Simplicity is the path to clarity.
In a world fraught with dishonesty and devious practices, the abundant life is found in the simple, honest truth of the Gospel. We do not need to embellish, rationalize, or justify God’s word.
How Do You Respond To Temptation?
There are frivolous temptations, like eating too much and exercising too little, and these can be addressed with common sense and wisdom. The critical temptations are the ones which force us to choose God or reject God, meaning whether or not we follow His commandments, His Word, His image in Christ, and His discerning Spirit within us.
What, then, are your needs for grace today? Bring those boldly to him now.
Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Study of the New Testament on Hebrews 4:14-16
Take the mercy, accept the help.
The Message Bible
The best answers in life are often based on the best questions. Can you answer these?
–From what do you need to be saved, rescued, liberated?
-What affirmation do you need?
-What hole in your life needs to be filled?
“There will be works of God exhibited through us, people will get blessed, and one or two will show gratitude while the rest will show total ingratitude,” (My Utmost For His Highest). Can you handle ingratitude and still be a servant?
Personal Connection Checklist
- Are you fully present or distracted?
- Are you loving or judging?
- Are you open or closed to being changed?
(From Emotionally Healthy Discipleship)
Fate and Choice
Notwithstanding the circumstances of our lives and regardless of the events over which we have no control, we and we alone determine our fate through the choices we make. Will our choices lead to deep joy or profound sorrow? How may we find the path to one and not the other?
Thoughts About Choices
A choice is based upon two fundamental factors: we gather information and then make a decision.
On the source of information:
It is trustworthy, honesty and objective? How do we know?
How wide is the search for the source of information?
How do we account for our unknowing, mental shortcomings, and our lack of experience, depth of knowledge, and wisdom? Have we removed the blinders to insight?
What is the role of inspiration?
Whom do we counsel?
How trustworthy, honest and objective is our decision-making?
Have we given the important decisions of our lives sufficient time and resources?
Have we examined the blinders, arrogance and prejudices that unduly influence our decision-making?
Have we opened the process to accept powers of discernment beyond our own?
Whom do we counsel?
For guidance, wisdom, and insight see Psalm 19.
What do you really want?
Here are three questions.
What will make you fulfilled?
How/where will you get it?
What will it cost?
What are the dream-stealers in your life? These are the false gods that seek to limit you, discourage you, deny your self-worth, and tarnish your self-image. They delight in making you dependent, fearful, doubting, and hopeless. They rob you of energy, true joy, and serenity. Be watchful, for they are beguiling, enticing, and ever-present.
Groping In The Dark
Are you groping in the dark, bumping into unseen obstacles and disoriented as to which way to move? Then discover a source of light to illumine your path.
Why Come To Him?
Three simple words with life-changing power:
“Come to me,”
We come to Him for three reasons:
This is a personal invitation made from love. It is not a command.
It is an invitation to a personal relationship, not to an impersonal transaction or to some “thing.”
It is an invitation to do what we cannot do ourselves, to change what we cannot change, and to be what we cannot be on our own merits.
The choice is ours; do we accept the invitation?
Assaulted By Love
What barriers have you erected to Christ’s love? A fortress defended by scores of soldiers and fortified with weapons? What foolishness! Christ will not come with His angel armies or cause earthquakes to crumble fortifications. He comes gently, meekly and alone to tap softly on the door to our heart.
God’s silence is never truly complete silence. That is because we search for sounds and look for actions. God responds in a timeless, multi-dimensional way often outside our physical senses of perception. And this is why we can trust that He is present when we sit in silence, incapable of words, with someone grieving beyond words.
Love Freely Given
Only recently have I appreciated the extent (overflowing!) to which God’s love freely given is connected with images taken from the best of creation that is also freely given. It is a circle of love with no end, and I have only to observe the fruits of creation to be reminded of this love. Expressed another way, evidence of God’s love surrounds us continuously. Can there be a greater sign of how God desires to reconnect with us that we may enjoy Him fully?
Here in Hosea 14, for example, are expressions of God’s love for us taken from the very best that anyone living at Hosea’s time (750-722 B.C.) could possibly hope for. There is one condition, however; to turn away from waywardness and idol worship and return to the Lord your God.
Hosea 14: 4-8 (NIV)
“I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
he will send down his roots;
6 his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
7 People will dwell again in his shade;
they will flourish like the grain,
they will blossom like the vine—
Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.
8 Ephraim, what more have I[c] to do with idols?
I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a flourishing juniper;
your fruitfulness comes from me.”
The Fragrance Of An Abundant Life
Some of the joys of the holiday season are the sweet fragrances that can embrace us and immediately set a particularly joyful tone and mood based upon associations, experiences, and expectations. Life can have a sweet fragrance to it as well. Our smile, actions and words can be to others what a scented candle does for us: brighten the day, raise hopes, and be a moment of uninterrupted serenity. This is the fragrance of the abundant life. And where is this life to be found?
2 Corinthians 2:14
God uses us to make the knowledge about Christ spread everywhere like a sweet fragrance.
Good News Translation
To Be Cleansed
When we accept Christ as savior we are cleansed and gain the Holy Spirit. This means that Christ’s robe of righteousness does not cloak a disfigured, ugly, dirty body but one that has been thoroughly cleansed.
The Bartemaeus Formula For Healing
Bartimaeus was a blind beggar. By his very physical limitation he could not literally follow Jesus. But then he was healed and could see and did follow.
Scripture reference: Mark 10:46-52
The Bartimaeus Formula for Healing
- Identify the need. We are often blind to our personal need.
- Ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help. We are intentionally made incomplete so that we must ask for help.
- Believe in a compassionate and merciful God that desires to heal and who can heal.
The Martha Choice For Decisions
What do you do-how do you choose-when confronted at the “crossroads of overwhelming circumstances” (Chambers)? An overwhelming circumstance is one in which you have no personal solution. Do you choose belief or despair?
Martha choose belief. “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe…” (John 11:27)
For full context read John 11:17-45.
The Timothy Choice For Encouragement
The world needs encouragement. Be a Timothy to the world and to yourself. Be an encourager.
Give a kind word
Offer a loving action
Be an encourager
Help someone to endure
Support someone in their tenacity
1 Thessalonians 3:2
We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith,
Sacred Fire: a reverent belief in something holy and mysterious, beyond the grasp of mortals and not to be interfered with but occupying an important part of a person’s (group, community, tribe) life.
What sacred fires exist in your life? Are you honoring them or extinguishing them?
What is “our daily bread?”
Those of us who recite The Lord’s Prayer are familiar with the expression, “give us this day our daily bread.” I’ve recited it thousands of times in my 73 years, but it is only in my 73rd year that I begin to understand its fullest meaning.
Certainly, it means more that bread (literally) and food (figuratively). It means, at its most fundamental level, that we are alive and to be alive means that there is a meaning and purpose to our lives at this moment. It also means that most, if not all, of our bodily functions and sense are working. Just the act of eating involves taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing the crunch of food. Then there is the digestive system and the process of converting food to energy. If we are fortunate, we consume our bread in safety, comfort, and abundance. You can easily see how could go on and on.
But there is a greater meaning to our daily bread. Let us find this meaning by going beyond our physical nature to our spiritual nature. Our daily bread is found in the Word of God. It is guidance and sustenance for our spiritual journey. As with regular bread, we need to be fed daily with this heavenly food. Without it, just as our bodies will sag and drag without nourishment, so too will our souls, the spark that makes us truly come alive.
Praying for our daily bread is a huge undertaking. Accepting our daily bread is worthy of the highest form of gratitude.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
“Common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense; they stand in the relation of the natural and the spiritual; of impulse and inspiration. Nothing Jesus Christ ever said is common sense, it is revelation sense, and it reaches the shores where common sense fails.”
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest
What is your greatest gift and how do you express thanksgiving? Through prayer? Through song? Through song as prayer?
Pat Barrett, co-author of the song Good Good Father with Tony Brown, was inspired to write the song when he became a father. Here are his words:
“When I started having kids and I’m looking at my daughter Harper Gray, and I’m like, ‘How am I going to explain God to you? How am I going to introduce you to someone who so transformed my life? How am I going to tell you what he’s like?'”
If you are searching for a special way to express thanksgiving on this Thanksgiving Day 2021, go to
What is your greatest gift and how do you express thanksgiving? Through prayer? Through song? Through song as prayer?
If you are searching for a special way to express thanksgiving on this Thanksgiving Day 2021, search for the song “Good Good Father.”
A Fresh Look At Diets
The word “diet” is associated with food and nutrition and by extension body weight, appearance, and health. But there is more to the idea of diet that warrants consideration.
Think of diet as anything you consume, anything you feed yourself or are fed by others. Expanding this line of thought, there exists the diet of ideas, information, relationships, and how time is spent. Consider also a diet of values, virtues, and activities. Is there anything that the concept of a diet cannot be applied to?
Where does this take us? Let’s return to the fundamental notion of consumption and this leads to the reality of choice. We can choose our diet; we can choose what we take in and this affects who we become. Having chosen, then let’s ask ourselves these questions: “Do I feel truly nourished or have I merely temporarily satisfied a craving?” “Have I built new muscle to engage life or have I added useless fat?” “Have I replaced impulse with healthy discipline?” And, lastly, “Have I consumed something beneficial or have I been consumed by something harmful?”
So let’s put ourselves on a diet of right thinking and right actions that can lead to a healthy body, mind, and soul.
Always be alert to the need to encourage someone. And the first words should be the words of hope.
What really, really matters in life? What Must you know, not merely should know? And if something is not really, really important and it is not something you Must know, then why get upset if certain things happen or don’t happen? These are “so what?” situations. “So what” can be the path to peace.
Lessons from Scrooge
Three important lessons we learn from Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol;”
1. Leave the bitter past with all its disappointments and failures behind. Do not give the past power over the present.
2. Don’t be hardened against the joys of the present.
3. Bless others and be blessed in return as you do the good you can, when you can.
Your Most Precious Gift
As you anticipate opening gifts on Christmas Day, consider your most precious gift—past, present, and future. What has or will give you pleasure without ceasing? What can you trust to never fail you? What is so priceless that it cannot be bought? Open your imagination to think boldly about your most precious gift. It is probably what you do not expect but, having found it, will be your greatest treasure.
The Feast That Famishes
We feast on social media yet remain famished. Why is that? Here are 10 good things we need for an abundant life that social media cannot deliver.
7. Inner Peace
9. Right Thinking
The thoughtful person will ask, “Where shall we find these good things?”
How Well Do You Know Yourself?
One key to the abundant life is you know yourself—your strengths and weaknesses. It is said, “your strengths are your weaknesses, and your weaknesses are your strengths.” How can this be? Apply arrogance and humility to this and perhaps the answer reveals itself. Also, “The most secure are commonly the least safe; and those most shamefully betray their own weakness that most confidently presume upon their own strength.” (Matthew Henry on Peter’s denial of Christ and the admonition in 1 Corinthians 10:12.)
Blessings: What Are They, Really?
I am guilty of using the expression “blessings” freely and frequently without really understanding what the term means. This is my act of contrition.
I use the word blessing in many contexts: a blessing before meals, a description of a happy state of being, an unexpected relief from a problem, and so on. I acknowledge blessings, request them, and ask them to be bestowed. While my intent is sincere, I fear that I do not do it justice. Why? Because I focus more on the gift than the giver.
I cannot imagine a blessing without acknowledging its giver: not “fortune” (see my thought-piece The Wheel of Fortune), not lady luck, not an alignment of stars. Rather, a blessing is something good that you are grateful for; it’s a good start to focus on the word “gratitude” but let’s continue. Next in line is a favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness—even better to bring God into the picture. Last, but not least (do a search and begin to see the full richness of the word) is “little glimpses of the Kingdom, of the way that God created things and his original intentions for us, places where the divine order peaks through into our broken world (source here). Also note that “In Hebrew, the word for blessing is barakah, which means “a transmittal of God’s favour.”
I could go on and on but that is for a deeper exploration. For now, I am content to acknowledge God in all things and to offer thanksgiving for all things—blessings unimaginable, unfathomable, and limitless—all freely given. And for this I am greatly blessed.
(NB: Enjoy this article that I found helpful: What is a Blessing in the Bible? at outuponthewaters.com.)
It is what it is.
It’s not what it isn’t.
It will be what it must be.
It will not be what it cannot be.
I Love You and I’m Sorry
Who do you love and to whom must you say you’re sorry?
In the Epoch TV movie 20 Minutes, an incoming nuclear ballistic missile is heading toward Hawaii and the lives of 12 individuals are followed as they discover and must deal with the fact that they have 20 minutes to live. Included iare a billionaire, a Hollywood producer who is an atheist, a Black man who’s embittered with the white man’s world, a white supremacist soldier, and a Republican and Democrat seeking shelter together.
What happens under the pressure of imminent death?
We see that differences disappear in shared fate. To a person, there are deep regrets, sorrows, and a realization that it is the relationship with people and not things that matter; not the divisions, misunderstandings, pride and arrogance that occur in life. And, because of the deep craving for the love that the relationships once held, everyone, with unabashed tears, seeks to connect for one last time with their loved one and to say they are sorry for whatever it was that tore them apart.
Who do you love and to whom must you say you’re sorry?
“It is astounding how ignorant we are about ourselves! We do not know envy when we see it, or laziness, or pride. How many of us have learned to look in with courage?”(Chambers)
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Lord, make us strong to overcome the desire to be wise and to be reputed wise by others as ignorant as ourselves.
From The Knowledge Of The Holy by A.W. Tozer.
Today I will rest in the knowledge that all my needs are satisfied, all my calls for help answered, and all my uncleanliness removed for I have an all-powerful God, an all-loving savior, and an all-knowing Spirit to lead, defend, and sustain me.
Did You Take Your Happy Pill Today?
Nothing is more uplifting than to be greeted by someone who is smiling, positive, and buoyant. Similarly, nothing is more draining than to be ignored by someone who is frowning, self-absorbed, and negative. And, how you feel relative to others is how you make others feel. Do you have your happy face on?
There are generally three conditions of being happy. One, you are a genuinely happy person. You exude warmth and friendship. Even when you don’t feel like being happy, your natural disposition takes command and, in so doing, you bless others. No pill necessary.
The second condition is when you confront the drudgery of the day. There is nothing new or exciting to look forward to. In this situation, take the liquid gel happy pill. It gets into your system quickly and transforms your appearance and attitude. This happy pill is composed of smiles, kind words, loving actions, enthusiasm, and encouragement.
The third condition is when you are experiencing grief, sorrow, disappointment—any of life’s downers. For this condition you must take the time-release happy pill. It will take time before its affects are felt but trust it to eventually bring you a smiling countenance. This pill has an unusual formula. It is based on faith and trust, believing that all your needs will be satisfied and all your calls for help answered, for you have an all-powerful God, an all-loving savior, and an all-knowing Spirit to lead, comfort, and sustain you.
Do You Need A Happy Pill Today?
How Do You Hope?
There are two types of hope; one is wishful thinking, the other is confident expectation.
On what type of hope does your life hang?
I raise the value of hope to you for it is vital to an abundant life, yet there is so much occurring in life that can drain one of hope, which is called despair. And with despair comes a draining of life’s energy, its vibrancy, and joy.
There are three questions to ask and answer about hope:
1. What is it?
2. Why choose it?
3. How to get it?
Read the complete Abundant Thought here.
Who Am I? Where Am I Going?
If I don’t know who The Lord is, I do not know who I am; “Who are you, Lord?” (Paul on the road to Damascus, Acts 9:5)
If I don’t hear The Lord’s call, I do not know where I am going; “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (Samuel upon hearing The Lord speak to him, 1 Samuel 3:10)
Question: Why was Moses a shepherd for 40 years (before being called by God to deliver his people)?
Answer: Because for 39 years Moses was unprepared for his next job.*
Patience is part of preparation and is sometimes difficult to accept. Especially in our fast-paced world, patience is often thought to be a weakness. Yet, time takes time and our ability to prepare is sometimes out of our control.
So it was with Moses’ call by God to deliver his people from slavery. Why did God wait so long? We don’t know, and this is the key point: we can’t control when God calls us to a specific task, ministry, or life direction, and this is particularly true with a spiritual calling. And, because we can’t control the timing, we must accept the reality with patience. Our desires, however well-intended, are not God’s command.
Are you waiting anxiously for something? For a sign from God? Our task is to wait upon God, not push Him to action, however uncomfortable this may be.
*From A Daily Companion To My Upmost For His Highest
How Much Is “Much More?”
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
Are you not much more valuable than they? (The birds of the air)
…will he not much more clothe you…?
Matthew 6 is an immensely rich chapter in the New Testament Gospels. It speaks of “much more” in terms like rewards and treasures. What exactly are these rewards and treasures and how much are they? Click here to learn “how much more.”
Right-Thinking: What Is It And How To Get It?
Does anyone desire to engage in wrong-thinking? Of course not. So, let’s take a quick look at what right-thinking is all about.
Naturally, we can think rightly about many things. To get straight to the point, therefore, let’s focus on what is the most important subject about which to think.
Click here to learn more about right-thinking.
Romp On The Floor With God
The biggest obstacle to communication (with God) is our preoccupation with other things. Take the time to drop our plans, behave like a child, and romp on the floor with God.
Inspired by Macosko, Jed; Macosko, Cecilie. A Daily Companion to My Utmost for His Highest (p. 102). Our Daily Bread Publishing. Kindle Edition.
A Grandfather’s Caution
“My grandfather used to say that most people don’t want to hear the thing that will make it work better,” I said. “They want to hear what will make it easier.”
The Last Thing He Told Me, Laura Dave
How Do You Dream?
“Nobody gets everything he or she yearns for. I look at the world and see three sorts of people: those who dream boldly even as they realize that a lot of their dreams will not come true; those who dream more modestly and fear that even their modest dreams may not be realized; and those who are afraid to dream at all, lest they be disappointed. I would wish for more people who dreamed boldly and trusted their powers of resilience to see them through the inevitable disappointments.”
Harold S. Kushner
Overcoming Life’s Disappointments
How will you dream more boldly and who will you trust for the resilience to see you through disappointments?
Are You Called To Be A Moses To Someone?
Are we, each one of us, called to be a Moses to at least one other person? Are we called to deliver someone from bondage of some kind, to lead them through the desert of hardship to a better place? If so, we must be prepared to encounter resistance, ingratitude, and disappointment along the way. Moreover, we will need the encouragement and strength to continue the journey to its end. Moses was called by God and commanded to deliver His people. Moses was assured of God’s continued presence. Moses knew who he was working for and drew his strength from that source. Are we so called, do we know who our leader is, and do we have trust in His never-ending presence?
How Do You Draw Water From A Well Too Deep?
What do you do when you are thirsty and the well is deep? In ancient times, you came to the well with both vessel and rope. What do you do when the rope tied to the vessel used to draw the water is too short? What if you had neither rope nor vessel?
These are critical life questions.
There are two aspects to satisfying our thirsts, which are many. One is preparation; know where the well is and have the equipment necessary to draw the water. The second one is having a source to call upon when, even with the best preparation, we cannot draw the water.
If we attempt to face life’s challenges with only our preparation we will thirst often and may barely survive. But, if we call upon resources greater than ourselves, our thirsts will be satisfied, including thirsts we may not be aware of.
What are these greater resources? Prayer. A relationship with Christ. Surrender. Abandonment. Transformation.
The Samaritan woman who met Christ at the well was equipped to draw water–she had the right equipment. But she, like me, had a thirst greater than the water in the well and which could not be reached with vessel and rope. Once she heard Christ’s living words her physical thirsts became secondary and her soul overflowed with living waters.
Avail yourself to these living waters. Let Christ be your rope and vessel.
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Managing Your Blessings
Whatever God has given to you, manage it well for His glory.
(Comment from Our Daily Bread Podcasts on actor David Suchet’s audio recording of the entire Bible)
I am a servant of God. I have blessings in abundance. Let me distribute them among God’s children.
Managing The Tough Times
It is hard to be positive when things are tough. Everything is not wonderful when you are hurting. What to do? Pray for understanding. Hope for better times. But above all, stay close to God and put your hope in Him. Never leave Him.
A Message of Strength
It is supremely better to face the challenges of life with strength, not weakness.
Not exclusively with our own strength, which is limited, but with the strength of the Lord. His is a conquering strength, not one of surrender. His is a strength without limit.
No, in all these things* we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
*trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Are You Ready For Act Three?
In Act One, we dream big, have high expectations, and fear no obstacles.
In Act Two, we often face the reality of unfulfilled dreams, lowered expectations, and a mine field of obstacles.
This brings us to the critical Act Three. In Act Three we must decide whether we retreat into a disappointing past, maintain a comfortable but not inspiring present, or regroup our resources and remake ourselves into a new, thrilling, and positive Act One.
Think of life as a series of three acts: act one, two, and three that continually challenge us to dream, move through obstacles, and live an abundant life-however that life may be.
Do you have someone to inspire your dreams? Do you have a friend to walk beside you in disappointments? Do you have a comforter to help you out of the mud holes of life and try new, glorious things?
But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; Lord, do not delay.
You’ve heard it. You’ve read it and you have seen it on billboards. But what does it fully mean?
Here is one way to think of it:
God’s outpouring of pure goodness in wonderful abandonment to the underserving.
There is a way to deal with all the emotions, trials, disappointments, frustrations, and joys of life without going to a therapist. Just go to the Psalms. The Psalms capture the full spectrum of life’s events: great and small, happy and sad, serene and threatening, joyful and disheartening. They were written by God’s chosen (David and Solomon) and select others who lived life to the fullest and experienced, collectively, every possible experience that we may have. Their joy was without limit and their distress was tempered by an unshakable faith. The author of creation guided them at all times. What more could you ask of life?
If you value wisdom and wish a true companion in life, walk with the Psalms.*
*You will be helped greatly by using a commentary or Bible with commentary. I highly recommend the Life Application Study Bible, New Living Translation by Tyndale.
A Simple View Of Life As Seen Through God’s Eyes-It’s Not That Complicated
I created you out of love to share my goodness and glory.
My only condition is to worship me alone and accept me as the ruler of your life and the treasure of your heart. This is the binding nature of our relationship.
You tarnish this relationship-break its bonds-when you worship (put into first place) false gods, including yourself, and fail to follow my commands which are meant to ensure the integrity, strength and resilience of our relationship.
In my everlasting love, I call you back again and again.
But there is a price to pay for your rebellion. You cannot pay that price, make restitution or redeem it yourself.
But through my love, I have provided the means for you to return to me and that is through the sacrifice of my Son—a wondrous, incomprehensible gift to your underserving selves.
Your decision is whether to accept through faith (trust) my invitation to return to me by accepting my Son as the ruler of your life and the treasure of your heart. What more could you ask of life?
Where Is Your Focus?
Focus on God first and the obstacles will fall. Focus on the obstacles first and you eliminate God.
Who Are You?
Are you a physically attractive person? What happens when you lose your physical beauty?
Are you a successful person? What happens when you fail?
How you define yourself determines much of your life’s joys and sorrows.
You are, first and foremost, a child of God. In this you cannot lose or fail.
Who are you? More importantly, whose are you?
What is the only response to extravagant love? If it is God’s love, the only response is extravagant worship.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32) we are told of the extravagant love of the father for his profligate son who returns in disgrace but is met with a loving embrace. We are that son (or daughter) in need of our Father’s embrace and forgiveness.
In the story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet (John 12: 1-8,) we are told of the simplicity of the gesture combined with the extravagant expense of the perfume (about one year’s income). When the two are combined-a heedless concern about cost and a driven, passionate need to adore-we unveil extravagant worship. Extravagant worship does not require great monetary cost; Mary’s action, particularly with drying Jesus’ feet with her hair, expresses the highest value, that of giving up oneself in total adoration. No price tag can be placed on this. We can be that extravagant worshipper.
Priceless, extravagant love evokes priceless extravagant worship.
(Click here for Revisiting The Prodigal Son, a fresh look at an amazing story.)
Be God’s Instrument
Ananias was God’s instrument to convert Saul, persecutor of Christians, to Paul, proclaimer of Christ as Messiah. We can be that instrument. Read about Ananias here.
Crucified to Sin; What Does This Mean?
Today is Palm Sunday, 2022, the beginning of Holy Week, and we will hear the word “crucified” often. Paul uses it extensively, as in crucified to sin and crucified with Christ. What does he mean?
In its simplest form, crucifixion means death. To me, the clearest way to understand the use of this expression is to apply it to my relationship with Christ; am I growing into that relationship or away from it. To have sin (meaning a turning away from Christ) crucified in me is to have more of Christ in me. It is as straightforward as choosing spiritual life over death, blessing over curse.
It is all the things that separate me from Christ that I wish to remove, destroy, put to death—crucify. This is what is meant by identification with Christ’s death; “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” Galatians 2:20
Ironic, isn’t it, that a word so identified with death can mean life: true, spiritual, abundant life.
An Important Distinction
When we accept a gift from someone we receive something apart from them, though it may come with love and affection. Think of a birthday gift that we grasp and unwrap.
The gifts of God are different. We don’t receive something from God, we receive God. The gift of the Spirit is the Spirit himself, not a gift from Him.
These gifts become part of us and therein is their value and power—the fullness of God.
“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 3:17-19
Where is home?
Home is a place of security, a place of serenity, and a place to refuel—physical, emotionally, and spiritually. But life can interrupt this status, leaving me unbalanced, disoriented, and drained.
So it is important to have a second home where there is constancy, peace, wholeness, and joy. This is the Father’s home to which we are called and from which can meet the challenges before us.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
For the abundant life, seek your Father’s home.
Too Close To The Cliff?
Look for ways to make Him smile, rather than probing to see how close to the cliff’s edge we can get without falling off.
Are Your Strengths Your Weaknesses?
One of the best pieces of wisdom I have ever received was this:
Your strengths are your weaknesses.
Your weaknesses are your strengths.
In a world where strengths are sought and weaknesses are shunned, how can these be words of wisdom?
These words are meant to warn us against over-relying on strengths to the extent we lose perspective and become vulnerable through complacency. And they portray recognized weaknesses as alerting us to areas of vulnerability that require attention. Here is sage advice from the Book of Revelation.
In Revelation 3:15-18, John writes to Laodicea. Laodicea was famous for banking, black wool, and medicine, particularly an eye salve. Its strengths became its weaknesses and misdirected loyalty from Christ. He writes:
Do not allow your strengths to blind you from truths. Beware the unguarded stronghold!
How To Avoid A REALLY Bad Day
Bad days are a way of life. They will come. But what is a really bad day and can it be avoided?
A really bad day is a day without hope. It is being alone. It is having no strength beyond our own. Our escape, our refuge lies in these promises:
“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
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2
Are you clinging to fading glory? Are the people, ideas, organizations, and treasured possessions in your life losing their luster? Well, welcome to life. There is, however, something—someone—whose glory never fades. Cling to Him.
2 Corinthians 3:18
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
New Living Translation
Peace of Mind By Elvis
The abundant life is a life of burdens that have been unburdened. Find your peace in this song by Elvis. Read all the lyrics. Listen to the song. And find peace.
Take your troubles to the chapel
Get down on your knees and pray
Then your burdens will be lighter
And you’ll surely find the way
Crying In The Chapel
What Ignites Your Heart?
“Want to know God’s will for your life? Then answer this question: What ignites your heart?
“The fire of your heart is the light of your path. Disregard it at your own expense. Fan it at your own delight. Blow it. Stir it. Nourish it. Cynics will doubt it. Those without it will mock it. But those who know it—those who know him—will understand it.”
And to set your heart on fire is to discover a world you could never have imagined.
Quotations from NKJV Lucado Encouraging Word Bible on 1 Peter 4
1 Peter 4:10
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.
New Living Translation
We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do. We cannot save nor sanctify ourselves— God does that. But God will not give us good habits or character, and He will not force us to walk correctly before Him. We have to do all that ourselves.
Oswald Chambers, My Upmost For His Highest
Need Something Fixed?
“Hang in there. I can turn things around.”
(This is the message of hope that rings throughout Scripture, with a shout-out to Bob Statler.)
Why Choose What Is Worthless?
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
It’s a decision we make daily, hundreds of times; we choose what to look at, what to focus on, what to value, to embrace. Would you knowingly choose what is worthless, without value, that has no redeeming quality, consumes irretrievable time and resources, and serves no soul-building purpose?
When the question is positioned in such a way, the obvious answer is “no.” Yet, we make these worthless choices daily, hundreds of times. I know I do.
We choose the things of the world that catch the eye, allure the heart, and inflame the emotion: riches, honors, and pleasures that are all vanity. We accept words that are “glided over with the specious pretense of truth; and all false worship and superstition, set off with pomp and pageantry, with which the eyes of the body or the eyes of the mind are taken, and by which the heart is ensnared.” (BibleStudyTools.com).
It is far better to divert our eyes from such worthless things onto something better, things that give life and invigorate our steps. How is this to be done?
Verse 9 asks and answers this question:
How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
What does this mean?
Psalm 119 goes on to tell us that It means (and not only to the young): seeking, praising, rejoicing, meditating, and delighting in the statutes, precepts, laws, and decrees of the Lord, which are found throughout scripture (particularly in the Old Testament) and then summarized in “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your mind…and your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 37,39)
Will your eyes now be attracted to worthless things or to the priceless relationship with your creator God?
As we read about high inflation and scarcity, and listen to debates as to whether or when a recession will occur, it is wise to consider our attraction to fictitious wealth and where true wealth resides.
All my fountains of joy are in You.
There are many ways to feel alone. We may be literally alone, by ourselves and apart from everyone else. Or we may feel alone in a crowd of strangers or in a stadium seating 100,000. We may be alone in our thoughts in the sense that “nobody understands me.” Our attitudes and preferences may cause a division with others. Stress, anxiety, or fear may cause us to feel the despair of aloneness.
But we are never really alone.
Paul asks in Romans 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” and answers in the most soul satisfying way that nothing, no one, in any way, or at any time can separate us from the love of Christ. We have a companion at all times, in all situations, who will never abandon us.
We Are Buffeted Between Two Extremes
We are buffeted between two extremes: false riches and false poverty. At one extreme, we hear that we must be powerful, self-reliant, and ruthless to make it in life, to make it to the top (wherever that is). These lead us to false riches. Consequently, we seek advantage over others, compare ourselves to the success of others, and are in a constant state of jealousy or envy.
On the other hand, after we have tried and failed to live up to unrealistic expectations, having been beaten down by events. In life, and perhaps after having made some errors along the way, we feel powerless and without the strength and resources to endure, start over, or simply to make it through the day. This is false poverty.
In between these two extremes lies the promises of God. These promises include being our strength when we are weak, being our constant companion when others desert us, and having personal worth that no-one can diminish.
Where we settle between the extremes is a matter of choice. God, His promises, and the abundant life God desires for us is always to be found in the middle. He will provide the inner strength and positive self-image we deserve so that we don’t have to assume the deceptive lures of worldly wants and standards. His are true riches. He will also pick us up after we have failed miserably, or have fallen into despair, because that is what He does and has done for thousands of years. False poverty is eliminated.
Reach out to God.
Your Personal Sword
Video games and action movies often have characters who wield swords that save them from harm and destroy their enemies. These swords have amazing qualities that endow their owner with superhuman powers.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have such a sword?
We do. It’s called the word of God.
With it, we don’t have to be Superman or Wonder Woman to hack our way out of trouble, pull ourselves out of the mud hole of despair, or climb over obstacles to reach our true potential. The word of God is our armor (see Ephesians 6:10-17), it is God’s mighty power to enable us to stand firm against the devil’s schemes, the spiritual forces of evil, and whatever we may encounter in life. It is truth, a right relationship with God, peace, a shield, and the sword of the Spirit.
Video games and action movies are fantasies. They don’t exist, nor do their weapons. God exists and we have only to call upon Him to arm ourselves with spiritual powers that enable us to stand firm, fight the good fight, and be blessed.