★ “Back to the Basics” – Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★

In our second installment of the “Back to the Basics” series we are going to answer the question…

If you missed our first post in this series, you can got back and read it here ★ “Back to the Basics” – Religion vs. Relationship – Part 2 ★.  This juxtaposition between “practicing a Religion” or “having a Relationship with God” is the starting point of everything!  I believe that for you to move forward in your faith you have to get this straight in your mind, it is the core of what God desires for all of us.

So let me ask you this question…Do you consider yourself a Glass “Half Empty” or “Half Full” Type of Person?  Or another way to look at it is…76 - Daily Dependence - How do you view life

It really makes a difference, because your response to this question can really influence your answer to the one posed in this Thought for the Day.  If you tend to view life through a “half empty,” or pessimistic lens, than you many think that people can never change so how could 1 conversation make that big of a difference.  But if on the other hand, you have a “half full” or optimistic viewpoint, than you may approach this with a more open mind…which I pray you will!

Contrary to how these Thoughts for the Day are usually developed, I will ask you a series of additional questions to get to our answer.  The conversation we will be looking at is recorded in Chapter 3 of the Book of John between Jesus and a religious leader of that time named Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin.  At the risk of going down a rabbit trail…I want to give a little background.  As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was part of a group of Jews who thought that they kept all God’s rules perfectly and were above reproach.  What made this conversation unusual was that the Pharisees were stanch opponents to the teachings of Jesus and were so self-righteous that they believed they were incapable of being wrong.  Interestingly if you look up the word Pharisee in the dictionary, you will see one definition as being “a hypocrite,” which Jesus continually called them.Okay, let’s get back on track…The text that we will start at is from John 3:2-7 (NLT),

After dark one evening, he [Nicodemus] came to speak with Jesus. 
 
“Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
 

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.  So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’”

STOP…now let’s start with the questions….
When you hear that phrase “born again,” what comes to mind?  It can be confusing if you have never heard accurate teaching on what it means.  Here is a link newspring.cc/watch/stepup/born-again to one of the best on messages I have ever heard on what it means to be “Born Again” from Clayton King (NewSpring Church) if you want to learn more on this.

Some people have the impression that being “born again” is some sort of brainwashing or that people who call themselves “born again Christians” are crazy because they have seen some eccentric preacher on TV in the middle of the night or knew some person who spoke about it in “Christianese” terms that unless you knew the context you will never understand the meaning and it just sounds like nonsense.  Well lets look back in our text because Nicodemus had questions too…

In John 3:8-12 (NLT) Jesus finishes His thought with…

76 - Daily Dependence - John 3-3 - Born Again“The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.

Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?  I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony.  But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”

I love what Jesus said in verse 8…“The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”   You can’t see the wind and yet you know it exists because you feel its effect, it is the same way with the move of the Holy Spirit.  You see, when you ask Jesus to be your Lord and savior then the Holy Spirit comes into your life that will transform you into a new person and making you “born again.”  You may have heard it as “being saved” or “salvation” or “as You are a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.  Max Lucado nailed it when he said, “Christianity, in its purest form, is nothing more than seeing Jesus.”  So…
76 - Daily Dependence - How much evidence do you need to believe in Jesus
76 - Daily Dependence - Answer

“No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.  And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.”  John 3:13-15 (NLT) 

In the brief time Jesus was on earth He did incredible miracles from healing the sick, making the blind see, the lame walk and even raising a man from the dead!  The author of the text we are looking at was one of Jesus’ closest disciples and was there to record this conversation which does not show up anywhere else in the Bible.  He also state stated in the very last verse of this book that…

“Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.”  John 21:25 (NLT)

So that leads us to our next question…

76 - Daily Dependence - Do you know why Jesus came to earth76 - Daily Dependence - Answer

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”  John 3:16-17 (NLT)

I am sure that you have seen “John 3:16” written somewhere whether held by a fan in the stands, or on a t-shirt, or spray painted along the road.  It is a foundation verse and probably the most quoted verse about how much God loves us and why Jesus came to earth.  God sent His son to die so that we could have eternal life with Him!  You can read more on this in previous blog called ★ Thought for the Day – Sweetly Broken ★.

76 - Daily Dependence - What happens if you don't believe76 - Daily Dependence - Answer

“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.  And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.  But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”  John 3:18-21 (NLT)

This reminds me of one of my favorites quotes from John Wooden which I have shared before but it fits so perfectly…

“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do.  So keep in the mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”

So the choice is yours, but know what you decide about Jesus will have eternal consequences!

76 - Daily Dependence - Answer

Myrrh…You may remember hearing about the Three Wisemen from the east who followed a star to Bethlehem to bring gifts to Jesus.  Part 1 of the answer is found in Matthew 2:11 (NLT):

“They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Part 2 of the answer is found in John 19:38-40 (NLT)…

“Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body.  When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away.  With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night.  He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes.  Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth.

You are probably wondering why this question is in here…Besides being a fun bible trivia question, the answer is found in Verse 39…Look who is mentioned there…Nicodemus!!  Even though he was a Pharisee and had a lot to lose by assisting Joseph of Arimathea in preparing Jesus’ body for burial, it is clear that he made the decision to follow Jesus and accept the salvation that is available to everyone!!! So can 1 Conversation Change a Life?  I think it is clear!!  Yes, if you will open your mind and heart to Jesus!!

I will close with this quote from Clayton King’s message on be “Born Again,” (that I posted the link to above.)

“Salvation cannot be achieved.  It can only be received and it’s received when you believe.  You can’t achieve your salvation, you can’t earn it.  You can’t work for God’s love, it’s already there, it was they before you were born.

Jesus is willing to save you, but He’s also able to save you.  It’s one thing to be willing, it’s another thing to be able.  He’s the only one who is able to save you…”

 

If you would like to like to pray to accept Jesus, go to this blog post…

★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ 

It has a simple prayer that you can lead you in making the best decision of your life!!  Please message me if you would like to learn more!  I pray that you will make the decision to trust Jesus, I promise you will never be disappointed!!

If you are interested there is a follow-up to this post called:

★ “Back to the Basics” – Follow-Up to Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★

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★ Thought for the Day – Back Into the Fire ★

Happy Memorial Day!!  Today is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.  I think though, many people just look forward to the 3-Day Weekend and do not really consider that the freedom they enjoy came at a high price!  Freedom in NOT free.  I just want to say…THANK YOU to all the men and women who have served in the armed forces, and extend my condolences to all the families that are missing someone at the table today as a result of their service in battle. Thank you!

As I thought about the significance of Memorial Day, my mind drifted to another group that deserves recognition as well.  In my opinion, one of the most impressive and honorable professions is being a firefighter but there is no day that recognizes these incredibly selfless people!

75 - Daily Dependence - Day in the Life of a FirefighterI have a neighbor who is also a great friend that is a firefighter and when I mentioned to him today that it is a shame that firefighters do not have a day of their own to honor their service, do you know what his response was??

“We’re privileged enough to do this job…..one of the best….service to community!”

Wow!!  I expected no less of a response from this man who is “on fleeck,” but it really made me think about how remarkable firefighters are…When everyone else is running out of a burning building, fearing for their lives…these brave men and women are running into the blaze!  What kind of person places themselves in harm’s way to help those in need?  Someone…who has been in a fire and knows all too well the dangers, and in spite of the risks, they go back into the fire to rescue those in peril!  Individuals who are courageous and willing to do whatever it takes.  Jesus said in John 15:13:

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Now that certainly is the ultimate sacrifice!  In this post, I want to parallel what firefighters do everyday with what I believe God wants from those who claim Jesus as their Lord and savior.  Jesus paid the price for our sins so that we could have eternal life, and in return He asks for us to be “His hands and feet!”  2 Corinthians ‭1‬:‭3-5‬ (NLT) says,

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 

For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.”

Did you catch that?  The first part of verse 4 gives us quite an eye-opener, that God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.”  Have you ever thought of it that way?  God comforts us so that we will turn around and comfort those in need but in our self-absorbed culture, many people are just focused on their needs and don’t look to extend a hand to those suffering…But there is a very clear directive here, When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”  God does not deliver you from a hardship, a disease or an addiction, only to help you…but expects us to take what He did for us and reach the people who He has placed in our sphere of influence with the same comfort and hope that God poured out on us.  Our response to God ought to be not only one of gratitude, but also one of willing submission to go anywhere, and do anything to return the comfort we received.  In a recent message called the “The Gift of Interruption,” Holly Furtick made this great point:

“Some of life’s greatest invitations come packaged as interruptions.”  

She also quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer that:

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.  God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions.”

Do you allow God to interrupt your day?  Do you have room in your schedule to respond to the call to help someone??  This is something that I need to keep in mind as well, when I receive a knock on my door from a neighbor, a text from a friend or a call from a family member who is in need, my first response should be “yes,” now…”what is the question.”  Rather than see it as an interruption, I need to see it as an opportunity!  Susie Larson made this great statement…

“In those places he [God] rescued us from, He sends us back to rescue others.” 

Love that!  Just like firefighters who go back into the fire to rescue people, God wants us to go back into the dark places that He rescued us from to help guide those who are suffering and shine the light of Jesus into their hopeless circumstance.  Galatians 5:13 (NLT) says,

“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”

Just like we talked about taking Memorial Day for granted, we should never take the freedom Jesus provided for us on the cross for granted!  Colossians 1:13-14 (NLT) reminds,

“For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”

And we certainly should never allow the busyness of life to stop from helping others in need.  So if God has delivered you from an addiction, look to help others with theirs.  If your marriage has been revitalized or resurrected then look for a way to walk alongside others in their marriage, whether that be one on one or participation in a class.  If God has healed you of a disease, look for ways to 75 - Proverbs 11-25encourage and bring hope into the lives of people suffering.  And if you do, Proverbs 11:25 (NLT) give this motivation…

“The generous will prosper;  those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

I will close this thought from Liz Curtis Higgs, who said,

“God often does the counter cultural thing. He does what we don’t expect. He does what we sometimes don’t even want. There are things God asks us to do that are so hard that it has to be God.”

It may be uncomfortable to have a conversation with someone struggling with an addiction, or you may feel unequipped to counseling a couple struggling in their marriage, or you may not want to relive your painful experience by walking with someone with a disease.  But ultimately, that is the very purpose that God in mind when He rescued you out of the fire, so that you would go back in!!

★ Act Like Men – “Our Strong God” ★

Day 30 - Our Strong God

Daily Dependence - Section 4 - Be StrongPsalms 51:6 (HCSB) says,

“Surely You desire integrity in the inner self, and You teach me wisdom deep within.”  

I love how James MacDonald starts off the study…

“Strength flows from the fountain of God’s integrity. Honest people are the strongest people. Internally consistent men experience the flow of God’s strength.”

How true is this?  People who are fake and living a double life are always afraid of being found out so they can’t operate in power.

“The reason so many are battling anxiety, fighting down their fears, wrestling with doubts, and falling into compromise is that they are without God’s strength…Authenticity is the first thing to go.”

When we are without God’s strength it won’t take much for Satan to take us down and make us ineffective.

“Like David, we have a number of self-destructive options we use to avoid repenting and admitting sin….deny, avoid, blame shift, rationalize, and give excuses.”

Amen!!!  Boy MacDonald nailed it!!  Proverbs 26:11 (NLT) comes to mind with this…

“As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.”

I know I don’t want to continually repeat the same mistakes and end up just like a dog.  MacDonald made a great point about needing fences to maintain purity.

“A moral fence is a decision to forgo a particular behavior that though not wrong could lead to a wrong or a wrong appearance.” 

Fences or boundaries are key to keep yourself of out trouble by protecting any vulnerabilities. But his final point is key.

“Of course, no set of rules can keep a bad intentioned man with hypocrisy in his heart from immorality, these rules are not designed to stop men determined to do evil, they are to protect and guide men who do ‘desire integrity in the inner self.'”

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Back To Repentance” ★

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If you want to read previous Act Like Men posts click here.

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★ Act Like Men – “Before the Fall” ★

Day 29 - Before The Fall

Daily Dependence - Section 4 - Be StrongEvery one of James MacDonald’s lessons that deals with the subject of Satan’s lie as it relates to 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 is incredible.  Day 29 is no different, as he debunks Satan’s lie about “Being Strong.”

“Satan is a serious enemy, described in 1 Peter 5:8 as ‘a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.’  In the ancient world the lion was the most feared predator and the one most likely to catch its prey.  Men are being stalked by Satan’s schemes in the area of sexual sin and their carcasses litter the landscape.”

The sobering part of 1 Peter that has always gotten me is the, “someone” part.  Our enemy does not care who it is, so long as he can destroy you!  And MacDonald puts a fine point on it with this statement…

“Christian men are especially vulnerable as a real trophy for an enemy that wants most of all to discredit Jesus Christ and make a mockery of those who have taken His name.”  

Day 29 - James MacDonald - 5 Steps That Get a Man Where He Never Planned To GoIt was interesting the way he described King David, the man after God’s heart, who “loved God, modeled a worshipful life, reigned according to God’s principles, but couldn’t ‘keep it in his pants.’” How many men are plagued with the same thing?  The most powerful part of the reading for me was the “5 Steps that get a man where he never planned to go.”

First Step Down:  Prosperous times produce passive wills.

“Few of us can handle the temptation of inactivity.”

Second Step Down:  Passive wills produce overpowering emotions.

“With irresistible power, desire seizes mastery of the flesh.”

Third Step Down:  Overpowering emotions produce perverse thoughts.

“Feelings tend to become actions…What the mind desires, the will exercises and goes after.”

Fourth Step Down:  Perverse thoughts produce private sin.

“When we dwell on desire, yielding is just a matter of time.”

Fifth Step Down:  Private sin produces public consequences.

“What the rationalizing, deceitful heart says it can avoid, it cannot.”

What a powerful visual on the slow decline of a man as temptation is yielded to.

“You don’t realize all that you are giving up in the moment of temptation.”  Unknown

But Romans 13:14 (ESV) gives us a great antidote!

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

I think this last quote from James MacDonald is a great finishing statement that we ALL need to ponder at length .

 “Be assured that our enemy wants to devour you.  I challenge you to look at your life today and see where there is slippage.”

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Our Strong God” ★

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If you want to read previous Act Like Men posts click here.

 

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★ Re|Engage – Conflict ★

ReEngage - Lesson 10

To follow along with the Principle:  Give Yourself Away, Lesson 9 was about Conflict with this main idea:

Conflict in marriage is normal and a great opportunity to glorify God, grow yourself and grow your spouse. Handling conflict biblically is a great path to oneness with your spouse.

What do you think of that?  I don’t think that many people view conflict in that manner…inside conflict avoidance is the norm!  But in this lesson, they made this point.

“No matter how good your marriage is, you will have conflict. It’s normal, inevitable and should be expected.”

 One could look at this as a pessimistic view, but it’s a realistic view.  Stephen Furtick made this point, he said,

“There is no perfect marriage, but you can have a blessed marriage!” 

I thought that it was really interesting in the reading when it said that,

“Conflict isn’t necessary bad or destructive; it can actually be a great opportunity to move toward oneness.”

But that really isn’t what our normal reaction to conflict is right?  But it is a very normal way to react to something that we don’t want to deal with.

“Even though conflict causes a great deal of tension in your marriage, God can use it to grow your relationship with Him and your spouse.”

We should not try to avoid conflict but rather learn “how to deal with conflict and seeing it as an opportunity to grow yourself, your marriage and your spouse, and to glorify God.”

I read this quote Ken Sande that I thought was great!

“Overlook an Offense—Many disputes are so insignificant that they should be resolved by quietly overlooking an offense. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov. 19:11 NIV1984). Overlooking an offense is a form of forgiveness, and involves a deliberate decision not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness or anger.”  From “The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict,”

The lesson gave (5) practical ways of how to deal with the conflict:

  1. Start With Yourself                              
  2. Overlook Minor Offenses
  3. Address The Issue
  4. Get Help If Needed
  5. View Conflict Correctly

As you read what the details of this area, prayerfully consider which one(s) of these to you struggle with?

START WITH YOURSELFThe running theme of draw the circle around yourself continues…

“Part of conflict resolution is recognizing and admitting what you contribute to the conflict.”

Jesus said in Matthew 7:5 (ESV)

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

OVERLOOK MINOR OFFENSES

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”   Proverbs 19:11 (ESV)

Easier said than done sometimes, but I like what they said in the reading that,

As a general rule, an offense should be overlooked if you can answer “no” to all of the following questions:

  • Is the offense dishonoring to God?
  • Has permanently damage a relationship?
  • Is it hurting other people?
  • Is it hurting the offender himself?

If the answer is “yes” to any of the questions then address the issue, otherwise it would be better to extend grace to your spouse and let the issue go.

ADDRESS THE ISSUE

I like how they started off by making the point that we need to identify our own part to the conflict and then once you’ve asked for forgiveness for what we’ve caused then we can address the issue.

“Humility can be contagious and your spouse may respond similarly.”

When addressing the issue, we need to be honest, and at the same time kind.  Many people like to sweep things under the rug because they fear that talking about things will only make it worse, but the book nailed it with,

ReEngage - Lesson 10 - Tripping Hazard“Ignoring conflict often only makes matters worse and the issue will likely resurface again later.”

You can only sweep so much under the rug before it becomes a tripping hazard.

GET HELP IF NEEDED

“Conflict usually isn’t resolved through one conversation. Sometimes it will be resolved through a process of continuing to pray and communicate, and committing to not avoid the issue.”

And if the issue can’t be resolved is a good idea to, it is good to get the help of others from your church…or you could look into where a re|engage class is offered.

“The goal is not to present a case against your spouse or convince others you are right; rather, the goal is to ensure that you and your spouse understand one another and are reconciled.”

Conflict is a problem with the heart. We need to study our spouses and empathize with what they are going through.

VIEW CONFLICT CORRECTLY

“The question isn’t if you are going to have conflict, but rather how you are going to view and handle the conflict you have.

“Healthy couples see conflict as an opportunity to deal with issues that are moving them away from oneness. They keep short accounts and don’t allow conflict to go unaddressed.”

I heard a message from Steven Furtick that goes along perfectly with this,

“In order to guard your heart, you have to own your emotions.” 

“Since when was your happiness on someone else’s job description?”

Ephesians 4:2-3 (ESV). In what ways will you put this person to practice this week?

“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” 

Matthew 7:5 (ESV).

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

What are some logs you need to take out of your own eye?  John McGee gave this perfect advice:

“Most conflict in marriages will disappear if two selfless people try really hard to understand each other.” 

Proverbs 19:11 (NIV1984)

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

 

If you would like to read the next installment in the re|engage class, click here★ Re|Engage – Expectations ★ 

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

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