★ Thought for the Day – The Pitfalls of Money ★

105 - Daily Dependence - Pitfalls of Money Banner

In t105 - Daily Dependence - Family Game Nighthe post, ★ Thought for the Day – Candy Land Christianity ★, we spent a lot of time talking about games and the importance of “Family Game Nights.”  Today’s Thought for the Day will build upon that and contrast the “Pitfalls of Money” with one of our family’s favorite games to play…Monopoly!  105 - Daily Dependence - Monopoly LogoMy prayer is that as we look at this classic board game and some of the mistakes we can make in our finances, God will move in your heart as you see what His Word has to say on the topic.  In the last post we did on finances called ★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course…Part 2 ★ I shared that my passion for handling finances God’s has been fueled by Robert Morris, senior pastor of Gateway Church and from Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace University (FPU) Class.  Between them, I have grown in leaps and bounds in my understanding of what the Bible has to say about money and possessions, and if we are not careful, the monopoly it can have on our hearts…pun intended.  Dictionary.com had this definition for:

Mo·nop·o·ly
[muh-nop-uh-lee]
Noun

  1. The exclusive possession or control of something.
  2. A board game in which a player attempts to gain a monopoly of real estate by advancing around the board and purchasing property, acquiring capital by collecting rent from other players whose pieces land on that property.

It’s interesting that the board game that our family loves to play made it in the very definition of the word.  As I went through our game cabinet I was shocked to see how many versions we have:

105 - Daily Dependence - Monopoly Editions

And most recently we purchased the Electronic Edition of Monopoly.  105 - Daily Dependence - Monopoly - Electronic BankingWe have made the most of the summer playing one version or another almost daily.  I think that it is one of the best board games because of the “real world” exposure that children get to learn that will equip them for life, if they’re paying attention that is.

105 - Daily Dependence - Cliff Notes on MonopolyFor those who have not played the game or haven’t played it in a while, I will give you a quick refresher.  Here are the cliff notes on the game.  Everyone starts off on “Go” with the same amount of money and no properties.  Players get to be the Banker, learning how to “make change” and give payments to others, (I am constantly amazed at how fast my youngest daughter can do the math on what is owed.)  They understand the value of “passing Go” a.k.a. getting paid a salary and how you need to wait to “earn” additional money by going around the board.  The biggest aspect of course is buying property and trying to get a monopoly (owning all real estate associated with that color); once accomplished Houses and Hotels can be purchased which is key to get more rent when an opponent lands on the space.  The realities of Paying Rent, Income Tax, landing on “Chance” and going to Jail are also experienced throughout the game which are great lessons as well.  And if you are unsuccessful, you could end up in Bankruptcy, thus forcing you out of the game which is an important experience to have that in life you will endure failure and losses.  The last player left in the game wins.

According to the official rules:

105 - Daily Dependence - The Games of Life“The object of the game is to become the wealthiest player,” which introduces our first pitfall to learn from…

105 - Daily Dependence - 1 Timothy 6-10 - The Love of MoneyGREED – The quest to be rich has brought many people pain.  1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV) warns

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Now that does not say money is evil, but “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”  Many have misunderstood that verse and had a skewed view of what the Bible says.  That last part is quite alarming to me that because of the misplaced love, people “have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  The Love of Money is a huge pitfall in life which left unchecked can result in leaving the path that God desires for us to pursue earthly riches.  

Our second pitfall is the cousin to Greed and that is…

105 - Daily Dependence - Pitfalls of Money - Discontentment

DISCONTENTMENT.  If there is one thing that the game of Monopoly breeds is discontentment but Hebrews 13:5 (NLT) offers an alternative with a promise:

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.  For God has said,

‘I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.’

It all boils down to contentment and whether you can be satisfied with what God has provided.  This is an area that I struggle in myself.  Not so much because I need the latest and greatest gadget but more because I would like to see more traction or faster results in debt payment and the “emergency fund” growth.  How about you?  Are you content in what God has provided?  Many struggle in this area, striving tirelessly to acquire more and more which leads to excessive hours spent in the office and time away from home.  And just like we all compete to have the most monopolies and end the game with the most money, we need to be watchful in this area that discontentment does not grow in our hearts.  Proverbs 23:4-5 (NLT) gives this counsel…

“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich.
    Be wise enough to know when to quit.

In the blink of an eye wealth disappears,
    for it will sprout wings
    and fly away like an eagle.”

Two-thirds of the parables that Jesus taught about were on money and possessions, because GREED and DISCONTENTMENT can pitfalls for you and me if we are not careful.  Jesus taught about the stewardship or management of our finances not for personal gain but to be a blessing to others and that is through our …

105 - Daily Dependence - Giving

105 - Daily Dependence - 2 Corinthians 9-7 - Cheerful GiverGIVING!  2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV) says:

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Charles Stanley had this great life lesson on this verse:

“In giving, as in all areas of Christian living, God wants our hearts to respond to Him in obedience.  He wants willing, joyful, eager participation in His work, not grumbling or halfhearted compliance.”

It’s all about the heart.  Are you cheerful when the plate or basket comes around during the offering or do you begrudgingly put the money or check in?  In Luke 21:1-4 (ESV) it records how God views our giving…

“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.  And He said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.””

It’s not about giving everything but the heart of the giver.  Do you give because you love God and want to see His Kingdom advanced here on Earth or out of compulsion?  There’s a big difference.  God does not need our money (see Psalms 24:1,) but He does want our heart to love what He loves and that is people!  The antidote to greed and discontentment is…

105 - Daily Dependence - GenerosityGENEROSITY!  Proverbs 11:24-25 (NLT) says…

“Give freely and become more wealthy;
    be stingy and lose everything.

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

This is not the normal thinking though is it?  “Give freely and become more wealthy?”  That makes no sense in the natural, but in God’s economy, “the generous will prosper!”  I have seen time and time again how God have blessed me when I was not tight-fisted with my money but rather when I stayed the course in my tithing and offerings I saw how God threw open the floodgates of heaven and provided for all my needs, (Malachi 3:10-12 and 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 for more.)  God promises to refresh those who refresh others.  The question presented before you today is…Will you allow money to be a pitfall or to be a blessing to others?

I will close with this final thought from Charles Stanley:

“God is not after our time, talents, or bank accounts.  He already owns the world and everything in it (Exodus 19:5).  His greatest desire is to have a personal and intimate relationship with you for all eternity.”

Today I pray you will be challenged to see you finances in a new light that will unlock a new level of faith and trust in God because “His greatest desire is to have a personal and intimate relationship with you for all eternity!”

If you are interested in reading more about how about the Biblical Worldview of Money (How our Finances and Possessions should be handled from God’s Perspective), check out other posts in our collection of posts called:

$ Building Your Money Muscle $

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★ Thought for the Day – Candy Land Christianity ★

Today’s Thought for the Day will tie together (2) Fortune 500 Companies that have helped influenced the culture we live in and how people view Christianity.  At the time of post, according to the Fortune 500 List, the first company Hasbro just missed the top by ranking at 550 but their impact on our families is significant.

103 - Daily Dependence - Fortune 500 - Hasbro

103 - Daily Dependence - Family Game Night InfographicI am not sure if they coined the phrase “Family Game Night,” but clearly Hasbro has done very well capitalizing on their products.  I found this Infographic on The Board Game Family website that is from a study conducted in 2013 by Wakefield Research Group for the Hasbro Gaming Company.  They found that:

“91% of those polled said playing games gives their family’s mood a positive boost.  And 96% of families who play games together say that they feel close!”

103 - Daily Dependence - Family Game Night Statistics

In a world in love with their smart phones, iPads and Tablets, I bet in the past 3 years that statistic above is probably much higher than 61% of families having a hard time disconnecting from their devices.  There is so much competing for our attention these days.  Now I know it is self-serving that Hasbro sponsored this survey and that they found that families playing games = happiness, but as a participant in our own Family Game Nights, I can testify that is definitely true!  There are so many great memories just from these few games that I pulled out of our game cabinet…

103 - Daily Dependence - Game Night

And there definitely are members who have dominated…For instance, my youngest is the master of monopoly, my oldest daughter rules in Rummikub, my wife baffles us with the number of words she finds in Boggle, and I have a lot of success in Scrabble.  Hours upon hours of great family bonding have been spent competing with each other.  It’s interesting though as I dug through the cabinet, I was surprised to find that we no longer had Candy Land.  103 - Daily Dependence - Candyland Game BoardI remember racing to arrive at “Candy Castle” first with both of my girls but I guess we gave it away at some point.  I googled Candy Land and found this on Wikipedia that jogged my memory of why we no longer have the game:

“Candy Land…requires no reading and minimal counting skills, making it suitable for young children. Due to the design of the game, there is no strategy involved: players are never required to make choices, just follow directions.  The winner is predetermined by the shuffle of the cards.”

Besides the fact that the game is rated for ages 3 and up, (and I now have two teenagers), the underlined sentence above is why we don’t have the game any longer.  Now in our family everyone is extremely competitive so a game that has no challenge, no strategy or choices really has no place in the game cabinet…hahaha!  But I think that people view Christianity in the same way sometimes; if you were to become a Christian your choices are limited and you have to follow a bunch of rules…But that is a lie from the enemy!  It reminds me a powerful scene from 2014 God’s Not Dead movie in which Mina’s mother who is suffering from Demetria has a moment of lucidity and compares a life outside of God as a Comfortable Prison Cell, (click here to watch). 103 - Daily Dependence - God's Not Dead - Comfy Jail Cell Quote

The devil wants you to believe that life is more fun without God and that if you become a Christian you will be controlled and have no options just like if you were playing Candy Land.  Jesus said in John 10:10 (ESV) that:

103 - Daily Dependence - John 10-10
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

The thief, aka the Devil or Satan wants to ruin your life, whereas God sent Jesus to rescue us.  His offer is far greater than any counterfeit that the Devil tempt us with, but unfortunately many fall into the trap that life outside God’s involvement is better, and instead of landing on “Candy Castle,” you will end up in “Molasses Swamp”…okay no more Candy Land references… Jesus is extending a life line to every one of us if we will grab hold of it.  He is our lifesaver!  Acts 13:38-39 (NIV) instructs us…

“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.  Through Him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.”

And in John 8:36 (NIV) Jesus said,

“So if the Son [Jesus] sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Here are some additional Bible Verses about the Freedom we have over sin and darkness when we follow Jesus that would be good to memorize if you struggle to remember the truth.  How are you with memorizing scripture?  If you are like me, it’s a struggle to remember where key verses are located but I believe it is okay if you can’t recall the exact “chapter and verse” in the Bible so long as you get the truth in your heart…THAT IS WHAT MATTERS!  A trick I have that may help you is to google the part of the verse I remember and 9 out of 10 times I find what I am looking for.

But there is someone, or some fish who does not have that luxury…Dory.

103 - Daily Dependence - Finding Dory

Were you wondering when I was going to get to the second Fortune 500 Company?  Well just to be consistent, here is the ranking and stats of Disney in the prestigious list…

103 - Daily Dependence - Fortune 500 - Disney

103 - Daily Dependence - Walt Disney

Walt Disney was a master at creating a fantasy world that everyone wanted to be a part of.  This castle for instance at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Florida is an icon of his legacy.  Every child knows the Magic Kingdom as being “The Most Magical Place On Earth” (and the parents agree, all their money “magically” disappears!)  In the much-anticipated sequel to the 2003 blockbuster hit Finding Nemo, 103 - Daily Dependence - Finding NemoDisney has landed gold with the reprisal of the forgetful Blue Tang Fish. In Finding Dory, which has quickly become the #1 U.S. hit of 2016, grossing $437.8 million (according to Box Office Mojo.), we learn all about Dory’s past and how she was separated from her parents, as well as the background on her unusual introductory statement…

“Hi I’m Dory and I suffer from short-term memory loss.”

I was amazed at how good the sequel was, and the issues that were tackled like raising special needs children, being orphaned, friendship and the importance of family!  The movie is also unique in that it is the most “family friendly” offering from Disney in years, which as avid movie buff and a discerning parent of what I expose my children to, I appreciate the good lessons without the questionable content to worry about.  103 - Daily Dependence - Family VacationI was thinking about the movie last week when our family went on vacation to North Carolina for a family reunion, (which was so special since it has been 3 months ago that we lost my mom.)  To get there, we decided to do a cross-country drive from Texas which was a first for us.  We also added a stop at Destin and Pensacola to hit the beach which was amazing!  All in all we logged 2,740 miles and had an amazing family time as we sang, played games and talked.  But for those who have driven hundreds of miles you know how wearisome it can get…As we were driving my wife made pun off of Dory’s other catch phase…“Just Keep Swimming…”

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As the miles rolled on, she said, “Just keep diving…driving…driving…” Hahaha!  But I think there is a great life principle to gain from Dory’s optimistic outlook.  She had to overcome a disability, being separated from her parents and being alone, and yet she had an incredible perspective: “Just Keep Swimming!”  Or another way to say it is you keep going when you face adversities in life.  I think too often people have an unrealistic view of the Christian Faith.  They think just because you are a Christian that they should never have any problems.  But that simply is not the case because when you become a Christian you become an enemy to the little god of this world, the Devil.  I shared about how opposition will always come when we serve God in a post called ★ Thought for the Day – Opposition Will Come ★, (which would be good for you to read also.)  Ultimately opposition is a good thing.  Strange statement?  Not really when you are looking through the correct lens.  I love how Jack Graham said it:

“Perhaps today you’d admit that you’re a little discouraged by how difficult the Christian life can be.  If so, I want to offer you a word of encouragement: The opposition you face is actually a sure sign that you’re doing something right!  Because if the devil leaves you alone, that means you must not be worth trying to discourage!”

Easier said than done right?  But I think with the right perspective, we can persevere and flourish.  How do I know this?  John Chapter 17 reveals the heart of Jesus with an incredible prayer for you and me.  We don’t have time to unpack the whole prayer but in verses 13-14 he prayed to God…

“Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy.  I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.”

Now you may say this does not cover me but in just four verses later Jesus prayed…

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.   I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”  (John 17:20-21)

I know I talk often about spiritual warfare, that we have a very real enemy who wants to steal and kill and destroy” you and I as we covered already.  And now we see Jesus praying for our protection.  You see people have a skewed perspective of Christianity because Satan is always on the prowl (see 1 Peter 1:8).  But I encourage you to persevere and just keep chasing after God like Dory example has shown us.  I will close with this final though from Susie Larson:
103 - Daily Dependence - Susie Larson - Your Beautiful Purpose - Potential

Embrace that truth today!

If you are interested in reading more, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Anxious to Do the Will of God? ★ 

★ Day 11 – Reason for the Season – Following Jesus Will Cost You ★

 

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #3 – Adoration That Matters ★

Today is the final segment in our series of the 3 Worthy Pursuits…Prayer – Word – Worship.  We first introduced these pursuits in the post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★ in which we saw through the life of Jonah that God will go to great lengths to re-direct us from our disobedience.  The first Pursuit of our series was called ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★ in which we saw how critical prayer is through the Prayer of Jabez from 1 Chronicles 4:10.  In the second post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★, we covered the importance of reading God’s Word, the Holy Bible.  In today’s post we will unpack the final Pursuit…Worship.

100 - Daily Dependence - Worship EmojiWhat is worship?  It is a noun?  Is it a verb?  Yes…It’s actually both. 

Let’s start off with what Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary had this simple definition of worship as:

  • the act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god
  • the act of worshipping God or a god
  • excessive admiration for someone

Before we get too deep, too fast, I wanted to look at that last meaning…excessive admiration for someone.”  Another word for admiration is adoration which means 100 - Daily Dependence - Five Below Storedeep love.  My youngest daughter without a doubt has a deep love for Five Below. Any time she gets some money she wants to go shopping.  I have to say I am a fan of the store myself because you can some pretty cool stuff for $5 or less.  One visit, as we went through the aisles, I saw this mug which blew me away!

100 - Daily Dependence - I love Me Mug

What a sign of the times!  We live in such a self-indulgent culture that screams look at me, listen to what I have to say, it’s all about me.  You don’t have to go too far down on your Twitter or Instagram feed before you see an example of person making that proclamation of “I love me” through their excessive selfies!  I saw these alarming statistics on infogr.am site:

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“1 million ‘Selfies’ taken globally each day!!!”  Not that is a “whole lotta lovin” of oneself!!  The Apostle Paul talked in 2 Timothy about the coming “Godlessness in the Last Days.”  In verses 1-2 he said:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,”

And the list goes on, you can read the rest in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.  Doesn’t that sound very familiar to today’s culture?  Now am I saying that taking a selfie = Godlessness?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  I have taken my fair share with the people in my life to capture a moment.  But what I am saying is that we need to be very careful that being a “lover of self” is a slippery slope!  We need to renew our mind each day and not follow whatever is trending on Twitter!  See Romans 12:2.

In our last post called ★ Thought for the Day – Are You a Parasite? ★ we talked about how reading God’s Word, and “doing” what it says will move us from being babies in the faith to mature in our walk with God.  The same is true for our worship.  We need to not be so self-centered that everything has to be all about us and follow what 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT) says:

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”

When we were babies it was true that the world did revolve around us but that was due to our helpless state but just like as the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians, we need to put away childish behaviors and start adoring the One who truly matters!  1 Chronicles 29:11 (NLT) gives us another way to live…

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty.  Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom.  We adore you as the one who is over all things.”

Going back to Merriam-Webster’s definition…Worship is “the act of worshiping God or a god.”  The strikethrough is based on what the Jesus said in Luke 4:8:

And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’”

Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 6:13 from the Old Testament.  So how do you Worship God?  In how you treat others (see Luke 6:31-35, Mark 12:29-33), how we take care of people in need (see Matthew 25:31-46, James 1:27), and even how generous we are (see Matthew 6:19-21, 1 Timothy 5:8).  Another way to Worship God is through music.  David, who was called a man after God’s own heart, played the harp and loved to worship God through music.  He wrote in Psalms 150:1-6 (NASB)

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!

I love that declaration…”Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”  What a call to action!  This should be freeing to all of us because David said “Let everything,” not the talented or gifted, so if you are shy or feel like you do not have a good enough voice, memorize Psalms 150:6 and Worship the Lord whether in your home, car or church!  We live in such an incredible time period where there are some many different genres and styles of worship, from classic hymns to modern praise and worship.  How doesn’t matter as long as you do!

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I love what worship leader John David Hessler said…

“Songs become like a diving board to get us back in to the deep water of the Lord’s heart.  I love how a song can somehow contain an eternal moment inside of it.”

I cannot agree more with that!  I love music of all kinds but especially worship music.  I always have music playing whether it be in the house, car or wherever I go with my iPhone.  But I think that my favorite times of listening to worship music is when I am in church because as I am experiencing “an eternal moment” along with others which users in Holy Spirit’s presence because God inhabits the praises of his people, see Psalms 22:3-4.  Referred to as “Worship Service” or “Corporate Worship,” the gathering together of other believers in Christ to sing praises to God leads us into the final definition that I would like to delve into…Worship is…“the act of showing respect and love for  a  God especially by praying with other people who believe in the same God.” The strikethrough and capitalization of “God” is based on 1 Corinthians 8:6 (ESV) says:

“yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

God is worthy of our worship and is just waiting for us to turn from our wicked ways, see 2 Chronicles 7:14…The question is will you worship Him?  Will you give up on focusing just on what you want and what make you happy?  Will you look for opportunities to help others, to look out for the overwhelmed, under resourced and people far away?

Though we examined each PURSUIT separately, they are intrinsically linked…at some point you need to realize your brokenness and need of a change in your life, resulting in a PRAYER to God to accept Jesus as your Savior.  In response to that prayer, you start developing a relationship with God through reading His WORD.  And the outcome of gaining knowledge of God and His Son, your love and adoration deepens which leads to WORSHIP.  This is a picture of what happens during a church service, whether you attend on Saturday or Sunday.  Regardless of what denomination or congregation you belong to, if it is a Bible preaching church, each PURSUIT is represented during the corporate time of honoring God.

I will close with this last thought that I think encapsulates the truest sense of Worship…

“Worship is so much more than the songs we sing on Sunday morning.  It is the life that we live the rest of the week.”  Unknown

And how could I talk about worship and not give you a song too?  Here is an incredible song called “Simplicity” by Rend Collective.  Let this just fill your spirit!

Here are a couple of lyrics…

I come with my broken soul
To you the perfect one
To worship you in spirit and truth
Only you 

Give me a childlike heart
Lead me to where you are
Cause I’m coming back to my first love
Only you

You’re the reason I sing
The reason I sing

I pray that today you would focus on Adoration That Matters and live your life worshiping the One true God and give your heart to His Son Jesus Christ!

If you would like to read more on this, check out the post ★ Thought for the Day – Sweetly Broken ★

 

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Are You a Parasite? ★

In our last post called ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★, we discussed the importance of reading the bible if we want to grow in our walk with God.  And that what you feed your mind is what you will become.  My daughter reminded me of the movie we saw a year ago called “Tomorrowland” (which was really awesome and is on Redbox now.)  In the movie they had a quote about an Old Cherokee Proverb that within everyone is two wolves fighting a battle…I looked up the background and thought it was a great illustration of what we all face…

A99 - Daily Dependence - Tomorrowland - 2 Wolves Quoten old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. 

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.  

One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”  

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. 

The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

WHICH WOLF ARE YOU FEEDING?  

I love that answer to the question “Which wolf will win?”…“The one you feed.”  There is such truth in that statement that if we could grasp it today, our lives could be forever changed!  In the Bible, Romans 8:5-6 (NLT) supports this truth:

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature [or ‘flesh’ as other Bible translations call it,] think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature [flesh] control your mind leads to death.  But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”

We always have a choice about what we will feed, our flesh or our spirit…Today I would like springboard off of our last post and speak to those who have been walking with God and reading the Bible to pose the question, are you a parasite?  Strange question huh?  When you hear the word parasite a few nasty examples come to my mind like tapeworms, fleas, and barnacles.  I read somewhere that Tapeworms attach themselves to the insides of the intestines of animals such as cows, pigs, and humans.  They get food by eating the host’s partly digested food, depriving the host of nutrients.  Gross huh?  Vocabulary.com had this definition for what a PARASITE is:

“A creature that lives off another organism is a parasite. The parasite might not hurt the host, but it doesn’t do anything to help it, either.”

Can you think of an example of a creature that feeds off of another but doesn’t hurt the host?  I will give you a hint…you may have some living in your home…babies of course!  But we hardly would consider them a parasite right…right?  Hahaha!  There is nothing more beautiful than a nursing baby.  After all it was God’s design that a woman’s body would transform to be able to provide nourishment for her child BUT as the baby gets older, it is time to transition to solid food.

The question…Are You a Parasite? Was intended to get your attention but maybe a less graphic way to start the dialogue would be to say, are you doing anything with what you are reading in the Bible or are you in a perpetual feeding mode?  I heard a quote from a country preacher named Vance Havner who said:

99 - Daily Dependence - Vance Havner - How Far You've Come
“How long you’ve been a Christian only tells how long you’ve been on the road.  It doesn’t tell how far you’ve come.” Vance Havner

When I first heard of this quote I thought of it in comparison to 1 Timothy 4:12 about not letting anyone “think less of you because you are young.”  But recently I have thought it more along the lines of not believing you’re mature just because of how long you’ve been calling yourself a Christian.  Do you consider yourself mature?  Or should I say are you continuing to mature in your faith?  I an article from Albert Mohler he quoted researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli who said:

“Americans revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don’t read it.  And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.”  How bad is it?  Researchers tell us that it’s worse than most could imagine.

According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments.  “No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time.  They don’t know what they are,” said George Barna, president of the firm.  The bottom line?  “Increasingly, America is biblically illiterate.”

And from another article I saw these statistics…

99 - Daily Dependence - The State of the Bible - 6 Trends for 2014 - Barna Reserach
“The State of the Bible: 6 Trends for 2014” – Barna Research

What a sad reality!  Would you consider yourself illiterate when it comes to your knowledge of the Bible?  Just like you cannot become mature just by the number of years you are a Christian, just owning a Bible is not enough, we need to read and know it!  This lack of maturity is not a new phenomenon.  In approximately 55 AD, the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 to encourage the Corinthian Church to grow in their faith.  They were not ready for the deeper truths that he wanted to share with them…In verse 2, Paul said:

“I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger.  And you still aren’t ready,”

For the purpose of this Thought for the Day, I am going to assume that we are all “within the 37% who read the Bible more than once a week” that the Barna Research Group found.  And with that baseline, I want to challenge you to look within and ask yourself…Does that 1 Corinthians 3:2 statement describe you?  Have you been on the path for decades, reading God’s Word, going to church, attending Bible Studies and yet you still are not ready to move on to solid food?  Hebrews 5:12 (NLT) gives this stark wake up call!

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“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.”

Convicting huh?  It was definitely true of me!  I accepted Jesus as my savior in August of 1998 and though I would describe myself as “being on fire for God,” my development was far from that.  I attended church yes but did not read the Bible.  It was not until 12 years later that one conversation with Todd McIntyre, the Men’s Pastor at Gateway Church changed everything!  In the post called ★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★, I shared how he helped me see the need to reconcile my relationship with my estranged father and also opened my eyes to the need to develop the spiritual discipline of reading the bible daily which has paid dividends!  I have grown more in the last six years then I did in the preceding 12!  It is interesting to think how one conversation changed the whole trajectory of my life!  But that would not have happened unless I actually listened to Pastor Todd’s counsel and put it into practice!  James 1:22-25 (NLT) says:

99 - Daily Dependence - James 1-22 - Be Doers of the Word“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

In our Wednesday night Lifegroup, we have been going through a Bible Study by Francis Chan on RightNowMedia from the Book of James.  In the third lesson (which was based on James 1:19-27,) Francis Chan nailed it as he pounds on the truth of this passage…He said,

“Satan is thrilled when believers pack out churches to hear the Word of God and then they walk away and do nothing and yet feel like they’ve accomplished something.  Their deceiving [themselves], they’re doing Satan’s job for Him!”

Amen?  We need to be DOERS of the Word not just HEARERS.  Too often that people say “I am not being fed,” so they move on to another church, never realizing that maybe it has nothing to with the Pastor or the church but with them.  You cannot grow without putting in the work yourself.  Being a parasite can also be by living your life only on the basis of someone else’s faith.  Maybe it’s someone who brought you to Christ in the first place, like a parent who dragged you to church every Sunday, or a friend who made you feel obligated to accept Christ.  You never really developed a personal relationship with Christ but rather you are going with the flow of someone else’s faith.  

99 - Daily Dependence - Milk to Meat - MaturingSo then how do we go from MILK to MEAT, and mature as a believer?  I am glad you asked…Stop being a parasite.  Stop leeching onto others for your growth.  Stop depending on others or the Pastor/Church for your spiritual development.  You have to take responsibility for your own development.  Just like you cannot survive on one meal a week, you cannot depend on 1 hour on a Sunday morning to be the only source of nourishment that you give your Spirit!  It must happen daily.  If you don’t apply the knowledge that you hear than you will never grow and you will remain stagnant.  I say this all the time but it’s so true…Nothing changes if nothing changes!  Today decide to…Feed Yourself!

99 - Daily Dependence - Feed Yourself

 

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★ Thought for the Day – The Unfathomable Payoff of Faith ★ 

 

Have yo84 - In God We Trustu ever thought about when the phrase, “In God We Trust” and when that first appeared on American currency?  I did a quick search on Google and found that…

“The 84th Congress passed a joint resolution “declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States.” The law was signed by President Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, and the motto was progressively added to paper money over a period from 1957 to 1966.”  

I am not old enough to remember a time when I did not see that motto inscribed on the change in my pocket but the sad reality is that in less than 60 years, our country has shifted from “In God We Trust,” to a position that God needs to be removed from our schools, our government and any other aspect of public life because of the “offensiveness” of trusting in a loving creator who wants a relationship with us.

If you live in Texas, you have probably seen Billboards like this one, with the simple invitation to go to exploreGod.com.  84 - Daily Dependence - Explore GodFor the past month (at the time of this post), hundreds of small groups and churches around the Dallas Fort Worth Area have been exploring the big questions we all have about God, faith, and purpose. Questions like, “Does life have a purpose?” “Is there a God?” and “Why does God allow pain and suffering?”  My church has been participating in this as well, which has been incredible!  This past week my pastor answered the question, “Is the Bible Reliable?”  He closed the message with this synopsis of the Bible…

“The Bible is the story of God revealing His glory to humanity and redeeming humanity when it rejected Him.”  Marty Collier  

“Redeeming humanity when it rejected Him.”  WowI  Every one of us at some point has rejected God, which is why I love this exploreGod.com movement that helps to illuminate the “Big Picture” concepts that often are stumbling blocks to people delving into God’s Word, the Bible.  In 2014, the Barna Research Group along with the American Bible Society released their findings for the State of the Bible which stated:

“This year’s research reveals that skepticism toward the Bible continues to rise.  For the first time since tracking began, Bible skepticism is tied with Bible engagement.  The number of those who are skeptical or agnostic toward the Bible — who believe that the Bible is “just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice” — has nearly doubled from 10% to 19% in just three years.” 

This 84 - Daily Dependence - Sign to Meditate on God'sskepticism is without a doubt a contributing factor to the expulsion of God from the public sector, resulting in a vacuum that people are filling with anything and everything.  And as people reject God and the Bible, Satan capitalizes on this trend by screaming lies about God faithfulness and love for us because he knows if we tap into that unlimited power source, our lives would be set free..  To continue with the sign theme, here is an incredible message that Satan does not want you to get in your spirit!

“If the lies of Satan consume you, meditate on the Word of God and it’s truth will set you free!”

To build on this truth, Steven Furtick made this great parallel in his book, Crash the Chatterbox …

“We can never hope to cras84 - Daily Dependence - Steven Furtick - Intentionally Feed Your Faithh the chatterbox [Satan’s lies] until the signal (God’s Word) becomes louder in our lives than the incessant noise around us that clamors for our attention and depletes our courage.  Rather than waiting for more faith to magically manifest, we must intentionally feed the faith we already possess by fanning into flame the gift that is in us.  We must eat what God has already cooked up.” 

Don’t miss this point, “we must intentionally feed the faith we already possess!”  We need to be reading and meditating on the Bible daily so that our faith can increase and the chatterbox can be silenced!

2 Timothy ‭4:7-8‬ ‭(NLT‬) says…84 - 2 Timothy 4 - 7-8 Runners Bib

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.  And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.”

It is all about perseverance, replacing the lies with truth! Here is the inspiration for this Thought for the Day…What is the Unfathomable Payoff of Faith?  Well just look at these incredible promises if we will just trust God from Psalms‬ ‭91:1-9, 14-16 ‭(NLT)…

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

He is my God, and I trust him.

For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.

He will cover you with his feathers.

He will shelter you with his wings.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day.

Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.

Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter,”

The LORD says,

I will rescue those who love me.

I will protect those who trust in my name.

When they call on me, I will answer;

I will be with them in trouble.

I will rescue and honor them.

I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

Go back and re-read every one of those underlined promises, aren’t these just amazing verses?  I pray that you would make  the decision today to deepen your understanding of God regardless of your past or your current level of faith (or lack of…) God is just waiting for you to take one step towards Him!

Do you want to explore the big questions we all have about God?  Go to exploreGod.com or go to ►►You Opinion Matters… and send me a message and I will help you.

Also if you are interested check out 

★ Thought for the Day – All About the Big Ten ★ 

which digs into the significance of reading the bible.

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★ Thought for the Day – Who’s Chasing You? ★

Did this title peak your interest?  A buddy of mine asked me where the ideas come from for the “Thoughts for the Days” that I share…were they just from my quiet time while reading the Bible or from somewhere else.  The answer is yes.  God definitely speaks through His Word as I read in the morning, but they are also are inspired from friends or sometimes through a circumstance I am going through.  Today’s “Thought” is unfortunately a result of the latter.  My situation is not life-threatening but it has inflicted some serious mental stress.  It is amazing how tiring it can be running through different scenarios in your mind to find solutions when you are having conflict and strife with someone.  I previously posted ★ Re|Engage – Conflict ★ about what my wife and I learned from a class on this topic.  I have attempted to implement the principles with this person but sometimes no matter how much you try you can’t stop someone from coming after you.

Recently I have been reading about the prophet Elijah who is such a fascinating Old Testament character.  He had incredible highs and lows in his service to God.  We first meet Elijah when God sends him to challenge the evil King of Israel, Ahab in 1 Kings 17:1 (NLT)…

“…As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!””

God then has Elijah go away for the rest of chapter 17 during the 3-1/2 year drought in which God provides for Elijah in unbelievable ways, (go read it for yourself), but I want to pick up in 1 Kings 18:1 (NLT) when God tells Elijah…

“…Go and present yourself to King Ahab.  Tell him that I will soon send rain!”

If you have never read this story about Elijah facing off with King Ahab, 1 Kings 18:1-46 tells the whole account of one of the most epic showdowns that has ever happened!  In all it’s offerings, Hollywood has never given us a greater one than this in my opinion.  Elijah challenges King Ahab and tells him in 1 Kings 18:19-21…

“Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel.”  So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel.  Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions?  If the LORD is God, follow him!  But if Baal is God, then follow him!”  But the people were completely silent.”

81 - Daily Dependence - Cliff Notes on 1 Kings 18Cliff notes version of chapter 18…Elijah challenges 850 false prophets to call down fire to burn up a bull on the altar.  They started at noontime and “they raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no sound, no reply, no response [from their Gods.]”  (1 Kings 18:29 NLT).  Okay now it is Elijah’s turn…He prepared his bull and stacked the odds against God by having (12) large jars of water poured over the bull and wood.  Then in 1 Kings 18:38-39 (NLT) he prays to God in view of all and…

“Immediately the fire of the LORD flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust.  It even licked up all the water in the trench!  And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, ‘The LORD —He is God!  Yes, the LORD is God!'”

81 - Daily Dependence - BamOne request from Elijah and God delivers BIG TIME!  He then tells the people to grab the prophets of Baal and Asherah so that they could be killed…and incredibly they did!!  Wow…talk about a massive triumph!!  Elijah stood up against King Ahab and 850 false prophets in full view of all the people of Israel and trusted God in a mighty way.  But all this is just setting up for what I really want to talk about which is what happens after the mountaintop experience with God.  What happens after you have a spiritual victory…Chapter 18 without a doubt was a huge high point but chapter 19 gives us whiplash as Elijah hits the lowest low ever.  1 Kings 19:1-4 (NLT) says…

“When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal.  So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”  

Elijah was afraid and fled for his life.  He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there.  Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day.  He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die.  “I have had enough, LORD,” he said.  “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.””  

These (4) verses have always puzzled me.  How do you go from calling fire down from heaven and ordering 850 false prophets to be slain, only to be running for your life just a few verses later because one person because threatened to kill you?  Now I said “person” instead of woman, because regardless of your gender, you can be threatened by either a man or woman, who could cause you to run away from the issue.  It could be a bully at school, someone at work or a complete stranger.  In Elijah’s case, it was a woman, but before we judge him too harshly, I wanted to give some insight into the type of person Jezebel was.  1 Kings 21:25 (NLT) tells about the influence she had on King Ahab…

“No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the LORD’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel.”

“Under the influence of his wife.”  Now everyone has a choice whether to follow or to be a leader, but obviously Jezebel was quite evil and had significant influence on he husband.  I am not saying that woman or wives are evil, rather this one particular female was.  You have probably heard someone say something like: “That woman is a Jezebel.”  That comparison is a result of King Ahab’s wife; Jezebel has become synonymous with the description of “a wicked, shameless woman.” (Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/jezebel).  Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary had this commentary on Jezebel:

“Jezebel has stamped her name on history as the representative of all that is designing, crafty, malicious, revengeful, and cruel.  She is the first great instigator of persecution against the saints of God.  Guided by no principle, restrained by no fear of either God or man…”

So you can understand that the person chasing Elijah was a pretty nasty individual, (1 Kings has other accounts as well.)  I recently found my answer to how someone could go from “hero to zero” overnight as I have had a “Jezebel” in my life chasing after me.  I think Steven Furtick nailed it when he was speaking of Elijah and said,

“We don’t experience our reality.  We experience our perspective of reality.” 

The answer is perspective!  Not seeing things for what they are.  Just like Elijah lost sight of the fact that God was able to wipe out 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah who opposed him and then allowed one person to scare him so much that the very next day he went on the run; I too lost my perspective and allowed one person’s opinion and harsh words to put me in a tailspin.  Now I did not leave the state and take residency in a cave, but it did completely disrupt my state of mind at work and home.  And why??  Jack Graham gives some great insight for that answer:

“After the spiritual victory, Elijah was physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained.  So when word came that Jezebel the queen wanted him dead, he ran for his life.  And here’s the key: Elijah took his eyes off God.”

We cannot take our eyes off of God, not even for a second!  When we do, our perspective gets distorted and we can so quickly get derailed.  We have to always be on the alert that the enemy will use people to being knock you down.  Spiritual warfare is very real and the Devil is always looking to get revenge after you have a spiritual victory!  That is why 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT) is so important to remember…

“Stay alert!  Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

Elijah is a such a powerful example of the highs and lows we can experience in our walk with God… But we can also use his story as a way to motivate us to persevere and not give up when we are in the lowest valley.  We need to believe what Psalms 24:1–3 says,

“The LORD is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid?  The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?  When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.  Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid.  Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.”

Is is really easy to chant and embrace verse 1…“The LORD is my light and my salvation.”  But I think the end of verse 3 is a whole lot harder to hold fast to…“Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.”  But that is the point, we need to believe in it all…from verse 1 to 3!  God is so faithful, He spoke to me with this verse recently when He prompted my wife to text this verse to me literally right after I had just read it from a “Verse of the Day” email I received that morning!  God speaks, we just need to be listening for that “still small voice!”  In my case, I needed to look up rather than focus on the circumstance or person chasing me.  My perspective was completely flipped…I will no longer be running from my “Jezebel!”  I will not let anybody tear me down anymore, not because I will be fighting them, but because I let God fight for me.  All I need to do is just continue doing the right thing.  I will close with this final thought from Charles Stanley…

Yes everyone wants the Mount Carmel experience but it is in the valley that God will do some of His best work because all we have is Him!!  The Lord will fight for you, you need only trust His faithfulness!

Here is the next post that builds on this thought called…

★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming? ★

★ Thought for the Day – got fear? ★

After a long day at work handling the pressures and demands of the job, then coming home and juggling the kid’s schedules, then dinner…then the bedtime ritual with them (whatever that looks like in your house)….you collapse into bed without a single ounce of energy left.  But instead of drifting off to a much-needed 8 hours of sleep, you lay awake thinking about the mistakes of the day, things that have to be done tomorrow, and every other possible problem that exists or could possibly happen.  Why does this happen?  I think that it is from fear!

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Linda Godsey put it this way

“Did you know that behind every fear there is a lie?  I once heard someone say that the letters of the word fear stand for…In other words, fear comes from believing lies.”

I love acrostics and I love the advice here…when we are not grounded in the truth of God’s Word, the Bible, then we are open to attack from the Devil who will scream lies to cloud your mind which leads to fear.
23 - Daily Dependence - Fear is a Liar

Here are some truths for your stand on:

“But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?”  Psalms 56:3-4 (NLT)

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  Isaiah 43:1b-3a (NLT)  

The truth in both of these powerful scriptures is that:

  • WE WILL have fear.
  • WE WILL go through difficult situations.
  • WE WILL face heat in our lives
But the answer to all of these realities is to TRUST GOD and KNOW THAT WE ARE HIS and that no mater what the oppression, God will be there with us.
“Fear can keep you up all night, but faith makes one fine pillow.”
“Fear can keep you up all night, but faith makes one fine pillow.”

And I will close with Psalms 4:8 (NLT) that puts this “Thought for the Day” to bed…pun intended.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.” 

Tonight if you can’t sleep, start to pray and ask God for His peace to come over you and quiet your anxious thoughts.

If you would like to read more on the subject, check out:

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness ★

Happy New Year!  I know this is 7 days late but I have been chewing on this for several days now.  As I have reflected upon the past year and started thinking about the new year, many things have been whirling around my mind.

This past Sunday, I heard a great message called “Rethinking Resolutions” by Jeremiah Sarvis, who preached on Lamentations 3:19-24 (HCSB) which says,

Remember my affliction and my homelessness,
the wormwood and the poison.
I continually remember them
and have become depressed.
Yet I call this to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
I say: The Lord is my portion,

therefore I will put my hope in Him.”

You can watch the message here…rushcreek.org/sermon/rethinking-resolutions. Jeremiah said something that really got my attention that I need to:
 

“Live in the moment.  Live in the present.  Know God now.  Stop living in a past you cannot change and a future that is not here now.  Embrace Him now.”

As a result, I was challenged to rethink the idea of New Year’s Resolutions since they are typically not followed through on and are pretty much worthless.  Instead a friend suggested making commitments to God.  I read this and think this is really the point…
64 - Daily Dependence - Commitment
“There are only two options regarding commitment.
You’re either IN or you’re OUT.  There is no such thing as life in-between.”  

Pat Riley, Former NBA player

So I am going to make Two Commitments that I will do in 2015 to develop my walk with God that will express to Him that “I am All IN.”

Commitment #1.  Unstoppable Determination for His Holiness.

I was reading a devotion from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, and read this phrase, “My Unstoppable Determination for His Holiness” which just struck a chord in my spirit!  He said,
 

“Whether it means life or death-it makes no difference!” (see Philippians 1:21). Paul was determined that nothing would stop him from doing exactly what God wanted. But before we choose to follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. This happens because we tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler nudges. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him and we begin to debate. He then providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide— for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.

This is my heart’s desire that “nothing would stop me from doing exactly what God wants” so that I will grow closer to Him and operate in all the fruits of the Holy Spirit to be more and more like Jesus!  I have been evaluating how I have been spending my time from what I am watching, listening to, reading and even drinking.  I want to live 2015 in an intentional way to grow in Holiness.

Commitment #2.  Reading the Bible Every Day!
 

I have done pretty good about getting up early from Monday through Friday and spending time reading the bible, journaling and praying, but once the weekend comes I tend to slack off and not read anything.  Now I am not trying to be legalistic that you have to read the bible every day, BUT you know that part of growing or developing in any area is by practice.  So if I am going to “grow in holiness,” then I need to be feeding my mind, body and spirit with those things that will accomplish my commitment.  Proverbs‬ ‭15‬:‭14‬ (NLT) says,

“A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.”

Reminds me of the “Garbage in, garbage out” principle…If I am reading trash, watching trash, or drinking trash then what is going to be the result?  Even if it is only in small amounts, I know myself, I need to be very careful because just like it only takes a drop of strychnine in a glass of water to kill the body, so it only takes small doses of compromise to derail our walk with God.

64 - Daily Dependence - Crash the ChatterboxIn his book “Crash the Chatterbox,” Steven Furtick said,

“The more of God’s Word we know and the more reminding ourselves of His truths, the less dependent we become on others to snap us out of negative spirals.  We can begin to rely on God’s Spirit to renew our minds so we can get back to doing whatever God has called us to do.”
 

It is not that “I have to read the bible;” as much as it is that “I want to read the bible!”  I shared in a few months ago about the importance of Reading the Bible in the ★ Thought for the Day – All About The Big Ten ★ post that you can read if you are interested.  By reading God’s Word I know my perspective will become aligned properly and I will see things for what they really are.

64 - Daily Dependence -Steven Furtick - PERSPECTIVE

Isaiah 43:19 (NASB) says,

“Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.

Do you believe that God is going to do something new this year?  I do!

As we move forward into the New Year, let’s embrace God today, and trust Him completely and expectantly for what will be done in us and through us!  I urge you to make your commitments today and stick with them.  Be careful what you are feeding on because I know myself, my 2015 commitment for “Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness” will not be achieved if I am not careful what I am feeding my mind, body and spirit!!

 

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★ Thought for the Day – The Will of God is… ★

Many people ask this question…“What is God’s will?”  There are tons of books written on the subject, and an endless amount of sermons, but all you really need to do is look in God’s Word, the Bible for the answer.

In John 6:35-40 (NLT),

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 

However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them.  For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.  

And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those He has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 

For it is my Father’s will that all who see His Son and believe in Him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

God’s will is easy to know, He wants every single person to accept and believe in His son Jesus, and to spend all of eternity with Him in Heaven.  What an incredible picture of a loving father this is…God loved us so much that He sent His son to earth to create an easy way for us to be reconnected to Him.  He does not want to see even one person lost.  That is what we, as followers of Jesus, we should be actively looking for ways to reach lost people, who are far from God.

I heard and amazing sermon called “Whatever Whatever” from Stephen Furtick in which he stated it this way…

 “The will of God is really very simple…when I walk in His ways, I will always be in His will…When you’re in God’s ways, you’re in His will.”

That is the key!!  Walk in God’s ways and you will be in His will.  The problem is when we try to do things our way, that is when we stray off course and become lost.  The decision is cut and dry, black and white, there is 52 - Daily Dependence - God's Way Vs My WayGod’s Way and My Way.  When I chose the latter, I then have to deal with the consequences.

Jesus came down from Heaven and became a human being to show us God’s will and He walked in His ways, always doing God’s will, not His own, even to the point of death.  If Jesus could do that for us, could we not at least extend an invitation to someone to come to church with us, or pray for the people in our lives that we know are far from God, or share with someone our testimony of what God has done in our life?  You never know, you may be the only person in their life to share with them about the love of God and the saving power of Jesus Christ.

I will finish this thought from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT),

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

52 - Daily Dependence - 1 Thessalonians 5-16-18

Check out ★ Thought for the Day – Anxious to Do the Will of God? ★ that is a great followup to this post.

 

★ Thought for the Day – All About The Big Ten ★

45 - Daily Dependence - About the Big 10

What do you know about the Ten Commandments?  Is this what you think of when you hear these two words?45 - Daily Dependence - Charlton Heston with Ten Commandments  Moses with the Stone Tablets as played by Charlton Heston in the movie the “Ten Commandments?” Or do you think of them as an antiquated list of rules of everything that you should not do from your childhood Sunday School Lesson?  Do you know any of them…Can you list all 10 Commandments?  When was the last time you read the “Big 10”…Bigger question, how often (if at all), do you read the Bible?  I just read an article that stated:

“The number of people in America who do not identify with any religion may be at an all-time high, but the Bible still holds an important place in the lives of many Americans, a new report suggests.

According to a study, “The Bible in American Life,” conducted by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, 50% of Americans read some form of scripture in the past year, and 48% of those read the Bible.  Four in 5 read it at least once a month, and 9% of Americans say they read the Bible daily.”

Source: “American Bible Reading Statistics Reveal Who Is Studying The Good Book And Why,” Posted: 03/14/2014

This is a sad statistic when you think that only 9% of Americans read the Bible daily, it is no wonder that people don’t have a knowledge of the bible.  The purpose of the study was to understand better how Americans use the Bible in their personal daily lives and how other influences, including religious communities and the Internet, shape individuals’ use of scripture. You can download the report here.

Are you part of the 9%?  This “Thought for the Day” is not intended to condemn you for not reading the Bible, rather it is intended to emphasis the importance of knowing the Bible for yourself and not relying on passed down information from your parents or forgotten Sunday School lessons or just flat-out misinformation to stop you from reading the Bible for yourself.  I know that the thought of reading the Bible at all, let alone everyday can ne intimating but it is so worth it for it is the blueprint for life!  There is incredible wisdom the pages that can help you in your marriage, connecting with your children, your finances…you name it, it’s in there!  I am not going to lie to you, some weeks are better than others but I try read hard to read some amount of scripture each day.  Just recently, I read about the Ten Commandments which is outlined in Exodus 20:3-17 which are listed below from the New Living Translation (NLT).

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#1   “You must not have any other god but me.” Exodus 20:3

#2   “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.  You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.”  Exodus 20:4-6

#3   “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.” Exodus 20:7

#4   “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.”  Exodus 20:8-11

#5   “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12

#6   “You must not murder.” Exodus 20:13

#7   “You must not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14

#8   “You must not steal.” Exodus 20:15

#9   “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16

#10  “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17

Many people view God as some sort of “cosmic killjoy,” and believe that Christianity is all about what you cannot do…but if people only knew what the bible says, that is the farthest thing from the truth.  Yes we study and learn what the Old Testament says, like the Ten Commandments, but when Jesus came to earth to restore the relationship between us and our Heavenly Father, everything changed!

Big 10 - SummarizedIn the New Testament Book of Matthew, it recounts when an expert in religious law, tried to trap Jesus with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)

You see the Ten Commandments can be summarized with these two mandates which all centered on love.  If you love God with everything you have within you, and you love your neighbor as yourself, then the “Big 10” will be fulfilled automatically!  When you believe in Jesus and have a relationship with Him everything changes.  How do you develop a relationship with Him you may ask?  Well just like making friend on the playground or when you started dating, you get to know to know them.  The same is true here, by reading God’s Word (the Bible), you will get to know your heavenly father, all that Jesus did when He came to earth and so much more!

Do you see how different the Bible can be when you know it?  I highly recommend that you get yourself a Bible and start reading today.  You can even get it electronically.  I use the “YouVersion” App (www.youversion.com) which is a free Bible on your phone, tablet, and/or computer.  YouVersion is a simple, ad-free Bible that brings God’s Word into your daily life anywhere you go.              45 - Daily Dependence - YouVersion App 45 - Daily Dependence - YouVersion App - Screen
You can jump to anywhere in the bible, highlight passages that are important to you, and start Bible Reading Plans.  My 10-year-old daughter has discovered that she can actually listen to it being read to her as she reads along…It has made reading the Bible so easy.

45 - Daily Dependence - Dusty BibleHow are you on your Bible Reading?  It doesn’t matter how much or how often you read, just start today and earnestly seek to know God and His Word better.

So dust off your Bible and get reading…you will never regret the time investment, it will pay dividends for generations to come!

If you would like to read more on the significance of reading the bible check out:

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are a You Feeding On? ★

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