★ Thought for the Day – Be Strong and Courageous ★

We had an early morning today getting our daughter to the airport for the first flight out.  Our daughter is on her way to for a three day training camp before heading to Eswatini (formally known as Swaziland) and South Africa for a two month missions trip.  As a father of a recent high school graduate (literally less than a week ago – 5/24/2019), it is hard to let my 18-year-old go off to the other side of the world over 9,000 miles away!

So when I see the words “Be Strong and Courageous” I am stretched today!  Our family is going through a lot of “firsts” with our daughter this past month…first prom, first high school graduation, and now today the first flight alone in which she is travelling 719 miles away from home.  As I type this, my baby girl is at the 683-mile mark…thanks to to the Flight Tracker, hahaha!  For months now we have surrounded this trip in prayer and fasting, trusting that God will take care of the details but now that it is here I am struggling a bit, which is normal.

The Holy Spirit prompted me with a passage to comfort me and another man who needed some reminding too!  His name was Joshua.  I am going through the YouVersion Reading Plan called “The One Year® Chronological Bible” and the reading recently was from Joshua 1:6-9 (NLT) in which God was speaking to Joshua directly to encouraged him before going into the battle with the people of Jericho:

““Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.  Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you.  Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left.  Then you will be successful in everything you do.  STUDY THIS BOOK OF INSTRUCTION CONTINUALLY.  Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it.  Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.  This is my command — be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged.  FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO.””

Wow did I need that today!!  Now these words were penned over 2,500 years ago but are still relevant for us today!  I think the Old Testament gets a bad rap sometimes as being antiquated and inconsequential, however when you read Joshua 1:6-9, it is a great example not only of God’s omnipresence BUT also that we WILL face adversity and have to struggle in life EVEN with God on our side!  In (4) verses God says to the newly appointed leader of the Israelite Nation, “Be strong and courageous” (3) times!  That tells me that Joshua (and myself) need to work out our faith and trust God regardless of circumstances!

And how do we do that?  Well that is right in the middle in verse 8, which says…

“Study this Book of Instruction continually.  Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it.  Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

So, the question I have for you is, are you finding yourself drowning with the stresses of life with little hope?  And if so, where do you find comfort?  In your twitter feed or the water cooler advice section?  The passage is clear, if you want to prosper and succeed, we must be meditating on the word of God to hear God’s voice.  And if you do, verse 9 brings it home with the third reminder…

“This is my command — be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

I love the image of the little girl in the cape and mask, so fearless and ready to take on the world!  That is how I say my daughter today as she went through security, turned back with a smile from ear to ear and waved good-bye.  My daughter never ceases to amaze me, as she steps out in faith to go on this 2-month adventure to a place she’s never been, with people she’s never met before, she is trusting that God will direct her steps to minister to people who are desperately in need physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Oh, that I may I have the same boldness to share my faith boldly!  And you know it does not need to be in South Africa, it can be with the person in the next cubicle or the checkout person at the supermarket or someone at the lunch table at school.  The word from God in this passage is that should not let fear stop us from being a conduit for His love, mercy and forgiveness to flow to those around us.

Before I finished writing this, I received these (3) texts from my daughter that put me to ease and reminded me that God is with her wherever she goes!

I landed

Got my bag

Meeting up with two of the other girls who are already here too

Maybe today you are facing some life changes like me or a bad report from the doctor or the loss of a job, if that’s you, listen to the words of God…Be Strong.  Be Courageous.  Be Fearless.  Be Encouraged. 

Trust in Him today to carry you through.  I encourage you to press into God’s word like never before to help give you strength for whatever struggle you may be facing today!

If you want to dig deeper on this topic, check out these related posts:

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

★ Thought for the Day – STRENGTH FOR THE STRUGGLE ★

★ Thought for the Day – Let Your Light Shine ★

 

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★ Thought for the Day – He is Risen Indeed! ★

HE IS RISEN INDEED!  If you have grown up in church, you may recognize this familiar response to the statement that the pastor would greet everyone on Easter morning…

“He is Risen!”

Then the congregation would respond….

“He is Risen Indeed!”

Today is a reminder of Jesus overcoming death, of hope and new beginnings!  It is a great day!!  Without Easter, our faith is dead. The foundation of Christianity is that Jesus conquered death!!  Three days ago on Good Friday as we remembered the day that Jesus was nailed to the cross, I was also remembering my mother as it was the 3rd anniversary of my Mom’s passing and when I looked out in the backyard I saw the rose-bush we planted in her memory in full bloom!  I could not help but feel that this was God’s way of reminding me that my Mom is right there with Him and Jesus!  Now you may say, well it is Springtime so of course it is in full bloom, but my impression is that my love Heavenly Father wanted to give me a sign.  As life is springing up anew from its winter slumber all around, Christians paused on April 19 to remember the day that Jesus paid the ultimate price and surrendered His Will and allowed Himself to be crucified up on that cross, see John 10:18.

Romans 5:1-8 (NLT) says:

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

I especially love verse 8!

What a beautiful picture!  I want to ask you, where do you stand today with Jesus on this Easter Sunday?  Is Easter about a bunny and some colored eggs or do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God who died on a Roman cross over 2,000 years ago to save your soul from your sins?

In John 11:25-26 (NLT) it says:

“Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.  Do you believe this, Martha?” 

In verse 27 Martha made this declaration…

“Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.””

Do you still reject the truth?  God has done everything He could do to restore you to Him today, you just have to make that choice whether or not you’ll receive the free great gift of grace and accept Jesus as your Savior. I pray that you will!  If you would like to know how to take the next step check out this post that will lead you in a simple prayer…★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ 

Happy Easter and remember HE IS RISEN INDEED!

The stone is rolled away from the grave on Easter morning.

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Christmas or X-Mas? ★ 

63 - Daily Dependence - Chirstmas or X-MasLast night we were watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, which today is still my favorite cartoon to watch!  It is amazing to me that back in 1965, when this first aired, how much materialism that Charlie Brown saw amongst everyone during the Christmas season.  It was so pervasive that if you remember, even the Christmas trees he picked out did not meet the standard.  What is shocking to me, 49 years later, the same spirit of consumerism prevails.  I wonder though, what the cartoon would be like if it was re-done today??

My favorite part has always been Linus’ citation of what the real meaning of Christmas is.

So we know where Linus stands…what do you think Christmas is all about?  I am sure by the title of this Thought for the Day, you probably have an inkling to what direction this will be going in, but I pray that though you may know what the answer is, that the Holy Spirit will make the truth penetrate your heart…And that this Christmas season will be more meaningful than it ever has been in the past.

Hypothetically speaking…if an alien just landed on Earth and saw the yuletide craziness in Wal-Mart, or constant the barrage of an advertising through TV, emails and old fashion mailings, what do you think they would believe that Christmas is all about?  I think definitely about shopping, a fat man in a red suit, and about putting trees in your house and decorating them.

It is not too hard to get lost in the “stuff that needs to get done,” and fulfilling “wish lists,” but if we are not careful, we can easily get one-off track.  Christmas should not be about getting stuff.  There needs to be an intensive effort on our part to combat against the “get me this bug,” and try to reverse the impact of the heavy marketing that is confusing the meaning of Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong, I want my children to enjoy all the fun things of the season, but at the same time I don’t want the true meaning of Christmas to be lost on my daughters.  Take a look at this cartoon, I think it makes Charlie Brown’s point well!  63 - Daily Dependence - Tree Comic

“I hate to ask you nice folks to move, but the inn’s marketing department figures that it will only be a matter of time before this tree gets better recognition than your son”

So how about it?  What do you think, is it Christmas or X-mas?  Does it matter?  Do you see a difference between the two?  For many years I didn’t.  In fact I still have storage totes with “X-mas” written on them.  Have you ever wondered where X-mas came from?  I mean how did that evolve to be an abbreviation for Christmas?63 - Daily Dependence - Evolution of X-mas

Well the word “Christmas means the “Mass of Christ.”  It was later shortened to “Christ-Mass.” Then further shortened during the 1500’s in Europe to “X-mas” which is derived from the Greek alphabet, in which X is the first letter of Christ’s name: “Xristos,” therefore “X-Mass”.  That is how X-mas is a derivative for Christmas.  But in today’s culture and how the term is used, I believe there is a big difference between the two words.  X-mas is no longer a short version of Christmas but a replacement.  You don’t have to look far, to see how modern-day consumerism and marketers have completely “X”-ed Christ out of Christmas.

Christmas is now a franchise, a holiday that is marketed in a million different ways, none of which have to do with Jesus.  Just take notice of all the printed advertising and commercials that are on TV this time of year.  There is very little mention of Jesus if any.  We have removed the part of the holiday that is the true “reason for the season”.  And all that we are left with is whatever products store owner’s can convince us that we need to have.

Christmas is not about getting stuff but about Jesus.  It is the Birthday of Jesus, the day that God was manifested into flesh and blood.  It is about a King.  Not a King that rode into battle to conquer his enemies but a King who laid down His crown, humbling Himself to become a man. 63 - Daily Dependence - King Size BedIn doing so, He surrendered His majesty and position and sacrificed Himself for us.  So the answer to the question “what is Christmas all about”, well it is about SACRIFICE and HUMILITY!  You don’t really consider that when you think about Christmas, but when you look at what had to happen in order for Jesus to open the gates of heaven for us, it is crystal clear that the baby in the manger was born to be the sacrificial lamb to die as the payment for our sins once and for all.  W.J. Cameron once said that,

“There has been only one Christmas – the rest are anniversaries.”

I love that!   Jesus became human and then gave up His life for us so that we could gain eternal life.  He had to lose His life so we could keep ours!  Through His Sacrifice, out past, present and future sins are forgiven!  And we are Redeemed!  Redemption, what an awesome word.  It is defined as

“The act of delivering from sin or saving from evil” or “Purchasing back something previously sold.”

We have been delivered through His death on the cross.  The greatest gift will not be delivered by the man in the red suit, the best gift is Jesus!  Jesus63 - Daily Dependence - The Real Gift paid the ransom, paid the price for our sins to save us from the evil one so that the lost could be found, the sick…healed, the broken…repaired and the captives set free.  Because Jesus came into the enemy’s territory (by coming to Earth), we are redeemed and reconnected to our Father in Heaven.  We are the children of God as it says in Galatians 4:6-7:

“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.    

Christmas is about the sacrifice of Jesus and the redemption that resulted from His selfless act.  And through it all we have become heirs to the riches of heaven.

You know, there is nothing wrong with all the holiday preparations, but we need to keep in focus what we are celebrating on December 25!  Our Biblical or Christian Worldview needs a little fine-tuning.  Like everyone else, I have a long list of things-to-do associated with the Yuletide season, from decorating to getting a Christmas tree to shopping for gifts.  There are many things to plan for and to pull you in different directions and to distract you…BUT I love how Henri Nouwen defined Christmas…he said that

“Songs, good feelings, beautiful liturgies, nice presents, big dinners, and sweet words do not make Christmas.  Christmas is saying yes to something beyond all emotions and feelings.  Christmas is saying yes to a hope based on God’s initiative, which has nothing to do with what I think or feel.  Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God’s work and not mine.” 

Christmas is my favorite holiday.  Not only for the significance of Jesus’ birth but also for the other stuff as well.  I love all the holiday preparations and the warm fuzzy feeling you get during this time of year.  But as we just read, Christmas is much more than that.  We need to check ourselves and where our biblical worldview is, not only in regards to this one day but also for the other 364 days a year.  So the proper biblical worldview of Christmas is all about Sacrifice and Humility!  Philippians 2:5-7 says that:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” 

Christmas is a time to remember the birth of Jesus and the coming of God’s salvation for His people.  Jesus was born and walked on this Earth to show us the way to heaven through His example.

“He became what we are that He might make us what He is.”  Saint Athanasius

 Verse 8 of chapter 2 of Philippians finishes this though with:

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”

So I want to challenge you to really understand the Reason for the Season, and not allow consumerism to “X” Christ out of Christmas.  Follow Jesus’ example, and be a servant to your “fellow man.”  Look for ways to impact the people around you…family members, co-workers, friends or even strangers.  Serve food to the homeless or buy a present for a child who will have nothing under the tree this year or be a shoulder to cry on for a depressed friend.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

Don’t let season passed by without letting it penetrate your heart!  Be Jesus for the people who are around you.  Be the miracle in their life.

63 - Daily Dependence - Merry Christmas

★ Re|Engage – Love ★

ReEngage - Lesson 01

My wife and I went to a class offered at our church call “Re|Enagage.”  Watermark Church’s Marriage Ministry created this class that is offered in churches all across the country.  If you live near Dallas, TX, you can attend the class, here is the website for more information on how to find where it is offered:

http://marriagehelp.org

You many be thinking to yourself another marriage class no thank you but please continue reading because Re|Enagage made a huge impact on our marriage.  And before you dismiss this by saying “our marriage is not in crisis or turmoil so I don’t need this;” our’s wasn’t either, we just wanted to go from a good marriage to a great one!  And just to debunk another lie that the enemy will try to get you to believe…Don’t look at this class as “our marriage will appear that it is bad”… but look at it like “we want to continue to have a great marriage”…and so we are going to get new tools to improve it.  Just like you perform regular maintenance on your car, we need to do the same for our marriages. As part of the class, there was a small group time which the purpose is to build biblical community so that people realize that every marriage has issues, regardless of how it appears, no marriage is perfect.  Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT) describes it this way:

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

The small group helped “sharpen one another” as we opened up to share (Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron).

The primary focus of the class was to work on yourself and what you learned in the lessons instead of pointing out what your spouse is not doing.

The first two chapters focused on this Principle: RECOGNIZE YOUR INABILITY TO LOVE.

At first that does not seem so positive, does it?  But it is critical to understand how flawed we are so that we look at our spouses through the correct lens, and not expect them to do what we are incapable of doing.

Lesson 1 was on Love…The main idea was:

God’s Standard of love is the way He loves.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV) defines love biblically:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

You cannot meet this standard.  THIS IS PERFECT LOVE!

In the reading they made this statement…“While love may be blind, marriage is a real eye opener.”

We all entered our marriage with expectations of what it was going to be like. I am a firm believer that you get what you put into your marriage. “Garbage in, garbage out”…or you can look at it that you put in love, respect, sacrifice; you will get those in return.

The lesson was broke down What Love Really Is…

Love is patient and kind.

Not about instant gratification, Encourages instead of condemns.

Love doesn’t envy or boast.     

Celebrates when another is celebrated, Admit failures instead of giving excuses.

Isn’t rude or insisting on its own way.

Not demanding/manipulative to get its way, put the needs of the other first.  Studies the needs and wants so they can meet them. 

Is not irritable or resentful.

Can handle shortcomings/disappointments, Gladly overlooks small offenses and graciously forgives larger ones w/o bringing them up later.

Bears and endures all things.

Takes on the others hardships as their own, Committed regardless of feelings and what they are receiving in return.

Believes and hopes all things.

Acts in trustworthy manner with no secrets which eliminates suspicion.  It believes the best about the other and does everything it can to make the relationship work.

Love is thinking about the other person’s needs over your own, giving everything you have to the other person.  Love in God’s perspective is sacrificial and selfless commitment.

“Jesus was the ultimate model for what love is (Romans 5:8 – Christ died for us while we were sinners.)  – Real love puts the other person first!”

 

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

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

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

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