★ Thought for the Day – Fair-Weather Faith ★

I hope you have been enjoying our Temptation Series and though I had planned to be writing about “Avoiding the Consequences of Gluttony,” the Lord redirected me to write about today’s topic.  I have never heard of the expression of “Fair Weather Faith,” but the title came to me in perfect clarity.  I have heard of Fair-Weather Friends and Fair-Weather Fans.  Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “fair-weather” as being:

“loyal or helpful only during times of success and happiness.”

We all have had people in our lives that seemed like they would be there through thick and thin but only to disappear once you needed them the most.  Proverbs 17:17 (ESV) describes the type of friends we believed those people to have been:

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

In the post ★ Thought for the Day – Community That Matters ★ we talked a lot about the importance of fostering Biblical Community through “Fight Clubs” and how true friends are developed as a result.  If you missed it, I highly recommended catching up.

As for the second “Fair-Weather” term’…In 2010 the Texas Rangers broke an 11 year playoff drought when they made it to the coveted series; it was amazing how all of a sudden there was a huge outpouring of fandom with the ‘claw’ and ‘antlers,’ along with Josh Hamilton jerseys that popped up everywhere you looked.  To me, it was the truest example of Fair-Weather Fans because before that season I lived in Texas for 3 years with virtually no mention of the Arlington based team.  Based on those two examples you could see where this post will be going.  When I googled “Fair-Weather Faith” I discovered that there is a song with the exact title from the rock band Extreme and then I also this comic that really makes the point perfectly!

“Fair-Weather Faith” exists only during times of success and happiness.  People with this milquetoast approach to faith will serve God when life is good, but once times get tough, it dissipates as quickly as the morning dew.  In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus warned about those who had faith like this (see Luke 8:4-15).

We also get some insight from the Revelation 3:15-16 (NLT) in which Jesus said this in The Message to the Church in Laodicea:

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold.  I wish that you were one or the other!  But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”

That is some strong words from Jesus but remember that He is the savior of the world so we best heed His advice.

As I was talking about this Thought with my family, my 16-year-old daughter made this great statement which I will pose to you:

“Do you have fair-weather faith or faith that can weather, when life isn’t fair?”

This is a question we all must ask ourselves and come to terms with BEFORE the Storms of Life roll in…The muse for this Thought came last Saturday when I was texting a friend of mine to try to encourage him because he was over a 1,000 miles away from home at the Cancer Center of America.  And His response rocked me to the core!

“I’m just getting out of bed.  It’s 8:30 here.  I’m in either day 3 or 4 of my first cycle.  I think it’s the 3rd, but today’s nurses are saying 4th.  I mean what do I know – except the one who’s been getting to actually see the changeover from one bag to another  

But throughout the round of chemo, I’ve felt incredibly well.  God’s grace has been amazing.  He really is a good, good Father. 

Day by day, His grace sustains me and He continuously shows me that He is still God and that He still heals. 

I’ve committed to live out this journey in stewardship of whatever He desires.  There will be a story to tell that I believe will touch lives. 

I’ve been walking everyday around the hallways and just praying for everyone I see in a room.”  

WOW!  As I read these texts from my friend Avito I was absolutely blown away from his extreme faith.  He is battling a rare type of cancer: a primary mediastinal b-cell lymphoma.  I am no doctor, but once you hear the word ‘cancer,’ fear and trepidation grips your heart and once you add “rare” on top of that, I would imagine that an emotional paralysis of sort would follow.  I am uncertain how I would react to such a diagnosis.  When you read those words above, it is clear that Avito has truly leaned on his faith in God almighty, the creator of Heaven and Earth.  He’s fought a brave fight against the cancer and recently decided to pursue an integrative cancer treatment that incorporates a naturopathic element with the conventional methods to treating the lymphoma.  If you were to ask him why he can stare at this challenge with such a sense of peace, Avito would calmly but with much faith tell you,

“How can you not when you get a diagnosis, and immediately then be assured with a Holy Spirit whisper that says more loudly, ‘This sickness is not onto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified in it.’” 

Absolutely incredible…talk about the fulfillment of Hebrews 10:23 (NLT):

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.”

Will you trust God when a diagnosis of cancer is pronounced, or the loss of a child unexpectantly happens?  Or if you are laid off from your job or bankruptcy is filled.  Where will your faith be at those times?  When the rubber meets the road, you (and me too) need to:

“Let Your Faith Speak so loud your heart can’t hear what doubt is saying.” 

Doubt is a powerful force, one that Satan continually uses against us.  Since the beginning of time, he has been filling our minds with thoughts that God has failed or abandoned us, that the circumstance or diagnosis we are facing is impossible but that just is not so!

“Faith is not knowing what the future holds, but knowing who holds the future.”

God is sovereign and in control and it is precisely at those moments of greatest trial that we need to hold fast to the Lord.  In the post ★ Thought for the Day – What Does God’s Love Mean? ★ I shared about my wife contracting Lyme’s Disease in the summer of 2013.  For those of you who don’t know about this often misdiagnosed illness, Lyme’s Disease is a debilitating disease that affects the neurological system when a bacterium enters the body from a deer tick bite.  As a result of this contagion, the body is devastated and if it is left untreated it can cause paralysis and in some cases even death.  As the darkness surrounded my wife and our family, we grabbed hold of God like never before and searched through the Bible for encouragement.  My old Pastor from NJ gave this advice long ago to pray the scriptures back to God.  So that is exactly what we did, we prayed and prayed for healing and deliverance.

One verse that brought us great comfort was James 5:13-16 (NLT) which describes the “The Power of Prayer”

 “Are any of you suffering hardships?  You should pray.  Are any of you happy?  You should sing praises.  Are any of you sick?  You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.  Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well.  And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

My wife suffered many days as we prayed and waited for the medication to take effect.  For three days I prayed and fasted for her to come out of the fog and for the debilitating fatigue that was wreaking havoc on her body to pass.  On the darkest night, we called on our Pastor for prayer and I anointed my wife with oil as James instructed and through God’s mercy and the medication finally taking effect she took a turn for the better.  As I think back on that summer and how my wife’s sickness affected our family, if our faith was not rock solid before we went into that storm I don’t know what would have happened.  We grew closer to God in that season than in any other time of our life.  God was there with us, I know that with every fiber of my being!  Every step of the way, our Heavenly Father providing everything we needed but we would never have experienced it if our faith was Fair-weathered.  I was reading Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV) the other day and was reminded about His provision and the many, many benefits of serving Him…

“Bless the Lord, O My Soul Of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Charles Stanley had this great life lesson…

“God wants every part of us – body, soul, and spirit – to grow closer to Him and to enter into a joyful relationship with Him.  He seeks worshipers who will gladly give everything they are to Him.” 

Like a good father, God wants to be a part of every moment of our lives if we will invite Him in.  The question is will you worship God even in the darkest hour?  In Christ we can find strength for the struggle and faith for the fight, we just need to make the decision to trust in Him.  What will you choose?

I am going to close this Thought a little different than I normally do.  Since the muse for this post was my friend’s unshakeable faith I wanted to tell you a little more about him and his lovely family.  Avito and his wife, Shelly, met in Bible college in 1997.  They married in 1999 and 10 years later decided that adoption would be the means through which they would build their family.  Avito and Shelly adopted (3) brothers in 2009 and then again in 2016 they felt the strong desire to yet again expand their family through adoption; a process that started in July of 2016 when (3) new siblings were placed in their home while waiting for the final adoption to come.

Joy did come that morning, but it was rather short-lived, or so it seemed.  Just weeks after having placement of these recent three new kids, Avito started experiencing things that just didn’t feel right in his body.  After weeks and many doctor visits and follow ups, he was finally admitted to Baylor Grapevine where he was subsequently diagnosed with a somewhat rare type of cancer: a primary mediastinal b-cell lymphoma.  The tumor is near the thymus gland in his chest, close to his heart.  Avito is now having Chemotherapy done at the Cancer Center of America in Phoenix, Arizona.  Last Saturday was the first of a minimum of (6) rounds.  The rounds are 3 weeks apart so he will get one week of treatment, go home for two weeks, and then go back to Phoenix for the next 18 months.  Unbeknownst to me, when God placed Avito on my heart to reach out last Saturday, he was just beginning the arduous journey.  Here is a picture of this beautiful family

Why am I sharing all of this?  Well I am glad you asked…I wanted to invite you into my brother in Christ’s story so that you could prayer for God’s healing and provision for Avito, Shelly and their (6) adopted children.  Also I wanted to see if you would like to come alongside of this wonderful family who are going through a frightening and expensive storm of life.  If you would like to help them financially you can got to their “Let’s Beat Lymphoma Together | Medical Expenses – YouCaring” page here:

https://www.youcaring.com/avitozaldivar-807100

Thank you for your prayers and consideration of financial support!  God Bless!

If you’re interested in digging deeper on developing your faith, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – STRENGTH FOR THE STRUGGLE ★

★ Thought for the Day – Candy Land Christianity ★

★ Thought for the Day – Unfathomable Payoff of Faith ★ 

Also if you are going through a storm right now, here are some Scripture Verses to Stand On.  (Just right click on the verses to download.)

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★ Thought for the Day – Annihilating Anxiety ★

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According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary Anxiety is the

fear or nervousness about what might happen.” 

Have you ever suffered from anxiety?  Ever wondered how you were going to handle a situation at school that might result in a fight?  Or how to handle a co-worker / client that has been causing problems that will jeopardize meeting the project deadline?  Or perhaps where the money was going to come to pay for the mortgage at the end of the month?  Well statistically if you are reading this, you have experienced anxiety in one form or another.

“Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population.”  (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)

I certainly can be counted within that 40 million!   Today I want to pose this idea that we don’t need to live life this way.  Based on the Word of God we can ANNIHILATE ANXIETY!

But first let’s look at the definition again.  Anxiety is the “fear or nervousness about what MIGHT happen.”  MIGHT being the key word!  Now by no means am I lessening the significance of anxiety, quite the contrary, it is a very serious issue, one which will wreak havoc if left unabated.  I know myself, I will run scenario after scenario of how something will go or what my response will be “if    (fill in the blank)   happens.”  This is not necessarily a bad thing in some cases, in fact as an Architect it’s necessary to vet out different courses of action; but when it comes down to the difficult, life altering decisions, don’t you wish that you could hear from God for the right direction to go in?  Well I would submit that you can today, though it may not be audibly like in the past.

This peaked my interest and I started to look into the first (5) books of the Bible.  God spoke to:

In Deuteronomy 34:10 (NLT) it says that:

“There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”

Oh to be Moses right?  To have face to face contact with God!  I stopped here in my list though there are many other Old Testament characters who have heard audibly from God because it is Joshua, Moses’ successor who I think can be an encouragement to us today as the issues we face seem insurmountable!  But before we unpack how Joshua can help, there’s something else I would like to talk about first.  I shared with you in our last post, ★ Thought for the Day – Turn the Other Cheek ★, that I was having some stress because of someone who lied about me and that I had to take the high road and turn the other cheek instead of demanding vindication.  Today I am going to be vulnerable to you and reveal that it is much more than “some stress,” and that there have been more incidents that have caused extreme anxiety and poison in my Spirit.  And unfortunately I have allowed the venom to spill over into other areas of my life and steal my joy when I am away from work.  In fact I just had a heart to heart with my daughter to apologize for my words that have hurt her.  It is amazing how when anxiety is unchecked how it can run your life.  I have had trouble reading the bible and my quiet time with God has been lackluster at best and it is also why there has only been 1 post in the last two months but God is so merciful!  On Thursday morning (12/1/16), God spoke so clearly to me when I saw this notification from the Verse of the Day from the YouVersion Bible App:

Talk about a wake-up call!  Why am I discouraged?  Why is my heart so sad?  Great questions!  It’s because I had lost my way.  I had lost hope and my focus was distracted by the cares and worries of my life!

After seeing the Psalms I then stumbled onto this edit from Philippians 4:6-7 on twitter:

111-daily-dependence-philippians-4-6-7Then as I was driving to meet a buddy for breakfast I heard this song “Shoulders” from the band FOR KING & COUNTRY.  The lyrics are so powerful

When I’m caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company
I’ll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near 

My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue

What a great reminder. We need to be careful as we are “in the valley” that we don’t allow ourselves to be distracted by all the worries of the world and lose sight of the truth that we are never alone!  We have a father in heaven who loves us dearly and has provided His Son to be an example of how we should live.  And when Jesus walked this earth He would get alone and pray for help from His Father, (see Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12, Luke 22:41-44.)  And so that is what we need to do too!  In addition to following His example, because I have trusted in Jesus, God has given me the Holy Spirit to live within me to be my comforter, (See John 14:16-18, 16:13).  The lyrics also brought me back to 1999 when I baptized on Easter and when I read Psalm 23 as part of my public declaration.  I wanted to share what verse 4 says:

111-daily-dependence-psalm-23-4-walk-through-valley“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

So God spoke to me through the Verse of the Day, Twitter, a song on the radio which brought up when I was baptized 17-1/2 years ago to speak into my Spirit that I am not alone and that even though I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I should not allow fear and anxiety to rule my life!  I told you that I was meeting a friend well he ended up oversleeping so while I waited for him, God gave me the idea to write this Thought and lead me to the final verse that He spoke to me in 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)…

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”

You see that God does still speak but we need to have our hearts in tune with Him.  In Hebrews 1:1-2 (ESV) it says that:

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”

Do you know what the antidote to anxiety and fear?  In Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) we are the answer…FAITH!

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” 

My wife who suffered terribly from anxiety as a result of contracting Lyme’s Disease said this to me this morning:

“Anxiety is a mind game that forces you to choose fear or faith!”

It took her 3 long years to battle through the effects of this silent disease that so few people know about that affects your nervous system and causing extreme anxiety and panic attacks.  Today I am so thankful that she is able to work out again and has overcome the anxiety that once plagued her mind.  I saw this edit which is so fitting since she loved to workout…111-daily-dependence-faith-shows-you-how-to-handle-life

“Faith doesn’t take the weight off your life.  It shows you how to handle it.”

We started off this post talking about the Old Testament characters that God spoke to and I left you hanging about Joshua, a man who had an extraordinary amount of faith!  Joshua lost his mentor, Moses and was given the mantle to lead an entire nation into the “Promised Land” with the understanding that he would have to go into battle against an overwhelming force with a plan that was completely dependent on God doing what He said He would.  In Joshua 6:2-5 (ESV) it says:

“And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.  You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once.  Thus shall you do for six days.  Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark.  On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.  And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.’”

You can read that whole account here in Joshua 5:13-6:50.  I am reminded that I am not the only one who is facing insurmountable challenges.  Talk about some extreme faith!  Think about going to tell your army, “Okay everyone, I heard from the Lord and the plan is, we will walk around Jericho for 7 days and then at the end of the march, the priests will blow the trumpets and everyone will shout really loud and the walls will come down!”  That alone I think took a lot of faith but to actually go and do as God instructed is a completely different thing altogether!  What Joshua knew and what we need to know is that:

111-daily-dependence-all-progress-takes-place-outside-the-comfort-zoneIs there something that you feel God wants you to do?  Could it be to be a friend to that person who sits alone every day at lunch?  Or to be a friend to someone you know going through a divorce or a terminal disease?  Or perhaps to invite that person to church that God has placed on your heart who you know is far from Him right now?

As the Advent season ramps up and the list of things to do grows, pause and ask God what could you do for someone else during this Christmas season.  I will close with the same encouragement that Joshua gave to the people of Israel:

111-daily-dependence-fit-family-joshua-1-9

Don’t let fear and anxiety rule your life and take away the joy of this season.  Have this mindset that:

111-daily-dependence-fear-will-not-conquer-me

If you are interested to read more on this topic check out these posts called:

★ Thought for the Day – You Are Chosen! ★

★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming? ★

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★ Thought for the Day – How Many Licks to Forgiveness ★

106 - Daily Dependence - Candy SocksMonday was the first day of school for my daughters – My eldest is now a sophomore in High School and my baby is in her last year of middle school.  It is hard to believe how fast time has gone by!  It seems like just yesterday my wife and I were bringing them home from the hospital.  First day of school is always tough…Well that afternoon my mother-in-law gave them this little gift of vintage candy themed socks.  This pair was especially interesting to me…

106 - Daily Dependence - Mr. Owl Socks

Do you remember Mr. Owl?  I may be dating myself but I grew up with this question:

“How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?”

It seemed like this commercial stayed on the air forever.

I discovered that it is actually the longest running commercial in American television history.  It first appeared in 1970 and depicted a boy on a quest to find the answer to that famous question.  Believing that Mr. Owl was the smartest of all, he handed over his Tootsie Pop expecting to get the definitive answer on how many licks it takes to get to the center; but instead the temptation was too great and after just three licks Mr. Owl bites to get to that gooey goodness.  I thought this quote was the perfect way to open this “Thought for the Day.”

106 - Daily Dependence - Forgiveness Is Not A Tootsie Pop
“Forgiveness is not a Tootsie Pop so stop counting.”

This reminds me of a conversation that is recorded between Jesus and His disciple Peter in Matthew 18:21-22:

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked,  

‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?’  

 Jesus answered,

 ‘I tell you not seven times but seventy times seven.’”

Jesus’s response was probably not what Peter was expecting…”seventy times seven” is a whole lot of forgiving!  But that was not what He really meant; Jesus’ point really was signaling that there should be no limit to how many times we offer our forgiveness.  And just like it’s hard to keep track of the number of licks, it would be very difficult for us to keep up with that many offenses against us.  Instead of tallying each offense, we must follow what Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV) says,

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in  Christ God forgave you.”

I would like to unpack these truths of “What Forgiveness Is and Is Not…”

But first, I would like to share something that God showed me the other morning in my quiet time about his character.  Genesis Chapter 3 records the fall of man, when the Serpent (AKA Satan) deceived the Woman to eat the forbidden fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” and how she then gave it to her husband Adam who ate it too.  A familiar tale that has been captured in numerous artistic depictions and shared during Sunday Schools everywhere as a cautionary tale of not allowing the enemy to twist God’s Words which will lead to sinning.  In Genesis 3:13-20 God rendered the consequences to Adam and Eve’s rebellion, (because there are always consequences to sin – See Galatians 6:7).  He first cursed the Serpent, then the Woman and finally Adam.  But what amazed me this week was what the next verse says…

“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”  Genesis 3:21 (ESV)

Now I can’t tell you how many times I have read this story and flew right past this verse but tell me something, have you ever been betrayed and instantly responded by taking care of their needs?  But that is exactly what God did, which leads us into our first reality…

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

“Overlook an Offense—Many disputes are so insignificant that they should be resolved by quietly overlooking an offense.  Overlooking an offense is a form of forgiveness, and involves a deliberate decision not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness or anger.”  From “The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict,”

And Proverbs 19:11 (NIV1984) says:

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

If you wait until you “feel like” forgiving, then it will probably never happen.  In His historic Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us a new model for living in Matthew 5:44-45 (NASB)…

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

The sun rising on both the evil and the good, and God sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  That is an important truth to put on the sticky side of your brain.  And we need to be ready to not only forgive but to love and pray for those who hurt us.  No doubt this is a hard command to swallow, which segways us to point #2…

Essential?  Does that seem extreme?  Not so much when you look at what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT):

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Forgive or else you will not be forgiven.  Pretty cut and dry…It does not get any simpler than that.  2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) gives this promise:

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,  I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

Truth # 3…

Forgiving someone is not intended about allow yourself to be a doormat to be walked all over but rather it is intended to set you free from bitterness. Unforgiveness can birth bitterness but we don’t have to swallow it.  Robert Morris had this to say about

“We’re all going to taste bitterness in our life, but you have the choice whether you’re going to drink it.”

See Hebrews 12:14-15 also.  All of us will experience pain in this life, and if we don’t master bitterness, depression can result.  I once heard this great quote that

“Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

And even though I know this is true, I fall victim to this over and over.  Growing up, the way I handled being hurt by people was to completely write them off.  If you betrayed me, you were dead to me.  Holding a grudge was my modus operandi and I am sad to say that I did not just drink bitterness but gulped it in huge amounts.  Since 1998 when I gave my heart to Jesus, He has been redeeming my broken and unforgiving heart.  I have experience Truth #4 is in my life…

Many people believe just the opposite.  They think that forgiveness is for those who inflict pain but it really is for the one who has been crushed.  Max Lucado said it best when he penned these poignant words!

“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”
“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”

 What an image and truth!  When we refuse to forgive, we are effectively slamming the cell door shut, and locking ourselves in a prison of our own making.  Jesus again said in Luke 6:35-36 (ESV):106 - Daily Dependence - Luke 6-36

“But love your enemies, and do good, andlend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” which leads us into our fifth and final truth…  

Dictionary.com has this definition of Act: “a deed; performance,” whereas an Attitude is a…

“manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind.”

Forgiveness is not “a one and done.”  It is a continual, purposeful mindset that is a choice which is essential and a gift for the offended.  I love what Martin Luther King Jr. said that makes this point perfectly!

Jesus modeled this in his final moments as recorded in Luke 23:34  (ESV),

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.”

After being disrespected, spat upon, slapped, beaten, flogged and nailed to a Roman Cross, Jesus looks up to heaven to intercede on our behalf!  What an attitude of forgiveness!  William Blake said:106 - Daily Dependence - The Glory of Christianity is to Conquer By Forgiveness (3)

“The Glory of Christianity is to Conquer By Forgiveness,”

So the question is will you “Conquer By Forgiveness”…will you forgive others as God has forgiven and loved you?  Think about it, Adam rebelled against God, sin entered the world and we were separated from Him forever.  To resolve this, God sent His Son Jesus as the payment for my sin so that all we need to do is accept the sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sin that came into the world.  Romans 5:18-19 (NLT) says,

“Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.  Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners.  But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.”

One man ushered sin into the world but what is more important is that one man, Jesus Christ has destroyed the power of sin over our lives if we make the right choice.  One of my favorite quotes from John Wooden is:

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

Remember, forgiveness is not a Tootsie Pop.  Don’t even try to count the number of times you have forgiven someone.  In God’s reality, there is no number of licks you will take that you will ever be justified to stop forgiving.  So now the choice is yours.  What will you do with this information?  You know what God would do, He will always forgive a repent person.  And in return, He expects us to show others the same mercy you have received.  Will you do the same?  Because in the end, the choice you make, makes you!

If you are interested to read more about Forgiveness, check out this two part series of posts called:

★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness ★

★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness In Action ★

 

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★ 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 – Share IT! ★

What do you think of this title for the Thought for the Day?  Hopefully it has peaked your interest to find out.  Today I pray that God would open up your mind to the possibilities of being able to share your faith in an easy and ingenious way.  But before I reveal that to you, let me ask you a question…How are you at sharing your faith?  Many people have emotions ranging from uncomfortable to pure terror when it comes to expressing why they believe in Jesus Christ to others.  Reasons can be because of a lack of knowledge of the bible or timidity to talk about it or the spiritual warfare from the Devil.  But the Apostle Paul offers this truth from 2 Timothy 1:7-8 (NLT)…

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for Him.  With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.”

I remember once, hearing Robert Morris of Gateway Church talk about how easy it is to share your faith.  It seemed so elementary but so many people miss it…“Just share your story.”  You don’t have to be a theologian to “share the Good News of Jesus Christ,” all you need is to just tell people what God has done in your life.  Our job is to point people to Jesus, just like Jesus came to point people to God.  As Jesus was comforting His disciples in John 14:1-6 about having to go away to prepare a place in “His Father’s House,” Thomas asked a very direct question asking where He was going and in verse 6 Jesus gave this reply:

104 - Daily Dependence - John 14-6 - One Way“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6 (NKJV)

Jesus is the Way to the Father and to eternal life in Heaven.  Hebrews 10:19-20 (NLT) gives is this confidence…

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.”

104 - Daily Dependence - TetelestaiWhen Jesus died on the cross He said “Tetelestai” which means “It Is Finished!” which is recorded in John 19:30…

104 - Daily Dependence - John 19-30 - IIF - It Is Finished!
Jesus said, “it is finished.” Then He bowed His head and released His Spirit.”

“IT IS FINISHED” – These were the last words He spoke before dying on the cross. Jesus said this because He knew His mission was done…Everything necessary for His people to have a relationship with God WAS ACCOMPLISHED!  Not only are our sins paid for, but also salvation, forgiveness, and grace is offered to all.  Because it is finished, all who trust and believe in Jesus can have a relationship with their heavenly Father.  If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, check out this post called ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ that will lead you in making that decision.

For those who know this truth today, then I urge you to follow the advice from the Apostle Peter…

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”  1 Peter 3:15-16 (ESV)

The time is now!  Don’t wait to share your faith with your children and other young people who are in your sphere of influence.  According to a study that the Barna Research Group conducted, they found

“…that nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and that two out of three born again Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday.” 

What this tells me is that we have a very short window to reach people for the Kingdom of God, and once a person passes the age of 21, the percentage drops considerably.  Such a sad reality!  But at the same time, what an opportunity to share our faith easily with these shirts!  Jesus said in Matthew 9:37 (NLT)

“The harvest is great, but the workers are few."
“The harvest is great, but the workers are few.”

And finally in Philemon 1:6 (ESV), the Apostle Paul gives this encouragement…

“and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”

So the question is…Will you Share It?  I pray that you will activate your faith starting today with everyone you come into contact!

 

 

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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…”

103 - Daily Dependence - Just Keep Swimming Alt 1

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:

100 - Daily Dependence - Selfie Statistics

“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!

100 - Daily Dependence - Worshippers

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!

99 - Daily Dependence - Hebrews 5-12 - Milk to Meat
“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 – But God… ★

Last year I posted this ★ Thought for the Day – What is the X-Factor of Leadership? ★, which examined how the X-Factor of Leadership is humble service to others through the example that Jesus gave to His 12 disciples.  On the eve of Jesus’ brutal death on the cross, He celebrated one last Passover meal together with His disciples, the people closest to Him.  Referred oftentimes as “The Last Super,” Jesus gave us a powerful demonstration and pattern to follow of what servant leadership is all about when He, the Son of God took on the role of a slave/servant and took hold of a jar of water and basin and washed His disciples’ feet.  One by one, foot by foot, Jesus humbled Himself and cleaned the day’s grime from their sandal-wearing feet…POWERFUL!  If you missed it, I encourage you to check it out because it will give you some needed background to this post.

Yesterday was “Good Friday,” which for Jesus was anything but that.  For us though, it changed everything!  By dying on the cross, Jesus stole the power of death and provided a pathway for you and me to overcome the Devil and have eternal life!!  But before we celebrate Easter and Jesus’ Resurrection, I thought we could look at the events leading up to Sunday.  Last week, my Pastor gave a great overview of Holy Week which I was very familiar with having grown up Catholic.  His sermon encouraged me to spend some time just reading and meditating on the events of this week through the Gospel of Luke.  If you are interested in reading what happened, they are recorded in Luke 19:28 – 24:12.  For those not familiar, Holy Week is the time period from Palm Sunday when Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem to Resurrection Sunday (aka Easter).  As I studied the story of Easter in Luke, I discovered some interesting things.  On Palm Sunday Jesus was heralded as a King riding in on the back of a Donkey and though we all know what happens just 5 days later on Friday, I was amazed about how Jesus made the most of every opportunity.  In Luke 21:37-38 it says that:

“Every day Jesus went to the Temple to teach, and each evening He returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives.  The crowds gathered at the Temple early each morning to hear Him.” 

Even though He knew what awaited Him, Jesus spent each day teaching the very people who later would call for His crucifixion!  Michelle Myers made this astute observation:

“The crowd shouted “Hosanna” on Sunday…and shouted “Crucify Him!” on Friday.

Good Friday was a horrible day but I think that Saturday was probably the saddest day because all the hopes and expectations that Jesus’ followers had were crushed, and crucified on that cross along with Him.  Today’s “Thought,” is all about the transition period between the death of expectations and the resurrection of the dead.  And how, if you find yourself in that circumstance today, whether you are a believer in Jesus or not, there is hope in these two powerful words…BUT GOD!

95 - Daily Dependence - But God

Before that though, I would like to give a little context.  Luke 22:1-6 offers the background…As the Festival of Unleavened Bread (also called the Passover) was approaching, the leading priests were looking for a way to kill Jesus.  In verses 3-5 it says:

“Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them.  They were delighted, and they promised to give him money.”

One man from among the inner circle accepted a bribe to betray His master.  As Judas waited for his opportunity, Jesus continued to show love to him even to the point of washing his feet!!  And the amazing thing, Jesus knew as he was washing Judas’ feet, see Luke 22:21-22 and John 13:18-30 which recalls when Jesus made the announcement that one of them would betray Him!  In the late 15th-century, Leonardo da Vinci captured that moment in his famous painting called “The Last Supper” 95 - Daily Dependence - Leonardo da Vinci - The Last Supperas each disciple, including Judas asked Jesus if it was them.  Shortly after, Judas left to put his plan in action.  Unaffected by his departure, Jesus warned Peter and the other disciples that Satan was going to “sift each of them like wheat” and that the spiritual warfare was going to be intense.  He also prepared them for what their life was going to be like after He was gone, see Luke 22:31-38What love!  Just hours before He would be viciously tortured and nailed to a Roman Cross, 95 - Daily Dependence - Crown and NailsJesus cared so much for these men that He would wash their feet, celebrate with them and offer counsel for the future!  After the Passover meal, Jesus did what He had been doing all week, and went with His disciples to the Mount of Olives to pray for strength for what Friday was going to bring.  In Luke 22:47-48 it recalls how Jesus was betrayed and arrested.  As He pleaded for His disciples to pray that they will not fall into temptation, the passage says:

But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss.  But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 

When I read these words, God spoke so clearly into my spirit that “WE ARE ALL JUDAS!” 

WE ALL HAVE betrayed Jesus in our disobedience and choices that we have made.

WE ALL HAVE sinned and fallen short of what God desires for our life and…

WE ALL HAVE NO POWER to overcome sin without Jesus.

BUT GOD can change us if we will open our hearts!  Look at this amazing truth from Ephesians 2:1-9!

95 - Daily Dependence - But God - Ephesians 2 - 1-9

BUT GOD!  Two little words but when they are combined the impossible is possible!  When we say yes to Jesus, “we are made alive with Christ,” it’s like hitting the “reset button.”  95 - Daily Dependence - Nintendo Game System - ResetThe “reset button” is probably one of the greatest inventions on video game systems.  Do you remember what game system this is from?  Long before Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, or Sony PlayStation there was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).  For those who remember this, you are old like me.  Hahaha!  This classic 80’s game system 95 - Daily Dependence - Nintendo Game System 2was a major pastime of my childhood.  Hours upon hours were spent playing games like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, Donkey Kong Jr. and The Legend of Zelda to name a few.  The reset button was a constant go to when I was “knocked out” by Tyson or killed by a barrel or failed to rescue Princess Zelda, I would immediately jump up and hit the button which was like a do-over or clean slate.  95 - Daily Dependence - Martin Parker Street Art - Reset Your LifeI saw this sign creation from street artist Martin Parker that so perfectly illustrates what the purpose of the Cross and the reality of Easter!  We all get the opportunity to “reset our life” when we recognize that we are in need of a savior and surrender our will to God.  When we come to the end of ourselves and see that we cannot be “good enough” or “do enough” to earn our way to heaven.  When we see the cross for what it truly is, the ransom payment for our past, present and future mistakes!  God wants a relationship with you and me and so He provided a way though the death and resurrection of His Son.  In the post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★, we looked at the life of Jonah and saw an example of how God will move heaven and earth in order to pursue you and me!  God did the same thing when He sent Jesus to Earth.  1 John 4:9 (NLT) says:

“God showed how much he loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.”  

As I have been studying the book of Jonah recently, it is amazing the jewels that are contained in this well-known story.  Jonah and the Fish is not just a children’s story made up to teach a life lesson about the price of disobedience but was a true story.  Jesus validated Jonah’s miraculous experience in Matthew 12:40 (NLT), Jesus said:

“For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”

Yesterday was the remembrance of how Jesus was crucified over 2,000+ years ago and the payment for the sins of the world.  He died on Friday BUT GOD raised Him from the dead 3 days later!  Today as we wait for Resurrection Sunday, I want to put these two powerful words on the sticky side of your brain…“BUT GOD!”  You may feel like things will never change…that your circumstance is hopeless…that things are hopeless.  But that is simply not true!  I am living proof that nothing is impossible for God.  All you need to do is open your heart!  Hebrews 2:14-15 (NLT) is an amazing verse to show that when you accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, you can be alive and free!!

“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood.

For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.

Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”

Jesus came to set you and I free, will you accept Him?  Revelation 1:18 (NKJV) says,

“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”

Jesus left the majesty of heaven and became flesh and blood to deliver a message of hope to a world desperately in need of a Savior.  He is ready to extend grace and mercy to you today.  So what should our response be?  Will you surrender your life to Him?  If you are ready to make a decision that will change your life, here is a simple prayer you can pray:

God take this broken, sinful person and forgive my sins.  I want a relationship with you I am in need of a Savior.  I believe that Jesus came to die on the cross for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever.  Please forgive all my sins.  I accept the free gift of eternal life and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation.  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!

If you prayed that in earnest, welcome to the Kingdom of God!  I encourage you to find a bible teaching church and pursue your new relationship with Jesus!  If you want to read more about developing your faith, check out our segment on the blog called “Back to the Basics”

Now for the believer who may be struggling today or perhaps your walk with God has been in a lull…I want to challenge you to make a change today!  Worship Pastor Wade Joye made this statement that resonated in me!

“Easter is not an event we celebrate; it’s a reality we live in.”   

Just like Christmas, Easter should not be a “one and done” event.  It should be part of our DNA.  Don’t be a “Chreaster”… (a person who calls themselves a Christian but only attends church on Christmas and Easter.)  If you want to have a vibrant faith, then you need to put in the work.  We are doing a series right now about three worthy pursuits of God that will change the trajectory of our life with God.  Through Prayer, Reading God’s Word (the Bible) and Worship (both in song and church attendance) we can live a victorious life!  Paul instructs us in Romans 8:11 (NIV)

“And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”

As a believer in Jesus Christ, the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead is in you!  If you are in need of refreshment of your Spirit today, ask and you will receive that!  Jesus is the Resurrected King who is ready to resurrect you and me.  If you want to grow you need to make steps to do things differently.  Nothing changes if nothing changes!

In anticipation of Easter tomorrow, I will close with this…“He is Risen!”

I pray that this year, you will experience Christ in a new way!  Happy Easter!

 

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★

In our last post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★ we dug into the life of Jonah and saw through his life how God will go to great lengths to re-direct us from our disobedience.  We also introduced that we would be doing a 3 part series of how if we would respond to God’s “Never-Ending Pursuit” of us that would result in a victorious life for us.  As a refresher the trilogy of posts will delve into these 3 Pursuits…Prayer – Word – Worship.

94 - Daily Dependence - Prayer Word Worship BannerSimple enough right?  But I know myself; in the busyness of life establishing (and maintaining) a consistent “quiet time” can be a challenge.  Not familiar with that term?  You can check out this post called ★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★ that goes in-depth about it but in a nut shell, it is simply being intentional about having a conversation with God through prayer, reading the Bible (Word) and for me I enjoy having worship music on.  This could be at night or in the early morning, or any time in between that does not really matter, what matters is spending time with God.  The pursuit of our Father in Heaven is all He desires!  God wants a relationship with us.

94 - Daily Dependence - Prayer EmojiSo in our inaugural post of this series let’s talk about “opening the pipeline” aka – Prayer.  In 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) we get a very clear picture of what God is desiring:

94 - Daily Dependence - 2 Chronicles 7-14 - If My People Would Pray“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

“If my people” would “humble themselves and pray and seek” Him and turn away from sinning, God will hear us and forgive us!  Wow!  This is not an obligatory prayer before your meal, or a lukewarm petition.  God’s desire is for us to truly want to pray, to be passionate in our time with Him.  And it is not intended to be a monologue…that you tell Him all that you need and then say Amen…It should be a dialogue where you listen for a response which could be an impression you feel or something that you comes to mind.  And this is something that is developed over time.

Before I accepted Jesus as my savior and pursued a relationship with God I know I prayed many milquetoast and meaningless prayers where I bargained with Him like God let me pass this test and I’ll go to church this week, or God get me through this hangover and I will never drink again.  The problem with these prayers is that they were not sincere and were just attempts to bribe God to get me out of trouble.  Too often we pray when things are terrible for God to help us out but once that is done God gets nothing…no thanks, no gratitude even if He did everything we prayed.

There is a song by the late great country singer Johnny Cash called a “Boy named Sue.”  He tells the story about how his father named him Sue and that he spent his life fighting everyone as a result of it.  The song most certainly is fictitious but in the Bible there is a man who was the equivalent to Sue.  His name was Jabez.  In 1 Chronicles 4:9 it says that:

“His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’”

The name his mother gave Jabez literally means…“he causes or will cause great pain.”  Now that may not seem like a big deal, but in Old Testament times, a person’s name was an indication of his future.  And a name like Jabez was like a curse that would predestine a person to a life of ridicule and grief just like the “boy named Sue.”  However, Jabez rose above the curse with a very simple prayer.

In 1 Chronicles 4:10 Jabez cried out to God saying:

“Oh, that You would bless me indeed,
And enlarge my territory,
That your hand would be with me,
And that you would keep me from evil,
That I may not cause pain!
So, God granted what he requested.”

Jabez was a man who knew the power of prayer and is a great example of how to open the pipeline to God.  First and foremost we can learn that just like Jabez, we need to believe with all our heart that God will honor our prayer.  Now Jabez’s prayer may seem to be common sense but how many of you have ever prayed so boldly?  Most people feel that they should be grateful for whatever they have and it’s better not to press your luck by asking for more since there is so much suffering in the world.  That is completely opposite from the truth.  If you look at the first part of his prayer:

94 - Daily Dependence - 1 - Oh, that you would bless me indeed

Jabez is asking God to provide him with resources.  Now don’t misunderstand me, that does not mean that you can ask God for a Rolls Royce or a mansion in Beverly Hills.  As we discussed in the post ★ Thought for the Day – Where Does Money Come From? ★, “God is not a vending machine!  Too many pastors and churches have sown into the “prosperity gospel” where you “give to get,” or in this case that you are praying for God to give you with lots of stuff!   That is not what blessing means.  The kind of blessing Jabez is talking about in a biblical sense is to ask God for “supernatural favor.”  It is asking God to bless us not with more of what we can do for ourselves, but for Him to do the miraculous through us to glorify the kingdom of God.  What a different perspective then the conventional though of our culture.  God has so many blessings for us and is just waiting for us to ask for them.  In Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV1984) it says:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Jabez asked and he received.  The prayer of Jabez is a special prayer asking for God’s blessings.  But something you have to realize is that God’s blessings are not always the blessings that we think that they ought to be.  The blessings that He will bestow upon us are so much more abundant than we could even imagine.  When Jabez asked God to “bless him indeed” he didn’t say “God I could use a new car, or a million dollars”; rather he left it up to God to decide how, when and where to bless him.  He prayed that God would give him nothing more and nothing less than what God had planned for his life.  The blessing can come in many different forms and for reasons that you would never expect.  In the second part of Jabez’s Prayer he asked for God to:

94 - Daily Dependence - 2 - Enlarge my territory

Now when I first read that I immediately thought of real estate.  That Jabez wanted more land but what he was really asking for was more influence, more responsibility and more opportunity to make a difference for God in his life.  Asking your territory to be enlarged is a very dangerous request though.  You are saying to God give me a greater sphere of influence and more opportunities to impact people for Christ.  It is being totally open for God to use you as a tool for His purpose.  That means stepping out of your comfortable schedules and routines and being ready at any moment to fulfill God’s master plan.  It means seeing “interruptions” as “opportunities!”  This was true for me on Thursday on my flight home from a business trip in Indiana.  My plan was to plug-in my ear buds to relax with some music and write this post!  But as a man sat down next to me and proceeded to talk with me, God opened an incredible door to speak life into his situation.  Though I was exhausted from 2 days of meetings, and had other plans for the 2 hour flight, I was thrilled to be able to partner with God to share the truth from His Word to help encourage him.  It truly was the highlight of my day!

When you ask for your territory to be enlarged, it is an awesome responsibility but the rewards are immeasurable.  More than any other part of the prayer of Jabez, this concept of “enlarging my territory” has to be the most bizarre and unexpected request.  How many people do you know go up to their boss and say “would you give me more work and responsibility?”  Most people feel that whatever they are currently doing is enough and that they do not have the skills to handle anything more.

Through the Holy Spirit, He will speak the words of encouragement or healing or compassion that the person needs to hear.  That is what happened to me on Thursday!  The man in seat 16A asked me if I was a pastor but I am not, I’m an architect, and he kept saying “how is it that you know all of this?”  The answer unequivocally is God!  That is the point of this part of Jabez’s prayer, by asking for “the expansion” you are taking a huge leap of faith and trusting that when you are reaching out to people who God will give the words to speak when you are open to be used, He will break all the boundaries and restraints holding you back.  The third part of Jabez’s prayer:

94 - Daily Dependence - 3 - That your hand would be with meIs the equivalent of the Star Wars catch-phrase…“May the Force Be With You.”  Jabez realized that once God started to bless him with resources and expanded his territory that he was going to need help.  It is all too common for people to ask for more responsibility and once it has been given they feel overwhelmed and begin to doubt themselves.  It is at this point that we need the hand of God to carry us and work the impossible through us.  In his book “The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life,” Bruce Wilkinson said that:

“The Hand of God is a biblical term for God’s power and presence in the lives of His people…As God’s chosen, we are expected to attempt something large enough that failure is guaranteed…unless God Steps in.”

I shared some of this in the ★ Why I Do What I do ★ section of the blog, starting this blog was a huge step of faith because of the commitment level.  It takes much more effort than just throwing up a status update.  But God certainly expanded my territory through this blog and without a doubt has had his hand on my preventing epic failure.  He has equipped me with a boldness to share things from my heart and do things that I never imagined possible.  It has been an amazing experience!  The fourth part of the Prayer of Jabez states:

94 - Daily Dependence - 4 - And that you would keep me from evilThis is critical to pray.  As God blesses us, and our territory is expanded and the supernatural power is surging through us, we are most vulnerable to stumble and fail.  When you are enjoying spiritual victories and seeing God’s unbelievable plan unfolding it is easy to feel invincible and impervious to the attacks of the devil.  But, Jabez knew that once you start treading on the devil’s territory, a giant target would be placed on you.  You become public enemy #1 in his eyes.  I can attest to that fact.  With the devil’s attention focused on you like this, it’s best if you don’t try to play with temptation.  Don’t fall into the devil’s trap by testing your strength to resist from sinning because that is the quickest way to fail.  Bruce Wilkinson made this point in the book that:

“It is better to stay out of the arena than to challenge the lion.”

What is the best offense?  A good defense!  And that of course as you can already guess, is prayer!  In the book of Matthew, Jesus told the apostles how to pray, “The Model Prayer” found in Matthew 6:9-13 is often referred to as the “Lord’s Prayer,” or as I knew it growing up, “The Our Father.”  The final verse shows how important to pray to God for deliverance:

“And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.”  Matthew 6:13

In regard to temptation it is best not to press your luck.  If there is no temptation we will not sin; so stay clear of situations that will lead you to sin or cause harm to you or someone else.

There is such a tremendous power in prayer.  When Jesus was on the earth He was always praying to the Father.  In fact the only thing that the apostles ever asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray.  Jesus’ ministry was not just about healing and preaching but about praying.  He lived a life of Prayer.  It was through His prayers that God worked all the miracles and wonders.  In the life of Jabez, here was a man who started off badly but ended victorious from a simple prayer.  And let’s not miss the final part of that prayer…

94 - Daily Dependence - 5 - That I may not cause painI love the self-realization of Jabez, to know that he is fallible and in need of God to protect him from hurting other people.

And God’s response…“So, God granted what he requested.”  I heard a missionary say once:

“That when we work, we work.  But when we pray, God works.

God will work in your life through your prayers.  When you pray, you are opening up a pipeline to the creator of heaven and earth and the possibilities are endless!!  Your pray doesn’t have to be a formal, rehearsed prayer but rather God desires it to be one from the heart.  You don’t have to have your eyes closed or be in church.  Sometimes the most powerful prayers can be in the car as you’re driving to work or school.  Regardless of what you are doing, or who you are with, God will honor your prayers and welcome the fellowship time between you and Him.  Talk to God like a friend and open your heart to Him.  The miraculous can be done with a prayer!

If you are interested, you can check out the second installment called

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

that covers the Pursuit of Feeding on God’s Word!

or

If you the introductory post, you can go here:

★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Confidence IN WHOSE You Are ★

God has been working BIG time in my heart.  For the past 3 months or so I have been on a roller coaster of emotions, both at work and in my personal life.  August was a chaotic month as I wrapped up a project, and once the dust settled at work in September, a loll in my spirit set in without me realizing.  It took most of the month before I came through to the other side.  Once I did, God has been so graceful in reminding me over and over about His love for me and His faithfulness.  As I have gotten back to a more consistent quiet time, praying and reading the Bible, and drawing closer to Him, God has helped me to get back to a good place, (resulting in October being much better.)  Why do I tell you this?  First, to share why in 3 months I have only posted 6 blogs, but more importantly, I want to be honest with you so that you can see that the author behind these posts is no different from you.

As I type this newest Thought for the Day, I am sitting in the airport, with an additional hour to wait for my flight to leave due to weather delays so I am making the most of this time.  This “Thought” has been percolating for some time but yesterday, God gave me this illustration…when I was flying to 85 - Daily Dependence - First ClassIndianapolis, this was my view.  I don’t know about you, but this see-through mesh curtain is hysterical to me.  As a permanent member of the “Coach” community, I have never had the privilege to sit on the other side; (in fact this is probably the closest I have ever been,) but it is amazing what that flimsy barrier equals…

= Priority boarding and disembarking,

= More comfortable seating,

= More leg room,

= Better service

And the list goes on.  Essentially, if you are on that side, you are considered “First Class,” (at least in the eyes of the airline)…but in God’s eyes, we are ALL FIRST CLASS!!  I am not sure who said this, but this really captures what God has been speaking into my spirit…

            “Be confident in who God says you are, not in who Satan says you are.”

We need to be CONFIDENT IN WHOSE we are.  Seems simple but it is so easy to forget this.  King David, “a man after God’s own heart,” prayed this prayer in Psalm 17:8-9 (ESV),

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.”

“Keep me as the apple of your eye!”  Have you ever thought about that?  God looks down on you and me and says ‘YOU are the apple of my eye.’  WOW!!!  But just like David prayed to be hidden in the shadow of God’s wings, to be protected from his enemies, we need to do the same thing because we have an enemy that attacks our confidence that God loves us daily.  There is a battle raging on for our souls (see Ephesians 6:10-18), our enemy; the Devil will use every weapon in his arsenal to take us out.  The challenging part is to realize that the attacks are even happening, because he is a deceiver and a master of lies we can be disarmed and not even realize it.  Just like I spent September in a spiritual loll, so often we can fall into the Devil’s traps as a result of voice we listen to, which will lead us to believe the wrong thing and not live in the abundant life that Jesus came to give us, (see John 10:10-11).  Bob Hamp said made this powerful statement,

“Spiritual Warfare is the battle in which you choose which voice to listen to in the midst of your experiences.”

So what voice will you believe?  The lies screamed by Satan or the still small voice of God?  Listening to my friends prayer requests I realize the enemy is telling each of them a different lie

“You’re too much ____”

“You’re not enough ____”

“You’ll never ____”

“You always____”

And the condemnation goes on and on!  Sound familiar to you?  Have you ever had any of those thoughts?  Or maybe I should ask…how many have you had today?  Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) says…

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

God loves us so much and wants us to come to Him, not to condemn us for mistakes we have made, but to extend grace when we are in need.  The Devil however uses our mistakes and our sins to create a barrier between God and us….but that is not God’s desire.  Augustine of Hippo made this insightful85 - Daily Dependence - Augustine - God Made Us For Himselfl statement about the heart of our heavenly Father, the creator of heaven and earth,

“Because God has made us for Himself, hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”

“God made us for Himself,” to have a relationship with us, with no barrier between us, and until we understand whose we are, our hearts will remain “restless until they rest in Him.”  Just like the curtain separating first class from coach, Sin will keep us from God.  One of the most famous scriptures, John 3:16-17 makes it very clear that we are the “Apple of God’s Eye” because He sent His son Jesus to die for our sins so that “whoever believes in him [Jesus] should not perish but have eternal life.”  1 Timothy‬ ‭2:5-6a‬ ‭(NLT‬‬) says

“For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.”

‭This is the truth that the Devil wants us forget and shift our focus off of.  He knows that is we understand how loved we are from God that we would be unstoppable.  Just look what Matthew‬ ‭27:50-51‬ ‭(ESV‬‬) recalls that happened when Jesus died on the cross.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.”

The Devil thought he defeated Jesus but instead, Jesus death tore the curtain that separated us both literally and spiritually!  Trusting in Jesus is the single most important decision we can make which will result in giving you all the confidence in the world.  There was a man early church after Jesus had died, named Stephen who was described as “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit”.  He was arrested and put on trial because of all the work he was doing for God and gave us all an example of how confident we should be as he gave a powerful defense of his faith in Jesus (You can reach the whole account in Acts 6:8 – 7:53).

But what has always amazed me about Stephen is what Acts 7:54-60 (ESV) tells us about his confidence as he died…

“Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him.  But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”  But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.  Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him.  And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.  And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

That is so incredible that “as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”  What would happen in our lives if we had that kind of confidence and faith?  You know we can.  In Matthew 7:7, Jesus invites us to…

85 - Daily Dependence - Matthew 7-7

The only thing is that we have to act.  Notice that Jesus says that we need to ask, seek and knock and if we do it will be given, found and opened to you.  God gave my 14-year-old daughter this incredible truth which she emailed that I wanted to close with…

“I’ve been ADOPTED by Christ and I’m being ADAPTED to living a life that’s honoring to Him.”

Can you say the same?  Today you can choose to start living your live to honor God, remember you are the Apple of His Eye!!  God is just waiting for you to come to Him, what will you decide?

Check out the continuation of this blog called ★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★

If you want even more you can check out ★ Thought for the Day – You Are Chosen! ★ which we posted in the past that relates as well.

If you don’t have that confidence and have not trusted Jesus as your savior, below is a prayer you can pray to start your relationship, Continue reading

★ 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.

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming ★

82 - Daily Dependence - Overwhelmed or Overcoming - WebsiteToday’s thought is going to dig into…What are Problems Really…How to avoid being overwhelmed, and more importantly how to overcome them!  Problems come for many different reasons.  It could be because of poor decisions on our part, an attack from the Devil (see 1 Peter 5:8), or sometimes it is a test or opportunity to grow.  I want to make a clear delineation that I am not suggesting that we put a positive spin on things and call your problems “opportunities” like this Dilbert comic…

82 - Daily Dependence - Dilbert - Opportunity

But rather we need to recognize the problem, and see it for what it is and go to God for help before we become overwhelmed.  My pastor preached last Sunday on Numbers 35 and the “Cities of Refuge.”  Quick synopsis…God had established the several Cities of Refuge for the Israelites before they entered into the Promised Land to provide a place of escape and protection if a person accidentally killed someone.  My Pastor made an incredible parallel to the Cities of Refuge and Jesus that blew me away!  You can hear it for yourself by clicking here, but what I wanted to mention was a fascinating statement someone told him…

“Most people see God as a good idea, but don’t see Him as a necessity.”

What do you think of this?  I don’t pretend to believe that everyone who reads my blogs has a belief in the One True God, the Creator of the Universe, or are sold out followers of Jesus so I will pose this question to you…Do you see God as a good idea or as a necessity?  The answer to this question will be a good indicator to whether you will be overwhelmed by life or will overcome the adversity in front of you.  In two previous posts, ★ Thought for the Day – The Storms of Life ★ and ★ Thought for the Day – What’s In Your Sponge? ★, we delved into the reality that storms WILL COME into your life.  Not that they MAY COME!  We unpacked the importance to persevere through the hard seasons of life and learn from the storms that God will change you!  Today’s thought will build upon that foundation and develop further the last post, ★ Thought for the Day – Who’s Chasing You? ★.  You may ask, “why so many posts with a similar topic”…Well we all face an onslaught of negativity and attacks everyday, so the only way to combat that is to fill our minds with the opposite which is God’s Truth on the subject matter!  Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV1984) says…

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  Selah”

When you see God as a necessity, you will see Him as a place to run to for safety and security.  You will see Him as a source of strength and the foundation that your life should be built on.  But if you see God only as a good idea, then it is all on you to solve every problem on your on strength.  If you grab hold of the truth of Psalm 46:1-3, it could be a life changer.  You’ve heard it said, “When life gives you LEMONS, make LEMONADE?”  You could dismiss this as just a platitude, and continue to let life’s problems paralyze you, or you could view it as an opportunity to learn and grow from it.  I love how Robert H. Schuller put it…

“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.”

If you view your circumstances in this light, and change your perspective, who knows how things could change.  How you look at problems and conversely, how you react, is key.  American educator, author and businessman Stephen Covey coined the 90/10 Principle which was…

“10 percent of life is made up of what happens to you; 90 percent of life is decided by how you react.”

Which also aligns with a great scripture from Philippians 4:8

It comes down to focus!  What will you focus on when problems arise?  Will you see them as stop signs or guidelines.  Steven Furtick said,

“Real faith knows that sometimes in order to see a change, you have to stare through a situation.”

“We always think that God’s presence is provided to fix our problems.  But what if God’s presence is more about fixing your perspective, so that you have a new way to see your problems.”  

Being overwhelmed is what happens when you try to handle things are your on strength, overcoming is when you let God handle things.  I like how Steven Furtick put that…sometimes we need to “stare through a situation” in order to see your problems with a new perspective!  It reminds me of a scene from the 1998 movie “Patch Adams.”  In this scene below, it give some great insight about staring through a situation.  I know this is dating me but watch the clip nonetheless…

I love the advice in the scene that Robin Williams’ character is told…

“You’re focusing on the problem.  If you focus on the problem, you can’t see the solution.  Never focus on the problem.”

The same is true for us, if we focus on the problem we will miss the solution which is God.  Sometimes though we will have to go through some testing though…James 1:2-4 (ESV) talks about the benefit of the Testing of Your Faith…

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness [another translations says ‘endurance’].  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Count it all joy?  What?  When have you ever looked at problems as a test that you should be happy about?  I once heard someone say “A test is an opportunity.”  An opportunity that if you endure and conquer you will come out the better for just as James instructs.  In speaking on this verse, Mark Driscoll said it perfectly..

“What this means is you’ll become more godly, you’ll become more like Jesus.  The trial will be used to transform you.  OK, how many of you want to be more like Jesus?  How many of you want a trial?  OK?  Just so you know, they’re the same question...it’s like, ‘I want to be buff without working out.  I want to learn a lot without reading books.’  It doesn’t work that way.  Cause, effect; reap, sow.  Steadfastness produces maturity.”

I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed to become more like Jesus BUT to be molded and shaped into His image means that sometimes I have to go through some hard times to refine me and purify me.  2 Corinthians 1:4 says though we go through trouble…

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

I have needed much comfort lately as I have been overwhelmed by pressures and struggles that I am going through.  God has spoken so clearly in my quiet time and also through my friends and my wife.  She sent the 2 Corinthians verse to me with this word of encouragement that I will close this thought of the Day with…

“I love the idea of this and it is my prayer that the struggles and trials I have gone through would allow me to help and encourage others.  If we allow Him to work in us, He can turn our mess into a message, our test into a testimony.  Be encouraged there is PURPOSE for the PAIN.”

Problems are going to happen.  We live in a “Fallen World” and Satan is always looking to cause hardships in our life in.  But when we persevere and overcome the adversity, it will develop us, breaking the focus from ourselves and making us more like Jesus so that we can help others!!  Will your problems be a stop sign or a guideline?  Trust God in whatever you are going through today and let it transform you!  I will close with Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) which says:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run i82 - Daily Dependence - Romans 5-3 - 5nto problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of characterand 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.”

So how will you be described today?  As…
82 - Daily Dependence - Overwhelmed or Overcoming - Website

 

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course…Part 2 ★

In part 1 called ★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course ★ we discussed the importance of maintaining our integrity and persevering in our walk with God regardless of the physical temptations that we face daily. Today we are goign to delve into what it means to Stay the Course with our Finances.  If you look at the top of the webpage there is link called $ Building Your Money Muscle $ which is all about handling our finances God’s way.

79 - Daily Dependence - Building Your Money Muscle

This is a passion of mine that has been fueled by two sources: 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, possessions and the hold it can have on our hearts.  Robert Morris wrote an incredible book called “The Blessed Life” which really opened my eyes to a whole new viewpoint on finances!  It is a really easy read (and for me that is saying a lot…) that unlocked the secrets of living a blessed life both financially and spiritually.  Dave Ramsey’s FPU class is a practical, step-by-step class which teaches you and your family how to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and build wealth in a God honoring way.  This class revolutionized our lives and we still apply what we learned 7 years later!  If you are interested in taking the class, click the FPU Class Finder to locate one near you.

Okay, enough background on me, onto our Thought for the Day…In Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT) Jesus started off His teaching about Money and Possessions with this polarizing statement:

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 

Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

“Store your treasure in heaven!”  This is a critical point to catch because if your singular focus is on gaining and maintaining wealth instead of what God is interested then your heart will always be divided.

I love what Robert Morris said in “The Blessed Life” book:

“When you get to heaven, will you look back on this earth and regret how much treasure you laid up here instead of sending it on ahead to heaven?” 

79 - Daily Dependence - Matthew 6-24Jesus continued in Matthew 6:24 that…

“No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.”

Handling your finances God’s way is more about getting your priorities straight then being able to balance a checkbook.  It is deciding in your heart that “no matter what God, I will serve you first and foremost!”

So how do we get to that place?  We need to go to the instruction manual…The Bible…and reading about what God’s Word has to say.  It is also about making changes in how you spend your money and not continuing to make poor financial decisions.  We need to learn from the past and make new choices that will benefit the future.  Dave Ramsey once said:

“My goal is for you to learn from my past stupidity not your future stupidity!”

79 - Daily Dependence - Dave Ramsey - Let My Hindsight Be Your ForesightOr another way of saying it is to…let my hindsight be your foresight.  Learn from others, whether from a mentor or pastor, a class like FPU or family and/or friends who have a biblical worldview on handling their finances.  Let other’s hindsight on their mistakes lead/guide you in a new direction, one which looks UP rather than INWARD.  Rick Warren made this great parallel:

“God’s BLESSING on you is always in proportion to your DEPENDENCE on Him.  Great anointing is the fruit of great trusting.” 

How much do you trust God to provide for your needs?  Now notice I did not say “wants,” I said “needs.”  That is a hard one for sure, one which I have to keep reminding myself on.  The Bible is full of truths about God’s faithfulness in this area…see Malachi 3:10-12 for just instance.  I could go on for hours on how I have seen this play out in my life!  Times when I tried to do it on my own strength and failed miserably…But then when I stopped, prayed and depended on Him, how God then opened the doors to opportunity and freedom!

The key is to stay the course.  “Stay the course” is a phrase used in the context of a war or battle meaning to pursue a goal regardless of any obstacles or criticism.  You may remember it used by Presidents George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan.  Don’t let the enemy or anyone knock you off this path to handling you finances God’s way.  The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 16:9 that he was going to stay in Ephesus to do God’s will “because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”  Opposition will always come when we try to do the Lord’s work or to do things that honors God because it eliminates the enemy’s hold on you.  But I encourage you to press on through and stay the course because if you trust in God, He is faithful to work in and through whatever situation your poor decisions/choices have led you into!  But with that said you will need to make sacrifices.  One of the fundamental quotes from Dave Ramsey is:

“Winning at money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge.  Most of us know what to do, but we just don’t do it.”  
“Winning at money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge.  Most of us know what to do, but we just don’t do it.”

This is not rocket science, which is good because I’m not that smart.  It is simply saying no to the “wants,” and start going in a new direction…A direction with a new heart and new way of thinking.  There are so many promises from God that He will take care of our needs.  But we have to do our part as well.  It really boils down to behavior modification and not giving up!  I love this quote from Thomas Edison, he said:

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” 

Could you imagine what the world would be like if Thomas Edison gave up!  Be strong and persevere.  The journey to getting out of debt and attaining Financial Peace will have setbacks and difficulties but I promise with God on your side and with a resolute “will” that you are not going to give up, you will reach the prize that we all want…true Financial Peace with God’s blessings!

On “A Minute with Maxwell,” the Word that John Maxwell spoke about was “Will.”  He said that:

“Will comes out of a passionate desire to accomplish something.  We often hear the expression ‘where there is a will there is a way’…that’s true.   Basically the WILL makes the WAY.”

Get that in your spirit, “The WILL makes the WAY.”  That could not be any more evident than in the life of Jim Ryun who ran the mile in 3:51.1 (that’s minutes not hours!)  Now that is an indomitable spirit, Jim Ryun once said:

“Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going.” 

So are you going to form new habits and change your legacy and family tree, or are you going to keep running your finances into the red?  I will close this from Zig Ziglar.

"People often say that motivation doesn't last.  Neither does bathing, that's why we do it daily." 
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last.  Neither does bathing, that’s why we do it daily.”

Everyday you need to immerse yourself in God’s Word to get a fresh outlook on life, a clean slate and renewed mind for your walk with Him and the direction for your finances!

★★★ Stay the Course! ★★★ 

If you would like to delve into more, you can check out a previous post called ★ Thought for the Day – Keeping Up With The Joneses? ★

 

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course ★

79 - Daily Dependence - Independnece DayYesterday we celebrated America’s Independence Day, the remembrance of July 4, 1776, the day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation; which marked freedom from tyranny!  Today’s Thought for the Day may seem familiar to you.  You may recognize this expression from former Presidents who used it to encourage the country to persevere with the mission the U.S. was involved in.  But in thinking of 1776, my remembrance goes back to 2000 and the film “The Patriot” which was set in that time period.  Mel Gibson portrayed Benjamin Martin, an unassuming man who is forced to join the American Revolution when the British threaten to take his farm away from him (full disclosure, I stole that description from IMDb.)  At one point in the movie, we are introduced to this phrase as Benjamin Martin is remembering his late wife’s encouragement to persevere.  It was a powerful scene but it is the phrase “Stay the Course” that I want to focus on today.

I have been reading about the life of King Solomon in my quiet time recently.  He was such a fascinating character in history.  Incredible things were accomplished during his reign over the nation of Israel – the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, unity in the nation, peace and prosperity like never before.  Solomon started off so strong in following and serving God…(you can read about in this post ★ Thought for the Day – Who Are You Imitating? ★ that I recently shared,)…But unfortunately just a few chapters later, the Bible recalls how he was led astray.  Let’s test your Bible knowledge…do you know what caused that?  It was not a crafty business associate or peer pressure or anything external.  It was the lust of his flesh. 1 Kings 11:1-3 (NLT) says…

“Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites.

The LORD had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.”

Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the LORD.”

My friend made this astute statement,

"1 Wife = A Good Thing!     2+ Wives = Problems!"  Eddie Rubio
“1 Wife = A Good Thing!  2+ Wives = Problems!”  Eddie Rubio

And boy is that what happened to Solomon.  1 Kings 11:4, 9-13 (NLT) goes on to say…

“In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the LORD his God, as his father, David, had been.

The LORD was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.

He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the LORD’s command. So now the LORD said to him,

“Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants.  But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive.  I will take the kingdom away from your son. And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.”

The wisest man who had ever lived was destroyed by HIMSELF!  All that Solomon built during his reign was destroyed in the very next generation as the nation of Israel “reaped what he sowed!”  Scary!!  May that not be so of me!!  Such a sad reality but how many of us willfully choose what we know will harm us!  I heard a pastor say once,

“Choose to sin, choose to suffer,” 

Such a simple concept to understand but yet why do we fail so often?  David’s prosperity without adherence to God’s Word lead him to places he never dreamed he would.  Now I am not saying that if you are rich and living a comfortable lifestyle that your life will go tragically bad, not at all!  BOTH David and his son departed from the path to satisfy what their flesh wanted instead of following God and the consequences were catastrophic.  For David it resulted in adultery, an unplanned pregnancy and murder.  For Solomon it resulted in the dissipation of his integrity and devotion to God, the end of peace in Israel and ultimately the fracturing of the nation after his death under the rule of his son Rehoboam who succeeded Solomon.  If want to study this some more check out 1 Kings 11:‭14, 23, 26, 33‬‬ (NLT) which shows how one man’s sin affected an entire nation as God raised up adversaries to oppose Solomon for his disobedience.

1 Kings 11:‭39‬‬ (NLT) says,

“Because of Solomon’s sin I will punish the descendants of David—though not forever.’” 

Solomon is a great cautionary tale for all of us!  I encourage you to “Stay the Course,” and follow the advice from 1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV)…

78 - Daily Dependence - 1 Timothy 6-12 - Stay the Course
“Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

“Fight the Good Fight.  Take hold.”  Those are strong action phrases.  Staying the Course is not something that just happens.  It is hard work sometimes and the decision will cost us temporary gain or pleasure for the BETTER prize of eternal life.  There is no more important decision to make then to trust Jesus and continue to develop your walk with God.  Every 4th of July, we celebrate our freedom, our Independence, but  what I would like to leave you with is that true freedom comes from God through His Son’s sacrifice on the cross. Jesus provides true freedom over sin and darkness!  Meditate on this truth from Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) about the “Life in the Spirit” that we can enjoy when Jesus is our savior:

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

In every aspect of our life we need to stay focused on obeying God’s Word and not allow any distraction, any influence or any momentary pleasure to steal away the life we can have in Jesus!  Just a side note…we focused a lot on men here but the same can be true for women as well.  Also realize to that it is not just the physical temptations that can lead us astray, but also power and the love of money can too but that’s a whole other Thought for the Day!  Stay tuned!

As promised, here is. . .★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course…Part 2 ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Paul’s Clarity” ★

Day 20 - Paul's Clarity

Daily Dependence - Section 3 - Stand Firm in the FaithI love the start of this study!

“Keeping the faith is not a two-minute drill; it’s a long obedience and faithfulness over years.” 

In our got to have it now, microwave culture, the idea of anything lasting more than 30 seconds seems to be an antiquated ideal.  But keeping the faith is…

“Consistent trust in Christ.… Protecting it from distortion…[and] Passing it on to others.  Faith doesn’t grow or deepen when we cower in secrecy. Faith strengthens as we go public.”

That is a great summary of “how” to keep the faith. I love the final part especially, that our “Faith strengthens as we go public.”  Going Public about Faith in Jesus, is an area that many people, men and women alike have great difficulty doing. Whether it’s an inferiority complex, doubt about what to say, or just plain laziness, many people will not speak up about their beliefs. The Apostle Paul  however, is a great example that if we want to “Act Like Men,” and become more like Jesus, then we need to step out of our comfort zone!

“For Paul, standing firm in the faith meant keeping it personal, keeping it pure, and keeping it going. Through his suffering, God gave him an immense clarity about what keeping the faith is all about.”

How about you?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Clarity In Conflict” ★

or

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

 

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★ Act Like Men – “You’re Only Lying To Yourself” ★

Day 12 - You're Only Lying To Yourself

Daily Dependence - Section 2 - Be WatchfulThis study opens up with a powerhouse statement, that when you first read it you could be offended but when you really think on it, it is spot on!!!

“People who have been saved by grace through to love giving grace to others. If you don’t love more and better than you used to, you are just not saved. It’s time you stop lying to yourself.”

It is also supported by 1 John 4:20 (ESV) which says,

“If anyone says, ‘I love God’ and he hates his brother, he is a liar.” 

Wow this is a very strong statement and I love the way that James McDonald just says it as it is!  I think it’s an interesting challenge that we need to “love more” and “love better” than we used to!  This is something that I try really hard to do myself, I think I do okay but is always room for improvement!  I am a firm believer of trying to “leave people in a better than you found them.”

“The Bible commands, ‘Be not wise in your own eyes,’ (Proverbs 3:7) and ‘In humility count others more significant than yourselves.’ (Philippians 2:3)  God’s word has nothing good to say about the critic, but it does command the wise man who listens and learns from everyone, even loving his enemies. Let’s do better at ignoring the noise of those who only seek to destroy, and let’s continue to grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus, seeking to serve Him with greater urgency every year, as long as He gives us breath.”  

So where do you stand with this?  Would love to hear your thoughts?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Headed For The Ditch On A Sunny Day” ★

or

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

 

★ Thought for the Day – Don’t Settle For First Place ★

As the winter doldrums are upon us, and frigid weather wreaks havoc across our nation, I think to myself, how can anyone work outside in such cold weather.  When the thermometer reads below freezing and it has been nothing but gloomy for weeks, it’s hard for me to get motivated to leave the house to go to my heated office.  As the stream of consciousness flows, I start to think about how incredible the athletes are who compete in the Winter Olympics.  I must confess, I don’t watch the Winter games as much as the Summer ones.  My personal favorite, (along with the rest of the world,) is American swimmer, Michael Phelps who holds the all-time record for Gold medals, and is the most decorated Olympian of all time!  My reason though is because I was a swimmer back in the day, and marvel at his superhuman skills!  But I digress…back to the Winter games…In looking for a “winner’s box” photo, I stumbled across this photo from February 12, 2014 of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia which really caught my eye.

The article that it was associated with was titled the “Best of Sochi: Day 5 at the Olympics,” (having not seen it, I will take their word,) but what got my attention was not the celebratory leap from Gold medalist Eric Frenzel of Germany, but rather the expressions and body language of silver medalist Akito Watabe of Japan (L) and bronze medalist Magnus Krog of Norway (R).  It is clear that Akito and Magnus were not as thrilled with their accomplishments as Eric was!  As each of these athletes stepped onto the winner’s box and received their medal, you know, a sea of emotions and thoughts were flooding their minds from “I can’t believe I placed” to…”How did I only come in second (…or third place).”  It is so easy for us to go from celebration to condemnation and that’s the pitfall of comparison!  One of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt is,

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”  

STOP!  Go back and read and ponder on that incredible truth!  “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  When we compare ourselves to others, we open ourselves to disappointment.  Have you ever felt like Akito Watabe that you are “Mr. 2nd Place?”  Are you tired of never making gold?  Though he is an incredible athlete, and has competed in two Winter Olympics, Akito has never brought home the gold!!  Are you always ending up second in line, playing second fiddle, or being runner-up?  Regardless of what you label it, second place can be very frustrating for sure, especially when you have put in the work!  For me, I have always finished 5th or 6th place…(out of 8), when I competed on the High School Varsity Swim Team; a very different league from “Mr. 1st Place” Michael Phelps..  Now before you start feeling bad for me, I am way over the agony of the defeat. Hahaha!  I learned long ago that nothing good ever comes comparing my accomplishments with others.

Do you know that there was one guy in the Bible who truly was “Mr. 2nd Place?”  This guy had a huge following, with many disciples and more and more converts coming to be baptized every day…but when the #1 guy showed up on the scene, people flocked to Him instead…that of course was John the Baptist, who very well could have been the originator of the “I Am Second” campaign…Just look at his response to the critics when the people left to go to follow Jesus…he said:
 65 - Daily Dependence - I Am Second - John 3-30
“He [Jesus] must become greater and greater,
and I must become less and less.”  John 3:30 (NLT)

See John the Baptist understood what his purpose was, that he was not the star…Jesus was!  Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG) says,

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.  Don’t be impressed with yourself.  Don’t compare yourself with others.  Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

I love how the Message Translation puts it, “make a careful exploration of who you are,” once you know who you are, then what other people do or say will not affect how you think about yourself.  But it is very easy to get sidetracked looking outward versus inward, as a result of Social Media.
65 - Daily Dependence - Social Media Summary
Though it has revolutionized our lives, allowing us to share our interests, lives, and make new connections, whether you Pin It, Tweet it, Facebook it, Instagram it, Google+ it, or Link In with people.  But with every great thing, there is always a flip-side.  Steven Furtick has a new book called “Crash the Chatterbox” which is all about hearing the voice of God over all the other voices in our mind that try to tear you down causing us to be discontent and insecure with ourselves.  He said,

"One of the main reasons we struggle with insecurity: we're comparing our behind-the-scenes with everybody else's highlight reel." Steven Furtick

Wow!  If you struggle with insecurity, this truth should set you free right now!!  Receive that today!

The next part of Galatians 6:4 says that we should make a careful exploration of “the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.”  See just like John the Baptist knew who he was in God, he also set himself to the task at hand to “prepare the way of the Lord” in the desert, see Mark 1:1-8 for the full story.

Oh that we could “sink ourselves into the work that God has set before us.”  Francis Chan made this sobering statement what are we really succeeding at…

65 - Daily Dependence - Francis Chan - Our Greatest Fear

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

Where are you at?  As you compare your lives to others, trying to “Keep Up With the Jones,” I urge you to make that careful exploration!

As Galatians 5 continues, “Don’t be impressed with yourself.  Don’t compare yourself with others.”  You think if you were the forerunner to the Savior of the World, you would have a big head but, John the Baptist’s response that “I must become less and less” should be our modus operandi.  Jon Acuff made this profound statement,

65 - Daily Dependence - John Acuff - Comparison

Again, nothing good comes from comparison!  Finally the last portion of Galatians, “ Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”  I will go back once more to “Mr. 2nd Place” for fulfillment of this directive, in Mark 1:4, 6 (ESV) the gospel writer says this,

“John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.”

Now that is creative indeed!  But you don’t need to go to the desert, clothed with camel’s hair, eating locusts and wild honey to be creative for Christ, but what I think Apostle Paul is saying in this passage is that we need o be BOLD FOR CHRIST!  Amen?

I close this Thought with this final point about the Bible’s “Mr. 2nd Place,” recognizing that Jesus Christ is the hero, the main character of the story, numero uno, will change everything. Humility is the key to everything.  In fact, Jesus Christ’s first character trait that he showed us, was humility when he was born in a manger. All through the bible it talks about how God opposes the proud and exalts the humble, and that is what happened for John.  ( I posted this blog recently, ★ Re|Engage – Humility ★ talking all about Humility if you want to read more about this.)  John the Baptist’s attitude of humility lead to the Son of God, the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ to say that John the Baptist was the greatest man who ever lived, (see Matthew 11:11 and Luke 7:28)…and that was because he knew his place and accepted it!

Can the same be said of you today?

So if you find yourself that you are always coming in second place or runner-up is your lot in life, consider yourself blessed to be in the same company of the greatest man who ever lived who also was second.  Don’t Settle For First Place!

“Comparison kills contentment in our lives.” Steven Furtick

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★ 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!

23 - Daily Dependence - got fear

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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★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness ★

ReEngage - Lesson 05I would like to start off reviewing Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT) …

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but
Two [HUSBAND AND WIFE] can stand back-to-back and conquer.
Three [WITH GOD AT THE CENTER] are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” 

When you read this scripture and look at this picture below, do you agree with it?  How can you apply this to your marriage?
Ecclesiastes 4:12 is a fundamental scripture that can be applied to marriages for the importance of teamwork, not only for husband and wife but also with God in the mix.

As we talk about forgiveness, it is critical to realize that without God working within us individually and in our marriage, we will stay in the crazy cycle of conflict.

Lesson 5 and 6 focused on this Principle:  Extend Grace and Forgiveness.

There’s that word again…If you have not noticed yet there is a running theme, Grace is a central driver in any good marriage.  This week was the practical application of how Grace is expressed through forgiveness.

In Matthew 18:21-22 (NASB), Jesus is teaching about The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant…

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

What does Jesus’ response mean to you and your marriage?  Do you think that He meant you only need to forgive your spouse up to 490 offenses or something else?  There are 3 things to gleam from this…

1.  Peter wanted to know ‘how many’ times until he could stop forgiving someone but
2.  Jesus is more concerned with the why’ behind forgiveness.
3.  “Jesus is saying: Don’t keep track.  Don’t keep score.”

The why can be summed up with this Andy Stanley

“The one who benefits the most from forgiveness is the one who grants it.”  

Do you believe that?  If you do believe that there is a benefit to forgiving, then why is it so hard?  Lesson 5 was all about Forgiveness, in the book, the main idea of Lesson 5 was:

“You have been forgiven everything by God’s Grace; therefore, you are able to forgive your spouse.”

I love the definition they gave on What forgiveness is…

“At its most basic level, forgiveness is the decision to pardon an offense and give up the right to be repaid.”

In the reading they discussed “What Forgiveness is Not.”

  1. Forgiveness is not forgetting.

“Rather than forgetting, forgiveness is remembering your commitment to forgive. It often is a choice you will continue to make when not if the feelings of hurt and disappointment return.”

  1. Forgiveness is not reconciling.

“Reconciliation and forgiveness are two separate processes. You can forgive without reconciling, but you cannot reconcile without forgiveness. Forgiveness is instant, but trust will take time to rebuild.”

  1. Forgiveness is not condoning.

“It simply means that they no longer owe anything for the pain and hurt they have caused you.”

  1. Forgiveness is not a feeling.

“If you wait until you feel like forgiving, you never will and you won’t re-engage with your spouse and experienced a death depth and richness that your marriage can one day half.  Forgiveness is a choice you make, sometimes in spite of how you feel.”

  1. Forgiveness is not just about the person who hurt you.

“Forgiveness has limited benefit to the one who caused pain. But the longer you hold onto the hurt the longer their actions continue to have negative effects in your life.”

Forgiveness primarily benefits you, the one who has been hurt. It really is a gift you give to yourself.

What I have learned going through this book is that our childhood can have an effect on our marriage in how we interact with our spouse.  I had posted ★ Thought for the Day – Never Fatherless ★ earlier about my father that you can see here, but I wanted to share this story with you in more detail.

I never really had a relationship with my father from the age of 12 years old.  I carried that hole in my life until I was 36, when God placed it on my heart to reconcile with him.

Just like we have been talking about, I had to choose to forgive him for the abuse I witnessed against my mom and choose to forgive the hurt of all the subsequent years of him not wanting to be in my life.  Though we had no relationship for most of my adult life, I am thankful that before he passed away, we reconciled and had a year and a half together.

The best part is that through God’s amazing grace, I was privileged to lead my father to the Lord 6 months before he died!  He is in heaven but that probably would not have happened if I was not obedient to God to forgive my Dad and extend God’s Grace to Him.

Colossians 3:13 (NLT) says:

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

The reading made this great point that we need to always remember!

“We had a debt to God that we could not pay. Christ forgives us completely, yet we have the audacity to not forgive our spouses.”

Is it difficult to forgive your spouse? Do you struggle with this?  I love this what the Lesson 5 gave as the two options we have.

ReEngage - Lesson 05 - Fork in the Road of Your Relationship

“Each day you stand at a fork in the road of your relationship.

Your first option is to hold onto the hurt, disappointment and frustrations, which will almost always lead to anger and bitterness. This is a dead-end that will make you miserable.

Your other option is to begin to forgive and re-engage with your spouse. Left untreated, anger and bitterness often take on a life of their own.”

Do you see that as being true in your marriage?

“When we forgive and are forgiven by our spouse it helps us understand the nature of God’s forgiveness.”

In the book they made this statement:

“Your relationship with Christ and your marriage simply cannot move forward without forgiveness.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT) says

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

And Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT) says:

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

So if we are commanded to forgive, and we don’t, there will be consequences, we will not be forgiven.  Assuming no one wants those consequences, check out the next post from Lesson 6 called ★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness In Action ★

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

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

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★ Thought for the Day – What Does The Love of God Mean? ★ 

44 - Daily Dependence - Love of GodWhat does the love of God mean?  God’s love is infinite and beyond comprehension.  His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (see Isaiah 55:8-9).  Last summer our family was introduced to Lyme’s Disease, a debilitating disease that affects the neurological system when my wife contracted the awful disease.  For those that are not familiar with what Lyme’s Disease is….It is a bacteria that enters your body from a deer tick bite and wreaks havoc on your body, that left untreated can cause paralysis and in some cases death.  As I think back on last summer, and the sickness that we went through as a family, I see how our Heavenly Father was there with us, providing everything we needed, every step of the way.  It is hard to understand the reality that God is not linear…He is not constrained to time as we are.  God functions in the past, the present and the future simultaneously, which means He knew what we would be going through, what we would need and ultimately what would be born out of the adversity our family went through.

Our church started a sermon series based on a book called “Draw the Circle” by Mark Batterson.  It was July 10, 2013, the day our family started to read the “Draw the Circle,” 40 Day Devotional, which the author, warned would be filled with spiritual warfare and boy was he right!  I see now that God knew that the tick bite my spouse received was going to start to have it‘s effect and that we were going to have to press into His presence and His Word more than we have ever done in the past…so He provided a conduit to do that within the pages of this powerful devotional!

The amazing thing about God’s love is, that it is always there, it only needs to be asked for…We did a whole lot of asking, seeking and knocking as the Jesus said to do in Luke 11:9.  We have seen so much fruit produced out of this adversity in each one of us from the smallest to the biggest.  What the enemy meant for harm, God used it to draw our family and I closer to one another and more importantly closer to Him!  We also got to see Proverbs 17:17 (NASB) in action…

A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.”

…as Family and Neighbors came alongside of our family to provide prayer, all-day care, meals, plumbing repairs, lawn service, and many other “little things” that were lifesavers.  You always “wonder,” if you were in a tight spot, whether people will come to help you, but now we “know!”  We were even blessed by having our Senior Pastor just a text, a Facebook message or call away.  God provided for us from the smallest need to the biggest of needs!  Psalm 27:13–14 (NLT) says…

"Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."
“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”

We did a lot of “waiting for the Lord” as my spouse struggled with the terrible side effects of the Lyme’s disease.  We also waited for something to break loose in my job situation.  At the time, the job I was at, was a terrible place to work at, (probably the worst I have even been at), and the “white-knuckle commute was unbearably long and arduous.  As each day, each week, and each month passed by, we wondered why nothing was happening with either the job conditions improving, or some other opportunity to come about.  The job never changed (but got worse) and the long commute remained the same, but I changed.  The “Draw the Circle” Devotional is one of the best books I have ever read, which God used to help me considerably.  My attitude has radically been changed and God has helped me to refocus my attention on what really matters rather than my circumstances.

As we waited for healing, and a job change…something changed in our family, we truly started to stand on God and His Word and have lived out Philippians 4:4-7 (HCSB)…

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.  Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

We felt that the Lord was near, and we experienced His peace in the midst of the storm.  God knew the storm was coming, so He orchestrated resources like the Draw the Circle devotional and the companion sermon series at our Church, prayer intercessors and helpers for our physical needs, a renewed frequency and fervency of reading the Bible, and ultimately a new level of Faith that we would have never experienced had our family not gone through this with Lyme’s Disease and my work conditions.   Through this season in the “wilderness,” we have become completely different people.  I can honestly say that we truly understand James 1:2-4 (MSG)…

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

The pressure at times, was more than we thought we could bear, but as we pressed into God’s presence through prayer, God sustained us, carried us and loved us through this terrible season and has produced maturity and birthed into our spirit a new faith-life in our family like never before!

So what does God’s love mean?  In the simplest terms, He will never leave us, never forsake and will always be there to help us through whatever season we find ourselves in, just like any good Daddy would do!

If you would like to read more on this topic, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – STRENGTH FOR THE STRUGGLE ★

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★ Thought for the Day – Mastering Fear ★

Many times I have been wracked with fear.  Afraid to say the wrong thing.  Afraid to fail.  Afraid to move.  Do you know what is the most common statement in all the Bible that we are told?  “Do not be afraid!”  In fact here’s a “coincidental” fun fact…

I say “coincidental” but with God nothing is by accident.  He knew that we would need reminding because we all wrestle with insecurities and uncertainties…many people end up making decisions that are a direct result of their fear but making decisions based on fear can have disastrous results…

On a “A Minute With Maxwell,” John Maxwell made this profound statement concerning fear…

“The problem with fear, is it causes us to be inactive, it causes us not to go forward…I do have fears in my life, but I also have belief and faith.  And I have found that if I nurture my faith and belief and make it a more positive emotion than the negative emotion of fear that the positive emotion will help me to take action.”  (You can watch the rest here…http://johnmaxwellteam.com/fear)

Believe in yourself and nurture it…Don’t let fear paralyze you from making that decision whether it is a new career opportunity, a cross county move or the new business decision.  Remember not taking action is still a decision, it is deciding to allow fear to win.

"Courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it."  Mark Twain
“Courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it.”  Mark Twain

Easier said then done right?  Do you ever have trouble trusting God in difficult times?  Stupid question…who hasn’t experience worry, anxiety, and fear at one time or another.  It is natural, but all though the Bible we are told “Do not be afraid.”  In fact it is written 365 times, one for each day of the year.  I was reading Exodus about the escape of the Israelites from Egypt, and the subsequent chase by Pharaoh and his massive army; and though I have not been faced by certain extinction, there had been many times that fear has gripped me.

Exodus 14:10-14 (NLT) says,

As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses,

“Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness?  Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt?  What have you done to us?  Why did you make us leave Egypt?  Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt?  We said, ‘Leave us alone!  Let us be slaves to the Egyptians.  It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”

But Moses told the people,


“Don’t be afraid.  Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.  The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.  The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Here is a great parallel verse from Psalm 46:10 (NLT),

“Be still, and know that I am God!  I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world.”

Matthew 11:28 (NLT) gives us this additional comfort for times of trouble,

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Just like the Israelites, we need to remember to JUST stay calm and trust God.  If we do, then we will no longer be a slave to fear but rather Fear’s Master!!

43 - Daily Dependence - Just Keep Calm and Trust God

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

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

★ Thought for the Day – Opposition Will Come ★

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines opposition as: action that is done to stop or defeat someone or something.”  Have you experienced opposition in your life?  Better question would probably be, has anyone not experience some amount in their life.  Whether that was from a neighborhood bully or student in school or a boss at our job, everyone at some point or another has faced it.  But what I want to talk about is the defiance that comes as a result of being a Christian.  Being associated with Jesus is going to cost you.  If you look at the book of John there are numerous occasions that people were persecuted just for their association with him…

  • The Pharisees expelled a man who was cured of blindness from the synagogue just because Jesus was the one who cured him. (See John 9:1-34)
  • Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”  (See John 11:16 NLT)
  • The Leading Priests decided to kill Lazarus just because Jesus raised him from the dead and they were losing followers.  (See John 12:10-11)

This opposition did not stop in the time of Jesus life…Though it is not widely broadcasted in the nightly news, Christian are being persecuted all over the world today.

“According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population live in areas with severe religious restrictions.  Many of these people are Christians.  Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in the person of Jesus Christ.” (Source www.opendoorsusa.org/persecution/about-persecution)

Following Jesus has great rewards, but hardship will come.  We wonder why we get ridiculed and face animosity for being a Christian, but John 15:18-20 (NLT) is very clear the reason for the World’s Hatred:

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 

Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you.  And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.”

Mark Driscoll said something that really stuck out for me…

"The Christian life is the best life, but it’s not the easiest life, and sometimes the closer you are to Jesus, the more resistance you receive, just as Jesus did."
“The Christian life is the best life, but it’s not the easiest life, and sometimes the closer you are to Jesus, the more resistance you receive, just as Jesus did.”

Whenever you start serving God in a new way, you are breaking into territory that the enemy wants to keep.  The Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 16:9 (NKJV) that:

“For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there  are many adversaries.” 

Opposition will always come when we try to do the Lord’s work, just expect it because the enemy does not want you to take away his territory!  Press on through and trust that God is Sovereign!  And most importantly pray!  Prayer changes circumstances and people.  In the book, Draw the Circle, Mark Batterson gives this profound statement that will revolutionize our lives if we can grasp this:

30 - Daily Dependence - Mark Batterson - Power of Prayer

Opposition is inevitable but the enemy is ineffectual when counteract the attacks with prayer!  I will close with the truth from 1 John 4:4 (NASB)

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He [Jesus] who is in you than he [Satan – our enemy] who is in the world.”

 

★ Thought for the Day – Trial to Triumph! ★ 

Are you suffering today?  Aching from being hurt by someone’s betrayal or persecuted for something you did not do?  You are not alone, the Bible recounts in Genesis how Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, only to then be wrongly accused of attempted rape and thrown into prison…BUT God used these horrible betrayals that people inflicted, and elevated Joseph to second-in-command of all of Egypt.  Take comfort from Genesis 50:20 (NLT) that God turn any trial into a triumph!!!

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

I love that, what was :intended to harm me,” was used by God to “save the lives of many people.  We cannot see the whole picture, God is always working and you never know how what God will turn a bad situation around.

Only God can turn A MESS into a MESSAGE, A TEST into a TESTIMONY, A TRIAL into a TRIUMPH A VICTIM into a VICTORY!
Only God can turn
A MESS into a MESSAGE,
A TEST into a TESTIMONY,
A TRIAL into a TRIUMPH
A VICTIM into a VICTORY!

There is no situation TOO BIG for God, NOTHING is impossible for Him!  Trust God today with everything!  He will never leave you or forsake you!!

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

Chapter 4 of 1 Peter is really incredible because it talks all about how to live for God and what you can expect when you become a Christian. It starts out with…

“So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude He had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NLT) 

What would things be like if, instead of being anxious about life, we were “anxious to do the will of God?” If instead of viewing Christianity through “Rose Colored Glasses,” we lived our lives “ready to suffer too?” We need to break those glasses and understand the truth that we will suffer for Christ, there is no “if” in that passage…but that there are benefits to the suffering for being a Christian. 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NLT) says

19 - Daily Dependence - Anxious to Do the Will of God
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad — for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

Verse 14 tells us what the result will be if we persevere…

“If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.” 

How many times are you surprised when trials come?? If we are honest, probably more times than any of us would care to admit to, I am sure…but I love what results…”trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering” which results in joy and that “you will be blessed.” My absolute favorite part is found in verse 16, which if we grasped this, it would forever change our perspective!

“But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!” (1 Peter 4:16 NLT)

Repeat this over and over…

“Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!” Instead of the “woe is me” attitude, because you were insulted or had to sit alone at lunch or lost a friend because of your faith; if we really saw it for what it is, a “privilege,” we would be completely on fire for God! I would like to encourage all of us to start this day in a new way…let’s be anxious to do the will of God!!

 

★ Thought for the Day – All the Time in the World ★ 

In the 1995 film, “The Usual Suspects,” the protagonist made this statement:

18 - Daily Dependence - Usual Suspects
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

Brilliantly delivered by Kevin Spacey, I have never forgotten the line and profound reality.  If you asked, most people would say that they believe in some sort of higher power or as I do, in an all-powerful and loving God; but ask how many believe in the Devil and the response will be quite different.  The Barna Research Group released findings from its nationwide survey of adults’ spiritual beliefs and found:

“Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” 

From the Article: “Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist,” 4/10/2009

4 out of 10 people believe that the Devil “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.”  In the past 10 years, there has been an enormous increase in the amount of Hollywood offerings focusing on the Devil, demons and other evil incarnations.  It is ironic that people will go in droves to watch about the Devil and his unseen activities on the silver screen, but then turn around and say that he does not exist.  Sadly, I would say that the “trick” is working quite effectively.

Much like Kevin Spacey’s deceptive portrayal of an ineffectual and innocent crippled man in “The Usual Suspects,” Satan’s activities are not obvious; he comes in unassuming forms and in unexpected ways.  That is why we need to “Be selfcontrolled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8 NIV84)

18 - Daily Dependence - Too Busy
“Satan’s greatest lie: You have plenty of time to get right with God!”

This haunting picture is a great reminder…People think they have all the time in the world to live their life however they wish, indulging in anything and everything.  Maybe tomorrow or next year or sometime in the future they will change.  In Matthew 24:36 (NLT) Jesus gives some insight about the end times:

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.  Only the Father knows.”

No one knows the hour when the end will come; or to put it plainer, when YOUR END will come, so don’t wait, “get right with God” and accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for the redemption of your soul.

 

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – The Holy Spirit is Our Spider Sense ★

Since 2002, Hollywood has given us several variations of the comic book classic Spiderman. First portrayed by Tobey Maguire and more recently by Andrew Garfield, the silver screen offerings of the Superhero Spiderman, have been saturated with high-tech special effects bringing Stan Lee’s creation to life. Long before these movie adaptations, I was a fan of the Spiderman comic books growing up. If you are not familiar with the story line…Peter Parker, a nerdy, shy, and awkward high school student gains spider-like abilities after being bitten by a genetically modified spider. He eventually uses these abilities to fight evil as a superhero after tragedy befalls his family. One of the side effects of the spider bite was a “Spider Sense” that would be activated whenever danger was near. One of the classic phrases that Spiderman would think was…”My Spider Sense is tingling!” (Personally I think the movies fell short of really capturing that part of his abilities as pictured here, but I digress).

Have you ever had a “feeling” that something bad was going to happen, or that something was not right about a person, only to have those concerns confirmed? I think we all have a “Spider Sense” of sorts, which came to me as I was reading 1 Peter, Chapter 5. I thought about how when I have had these feelings, it was the result of the Holy Spirit working within me to be an “early warning system” about the activities of the enemy. If you will pardon the parallel, The Holy Spirit is Our Spider Sense. Spiderman had many enemies, and so that early warning detection was critical. As a follower of Jesus, we too have have many enemies…the chief enemy being the Devil, but he also has many servants that war against as well. In Peter 5:8-9 (NLT) it says.

image
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”

The sobering part of these verses to me is the, “looking for someone to devour” part. Our enemy does not care who it is, so long as he can destroy you!  But before despair sets in, re-read verse 9…all we need to do is “Stand firm” and “be strong” in our faith, and “remember” that other believers around the world are facing the same kind of struggles we are. For me though, the best part of Chapter 5 is found in verse 10, that assures us of what will happen is if we persevere…

“In his kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” (1 Peter 5:10 NLT)

Don’t miss this…if you are suffering today, if you are under the weight of massive attacks from every angle, God wants to speak into your circumstance and let you know that:

HE WILL RESTORE YOU,
HE WILL SUPPORT YOU,
HE WILL STRENGTHEN YOU, and
HE WILL PLACE YOU on a FIRM FOUNDATION!!

Just trust Him and listen to His voice!!