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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming? ★

★ Thought for the Day – got fear? ★

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

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 – Grief is a Passage, Not a Place ★   

“Grief never ends…But it changes.  It’s a passage, not a place to stay.  Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…It is the price of love.” Unknown

In John 11:35, it simply says:51 - Daily Dependence - John 11-35 - Jesus wept

“Jesus wept.” 

Jesus wept.  The shortest verse in the Bible, but shows that even the Son of God understands what we go through during the loss of someone we care about.  Go to God in your grief and draw comfort from your Heavenly Father.

“But a key truth on which we can stand is this—our God is a good God! Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” God is a good God. We must begin here. Though we don’t understand His actions, we can trust His heart!”  Max Lucado, Traveling Light

Will you believe that God is good?  He is big enough to handle any problem you bring His way.  Trust God with your pain and grief.

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Is There Such a Thing As a Free Lunch? ★

In the 1960’s and 70’s there was the Classic TV game show ‘Let’s Make A Deal’ with host Monty Hall where audience members would try to win cash and prizes by making wacky deals. 47 - Daily Dependence -Let,s Make A Deal CBS has since revived the show in 2009 with host Wayne Brady.  I have not seen the new version but as a child, I remember my parents watching the original in syndication.  What was so much fun about the show was that audience contestants were picked at random, dressed in ridiculous costumes, trying to win cash or prizes by choosing between curtain number 1, 2 or 3.  Before the contestant could decide, Monty would tempt them with something from within a small box, or flash cash in front of them and then they chose between what they knew or what was behind the curtain which could be a new car or a farm animal.  The interesting part was always…will they take what they know or risk losing it for the chance for something better?  The success of the original and the subsequent sequel, is that at the core of every person is the desire to get a deal!
47 - Daily Dependence -Deals

Whether it is BOGO, clearance sale, or straight out free gift, ever single person wants to stretch their dollar a little farther and maximize their buying power.  And if we are honest with one another, what we really want is to get something for nothing!  But there’s no such thing as a “free lunch” or is there?

There is one thing that is absolutely free…and that is GRACE!  The definition of Grace as it pertains to Christian belief is:

“the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”

Let that sink in….“the free and unmerited favor of God.”  It is so hard to comprehend the true meaning of this reality.  For hundreds of years, people have tried to express the truth of God’s Grace in songs, poems, and sermons.  But the Bible describes it best…One of the most incredible verses on Grace is from Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) which proclaims…

“God saved you by His grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible, he made this commentary on these powerful verses:

“If our salvation were dependent upon our actions – if we could be redeemed by doing good works, keeping the commandments, and refraining from sin – we would always be in danger of losing it whenever we stumbled.  However, because salvation is a gift given to us freely – and not in exchange for anything we can do – it is completely secure.  Our salvation therefore magnifies the awesome love and grace of God alonesince He blesses us not because of our merit but because of His goodness.”  

I love that, God “blesses us not because of our merit but because of His goodness.”  This is especially important because our sin separates us from God.  Here is a incredible picture of what Grace means.

47 - Daily Dependence - Grace is the BridgeThe old testament prophet Isaiah said to the people:

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear.”  Isaiah 59:2 (NKJV)

This true for us today, our inequities or inward bent toward sin has separated us from God.  Isaiah said because of our sins, God is hidden from us, or another way to say it, our sin pushes God away from us.  BUT Grace, changes everything because it bridges the gap between our sin and God.  Many people have a hard time believing that God’s grace, His favor and His love is free to anyone through belief in Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection for all of our sins over 2,000 years…You cannot earn your salvation, or do enough “good deeds” to make it to heaven but it is a free gift, as Acts 15:11 (NLT) says:

"We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

The grace we receive is undeserved and is solely based on “who God is” and not on anything we do.

One of my all time favorite hymns is from John Newton called “Amazing Grace.”  Hillsong Worship just released their 23rd album called “No Other Name” which I have been listening to it over and over…just absolutely incredible!  The stand out song for me off the new album is a revitalized version of my favorite hymn called “Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)“.

How beautiful is that picture?  God takes our failures, our weaknesses and forms something beautiful out of the broken mess that each of us are.  So back to the question at hand, is there such a thing as a free lunch?  NO, THERE IS NOT…because even though Grace is free to us through faith in Jesus, it came at a heavy price for God.  So how will you respond?  Will you accept God’s Grace?  Will you accept Jesus as your savior?

Make this your prayer today:

God take this broken vessel and forgive my sins.
I am wretched and in need of a Savior.  I believe that Jesus came to die 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 salvation and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation.  So take this heart Lord, I’ll be your vessel so that the world can see Your life in me!  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!

If you earnestly prayed that prayer, you are a new creation (see Romans 10:9-10 and 2 Corinthians 5:17)!  God will honor that prayer of surrender and will do incredible things in your life!  Please contact me if you have any questions about your new life in Jesus Christ, I would love to discuss your decision more.  God Bless!

 

To finish this Thought for Today, check out this incredible short film about the life, death and love of what OUR savior Jesus Christ did for EVERY PERSON!

 

★ Thought for the Day – What Are You Focused On? ★

Life has a way of knocking you down but there is a way to navigate the storms that come our way and that is in trusting in Jesus!  In Matthew 14:27-33 (NLT) it shows what happened to Peter when he took his eyes of Jesus…

37 - Daily Dependence - Matthew 14-27-33 - Fix Eyes on Jesus“But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”  

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”  

“Yes, come,” Jesus said.  So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  

But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.  “You have so little faith,”Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”  When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.  Then the disciples worshiped him.  

“You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.”

Are you despairing today?  Feeling hopeless?  Do you feel like you are stuck?  Just like Peter, when you focus on the wrong things, you will start to sink and will remain trapped.  To further the point, look at what David, a man well acquainted with persecution and adversity said in Psalm 40:2…

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

The New Living Translation states it this way:

“He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”

That is exactly what Jesus can do for you today!  All you need to do is change your perspective and look up to our Heavenly Father…God is just waiting to come to your rescue!  He sent Jesus as part of that rescue plan and He is willing and able to pull you out of any mess you find yourself in.  So the answer to our question today is to…Keep Your Focus on Jesus!

I will close with this foundation truth from Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB) that I pray will bring you great comfort! 

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

If you would like to read more on this subject, check out 2 posts:

★ Thought for the Day – Unfathomable Payoff of Faith ★

★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming ★

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★ Thought for the Day – What’s In Your Sponge? ★

I remember growing up in Pennsylvania as a kid, I wanted to make some extra money; so I made a pitcher of lemonade and set up a folding table and got to work.  The problem was, I lived off a small country road and there was very little traffic, whether by foot or vehicle.  Needless to say, I did not make much that day…hahaha!  You’ve heard the old adage…

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

Which is a phrase used to encourage optimism and a “can-do attitude” in the face of adversity or misfortune.  Though it is put on bumper stickers and feels played out, there is tremendous truth that we can use in our lives when we are squeezed!

I once heard a great analogy contrasting the pressures of life with a sponge.  Bishop O.W. Prince compared it this way:

“What is really inside of us will come spilling out of us when life puts the squeeze on us.  Crisis will usually reveal what is really in our hearts.  It is easy to do and say the right things when life is calm and everything is going right, but what we say and do when chaos hits and the pressure is on tends to paint a more accurate picture of who we really are.”

Wow!  That is convicting!  God has been showing me that I have some work to do!  Just like a sponge, when we are squeezed, what is in us will come flowing out!  The question is, will it be sour like lemons or sweet like lemonade?  In James 19-20 (NLT), we are given this word of advice…

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:  You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”

31 - Daily Dependence -James-1-19-20

So I ask you…What’s in your Sponge?

When you are squeezed, what comes out?  WILL it cause a mess and hurt those around you, or WILL it be full of grace and uplifting?  Here is a promise of what will happen if you choose the latter…

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”  James 1:12 (NLT) 

If you are interested you can read a related post called ★ Thought for the Day – The Storms of Life ★

 

 

 

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★ 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 – How Important is Jesus? ★      

Many people debate this question but if you look at what it says in John 14:6, the answer is clear:

"Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

If Jesus is the gate that we must go through to go to heaven, I would say He is really important! Romans 10:9-10 (NIV1984) is a great reminder of the simplicity of “getting right” with God and how important Jesus is!

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

If you want to learn more about this check out our previous post called ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ that will help you on the path to connecting with God!!

Trust Him today!

★ Thought for the Day – STRENGTH FOR THE STRUGGLE ★

I am excited to have a special guest share how God gave her strength during a season of struggle.  Thanks, Kim from facebook.com/FitFamilyFaith.

Have you ever heard the quote, “I am thankful for my struggle because without it I would not have stumbled across MY strength.”  I’d like to edit it just a bit.

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“I am thankful for my struggle because without it I would not have stumbled across God’s strength.”

Health and fitness were always a passion of mine and my health was not something I worried about. I felt physically strong, ate the right foods and exercised 5 times a week.  However, my life and my family’s life were completely turned upside down when I went through a season of illness as a result of Lyme’s Diseases. The illness left me physically at my weakest point in my life. However, through this season, my family and I craved God and His Word like never before. We were completely dependent on Him. Although I grew up going to church, I believe that I grew stronger in the Lord during that season than in all the years preceding that. It was only God’s strength that carried me through those difficult days. I often tell others that though I was at my weakest physically, I never felt stronger spiritually. I praise God for the works He did in me and my family through that time.

We ALL go through seasons of struggle in our lives.  They come in different forms, but the best way to get through them is the same. GOD’S STRENGTH.  Here are some things I learned that I pray can help you to hold onto if you are in the midst of a difficult season:

  • God promises to never leave us or forsake us. He is right there beside us, whatever we go through. How comforting!  Deuteronomy 31:6 says:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

  • God can bring something good out of the situation. As it says in Romans 8:28, God causes ALL things to come together for good to those who LOVE Him and are called according to His purpose. Trust God because He is using your current situation to mold you into something beautiful!  What was meant for harm, God can turn around and use for His good!  Genesis 50:20a says:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good…”

  • God uses trials to refine and mold us to make us more like Him.  I came through this storm a much different person than the one I was going into it.  I have a stronger faith, a deeper compassion for others and try to make the most of every opportunity because I know each day is a gift and my priorities are very different now.
  • The things we go through in this life are temporary, but we can have hope in eternal things. John 16:33 says

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  

Whatever you are going through today, lean into God and rely on His strength.  Arm yourself with Bible verses that you can speak out loud and pray when doubts and worries creep in. (Below are some verses that helped me.)

Praise God, He has restored my health and I am able to resume my passion of fitness again, but my goals are very different now.  I view it a gift that I must steward and use for His glory.  My mission is more about forming relationships and using my story to help others who may be going through struggles of their own.  I can say with confidence that I am thankful for my struggle because without it I would not have stumbled across GOD’S STRENGTH.

Be Blessed!

Kim

http://www.facebook.com/FitFamilyFaith

INSTAGRAM: @fitfamily_faith

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

★ Thought for the Day – What Does God’s Love Mean? ★

 

★ 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 – The Storms of Life ★

You have probably heard this before about the “Storms of Life”…You are either in a storm, coming out of a storm or headed into a storm.  No one likes the Storms of Life.  They typically come at the worst times (although I don’t know when it is a good time for one)…whether it be financial storm, a physical illness/injury, a loss of a loved one, or problems at school/work or in a relationship; whatever the storm, you can be sure it will bring it’s fair share of stress, but it can also bring something else…a changed life!  Haruki Murakami said:

"And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in."
“And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in.”

I love that, and it is so true!  I can remember some really hard trials that I’ve gone through and when it was over the person I had become was very different, whether it be in strength, confidence or wisdom.  Often times, God uses adversity to help grow us for the next stage of life.

When you are in the middle of a storm, it is hard to see a way out, but that is where your faith must step in.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us:

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  

It doesn’t say have faith when things are going great; it says have faith WHEN WE CANNOT SEE.  Don’t base your decisions on what you are seeing or feeling at the moment, base them on the TRUTH and promises in God’s Word.

Here are some things to hold onto if you are in the midst of a difficult season:

  1. God promises to never leave us or forsake us.  He is right there beside us, whatever we go through.  Deuteronomy 31:6 says:


    “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

  2. God can bring something good out of any situation.  God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him (see Romans 8:28).  Trust God to use your current situation to mold you into something beautiful!   Isaiah 61:3 says,


    “He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for His own glory.”

    Look at the underlined portions of this verse.  He will make something beautiful out of it, you will be singing praises, you will be stronger than before, and most importantly, He will use it for His glory.

  3. The things we go through in this life are temporary, but Jesus promises us that we can have peace because of what He did for us.  John 16:33 says:


    “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” 

We all go through different storms in this life, but no matter the storm, the answer, and the solution is the SAME…Lean into God and rely on His strength.  Arm yourself with Bible verses that you can speak out loud and pray when doubts and worries creep in.  Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. I will close with a quote from Mark Batterson’s “Draw the Circle Devotional:”

"Don't just pray about it; act on it. There are defining moments in life when we need to prove to God that we mean business."
“Don’t just pray about it; act on it. There are defining moments in life when we need to prove to God that we mean business.”

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD!  There is hope; you just need to make the choice to trust Him.  If you are in a storm right now, just hold tighter because when you have weathered the storm, you will be amazed at who will be looking back at you in the mirror!

 

If you are interested you can read a related post called ★ Thought for the Day – Who’s Chasing You? ★

 

 

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Are You Qualified? ★

I can’t tell you how many times that I have felt so inadequate, unqualified and unable to do what I do.  Whether be in my family life as a husband and father or in business or in ministry, doubts and insecurities are always screaming in my mind that I am over my head.  I once heard John Maxwell speak at a Men’s conference and he said something that blew me away…he said that

“I am always one step away from stupid.”

That is a humbling statement, and great wisdom, that no matter how far along in your journey, you are always one bad decision away from blowing it!  We need to daily renew our mind and renew our relationship with our heavenly Father in order to serve God in our vocation, our families and our ministry assignments!  I know myself, I am not worthy to be used by God, but only through His mercy and grace that am I able to do anything.  I love how Jon Acuff put it…

“Next time you feel unqualified to be used by God remember this, He tends to recruit from the pit, not the pedestal.”

Another way to say it is that…

“God doesn’t call the QUALIFIED,
He qualifies the CALLED!”  Unknown

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If you want the answer to whether or not you’re qualified, I will tell you with absolute certainty, you’re not (…and I’m not either!)  That is why we need a daily dependence on God.  Don’t worry about being qualified, all you need is a heart to serve others and a willingness to step out in faith…and God will qualify you!
 

★ Thought for the Day – How Important is Integrity? ★

Roy E. Disney once said:

"It's not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are."
“It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are.”

Throughout my career, I have had bosses who wanted me to lie to our clients, to misrepresent what we had done in the past, and to “fudge” how much further along on the project then we really were. It’s moments like that, that will define who you are, and ultimately, what path your career will take…Regardless of whether you have to misrepresent yourself in a “BIG way” or “just a little white lie,” once you compromise you integrity, it WILL become the “new normal” and will be expected to be repeated.

Zig Ziglar puts a fine point on this thought…

“If people like you, they”ll listen to you. But if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

So I pose the question in a different way… how important is your integrity?