Tag Archives: improvement

God Helps Us With Heart Ache

 

 

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Heart Matters

Our hearts pump at a rate of 70-75 beats per minute. Though weighing only 11 ounces on average, a healthy heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day. Every day, the heart creates enough energy to drive a truck 20 miles. In a lifetime, that is equivalent to driving to the moon and back. A healthy heart can do amazing things. Conversely, if our heart malfunctions, our whole body shuts down.

The same could be said of our “spiritual heart.” In Scripture, the word heart represents the center of our emotions, thinking, and reasoning. It is the “command center” of our life.

So when we read, “Keep your heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23), it makes a lot of sense. But it’s difficult advice to keep. Life will always make demands upon our time and energy that cry out for immediate attention. By comparison, taking time to hear God’s Word and to do what it says may not shout quite so loudly. We may not notice the consequences of neglect right away, but over time it may give way to a spiritual heart attack.

I’m thankful God has given us His Word. We need His help not to neglect it, but to use it to align our hearts with His every day.

Dear Jesus, take my heart and hand,
And grant me this, I pray:
That I through Your sweet love may grow
More like You day by day. —Garrison
To keep spiritually fit, consult the Great Physician.

Insight

The book of Proverbs had several contributing authors, but most of the wisdom found here was written by King Solomon. In the opening nine chapters, Solomon specifically instructs his son (and sometimes his sons) regarding the wisdom that would help him engage life in a meaningful way. Some of the themes of these chapters include the value of wisdom, the necessity of faith, the peril of deceitful women, and the danger of foolishness. Beginning in chapter 10, the book becomes a collection of general wise sayings.

Disappointing Sideshows

From: Getmorestrength.org

“For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16

When I was a boy, one of the biggest annual events in town was the circus. My dad would take us early in the morning to watch the circus trains unload the tigers, lions, elephants, monkeys, and all the other animals and paraphernalia that made the circus so intriguing.

Once the circus was set up, great attractions were lined along the midway. The midway was the walkway leading to the big tent. Vendors hawked their wares, happy music played, the smell of hot dogs and cotton candy mingled in the air, and multicolored balloons bounced in the wind. With bursts of laughter and excited screams, customers twisted and turned on amusement rides. The midway was almost more than a boy could take.

The most intriguing sights of all for me were the sideshows. Large posters advertised all kinds of physical deformity and daring feats of bravery—a man with three eyes, a bearded woman, sword-swallowers, and fire-eaters. I would pull on my dad’s hand and beg him to take me to see them, only to hear him say, “Joe, it’s a waste of money. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”

This is the warning we see in 1 John 2:16. The world is a lot like the midway. Much of it is exciting. But as our Father walks us through experiences, He warns us of what will disappoint us, waste our resources, and distort and destroy us. It’s the sideshows that seduce us and endanger our experience here. Our world constantly puts us in tension with all that it offers.

This tension forces us to make up our minds about whom or what we will believe and follow. Will it be our Father or the sideshow?

When I grew up and went to the circus on my own, I couldn’t wait to put up my own money to see the sideshows—only to find out that my father had been right. My money was wasted.

It’s like that in life, but the stakes are far greater.

Cleaning up a Mess I Didn’t Make
CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

From: Crosswalk.com

“And I pray that you … grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:17b-18 (NIV)

When my middle son was 2 years old, he went through various stages that almost sent me to the mad house.

One of the most irritating stages was his habit of taking off his diaper after putting him to bed. Many late nights we would have to put on a fresh diaper, change his sheets and put him back to bed.

After awhile, we wised up. We started putting him into all-in-one pajamas that made it not so easy for him to accomplish his little feat.

That pretty much solved the problem.

Until one night, when my husband put the boys (ages 2 and 4) to bed. Unfortunately, he forgot about our precautionary measure of locking our toddler into his diaper.

Before long, our eldest son shouted at the top of his lungs, “Mommy! It stinks in here! Somebody needs his diaper changed!”

No worries. It happens, right?

Soon we heard urgency in our eldest son’s voice as he called out again, “MOMMY! COME QUICK! THERE’S A STINKY MESS IN HERE!”

We entered their room. The smell that greeted me at the door was enough to make me want to run for my life.

Friends, we are talking yuck e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e … on the sheets, blankets, feet and smudged into the carpet. So that night, while many other mothers slept peacefully in their beds, guess what I was doing?

Cleaning up a mess.

At almost midnight and for close to an hour, I was on my hands and knees cleaning and scrubbing. I’ll spare you the gory details.

Believe it or not, the carpet today looks like nothing ever happened. Between my cleaning concoctions that fateful night and a borrowed steam cleaner the next day, I managed to handle the situation like a pro.

Of course I did. I’m a mom. That’s what moms do. We clean up after our children when necessary, because that’s what love does.

There is a lesson to be learned from the middle of this messy situation …

My son didn’t mean to make a mess. He didn’t intentionally deprive me of sleep or aim to make me uncomfortable. He didn’t mean to make me suffer for his transgression.

But I did.

And why? Because that’s what love does.

Even when he wasn’t showing me much love, I loved him anyway. And I showed my love by cleaning up a mess that I didn’t make.

My dear sister… don’t you know Jesus loves us this same way?

He saw us in our mess. He cleaned up after us. He was willing to suffer for our transgressions. And even when we aren’t showing Him much love, He loved us first and continues to love us anyway.

Because that’s what love does.

I believe with all my heart that as my son matures, he will be grateful and appreciate my sacrifices. I pray that eventually he will come to understand the width, length, height and depth of the love I have for him. Just like God’s love for us, Paul prayed that the church at Ephesus “may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18).

In the same way, as we mature in our relationship with God and develop a greater understanding of why we needed His rescue, we can appreciate more and more His huge sacrifice.

Here’s the kicker – our lives, actions and attitudes should show it.

Just like mothers find a way to do what seems

… inconceivable

… impossible

… or insurmountable …

so, too, our precious Savior found a way to rescue us from our plight.

And I’m so thankful. Aren’t you?

Romans 2:1-16 (Good News Translation)

From: American Bible Society

God’s Word: Renewing Us in Faith

Introduction

Romans 2:1-16: In describing God’s judgment, Paul says that those who are faithful to God will receive rewards, and those who reject God’s truth will be punished.

Today’s Scripture: Romans 2:10a

God will give glory, honor, and peace to all who do what is good.

Today’s Reading

1 Do you, my friend, pass judgment on others? You have no excuse at all, whoever you are. For when you judge others and then do the same things which they do, you condemn yourself. 2 We know that God is right when he judges the people who do such things as these. 3 But you, my friend, do those very things for which you pass judgment on others! Do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or perhaps you despise his great kindness, tolerance, and patience. Surely you know that God is kind, because he is trying to lead you to repent. 5 But you have a hard and stubborn heart, and so you are making your own punishment even greater on the Day when God’s anger and righteous judgments will be revealed. 6 For God will reward each of us according to what we have done. 7 Some people keep on doing good, and seek glory, honor, and immortal life; to them God will give eternal life. 8 Other people are selfish and reject what is right, in order to follow what is wrong; on them God will pour out his anger and fury. 9 There will be suffering and pain for all those who do what is evil, for the Jews first and also for the Gentiles. 10 But God will give glory, honor, and peace to all who do what is good, to the Jews first and also to the Gentiles. 11 For God judges everyone by the same standard. 12 The Gentiles do not have the Law of Moses; they sin and are lost apart from the Law. The Jews have the Law; they sin and are judged by the Law. 13 For it is not by hearing the Law that people are put right with God, but by doing what the Law commands. 14 The Gentiles do not have the Law; but whenever they do by instinct what the Law commands, they are their own law, even though they do not have the Law. 15 Their conduct shows that what the Law commands is written in their hearts. Their consciences also show that this is true, since their thoughts sometimes accuse them and sometimes defend them. 16 And so, according to the Good News I preach, this is how it will be on that Day when God through Jesus Christ will judge the secret thoughts of all.

Reflect

What does Paul say about judging others (verse 1)? Reread verses 2-11. What are your thoughts about Paul’s description of God’s judgment? Is God’s judgment fair? Why or why not?

Judgment and the Love of God

 

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judgment : Florence - Duomo .The Last Judgement. Inside the cupola: 3600 m2 of frescoes, created by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari, who worked there from 1572 to 1579. Editorialjudgment : Florence - Duomo .The Last Judgement. Inside the cupola: 3600 m2 of frescoes, created by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari, who worked there from 1572 to 1579. Editorial

Judgment and the Love of God

The Christian servant must never forget that salvation is God’s idea, not man’s; therefore, it has an unfathomable depth. Salvation is the great thought of God, not an experience. Experience is simply the door through which salvation comes into the conscious level of our life so that we are aware of what has taken place on a much deeper level. Never preach the experience— preach the great thought of God behind the experience. When we preach, we are not simply proclaiming how people can be saved from hell and be made moral and pure; we are conveying good news about God.

In the teachings of Jesus Christ the element of judgment is always brought out— it is the sign of the love of God. Never sympathize with someone who finds it difficult to get to God; God is not to blame. It is not for us to figure out the reason for the difficulty, but only to present the truth of God so that the Spirit of God will reveal what is wrong. The greatest test of the quality of our preaching is whether or not it brings everyone to judgment. When the truth is preached, the Spirit of God brings each person face to face with God Himself.

If Jesus ever commanded us to do something that He was unable to equip us to accomplish, He would be a liar. And if we make our own inability a stumbling block or an excuse not to be obedient, it means that we are telling God that there is something which He has not yet taken into account. Every element of our own self-reliance must be put to death by the power of God. The moment we recognize our complete weakness and our dependence upon Him will be the very moment that the Spirit of God will exhibit His power.

A Parent’s Pain

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

I’ll never forget meeting Nathan and Connie. With five sons, they loved the Lord and were busy going about His work. Suddenly, their world was decimated by an unthinkable tragedy. The three oldest boys were driving home from Wal-Mart when a drunk driver crossed the centerline, hitting them head-on. All three were killed as a result of the accident—snatched away in a cruel, horrible moment.

Connie told me that though the accident had happened three years ago, the pain was still fresh. “To this day, it’s wrenching,” she said. But then she continued, “I’ve often wondered if that’s how Mary felt when she looked at the excruciating and publicly humiliating death of Jesus as He hung on the cross.”

It’s a sobering thought. We have sung of the cross, put it on our steeples and on chains around our necks. But if we are not careful, we grow accustomed to the thought of the cross, forgetting the very real pain, real sorrow, and loss that it represents. And while we think of Mary’s agony and the torment of the cross for Jesus, I wonder if the pain wasn’t deepest in the heart of God. Think of the heartache for the One who willingly sent His only Son! No one knew more deeply what the crushing weight and torture of the sins of the world—your sins and my sins—would be like as they were embedded into the soul of the Savior. Think of how God must have felt in that moment.

The apostle John knew full well what that moment looked like. He was there at the foot of the cross, and from Christ’s words on the cross it seems apparent that he was an eyewitness to the grief of Mary (John 19:26). Years later he would describe this moment as the supreme expression of love. “This is love,” John writes, “not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

The marvel is not that we would love God or choose to offer our lives to Him. It is that He would choose to love us and offer His only Son on our behalf! He willingly endured that pain to bring us back into relationship with Him. This alone—even if God never did anything else for us—should stimulate our hearts to live in grateful love and adoration toward Him for the rest of our lives. The thought of this indescribable love should constantly remind us that we, though undeserving and unlovable in His sight, have been blessed beyond measure and loved like no one else could love us!

I love the words to the hymn penned by Stuart Townend (who clearly has not grown accustomed to impact of the cross):

How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure,

That He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turns His face away,

As wounds which mar the Holy One, bring many sons to glory.

Keeping the cross in mind with all of its heavy, yet joyful, implications may just be the most important thing we do in life!

God’s Man For That Hour

From: Through the Bible

Judges 7:20 (NIV) 20The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”

What a fascinating plan the LORD gave them. Each of the 300 men took a pitcher with a torch inside in one hand. In the other was a trumpet. On cue, they smashed the pitchers and the light shown out. With the other hand they blew their trumpets and then shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”

The enemy was thrown into a panic thinking that each light led a company of soldiers. Frightened in the dark, they killed one another. The dream Gideon had overheard came to pass. What sword were they shouting about? It was the word of the LORD that they were faithfully obeying.

We have a treasure in jars of clay. It is the Light of the world. We seem to be totally outnumbered at times. But we keep on obeying the word and believing. We become broken vessels and the light shines out. We blow the trumpet of the Gospel and the enemy (spiritual powers) is thrown into confusion. In the darkness, the enemy does not know who is a friend and who is a foe. He ends up defeating himself. It is not as if we did any great thing. God gets all the glory. We were outnumbered and outgunned, but we just obeyed and watched God work. If God was faithful to Gideon, to give Him the plan, and encourage Him that He would bring it to pass, will He be any different with you?

Trust God to bring the victory as you obey Him.

From: Through The Bible

May 5

Luke 8:16-18 (NIV) 16″No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”

What do you have? Only what you have received. You receive physical things and spiritual things. The physical will perish; the spiritual will last. The physical does not transform the soul; the spiritual does.

How do you receive the spiritual? It is usually through your ears. In Jesus’ day, when many could not read or afford to purchase a manuscript, it was almost entirely through the ears. What do you hear?

We are familiar with this illustration as it is used in Matthew, or in the song This Little Light of Mine. Those applications are about boldly letting the witness of Jesus in you be seen by others. In this evening’s passage, Jesus is using it for either good or evil. Others will see whatever you listen to and absorb. You can’t hide what you have become. Listening transforms you. The words go into your mind and heart and affect the way you see the world around you. Cults can transform a person’s perspective by merely isolating them from other points of view. That is why Jesus says, “Consider carefully how you listen.” He is telling us to consider not only what we listen to, but also how we listen. Do we listen with discernment? Are we sorting through what we hear to discard what is not according to the Word of God, and to cling to that which is of value? Do we sort the Spirit of truth from the spirit of error? That is not to criticize, but to discern what we will receive.

Why should we take such caution? Jesus is telling us that if we receive what is good, we will receive more of the same. Our light will be visible to all. If we receive vain words, what we have believed to be of substance will prove to be emptiness. People will see our lack of substance.

Consider: What do you listen to? Consider carefully HOW you hear.

 

Practice Intercessory Prayer

Vicarious Intercession

Beware of thinking that intercession means bringing our own personal sympathies and concerns into the presence of God, and then demanding that He do whatever we ask. Our ability to approach God is due entirely to the vicarious, or substitutionary, identification of our Lord with sin. We have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.” Spiritual stubbornness is the most effective hindrance to intercession, because it is based on a sympathetic “understanding” of things we see in ourselves and others that we think needs no atonement. We have the idea that there are certain good and virtuous things in each of us that do not need to be based on the atonement by the Cross of Christ. Just the sluggishness and lack of interest produced by this kind of thinking makes us unable to intercede. We do not identify ourselves with God’s interests and concerns for others, and we get irritated with Him. Yet we are always ready with our own ideas, and our intercession becomes only the glorification of our own natural sympathies. We have to realize that the identification of Jesus with sin means a radical change of all of our sympathies and interests. Vicarious intercession means that we deliberately substitute God’s interests in others for our natural sympathy with them. Am I stubborn or substituted? Am I spoiled or complete in my relationship to God? Am I irritable or spiritual? Am I determined to have my own way or determined to be identified with Him?

Wake Him Up!

From: Get more Strength.org

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Elouise worked the cash register in the food court at Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute. She was, by far and away, one of my favorite people. I liked a lot of things about Elouise: her happy smile, helpful spirit, and love for everyone. But what I liked best was her down-home, streetwise wisdom that came out in some of the most memorable quips. I could give you a bunch of them, but here’s one that just might be a good word for you.

One morning, as I reached into my pocket to pull out the cash for my breakfast, I asked Elouise how she was doing, to which she replied, “Not all that great.”

“Really?” I asked, “What’s wrong?”

“Well,” she quipped, “I had to wake Him up this morning!”

I wasn’t quite getting where she was going with that, so I asked, “What do you mean? Wake who up?”

“Don’t you know your Bible?” she teasingly said with an obvious sense of joy at stumping the Moody president. To save me any further embarrassment, she went on to say, “When the disciples thought they were going to die in the storm at sea, they had to wake up Jesus so He would help them. I had to wake Him up this morning,” she said, “’cause I needed His help!”

See why she’s one of my favorite people?

What she didn’t say, though, was that it seems like Jesus was the last resort for those panicked disciples. Luke tells us that it wasn’t until the boat was nearly swamped, and it was clear that they were in great danger, that someone had the brilliant idea to wake up Jesus.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we are usually pretty slow as well to wake Him up. Well, actually, we don’t need to wake Him up since the God who watches over us neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:3)! In reality, we’re the ones who need to wake up. We need to wake up to the truth that we are not as capable as we think we are to deal with life’s challenges; that our wisdom and instincts are flawed; that trying to manage life by the seat of our pants usually gets us into a heap of trouble.

So, thankfully, the writer to the Hebrews assures us that we can come to Jesus with what the text literally says is “unstaggering confidence”—confidence that He understands our plight and is ready to help us in our time of need. And, in case you’re wondering how He will help you in your time of need, think about His grace that will help you endure, His mercy, His power to overcome, His wisdom to show you the way. And don’t forget His calming presence and His peace that passes understanding in the midst of life’s storms. They are all available for the asking!

So, next time you are overwhelmed with life and don’t know what to do, take a little advice from my friend Elouise: wake Him up! And don’t wait until He is your last resort. You’ll get exhausted and disheartened if you try to bail out your boat all by yourself!

Which reminds me of a wonderful old song that we used to sing in church when I was a boy. It goes, “I need thee, Oh, I need thee! Every hour I need thee! Oh, bless me now my Savior, I come to thee.” You’ll need Him sometime—probably today—so make that the theme song of your life.

He maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth and his hands make whole (Job 5:18). The Ministry of Great Sorrow From: Streams in the Desert   As we pass beneath the hills which have been shaken by the earthquake and torn by convulsion, we find that periods of perfect repose succeed those of destruction. The pools of calm water lie clear beneath their fallen rocks, the water lilies gleam, and the reeds whisper among the shadows; the village rises again over the forgotten graves, and its church tower, white through the storm twilight, proclaims a renewed appeal to His protection “in whose hand are all the corners of the earth, and the strength of the hills is his also.” –Ruskin   God ploughed one day with an earthquake, And drove His furrows deep! The huddling plains upstarted, The hills were all aleap!   But that is the mountains’ secret, Age-hidden in their breast; “God’s peace is everlasting,” Are the dream-words of their rest.   He made them the haunts of beauty, The home elect of His grace; He spreadeth His mornings upon them, His sunsets light their face.   His winds bring messages to them Wild storm-news from the main; They sing it down the valleys In the love-song of the rain.   They are nurseries for young rivers, Nests for His flying cloud, Homesteads for new-born races, Masterful, free, and proud.   The people of tired cities Come up to their shrines and pray; God freshens again within them, As He passes by all day.   And lo, I have caught their secret! The beauty deeper than all! This faith–that life’s hard moments, When the jarring sorrows befall,   Are but God ploughing His mountains; And those mountains yet shall be The source of His grace and freshness, And His peace everlasting to me. –William C. Gannett

Happy Endings

The first: “Houston, we have a problem.”

And then: “Hello, Houston . . . this is Odyssey. It’s good to see you again.”

Together, these two messages form the bookends to the real-life drama of NASA’s struggle to bring three astronauts safely back to earth. An explosion crippled their spacecraft partway into their April 1970 mission to the moon.

The minutes leading up to the second of the two radio transmissions were particularly dramatic as people the world over anxiously gathered around television sets and collectively held their breath to see if the crew survived reentry into the earth’s atmosphere. Cheers and tears of joy and relief exploded across the globe when the astronauts finally returned home unharmed.

Not every story has a thrilling, happy ending like Apollo 13. But the Bible reveals that those who believe in Jesus will experience one! Much as the crew of Apollo 13 endured, life as we know it can be an ordeal and it will inevitably break our hearts. Death and decay will take away our health and every person we love. But the sacrificial death and dramatic resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees the happiest of endings.

This is the “happily ever after” that Paul wrote about in offering hope and comfort to those in need (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, Paul confidently declared the future resurrection of the dead when he wrote, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54).

Sometimes, all can seem lost, especially when death takes those we love. But the truth of the cross and the empty tomb emboldens us with the hope for a “happy ending” that is beyond description.

Tears Of Gratitude

From: Our Daily Bread
At a communion service my wife and I attended, the congregation was invited to come forward to receive the bread and cup from one of the pastors or elders. They told each one personally of Jesus’ sacrifice for him or her. It was an especially moving experience during what can often become just routine. After we returned to our seats, I watched as others slowly and quietly filed past. It was striking to see how many had tears in their eyes. For me, and for others I talked with later, they were tears of gratitude. The reason for tears of gratitude is seen in the reason for the communion table itself. Paul, after instructing the church at Corinth about the meaning of the memorial supper, punctuated his comments with these powerful words: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). With the elements of communion pointing directly to the cross and the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, that service was about so much more than ritual—it was about Christ. His love. His sacrifice. His cross. For us. How inadequate words are to convey the extraordinary worth of Christ! Sometimes tears of gratitude speak what words can’t fully express.
Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all. —Watts
The love Christ showed for us on the cross is greater than words could ever express.

Insight

For centuries, the Jewish community of faith had called to memory God’s provision of their deliverance out of bondage in Egypt. This memorial was celebrated through the Passover meal (Ex. 12:1-28). A roasted lamb, unleavened bread, wine, bitter herbs, and other items helped them remember their salvation from slavery. In our reading today, we see how our Lord took that sacred feast and transformed it into a memorial of His own sacrificial death (see Luke 22:19).

Jesus Can improve Your Life

 

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He Changed My Life

Our Daily Bread

Following the death of computer pioneer Steve Jobs in 2011, more than one million people from around the world posted tributes to him online. The common theme was how Jobs had changed their lives. They said they lived differently because of his creative innovations, and they wanted to express their appreciation and their sorrow. The screen of one tablet computer said in large letters: iSad.

Gratitude fuels expression, which is exactly what Psalm 107 describes: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy” (v.2). The theme of this psalm is people in great trouble who were delivered by the Lord. Some were homeless and in need (vv.4-5); some had rebelled against God’s Word (vv.10-11); others were at their wits’ end when they cried out to God (vv.26-27). All were rescued by God. “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (vv.8,15,21,31).

When we consider the greatness of God’s love, His grace in sending Jesus Christ to die for us and rise again, and what He has delivered us from, we cannot keep from praising Him and wanting to tell others how He changed our lives!

O God, my heart is filled with praise for all that You
have done for me. You have changed the focus
and purpose of my life because You sent Your Son.
Thank You.
Our gratitude to God for salvation fuels our witness to others.
May 2, 2014From: Crosswalk.com

Losing This Battle is Not an Option
Sharon Glasgow

“My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV)

By the time our daughter Heather turned 2, all my prideful pre-parenting thoughts had come back to me. How many times had I unfairly judged another mama and promised myself my kids would never act like that?

You know that behavior: flailing around in their mother’s arms, pitching a fit on the grocery store floor or throwing a tantrum in line at the movies. However, my daughter’s strong will was unrelenting. She tried my patience constantly … and often acted like that.

I’ll never forget one particularly difficult night. It had been a long grueling day of battles, and it was bedtime. (Praise God for bedtime.) Heather had hurt her baby sister, so I told her to apologize. She refused.

Everything in me wanted to just put Heather to bed, but I knew I couldn’t let this go. So in a stern voice, I told her, “Go to your room and I’ll meet you there.” Thankfully, she obeyed and walked to her bedroom.

I thought a battle had been avoided … until she looked back at me with that iron will glaring. She stood there with one foot in the room and one foot in the hall.

“Get in your room, Heather.” My tone meant business, but she wouldn’t budge. I thought to myself, I’m just too stinking tired for this.

At that point, I remembered Proverbs 3:11-12, a verse I memorized before Heather was born: “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”

As I weighed my choices, the Lord spoke to me through that verse. And I knew He was saying: Losing this battle is not an option. I took a deep breath and decided no matter how long it took, I would not allow Heather’s disobedient will to triumph over my exhaustion. I loved her too much.

She finally sat down, half in the room, half out. And I joined her in the hall. We stayed there for hours that night. I wasn’t mad, just determined. My daughter would know after this night that her mama means what she says. There was no TV. No toys. Not even a scrap of paper to draw on.

While she sat, I folded laundry, paid a few bills and made my grocery list — in between asking if she wanted to apologize. Her eyes were getting heavy, and I knew she wanted to win the battle, but I remained firm.

Finally, three hours after her bedtime she apologized to her sister and to me. I kissed her goodnight as I tucked her in bed; she hugged me and smiled like I was the greatest mom in the world. All was good in our home, at least for that night.

That wasn’t our last battle. But over time they became fewer and fewer as I consistently disciplined my children, just like the Lord disciplines those He loves. Why? Because He longs for us to be wise, to avoid making harmful mistakes and to grow in His grace. That’s what I want for my five daughters.

I spent a lot of time in prayer and sitting in doorways as my girls grew up. Each one was different from the other, each requiring a different form of discipline. They’re grown up now, and I’m delighted to say that Heather and her sisters love the Lord and walk in His ways.

I love my children and know they are worth all the time invested in the disciplining. Even the many long, sleepless nights.

Lord, I need You more than ever. I need Your strength, wisdom and leading to raise my children up in the way they should go. Help me! I feel inadequate most days. I know that through You I can do all things. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Thud!

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Interesting, isn’t it, how some childhood experiences are permanently seared into our memory banks? One of my unforgettable memories is of watching my boyhood friend Bobby getting hit by a car. After church one Sunday morning, he and I were standing on the front steps talking. Why he decided to bolt into the street between two parked cars I’ll never know. But that is exactly what he did. As Bobby ran between the cars, his mother, who could see a car coming, screamed: “Stop! Bobby, Stop!” Whether he didn’t hear her or didn’t care I’m not sure. He just kept running. What haunts me to this day is the memory of the sound of screeching brakes and the thud of his body against the car’s fender. I need to tell you that I am tired of hearing the thud of fellow followers of Jesus getting hit by Satan. Like friends who thought that the most important thing in life was career advancement, only to hear the thud of the long-term damage to their kids and spouses. Or of those who sold out to the allure of an affair—or to the addictive seduction of porn—and are now left with the regrets of the collateral damage of their choices.

It’s easy to think you can get ahead by putting other people down or that intimidation and manipulation are handy tools for staying in control. But the thud of ruined relationships and reputations is a big price to pay for doing whatever is necessary to keep yourself on top. Lying to weasel out of a problem erodes the trust factor and compromises the strength of your character. The list of thud-able choices is long and the consequences are often irreversible.

Granted, we are sometimes blindsided by our ignorance or instinctively wrong about our responses to life. But thankfully, God is never blindsided. And, He’s never wrong. From His vantage point He has a clear view of Satan’s destructive attempts to thud our lives. So, like Bobby’s mom, He warns us with clear and unmistakable shouts from His Word. God’s Word is full of warnings about things like greed, selfishness, lying, lust, gossip, hatred, bitterness, envy, argumentative attitudes, stealing, murmuring, oppression, and ignoring the needs of the poor and underprivileged. So, it’s not that there is a lack of clarity in His voice. The problem is ours. Too often, like Bobby, we either are not listening, or we just don’t care.

The warning shouts of Bobby’s mother came from a heart of love and concern for Bobby’s welfare and safety. God warns us as well because He loves us deeply and wants to rescue us from the impending disaster of that thud in our own lives. It’s easy to think of God’s warnings and prohibitions as His attempt to take all the fun out of our lives, but that’s so wrong. In fact, nothing would give Satan more joy than getting you to think like that, because the more you think like that, the easier it is for him to “devour” you. And that’s a thud that I never want to hear!

Hebrews 11:23-40 (Good News Translation)

From: American Bible Society

God’s Word: Renewing Us in Faith

Introduction

Hebrews 11:23-40: Today’s reading continues the listing of people of great faith, beginning with Moses, and includes those who were persecuted for their faith.

Today’s Scripture: Hebrews 11:39a

What a record all of these have won by their faith!

Today’s Reading

23 It was faith that made the parents of Moses hide him for three months after he was born. They saw that he was a beautiful child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s order. 24 It was faith that made Moses, when he had grown up, refuse to be called the son of the king’s daughter. 25 He preferred to suffer with God’s people rather than to enjoy sin for a little while. 26 He reckoned that to suffer scorn for the Messiah was worth far more than all the treasures of Egypt, for he kept his eyes on the future reward. 27 It was faith that made Moses leave Egypt without being afraid of the king’s anger. As though he saw the invisible God, he refused to turn back. 28 It was faith that made him establish the Passover and order the blood to be sprinkled on the doors, so that the Angel of Death would not kill the first-born sons of the Israelites. 29 It was faith that made the Israelites able to cross the Red Sea as if on dry land; when the Egyptians tried to do it, the water swallowed them up. 30 It was faith that made the walls of Jericho fall down after the Israelites had marched around them for seven days. 31 It was faith that kept the prostitute Rahab from being killed with those who disobeyed God, for she gave the Israelite spies a friendly welcome. 32 Should I go on? There isn’t enough time for me to speak of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. 33 Through faith they fought whole countries and won. They did what was right and received what God had promised. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 put out fierce fires, escaped being killed by the sword. They were weak, but became strong; they were mighty in battle and defeated the armies of foreigners. 35 Through faith women received their dead relatives raised back to life. Others, refusing to accept freedom, died under torture in order to be raised to a better life. 36 Some were mocked and whipped, and others were put in chains and taken off to prison. 37 They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they were killed by the sword. They went around clothed in skins of sheep or goats—poor, persecuted, and mistreated. 38 The world was not good enough for them! They wandered like refugees in the deserts and hills, living in caves and holes in the ground. 39 What a record all of these have won by their faith! Yet they did not receive what God had promised, 40 because God had decided on an even better plan for us. His purpose was that only in company with us would they be made perfect.

Reflect

Faith, according to Hebrews 11, means trusting in God rather than observing certain rituals. What did you learn about those whose faith is described in Hebrews 11? In what ways do you demonstrate your faith?

Challenge Yourself

 

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Challenge yourself

I recently went bungee jumping. So far the people I have showed the pictures and video of my jump to have looked at me with incredulous and worried looks to say the least. Most have not really had the nerve to say it to my face but I read it in their expressions, they all think I am crazy, especially those that know me well. You see if you know me then you also know I have always had three great fears. 1. I have a fear of any large expanse of water. I have never learned how to swim and some of my worst nightmares are of me drowning. It’s so bad you practically have to hold my hand while I watch my son swim. 2. I have a fear of all creatures other than humans. Animals and insects terrify me, from the largest of animals to the smallest and probably least harmful of them. If isn’t human then I am afraid of it. 3. Fear of heights. I have stood on tables to change a bulb and then practically been stuck when the time came to get off. I am afraid of falling from any height.

So now the big question is how did I then, under no duress whatsoever, in a completely sober state, allow myself to be tied to a rope and sent dangling down a hundred and eleven meters? My only answer, I was sick and tired of being crippled by my own fear so I challenged myself. It just felt like the right time to be bigger than atleast one of my fears. And so I jumped. And yes, I won’t lie to you, initially it felt like I had made the biggest mistake of my life and I wouldn’t come back up conscious, but then that feeling was quickly replaced by a freedom I could never manage to put in words. During the walk back up from the bottom of the bridge to the top where I had come from, I didn’t walk with my head raised high (I figured there was plenty of time to do that), instead I walked daringly looking down at those rails and for once in my life not being afraid of what I saw beneath me. Veni vidi vici, I came, I saw and I conquered. I had risen above my fear and I came back up affirming to myself if I could do this I can do anything.
My jump also brought with it an “aha” moment. I realized that life is a little like that fear of mine and the bungee jump I took. If you are just willing to take the leap you might just discover strength in you that you might not have found otherwise. Life shouldn’t be easy. An easy life doesn’t help you aspire or encourage you to want more and fight for it. You absolutely need to be challenged and face challenges. You also need to face your fears. You need to look at yourself in the mirror and say I am bigger than any situation or mountain that may be laid in my path.
We hear so many times of individuals that struck gold and all we dare say is boy weren’t they lucky. Well I disagree; I really doubt it has anything to do with luck. These so called lucky individuals were just willing to take a chance where and when no one else would. They were willing to take the challenge. We hear these real life rags to riches stories every single day but for some reason most of us just choose not to act on it, we just don’t get it. You need to take a chance. It isn’t okay to stay hidden in the shadows and just get by. Well atleast not for me anyway. One of my favorite quotes is by Marianne Williamson and it says “Your playing small does not serve the world.” So why are most of us humans content at sitting in the shadows, why do we feel it’s okay to just get by? Why not get by and get ahead while you are at it? Doesn’t that seem like a better alternative? Why are we afraid of challenging ourselves???
This is the year I have decided to challenge myself and made affirmations that I constantly remind myself of; I believe there is no job I cannot do. I believe that there is nothing I cannot achieve. I believe it is important for me to face challenges and that these challenges are simply sharpening my skills in preparation for the big strike of gold ahead of me, I don’t believe these challenges are there to cripple me. I believe that every stumbling block that has been placed in my path was not set there to make me stumble and fall but to help me discover potential that has to be excavated out of me. Most of all I believe that I now only have 2 fears and if you speak with me in a couple of months I will probably be down to one if not none. I have one final belief and that is that anyone can be someone if only they take that Leap of faith. So go ahead, right now, this very moment take your leap (and it doesn’t have to be a bungee jump). Challenge yourself and aspire and dare to be more.

From: www.values.com., By: Lissa