The language of Proverbs 6:16-19 is strong. In the citing of seven things the Lord hates, sowing “discord among brethren” makes the list. The reason for naming this sin is that it spoils the unity that Christ desires for His followers (John 17:21-22).
Those who sow discord may not initially set out to create divisions. They may be preoccupied instead with their personal needs or the interests of a group they belong to (James 4:1-10). Consider how Lot’s herdsmen argued with those of Abraham (Gen. 13:1-18); Christ’s disciples argued about personal preeminence (Luke 9:46); and divisive groups in the church at Corinth elevated party factions above the unity of the Spirit (1 Cor. 3:1-7).
So what is the best way to promote unity? It begins with the transformation of the heart. When we adopt the mind of Christ, we develop an attitude of humility and we focus on service toward others (Phil. 2:5-11). Only in Him can we access the power to “look out not only for [our] own interests, but also for the interests of others” (v.4). Soon the needs and hopes of others become more important to us than our own.
With growing bonds of love among us, we find discord replaced with joy and unity (see Ps. 133:1).
Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we—
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity. —Baring-Gould
We can accomplish more together than we can alone.
Belief, Not Understanding
“Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” (John 11:40).
Mary and Martha could not understand what their Lord was doing. Both of them said to Him, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Back of it all, we seem to read their thought: “Lord, we do not understand why you have stayed away so long. We do not understand how you could let death come to the man whom you loved. We do not understand how you could let sorrow and suffering ravage our lives when your presence might have stayed it all. Why did you not come? It is too late now, for already he has been dead four days!”
And to it all Jesus had but one great truth: “You may not understand; but I tell you if you believe, you will see.”
Abraham could not understand why God should ask the sacrifice of the boy; but he trusted. And he saw the glory of God in his restoration to his love. Moses could not understand why God should keep him forty years in the wilderness, but he trusted; and he saw when God called him to lead forth Israel from bondage.
Joseph could not understand the cruelty of his brethren, the false witness of a perfidious woman, and the long years of an unjust imprisonment; but he trusted, and he saw at last the glory of God in it all.
Jacob could not understand the strange providence which permitted the same Joseph to be torn from his father’s love, but he saw the glory of God when he looked into the face of that same Joseph as the viceroy of a great king, and the preserver of his own life and the lives of a great nation.
And so, perhaps in your life. You say, “I do not understand why God let my dear one be taken. I do not understand why affliction has been permitted to smite me. I do not understand the devious paths by which the Lord is leading me. I do not understand why plans and purposes that seemed good to my eyes should be baffled. I do not understand why blessings I so much need are so long delayed.
Friend, you do not have to understand all God’s ways with you. God does not expect you to understand them. You do not expect your child to understand, only believe. Some day you will see the glory of God in the things which you do not understand.
–J. H. McC
“If we could push ajar the gates of life,
And stand within, and all God’s working see,
We might interpret all this doubt and strife,
And for each mystery could find a key.
“But not today. Then be content, poor heart;
God’s plans, like lilies pure and white, unfold.
We must not tear the close-shut leaves apart–
Time will reveal the calyxes of gold.
“And if, through patient toil, we reach the land
Where tired feet, with sandals loosed, may rest,
When we shall clearly know and understand,
I think that we shall say, ‘God knew best.”‘
Am I Carnally Minded?
From: My Utmost For His Highest
Where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal . . . ? —1 Corinthians 3:3
The natural man, or unbeliever, knows nothing about carnality. The desires of the flesh warring against the Spirit, and the Spirit warring against the flesh, which began at rebirth, are what produce carnality and the awareness of it. But Paul said, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). In other words, carnality will disappear.
Are you quarrelsome and easily upset over small things? Do you think that no one who is a Christian is ever like that? Paul said they are, and he connected these attitudes with carnality. Is there a truth in the Bible that instantly awakens a spirit of malice or resentment in you? If so, that is proof that you are still carnal. If the process of sanctification is continuing in your life, there will be no trace of that kind of spirit remaining.
If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He doesn’t ask you to make it right; He only asks you to accept the light of truth, and then He will make it right. A child of the light will confess sin instantly and stand completely open before God. But a child of the darkness will say, “Oh, I can explain that.” When the light shines and the Spirit brings conviction of sin, be a child of the light. Confess your wrongdoing, and God will deal with it. If, however, you try to vindicate yourself, you prove yourself to be a child of the darkness.
What is the proof that carnality has gone? Never deceive yourself; when carnality is gone you will know it-it is the most real thing you can imagine. And God will see to it that you have a number of opportunities to prove to yourself the miracle of His grace. The proof is in a very practical test. You will find yourself saying, “If this had happened before, I would have had the spirit of resentment!” And you will never cease to be the most amazed person on earth at what God has done for you on the inside.
When we pray, asking God to sanctify us, are we prepared to measure up to what that really means? We take the word sanctification much too lightly. Are we prepared to pay the cost of sanctification? The cost will be a deep restriction of all our earthly concerns, and an extensive cultivation of all our godly concerns. Sanctification means to be intensely focused on God’s point of view. It means to secure and to keep all the strength of our body, soul, and spirit for God’s purpose alone. Are we really prepared for God to perform in us everything for which He separated us? And after He has done His work, are we then prepared to separate ourselves to God just as Jesus did? “For their sakes I sanctify Myself . . .” (John 17:19). The reason some of us have not entered into the experience of sanctification is that we have not realized the meaning of sanctification from God’s perspective. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the nature that controlled Him will control us. Are we really prepared for what that will cost? It will cost absolutely everything in us which is not of God.
Are we prepared to be caught up into the full meaning of Paul’s prayer in this verse? Are we prepared to say, “Lord, make me, a sinner saved by grace, as holy as You can”? Jesus prayed that we might be one with Him, just as He is one with the Father (see John 17:21-23). The resounding evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is the unmistakable family likeness to Jesus Christ, and the freedom from everything which is not like Him. Are we prepared to set ourselves apart for the Holy Spirit’s work in us?
A “COMING SOON!” announcement often precedes future events in entertainment and sports, or the launch of the latest technology. The goal is to create anticipation and excitement for what is going to happen, even though it may be months away.
While reading the book of Revelation, I was impressed with the “coming soon” sense of immediacy permeating the entire book. Rather than saying, “Someday, in the far distant future, Jesus Christ is going to return to earth,” the text is filled with phrases like “things which must shortly take place” (1:1) and “the time is near” (v.3). Three times in the final chapter, the Lord says, “I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:7,12,20). Other versions translate this phrase as, “I’m coming soon,” “I’m coming speedily,” and “I’m on My way!”
How can this be—since 2,000 years have elapsed since these words were written? “Quickly” doesn’t seem appropriate for our experience of time.
Rather than focusing on a date for His return, the Lord is urging us to set our hearts on His promise that will be fulfilled. We are called to live for Him in this present age “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
Live as if Christ is coming back today.
As with today’s text, 2 Peter 3:1-10 deals with Jesus’ imminent return. Peter explains that “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise . . . but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (v.9).
Your Faithful Friend?
From: Get more strength.org.
“For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies” Psalm 57:10Junior high school can be one long intensive seminar on drama in relationships. I am convinced that any psychological malfunction in my life today is directly traceable to those two years of school. Okay, maybe it’s not quite that dramatic, but junior high did teach me a little about fickle friendships.
I was minding my own business when one of Nancy’s friends came up to me and announced, “Hey, did you know that Nancy likes you?” To be honest, I had never given Nancy a second thought until that moment, but suddenly I was intrigued. My male ego was suddenly stirred and I liked the idea of being liked! So I passed my message back through the string of friends that had conveyed the message to me. That is, of course, how junior high romance works. I told my friend, who told another friend, who told Nancy’s friend, who then passed the message back to her.
“Joe says that he likes you too!”
But by the time my message got back to Nancy, she no longer liked me! For the first time I was singed by the fickle flames of romance.
A lot of our friendships are like that, aren’t they? We look back across the landscape of life and see different friends popping up here and there—our buddies from junior high, the girl we took to the prom in high school, the college roommates, the co-worker from the cubicle next to us. We realize quickly that many of those friendships, often consumingly important at the time, fade into dim memories leaving us thinking, “I wonder what happened to…”
Even more disconcerting is realizing how fickle we are in friendships. In honest moments, we could list the people we no longer get in touch with, or the phone calls we don’t return. In life, solid, faithful-to-the-core friendships are few and far between.
I wonder if you and I bring that same dynamic into our relationship with Jesus? When we first meet Jesus, He is everything to us! But as time wears on, we tend to drift away. When was the last time He heard from you? When was the last time you sat down to hear His voice and fellowship with Him? As the old saying goes: ”If God seems far away, guess who moved!” You may have gone on to other interests, but thankfully He hasn’t lost interest in you. He, more than anyone else, remains there waiting for you as your faithful friend!
The psalmist often sings of God’s undying love for us. And I need to tell you that it’s not the kind of love that rides on emotions or favors. It is an expression of God’s enduring, rock-solid commitment to you as His beloved, and it is often linked, as it is here in Psalm 57:10, with His unfailing faithfulness. In fact, the psalmist literally cannot get his mind around the extensiveness of God’s love and faithfulness, conceding finally that God’s love “reaches to the heavens” and His faithfulness “reaches to the skies.” In other words, it is without limit and without end.
So when you receive word that God loves you, please know that it is not a junior high school fickle, fleeting kind of love. It is a life-changing, eternally satisfying offer of a fulfilling friendship with your Creator. Today He stands knocking at your door wanting to come in and spend some quality time with you (Revelation 3:20). Go ahead, open the door of your heart—it’s your faithful friend!
“Once upon a time, in a small village in Kenya, there lived a young boy with his step family. Due to the scarcity of water in the village, the young boy awoke early every morning, carried his pot and headed for the stream with the aim of fetching water for himself and his step family. Sadly for him, he alone had this task as a routine every morning and evening to fetch water froma distant stream while his step siblings were given other lenient tasks or even none. Yet, the young boy bore no grudge against his step family, loved them and carried out his task, diligently.
On his way back from the stream, he met an old man resting under a tree who beggedfor water to quench his thirst and he gave the old man. He met an elderly woman who begged for water and he gave the woman. This happens almost every time as he comes back from the stream; meeting peoplewho beg for thirst, yet he gave them despite his step mother’s torture on him for fetching half-filled pots that wouldn’t even be enough for the family.
One day, he couldn’t bear the torture from his step mum, so heswore never to give anyone water, but on his way back, he met a strange looking man who begged him for water. The strange man lay by the road sidewith an injury. The young boy remembered his vow – never to give anyone water – but contemplated for a moment and then gave the strange man some water.
When he got home, his step mum noticed the half-filled pots, and again pounced on him – this time with more cruelty. As she was beating this young boy, there was a knock on the door. It was the wounded strange man – a mail deliverer. Apparently, he came from the town with a letterfor the young boy. A letter containing a scholarship with additional cash gift for the young boy and would have died on the way if not for the boy’s help.
They say there is love in sharing…they say where there is love there is life. Your everyday good deeds are never in vain for they shall return to you even when you’re not expecting it.”
Vivian and Don are in their mid-90s and have been married more than 70 years. Recently Vivian suffered a setback when she broke her hip. This has been additionally difficult because for several years both Don and Vivian have been saddened by the realization that they are no longer strong enough to be active in the life and work of their church.
However, Vivian and Don are still hard at work for the Lord: They are prayer warriors. While they may not always be physically present and visible in the life of their church, they are faithful “behind the scenes” in their service for Him.
The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 reminds us that we must use the “talents” God has given us wisely. All of us have God-given skills and abilities at various levels—and we must not bury, unused, what God has given us.
It is not only in our years of strength that God will use us, but also in our youth and age, as well as in our sickness and weakness. Vivian and Don continue to serve by praying. And like them, we honor our Savior by using our skills—“each according to his own ability” (v.15) to serve Him who is worthy.
Lord, You have done so much for me. Please show
me what I can do to serve You—to honor You with
the abilities You have provided. May my life be a
living sacrifice of love and action for Your honor.
The inescapable spiritual need each of us has is the need to sign the death certificate of our sin nature. I must take my emotional opinions and intellectual beliefs and be willing to turn them into a moral verdict against the nature of sin; that is, against any claim I have to my right to myself. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ . . . .” He did not say, “I have made a determination to imitate Jesus Christ,” or, “I will really make an effort to follow Him”-but-”I have beenidentified with Him in His death.” Once I reach this moral decision and act on it, all that Christ accomplished for me on the Cross is accomplished inme. My unrestrained commitment of myself to God gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to grant to me the holiness of Jesus Christ.
“. . . it is no longer I who live . . . .” My individuality remains, but my primary motivation for living and the nature that rules me are radically changed. I have the same human body, but the old satanic right to myself has been destroyed.
“. . . and the life which I now live in the flesh,” not the life which I long to live or even pray that I live, but the life I now live in my mortal flesh-the life which others can see, “I live by faith in the Son of God . . . .” This faith was not Paul’s own faith in Jesus Christ, but the faith the Son God had given to him (see Ephesians 2:8). It is no longer a faith in faith, but a faith that transcends all imaginable limits-a faith that comes only from the Son of God.
The converted slave trader, John Newton, who became a beloved minister of the gospel and encouraged Wilberforce in his fight against the slave trade, whispered as he lay dying, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Saviour.”
That irrepressible Cornish Christian, Billy Bray, came downstairs for the last time on Friday, 22 May 1868. To one of his old friends, who asked a few hours before his death if he had any fear of death, or of being lost, he said, “What! Me fear death! Me lost! Why, my Saviour conquered death. If I were to go down to hell, I would shout ‘Glory, glory to my blessed Jesus’ until I made the bottomless pit ring again, and the miserable old Satan would say, ‘Billy, Billy, this is no place for you: get you back.’ Then up to heaven I should go, shouting ‘Glory! Glory! Praise the Lord!’
A little later he said “Glory!” which was his last word. 
Christian missionary Geoffrey Bull was held captive by communists for three years at the time of the Chinese invasion of Tibet. He experienced constant interrogation and threat of execution. Later he wrote: “I pictured in my mind’s eye that last morning as I was led out to die. Should I preach, should I pray or should I sing? I decided I would sing. I went over in my mind some of the songs of Zion and then chose this great chorus, determined that by His grace these would be my last words before I saw Him face to face.
Some golden daybreak Jesus will come;
Some golden daybreak, battles all won,
He’ll shout the victory, break through the blue
Some golden daybreak for me, for you.
A Greek named Aristides, in AD 125 wrote to a friend about the new religion called Christianity: “If any righteous man from among the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God, and they escort his body with songs and thanksgivings as if he were setting out from one place to another nearby.
“Live in Christ, live in Christ,” said the dying Scottish Reformer, John Knox, “and you need not fear the death of the flesh.”
Those at the bedside of the influential New England preacher Jonathan Edwards, thought he had passed from the realms of consciousness. They began to lament the sad loss to the church, only to be stopped by a memorable final sentence: “Trust in God and you need not fear.”
Richard Williams, medical missionary to Patagonia, wrote as he lay huddled up in the hull of his little boat, dying of scurvy and starvation:
Should anything prevent my ever adding to this, let my beloved ones at home rest assured that I was happy, beyond all expression, the night I wrote these lines, and would not have exchanged situations with any man living. Let them also be assured that my hopes were full and blooming with immortality, that Heaven and Love and Christ, which mean one and the same divine thing, were my soul; that the hope of glory filled my whole heart with joy and gladness; and that to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Allen Gardiner was the last of the survivors of the seven missionaries who perished of starvation on Terra del Fuego when their relief ship failed to arrive. His final diary entry read, “Great and marvellous are the loving kindnesses of my gracious God.”
Among my favourite stories of those who have faced martyrdom for their faith in Christ are some about the Scottish Covenanters who were executed between the restoration of Charles II and the accession of William III. I have include several of their stories as typical of saints down the ages who have given their lives for their faith. They are particularly relevant in this twenty-first century when, according to researcher David Barrett, something like 160,000 people are killed annually because of their Christian beliefs. These examples are taken from the book Fair Sunshine by Jock Purves.29
The day before Donald Cargill was executed in 1681, a friend took a written testimony from him in which he wrote:
This is the most joyful day that ever I saw in my pilgrimage on earth. My joy is now begun which I see shall never be interrupted…this day I am to seal with my blood all the truths that ever I preached…
In the Old Testament, a person’s relationship with God was seen by the degree of separation in that person’s life. This separation is exhibited in the life of Abraham by his separation from his country and his family. When we think of separation today, we do not mean to be literally separated from those family members who do not have a personal relationship with God, but to be separated mentally and morally from their viewpoints. This is what Jesus Christ was referring to in Luke 14:26.
Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason—a life of knowing Him who calls us to go. Faith is rooted in the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest traps we fall into is the belief that if we have faith, God will surely lead us to success in the world.
The final stage in the life of faith is the attainment of character, and we encounter many changes in the process. We feel the presence of God around us when we pray, yet we are only momentarily changed. We tend to keep going back to our everyday ways and the glory vanishes. A life of faith is not a life of one glorious mountaintop experience after another, like soaring on eagles’ wings, but is a life of day—in and day—out consistency; a life of walking without fainting (seeIsaiah 40:31). It is not even a question of the holiness of sanctification, but of something which comes much farther down the road. It is a faith that has been tried and proved and has withstood the test. Abraham is not a type or an example of the holiness of sanctification, but a type of the life of faith—a faith, tested and true, built on the true God. “Abraham believed God. . .” (Romans 4:3).
“‘… so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.'” Isaiah 55:11 (ESV)
There is something I’ve come to realize I need to guard against as a mom. I sometimes want to be God in my kids’ lives.
I want to write their stories.
I want to set the course for their futures.
I want to determine what’s best for them.
I want to prevent them from ever being hurt.
I want to be their provider and protector.
And I want to be the one to set anyone straight who messes with my kids.
Can you relate on any level? I think most moms can. We love these people God has entrusted to us more than we ever knew possible. And despite all the infant-stage sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, tween eye rolling, and the teen decisions that break our hearts slap in two … they are ours. To love. To lead. To launch.
And we want to make it all good.
But then things happen so beyond our control we eventually have to face the reality that we aren’t God. And we can’t operate as if we are.
So what do we do with that gap where our mommy capabilities end and trusting God begins? Where my kids are concerned, I want to trust God with everything beyond my control. But it’s so scary. It feels so risky.
And scary and risky are two words we moms don’t want as part of our kids’ lives.
So, how do we deepen our trust in God? How do we make peace with the limits of what we can and cannot protect our children from? What do we do with the risky and scary feelings that can make a mom lose sleep at best and feel crazed with fear at worst?
We must fill that gap with the only thing that bridges the space between our limitations and our trust in God: prayer.
I know, I know. That answer can sound like such a cliché Christian answer. Typical. Too hyper-spiritual. Not the answer we want sometimes.
But prayer is the only possibility with real possibility.
Yesterday, my friend Brooke McGlothlin wrote a devotion about scriptural prayers for boys (see related resources listed below). It inspired me to write some specific scriptural prayers for our girls.
Here are five powerful prayers to help you fight for the heart of your daughter:
1. Let her learn early in life that to obey You, God, is the best way to the life her heart truly desires (1 Samuel 15:22).
2. May she find comfort in Your ability, God, to reach her, hold her and rescue her (2 Samuel 22:17-18).
3. Let her find confidence in You, God, even when hard times come and she doesn’t know what to do, by keeping her eyes fixed on You (2 Chronicles 20:12).
4. May she keep herself under control and not give full vent to people and situations that anger her (Proverbs 29:11).
5. Let her walk in the security of Your assigned worth to her. Give her a strong work ethic and health to accomplish all her tasks. Give her a heart that desires to extend her hand to those in need. Protect her for the right husband, a man of respect and godly honor. And let her be a woman of joy and laughter whose Christ-centered character is what makes her most beautiful (Proverbs 31).
I’ve prayed these prayers, and I’ve seen amazingly powerful things happen in the lives of my daughters.
I can still fret and worry and want to mess with anyone who messes with my girls.
My girls still make mistakes, cross lines and give the principal reasons to call me.
But where would we be if the power of the One who answers our prayers wasn’t in the mix of our lives?
And what might these prayers be working out for my daughters’ futures that I won’t see for years to come? Yes, prayer is the only possibility with real possibility. And that brings me to the place where I can finally say … “Hello, my name is Mom. Not God.”
Dear Lord, I know that Your Word does not return void and I’m believing great things for my daughter today. May we both grow in our relationship with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the ordeal that has come to test you… you are sharing what Christ suffered; so rejoice in it (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Many a waiting hour was needful to enrich the harp of David, and many a waiting hour in the wilderness will gather for us a psalm of “thanksgiving, and the voice of melody,” to cheer the hearts of fainting ones here below, and to make glad our Father’s house on high.
What was the preparation of the son of Jesse for the songs like unto which none other have ever sounded on this earth? The outrage of the wicked, which brought forth cries for God’s help. Then the faint hope in God’s goodness blossomed into a song of rejoicing for His mighty deliverances and manifold mercies. Every sorrow was another string to his harp; every deliverance another theme for praise.
One thrill of anguish spared, one blessing unmarked or unprized, one difficulty or danger evaded, how great would have been our loss in that thrilling Psalmody in which God’s people today find the expression of their grief or praise!
To wait for God, and to suffer His will, is to know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings, and to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. So now, if the vessel is to be enlarged for spiritual understanding, be not affrighted at the wider sphere of suffering that awaits you. The Divine capacity of sympathy will have a more extended sphere, for the breathing of the Holy Ghost in the new creation never made a stoic, but left the heart’s affection tender and true. –Anna Shipton
“What is the definition of happiness? Why do some people seem to have the secret to happiness, while others struggle to gain any satisfaction? These are some basic but effective ideas that you can use to cultivate inner happiness and build an incredible life.
The route to happiness isn’t difficult. Happiness is not dependent on amassing a certain amount of fame or wealth; happiness is not dependent on reaching a certain social pecking order. If we are always striving after something bigger and better, happiness will remain elusive.
Happiness is found in the present moment, not some dreamed of golden future. We need to learn the art of being content with our current situation. Our current life may be far from perfect; but, if we can detach from negative situations and appreciate the value of simplicity happiness becomes easier to cultivate.
Live in the Heart
If we only live in the mind we look at every situation with our critical judgmental mind, as a consequence, we will inevitably find innumerable faults with the world and with other people. When we are constantly criticising others we can find neither peace nor happiness. However, if we live more in the heart we have a more tolerant, accepting attitude towards others. The heart’s qualities are acceptance and oneness. Children find it is easy to see happiness in the most ordinary situation because they are more in the heart. At times we need to distance the critical mind and take a simpler, childlike view of life.
Control Over Your Thoughts
When we feel like helpless victims of our own negative thought streams — how can we hope to be happy? To cultivate happiness we need tocultivate positive thoughts. This means stopping negative thoughts and replacing them with good, inspiring thoughts.
Avoiding negative thoughts requires practice. Meditation and concentration exercises can help us control our thoughts. But sometimes the best way to prevent negative thoughts is to concentrate on something positive. It’s your own thoughts that take you to heaven or hell, so be very careful with what is allowed into your mind.
If we show no appreciation for others and for life, we create a narcissistic outlook. We focus excessively on our sense of self and ego. When we offer gratitude for small things in life, it helps us feel a broader identity and awareness; our consciousness expands and we bring to the fore our own positive qualities.
Gratitude has tremendous power; if it is sincere and heartfelt it makes a big difference to our outlook on life. Gratitude helps bring to the fore a sincerely positive attitude to life.
Happiness is easily found in usefully serving others. Activity doesn’t mean filling up our lives with as many activities as possible — this only leads to a sense of self-importance and stress as we struggle to do several things at once. But, if we are calmly active we find a sense of purpose in life; this sense of purpose and satisfaction helps cultivate an inner sense of satisfaction.
When you take regular physical exercise you will feel many benefits. Firstly, when we look after our body we are less prone to lethargy and illness. Through developing our fitness we gain an increased sense of self esteem; this is because we are taking active steps for our self improvement.
Increasing our fitness also enables an increased sense of mental well being; exercise helps rid the mind of many useless thoughts. It is important to have the right attitude to exercise, don’t think of school P.E. lessons in the cold rain; getting fit doesn’t have to be torture — you can easily find a sport or some exercise that is enjoyable and sociable.” BY TEJVAN PETTINGER | CATEGORIES: PSYCHOLOGY
Don’t be afraid, despised insignificant Jacob, men of Israel. I am helping you,” says the Lord, your protector, the Holy One of Israel. “Look, I am making you like a sharp threshing sledge, new and double-edged. You will thresh the mountains and crush them; you will make the hills like straw. (Isa 41:14-15)
Could any two things be in greater contrast than a worm and an instrument with teeth? The worm is delicate, bruised by a stone, crushed beneath the passing wheel; an instrument with teeth can break and not be broken; it can grave its mark upon the rock. And the mighty God can convert the one into the other. He can take a man or a nation, who has all the impotence of the worm, and by the invigoration of His own Spirit, He can endow with strength by which a noble mark is left upon the history of the time.
And so the “worm” may take heart. The mighty God can make us stronger than our circumstances. He can bend them all to our good. In God’s strength we can make them all pay tribute to our souls. We can even take hold of a black disappointment, break it open, and extract some jewel of grace. When God gives us wills like iron, we can drive through difficulties as the iron share cuts through the toughest soil. “I will make thee,” and shall He not do it? —Dr. Jowett
Christ is building His kingdom with earth’s broken things. Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unbroken, in building their kingdoms; but God is the God of the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filling with earth’s broken lives, and there is no bruised reed that Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory. —J. R. Miller
At the beginning of our life with Jesus Christ, we were sure we knew all there was to know about following Him. It was a delight to forsake everything else and to throw ourselves before Him in a fearless statement of love. But now we are not quite so sure. Jesus is far ahead of us and is beginning to seem different and unfamiliar— “Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed” (Mark 10:32).
There is an aspect of Jesus that chills even a disciple’s heart to its depth and makes his entire spiritual life gasp for air. This unusual Person with His face set “like a flint” (Isaiah 50:7) is walking with great determination ahead of me, and He strikes terror right through me. He no longer seems to be my Counselor and Friend and has a point of view about which I know nothing. All I can do is stand and stare at Him in amazement. At first I was confident that I understood Him, but now I am not so sure. I begin to realize that there is a distance between Jesus and me and I can no longer be intimate with Him. I have no idea where He is going, and the goal has become strangely distant.
Jesus Christ had to understand fully every sin and sorrow that human beings could experience, and that is what makes Him seem unfamiliar. When we see this aspect of Him, we realize we really don’t know Him. We don’t recognize even one characteristic of His life, and we don’t know how to begin to follow Him. He is far ahead of us, a Leader who seems totally unfamiliar, and we have no friendship with Him.
The discipline of dismay is an essential lesson which a disciple must learn. The danger is that we tend to look back on our times of obedience and on our past sacrifices to God in an effort to keep our enthusiasm for Him strong (see Isaiah 50:10-11). But when the darkness of dismay comes, endure until it is over, because out of it will come the ability to follow Jesus truly, which brings inexpressibly wonderful joy.
Do You See Your Calling?
From: My Utmost For His Highest
. . . separated to the gospel of God. . . —Romans 1:1
Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the gospel of God. The one all-important thing is that the gospel of God should be recognized as the abiding reality. Reality is not human goodness, or holiness, or heaven, or hell— it is redemption. The need to perceive this is the most vital need of the Christian worker today. As workers, we have to get used to the revelation that redemption is the only reality. Personal holiness is an effect of redemption, not the cause of it. If we place our faith in human goodness we will go under when testing comes.
Paul did not say that he separated himself, but “when it pleased God, who separated me . . .” (Galatians 1:15). Paul was not overly interested in his own character. And as long as our eyes are focused on our own personal holiness, we will never even get close to the full reality of redemption. Christian workers fail because they place their desire for their own holiness above their desire to know God. “Don’t ask me to be confronted with the strong reality of redemption on behalf of the filth of human life surrounding me today; what I want is anything God can do for me to make me more desirable in my own eyes.” To talk that way is a sign that the reality of the gospel of God has not begun to touch me. There is no reckless abandon to God in that. God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character. Paul was not conscious of himself. He was recklessly abandoned, totally surrendered, and separated by God for one purpose— to proclaim the gospel of God (see Romans 9:3).
I will tell you a story of my friend Monty Roberts.
As he was a kid, his father as a horse trainer was moving from stable to stable, from ranch to ranch, training horses. Thus, the boy‘s school career was constantly interrupted. One day, when he was a senior, teacher asked him to write about what he wanted to be when he grew up. He did not hesitate a minute and wrote seven-page paper about his aim to be an owner of a horse ranch, he wrote many details and drew a location of buildings and stables and even a detailed house plan.
Two days later he received his paper back with letter „F“ on the front page. After class he came to teacher and asked: „Why did I receive an F?“. The teacher responded: „This dreams is so unrealistic for a boy like you, who has no money, no resources and who comes from itinerant family. There is no possibility that you will reach your great goals one day.“ Then the teacher offered to rewrite the paper with more realistic attitude.
The boy went home and asked his father, how should he act. The father answered: „This decision is very important for you. So you have to make your own mind on this“.
After several days the boy brought the same paper to his teacher. No changes were made. He said: „Keep the F and I will keep my dream“.
Now Monty Roberts owns 4,000-square-foot house in the middle of 200-acre horse ranch and he still has that school paper, which now is framed over the fireplace.
Remember, you have to follow your heart and never let anyone to steal your dreams.
George was a driver and he spend so much time at his work, that he could hardly have a meal together with his wife and three children. In the evenings he attended classes, seeking to get knowledge, that one day would help him to find a better paying job.
George‘s family often complained that he is not spending enough time with them, but his only answer was „I am doing all this for you, I work hard to provide my family with the best that I can“.
Soon after George had passed his exams, he received a good job offer with a salary, which was significantly higher that he had before. So now George could provide his family with more expensive clothes, some luxury items or vacations in foreign countries. It was like a dream come true, but family still did not get enough attention from George, as he continued to work very hard and often he did not get to see his family for most of the week.
Time passed and George‘s hard work paid off, he was promoted. He decided to relieve his wife from domestic works, so he hired a maid. He also decided that their flat is not big enough for their family and they need a more spacious one. Thus he needed to work even harder and, moreover, he continued his studies, so that he would be promoted again. George worked so hard, that sometimes he even had to spend his Sundays with his clients instead of his wife and children. And again, whenever family asked for his time and complained that they do not spend enough time together, he answered, that he was doing all this only for them.
Some time later George was promoted, so he could buy a spacious house with a beautiful view. On the first Sunday evening at their new home, George told his wife and kids, that now he decided not to take any studies and work not so hard, so that he could spend more time with his beloved family. The very next morning George did not wake up.
My friend Jerry was one of the most positive people I had ever known. He was always in a good mood and always had something encouraging to say.
He was a manager at a restaurant. If his employee had a bad day, Jerry always helped him to look on the positive side of the situation.
Jerry‘s attitude truly amazed me. So one day I asked him: „How can you be so positive all the time?“. He replied: „You see, every morning I tell myself, that I have two choses for that day – to be in a good mood or in a bad. I choose the good one. And when something wrong happens, I can be sad and angry or I can learn from it instead. I choose to learn. Thus I choose the positive side of life“. I said: „It is not that easy“. He replied: „Yeas it is. Life is all about choses. You can choose how people or situation will affect your mood, your life“.
One morning Jerry left the restaurant‘s back door open and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. He tried to open the safe, but his hands shaked due to nervousness and he slipped off the combination. So the robbers shot him. Fortunately, Jerry was quickly found and brought to the nearest hospital. After many hours of surgery and long intensive care, Jerry was released home.
When I met him, I asked, what were his thoughts durign the robbery. „I thought that I should have locked the back door“, he replied. „Then, when I laid on the floor, I remembered about my choses in this case: a chose to live and a chose to die. I chose to live.“
I asked, if he were scared. Jerry continued: „When they wheeled me into emergency room and I looked at the faces of doctors, I got truly scared. I knew, that I need to do something. So when the nurse asked me, if I was allergic to anything, I replied „Yes“. Doctors and nurses stopped working as waited for my answer. I took a deep breath and yelled „Bullets“. They started laughing and I asked: „My chose is to live, operate me as I am alive, not dead“.
Now Jerry is alive owing to skills of his doctors, however his amazing attitude played an important role too. I learned from him, that every day we should choose to live fully no matter what.
One of my favorite classic hymns is “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” which was written in 1757 by 22-year-old Robert Robinson. In the hymn’s lyrics is a line that always captures my attention and forces me to do some self-evaluation. The line says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” I feel that way sometimes. Too often I find myself distracted and drifting, instead of having my heart and mind focused on the Savior who loves me and gave Himself for me. Robert Robinson and I are not alone in this.
In those seasons of wandering, our heart of hearts doesn’t want to drift from God—but, like Paul, we often do what we don’t want to do (Rom. 7:19), and we desperately need to turn back to the Shepherd of our heart who can draw us to Himself. David wrote of this struggle in His great anthem to the Scriptures, Psalm 119, saying, “With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!” (v.10).
Sometimes, even when our hearts long to seek God, the distractions of life can draw us away from Him and His Word. How grateful we can be for a patient, compassionate heavenly Father whose grace is always sufficient—even when we are prone to wander!
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above. —Robinson
Our tendency to wander is matched by God’s willingness to pursue.
From: My Utmost For His Highest
. . . you are that one’s slaves whom you obey . . . —Romans 6:16
The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because somewhere in the past I yielded to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because at some point in my life I yielded myself to Him.
If a child gives in to selfishness, he will find it to be the most enslaving tyranny on earth. There is no power within the human soul itself that is capable of breaking the bondage of the nature created by yielding. For example, yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust, and although you may hate yourself for having yielded, you become enslaved to that thing. (Remember what lust is— “I must have it now,” whether it is the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind.) No release or escape from it will ever come from any human power, but only through the power of redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One who can break the dominating power in your life, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. “. . . He has anointed Me . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives . . .” (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1).
When you yield to something, you will soon realize the tremendous control it has over you. Even though you say, “Oh, I can give up that habit whenever I like,” you will know you can’t. You will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you willingly yielded to it. It is easy to sing, “He will break every fetter,” while at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. But yielding to Jesus will break every kind of slavery in any person’s life.
The Song Of The Saints
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. . . . Your judgments have been manifested. —Revelation 15:4
We’ve all heard the expression, “I don’t get mad; I just get even.” Reading about the judgments described in Revelation, one might assume that God will get “even” with sinners for their phenomenal offenses throughout the history of mankind.
The truth is that God’s final judgment is a necessary expression of His holy justice. He can’t turn a blind eye to sin. In fact, if He doesn’t finally carry out justice as described in Revelation, it would be a denial of His holy character. That’s why in the midst of His judgments, the saints will sing His praise: “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. . . . Your judgments have been manifested” (Rev. 15:4). Those who know God best do not judge Him for His judgments; rather, they worship and affirm His actions.
What should surprise us is not the massive scale of God’s judgments, but that He’s waiting so long! Desiring that none should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), God is now mercifully restraining His judgment and giving maximum space to His marvelous mercy and grace. Now is the time to repent and take advantage of His patient love. And when we do, we’ll join the saints in praising Him for all eternity!
When God’s justice is finally and fully revealed, His praises will resound!
Prayer For Today
O Lord, open our lips
Alland our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love,
Allaccording to your judgement give us life.
One or more of the following is said or sung:
this or another prayer of thanksgiving
Blessed are you, God of compassion and mercy,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
In the darkness of our sin,
your light breaks forth like the dawn
and your healing springs up for deliverance.
As we rejoice in the gift of your saving help,
sustain us with your bountiful Spirit
and open our lips to sing your praise.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
AllBlessed be God for ever.
a suitable hymn, or A Song of Penitence
1Have mercy on me, O God, in your great goodness; •
according to the abundance of your compassion
blot out my offences.
2Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness •
and cleanse me from my sin.
3For I acknowledge my faults •
and my sin is ever before me.
4Against you only have I sinned •
and done what is evil in your sight,
5So that you are justified in your sentence •
and righteous in your judgement.
6Cast me not away from your presence •
and take not your holy spirit from me.
7Give me again the joy of your salvation •
and sustain me with your gracious spirit;
8Then shall I teach your ways to the wicked •
and sinners shall return to you.
9Deliver me from my guilt, O God,
the God of my salvation, •
and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness.
Psalm 51.1-5, 12-15
AllGlory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
This opening prayer may be said
The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.
Silence is kept.
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever.
“The Book of Job begins with an introduction to Job’s character—he is described as a blessed man who lives righteously. God’s praise of Job prompts Satan to challenge Job’s integrity, suggesting that Job serves God simply because he protects him. God removes Job’s protection, allowing Satan to take his wealth, his children, and his physical health (but not his life) in order to tempt Job to curse God. Despite his difficult circumstances, he does not curse God, but rather curses the day of his birth. And although he protests his plight and pleads for an explanation, he stops short of accusing God of injustice.
Most of the book consists of conversations between Job and his three friends concerning Job’s condition and its possible reasons, after which God responds to Job and his friends, opening his speech with the famous words, “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” After God’s reply, Job is overwhelmed and says, “I am unworthy – how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” Wikipedia. Book of Job
What was wrong with Job? What did he do? The answer is nothing wrong at all. He was a good man who loved his family and even sacrificed for them in the event they had sinned. Job hated evil/sin. God used Job to do things no one else could do. Job never cursed God and never blamed God for his problems. Job won a great victory. God knew him better than any other person. Job trusted God throughout the entire ordeal. He lost all his children, all his wealth, and his health. But he never turned his anger toward God.
We will be tested in life. We can rely on God to help us through our trials and problems. I hope we will be like Job whenever we find ourselves in a situation or test. God will help us through it and he will supply all our needs.
Illustration from the Bible:
A man named Lazarus was poor and sick and lay at the gate of a rich man. The rich man did not help him and after a long period of disease and sadness the poor man died and was carried to God by the Angels. He was faithful during his suffering and was humble. His reward was to be honored in Heaven as a hero. He finished his life on earth with a victory. Luke 16.