Accepting Ownership of Our Past

Much is required from those to whom much is given. Luke 12:48b

Accepting Ownership of our Past

A new life in Christ doesn’t excuse past obligations or erase the ongoing consequences of past sins. When the apostle Paul was in prison he led a runaway slave named Onesimus to Christ. But then Paul sent him back to his master—even though Onesimus faced a possible death penalty for his offense! Paul sent a letter back with the fugitive saying that if Onesimus had caused any harm or stolen anything that Paul would pay for it. Paul recognized that even though Onesimus was now a Christian, and forgiven of his sins, he needed to address the wrongs he’s committed in the past.

Likewise, before you can move ahead, you must face the unfinished business of your past. This may include facing up to some cowardly behavior, crooked schemes, or quick-fix solutions to difficult problems that just didn’t work. While you can be certain that God will meet you where you are, He calls you to take responsibility for whatever sins may have brought you to whatever circumstances you’re presently in. Once you accept ownership of your past, God will help you move ahead. But He’ll do it His way, not yours.”

Nobody ever did, or ever will escape the consequences of his choices. - Alfred A. Montapert

The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up. – John C.Maxwell

Controlling Your Emotions

Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will guard you
Proverbs 4:6

Who is in charge of your emotions? Is it you, or have you formed the unfortunate habit of letting other people—or stressful situations—determine the quality of your thoughts and the direction of your day? If you’re wise—and if you’d like to build a better life for yourself and your loved ones—you’ll learn to control your emotions before your emotions control you.

Wisdom

Human emotions are highly variable, decidedly unpredictable, and often unreliable. Our emotions are like the weather, only far more fickle. So we must learn to live by faith, not by the ups and downs of our own emotional roller coasters.

Sometime during this day, you will probably be gripped by a strong negative feeling. Distrust it. Rein it in. Test it. And turn it over to God. Your emotions will inevitably change; God will not. So trust Him completely as you watch those negative feelings slowly evaporate into thin air—which, of course, they will.

I may no longer depend on pleasant impulses to bring me before the Lord. I must rather respond to principles I know to be right, whether I feel them to be enjoyable or not. 
Jim Elliot

Our feelings do not affect God’s facts. They may blow up, like clouds, and cover the eternal things that we do most truly believe. We may not see the shining of the promises—but they still shine! His strength is not for one moment less because of our human weakness. 
Amy Carmichael

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, You are my strength and my refuge. As I journey through this day, I will encounter events that cause me emotional distress. Lord, when I am troubled, let me turn to You. Keep me steady, Lord, and in those difficult moments, renew a right spirit inside my heart. Amen

Facing the Sadness

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 7:10

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Most of us falter at the prospect of making an honest personal inventory. The rationalizations and excuses abound for avoiding this step. The bottom line is this: we know that there is an enormous amount of sadness awaiting us. And we fear the pain that facing the sadness will bring.

The Jewish exiles who returned to Jerusalem after captivity in Babylon had lost touch with God. During the exile, they hadn’t been taught His laws; so naturally, they hadn’t practiced them either. After rebuilding the city walls and the temple, the priests gathered the people together to read the Book of the Law. The people were overwhelmed with grief and began sobbing, because their lives in no way measured up. The priests said to them,”Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the LORD your God. . . .Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared . . . for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:9-10).

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That day marked the beginning of Sukkotor the Festival of Tabernacles, a required Jewish feast which celebrated their escape from bondage in Egypt and God’s care for them while they wandered in the wilderness.

When we set out to face the pain and sadness of making a moral inventory, we will need the “joy of the Lord” to give us strength. This joy comes from recognizing, even celebrating, God’s ability to bring us out of bondage and to care for us as we pass through the sadness toward a new way of life.

Our joy in the Lord helps us to face the sadness within ourselves.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, as I lay down my sadness and face the things that have hurt my heart, I do so in your strength, not my own. Thank you for the opportunity to take stock of my life. I repent of my sin, Lord and I pray that as I walk towards a new life in you, I will find my joy in you. Amen.

What kind of Treasure Hunter are You?

What kind of Treasure Hunter are You?  

If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you. – John 15:19 MSG

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It’s difficult to race headlong after material possessions and focus on building character at the same time. But, society encourages us to chase a long string of material possessions while paying precious little attention to the accumulation of spiritual rewards.

All of mankind is engaged in a colossal, worldwide treasure hunt. Some people seek treasure from earthly sources, treasures such as material wealth or public acclaim; others seek God’s treasures by making Him the cornerstone of their lives.

What kind of treasure hunter are you? Are you so caught up in the demands of everyday living that you sometimes allow the search for worldly treasures to become your primary focus? If so, it’s time to reorganize your daily to-do list by placing God in His rightful place: first place.

The world’s treasures are difficult to find and difficult to keep; God’s treasures are ever-present and everlasting. Which treasures, then, will you claim as your own?

Because the world is deceptive, it is dangerous. The world can even deceive God’s own people and lead them into trouble. ~ Warren Wiersbe 

Every Christian is a contradiction to this old world. He crosses it at every point. He goes against the grain from beginning to end. From the day that he is born again until the day that he goes on to be with the Lord, he must stand against the current of a world always going the other way. ~ Vance Havner 

Give me Your grace, good Lord, to count the world as nothing; to set my mind firmly on You and not to hang on the blasting words of men’s mouths. ~ St. Thomas More 

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, thank you that you are enough for me. I thank you that there is no earthly treasure or fame that is more worthy of my affections and heart. Help me to make my relationship with you more important than being popular with my peers. Amen.

 

 

God Can Handle It

God Can Handle It

I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:1-2 NKJV

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It’s a promise that is made over and over again in the Bible: Whatever “it” is, God can handle it.

Life isn’t always easy. Far from it! Sometimes, life can be very, very difficult, indeed. But even when the storm clouds gather overhead, even during our most stressful moments, we’re protected by a loving Heavenly Father.

When we’re worried, God can reassure us; when we’re sad, God can comfort us. When our hearts are broken, God is not just near; He is here. So we must lift our thoughts and prayers to Him. When we do, He will answer our prayers. Why? Because He is our shepherd, and He has promised to protect us now and forever.

God is God whether we recognize it or not. Nothing about that can change, except us. ~Lisa Whelchel

Either we are adrift in chaos or we are individuals, created, loved, upheld and placed purposefully, exactly where we are. Can you believe that? Can you trust God for that? ~Elisabeth Elliot

God is in control, and therefore in everything I can give thanks, not because of the situation, but because of the One who directs and rules over it. ~Kay Arthur

The choice for me is to either look at all things I have lost or the things I have. To live in fear or to live in hope. Hope comes from knowing I have a sovereign, loving God who is in every event in my life.   ~Lisa Beamer

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, You never leave or forsake me. You are always with me, protecting me and encouraging me. Whatever this day may bring, I thank You for Your love and Your strength. Let me lean upon You, Father, this day and forever. Amen

Cheerfulness 101

Cheerfulness 101

Every day is hard for those who suffer, but a happy heart is like a continual feast.Proverbs 15:15 NCV

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Cheerfulness is a wonderful antidote to stress. And, as believers who have been saved by a risen Christ, why shouldn’t we be cheerful? The answer, of course, is that we have every reason to honor our Savior with joy in our hearts, smiles on our faces, and words of celebration on our lips.

Christ promises us lives of abundance and joy if we accept His love and His grace. Yet sometimes, even the most righteous among us are beset by fits of ill temper and frustration. During these moments, we may not feel like turning our thoughts and prayers to Christ, but that’s precisely what we should do. When we do so, we simply can’t stay grumpy for long.

Cheerfulness prepares a glorious mind for all the noblest acts of religion—love, adoration, praise, and every union with our God. ~St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

It is not fitting, when one is in God’s service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look.   ~St. Francis of Assisi

God is good, and heaven is forever. And if those two facts don’t cheer you up, nothing will.    ~Marie T. Freeman

When we bring sunshine into the lives of others, we’re warmed by it ourselves. ~Barbara Johnson

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, You have given me so many reasons to be happy, and I want to be a cheerful Christian. Today and every day, I will do my best to share my happiness with my family and my friends. Amen

Neighbors in Need

Neighbors in Need

Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”  That’s exactly what Jesus did. - Romans 15:2-3 MSG

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Sometimes, it’s not you, but instead your neighbors, who are experiencing stress. And, of course, we know that we’re instructed to love our neighbors, and yet there’s so little time . . . and we’re so busy. No matter. As Christians, we are commanded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to love our neighbors just as we love ourselves.

This very day, you will encounter someone who needs a word of encouragement, a pat on the back, a helping hand, or a heartfelt prayer. And, if you don’t reach out to your friend, who will? If you don’t take the time to understand the needs of your neighbors, who will? If you don’t love your brothers and sisters, who will? So, today, look for a neighbor in need . . . and then do something to help. Father’s orders.

Make it a rule, and pray to God to help you to keep it, never, if possible, to lie down at night without being able to say: “I have made one human being at least a little wiser, or a little happier, or at least a little better this day.” ~Charles Kingsley

Encouraging others means helping people, looking for the best in them, and trying to bring out their positive qualities.   ~John Maxwell

Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can. ~John Wesley

 

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, help me be a Good Samaritan to the people You place along my path, today and every day. Amen

A Good Marriage

A Good Marriage

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.  – Genesis 2:24

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The Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri has made public 1,300 recently discovered letters the late President wrote over the course of a half-century to his wife, Bess. Fifty years is a long time, and that’s a whole lot of letters!

That’s because Truman had a lifelong rule of writing Bess every day they were apart. He followed this rule when he was away on official business or whenever Bess left Washington to visit her beloved Independence.

Scholars will examine the letters for whatever light they may throw on political and diplomatic history. And that’s all well and good. But don’t miss this simple, beautiful, fact: every day they were apart, the President of the United States set aside the world’s most powerful leaders and most pressing problems to sit down and write a letter to his wife.

There is nothing nobler and more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends. – Homer (ancient Greek poet)

The Morning Watch

The Morning Watch

Every morning He wakes me. He teaches me to listen like a student. The Lord God helps me learn . . . – Isaiah 50:4-5 NCV

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Each new day is a gift from God, and if you are wise, you will spend a few quiet moments each morning thanking the Giver. When you do, you’ll discover that time spent with God can lift your spirits and relieve your stress.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “Surrender your mind to the Lord at the beginning of each day.” That is sound advice. When you begin each day with your head bowed and your heart lifted, you are reminded of God’s love, His protection, and His commandments. Then, you can align your priorities for the coming day with the teachings and commandments that God has placed upon your heart.

So, if you’ve acquired the unfortunate habit of trying to “squeeze” God into the corners of your life, it’s time to reshuffle the items on your to-do list by placing God first. And if you haven’t already done so, form the habit of spending quality time with your Father in heaven. He deserves it . . . and so do you.

How paltry must be the devotions of those who are always in a hurry. – William Law

How motivating it has been for me to view my early morning devotions as time of retreat alone with Jesus, who desires that I “come with Him by myself to a quiet place” in order to pray, read His Word, listen for His voice, and be renewed in my spirit. – Anne Graham Lotz

I suggest you discipline yourself to spend time daily in a systematic reading of God’s Word. Make this “quiet time” a priority that nobody can change. – Warren Wiersbe

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, help me to hear Your direction for my life in the quiet moments when I study Your Holy Word. And as I go about my daily activities, let everything that I say and do be pleasing to You. Amen

 

Studying God’s Word Builds Character

Studying God’s Word Builds Character

You will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 1 Timothy 4:6 NASB

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God’s promises are found in a book like no other: the Holy Bible. The Bible is a road map for life here on earth and for life eternal. We are called upon to trust its promises, to follow its commandments, and to share its Good News. We are instructed to study the Bible each day and meditate upon its meaning for our lives. Otherwise, we deprive ourselves of an invaluable, character-building gift from the Creator. God’s Holy Word is, indeed, a transforming, life-changing, one-of-a-kind treasure. And, a passing acquaintance with the Good Book is insufficient for those who seek to obey God’s Word and to understand His will.

God has made promises to mankind and to you. God’s promises never fail and they never grow old. You must trust those promises and share them with your family, with your friends, and with the world.

Are you standing on the promises of God? Are you expecting God to do wonderful things, or are you living beneath a cloud of apprehension and doubt? The familiar words of Psalm 118:24 remind us of a profound yet simple truth: ‘This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it’ (KJV). Do you trust that promise, and do you live accordingly? If so, you are living the passionate life that God intends.

For passionate believers, every day begins and ends with God’s Son and God’s promises. As we face the inevitable challenges of life, we must arm ourselves with the promises of God’s Holy Word. When we do, we can expect the best, not only for the day ahead, but also for all eternity.

Trust God’s Word: Charles Swindoll writes, ‘There are four words I wish we would never forget, and they are, ‘God keeps his word.” And remember: When it comes to studying God’s Word, school is always in session.

Reading news without reading the Bible will inevitably lead to an unbalanced life, an anxious spirit, a worried and depressed soul. Bill Bright

God gives us a compass and a Book of promises and principles’ the Bible’and lets us make our decisions day by day as we sense the leading of His Spirit. This is how we grow. Warren Wiersbe