Blind Spots

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel. – Proverbs 27:9

Blind Spots

Samuel was one of the great men of faith and one of the great leaders in Israel’s history. He served as priest, prophet, and Israel’s last judge. Look at what the Bible says about him. “As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said was wise and helpful. All the people of Israel from one end of the land to the other knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 3:19-20)

But Samuel was human, and he had blind spots. Samuel appointed his sons as judges in his place. The problem was that his sons were not the men of character that he was. Scripture tells us they “were greedy for money, accepted bribes and perverted justice.” The people tried to tell Samuel, but for whatever reason he had a blind spot when it came to his family.

We often develop blind spots with regard to someone we love and want to protect. If Samuel had heard the people’s complaints with openness, he may have seen the truth before it was too late. Then he could have corrected the problem and held his sons accountable for their actions. If others around you are telling you things you don’t want to hear, maybe you should stop and evaluate carefully what’s being said.

Do you need to be honest about someone in your life: a friend, child, or maybe a family member? Perhaps it is time to take your blinders off?

The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly. – Jim Rohn

God Deserves Our Best

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7

God Deserves Our Best

A poor man vowed to give God a certain percentage of his income.  From his first week’s pay he gave one dollar.  But before long, pros­perity raised the sum of the gift to one hundred dollars a week, and in time, to five hundred dollars.

Initially his offerings brought intense joy.  But over time, he began feeling entitled to his prosperity.  He explained to a close friend that when he made the promise he only had to give a dollar, but now that it was five hundred he didn’t feel he could afford such extravagant giving.

His wise friend said, “I’m afraid you cannot get a release from the promise, but there is something we can do.  We can kneel down and ask God to shrink your income so that you can afford to give a dollar again.”

God deserves our best. Has he blessed you?  Ask Him how he might use you to bless others.

The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. – William James

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. – Maya Angelou

I think when you’re very dedicated to something and you’re engaged fully, you become a giver. – Russell Simmons 

Expect the Unexpected

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

Expect the Unexpected

Have you ever calculated and carefully planned something . . . only to find that the results were not what you expected?

In January of 1996, a Los Angeles based radio station awarded a pair of Superbowl tickets to the winner of their “Crazy Stunt” contest. For his stunt, finalist Mike Garcia intended to remove his glass eye, swallow it, bring it back up, and replace it in the socket . . . all before a live audience. In preparation, Garcia consumed a massive quantity of food, followed by a 6-pack of beer. Once onstage, the first half of his stunt went according to plan; Garcia effortlessly removed his glass eye and swallowed it. The second half, however, took an unexpected turn.

The gluttonous portions of food and ale had their anticipated effect. But despite his best efforts, Garcia could not retrieve the eye that he had swallowed. He heaved upon stage for more than fifteen minutes and then left the stage tired, disappointed, and missing one eye. Had he known the outcome in advance, he probably would have opted to buy tickets, which probably would have been cheaper than what he spent to replace his prosthesis.

Be careful when you find yourself thinking that you have it all figured out. You could be headed for trouble. We need God’s input and direction every moment of the day. Remember that even though we are reading the map, He is at the wheel. Look to the Lord when making the smallest, and seemingly most insignificant decisions.

Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night. – George Herbet

Charity

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. – 1 Peter 4:10

Charity

While rummaging through the trash for returnable bottles and cans, Charles Moore, a 59 year old homeless man in Detroit, found $21,000 in U. S. savings bonds. Who could need the money more than Mr. Moore, right? Yet he brought the small treasure to a nearby homeless shelter, where a staff member tracked down the owner.

Moore’s honesty amidst his dire circumstances triggered a wave of spontaneous generosity in Michigan and throughout America. The bonds’ owners gave Moore $100. Another man sent him eight trash bags of returnable bottles and a bowl of coins. A New Mexico man gave $1,000. Three others gave a combined $2,500 and local businessmen gave Mr. Moore $1,200, a shopping spree, and a lead on a job.

Isn’t life ironic? Mr. Moore, a selfless, open-handed homeless man, can teach all of us a lesson in charity.

Honesty is, in fact, the policy that pays the best.” – Winston Churchill

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, please help me to live with open hands and heart, that I might be Your hands and Your heart to the world. Amen.

Agnostic?

Then Jesus told him, Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. – John 20:29

Agnostic

Imagine my surprise when a non-Christian friend of mine in college informed me that I was an agnostic! “You go to a Christian school,” he said, “but you’re kind of agnostic aren’t you?” I was horrified. “What do you mean?” I stammered.

I just look at what you do,” he replied. “You don’t seem to spend time doing things other Christians do, and you sure do a lot of things they’d never do, so I just assumed that you were not too sure what you believed. That means you’re agnostic.

We can’t peer into the hearts of one another, yet sometimes our actions betray our hearts, don’t they? It wasn’t easy to be confronted with proof of my unbelief, but God used this unbeliever’s conclusions to bring me back to Him.

If you were tried for being a Christian, would the fruit of your life provide evidence in support of the charges?

“I once wanted to become an atheist but I gave up…they have no holidays.” – Henny Youngman

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, when the world looks at me, I pray that they are never unsure of what my religious beliefs are or have doubts about where my heart lies. 

One Attitude Required

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. – James 4:10

One Attitude Required

Humility doesn’t save us, but it can save us a ton of grief. Humility doesn’t change your circumstances, but it helps you submit to God’s purposes no matter what the circumstances. Humility doesn’t speed up answers to prayer, but it accelerates the acceptance of God’s will. Humility doesn’t make decisions for you, but it inclines your heart toward decisions consistent with God’s plan. Humility doesn’t earn you more of God’s love, but it helps you experience God’s love at a deeper level.

For these reasons Scripture has a great deal to say on humility:
– Psalm 25:9 says, “God guides and teaches the humble.”
– Psalm 147:6 says, “The Lord sustains the humble.”
– Proverbs 11:2 says, “Wisdom belongs to the humble.”
– Proverbs 22:4 says, “True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.”
– Isaiah 57:15 says that the Lord personally dwells with and refreshes the humble.
– Matthew 23:12 says that the humble with be exalted, and the exalted will be humbled.
– And James 4:6 says that God is gracious to the humble.

Rewards, sustenance, wisdom, guidance, intimacy, grace, renewal, and revelation—all hinge on an attitude that accompanies our faith. The early twentieth-century preacher and theologian, Oswald Chambers, called humility “the great characteristic of a saint.” For all its benefits and blessings, humility is the best way to go for God’s people. In fact, it’s the only way to go.

Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.” ~ Italian proverb

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, give me a humble heart. As I approach your throne, I pray that I will do so with an attitude of humility and not entitlement. Amen

Energizer

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7

Energizer

Do you remember the Energizer Bunny? The pink, battery-operated bunny beat his drum and traveled about while a voice announced the company’s slogan, “It keeps going and going and going and going…

Can you relate? Many of us feel just like that bunny around the holidays. Church activities, shopping, Christmas cards, baking, cleaning, parties, keeping up with work, and more shopping all have a way of taking their toll. Hard work and service are both good and necessary, but so is stopping once in a while. Even the Energizer Bunny needed to stop for a battery change!

Take some time this coming season to stop and watch the snow fall, and if you happen to be in one of those warm southern states maybe substitute a cool, clear, star-filled night! You’ll find that when you stop, the significance of Christ’s birth will transform your busy heart to a peace-filled heart.

– Steve Arterburn

“Oh! Do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow.  I cannot be dictated to by a watch.“- Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Help Your Neighbor

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4

Help Your Neighbor

When you see someone  who needs help, do you stop?

On May 20th 1994, this story made the news in London papers. It was reported that Princess Diana was on her way home from a jog in London’s Regents Park when tourists flagged her car, pointed to a bridge over the narrow lake and said someone had fallen in. The princess, still in running shoes and shorts, reportedly told her chauffeur to call police on the car phone, she then dashed to the bridge where she was joined by a Finnish student living in London. The student, followed by Diana, climbed over the parapet of the bridge onto the bank of the lake. The student then swam to the 42-year-old Irish vagrant, by then unconscious, and towed him to the bank, where the princess waited to help resuscitate the man. Diana, fondly known as the people’s princess had once again captured the hearts of the media and the British public by her unselfish act of kindness towards a vagrant.

A Jewish law expert once asked Jesus about how to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked the man, “What does the law say?” The man told Jesus, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself“. Then Jesus told a story about the Good Samaritan. When some robbers beat up a man, a priest and a religious leader had walked passed this half-dead man . . . yet ignored him. Then a Samaritan man lovingly loaded the man on his donkey and took him to an inn.

It’s easy to walk past people who need our help. But it takes love and concern to look at the people around us as our neighbor. Who is my neighbor? Jesus gave us an example in the Bible, and Princess Diana gave us a modern day example.

I challenge you today to look for an unexpected opportunity to help someone in need.

– Steve Arterburn

“If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.” – Bob Hope

“Empathy is born out of the old biblical injunction ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’ ” – George McGovern

What is the Antidote for Greed?

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7

What is the Antidote for Greed?

Are you as dumbfounded as I am by the cases that have made their way into our judicial system? Remember a few years ago when a woman sued Starbucks for 114 million dollars. What horrible thing happened to cause such a law­suit? Did she lose a limb? Was she burned over 90% of her body? Did she slip and fall and become a paraplegic?

As it turns out, Starbucks emailed a coupon for a free iced coffee to a limited group of employees who were encouraged to forward it to friends and family. As you can imagine, the promotion turned into a forwarding frenzy far exceeding what Starbucks could handle, so they decided to stop honoring the coupons. But one woman felt “betrayed,” and sought a $114 million to help ease her pain.

It’s easy to recognize her greed. But what about the greed in our hearts? Do you know what the only antidote for greed is? Giving. And the Bible is clear. God loves a cheerful giver.

– Steve Arterburn

“Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway.” – Mother Theresa

James and John – Two Changed Men

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. – 1 Peter 1:22

James and John - Two Changed Men

What words would your friends or family use to describe you? Jesus referred to two brothers, James and John, as Sons of Thunder.  Why? We’re given a glimpse of their fiery personalities in the book of Luke. After the Samaritan people rejected them, James and John asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the village. Jesus rebuked them for their impulse to retaliate.

Yet that’s not the end of their story. Jesus worked in these brothers’ lives so that they became known not for anger and revenge, but for love and forgiveness. James was the first of the twelve disciples to give his life for his faith. He was killed in Jerusalem by the order of Herod Agrippa. John is referred to as the “disciple Jesus loved.” He went on to write powerful words on the importance of love and became an important leader of the church.

Though the two brothers had once been ambitious for their own personal gain, they ended up ambitiously sharing God’s love with others for their spiritual gain. The brothers discovered that when you understand and experience God’s love, you are free to live and grow. And as you grow and share with others, you will be used by God to touch the lives of many in need of God’s healing help.

Can you relate to the anger and selfish ambition of these men? If so, be encouraged by God’s work in their lives. He wants to do the same in you!

– Steve Arterburn

“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” – C.S. Lewis