Real Transformation

Real Transformation

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17 HCSB

realtransformation.newlifeHave you invited God’s Son to reign over your heart and your life? If so, think for a moment about the “old” you, the person you were before you invited Christ into your heart. Now, think about the “new” you, the person you have become since then. Is there a difference between the “old” you and the “new and improved” version? There should be! And that difference should be noticeable not only to you but also to others.

Warren Wiersbe observed, “The greatest miracle of all is the transformation of a lost sinner into a child of God.” And Oswald Chambers noted, “If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit Divine characteristics in your life, not good human characteristics. God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as a human life trying to be godly.”

When you invited Christ to reign over your heart, you became a new creation through Him. This day offers yet another opportunity to behave yourself like that new creation by serving your Creator and strengthening your character. When you do, God will guide your steps and bless your endeavors today and forever.

Today, remember this: a true conversion experience results in a life transformed by Christ and a commitment to following in His footsteps.
No man is ever the same after God has laid His hand upon him. - A. W. Tozer   

Being born again is God’s solution to our need for love and life and light. - Anne Graham Lotz

The transforming love of God has repositioned me for eternity. I am now a new man, forgiven, basking in the warm love of our living God, trusting His promises and provision, and enjoying life to the fullest. – Bill Bright

What is God looking for? He is looking for men and women whose hearts are completely His. - Charles Swindoll

When I met Christ, I felt that I had swallowed sunshine. - E. Stanley Jones

The Saddest Words

The Saddest Words

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;  my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. – Psalm 62:5-6

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Several famous people were asked what they felt was the saddest word in the English language.  Listen to what some of them said:

  • “But,” said Lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II.
  • Writer John Dos Passos quoted John Keats: “Forlorn! The very word is like a bell.”
  • Statesman Bernard M. Baruch said: “Hopeless.”
  • President Harry Truman quoted John Greenleaf Whittier: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’”

“But”, “forlorn”, “hopeless”, “it might have been” . . . together these words describe the heart of a person without Christ.  What a con­trast these sad words make to the promises of God.

In Jesus Christ, a forlorn, hopeless heart haunted by “buts” and “it might have beens” is transformed into a heart of hope and purpose.  Be encouraged by God’s specific promises of joy and hope of trans­formation for your life.

When hope is taken away from the people, moral degeneration follows swiftly after. – Pearl S. Buck

 

Expressing Grief

Expressing Grief

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

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Grief is the process that helps you release your pain and losses to God. In your grief, you come to terms with your past and you find freedom to live in the reality of the present. On the other side of grief, you’ll find hope for the future. So if you harden your heart and refuse to grieve, you’re likely to get stuck both emotionally and spiritually.

The prophet Jeremiah shared his grief and tears with God. Jeremiah lived with God’s people and pleaded with them to return to God. But his pleas fell on deaf ears, and his heart was broken. So in his grief, the prophet penned the words of the Old Testament book, Lamentations. When you read it, you’ll find that Jeremiah didn’t mince his words or hide his pain. He weeps openly and fully, releasing his emotions to God. It’s a great example for us when we grieve our own losses.

Lamentations doesn’t provide pat answers for the suffering you’ll experience. If you’ll read it, you’ll discover that it’s all right to be real, to be angry, to be disappointed with life, and to be concerned about what tomorrow holds for you. God accepted Jeremiah being angry, tired, and discouraged, and he will accept you as well. Just as God honored the tears of Jeremiah, He’ll honor yours if you share your pain and sorrow with Him. It’s likely to be the first step to bring healing for the present and hope for the future.

 Grief  is itself a medicine. – William Cowper

I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. – C.S. Lewis

 

Open The Eyes Of Your Heart

The Eyes of Your Heart

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:18

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Are you going through difficult times? If it does nothing else for you and to you, it will open the eyes of your heart. Walking through troubled waters is one way that God has of shifting your vision. When your heart breaks, there’s an avenue for God’s compassion to trickle in and envelop your heart with His. You’ll begin to look at others through the eyes of your heart and not through the eyes of quick judgment, harsh conclusions, or self-interest.

Your trip to the grocery store, to church, to Wal-Mart or Starbucks will take on a new hue. You’ll look at people and wonder what their story is; what their childhood was like; what caused them to be so happy or unhappy, why they seem this way or that.

Their job titles will be less important, their type of car won’t impress you, what kind of clothes they wear, or whether they’re wrinkled or stylish won’t matter anymore. You’re more likely to understand that they are in some pain and trying to run from it or trying to hide. Or, you’ll see their smile and demeanor and wonder if they’re truly happy or masking some inner, silent suffering or anger.

Now, you won’t get answers to all that you wonder about people and their stories, but your heart will be softened. You’ll find that you have a level of compassion that most people don’t have. If your heart is broken, let His compassion trickle in to your heart through the brokenness. Let Him open the eyes of your heart today.

A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.Steve Maraboli 

What value has compassion that does not take its object in its arms.Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

The Psalms

The Psalms

But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. – Psalm 3:3-4

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It’s impossible to adequately summarize the richness and breadth contained in the book of Psalms.  It was Israel’s hymnbook, containing songs of praise to God.  It also contains the cries of God’s people in difficult situations.  And it was a prayer book for Israel.  The psalmists looked to God in moments of private despair, in times of national suffering, and in the joyous moments of mountain-top experiences.

The Psalms are for us right now, today.  They are brimming with honest emotion.  Through them you can learn to pour out your anguish and your adoration, your suffering and confession, your hopes and your fears.  Through them you feel safe asking God why he has or hasn’t acted in a certain way.  Through others you might express your pain, heartache, and discouragement.  Through still others you may praise God as he frees you from oppression and sin.  Each psalm is an expression of the heart.  None of them are neat little packages of answers tied up with pretty bows.  They are living words, a collection of spiritual diaries from people who honestly sought God’s help and His heart.

Do you need spiritual direction or encouragement?  The Psalms can function as deterrents to keep you out of trouble, guides to help you through problems, reminders of the one who actually delivers you, or as beacons of hope to encourage you in perplexing or painful situations.  Read the Psalms and be ushered into the very presence of your loving and merciful God. You’ll be glad you did!

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.Psalm 1:1-2 

Faith and Understanding

Faith and Understanding

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

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Upon returning from space, the Russian cosmonaut Gherman Titoy said, “Some people say there is a God out there…but in my travels around the earth all day long, I looked around and didn’t see Him…I saw no God nor angels.  The rocket was made by our own people.  I don’t believe in God.  I believe in man, his strength, his possibilities, and his reason.”

Isn’t it amazing that at moments when we’re most vulnerable, and most clearly confronted with God’s majesty, we can be so unaware of His presence?

God is wiser than we can comprehend, more immense than we’re comfortable with, and merciful beyond the reaches of our imagina­tions.

Yet, He’s also the One through whom everything makes sense.  So don’t mistakenly think that faith is the result of understanding.  It’s the opposite.  Faith is the basis for understanding.

 Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light. – Helen Keller 

Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right. – Max Lucado

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.- Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

Belonging

Belonging

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Matthew 6:20-21

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In his classic novel, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes of the subtle way that prosperity knits a person’s heart to the world.  Growing reputations, widening circles of acquaintances, a per­ceived sense of importance, and the increasing pressure of absorb­ing and agreeable work, argues Lewis, builds up in a person a sense of really being at home on earth.  But while people are finding their place in the world, Lewis concludes that the world is finding its place in them.

The truth is each of us longs for a sense of belonging.  It’s the way we’re designed, and it’s a good thing.  But what the world has to offer is incapable of producing what we too often seek to find in it, so it can’t help but leave us disappointed.

Don’t become a collector of empty treasures in your search to find belonging.  Possessing things that belong to you is no substitute for choosing to belong to God, and possessing eternal security in Christ.

While the impostor draws his identity from past achievements and the adulation of others, the true self claims identity in its belovedness. We encounter God in the ordinariness of life: not in the search for spiritual highs and extraordinary, mystical experiences but in our simple presence in life. - Brennan Manning

No man can swim ashore and take his baggage with him. - Seneca the Younger

Blind Spots

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

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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

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 your 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

Expect the Unexpected

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

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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

Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries