The Blessing of Brokenness

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.  – Isaiah 57 : 15

The Blessing of Brokenness

Brokenness is actually a blessing, but too often we’re so caught up with wanting to feel better we miss God’s best for us. If you’re struggling . . . if you feel as if your faith is gone . . . don’t miss the blessing that comes with brokenness . . . Here’s a story that illustrates what I mean:

There was a young priest who was about to lift the communion cup and bless the cup. It was made of choice crystal. Just when he lifted up the cup, it slipped out of his hand and smashed in pieces onto the floor. He looked up at the senior priest thinking that he would be ridiculed. Instead the senior priest said, “I never knew there were so many beautiful pieces to reflect the light until the cup was broken. How marvelous and beautiful are all the pieces when the light shines on them!

Like the cup, our broken lives can accentuate the beauty of the light shining through them. For that light is the Lord. What we fear is to be broken or be seen as broken; but as this story  illustrates, it is in our brokenness that the light of Christ dazzles–drawing attention to His beauty, and making our lives beautiful as a result.

And, in the book, Wild at Heart, John Eldredge commented, “But you can’t do this at a distance; you can’t ask Christ to come into your wound while you remain far from it. You have to go there with him.” It’s o.k. to be broken; it is in our brokenness that we can bring it to the Lord and experience His touch and healing, and bring hope to our broken heart.

– Steve Arterburn

“God can take all the broken pieces and put it back together in a way that is good.”– Max Johnson 

Hiding God’s Word

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Hiding God's Word

What sorts of things find their way into your heart and mind? If you’re exposing yourself to a constant barrage of ungodly words, music, or images, you’re not taking full responsibility for your life.You can fill your heart and mind with God’s Word, and when you do, you’ll create a defense against some of the evil messages the world so frequently sends your way.

The writer of Psalm 119 declared, “I have tried my best to find you–don’t let me wander from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:10-11). “Hiding” God’s Word in your heart essentially means memorizing and meditating on the Bible. God uses his Word–the Bible—to speak to you and show you how you ought to live.

You’ve been given the responsibility to guard your heart and to keep track of the things you hide inside it. So, what’s in there? Anger? Lust? Ugly images from TV, the movies, or the web? Are you harboring bitterness? Greed? Are you envious of others? If you’re struggling with these things maybe it’s because you have more of the world’s wisdom in your heart than the true wisdom of God.

Are you having a hard time finding God and following his commands? Hiding God’s word in your heart will foster spiritual growth by guarding against those things that hurt you and  displease God.

Steve Arterburn

I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me . . . they are cramming for their final.” – George Carlin (1937–2008)

 

Staying The Course

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1

Staying The Course

If you’re a Christian, God has already transformed your heart. But He also wants you to enter life in him like an athlete enters competition. That’s why the Bible, more than once, likens the Christian life to a race. Our faith in Christ motivates us to run it, and His power provides the strength to finish–despite the many times we all stumble along the way.

This illustration of a race refers to races where the runner would strip off his tunic and robe so he could run without any hindrance. If someone tried to compete in his robes, he would get tangled up and wouldn’t have a chance at winning.

God wants you to finish the race of life well. Set aside the distractions and the sins that entangle you. Pace yourself. Exert yourself. And remember, many have run and finished before you. They’re that “huge crowd of witnesses” Hebrews 12:1 speaks about, and they’re cheering you on!

– Steve Arterburn

By perseverance the snail reached the ark.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892)

Flashpoint

And he said; I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:3

Flashpoint

If the blaze in a fire reaches a flash point, every bit of combustible material in the room, wood, paper, carpet, and furniture, will explode into flame. The fire doesn’t even have to touch anything in order to spread. A confined blaze will heat the atmosphere until everything in the enclosed space ignites. If it can burn at the flash point it will.

If we apply the same principle to our hearts, the result is equally explosive. When God ignites the passion in your soul, and ideas spontaneously ignite, your life will be changed forever. A flashpoint of the heart can set the world on fire.

Has a fire ever smoldered quietly within the confines of your heart? A flashpoint will occur when you’re compelled to change, or make a difference, no matter what the cost.

– Steve Arterburn

Some people go through their whole life wondering if they ever made a difference. Marines don’t have that problem.” – Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)

Prayer and Meditation

Although it’s too seldom taught or practiced, our communing with God consists of two equally important parts: prayer and meditation. Prayer is our talking to God. Most of us have this aspect down. Meditation is our listening to God. And here most of us need a bit of work.

Prayer and Meditation

Have you ever been in a relationship where the other person does all the talking? There’s an up side to this: you become a good listener, and the other person feels great comfort and ease sharing personal issues with you. But there’s a down side too: as you’re called upon to always listen and never talk, you can begin feeling unknown, perhaps a little unloved, and sometimes, even used.

Now, think about how this scenario might apply to your relationship with God. Are you doing all the talking, without ever taking the time to listen? If you’re sharing with Him from the depths of your heart, and seeking guidance and wisdom, that’s fantastic! By all means, keep it up. Just make sure, that as you do this, you’re also taking the time and training the ears of your heart to listen to God as well.

Remember, God tends to speak with a still, small voice; He very rarely shouts at His children. That’s why meditation is such an important aspect of prayer. It teaches you to develop a quiet, patient heart and an open attentive ear. These are essential components of the mature Christian.

– Steve Arterburn

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)

Serving

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. – Colossians 3:23-24

Serving

At the heart of the Civil War was a large portion of free people who concluded that slavery shouldn’t be. Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain was one of those men. In the movie Gettysburg he says, ‘This is a different kind of army. If you look back through history, you’ll see men fighting for pay, for women, for some other kind of loot. They fight for land, power, because a king leads them, or just because they like killing. But we are here for something new. This has not happened much in the history of the world. We are an army out to set other men free.’

Throughout history, God has been calling men and women to give of themselves so others can be free. Are you willing to make sacrifices for others?

Steve Arterburn

‘For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice ‘ no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service.’ – John Burroughs (1837-1921)