Roots and Wings

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. – Colossians 3:16

Roots and Wings

We all need two basic things in life. The first is stability to be grounded and secure individuals. Only then can you be relationally healthy. The second is the vision and encouragement to discern and develop your unique gifts and aptitudes. Then you can recognize, pursue, and fulfill your calling. In simple terms, you need roots, and you need wings.

Today I want to focus on the latter—the wings. We all want to be discerning so that we can develop God’s design for our lives. But be prepared . . . it takes time and energy. It takes time to connect with God; to read and study His word, to pray, to talk to God and to listen to God, and connect with other people.

As you connect with God and connect with others, you will see God’s will for your life. It’s when you actively pursue life and pursue God . . . that you’ll see God’s will revealed. Don’t wait for it, move ahead and see it happen.

Steve Arterburn

No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in a sunny valley. – Seneca the Younger

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Silencing Unholy Sounds

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. – Psalm 46:10

Silencing Unholy Sounds

You don’t need to look very far to find that our culture is bombarded by words–billboards, radio, email, text messaging, internet, television, telephones, the list goes on and on. Some messages are, of course, better than others. Nevertheless, there comes a time when we all need a break from the constant bombardment.

But how do you find refuge in a world as frenzied as ours? You can’t just set up your life in a way that you avoid everything coming at you. Yet it will be good for you to find a way to carve out a time and a place for silence in the midst of the frenzy.

The Bible tells us to sit still and be silent, and know that God is God. Take a break from the constant chatter of the world. Sit quietly and attentively in God’s presence.

Try it. See if this spiritual discipline doesn’t break the power of fear and anxiety in your life. See if it doesn’t heighten your awareness of God’s presence. See if, in this silence, you can learn to pay less attention to the noise of the world and more attention to what God is trying to say to you.

Set aside some time this week. Read Psalm 46 slowly and carefully, then sit quietly and let your heart rest in the comforting truth that God is God, and you’re not!

– Steve Arterburn

There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. – Minnie Aumonier

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Humility | Doorways, Not Doormats

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. – 1 Peter 5:6

Humility Doorways, not Doormats

Humility. What is it anyway? If I’m humble, do I have to roll over and play second fiddle to everyone, all the time? Too often humility has been misunderstood as a negative character trait. I would like to help you get a clear biblical perspective on what humility is and what it is not. Humility isn’t thinking less of your-self; it’s thinking more of God and of others. In other words, humility isn’t about putting our-selves down, but rather, about glorifying God and affirming others.

Consider Jesus. He left His place of highest honor in heaven in or­der to become a man, flesh and blood, here on earth. However, He didn’t tear himself down or deny that He was a person of value and importance. What He did do is lift others up through His humility and show them how valuable they were to God.

So, you see, humility isn’t about being a doormat; it’s about being a doorway–a doorway through which others enter into the presence and power of God. By focusing on building others up and help­ing others connect with God, we show them the love of God, who desires the best for them.

Think about how you can strive to put others’ interests ahead of your own. I challenge you to show others in your home, your offices, or even in the checkout line at the market, how you and God value them. A good way to begin is by asking yourself what Jesus would do if he were in your place.

– Steve Arterburn

What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself. – Abraham Lincoln

Silence

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. – 1 Peter 2:15

Silence

Have you ever hung up the phone or left a conversation and felt like you said too much? Have you ever wished you could take back something you said? We often learn the hard way that words can cause pain and create problems.

One way to refine your use of words is by routinely practicing the discipline of silence.

Take a day to monitor your conversations. Spend some time in silence to reflect on how you’ve used and abused words. Do you use words to rationalize, lie, deceive, exaggerate, or manipulate? In silence you’ll remember the words you spoke quickly in anger and slowly in apology, arrogantly in accusation and humbly in confession. In silence you’ll begin to hear and you’ll begin to experience his renewal.

Then you can begin to make changes where necessary. People recovering from heart attacks are often counseled to bring quiet into their lives by speaking less often and more slowly when they do speak. Such discipline has been proven to reduce stress and ease tension. And most importantly it can help you use your words in ways that encourage others and please God.

– Steve Arterburn

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. – George Eliot

Bearing Each Other’s Burdens

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

Bearing Each Other's Burdens

We are called to walk alongside others on the journey of discipleship. We serve our brothers and sisters by helping them stay on or return to the path of faithfulness. And we also serve them by making sure we continue in faithfulness. Self-neglect and irresponsibility impose an unfair burden on your brother and sister in Christ, because they’re responsible to help you.

The body of Christ is not a place of self-sufficiency. It’s time we quit believing those lies we’ve been listening to for so long. The Christian faith is not each person looking out for him or herself. Nor is it the survival of the fittest. The body of Christ is a place of interdependency. When you share the troubles and problems of others, you’re fulfilling the law of love. Our burdens bring us together! As you call on others to help you bear your burdens, you will find your love and appreciation growing. Your weaknesses call forth other’s strengths. And when others call on you, you have the opportunity to be an agent of God’s mercy and grace, looking for nothing in return.

Do you know someone who is under a heavy burden at this time? What practical way can you come alongside that person and help him or her bear it? Prayerfully consider what God may be calling you to do, then step forward and do it.

– Steve Arterburn

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. – Charles Dickens

Called by Name

The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. – John 10:3-4

Called by Name

There’s no group discount for the kingdom.  Instead, God tugs at your heart as an individual, calling you one by one.  When God calls someone, He calls him or her personally.  It’s a biblical pattern repeated time and again.

The Lord called young Samuel by name until he responded. (1 Samuel 3) Jesus stopped at the fishing boat of Peter and Andrew and said, “Come, follow me…and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Jesus halted Saul of Tarsus in his tracks in the middle of the highway, again calling him by name. (Acts 9:1-9)

And so it’s been through all of time. The manner and circumstances of the call are radically diverse, but its personal nature is the same. The Bible compares such a relationship to a shepherd’s intimate knowledge of his flock. The shepherd knows the peculiarities and habits of every one of his lambs.

Jesus Christ knows you intimately. He calls you by name. Listen for Him today!  When you hear Him—respond to Him!

– Steve Arterburn

 A leader takes people where they want to go.  A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be. – Rosalynn Carter

Whom God sets Free is Free Indeed

Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me. – Psalm 142:7
Whom God sets Free is Free Indeed

Several years ago, four inmates at the Greenville, Mississippi city jail were caught breaking back into their cells!  And according to the district attorney, “It is entirely possible this wasn’t the first time they’ve done this.”  The four apparently found a way for repeated access to the outside world.  Yet according to the police chief, “They didn’t seem interested in escaping, they just missed their amenities of life and went back to get them.”  This particular time, they returned to jail carrying a load of gin and marijuana.  Ironically, these willing prisoners now face felony escape charges.

Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.  How many of us have resolved to spend our days in prisons of our own making—prisons we’re able to escape through personal change, but won’t because the prison provides us a semblance of security?

You can be freed from whatever your prison is.  Look for help—first to God, but then to those God has put in your path a trusted friend, pastor or counselor.  And remember God is a God of second chances.

– Steve Arterburn

I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal. – Groucho Marx

A Better Way

I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. – Malachi 3:6

A Better Way

Too many of us travel through life basing our decisions on how they make us feel and what you experience. We don’t study God’s Word enough and spend too little time in prayer.

Consequently, we have very little knowledge of the Good Shepherd who beckons us to follow Him, no matter how we feel and regardless of our circumstances.

How about considering a transformational alternative? If you place your focus squarely upon Christ, over time it will become second nature to look to Him and not to yourselves. You will not get lost when you enter the dark seasons of life. Jesus will be your unshakable horizon. Your focused gaze upon Him will keep you from altering your direction due to momentary discomfort or the temptation of temporary gratification. You won’t drift off into spiritual shipwreck!

Listen to the Word of God in Malachi 3:6: “I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” In a world that is endlessly fickle and fleeting, God is an immovable Rock.

Our faith, when focused on the true God, will not be shaken by adversity or temptation. As long as we hold tightly to Him by faith trusting in His goodness and love we can come through pain and struggle with a deeper and richer relationship with Jesus, rather than a strained faith resulting from a prolonged failure to seek and see our true God.

Start today. Step out in faith. Walk on the water. It’s scary at first, but actually pretty cool once you get out there.

– Steve Arterburn

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.  – J.R.R. Tolkien

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

The Morning Watch

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.

– Steve Arterburn

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

 

Time for Renewal

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. – Ezekiel 36:26

Time for Renewal

Even the most inspired Christians can, from time to time, find themselves running on empty. The demands of daily life can drain us of our strength and rob us of the joy that is rightfully ours in Christ. When we find ourselves tired, discouraged, or worse, there is a source from which we can draw the power needed to recharge our spiritual batteries. That source is God.

God intends that His children lead joyous lives filled with abundance and peace. But sometimes, abundance and peace seem very far away. It is then that we must turn to God for renewal, and when we do, He will restore us.

Are you tired or troubled? Turn your heart toward God in prayer. Are you weak or worried? Take the time—or, more accurately, make the time—to delve deeply into God’s Holy Word. Are you spiritually depleted? Call upon fellow believers to support you, and call upon Christ to renew your spirit and your life. When you do, you’ll discover that the Creator of the universe stands always ready and always able to create a new sense of wonderment and joy in you.

– Steve Arterburn

God specializes in things fresh and firsthand. His plans for you this year may outshine those of the past. He’s prepared to fill your days with reasons to give Him praise. –  Joni Eareckson Tada

In those desperate times when we feel like we don’t have an ounce of strength, He will gently pick up our heads so that our eyes can behold something—something that will keep His hope alive in us. – Kathy Troccoli

Repentance removes old sins and wrong attitudes, and it opens the way for the Holy Spirit to restore our spiritual health. – Shirley Dobson

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, You are my rock and my strength. When I grow weary, let me turn my thoughts and my prayers to You. When I am discouraged, restore my faith in You. Let me always trust in Your promises, Lord, and let me draw strength from those promises and from Your unending love for me. Amen