February 13, 2008

Forgiveness – Proverbs 19:11

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Smart people know how to hold their tongue;
their grandeur is to forgive and forget.

Proverbs 19:11 (The Message)

A man’s wisdom gives him patience;
it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

Proverbs 19:11 (New International Version)

Sensible people control their temper;
they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.

Proverbs 19:11 (New Living Translation)


February 9, 2008

Is Your Faith In Your Fear?

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by Jon Walker

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27, NIV)

Across the breadth of the Bible, God consistently sends the message, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

The Bible reveals that God knows we tend toward fear, particularly as we respond to uncertainty and change. Yet the Bible also reveals that God is the only unchanging certainty in this world – or out of it.

Yet, is it possible we have more faith in our fear than we do in God?

No matter how complex life becomes, it still comes down to this basic choice: Will we place our confidence in the All-Powerful Supreme Being and Sole Authority of the Universe, or will we place greater confidence in our fears?

Although the choice is black-or-white basic, God knows it’s not simple. It involves a challenging stretch, and that’s why God continually reminds us, “Fear not, for I am with you.”

God is clear that our abilities, our resources – even a belief in the myth of luck – will not be what strengthens us for the journey. (Philippians 4:13) We fear we can’t do the things God calls us to do, and we fear that God will not protect us or provide for us. We choose this fear, embracing the unholy lie that our circumstances are bigger than the One True God.

Our faith in God gets placed on the altar of our own perceptions when we should be placing our perceptions on the altar of unflinching faith.

If you’re like me, you often fear what’s behind the curtain of God’s call, and God – frustratingly – won’t let me peek behind the curtain, and so:

Our fear shouts – “Pay no attention to the God behind the curtain; he’s just another wizard from Oz, using smoke and mirrors to give you the illusion of power and grace.”

Our God whispers – In that still, small voice, he calls us to develop confidence in him; he calls us to abandon the confidence we have in what we see and the confidence we have in our fears. God keeps the curtain of our future drawn so we will learn to live by faith and not by sight, so we will become certain of what we hope for and become sure of God, even when we cannot see how he’s working in our current circumstances. (Hebrews 11:1)

What does this mean?

· Ask God to replace your fear with faith – Eliminating your fear involves more than working up your courage. This is a spiritual battle that requires you to develop faith. But first you need to make a choice – Will you fear, or will you “faith?”

· Faith means you believe the truth – Your behavior and decisions are most often rooted in what you believe. When you experience fear, ask yourself, “What does this fear say about what I believe in this circumstance?” What fears are you experiencing today? What do they say about the beliefs you currently embrace? Ask God to pull these false beliefs and fears out by the root.

· Get caught in an act of faith – One day, a woman who had hemorrhaged for 12 years slipped up behind Jesus and touched his robe, believing he could heal her. “Jesus turned –caught her at it. Then he reassured her: ‘Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.’” (Matthew 9:22, MSG) God is for you, and he encourages you to be caught in the act of faith. When you act in faith, you proclaim your belief in God; you acknowledge he exists and that God cares about you.

· Let a friend tell you about your fears – Ask a friend if he or she sees a part of your life where you show more fear than faith – and then, together, pray for God to help your unbelief. (Mark 9:24)


February 8, 2008

Encouragement

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So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.

2 Corinthians 4:16 (The Message)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16 (New King James Version)

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying,
our spirits are being renewed every day.

2 Corinthians 4:16 (New Living Translation)


February 7, 2008

Grace – 2 Corinthians 8:9

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You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor,
so that by his poverty he could make you rich.

2 Corinthians 8:9 (New Living Translation)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

2 Corinthians 8:9 (New International Version)

You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ.
Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us—in one stroke he
became poor and we became rich.

2 Corinthians 8:9 (The Message)

This world has been visited by the Majesty of heaven,
the Son of God. Christ came to this world as the expression
of the very heart and mind and nature and character of God.
Wow!
?


February 6, 2008

Worldly Cares

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That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:25-36 (New Living Translation)


February 5, 2008

Shelter – Psalm 36:7

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How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of
your wings.

Psalm 36:7 (New Living Translation)

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust
under the shadow of Your wings.

Psalm 36:7 (New King James Version)

How exquisite your love, O God!
How eager we are to run under your wings.

Psalm 36:7 (The Message)

What a picture of security, when we can hide in the
shelter of His wings and know everything is going to
be ok! He loves you very much!


February 4, 2008

Wisdom – Matthew 7:24

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Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.

Matthew 7:24 (New Living Translation)

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Matthew 7:24 (New International Version)

These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock.

Matthew 7:24 (The Message)


February 2, 2008

Being Changed Into His Likeness


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by Max Lucado

The reward of Christianity is Christ.

Do you journey to the Grand Canyon for the souvenir T-shirt or the snow globe with the snowflakes that fall when you shake it? No. The reward of the Grand Canyon is the Grand Canyon. The wide-eyed realization that you are part of something ancient, splendid, powerful, and greater than you.

The cache of Christianity is Christ. Not money in the bank or a car in the garage or a healthy body or a better self-image. Secondary and tertiary fruits perhaps. But the Fort Knox of faith is Christ. Fellowship with him. Walking with him. Pondering him. Exploring him. The heart-stopping reali-zation that in him you are part of something ancient, endless, unstoppable, and unfathomable. And that he, who can dig the Grand Canyon with his pinkie, thinks you’re worth his death on Roman timber. Christ is the reward of Christianity. Why else would Paul make him his supreme desire? “I want to know Christ” (Phil. 3:10).

Do you desire the same? My idea is simple. Let’s look at some places he went and some people he touched. Join me on a quest for his “God-manness.” You may be amazed.

More important, you may be changed. “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

As we behold him, we become like him.

I experienced this principle firsthand when an opera singer visited our church. We didn’t know his voice was trained. You couldn’t have known by his corduroy coat and loafers. No tuxedo, cummerbund, or silk tie. His appearance raised no eyebrow, but his voice certainly did. I should know. He was in the pew behind mine.

His vibrato made dentures rattle and rafters shake. He tried to contain himself. But how can a tuba hide in a room of piccolos?

For a moment I was startled. But within a verse, I was inspired. Emboldened by his volume, I lifted mine. Did I sing better? Not even I could hear me. My warbles were lost in his talent. But did I try harder? No doubt. His power brought out the best in me.

Could your world use a little music? If so, invite heaven’s baritone to cut loose. He may look as common as the guy next door, but just wait till you see what he can do. Who knows? A few songs with him might change the way you sing.
Forever.