Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Colossians 3:1–3

"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God."

Because of our connection to Jesus, we are now citizens of two worlds: heaven and earth. Thus we are to operate in both realms, as Jesus does. Paul says to "set our sights on the realities of heaven." What does this mean? It means reminding ourselves of what Jesus did and what he's doing now. He's ruling everything from the place of honor and power. He's preparing to reveal his glory to the whole world at the appointed time. He's worshiped in heaven, and when we worship on earth, we connect to that heavenly worship. Enjoy your dual citizenship!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Psalm 78:32, 37–39

"But in spite of this, the people kept sinning.  Despite his wonders, they refused to trust him.  Their hearts were not loyal to him.  They did not keep his covenant.  Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins and did not destroy them all.  Many times he held back his anger and did not unleash his fury! 
For he remembered that they were merely mortal, gone like a breath of wind that never returns."

God's holy, loving nature always stands against sin, always must destroy sin. Yet he is also merciful, and often he holds back on judgment. He remembers how fragile we are. Today, trust in his mercy. Believe in his miracles. Remember that he wants to bless you.

Believe in Yourself

Reading the 'Power of Positive Thinking' by Norman Vincent Peale is a great read and wanted to share some of his book.

It is appalling to realize the number of pathetic people who are hampered and made miserable by the malady popularly called the inferiority complex.  But you need not suffer from this trouble.  When proper steps are taken, it can be overcome.  You can develop creative faith in yourself - faith that is justified.

I (Peale) found the solution of this problem in the simple techniques of faith taught in the Bible.  These principles are scientific and sound and can heal any personality of the pain of inferiority feelings.  Their use can enable the sufferer to find and release the powers which have been inhibited by a feeling of inadequacy.

Such are some of the sources of the inferiority complex which erect power barriers in our personalities.  It is some emotional violence done to us in childhood, or the consequences of certain circumstances, or something we did to ourselves.  This malady arises out of the misty past in the dim recesses of our personalities.

The greatest secret for eliminating the inferiority complex, which is another term for deep and profound self-doubt, is to fill your mind to overflowing with faith.  Develop a tremendous faith in God and that will give you a humble yet soundly realistic faith in yourself.

The acquiring of dynamic faith is accomplished by prayer, lots of prayer, by reading and mentally absorbing the Bible and by practicing its faith techniques, but wanted to point out here that the type of prayer that produces the quality of faith required to eliminate inferiority is of a particular nature.  Surface skimming, formalistic and perfunctory prayer is not sufficiently powerful.

To build up feeling of self-confidence the practice of suggesting confidence concepts to your mind is very effective.  If your mind is obsessed by thought of insecurity and inadequacy it is, of course, due to the fact that such ideas have dominated your thinking over a long period of time.  Another and more positive pattern of ideas must be given the mind,, and that is accomplished by repetitive suggestion of confidence ideas.  In the busy activities of daily existence thought disciplining is required if your are to re-educate the mind and make of it a power-producing plant.  It is possible, even in the midst of your daily work, to drive confident thought into consciousness.

We build up the feeling of insecurity or security by how we think.  If in our thoughts we constantly fix attention upon sinister expectations of dire events that might happen, the result will be constantly to feel insecure.  And what is even more serious is the tendency to create, by the power of thought, the very condition we fear.

Lack of self-confidence apparently is one of the great problems besetting people today.

The blows of life, the accumulation f difficulties, the multiplication of problems tend to sap energy and leave you spent and discouraged.  In such a condition the true status of your power is often obscured, and a person yields to a discouragement that is not justified by the facts.  It is vitally essential to re-appraise your personality assets.

One of the most powerful concepts, one which is a sure cure for lack of confidence, is the thought that God is actually with you and helping you.   This is one of the simplest teachings in religion, namely, the Almighty God will be your companion, will stand by you, help you, and see you through.  No other idea is as powerful in developing self-confidence as this simple belief when practiced.  To practice it simply affirm "God is with me; God is helping me; God is guiding me."  Spend several minutes each day visualizing His presence.  Then practice believing that affirmation.  Go about your business on the assumption that what you have affirmed and visualized is true.  Affirm it, visualize it, believe it, and it will actualize itself.  The release of power which this procedure stimulates will astonish you.

Feelings of confidence depend upon the type of thoughts that habitually occupy your mind.  Think defeat and you are bound to feel defeated.  But practice thinking confident thoughts, make it a dominating habit, and you will develop such a strong sense of capacity that regardless of what difficulties arise you will be able to overcome them.  Feelings of confidence actually induce increased strength.

The secret is to fill your mind with thought of faith, confidence, and security.  This will force out or expel all thought of doubt, all lack of confidence.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Colossians 2:20–23

"You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 'Don't handle! Don't taste! Don't touch!'? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person's evil desires."

Religion in the form of external rules does nothing to conquer our sinful tendencies. Will power and self-help techniques ultimately do not work. Only trust in Christ's work sets us free from sin, whatever form it takes (self-indulgence, anger, addictions, etc.). Forget rules; trust in Christ—a person. Trust in him alone!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Colossians 2:14–15

"He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross."
The cross of Jesus is the sole basis for our forgiveness of sin and right standing before God. But the cross is not just for us. The cross also vindicated God before the evil rulers and authorities in the unseen realm, and disarms their power. Jesus' sacrifice made a difference in the cosmic plane. It changed the very fabric of all parts of reality, those we understand and those we do not, those things we can see and especially those we cannot. We really do have victory! Live in the truth of this.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jeremiah 7:23–26

"This is what I told them: "Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!"
     "'But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward. From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets—day in and day out. But my people have not listened to me or even tried to hear. They have been stubborn and sinful—even worse than their ancestors.'"
Can you sense the Lord's frustration with his people here? God does warn us. He wants to bless us, to have all go well, to be in a close relationship. Yet people ignore him and rebel. His holy and just nature demands that sin be dealt with. We will always reap the consequences of our choices and actions eventually, whether for good or evil. Choose him and live!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Proverbs 19:3

"People ruin their lives by their own foolishness
    and then are angry at the LORD."
We often bring our own disaster on ourselves and then blame God. He does allow us the consequences of our own choices, and sin always leads to bad, not good, consequences eventually. Questions to ask: "What don't I like about my life? How might what I'm experiencing be the result of my own foolishness? How can I get back on a godly path?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Proverbs 19:2

"Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good;
     haste makes mistakes."
One of the worst things you can do is move enthusiastically in the wrong direction. Enthusiasm is good, but you need to add knowledge to it. Do you have some passion that drives you? Make sure you take enough time to do "due diligence" so you can move not only enthusiastically but knowledgeably in the right direction.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jeremiah 6:16, 21

"This is what the LORD says:
'Stop at the crossroads and look around.
     Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.
Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.
     But you reply, "No, that's not the road we want!"'
Therefore, this is what the LORD says:
     'I will put obstacles in my people's path.
Fathers and sons will both fall over them.
     Neighbors and friends will die together.'"
The path of godliness leads to rest. The path of rebellion and sin is strewn with obstacles. God's desire is to give us rest, to bless us. There is only one way to experience that: obedience. And obedience is really trust, since that is what is commanded most by God. He wants us to trust him, and that will result in the blessing of rest.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Proverbs 18:24

"There are 'friends' who destroy each other,
     but a real friend sticks closer than a brother."

Do you have any "false friends" who might end up destroying you? We are to be discerning about our friends. A true friend is loyal. False friends are out for themselves. Do a "friend check" today and see which friendships you want to deepen, and which you should let go of before they become destructive.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Psalm 78:17–22

Yet they kept on sinning against him,
     rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
They stubbornly tested God in their hearts,
     demanding the foods they craved.
They even spoke against God himself, saying,
     'God can't give us food in the wilderness.
Yes, he can strike a rock so water gushes out,
     but he can't give his people bread and meat.'
When the LORD heard them, he was furious.
     The fire of his wrath burned against Jacob.
     Yes, his anger rose against Israel,
for they did not believe God
     or trust him to care for them."

What gets God angry? Our not trusting him to take care of us. Our belief that he is not truly good and does not want to bless us. If you're not sure God loves you, wants to bless you, has good things for you, then you need to ask his forgiveness. He is your heavenly Father and mighty God. If your image of him does not match this picture, your god is false. Ask God to activate your trust in him as he truly is. This is a prayer he will delight in answering!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Psalm 78:4–7

"We will not hide these truths from our children;
     we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the LORD,
     about his power and his mighty wonders.
For he issued his laws to Jacob;
     he gave his instructions to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
     to teach them to their children,
so the next generation might know them—
     even the children not yet born—
     and they in turn will teach their own children.
So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
     not forgetting his glorious miracles
     and obeying his commands."

Do you tell your children (and grandchildren if you have them) stories of God's faithfulness? Certainly we need to recount stories recorded in the Bible. We also need stories from our own lives so that the next generations see his faithfulness in the present as well. Think about the stories you can tell of God's goodness to you. And—start telling them!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Colossians 1:28–29

"So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That's why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ's mighty power that works within me."

Paul was very clear about his mission. Because of this, he was able to work hard even as he depended on God's mighty power. Here is the formula: you know clearly what God wants you to do. You depend on his power as you pour all your energy into what you set out to do. You believe he gives you the power, and you move ahead in that power, keeping your eyes on the vision (in this case, it was of perfecting his listeners' relationship to Christ). What mission has he given you? Pray for clarity and then proceed in power!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jeremiah 5:23–26

"'But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
     They have turned away and abandoned me.
They do not say from the heart,
     "Let us live in awe of the LORD our God,
for he gives us rain each spring and fall,
     assuring us of a harvest when the time is right."
Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings.
     Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.
Among my people are wicked men
     who lie in wait for victims like a hunter hiding in a blind.
They continually set traps
     to catch people.'"

Sin robs us of good things. Certainly our own sin robs us of blessings, but the sin of others also does so. We all affect and are affected by other people. So, if you're suffering, if bad things rather than good things characterize your life, take some time to prayerfully ask God why. Is there any sin you are committing? Any area you are trusting self rather than God (which amounts to idolatry)? Ask God to show you your heart. Is your suffering because of other people's sin? What can you do to remove yourself from the bad influences?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Colossians 1:22–23

"Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

"But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God's servant to proclaim it."

The glorious truth is that we can live in the presence of God, blameless. To fully experience this truth, we must continually remind ourselves of it and stand in it firmly. Notice it says, "Don't drift from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News." Drifting is not a conscious act. It happens when we simply lose our focus. Sharpen your focus today on the Good News that you live in God's presence, holy and blameless, reconciled to God because of Christ's work.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Colossians 1:19–22

"For God in all his fullness
     was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
     everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
     by means of Christ's blood on the cross.

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault."

Ponder what Jesus accomplished on the cross: He reconciled everything to himself. And Jesus is the complete fullness of God, the exact image of God. Now in Jesus you are reconciled with God. Once you were estranged, but now you are counted as friend rather than enemy! You can live in his presence and stand before him completely shameless, without fault—not because of one thing you have done, but because of what Jesus has done. Go forth today, knowing that you are in the presence of God at all times.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Psalm 77:2, 5–6, 10–14

"When I was in deep trouble,
     I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
     but my soul was not comforted.
I think of the good old days,
     long since ended,
when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
     I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
And I said, 'This is my fate;
     the Most High has turned his hand against me.'
But then I recall all you have done, O LORD;
     I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
They are constantly in my thoughts.
     I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
O God, your ways are holy.
     Is there any god as mighty as you?
You are the God of great wonders!
     You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations."

The psalmist is really wrestling here—wrestling with the disparity between his own experience of deep distress and feeling abandoned, and the God he thought he knew who is holy, mighty, loving. A God of miracles and blessings. Yet this God seems to have abandoned the psalmist. So he wrestles for faith. And so do we at times. Like the psalmist, we need to turn to the facts of God's past deeds and wait in hope that he will again bless us. We must never let our feelings inform our faith. Let faith be the last word.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Colossians 1:15–17

"Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
     He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
     in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
     and the things we can't see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
     Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
     and he holds all creation together."

An Eastern view of reality says that creation is a manifestation of God, but it does not posit any God above and apart from creation. The Bible says that everything in the physical realm has its source in a nonphysical reality, including Jesus. But Jesus is over all of creation and, in fact, holds it together at every moment. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, and the author of all that is, visible and invisible. He is the One who created it all and holds it all together. It's all about Jesus!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Proverbs 18:20–21

"Wise words satisfy like a good meal;
     the right words bring satisfaction.
The tongue can bring death or life;
     those who love to talk will reap the consequences."
Our words can kill or nourish life. Today, pay attention to your words. Use them judiciously. Imagine they are coins. Don't toss them away. Invest them wisely . . . and reap the rewards.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Colossians 1:11–14

"We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins."
In this world, we run short of patience and endurance. These are plentiful with God, however. We have an inheritance from him—access to all his power, for he purchased our freedom himself. For this we are to always thank the Father. We live now in the light, not in darkness. If anything is dark in your life, ask God to shed his light on it. Our heritage is light; we are no longer in the dark kingdom. Claim your inheritance of the light of life!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Colossians 2:8–10

"Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority."
There are a lot of philosophies and beliefs these days, vying for our adoption of them. But all our wisdom is to come from Christ and our union with and knowledge of him. Let nothing sway you from a radical trust and dependence on Christ alone for all things. Anything less is idolatry, and God has no patience with that. Jesus alone is to rule in your life—so that you may be fully connected to him who is Truth.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jeremiah 3:22–4:2

"'My wayward children,' says the LORD,
     'come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.'
'Yes, we're coming,' the people reply,
     'for you are the LORD our God.
Our worship of idols on the hills
     and our religious orgies on the mountains
     are a delusion.
Only in the LORD our God
     will Israel ever find salvation.
From childhood we have watched
     as everything our ancestors worked for—
their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters—
     was squandered on a delusion.
Let us now lie down in shame
     and cover ourselves with dishonor,
for we and our ancestors have sinned
     against the LORD our God.
From our childhood to this day
     we have never obeyed him.'
'O Israel,' says the LORD,
     'if you wanted to return to me, you could.
You could throw away your detestable idols
     and stray away no more.
Then when you swear by my name, saying,
     "As surely as the LORD lives,"
you could do so
     with truth, justice, and righteousness.
Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world,
     and all people would come and praise my name.'"
Here is yet another picture of how God feels and what he wants. He wants his wayward children to return to him so he can bless and heal them and save them from the consequences of their sin. True repentance is outlined here: an acknowledgment of sin and trust in God alone. This will result in a character change, so that truth, justice, and righteousness become apparent. It all starts with repentance. What sin might lurk in your life that needs to be confessed as an affront to the God of love?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Colossians 1:8–10

"He [Epaphras] has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you. So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better."
There is a wonderful prayer here, tucked in among words that show the goal: lives pleasing to God, love for others, and knowing God better each day. The prayer? For complete knowledge of what God wants to do in our lives, and spiritual wisdom and understanding. What a good prayer to pray for your spouse, children, church leaders, and anyone you care about! You can know it will be answered, because it's a prayer God's word teaches us to pray.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Jeremiah 3:2–4

"'Look at the shrines on every hilltop.
     Is there any place you have not been defiled
     by your adultery with other gods?
You sit like a prostitute beside the road waiting for a customer.
     You sit alone like a nomad in the desert.
You have polluted the land with your prostitution
     and your wickedness.
That's why even the spring rains have failed.
     For you are a brazen prostitute and completely shameless.
Yet you say to me,
     "Father, you have been my guide since my youth.
    Surely you won't be angry forever!
    Surely you can forget about it!"
So you talk,
     but you keep on doing all the evil you can.'"
The people called God "Father" and said he was their guide "since youth," but it was not so! They were sinning in many ways, and at the root was idolatry—looking to something other than God to meet their needs. Though the people were sinning grievously, to them it was a little thing, something surely God would forget about. We tend to minimize sin. Our only true perspective of what's sinful is God's Word. What is it saying to you about any area where you're trusting "other gods" rather than the God?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Jeremiah 3:19

"'I thought to myself,
     'I would love to treat you as my own children!'
I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land—
     the finest possession in the world.
I looked forward to your calling me 'Father,'
     and I wanted you never to turn from me."
Here is a glimpse into God's heart. He loves to treat us as his children. Loves to bless us. Loves us to call him Father and depend on him. He longs to give us good things as we trust in him. Bask in God's love for you today. Call him Father and ask him for whatever you need, trusting him as a little child would trust his or her father. For so you are, and so he is!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Broken Cry - by Christi Armstrong

Distill my soul with your blood,
marring the pride I hold tight,
until it crumbles and slips
past my wounded clasp.

Flow through my broken veins,
breathing deeply in my mourning.
Open my stubborn eyes,
to the beauty of your mercies severe.

Bend my shattered world,
crushing the pieces,
collapsing my life.
Surrender my tears to prayer
and bow my heart at your feet.

Clothe me in brokenness,
birthing my suffering heart,
through the pressures of my sorrow
that shine in the power of your grace.
Rain down holy tears,
filling the springs of my heart,
pouring the light of your promise
into my soul's darkest night.
Copyright 2010 Christi Armstrong

Jeremiah 3:1, 12–13

"'If a man divorces a woman
     and she goes and marries someone else,
he will not take her back again,
     for that would surely corrupt the land.
But you have prostituted yourself with many lovers,
     so why are you trying to come back to me?'
says the LORD.
"Therefore, go and give this message to Israel. This is what the LORD says:
'O Israel, my faithless people,
     come home to me again,
for I am merciful.
     I will not be angry with you forever.
Only acknowledge your guilt.
     Admit that you rebelled against the LORD your God
and committed adultery against him
     by worshiping idols under every green tree.
Confess that you refused to listen to my voice.
     I, the LORD, have spoken!'"
There's a beautiful picture of grace here: Though his people have forsaken and betrayed him and gone after other gods as lovers, still God calls them to come back to him. Consider well this humility of God—all because he is love. It's his very nature. Embrace it, as he longs to embrace you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jeremiah 2:34–37

"Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor,
     though you didn't catch them breaking into your houses!
And yet you say,
'I have done nothing wrong.
     Surely God isn't angry with me!'
But now I will punish you severely
     because you claim you have not sinned.
First here, then there—
     you flit from one ally to another asking for help.
But your new friends in Egypt will let you down,
     just as Assyria did before.
In despair, you will be led into exile
     with your hands on your heads,
for the LORD has rejected the nations you trust.
     They will not help you at all."
The people looked everywhere for help except to the Lord. So God judged them and punished them. Not only did they reject God, but they did great evil. The two go hand in hand. Without God's perspective, everything goes completely awry, and evil takes over. Look to the Lord alone for help in whatever situation you face!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Philippians 4:11–13, 19

"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus."
What is the secret Paul mentions here—the secret to getting along happily whether he had much or little? Perhaps verse 13 is the answer: knowing he can do anything with the help of Christ, who gives whatever is needed at the moment. It was his radical dependence on God to supply every need. Add to this what he learned earlier, mentioned in verse 6—to not be anxious but to pray about everything. This stance will produce true contentment and is based on faith.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Jeremiah 2:13–17

"'For my people have done two evil things:
They have abandoned me—
     the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns
     that can hold no water at all!
Why has Israel become a slave?
     Why has he been carried away as plunder?
Strong lions have roared against him,
     and the land has been destroyed.
The towns are now in ruins,
     and no one lives in them anymore.
Egyptians, marching from their cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes,
     have destroyed Israel's glory and power.
And you have brought this upon yourselves
     by rebelling against the LORD your God,
     even though he was leading you on the way!""
Here is the essence of sin: forsaking the fountain of living water and digging cisterns for ourselves. We cannot help but create flawed cisterns, cracked and unable to hold any water at all, let alone the living water that God offers. And the result? Destruction and disaster, brought on by forsaking the Lord who wants to lead his people to blessing. Is there any area of your life where you may be "digging your own cistern" rather than looking to the fountain of living water? (Clue: any area that is not flourishing could be one where you're depending on self, not God.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Proverbs 18:15

"Intelligent people are always ready to learn.
     Their ears are open for knowledge."
How open are you to new ideas? Do you actively seek them out? This proverb calls it a sign of intelligence. So it is. And it leads to success and new spiritual insights, to blessings of all kinds. What new idea have you embraced lately?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Proverbs 18:14

"The human spirit can endure a sick body,
     but who can bear a crushed spirit?"
A crushed spirit means true misery. Your spirit is your core. When this is strong, you can endure physical pain and discomfort, because your strength comes from the inner person, not the outer. So guard your spirit from being crushed by others. How? Remind yourself of the truth, and let no one rob you of it. Also, take care never to crush the spirit of another person.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Psalm 75:7, 9–10

"It is God alone who judges;
     he decides who will rise and who will fall.
But as for me, I will always proclaim what God has done;
     I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
For God says, 'I will break the strength of the wicked,
     but I will increase the power of the godly.'"
God is the one who decides who will rise and who will fall. He increases the power of the godly. You may claim this power today. He increases your power as you proclaim what he has done and sing praises to his name (worship). If you need more power, in general or in a particular area, look at what he's doing in your life—and proclaim it! Praise God to yourself and others—and see your power increase. God promotes those who promote him

Monday, July 26, 2010

Philippians 4:6–7

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
Are you worried about anything at this moment? Here's Paul's antidote and prescription for peace: pray! And how do you pray? First, tell God what you need. Tell him everything you need ("pray about everything"). Don't try to sort through what's "important enough to bother God about." If it bothers you, pray about it. Besides telling God what you need, thank him for all he's already done. Keep track! When you remind yourself of God's past faithfulness, it's easier to trust him for present needs. This leads to great peace, and this is the kind of life God wants for us

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jeremiah 1:6–9, 15–16, 18–19

"'O Sovereign LORD,' I said, 'I can't speak for you! I'm too young!'
     "The LORD replied, 'Don't say, "I'm too young," for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don't be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the LORD, have spoken!' Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said, 'Look, I have put my words in your mouth! Listen! I am calling the armies of the kingdoms of the north to come to Jerusalem. I, the LORD, have spoken!
"'They will set their thrones
     at the gates of the city.
They will attack its walls
     and all the other towns of Judah.
I will pronounce judgment
     on my people for all their evil—
for deserting me and burning incense to other gods.
     Yes, they worship idols made with their own hands!
"For see, today I have made you strong
     like a fortified city that cannot be captured,
     like an iron pillar or a bronze wall.
You will stand against the whole land—
     the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah.
They will fight you, but they will fail.
     For I am with you, and I will take care of you.
     I, the LORD, have spoken!'"

Jeremiah did not feel up to the task God set before him. "I can't do it. I'm too young." God would accept no excuses, for God himself is the one who equips us for what he calls us to do. What is he calling you to do? What excuses are you making as to why you "can't" do it? What fears hold you back? God promises to be with you and to take care of you as you obey and follow him. Go forth boldly in faith, for God is with you!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Philippians 3:15–16

"Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made."

When something is not clear, we need to ask God to make it plain. A prerequisite for further insight and clarity is to obey the truth we already know. Then very often, if not always, the unclear matter will become clear. That's how you hold on to the progress you've already made.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Proverbs 18:13

"Spouting off before listening to the facts
     is both shameful and foolish."
Following this advice will improve all your relationships, as well as your chances of success in any endeavor. Listen well first, ask good questions as needed to get all the facts, and then give advice (if it's called for). You won't look foolish and shameful but will be welcomed and considered wise.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Proverbs 18:11

"The rich think of their wealth as a strong defense;
     they imagine it to be a high wall of safety."
The big problem with wealth is that it becomes very easy to trust that for your security rather than God. If you possess wealth, regularly remind yourself of how unstable it really is. It's God you must trust, whatever your economic state is at this moment. If you have much, surrender it all to God and be willing to use your wealth as he directs. If you have little, trust God for your needs. Be a faithful steward either way.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Psalm 74:16–19

"Both day and night belong to you;
     you made the starlight and the sun.
You set the boundaries of the earth,
     and you made both summer and winter.
"See how these enemies insult you, LORD.
     A foolish nation has dishonored your name.
Don't let these wild beasts destroy your turtledoves.
     Don't forget your suffering people forever."
The latter verses describe the psalmist's experience of living at a time when God does not appear active. Before he prays about the plight of his people, he reminds himself of God's activity in nature. Then he calls upon this mighty God to act on his people's behalf. When you're in a state of "deliverance has not yet come," focus for a while on God's rule over nature. Then, ask this strong God to act on your behalf, according to his own nature.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Philippians 3:12

"I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me."
Here's a picture of perseverance, what author Eugene Peterson called "a long obedience in the same direction." Paul starts with the sure knowledge that, first and foremost, he belongs to Jesus Christ. Jesus owns him, and Jesus has a goal for Paul: perfection. It's something Jesus, not Paul, brings about, and it won't be completed in this lifetime. Paul knows it's a process, and is willing to trust Jesus as the one who controls it. Persevere in the direction of perfection in Jesus—and remember, it is a process.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Isaiah 66:4–5

"'I will send them great trouble—
     all the things they feared.
For when I called, they did not answer.
     When I spoke, they did not listen.
They deliberately sinned before my very eyes
     and chose to do what they know I despise.'
"Hear this message from the LORD,
     all you who tremble at his words:
'Your own people hate you
     and throw you out for being loyal to my name.
"Let the LORD be honored!" they scoff.
     "Be joyful in him!"
But they will be put to shame.'"
This describes what brings God's judgment. He calls, but people do not listen. In fact, they deliberately do what they know God hates, and they scoff at those who do follow God. If you know such people, pray for them! And stay true to the Lord yourself, focusing on him and not on the rejection of others.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Philippians 3:8–11

"Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!"
Paul could have depended on his own qualifications to make him "good enough," but he did not. He trusted God's work in Jesus alone. His goal was not to become perfect or even acceptable to God, but to know Jesus—even if it meant knowing Jesus through suffering. On what are you depending today for being at peace with God, yourself, and others?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Isaiah 66:2

"'I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.'"


Is it difficult to be in a position to be blessed by God? All it takes is a humble and contrite heart and an attitude of submission to his word. That's all God asks of us! No religious ceremonies, no acts of devotion. The acts come after the heart is right. God is after the heart. If you've not experienced his blessing in some area, check your heart, especially with regard to pride and humility. If God is speaking to you about something, listen and do what he says. Blessing will follow

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Philippians 2:3–4

"Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too."



This advice runs counter to the world's injunction that you learn to promote yourself. Yet, this is God's way. True humility means understanding the truth about yourself. We tend naturally to put our own interests above others, so viewing others as better than yourself will probably help you strike just the right balance. Besides, when you take this stance, you're not trying to impress others. There is freedom in not feeling you have to impress others, and that's what Paul wants for his readers. If you forget about impressing others, you're freer to love them. And they will respond!

Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Friday, July 2, 2010

Isaiah 65:17–23

"'Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth,
     and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.
Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation!
     And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness.
     Her people will be a source of joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem
     and delight in my people.
And the sound of weeping and crying
     will be heard in it no more.
'No longer will babies die when only a few days old.
     No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life.
No longer will people be considered old at one hundred!
     Only the cursed will die that young!
In those days people will live in the houses they build
     and eat the fruit of their own vineyards.
Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses
     and confiscate their vineyards.
For my people will live as long as trees,
     and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains.
They will not work in vain,
     and their children will not be doomed to misfortune.
For they are people blessed by the LORD,
     and their children, too, will be blessed.'"

God gives us the vision of what he desires for humankind. His list includes all this: a beautiful heaven and earth. His people as a source of joy to all (including himself!). No death or cause for sorrow or weeping. Work and the ability to enjoy the results of work. No fear of invasion from enemies. Our continual dependence on him for our needs and his glad answers to our prayers. Peace and harmony in all of nature—no more pollution or even "survival of the fittest." We're not there yet, but we will be! It's what he intends to restore.

Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Isaiah 64:3–5a

"When you came down long ago,
     you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations.
     And oh, how the mountains quaked!
For since the world began,
     no ear has heard
and no eye has seen a God like you,
     who works for those who wait for him!
You welcome those who gladly do good,
     who follow godly ways."

When God works, he does things beyond our highest expectations. He works for those who wait for him. That is the prerequisite for experiencing God in his greatness: wait for him, cheerfully do good, and follow godly ways. As you do these things, expect the unexpected!
Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Isaiah 63:1b, 7-9

"It is I, the LORD, announcing your salvation!
    It is I, the LORD, who has the power to save!'
I will tell of the LORD's unfailing love.
    I will praise the LORD for all he has done.
I will rejoice in his great goodness to Israel,
    which he has granted according to his mercy and love.
He said, "They are my very own people.
    Surely they will not betray me again,'
    And he became their Savior.
In all their suffering he also suffered,
    and he personally rescued them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them.
    He lifted them up and carried them
    through all the years."
In these verses we see repeated mentions of God's love, mercy, and goodness. He saves his people, redeems them, sufferes with them, rescues them, and carries them. Can you let God lift you up and carry you as you surrender to his love and mercy? Let you burdens become his, for he alone has power to save.
- Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Monday, June 28, 2010

Isaiah 62:11-12

"The LORD has sent this message to every land;
   'Tell the people of Israel,
"Look, your Savior is coming.
    See, he brings his reward with him as he comes."'
They will be called 'The Holy People'
    and 'The People Redeemed by the LORD'
And Jerusalem will be known as 'The Desirable Place'
   and 'The City No Longer Forsaken."'
God has always been a Savior to his people. Of course, these verses are fulfilled in Christ, and we live in the spiritual Jerusalem, The time will come when these verses and others like them will be fulfilled literally as well, in history. Jesus came, and his reward was with him. This reward is for those who believe. And what is it? A new identity of holiness, along with God's presence and favor. These things are for you right now, today. Claim them!
- Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Philippians 2:3–4

"Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too."

This oft-quoted passage applies to relationships in the family, the church, organizations, and even business. Most people try to make a good impression on others. The focus is on self in that case. If, however, your focus is on other people and their interests as well, you will be more winsome and stand out. In your interactions with others today, let your own interests be in the background of the picture, with the focus on the interests of the other person(s) you're dealing with. How might that change what you do and say?
Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Quotes for Today

Please understand my friend, that where you find yourself tomorrow is a function of the positive decisions and actions you take today.

Until you value yourself, you won't value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it. ~M. Scott Peck

The secret of success is to do common things uncommonly well. John Davidson Rockefeller, Sr

Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes but they don’t quit. -Conrad Hilton

Persistent people begin their success where others end in failure. -Edward Eggleston

The best thing you can do for yourself is to be yourself. -- Jamee Rae

Friday, June 25, 2010

Psalm 73:2–3, 13–14, 16–18

"But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
     My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
For I envied the proud
     when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?
     Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?
I get nothing but trouble all day long;
     every morning brings me pain.
So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
     But what a difficult task it is!
Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
     and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
Truly, you put them on a slippery path
     and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction."

The Psalmist had a problem. He could not understand why the wicked prospered, while he got nothing but trouble for all his attempts to live a godly life. He was only able to gain perspective when he meditated on the issue from God's perspective, when he took the long view. The eternal perspective of God's big and full plan is the only way to make sense out of this life. What issue gnaws at you spiritually? Where can you go in Scripture to get God's eternal perspective on it? Don't forget worship as another avenue to connect with God's perspective.

Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Isaiah 61:10

"I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God!
     For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
     and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit
     or a bride with her jewels."
Does the salvation and righteousness Jesus bought for you bring you great joy? Perhaps it's been a while since you have dwelt on what God has done for you. Today, meditate on the miracle of your salvation—that God chose you and has forgiven all your transgressions. Not only that, he has given you a completely new nature, one that knows how to please God. If you have the opportunity, be prepared to tell others about something God has done for you. Let joy overwhelm you—and share it!

Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Isaiah 62:2–5

"The nations will see your righteousness.
     World leaders will be blinded by your glory.
And you will be given a new name
     by the LORD's own mouth.
The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see—
     a splendid crown in the hand of God.
Never again will you be called 'The Forsaken City'
     or 'The Desolate Land.'
Your new name will be 'The City of God's Delight'
     and 'The Bride of God,'
for the LORD delights in you
     and will claim you as his bride.
Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem,
     just as a young man commits himself to his bride.
Then God will rejoice over you
     as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride."

This is how God feels about his people. The New Testament says that we who believe in Jesus are his bride. God delights in you! You bring him praise, for he has saved you and made you righteous. Rejoice in that today. Rejoice in God's delight over you!
Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Monday, June 21, 2010

Isaiah 61:3

"To all who mourn in Israel,
     he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
     festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
     that the LORD has planted for his own glory."

What makes you "mourn" today? Is it a relationship lost, an opportunity gone, or a state of being that makes you miserable? God promises "beauty for ashes" here, blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. Don't let the present moment predict the future. Trust in the God who promises beauty for ashes, and hope steadfastly for the change that is surely on its way.
Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Friday, June 18, 2010

Psalm 72:11–14

"All kings will bow before him,
and all nations will serve him.
He will rescue the poor when they cry to him;
he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.
He feels pity for the weak and the needy,
and he will rescue them.
He will redeem them from oppression and violence,
for their lives are precious to him."

Psalm 72 is a prayer of Solomon, presumably for his reign as king and his sons' reign after him. However, he lapses into what looks like a description of God's reign. These verses describe a being who has God's own heart of compassion for the oppressed, weak, and needy. Do you, like Solomon, share God's thirst for justice? What can you do today to help alleviate someone else's suffering and bring justice into play?
Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Philippians 1:19

"For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance."

What kept Paul going were the prayers of others and the direct help of the Holy Spirit. These bolstered his faith that everything was working together for his deliverance. How much do you depend on the prayers of others and your own experience of the Spirit's help?
Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Isaiah 59:20–21

"'The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem
to buy back those in Israel
who have turned from their sins,'
says the LORD.
'And this is my covenant with them,' says the LORD. 'My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children's children forever. I, the LORD, have spoken!'"

We live in the fulfillment of this marvelous promise. The Redeemer, Jesus, has come to Jerusalem and bought back sinners through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Now we have the Holy Spirit and the completed Word. God spoke these words thousands of years ago, and now they have come true! Today, rejoice in the fact that you live under the new covenant of grace in Jesus. Trust the God who fulfilled this plan, for he will also fulfill the unique plans he has for you. "I, the Lord, have spoken!"
Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Philippians 1:11

"May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God."

Notice who produces good things in our lives. It's not us! It's Jesus. As we abide in him, he will change us and produce good fruit. Focus on the abiding, and he will take care of the fruit. A fruit tree doesn't labor to produce fruit. It's the natural result of the branch's attachment to the trunk and source of nutrients.
Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Monday, June 14, 2010

Philippians 1:9–10

"I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return."

Do you ever wonder what to pray for your family members, friends, church members, or children? Try these verses. Pray for overflowing love, knowledge, and understanding of what really matters, so they will live pure and blameless lives until Christ returns to complete his work in them. (Not a bad prayer to pray for yourself as well!)
Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Friday, June 11, 2010

Isaiah 58:13–14

'Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don't pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the LORD's holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
and don't follow your own desires or talk idly.
Then the LORD will be your delight.
I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the LORD, have spoken!'"

One aspect of honoring God is keeping the Sabbath—letting go of our own pursuits for one day per week in order to focus on God. It's not a matter so much of what we do or don't do; it's a matter of a heart turned toward God, to delight in him. Notice "delight" is mentioned twice in two verses. The Sabbath is meant to be a gift for refreshment. Honoring God in this way opens us up to his rich blessings. Try it!
Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Isaiah 58:10–12

Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
The LORD will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes."

God wants us to be agents of blessing in this world, especially to those who are less fortunate. Is there any way that you can ease someone's burden today? Pray for an opportunity to do it. Then look for God to bless you. As you do good, you will be blessed with goodness. We get watered too, as the healing streams run through us to others.
Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Isaiah 57:15, 18-19

The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,
the Holy One, says this:
'I live in the high and holy place
with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.
I restore the crushed spirit of the humble
and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.
I have seen what they do,
but I will heal them anyway!
I will lead them.
I will comfort those who mourn,
bringing words of praise to their lips.
May they have abundant peace, both near and far,'
says the LORD, who heals them."

God lives in a high and holy place, yet, incredibly, he invites the humble and repentant to be there with him! And he refreshes those who repent with assurance that they are forgiven and welcomed. If there is anything you need to repent of today, do it now. Confess to God. Let him forgive and heal, comfort and strengthen you. Clearly he desires to!
Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions