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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” ~ James 1:6-8

There is an easy chance of us all being swayed one way or the other these days.  Paper or plastic?  Chicken or beef?  Left or right?  Choices are everywhere.  What happens, though, when you actually make a choice?

Here is one possibility: you make the choice, then, while carrying out tasks to complete what you have chosen to do, you begin to doubt yourself and the decision you’ve made.  As a result, you go back to square one and take the alternative route, the one you feel you should have taken originally.

Road

Here is another possibility: you make the choice and stick with it.  You see your decision through until the end.  You don’t waver from the path of completing it, and you stop at nothing until it’s finished.

Which of the two possibilities would you think are more productive and beneficial?  Most certainly the latter of the two.  The person who continually changes his mind will never accomplish anything; instead, he will live a life of doubt and miss the forest for the trees, as they say.  Over thinking things can lead to indecisiveness as well as dissatisfaction.

The same goes with our walk on the Christian path.  We have made a decision to follow Christ.  That means accepting the entire package, not just one part of it.  You get the goods with the bads, the ups with the downs.  Sometimes people will listen to you, other times they will scorn you.

The most important thing to remember, though, is to not deviate from the road.  Don’t lose hope.  Continue on in the decisions you make, and when you ask God to grant you something, don’t ask for it while not really believing you’ll receive it.  That’s just useless chatter and you should have just saved your breath!  Have faith-filled words or don’t speak at all.  You’ll see what it can truly do to transform your life and the lives of others.

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” ~ Matt. 5:9, KJV (Camb. Edition)

Peace.  People speak a lot about it, but who truly goes the longer mile to try to attain peace in the world?  Ms. America?  The President?  Buddhists?  Taoists?  Christians?  What is peace, for that matter?

Peace can mean different things to different people.  For some, peace is the absence of war.  To others it is a sunset with a loved one.  To others still it is a meal ticket with welfare.  Are these things truly peace?

There is a peace that passes all understanding, given by Jesus Himself.  Peace of mind in the world we live in today can be achieved only through faith in the Father.  To begin peace, we must have a peaceful mindset, focused totally and unconditionally on love.  Jesus Christ; He is love personified, the great God of Light.

To begin bringing peace to the world, we must bring peace to ourselves.  Confessing your sins is the path to enlightenment in peace.  Once you confess your sins to the Father, ask for forgiveness.  Once you are forgiven, you repent of your sins and battle the enemy of temptation.  Once the battle is won, there will be a time of peace.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.  Yes, there will still be battles to be fought.  The wonderful thing, though, is that each victory brings another span of peace to your mind, your spirit, or the world.

I can’t tell you what peace is.  It is different for you than it is to me.  Merely ask God to show you the peace that will pass all of the things you’ve ever been taught.  Then, brothers and sisters, you will know true peace.

Friday, January 8, 2013

“Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” ~ James 4:7, KJV

Something that we as people don’t realize today is that we are very much able to do battle with the devil and win.  How do we battle him?  We resist him!  Get me not wrong, however– it is very difficult most of the time to overcome the temptations that the snake throws into our path.  I will also tell you this: it’s very easy to succumb to the temptation.

 

SATAN SAYS

Satan tells us many lies. We must turn to the Gospel truths to see the true path.

Take a few moments and reread today’s verse.  Read it carefully.  Tuck it into your heart.  It is one of the most powerful truths in the Bible.  If we resist Satan, he will FLEE from us.  He won’t just turn away, nor will he get irate and walk off pouting.  No; instead, he will turn tail and run away because he is afraid of the power that God gives us over him.

 

Here is the true question: how do we resist him?  To answer this, let us first talk of how he tempts us.

 

Think back to the Gospels.  At one point, Jesus was tempted by Satan over and over again.  He was offered food, fame, and riches.  Those are Satan’s three primary temptations; it’s like a template for leading us astray.  First, he uses physical temptations: food, drink, sex, and bodily pleasure.  Next, he moves on to emotional and egoism: fame, glory, venting, and things that make us feel good emotionally.  Finally, if the others don’t work, he goes on to offer us secondary reinforcers: money, riches, power over others, and ways to have an easy life.

 

These things are very difficult to overcome most of the time.  How can we possibly overcome all of these “wonderful” things?  Do it like Jesus did!  Instead of just saying nothing while being tempted, what did our Lord do?

 

He quoted scripture.  “Scriptures say, ‘thou shalt serve the Lord your God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”  With each temptation, Jesus used a scripture to push Satan away.

 

Just as Jesus has done, so can you.  Go with God, and He will go with you.

 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Illegal Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse

Is this health?

“Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.  Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  Then you will have healing to your body and strength to your bones.”  ~  Proverbs 3:7-8, NLT

In a world where sicknesses, disease, and deficiencies in health run rampant, what more do we need than a healthier life?  Just last month, the United States saw the worst influenza epidemic than it had seen for decades.  One of the causes for this is, of course, our increasingly unhealthy way of life.

With the emergence of cheap, fast food and partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil preserving food for much longer than seventy years ago, we are taking things into our body that are destroying it slowly from the inside out.  Tobacco, illicit drugs, and overindulgence in alcohol also play a large part in this unhealthy state that the world is in today.  Even going so far as to overindulge in things that are good for the body, such as complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals also harm the body.

There is, however, something else that is a primary factor in our health in this day and age.  Today’s scripture tells us that we believe that we know so much about the human body and what constitutes it that many of us consider ourselves wise.  While some people are indeed wise, their wisdom pales in comparison to our Lord’s wisdom.

Satan is a crafty being.  We will give him that.  He’s a trickster, manipulator, and a master of lies.  He can make things seem so good to us that we forget that some things are forbidden from us by God.  Even a direct command from God can be overshadowed in lies from Satan, such as in the Garden of Eden when a direct connection with God was established!

What do we do, then?  How can we truly be healthy and a part of God’s almighty healing body?  The Bible says that we will know the voice of our Lord when He speaks.  Running away from evil is strength not only to our bones, but to our spirit.  We begin to discern that which is good for us and that which is not.

That cupcake looks delicious… maybe ten cupcakes is amazing!  Or, in my case, chocolate.  I will eat chocolate until I pass out, but I know that it’s not good for my temple (body); therefore, I attempt to moderate my consumption of the sweet little morsels for the sake of my health.

Addiction is a terrible thing.  It causes us to lose our reasonable personalities when it comes to moderation.  We must, individually and as a society, flee from the evils of addiction and turn to healthier alternatives.  More natural foods, locally grown, and most importantly, food that is not chemically altered.  Unfortunately, this may mean paying out a bit more for what builds our bodies up instead of tears it down.

The plus side?  Following God’s will for our bodies, lives, and spirit will bring health and healing to us!  Follow God and His wisdom, not your own.  Then you will have health and healing!

Go with God, and He will Go with you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” ~ Proverbs 19:11, ESV

I remember once, when in high school, I attended the play “Hello, Dolly!” as performed by another high school drama club.  I can’t remember any of the characters’ names except for Dolly, but there was one other character who stood out to me, as I’m sure he was meant to.  He was the character that would eventually marry Dolly.

You’re probably asking yourself right now why I’m talking about a high school play in a daily devotional.  The answer is simple: the male character that I spoke of thought of himself as having “good sense.”  He believed this to the point that he states, “You know, I have good sense.  So much good sense that I can take care of me and my shop!  Why would a man with so much good sense need a wife?”

I’ll give him one thing- he did have good business sense; however, he was prone to frustration when Dolly began her antics in attempting to persuade him into marriage (from what I remember).

Virginia Creeper

Psychologically, the color green relaxes emotions.

In relation to our scripture today, good sense is what makes one slow to anger.  In society today, we often see people in business attire who are quick to frustration.  Oftentimes, we believe that they become frustrated from the stress of running a business or a corporation.  The fact of the scriptures is no less applicable to these people that to the rest of us: those who can control frustration or overlook an offense, such as an insult given by a coworker, an insensitive comment from a husband, or a rant from a wife, are those that truly shine in this world.  They are beacons of self-control!

But why should we not vent our anger?  Well, we find that the negativity resulting from the vented frustration harms more than helps.  Proverbs 29:11 tells us that “a fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (ESV).  So remember, the one that is truly hurt from vented frustration is the frustrated person; he or she often ends up looking insensitive and foolish.  Be as the wise: restrain your spirit and defuse your anger before your words fly from your tongue.  Your word will then be a wellspring of life and encouragement!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” ~ Proverbs 14:23, NIV

Working from Home

Work in private. Be rewarded in public. That is a blessing from God.

Work is naturally aversive to human beings.  There is no doubt about that.  Work takes up energy that might otherwise be used to sustain the organs and keep the body moving in a threatening situation.  How many times now, though, are we put into situations that require us to use up our stored energy- fat- to sustain us?

Work, my brothers and sisters, is a holy thing.  It increases one’s quality of life, and it flows with the will of God.  we are actually meant to be stewards of the earth; tilling it, cultivating it, planting seed, and, overall, making it a better place daily.

One of my favorite sayings and most cherished beliefs is to “leave things a little better than you found them.”  To do this, it takes a bit of effort on my part or on the part of whomever is attempting to make things a little better.  The work will pay off!  Have faith in that!

At the workplace, though, it seems that we’re all neglected and that our hard work is all for naught.  We begin to believe, “I don’t get any further recognition for my hard work… why do it?”  Well, friends, I have to agree with you.  We normally don’t get any recognition or promotions or raises from our employers if we add extra effort- work- to our day jobs.  But I will tell you what will happen:  God will see your effort.  He will notice that you are working diligently.  He will know that you’re striving to work hard and make the world, workplace, or life better than it is now, and you will be blessed by Him for it.

So please, do not be like so many others that moan that there is no justice in the world.  The world is indeed unfair, but we serve a just and gracious God who sees the hard work we do and will reward us openly for it!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the Earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. ~ ESV (2001)

When we hear this particular verse of the Bible, it may throw some of us for a loop.  Of all Jesus’ teachings, one of his most prominent was that of forgiveness.  So why, then, would the Lord of Light and the Father of Forgiveness say that he would bring a sword to the world?

taking up my sword

The cross of Jesus is a holy Sword

To put it simply, the sword was brought to the world to do what a sword is meant to do: cut.  Evil runs rampant in this world, and we, as Christians, are given a sword in a scabbard; however, do we use the sword in times that we must?

This era is one of sugar-coating, peacemaking, smoothing over, non-discipline, and political correctness.  Sometimes, though, the coating must come off, the wrinkles must be ironed, and the unruly must be disciplined.  That is where the Sword of the Spirit must be unsheathed.

The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit; therefore, our tongue is sharper than any blade forged by the hand of man.  The scriptures are used and spoken to do battle with Satan and his army, much the same way as Jesus withstood him so many centuries ago.  Instead of just telling Satan to get away, our Lord quoted scripture to reinforce his point.

At one point, even Satan himself quoted scripture!  Of course, we, much like Sat

an, are able to quote scripture out of context.  This is using our sword for a means other than cutting through evil.  It is important to consider the whole context of the scripture that one is quoting, not just the scripture.

As a particular pastor once said to me, “Remember the context of the scripture.  Read not only the scripture to quote, but those just before and after it.  So you’ll be reading, at the very least, three scripture.”

That is true.  The context of something is the before, the present, and the future.  What’s happening all around it.  As Christians, we must never be so narrow-minded that we believe it is only the now that matters.  It is the collection of life in total that is the context of our lives, which allow us to quote the scriptures accurately and genuinely, to cut through evil and save those snared in darkness.