“What we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up.” ~Apostle Paul

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How often do I keep quiet when I should say what I believe? Too often I think.

If I believe in a God so powerful that He raised Jesus from the dead, what should I say in any given circumstance? Really, what should I say about my belief? I must say that Jesus is willing and able.

Well, if I believe that nothing is impossible with God I can’t be quiet.

I have to say the truth no matter how “bad” things look. God is God. He wants to deliver.

I must have faith and believe. If I do, Jesus will come through no matter what.

We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, “I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise! 2 Corinthians 4:13-15

“Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend!” ~King Solomon

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Love of God

Love of God

I get offended. Probably way too easy. Eventually, everyone is going to say something to offend us.

Love is the way of friendship. Jesus challenges me to live a life of love and not get offended. God’s goal for me is love. That is all.

Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend!

Source: Proverbs 17:9 MSG – Overlook an offense and bond a – Bible Gateway

The King who loved a humble maiden. Would he renounce his throne to win her over?

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Here is Soren Kierkegaard’s version of the story:

Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. The king was like no other king. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden. How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist—no one dared resist him. But would she love him?

She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind? Would she be happy at his side? How could he know? If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross the gulf between them. For it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal. (as quoted in Disappointment with God )
The king clothes himself as a beggar and renounces his throne in order to win her hand. The Incarnation, the life and the death of Jesus, answers once and for all the question, “What is God’s heart toward me?” This is why Paul says in Romans 5, “Look here, at the Cross. Here is the demonstration of God’s heart. At the point of our deepest betrayal, when we had run our farthest from him and gotten so lost in the woods we could never find our way home, God came and died to rescue us.”

“I was convinced at the time I wrote it that what was best for me was also best for you.” ~~Apostle Paul

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Obey God

Obey God

What is the best thing to do? What does God want? Do I pray first or just do what I want?

Paul has a heart for what is best for his brothers and sisters. He really wanted to see them. He decided to write to them to express his ideas rather than visit. His entire motivation was love and concern. 

Do I do what is best or do I act selfishly satisfying my own needs?

That was my reason for writing a letter instead of coming—so I wouldn’t have to spend a miserable time disappointing the very friends I had looked forward to cheering me up. I was convinced at the time I wrote it that what was best for me was also best for you. As it turned out, there was pain enough just in writing that letter, more tears than ink on the parchment. But I didn’t write it to cause pain; I wrote it so you would know how much I care—oh, more than care—love you! (2 Corinthians 2:3 The Message)

 

"Curses on those who drive a hard bargain! Blessings on all who play fair and square!" ~~King Solomon

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We live in a world where driving a “hard bargain” seems to be a real strategy that is respected.

As people of God, we don’t have to negotiate that way. We should play fair. We should suggest reasonable terms in our work and dealings with people.

This is not “The Art of the Deal”! Jesus has expectations for us and challenges to be fair from the start. This is about what love looks like, not who wins.

God promises we will be blessed if that is our approach. 

 “Curses on those who drive a hard bargain! Blessings on all who play fair and square!” ~~King Solomon (Proverbs 11:26)

 

“Progress always involves risk; you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” ~~Frederick Wilcox

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Faith takes courage and has risk

Faith takes courage and has risk

We must step out and take a stand. Jesus challenges us and we know it is true.

What if I didn’t hear him right? What if I fail?

There is a huge risk in following Jesus.

And … there is a huge reward.

“Progress always involves risk; you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” ~~Frederick Wilcox

Scarecrow in a Melon Patch

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A bonus today for your reading pleasure. This is from my friend Bill and he really nails it. Who will I trust? My 401K? How about Jesus?

4th Quarter Musings

Where is our confidence? Where is our trust? Jesus said, do not worry about tomorrow because each day has enough trouble of its own. He told us not to worry about what we Image result for scarecrowwould wear or what we would eat. Look at the birds of the air and the flowers of the field that are beautiful to watch and to look at. We are more valuable to God than all the other parts of creation. Don’t get all hung up over something that will impress others. Who are you living for and what will all these things do for you? They won’t bring you happiness!

Many of us in the Baby Boomer generation are spending a lot of time engaging people who will help us plan to make sure our finances will last as long as we do. Many have accumulated collectibles, homes, toys, etc. that are the result of…

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“Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power.” ~Jeremiah

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15ba0-paradiseIt is another beautiful day in paradise. Which reminds me that He made all of this.

With His word He commanded it all into existence. He said it, pointed to where He wanted it to exist and it did. How cool is that?

Oh my goodness. Nothing is  impossible for Him. Jeremiah got it. May I learn this as well.

Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You… Jeremiah 32:17

 

 

“For nothing is impossible with God.” ~Angel of God to Mary

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Imagine being a young woman. You are a virgin. An angel shows up and lets you know you are going to give birth to the Son of God.

You ask how that can be since you are a virgin. The angel lets you know that the Spirit of God will make it happen AND nothing is impossible with God. NOTHING. Not a thing. EVERYTHING is possible.

This word of God has been challenging my heart and soul lately. I know I have had things I didn’t believe Jesus could do.

I am leaning in to hear the word of our Father. If he says it, I can count on it. Nothing is impossible.

So here is the deal. When the Angel said nothing is impossible, Mary said, “I am the LORD’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Then a little while later Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mother) said “Happy woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true!”

May I have faith to believe our LORD. Nothing is impossible.

For nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37

A river like you, Jesus

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A river like you, Jesus!!

Oh my heavenly Father. Your love runs so deep and true in my life. A waterfall falling in two. A river like you. Amazing and so powerful.

So deep. Running through my soul.

What I give to drink from your living water. A river like you, Jesus!!

Your love runs so deep and true. I have been searching. Now I have found you and we are best friends.

Your love runs to me. I see your reflection.

I am still.

Peaceful in your presence.

A river like you, Jesus!!!

"Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home." ~~Jesus to the paraplegic

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Miracles Happen

Miracles Happen

The man believed Jesus could heal him. His friends believed it so much that when they couldn’t get in the front entrance, they removed part of the roof and lowered the paraplegic on his stretcher. Now that got Jesus attention.

After all this, Jesus has one more thing he wants the man to do. He allows the man an opportunity to demonstrate his faith. And he does.

And he walks out of there.

And those who doubted Jesus rubbed their eyes. They found it hard to believe.

May I have faith like that. May I listen to Jesus and obey.

Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home.” And the man did it—got up, grabbed his stretcher, and walked out, with everyone there watching him. They rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!

“Faith makes all things possible… love makes all things easy.” ~Dwight L. Moody

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Love Tag CloudHow very true. Paul reminded us that faith, hope and love define God’s new plan. But it is love that is the center of everything.
We all long for love. God knows this. That is why He sent Jesus to focus on “the heart”. Jesus is all about love. Jesus is love.
“Faith makes all things possible… love makes all things easy.” Dwight L. Moody

I Press In: A Poem

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Shh!!
He is talking to me but it is a whisper.
So … I press in to hear what he is saying to me.
I lean in close.
My face close to His face
to hear what He is saying.

He promised me I would find HIM
if I search for him with my whole heart.
How precious is that.

When I come to him,
He turns and sees me.
And He smiles.
His face lights up with joy
that I am coming to hear what He has to say.

He smiles at me
and He winks at me that knowing wink.
He is just so darn happy that I want to be in His presence.
He is tickled pink that I want to spend time with Him.
He bursts out laughing at my awkward ways.
Somehow He makes me feel good about all the stuff I worry about.

Shh!!
He is talking to me.
I press in.
I want to hear Him.
I lean in.

I press in.
Just to hear more.
Just to know Him more.
I want more.
I do!!
I really do!!

“Why are you so skeptical?” ~Jesus

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Miracles Happen

Miracles Happen

Jesus has this way of baffling the religious community. The reaction is “He can’t talk that way” or “He can’t do that”.

When Jesus arrives on the scene, miracles happen and religious people can’t control what he is doing. When Jesus does His outrageous miracles, we rub our eyes.

We’ve never seen anything like this. He is doing what He sees the Father doing. He is bringing heaven to earth. Wow!!!

I have never seen anything like what Jesus can do. May I believe that in my core.

Some religion scholars sitting there started whispering among themselves, “He can’t talk that way! That’s blasphemy! God and only God can forgive sins.” Jesus knew right away what they were thinking, and said, “Why are you so skeptical? Which is simpler: to say to the paraplegic, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or say, ‘Get up, take your stretcher, and start walking’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both . . .” (he looked now at the paraplegic), “Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home.” And the man did it—got up, grabbed his stretcher, and walked out, with everyone there watching him. They rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:6-12 The Message)

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you.” ~Apostle Paul

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Money

Money

God is amazingly wealthy. Jesus has riches beyond what we can even imagine. The power to tap into His strength is through His Spirit. It starts with faith in my heart.

This should be my prayer for all our brothers and sisters in the Messiah. May I pray this prayer for each other and myself.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. Ephesians 3:16-17

May I be strong, powerful and rich through His Spirit.

“What if some did not have faith?” ~Apostle Paul

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You know, this is my favorite part of all. It doesn’t matter if I am up or down. Happy or sad. Skeptical or unquestioning. Even if I don’t have faith, God is always faithful. Nothing can change that all. He will always love me.
 
God is God and God is faithful.

He always has been. He is today. He always will be. 

What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Romans 3:3-4

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power." ~Abraham Lincoln

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Humility isn’t easy. Jesus challenges me to love and think of others first. That is it. Nothing else.

Jesus knows it is about who I am inside that counts. That inside character is what will come out in the long run.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. 

~Abraham Lincoln

 

"We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill." ~~Jesus

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There are times Jesus will do things and suggest that it not be shared with others. It is a God thing just for that person.

Jesus does want us to be public about God’s World (Kingdom). It is not to be hid. I am to be a light in darkness. I must go public.I must be open. I must be transparent.

This world (not God’s World) needs to hear the good news about what is like to be restored by Jesus.

When it comes to the good news, Jesus demands I go public. To not do so is to deny Him.

“We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.” ~~Jesus (Matthew 5:14-16 The Message)

“It’s who you are in your heart, not what you say and do, that counts.” ~Jesus

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I don’t like wormy apples. No one does. It is just not right. The ultimate gross out for sure.

I love fresh, juicy apples. So, I must begin with my heart. I want healthy fruit.

So what is in my heart? Do I long for what counts? Am I starting with what matters and working from there?

May I have healthy fruit that comes from a pure heart. May my true being spill forth from my heart.

You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own heart. It’s who you are in your heart, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds. Luke 6:43-45

“This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.” ~Apostle Paul

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Men of God. This is for you. I have spent a week focused on this scripture.

We must know that we are at war with the Devil. We would like to think that is not true but it is. It is a fact.

Our Master Jesus has given us everything we need. We have the best weapons possible. There is nothing shoddy about them at all.

All we have to do is put them to use. It is a big mistake to think we don’t need them.

We do need GOD. We need to prepare daily for the war. We are at war. This is for keeps.

So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Ephesians 6:10-12

“They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”)” ~Angel of God

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God is with us

God is with us

Nothing is impossible with God. Jesus came to us, born of a virgin.

His name is “God is with us”. That is message of hope in God’s new plan. His goal is that we will have a intense relationship with Jesus.

May I experience His presence every minute of every day. He is Immanuel.

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).

Matthew 1:23

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” ~King Solomon

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Broken Heart

Broken Heart

There are matters of the heart and there are matters of faith. There are many things in my heart that I want to do. They are based on what I want. There is a better way.

When we start with faith, the Lord brings the matters of the heart to His good conclusion. He cares that good comes from our plans. Supernatural courage comes from Him to step out with pure motives.

May I commit to the Lord everything I do. May He establish my plans.

To human beings belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue. People may think all their ways are pure, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:1-3 TNIV

"God hates cheating in the marketplace; he loves it when business is aboveboard." ~~King Solomon

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No Cheating

No Cheating

When it comes to business, I need to always be aboveboard and true to my word. I should always see my approach as one that Jesus would love and be proud of.

I remember that one day Jesus chased the business people out of the temple (church) because of their dishonest approach. I need to aboveboard and transparent.

May all I do in my business approach be aboveboard.

God hates cheating in the marketplace; he loves it when business is aboveboard.” ~~King Solomon (Proverbs 11:1)

Is there any wiggle room in this? “All men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~Jesus

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Love One Another

Love One Another

Jesus started a whole bunch of new stuff. He wasn’t about the old world. His mission was to bring God’s love to us all. He also set whole new standards for how I should live.

And so …. what Jesus expects is straightforward. No wiggle room here. He love us. We are to love each other that same way.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

"An ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere?" ~~Jesus

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Jesus loves the word of God. He also knows the legalism can be taken to the extreme.

I certainly have legal “rights” that I can insist on being fulfilled. Jesus also gives me the option to pursue love. His challenge to me is to pursue love and not “my rights”.

Jesus summarizes God’s Law up as 2 essential requirements. Love God and love everyone I come in contact with every day. Jesus demands that I focus on those two requirements.That is the essence of things in God’s world. That is His law.

Legalism isn’t going to get Me anywhere. End of story.

 An ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere?” ~~Jesus (Matthew 5:38-42 The Message)

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“Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.” ~God

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Who is in control of the outcome, the potter or the pottery? The potter of course.

I admit that I am not very creative when it comes to painting, sculpting, etc. I do enjoy hand blown glass and have seen pottery made.

Everything done is in the hands of the artist. He is in control. The clay has no say in what the outcome is.

And so, God is shaping me as seems best to Him. I  may not always understand it but that is the way Jesus works. He is the creator. He is God.

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD : “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” Jeremiah 18:1-6

May I open myself to what He sees is best for me.

“I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple trust anywhere in Israel.” ~Jesus

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Bold Faith

Bold Faith

The Roman Centurian was very humble and knew that Jesus could give the command and his servant would be healed. He didn’t need to come to Jesus himself or have Jesus come to him.

Imagine having the kind of faith that shocks Jesus. It is simple trust. If I know that Jesus has the authority, that takes care of it.

Jesus was also shocked because the religious community of his day didn’t have this kind of faith. God is great and God can do anything. I need to know and believe that in my heart and soul.

May I have the kind of faith that shocks Jesus. May I have it now.

Taken aback, Jesus addressed the accompanying crowd: “I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple trust anywhere in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know about God and how he works.” Luke 7:9 (MSG)

“While hell can be a paralyzing doctrine, it can also be an energizing one, for it magnifies the beauty of the cross.” ~Francis Chan

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Francis Chan sees the seriousness of Church doctrine and its meaning and decides to write a book based on his study of the doctrine HELL. We may not want to hear the message but is powerful. Jesus didn’t shy away from it at all.

How could a loving God send people to hell? Will people have a chance after they die to believe in Jesus and go to heaven?

With a humble respect for God’s Word, Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle address the deepest questions you have about eternal destiny. They’ve asked the same questions. Like you, sometimes they just don’t want to believe in hell. But as they write, “We cannot afford to be wrong on this issue.” This is not a book about who is saying what. It’s a book about what God says. It’s not a book about impersonal theological issues. It’s a book about people who God loves. It’s not a book about arguments, doctrine, or being right. It’s a book about the character of God.

Erasing Hell will immerse you in the truth of Scripture as, together with the authors, you find not only the truth but the courage to live it out.

 

"When you’re kind to others, you help yourself; when you’re cruel to others, you hurt yourself." ~~King Solomon

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Acts of Kindness

Acts of Kindness

Who do I think I am hurting? Cruelty is intended to hurt someone else. It actually backfires and hurts me.

Jesus knew this. Solomon knew this. Kindness is the cornerstone of a loving life.

God’s goal for me is to be kind. It is a simple goal and achievable with the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.

When you’re kind to others, you help yourself; when you’re cruel to others, you hurt yourself.” ~~King Solomon (Proverbs 11:17)

“Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear.” ~Holy Spirit of God

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God will give us rest

God will give us rest

Whose way do I want to follow? Mine? God’s?

It is a fundamental question. It needs to be asked and it needs to be answered. It is foundational to God’s world and His government.

I need a bold confidence. I want a firm grip on it. I don’t want to turn a deaf ear. I really, really don’t.

Where will that get me? Not where Jesus the Messiah wants me to go.

I want His rest. I want to reach the end point. I want to sit down and rest. I want to cease from my own “doing” and enter His “doing”.

May I keep a firm grip on His bold confidence!!

Now, if we can only keep a firm grip on this bold confidence, we’re the house! That’s why the Holy Spirit says, Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in “the bitter uprising,” that time of wilderness testing! Even though they watched me at work for forty years, your ancestors refused to let me do it my way; over and over they tried my patience. And I was provoked, oh, so provoked! I said, “They’ll never keep their minds on God; they refuse to walk down my road.” Exasperated, I vowed, “They’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest.” Hebrews 3:6-11

"Don’t listen to them; just trust me." ~~Jesus

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Trust

Trust

One day Jesus took a boat ride. A large crowd met him at the seaside when He arrived. One of the religious leaders named Jairus came to where He was because his daughter was sick. When he saw Jesus, he fell to his knees, beside himself as he begged, “My dear daughter is at death’s door. Come and lay hands on her so she will get well and live.”

Jesus could have done lots of things. He decided to go with him, the whole crowd tagging along, pushing and jostling him. While he was still talking, some people came from the leader’s house and told him, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher any more?” Imagine how devastated he is now. Jesus could have just said the word earlier and this wouldn’t have happened.

Jesus overheard what they were talking about. Jesus knows what to say to get us focused. His message of good news is clear.

It is a question of who I will listen to. It is a question of who I will trust.

Don’t listen to them; just trust me.” ~~Jesus (Mark 5:36 The Message)

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self- control.” ~Apostle Paul

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Give me God's power

Give me God’s power

How easy is it to focus on what God doesn’t do for me? Way too easy. I get distracted. The “shiny object” grabs my attention and diverts me. It happens a lot.

The big thing Jesus never gives me is fear or worry. That is NEVER as in not at all. Worry is not from Jesus.

What Jesus does gives me is power. That is POWER in a big way. Jesus has given me His Holy Spirit.

And Jesus gives me love. When I don’t know how or even can’t find it in me, Jesus shows me the way.

But here is the kicker. I need self control to get to where God wants me to be. He gives me self-control as well. And oh how I need self-control.

How amazing is that?  VERY. God is so very good.

Power

Love.

Self-control.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self- control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” ~Jesus

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Miracles Happen

Miracles Happen

When I see miracles, I am seeing the glory of God. It happens when I believe. First the believe, then the glory of God in a miracle.

In this passage, Martha was doubting that Jesus could raise her brother Lazarus from the dead. Of course, we know how the story ended. She didn’t. She was on the front end of the miracle. It was hard to believe that Jesus could / would raise Lazarus from the dead.

There are lots of days that I am standing on the front end of the miracle. My job is to believe Jesus. When I do, I see His glory.

May I believe Jesus. May I see His glory.

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40

 

"A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart, but a principled life can stand up to the worst." ~~King Solomon

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Money

Money

I sometimes think that money will save me. If I get in a tight spot, I know I can whip out my credit cards. I used to trust in my 401k.

God was willing to  give King Solomon anything he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom. Despite his wealth as King, he knew that money isn’t the answer.

God is the answer. Jesus will see me through when everything falls apart. It is interesting that on our money it says “In God we trust”.

Amen.

A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart, but a principled life can stand up to the worst.” ~~King Solomon (Proverbs 11:4)

"And he has given him the authority, simply because he is the Son of Man, to decide and carry out matters of Judgment." ~~Jesus

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Authority of God

Authority of God

Jesus is very clear. I am not to judge others. He is also clear that all judgement has been turned over to Him by His Father.

Why? Because He is God’s Son. He gets to decide and He will carry it out. God has spoken.

If I know that, I need to act like it. I have no authority to judge. My only job is to love. Everything else is up to God and Jesus.

And he has given him the authority, simply because he is the Son of Man, to decide and carry out matters of Judgment.” ~~Jesus  (John 5:25-27 The Message)

“Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus the Messiah to eternal life.” ~Jude

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So here is something else to be anxious for. Am I anxious for the mercy of Jesus the Messiah?

I need the mercy of Jesus. I have completely missed God’s goal for my life. God is in a good mood, however. I am ready for mercy!

I should keep my arms open. They are outstretched . I am eager for His mercy.

I am ready beyond anything I have felt before for our Master’s mercy. I am staying at the center of of God’s love.

I am building myself up in in holy faith. I am praying in the Spirit. This life in Him never ends. It goes on and on and on. It is the real life.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus the Messiah to eternal life. Jude 1:20-21

“The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.” ~Apostle Paul

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God's Love

God’s Love

What does Jesus love look like?

Jesus is in there sticking up for me. When I am accused of something, fair or not, he sticks up for me. He is loyal to the core.

For me!! With me!!! Nothing can separate me from that loyal love and His courage for me.

No one can drive a wedge between Him and me. No matter what comes my way, it doesn’t faze me. No matter what I do or bad I am, the worst sin, nothing can separate me from Him.

He is sticking up for me!!!

The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and the Messiah’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:35-39

“Well done, good and faithful slave. Enter into the joy of your master.” ~Jesus

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Taking God Seriously

Taking God Seriously

God gives me so much. Time, resources, relationships and gifts to get His job done.

There will be an accounting for what I do with all this. There will be a day of where I must answer for what I did with his gifts.

Am I being a faithful son and getting the most out His generosity?

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:21

May I put to use His many

resources for His world.

"Being a little more right than the masses ultimately pays off in the long run." ~Seth Godin

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Right standing with God

Right standing with God

Jesus calls on us to be on the right side of God and his world (Kingdom).

This world is at odds with Jesus. Everything is upside down with the first being last and the last being first.

Being right with God is the only thing that is important. Jesus is the way.

Rule of thumb: being first helps in the short run. Being a little more right than the masses ultimately pays off in the long run. Being last is the worst of all three.

~Seth Godin

"It’s not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing." ~~Jesus

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JAgendaesus reminds me it’s not about me. That comes as a shock because I love to live like it is.

In God’s world (Kingdom) it is all about God. It is all about what He wants and what He does. Jesus is clear. It is all about what our Father in heaven wants. May his will be done, we pray.

Need an agenda for today? Listen and act on what God wants. That will lead to a whole lot of rejoicing.

It’s not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.” ~~Jesus (Luke 10:18-20 The Message)

"God can’t stand deceivers, but oh how he relishes integrity." ~~King Solomon

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Integrity

Integrity

Integrity rules in God’s world. Jesus knows this. He demands we live with integrity.

There are some things God can’t stand. Deceiving people we know is huge on the list. Thinking we are deceiving God is even worse.

What is integrity? When we align with what God wants and believe it in our hearts, think about it in our minds, talk about it and then do it!!

That is alignment in God’s world. The world where Jesus is the Messiah and rules everything. I must align with Jesus.

God can’t stand deceivers, but oh how he relishes integrity.” ~King Solomon (Proverbs 11:20)

“Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear. Judging and focusing on what people are doing I don’t care for will bring the same thing back to me. Jesus leads me to see the good things someone is doing not what they aren’t doing.

So, do I want an easier life? Of course I do.

Then I should be easier on my family, friends and co-workers. Not always easy to do but His Spirit gives me power to do what I can’t do naturally.

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. ” Luke 6:37 (MSG)

“Those who enter into the Messiah’s being–here–for–us no longer have to live under a continuous, low–lying black cloud.” ~Apostle Paul

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Sometimes there is just that funk. We all know that feeling.

We can’t see clearly. We wander around under a cloud. Nothing is right.

But we have good news. We don’t have to live under the black cloud.

No need to be in a funk. Jesus has arrived. He is the Messiah.

He is always here for us.

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into the Messiah’s being–here–for–us no longer have to live under a continuous, low–lying black cloud. ” Romans 8:1 (MSG)

Black Cloud

Black Cloud

“God can do anything. Far more than you could ever imagine.” ~Apostle Paul

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God is GreatI have ideas. I imagine “what if”.

Some of this stuff is pretty cool!!

Do these ideas seem to be far fetched sometimes? Yes, they do.

God can do anything.

Jesus, the Messiah, can go way beyond my ideas, my dreams. And, He does it through His Spirit which is already at work within me. Wow!!!

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians3:20

May I not limit God to my ideas.

May I lean in to hear what He has in mind.

“Far better to take refuge in God than trust in celebrities.” ~King David

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We live in a celebrity culture. It permeates our religious life. We flock to the mega church. We revel in the message of the celebrity Pastor.

And then … what about that famous movie star, singer or athlete?

We live in a celebrity culture.

Celebrities won’t save us when we need help, when we are hemmed in and surrounded by a disaster. Celebrities can’t be trusted. They don’t know us and they don’t care.

God is my strength. Jesus cares about me.

Jesus is the one who will rescue me. I will trust in Him.

Pushed to the wall, I called to God;
    from the wide open spaces, he answered.
God’s now at my side and I’m not afraid;
    who would dare lay a hand on me?
God’s my strong champion;
    I flick off my enemies like flies.
Far better to take refuge in God
    than trust in people;
Far better to take refuge in God
    than trust in celebrities.
Hemmed in by barbarians,
    in God’s name I rubbed their faces in the dirt;
Hemmed in and with no way out,
    in God’s name I rubbed their faces in the dirt;
Like swarming bees, like wild prairie fire, they hemmed me in;
    in God’s name I rubbed their faces in the dirt.
I was right on the cliff-edge, ready to fall,
    when God grabbed and held me.
God’s my strength, he’s also my song,
    and now he’s my salvation.
Hear the shouts, hear the triumph songs
    in the camp of the saved?
        “The hand of God has turned the tide!
        The hand of God is raised in victory!
        The hand of God has turned the tide!

Source: Psalm 118:5-6 MSG – Pushed to the wall, I called to GOD; – Bible Gateway

Celebrity Culture

Celebrity Culture

"But if your greeting of peace is not received, take it back and get out. Don’t impose yourself." ~~Jesus

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Peace with God

Peace with God

Jesus knows that when we send His peace to a house and there is no peace, it is time to pack our bags and hit the road.

The peace of Jesus is our guide. This is very important to know.

His peace is our guide. The lack of it, at any time, is a real clue something is going on we should pay attention to.

No peace? Run away.

“But if your greeting of peace is not received, take it back and get out. Don’t impose yourself.” ~~Jesus (Luke 10:5-6 The Message)

“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” ~Jesus

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Religious Fraud

Religious Fraud

It is a fairly reasonable question. We come to Jesus. From our religious culture and upbringing we ask “What must we do to gain favor with God?”

We have been told our whole life, go to church, pray, fast, and be religious. The focus is on doing. It is more that just a religious culture. It is the way of life in America.

So, what does God require? What does Jesus want from me? Good question.

Jesus wants me to work at believing in Him. It is all about the relationship with him and not what I do. I must believe.

That leads to His new plan. His mission will fill us when we know He cares for us.

Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God
requires?’
Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the
one he has sent.’ (John 6:26-29 NIV)

“God means what he says.” ~Author of Hebrews

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God's Word

God’s Word

How many times have I said something, meaning it, and then did not follow through? Too many times for sure. It is not only my way but the culture we live in. Deceit prevails way too often.

God is not that way.

God means what He says. He follows through. He sees the real issue. He gets right to the heart of the matter.

My job is to listen and obey. There is no escape so I might as well believe and move ahead.

God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what. Hebrews 4:12-13

May I experience the power of God’s word. May I trust Him and obey Him.

“Seek good and not evil — and live!” ~Amos

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Jesus is clear. There is nothing ambiguous in his direction for my life.

My goal is to love, to seek good. That is how I should live my life. Of course, there is a choice involved here. If I don’t seek good then I am seeking evil. I can’t have two masters.

Jesus wants to be my best friend. It can happen. I must live a life of love. That is the path to friendship. I must work it out in my public life.

Seek good and not evil—
    and live!
You talk about God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    being your best friend.
Well, live like it,
    and maybe it will happen.

Hate evil and love good,
    then work it out in the public square.
Maybe God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    will notice your remnant and be gracious.

Source: Amos 5:14-15 MSG – Seek good and not evil— and live! You – Bible Gateway

Jesus Friend Request

Jesus Friend Request

“Do whatever he tells you.” ~Mother of Jesus (Mary)

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Water to Wine

Water to Wine

This is pretty good advise. It came from a woman who knew Jesus very well. His mother knew who Jesus was and what He could do.

And so it was pretty simple. “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now the whatever wasn’t going to make any sense to them. The wedding guests needed wine. Jesus told them to put water into some jars. But, she advised them to do whatever He asked.

And so, the rest of the story is pretty simple as well. They did!! And the water turned into very fine wine.

May I do whatever He tells me.

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, John 2:5-8 TNIV

“Don’t take yourself too seriously — take God seriously.” ~Micah

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Too Seriously

Too Seriously

God has shown me how to live. It isn’t a secret. Jesus is very clear.

God has shown me what to do. Jesus has shown me what to do. I know the path. I get to choose which way to go. Will I follow Jesus?

God knows what he is looking for. God will find it in us or in others. I pray God finds it in me.

What God wants isn’t complicated. I make it complicated most days. Jesus knows it is simple. It is called love.

I must be fair and just to  my neighbor (people I live and work with). That is my daily expression of love. Be fair. Be just.

Above all, God wants me to love and be compassionate.

My goal is to take Jesus seriously. It doesn’t matter what I think.

 

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.

Source: Micah 6:8 MSG – But he’s already made it plain how to – Bible Gateway

“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace.” ~Jesus

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The peace of Jesus

The peace of Jesus

Jesus knows me. He knows everything about me. I have no secrets from Jesus.

Jesus knows what I am about to do. Many times, I don’t know what I am about to do. Jesus does and he wants me to trust him.

Jesus knows I am self-centered. He knows I will look after my own interest and not seek to know what Jesus wants me to do.

Jesus knows himself. Jesus knows he is the son of God and that God has his best interests at heart. Jesus is God-confident.

Jesus challenges me to trust him. That is the main thing about the main thing. I must find a way to trust Jesus.

Jesus promises me, if I trust him, that I will be unshakable and at peace. Peace can be mine. If I don’t have it, it is probably due to a lack of trust in Jesus.

Jesus promises me that I am going to experience difficulty. It is going to come my way. It is right around the corner.

Jesus assures me he has conquered the world. I should take heart and trust Jesus.

Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.

Source: John 16:33 MSG – Jesus answered them, “Do you finally – Bible Gateway

“We have enough cubic zirconia Christians hungry for diamonds whose beauty was created from the pressures of life.” ~Kris Vallotton

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I am flawed and in a huge way. It is through my weakness that Jesus is magnified as he found a way to use me anyway.

Jesus is calling on me to be authentic. I don’t have to pretend to be something I am not.

That is good news. Thank you Jesus.

We have enough cubic zirconia Christians hungry for diamonds whose beauty was created from the pressures of life.

Source: Are You a Failure, or Are You Flawed? – Kris Vallotton

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” ~James

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Gift of God

Gift of God

I get many gifts in life. Do I see tests and challenges as one of them?

That is how I should see them. Challenges come at me from all sides. When they do, they are great gifts. They develop my faith life and give me supernatural courage as I see Jesus establish His peace. I should treasure tests as I would a prized possession.

More importantly, challenges mature me and help me grow in His ways. My life in Jesus is not to be static. It is a life of growth and development. Challenges develop me so that I don’t lack anything in my character. I should be joyful in my trials.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Source: James 1:2-4

May I be joyful in the challenges that come my way.

“O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!” ~King David

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God's Blessings

God’s Blessings

King David had see a lot of trouble in his life. A number of his songs are him pleading to God to save him from his enemies, literally.

David’s focus is on blessing God for the amazing things God has done.

A great reminder for the new year. What a great reminder for every day.

May I start out and finish the year blessing God, from head to toe.

O my soul, bless God.
    From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
    don’t forget a single blessing!

Source: Psalm 103:1-2 MSG – A David Psalm O my soul, bless GOD. – Bible Gateway

“Anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new.” ~Apostle Paul

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Today is a new year and so we celebrate.

Today, in Jesus, we get a fresh start and are created new in him.

Now, that is some good news.

Because of Jesus, welcome to a new Michael.

Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!

Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for the Messiah himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

Source: 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 MSG – Because of this decision we don’t – Bible Gateway

new-creation

"Count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or speak lies about you to discredit me." ~~Jesus

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Jesus Challenges Us

Jesus Challenges Us

Are people putting me down because of my following Jesus? Do I make others uncomfortable with my passion of our Lord? Uncomfortable questions in a culture that values “not rocking the boat”.

Jesus challenges me to not live a comfortable life. Being a follower of Jesus should get me in trouble with others.

I need to remember this is not about me but it is about Jesus. They are doing it to discredit Him not me.

Oh well. I am more than happy (blessed) when it happens.

Count yourselves blessed (more than happy) every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable.” ~~Jesus (Matthew 5:11-12 The Message)

“If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth.” ~Apostle John

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Believe in God

Believe in God

Jesus is the light of the entire world. What He said and did guides us along the path we take every day.

Jesus directed us to love God and to love one another. That is the light. That is God’s goal for us.

To live otherwise is a desperate lie. This is the life we share with one another.

May I live in the light that Jesus sheds on my path. May I not wander off into darkness.

If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges our missing God’s goal for us (sin). 1 John 1:6-7

“God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him.” ~Apostle John

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How do you sum things up in God? What is the main message? What is the elevator speech?

John lets us know. He heard it directly from Jesus.

It is so very nice to have light and be able to see clearly. Stumbling around in the dark is no fun at all.

God is pure light. In Him, we can see everything. He is pure. We can count on Him. It is His character.

That is the message. I am doing my part and passing it on to you.

This, in essence, is the message we heard from the Messiah and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him. 1 John 1:5

“Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth.” ~Apostle Paul

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God's Word

God’s Word

Someone has to be put in charge of capturing what God is saying. He is revealing so much to us. It needs care because His words stand out (are Holy).

“Religion” and religious people create some interesting challenges. “Religious” people can abandon the mission they have been given. If we have put our faith in them and not in Jesus, who can we trust?

Well, God always keeps His word. That is that and that is all there is to that.

Jesus can’t be rejected because He is always faithful. If the Messiah has said it, we can count on it.

First, there’s the matter of being put in charge of writing down and caring for God’s revelation, these Holy words of His. So, what if, in the course of doing that, some religious people have abandoned their post? God didn’t abandon them. Do you think their faithlessness cancels out his faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth. His word says the same: Your words stand fast and true; Rejection doesn’t faze you. Romans 3:2-6

"I want to heal you. Be clean." ~~Jesus

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Virtue

Virtue

This man came begging to Jesus. He wanted to be healed like nothing else.

He knew Jesus could heal him. This moved Jesus deeply.

So what did Jesus do? He healed him.

Am I moving Jesus to compassion? Am I desperate for Jesus’ touch?

Jesus wants to heal me. He is clear about that.

At Jesus’ word, I can be clean.

A leper came to him, begging on his knees, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.” Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to heal you. Be clean.” Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy. Jesus dismissed him with strict orders: “Say nothing to anyone. Take the offering for cleansing that Moses prescribed and present yourself to the priest. This will validate your healing to the people.” But as soon as the man was out of earshot, he told everyone he met what had happened, spreading the news all over town. So Jesus kept to out-of-the-way places, no longer able to move freely in and out of the city. But people found him, and came from all over. (Matthew 8:3-4 The Message)

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” ~King Solomon

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In the middle of the night, I cry out to you O God. There is a longing in my heart for you. It just won’t go away. I can’t put it off. I don’t want to defer it to another time. Delay is not right at all. I want my heart to be whole and well. And so I seek you. I cry out to you.

When I don’t have the energy any longer, I know you do. When I don’t feel I can go on, I know you did and so I can. Your strength is my hope. Your courage is all I need.

Jesus, you are so good to fulfill my longing for what I need. You are a tree of life. Your love is a very healthy tree. The fruit so luscious. There is plenty for me. It’s branches just keep spreading out for me to take the fruit.

Jesus, your love is so enduring. My heart is whole because of you!! You are love. Your new agreement with me is based on your love.

May my longing for you produce the fruit of a right living life. May your rest be my peace.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

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“She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus (Yehshuah)—’God saves’—because he will save his people from sin.” ~God’s angel

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Joseph had a lot to deal with. What to name the Son of God wasn’t one of them. God’s angel made that clear to him. His name is Jesus (Yehshuah), “God Saves”.

His bigger problem was what to do about his fiance who was pregnant but claimed the Holy Spirit got her pregnant. He trusted Mary but only up to a point. He was going to call the whole thing off. The angel solved that for him as well.

It is clear to Joseph that this child will be like no other. First, her pregnancy is from a man. Second, it is God, through His Spirit, that has caused the pregnancy. Third, the child will be a boy. Finally, His name will show God’s purpose, to deliver and rescue mankind.

So … the Son of God is named Jesus (Yehshuah). And, most importantly, Jesus rescues and delivers us from sin, that is, missing God’s goal for our lives.

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus (Yehshuah)—’God saves’—because he will save his people from (sin) missing God’s goal for their lives.” Matthew 1:20-23

“Think of yourselves the way the Messiah Jesus thought of himself.” ~Apostle Paul

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Resurrection - He is risenThe birth of Jesus has special meaning. We must see it from the eyes of Jesus, our Messiah. We should think of why Jesus gave up the glory of heaven and humbled himself to come to earth as a man. He became a slave for us. Jesus humbled himself.

Forget about the baby and see the man on the cross, dying for us. Jesus didn’t come to give us Christmas trees filled with gifts. Jesus came to give us a cross and an empty tomb.

Above all else, Jesus humbled himself to be obedient to God, his father. His obedience led to his exaltation.

It wasn’t about the manager. It was all about the cross, the empty tomb and his mighty resurrection.

All honor and glory to Jesus, our Messiah.

Think of yourselves the way the Messiah Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus the Messiah, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

Source: Philippians 2:5-11 MSG – Think of yourselves the way Christ – Bible Gateway

“Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide.” ~God’s angel

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Jesus Messiah

Jesus Messiah

I am looking.

I am looking for my savior.

God appears on the scene with his mighty angels.

Our savior and Messiah has arrived. Now that is some good news.

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

Source: Luke 2:8-11 MSG – An Event for Everyone – There were – Bible Gateway

“Joseph went to Bethlehem with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.” ~Luke

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Bethlehem

Bethlehem

So this is how it happened. Luke starts warming us up with some basic facts. In a few more paragraphs we will begin to learn about how the Son of God was born and began to live among us.

Jesus came with a mission. It begins with some basic facts. It ends with Jesus ascending into heaven, a triumphant Messiah.

Luke draws me in. I want to know more.

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

Source: Luke 2:1, 4-5 MSG – The Birth of Jesus – About that time – Bible Gateway

If the recipe calls for a little, give more. Jesus is not stingy at all.

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Our heavenly Father has decided to show us mercy and love, not judgement. Now let us stop right there for a minute.

No judgement? Really? That is right. All praise belongs to Him who is the God and Father of our Master Jesus. His wisdom and counsel heals and restores us. When we have difficult days, Jesus is right there next to us, encouraging us as only He can do.

As a result of us getting through these days, Jesus brings someone into our life who needs to hear how God has helped us. We can be there for them just the way God is there for us. Funny how that prepares us to help someone else and give them good gifts from God. The generosity of Jesus becomes our generosity.

Of course we have some tough days because of following after Jesus. His way is not always easy. But through it all, we have many more amazing days of His healing and comfort.

We get more than a full measure of all His benefits and gifts. If the recipe calls for a little, He gives more. Jesus is not stingy at all. Good stuff for sure.

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God.” ~Jesus

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God's new plan

God’s new plan

We live in a world of shortcuts. We are always looking for the easy way, the quick way, things that take no to little effort.

There are people who make a fortune selling the “successful life” formula.

That is not God’s way for sure. Jesus challenges us in the new plan to hit the goal every minute of every day. Day in and day out. No shortcuts at all.

God’s new plan is a 24/7/365 deal.

Ready?

Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do.” ~Jesus (Matthew 7:11-13)

Jesus leads us as the new pioneer of supernatural faith and courage.

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Courage

Courage

God got everything started. Everything came from Him. His word made it all happen.

He is also the one who keeps everything going. Without God, it all comes to a standstill. So, God starts it all and keeps it all moving.

His son Jesus came as a pioneer. He led the way through His suffering on to the glory.

Jesus experienced it first. God started it all. God keeps it moving and now His new agreement with us is to complete it all as well. Jesus leads us as the new pioneer of supernatural faith.

God is the one who saves us and those of us who are saved have an origin that we share in common. It is Jesus.

And Jesus doesn’t hesitate to treat us all as family and friends. We are all together with the one starts, keeps things going and is now completing His good work. How amazing it is. How stunning Jesus is.

The one whom Jesus loved

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Love of Jesus

Love of Jesus

There were the multitudes.

There were the 72.

There were the 12.

Peter, James and John made up the 3.

Then there was the one whom Jesus loved. He reclined next to Jesus at the last supper. He heard what He whispered.

May I recline next to Jesus.

May I hear what He whispers.

One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. John 13:23

"Complaining is to the devil what praise is to God." ~~Bill Johnson

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Satan loves to hear us complain. He knows, when he hears that, we aren’t focused on God and what he wants.

We live in a culture that thrives on complaints. We are all experts at seeing what God isn’t doing.

The key is to see what God is doing!

“Complaining is to the devil what praise is to God.” ~~Bill Johnson

"God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet." ~~Jesus

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God's Word

God’s Word

Jesus is clear on what God has said. His word is like Him. It is here to stay.

Nothing can be added to what God has said or taken away from it. God means what He says. We can count on Him.

Everything else is temporary. It will pass away. It is not real. God’s word is the real deal.

Now that is some good news.

“God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet.” ~~Jesus (Matthew 5:17-18 The Message)

“You have made them a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned them with glory and honor.” ~King David

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Kingdom of God

Kingdom of God

I am stunned at how our Father sees me compared to how I see myself.

Jesus sees me as a friend who He loves to crown me with His glory. He honors me. He has made me a ruler in His Kingdom.

Not how I see myself some days. Everything Jesus has for me is mine.

May I get in my heart God’s reality. May I see myself as He sees me!!

You have made them a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Psalm 8:5-8

“Discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” ~Author of Hebrews

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I want to be a son. To be something else would be unthinkable. My earthly dad did discipline me. He had my long term best interest at heart. There were things he wanted me to learn and I didn’t always want to learn it. Not at the time anyway. I appreciate it now but it was painful then.

God is training me for my good. There are things He wants me to learn. Sometimes He needs to get my attention. I can be stubborn. No doubt about that.

I do want righteousness and peace. It can be mine. I must be a son though. I must accept discipline.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:7-11 NIV

“Wait for hope to appear.” ~Jeremiah

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Our heavenly Father loves me. He is love and love is patient. He isn’t frustrated with me. He won’t let go. He is going to see me through.

So knowing this, I can wait for hope to appear. It will. He loves me.

He cares and doesn’t put any roadblocks in my way. He isn’t involved with making my life hard. I just need to wait on Him.

I shouldn’t run away but I should face reality with Him. Nothing is too hard for Him. He makes the Lion and the Lamb to lie down together. How good is that?

He has stockpiles of love. No end to His love.

My job is to wait. That is all. Jesus will appear.

When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst.

Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way.
Lamentations 3

“If I love to be loved more than to love, then I know nothing of Calvary Love.” ~Amy Carmichael

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From writer Amy Carmichael…

If the praise of man elates me and his blame depresses me… 

If I can not rest under misunderstanding without defending myself… 

If I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve… 

then I know nothing of Calvary Love.

What a good and great God we have: His love gives us more than enough strength and peace to meet the challenges of our lives and to love those around us.

"Let me tell you why you are here." ~~Jesus

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Jesus is very clear. There is no doubt about what I am to do. The choice is will I obey Him?

Jesus understands that I need to know why I am here. Of course, it is a foundational question. We are not here to please ourselves and do whatever we want.

Jesus calls us to go on a mission for Him and our Father. We are the seasoning of this planet. We must bring out God’s flavor and bring His Kingdom into all the countries.

We are His light to shine the way to others. We must speak out. We must show His love.

To choose otherwise is to abandon His way. The consequence of not being His seasoning for he world is to be useless and end up in the garbage. Not a pleasant thought.

Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” ~~Jesus (Matthew 5:13 The Message)

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” ~ Mother Teresa

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Love One Another

Love One Another

Love is amazing. It just blots out everything else. No time to be angry, resentful or judging. 

Jesus is clear. Our mission is to love. That sums up everything God wants us to do. 
Jesus does not want us to judge. That is the job for Jesus.

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”~~ Mother Teresa

“The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.” ~Apostle John

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Jesus is Life

Jesus is Life

The Apostle John was the disciple Jesus loved. He was one of the 72, one of the 12, one of the 3 and the one whom Jesus loved.

John knew Jesus better than anyone else. He saw it all “up close and personal”.

What does he tells us about all of this? Jesus is the Word of Life. He is Life itself.

And, we share it with John. That is the mystery of God’s goal for us.

John has no advantage here.

From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. 1 John 1:1-2

"Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin." ~~King Solomon

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How do we become wise? As we follow God, seek His ways, listen to Him, we need to store it up.

It seems so easy with technology, blogging, twittering, and Facebook to just throw stuff out there. It comes our way and off it goes. No storing up and just a fountain of quick, random thoughts.

God’s way is build and layer on top of truth. When we store up knowledge of His ways, we become wise.

God has a goal for me. It doesn’t involve being a fool. God wants me to be wise. My job is to store up knowledge of him.

May I store up knowledge and be wise in His ways.

“Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.” ~~King Solomon (Proverbs 10:14)

 

I Never Knew How Heavy my Luggage was until I Stopped Carrying it!!

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luggageRobert Schueller says one of his most popular sermons was titled “I Never Knew How Heavy my Luggage was until I Stopped Carrying it.” He asks “What heavy luggage have you been carrying too long? And at what price?

“Old sorrows? It’s time to bury the dead.
Old sins? It’s time to accept Christ’s forgiveness.
Old setbacks? It’s time to believe in beginning again.
Old insults? It’s time to let the past be the past.
Old hurts? Angers? It’s time to accept the spirit of forgiveness. Let God exercise justice.”

God knows what we need to be happy and healthy. He knows what we need in order to love. He will provide for us daily.

Good news for men with broken hearts

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Men are supposed to be strong. And yet, our hearts get broken. There is good news though. Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. And, He does.

The condition of a man’s broken hear has never better said than by Hank Williams in his classic, “Men with Broken Hearts”. I have been meditating lately on Isaiah 61 (see below) and Hank’s song came back to mind. Here are the lyrics.

You’ll meet many just like me upon life’s busy street
With shoulders stooped and heads bowed low and eyes that stare in defeat
Or souls that live within the past where sorrow plays all parts
Where a living death is all that’s left for men with broken hearts

You have no right to be the judge to criticize and condemn
Just think but for the grace of God it would be you instead of him
One careless step, a thoughtless deed and then the misery starts
And to those who weep death comes cheap these men with broken hearts
Oh so humble you should be when they come passing by
For it’s written that the greatest men never get too big to cry
Some lose faith in love and life when sorrow shoots her darts
And with hope all gone they walk alone these men with broken hearts
You’ve never walked in that man’s shoes or saw things through his eyes
Or stood and watched with helpless hands while the heart inside you dies
Some were paupers some were kings and some were masters of the arts

But in their shame they’re all the same these men with broken hearts
Life sometimes can be so cruel that a heart will pray for death
God why must these living dead know pain with every breath
So help your brother along the road no matter where he starts
For the God that made you made them too these men with broken hearts

So our Father is so very good. Here is His good news:

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—and to comfort all who mourn, To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, Messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by God to display his glory. They’ll rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage. They’ll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new. You’ll hire outsiders to herd your flocks and foreigners to work your fields, But you’ll have the title “Priests of God,” honored as ministers of our God. You’ll feast on the bounty of nations, you’ll bask in their glory.
Because you got a double dose of trouble and more than your share of contempt, Your inheritance in the land will be doubled and your joy go on forever.

Source: Isaiah 61:1-7 (MSG)

“Jesus stood over her, told the fever to leave—and it left.” ~Luke

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Bold Faith

Bold Faith

It doesn’t matter why they asked Jesus to do something for Simon’s mother-in-law. They wanted Jesus to do something for her. They weren’t specific and that was ok. Just please do something.

Jesus did the ultimate thing, probably more than they thought he would. He was very direct. He told the fever to leave. It did. Nothing is impossible with God.

And so, she got dinner for them.

Jesus, God’s son and the Messiah, is going to do something for you and for me. We may not know what it  is. Our job is to have faith that he will.

He left the meeting place and went to Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was running a high fever and they asked him to do something for her. He stood over her, told the fever to leave—and it left. Before they knew it, she was up getting dinner for them. Luke 4:38-39

“Run after peace for all you’re worth.” ~Apostle Peter

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I should go all out for it. Pursue it no matter what. Peace is from Jesus but I have to go for it.

My goal, from God, is don’t say things that hurt others. I must cultivate the good in others.

Go after the good. Ignore the evil.

God approves this and listens to me in this context.

May I cultivate the good. May I go for peace no matter what. May my day fill up with good.

Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, here’s what you do:

Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
listening and responding well to what he’s asked;
But he turns his back on those who do evil things.

1 Peter 3:8-12

“Love Jesus radically and extravagantly no matter what people think” ~Bill Johnson

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Jesus challenges us

Jesus challenges us

There is a lot I can focus on every day. Jesus challenges me to focus. Need some ideas on what to focus on?

Try one a day and then repeat. And the repeat again.

From Kris Vallotton, this is a great summary of what we should focus on daily.

9 of the most important things I learned from my spiritual father Bill Johnson

1- love Jesus radically and extravagantly no matter what people think.

2- never forget that God is good regardless of how I feel or what the circumstances say.

3- keep in mind what Jesus is doing, not what still needs to be done. Do everything you can to remember His works (testimonies) in the lives of people.

4-look for the good in people and focus on their goodness and not their flaws. Never speak negatively of anyone.

5- honor and celebrate all different kinds of people, regardless if you agree with them or not.

6- put your family before anything (including ministry) or anyone (except God). In fact when I am serving my family I am serving God. My family must benefit from my relationship with Jesus. The level of success I have at home determines the level of ministry I have to everyone else.

7-be loyal to your friends and family. Loyalty is demonstrated most radically when they have failed. Don’t throw people under the bus to please others, save face, or convince the world that you hate the sin they committed.

8- be extremely generous and sacrificial in giving to others. God will give back to you. Give like you actually believe you can’t out give God.

9- “nothing is impossible with God” must not just be a theory it has to be a reality that effects the way I live life.

“It’s simply perverse to say, “If my lies serve to show off God’s truth all the more gloriously, why blame me?” ~Apostle Paul

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Slander

Slander

Why blame me? Great question. We aren’t doing God any favors by continuing to miss the mark when it comes to His plan.

It doesn’t give God any glory to not walk in the good news of His plan and continue to fall short of His goal for us.

I can’t slander God by pretending that evil does good. That is not the way of Jesus, our Messiah. I must stand up for good regardless of what it means to me personally.

God wants us to follow His way. It is that simple.

It’s simply perverse to say, “If my lies serve to show off God’s truth all the more gloriously, why blame me? I’m doing God a favor.” Some people are actually trying to put such words in our mouths, claiming that we go around saying, “The more evil we do, the more good God does, so let’s just do it!” That’s pure slander, as I’m sure you’ll agree. Romans 3:7-8

How to cultivate a lifestyle of Thanksgiving

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In this message, Casey Wilson from The Christian Training Center reminds us through the lives of Abraham, Paul and the Pilgrims of early America that Thanksgiving is not just a day but a lifestyle which brings glory to God.

WATCH the Full Video HERE.

LISTEN to the Full Audio HERE.

"Lack of direction, not lack of time is the problem. We all have 24 hour days."- Zig Ziglar

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Jesus gives me focus. Jesus has goals for me. It is not about time. I have all the time God wants me to have.

My job is to focus on what God wants me to do in His country today. Nothing else matters.

Nothing is impossible with God!

“Lack of direction, not lack of time is the problem. We all have 24 hour days.”- Zig Ziglar

I Prefer the Ocean: A Poem

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I prefer the ocean

to the mountain stream.

The ocean is wild . . .

unpredictable . . .

roaring along wave by wave.

The ocean is vast, never ending,

so it seems.

 

The ocean can be so many things,

minute by minute.

Day by day.

From the beginning of time to the end.

I prefer the ocean

to the lazy river.

The ocean is calm . . .

gently lapping at my feet.

 

The ocean is persistent,

never ceasing to roll in.

It can be one thing right in front of me

and yet, looking further out, an entirely different scene.

 

I prefer the ocean

To a babbling brook.

At the ocean, I stand in awe

of it’s majesty

at it’s might

in it’s marvels.

 

The ocean is a mystery . . .

always amazing with its wealth

of life

of ability to rejuvenate.

I prefer the ocean’s storm

to the mountain’s gentle rain.

The ocean’s storm can both

give and

take

life.

 

It’s will never questioned

and yet never understood.

I prefer the ocean sunset

to the mountain’s darkness, gently descending.

The ocean’s sunsets

have a life of their own in my memory.

I can see them now,

never ceasing to amaze.

Always ready to dazzle.

 

A special place in my mind delighting

as I bring each one out,

exam it

put it back in it’s special place.

 

I prefer the ocean!

 

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command.” ~Author of Hebrews

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Just a quick look at the space images on the NASA site and there is no doubt what a great God we have. He spoke and the stars were born.

It really is more than a person can understand. What a awesome creation. And He put us in the middle of it. WOW!

God is God. God can do anything he wants to. God created everything purposefully and perfectly. My job is to believe that and live a life of faith.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:3

"Fortunate the eyes that see what you’re seeing!" ~~Jesus

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God's Gift

God’s Gift

We are so very fortunate and may not even realize it. Jesus is showing us a new way. How cool is that? It is amazing. It is all about what Jesus has chosen to do for me. It has nothing to do with me. Without Jesus, I would not see and hear the things I do.

Others wanted to see and hear what we have and never got the chance. That is stunning to consider. The grace and gifts of God are overwhelming.

Let us thank Jesus for what He shows us and tells us.

Fortunate the eyes that see what you’re seeing! There are plenty of prophets and kings who would have given their right arm to see what you are seeing but never got so much as a glimpse, to hear what you are hearing but never got so much as a whisper.” (Luke 10:23-24 The Message)

“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.” ~Apostle John

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Self Criticism

Self Criticism

Self criticism, even when it is deserved, leaves me crippled. I hobble around on crutches pretending no one sees.

They see I can’t get out of myself. They see my selfishness.

Practicing love, getting outside of myself, shuts self criticism right down. God knows me and He knows what I need.

Jesus knows me better than I know myself. He doesn’t condemn me but shows His steadfast love day after day. He puts it into practice.

Jesus challenges me to practice real love. That is God’s goal for me today. Loving others takes me out of my self and focuses on others.

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. 1 John 3:18-20

 

May we love like God loves. May we put it into practice.