Keeping a Pure Heart

"But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." -Matthew 6:15 Sometimes life can make us upset. Sometimes people do things that just aren't right — even people who should know better! Or people may unknowingly do things that frustrate or hurt us, without even realizing it. Still, we have to guard our hearts in order not to let these bitter roots or feelings resulting from these things contaminate our faith and keep us from God's grace. "Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many." -Hebrews 12:15 It's difficult to let things go whe

Taking Spiritual Ground

"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." -1 Timothy 6:12 One morning in Sunday service I heard our pastor talk about covering and protection. He requested that we cover them in prayer and defend them, and also that we defend and protect each other. But then he challenged us. He said, "Sometimes you gotta fight — because that's how you take ground." I thought about how much this can be applied to so many different areas of our lives. For instance, in the workplace: We want to be promoted or we want to excel in what it is we're doing. In order to do this, it require

Bridle Your Tongue!

"Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity." -Proverbs 21:23 Did you know what you say defines your life? The Bible says, "Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (Proverbs 18:21) Wow! That's pretty powerful — having the power of life and death in our tongues. But, do we realize what that really means? As a culture, we're pretty prone to putting ourselves down. "Oh, I'm just stupid." Or "Man, I'm an idiot." The thing that we did may have been stupid, but a stupid move doesn't mean we are stupid. It just means we made the wrong choice. But, when we speak negative words over our lives, we're limiting our p

Don't Touch Dead Things

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." -1 Peter 2:9 In the Old Testament, it was unlawful for priests to do or wear certain things — it would make them unfit for priestly service. Priests could not touch the dead body of a relative outside of their immediate family, shave or trim their beards, or marry a prostitute or divorced woman. These rules were even more strict for a high priest, who could not do any of the above, but who also could not leave the sanctuary, tear his clothes, go near the dead body of ANY person, or marry even a widow. (

Uniquely Different

"Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it." -Psalm 139:14 I love that God created us all so wonderfully, and so uniquely. There is no one on earth with the same fingerprints as you! However, people who are different from us can sure get on our nerves. How can we best relate to people who are different than we are? I think one of the best ways of interacting with different personalities is to understand what makes us and others tick - our personality. There are many personality assessments out there, but I think the easiest ones to remember are those comprised of 4 distinct temperaments. Whether it is the animals: Golden Retr

The Prerequisites of God's Blessing

"But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today." -Deuteronomy 8:18 What do we have to do to receive God's blessing? Is God's blessing ensured for "special" people? What does God's blessing look like, and how can we set ourselves up to receive His blessings? In Exodus and Deuteronomy, God describes a series of "do's" and "don'ts" that the Israelites are to follow. They relate back to the 10 Commandments, from Exodus 20:1-17, in which God gave the Israelites boundaries to abide by for their protection. Many governmental systems today are based on the 10 Commandments (s

Is God the One to Blame?

"The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." -John 10:10 Probably one of the greatest stumbling blocks to people's belief in God is this question: "If God is good, why does He allow suffering in the world?" I was on an online forum where a lot of atheists were one day, and the comment from one girl was, "It just seems like God is more akin to Hitler than anything else. Why would He force people to believe in Him, and all the other people die?" She definitely had a valid question. Most of us have grown up in an environment that Satan controls, versus God, so our beliefs are swayed to believe that God is the enemy. In this

Happy Christians vs. Angry Christians

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." -John 3:17 "The #1 barrier that keeps unbelievers from trusting Jesus is not the Good News but the sinful attitudes of believers." - Rick Warren Frequently I meet Christians who are caught up in the legalism of their beliefs. The stark contrast between right and wrong is their fuel. Grace in grey areas is difficult for them to grasp. For them, the pursuit of righteousness is so important that their religious views seem to overshadow the importance of building relationships. Religion has become their god. How does this fit into the model of Christianity? We are called to love others, n


"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." -Colossians 3:15 The best cure for restlessness and lack of contentment is learning to be thankful. Contentment doesn't have to do with the stuff we have now, where we, where we want to be, or the person we hope to be — it has to do with a choice that we make in our hearts in the here and now. The Bible says, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise." (Psalm 100:4) Thankfulness invites the peace and presence of God. There is a story of a blind boy who sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: "I am blin

Critical Honesty

"Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people." -Proverbs 11:3 How important is honesty in a Christian's life? Is every Christian called to honesty? Two professors, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, have surveyed leaders for more than 25 years in every time of organization. They asked the question to more than 75,000 people on 6 continents, "What values, personal traits, or characteristics do you look for and admire in a leader?" The result? Honesty. And this answer did not not vary by demographical, organizational or cultural differences. "In almost every survey conducted, honesty has been selected more than any other leadership characteristic. Overall, it emer

We Either Are or We Aren't

"Anyone who isn't with me opposes me, and anyone who isn't working with me is actually working against me." -Matthew 12:30 There is a great movie that came out called Grace Unplugged. The story is about a girl named Grace who wants to pursue her dream to become a singer, and moves away from home to the pop music capital of the world: L.A. However, she does it out of frustration with her family -- specifically because she is feeling smothered by her dad. There are many decisions we make out of the heat of emotion that we will probably regret. But no matter how bad people treat us or what happens to us in life, we are still responsible for our own actions, and the roads they may take us d

Jesus Already Paid for That

"But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." -Matthew 6:15 Have you ever had a hard time forgiving someone? We all experience things in our lives that can cause us to hold unforgiveness against someone else. It is especially difficult if the person who has hurt us continues to do the same things over and over again. So, how do we respond? What can we do? Let's imagine for a moment you owned a convenience store. A family member keeps on coming in and taking candy from your store. They don't think it's wrong to steal from you... after all, you're family! It's all free for family, right? But it's making you upset. After all, you have a business to r

Turning Weaknesses Into Strengths

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." -2 Corinthians 12:9 Each of us has a different personality, complete with its own set of weaknesses and strengths. Some of our weaknesses are natural or physiological weaknesses, such as being either more introverted or extroverted, while other weaknesses are the result of offenses from the past. It's crucial for us to recognize the difference between these two types of weaknesses; whether it's because it's the way we're naturally wired or the result of wounding. The one can hold us captive

True Financial Freedom

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." -1 Timothy 6:10 Have you seen anyone destroyed by money? I have. Have you ever seen someone use money wisely? I've seen that too. It's difficult to live life without money, but sometimes its presence makes life hard. How can we make money work for us, instead of us working for it? What are God's purposes for money? Notice that the above verse doesn't say that money itself is evil; the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. The fruit of someone's heart is often revealed by how and where they spend their money. Ar

Spiritual Seasons

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build..." -Ecclesiastes3:1-3 One night at our church discipleship group, our worship leader had something she felt needed to be shared during prayer. "I feel like God wants some of you to know that everyone goes through spiritual seasons, much like we're in a season change right now. Some of you may be in spring, where you're excited about new ideas and new things happening in your life. Others of you may be in winter, where you don't see much going on. But I want


"But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus." -Acts 9:27 What does it mean to be fearless? Does it mean we won't have fear when trying something? Does it mean that we aren't afraid of consequences? The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10) When we have a healthy fear of God, it is wise. However, there are fears that can cripple us, rob our potential, or steal our joy. These are unhealthy fears. They are unproductive. They don't produce anything good in us. They keep us from produci

Preparing for Eternity

"Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end." -Ecclesiastes3:11 Have you ever noticed how much time we spend planning for our education, planning for weddings, or planning for retirement? Yet, we rarely think about planning or preparing for our eternal lives -- and those will last forever! We have such a small amount of time on this earth compared with eternity. We will spend eternity somewhere, but the question is, where, and also, how? If we've accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior the first question has been answered. However, there is a

A God-Sized Assignment

"When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, 'The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.'" -Judges 6:12 Has God given you a dream or vision that is bigger than you? All of the major characters in the Bible had a vision that was bigger than them. Such is the case with God-sized assignments, and such was the case in the story of Gideon. Gideon was far from being a mighty warrior when the angel of the Lord appeared to him, even though the angel said to him, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior". According to Gideon, he was from the weakest in Manasseh, and the least in his family. When the angel of the Lord approaching Gideon, he was threshing wheat! But still, God spoke to Gideon

Shameless Persistence

"But I tell you this - though he won't do it for friendship's sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence." -Luke 11:8 Have you ever been persistent about something? Persistence is hard for me -- I tend to shrink away at the first sign of rejection. But, my first marketing job at age 23 was selling coupon books door to door. I had to get over my fear of rejection quickly! Sara Blakely, creator of Spanx, is an incredible success story. Now a billionaire, she went from selling copy machines to running a multi-billion dollar operation. She recently did an interview on CNN talking about her story. When asked w

The Awesomeness of God

"His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent. These are just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of his power?" -Job 26:13-14 Every time I go to the mountains I am enamored by God's creation. The sun, the sky, the rivers and lakes, the sunset and sunrise -- it's all so astonishing and awe-inspiring. I am amazed by the awesomeness of God. The sun, for example, is 875,000 miles across. It is so big, in fact, that 64 million moons could fit inside it.* Wow. Our God created that sun. (See Genesis 1:3) Our God is that big! We are not aware of this magnitude most days, stuck in the grind

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