Blessing Those Who Curse You

"Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you." -Luke 6:28 Have you ever had an enemy? It could be someone you might have gotten into an argument with, someone who wronged you, or it could even be a former friend or estranged relative. However the enemy became an enemy, Jesus taught us that we are to bless our enemies, to pray for those who have hurt us. (Matthew 5:44) This is easier said that done. Often if there has been abuse involved it is difficult to think about that person and even harder to forgive them. But, forgive them we must - because as Jesus said, "...if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:15) There is an in

Making Agreements

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." -Ecclesiastes 4:12 People make agreements all the time. We make them with friends, with business partners, or in a marriage. Agreements between people can be very powerful. When we agree to do something together, we can accomplish great things. But did you know there are other types of agreements? Agreements happen in the spiritual realm too, beginning with our minds. We can agree with an attitude, a perception, with God, or with the enemy. When we see something a certain way, we have made a conscious decision within ourselves to see it that way, and to agree that's the way it is. P

Being Steadfast in Your Faith

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You." -Isaiah 26:2-4 Have you ever heard the term, "slow and steady wins the race"? Or, have you heard the story of the Rabbit and the Tortoise? I'm sure you've heard of one or both of these. This principle of being consistent and grounded is very important in living out our faith! Our maturity as Christians is often revealed as we walk through life's obstacles. It is our proving ground for growth. Dr. Sam Peeples said, "The circumstances of life, the events of life, and the people around me in life, do not make me the way I am, but reveal the way I am." Will we bend or will we break? Someone who is st

Don't Despise Small Beginnings

"Who despises the day of small things?" -Zechariah 4:10 Have you ever had an idea for something? Perhaps, if you've had an idea for a business, you've envisioned a beautiful tall skyscraper with shiny blue windows and your company's name on the side. You envision 500 of your smiling employees working away within the spotless facility that is, of course, owned by you and your Board of Directors, who all work together with perfect ease. But, as of right now, you've just received your business license in the mail. It's pretty much the only piece of inventory you own. And the landlord just called and your rent is late. Your mind takes a crash landing right smack into the pavement of reality.

God Is Picky

"At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him." -Exodus 4:24 There is a random verse in Exodus as Moses is on his way to Egypt to free the Israelites from slavery that is quite surprising. Moses and his wife Zipporah are staying at a lodging place. It says in Exodus 4:24 that God met Moses, and was about to kill him for not circumcising his son. "At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it. 'Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,' she said. So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said "bridegroom of blood," referring to circum

The Darkroom of Calling

"Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him..." -Genesis 39:20-21 Do you know what a darkroom is? Darkrooms were used as one of the first methods of developing film. Wikipedia says of darkrooms: "From the initial development to the creation of prints, the darkroom process allows complete control over the medium." Often when we begin on our walk with God, we have big ideas and big visions for what He wants to do with us. Somewhere down the line though, disappointment or circumstances get in our path, perhaps through no fault of our own. We can wonder what God is doing w

Bug Lights

“For the LORD your God is a consuming fire..." -Deuteronomy 4:24 We were at the worship concert, singing and worshipping God. The Spirit was very alive in the meeting, and I could feel the "fire" of God all around us. I felt consumed with the power and presence of God. Then I had this thought: Life's circumstances and the negative things that happen really don't matter at all as long as we're consumed with the fire of God. If we are really on fire, all the time, everything negative gets burned up by Him! It may sound silly, but I imagined myself as a "bug light", that when plugged in to the fire of God, consumed every negative circumstance, thought, or attitude before it was even allowed

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

"Then He asked them, 'But who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied, 'You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.'" -Matthew 16:15-17 How would you feel if you bought tickets to see your favorite artist and you showed up, only to find that someone else, not quite as talented, was going to do the show? I don't know about you, but I would be super disappointed! I'd want my money back, and I'd want to leave, even if the show was decent. Sometimes in Christian circles we can get caught up in the programs, the people, and unfortunately,

Developing An Attitude of Boldness

"According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death." -Philippians 1:20 I love how God empowers us in the Bible. It says in Proverbs 28:1 that the godly are as bold as a lion. We're called to live a life of boldness using the gifts and talents God has given us, to glorify Him through our love and by our works. Boldness, as defined by Webster, means "fearless before danger, intrepid, or showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit." (Webster's online dictionary.) It doesn't mean prideful, brash, obnoxious, or arrogant. Boldness and

The Washing of the Word

"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light unto my path." -Psalm 119:105 "I don't know how people do it," said my friend. "I don't know how people do it without the word of God to sustain them. It's my lifeline." My friend had recently taken on a job in a large accounting firm where the work was very grueling. The long hours and work with no breaks was definitely challenging, and I knew she had sacrificed a lot in her personal life for her career. No matter, she knew it was just for a season, but during this season of "intense training" and limited friend and family time she knew she needed the word of God more than ever to sustain her. In general, we tend to have a limited dependency on

Risky Business

His master replied, "I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?" - Luke 19:22&23 Have you ever taken a risk in your life? I don't mean a risk like gambling with money or dating someone you didn't really know, but putting yourself out there with a goal or trying something new? When we try to do something we're never assured of success, but if we do not try at all we are assured of failure. Hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, "You will miss 100% of the shots you do

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me'". -John 14:6 Sometimes I have a difficult time talking to friends who question God's goodness because they believe in something other than, or in addition to, the gospel. "Why would God send good people to hell?" they query. "Why won't Muslims or Buddhists go to heaven? Your God is so closed-minded!" The sad thing is the lack of understanding of God's goodness. God doesn't send people to hell. He provided a way out through His Son, Jesus Christ, so that, "none would perish, but could have eternal life." -John 3:16 Imagine that a friend of yours was telling you how to get to their

God Speaks to Us Where We Are

"When Jesus came by, He looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. 'Zacchaeus!' He said. 'Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.'" -Luke 19:5 Has God ever spoken to you right where you are? I heard a funny joke one time that a pastor shared. "Do you think God speaks to sinners? If you don't, then how on earth did you all get here?" I had bought tickets to see Third Day for my husband's birthday. The opening act was a man named Josh Wilson, a great musician with some great songs. On one of the last songs, he shared his inspiration for the song. He said that there was a season in his life where he had struggled with panic attacks. I looked at Justin and my eyes began t

Daily Bread

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" -Matthew 4:4 What does the phrase mean, "our daily bread?" When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan after 40 days of fasting, he replied, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Even though He knew He could have had a feast at His fingertips by a wave of His hand, He decided that in order to pass the test, God's words had to be even more important than eating. In order for Him to gain the authority to overcome the spiritual, He had to overcome the natural. "He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding

Putting Sin on the Altar

"When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God." -Galatians 5:19-21 We live in a dangerous world today. And I'm not just talking about the dangers of drunk driving, murderers, terrorists, or drugs. It has to do with the way we see our humanity. As our humanity runs the show more and more, more of us try to make our particular bra

When Things Don't Go As Planned

"In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path." -Proverbs 3:6 Often when we find ourselves struggling in the area of vision, we find it hard to believe that God could do the extraordinary with our lives. We think things will turn out a certain way, and it turns out, they don't. Was it our fault? What happened? God has a vision for our lives, and so do we. Often, it takes the messing up of our own vision in order for us to truly see what God had in mind. Sometimes He won't tell us. Sometimes He will. But in the end it is all for the structuring of our character, and for the shaping of our faith. It is also for the structuring and shaping of others. The story of Job is

Praying God's Will

"...Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." -Matthew 6:10 Often we hear of people's answered prayer. Then again, there are many other prayers that seem as of yet unanswered. We think of prayer like a phone call to God, with God on the receiving end. We are happy when He picks up (answers our prayer), yet discouraged when He does not. We may equate God's goodness with the number of prayers He answers. We might think prayer is just about asking God for things, but is this in fact how we are called to pray? Craig Hill in his book, If God, Then Why...? cites an interesting viewpoint when it comes to prayer. He considers believers ambassadors of heaven, and as such,

Working in Rest

"'There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD.'" -Leviticus 23:3 Our world is crazy. Literally, crazy. We wake up, get ready, eat breakfast, go to work, go to lunch, go home, workout, watch TV, do homework, feed the kids, and do it all over again the next day. It's a wonder we haven't turned into pieces of metal machinery! But even in the midst of work and stress, there is still a way to find a place of meaningful rest in God, devoid of stress. My dad has said, "A dead man can't have stress." That's an interesting concept. If you're dead to something,

The Good Life

"Be vigilant, listen obediently to these words that I command you so that you'll have a good life, you and your children, for a long, long time, doing what is good and right in the eyes of God, your God." -Deuteronomy 12:28 What is the good life? It seems in our culture that a good life is defined as being filled with money, fame, and unconditional recognition. This seems as though it's the good life... but, is it? "The good life begins in the fear of God - do that and you'll know the blessing of God. His Hallelujah lasts forever!" -Psalm 111:10 The Israelites spent years in the desert, 40 to be exact, learning how to trust in and be obedient to God. They lived from one day day to t

Planted Like A Tree

"He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." -Psalm 1:3 I was in the gym with my husband when Flyleaf's song "All Around Me" came on. As I started to hum the tune under my breath I had a thought. Worshipping God on a continuous basis brings life to our lives. Worship is like breathing in God's presence when we praise Him. Being without God's presence results in a static, lifeless faith. Every day we have this new opportunity to develop our relationship with God, and thus strengthen our faith in Him. It is something that brings us closer to Him and gives us more of His life in our lives. Then

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