Archives For December 2017

There is much pain and loneliness in the world. Every day people disappoint us. It’s difficult to keep your head up and keep going. It seems so easy to forget how much God loves us; we forget this is the only thing that matters. We love Jesus because He first loved us.

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When we come to understand who He is and what He has done for us, we cannot help but love Him more than we love anyone or anything else. None compare to Jesus. When we live in this truth, the disappointments and discouragements of this world begin to matter less. Only Jesus is worthy of our affection.

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The light of Jesus shows up best in dark places. It was into the darkness that Christ came as a baby. His light shone so brightly it brought shepherds in from their fields. Seekers from far off lands traveled two years to reach the light given off by Christ at His birth. Countless prison ministries find men and women encountering Jesus in the darkest depths of their lives.

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Persecuted Christians encounter Jesus in ways few of us can imagine in some of the darkest places on earth. When we are at our lowest, at our worst, the light of Jesus shines best. It calls us to Him. It promises something better, something cleaner, something more. In what areas of your life do you most need the light of Jesus today?

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I was recently intrigued by a thought passing through my brain: “The excess I have belongs to those in need.” It’s not the most comfortable thought to consider. I like a little excess. I appreciate the peace and comfort it affords. Yet how can I hold onto more than I need when there are those in the world suffering in abject poverty? One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Proverbs 30:8 which says, “Give me just enough for today.”

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The author states if he has too much, he will take it all for granted and forget God’s provision in his life. If he has too little, he may be tempted to steal to acquire what he needs. The sweet spot is having just enough for today. Any excess should be shared with others.

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How might your life look different if you knew you had only thirty days to live? Pastor Craig Groeschel says you would do three things differently. First, you would turn your “when” into “now”. Second, you would trade your intentions for actions. Last, and certainly this applies only to those who are determined to be Christ’s disciples, you would devote your whole heart to Jesus.

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I agree with Mr. Groeschel. I think we recognize all these points to be worthwhile changes in our lives. If time were winding down, we’d want to make the most of it. I have news for you: time is winding down for all of us. The question then begs to be answered, “Why wouldn’t we alter our lives to affect those changes now?”

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Until we make tomorrow today, I am convinced we will die the same (or worse) as we are right now. As a people, we are notorious procrastinators. Some are worse than others, but we all have an uncanny tendency to put off those things we deem uncomfortable or difficult. It’s true in all areas of our lives, but nowhere are the results more devastating than in our walk with Christ. How many times have we resolved to read through the Bible… next year.

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Perhaps you committed to getting up 30 minutes earlier for some quiet time with God, but since it was already Wednesday, it seemed wise to wait until Monday to kick off the new habit. Or maybe you determined praying with your spouse or best friend would be a great idea, so you promise you’ll begin doing this tomorrow. The trouble is, tomorrow never comes. Until we make tomorrow today, we will forever be adrift in our wishes, dreams, and best-laid plans.

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I have long been fascinated with Stoicism and am often intrigued by quotes from thought leaders of the movement. I often find an interesting application of Stoic principles in my own discipleship quest. One quote I read recently, from Marcus Aurelius, said, “Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts.” This mimics – and is no doubt inspired by – Proverbs 23:7, which says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

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What we think about defines who we are. You can’t think selfish thoughts and be an unselfish person. The brain doesn’t work in such a manner. Every thought burns a new neural pathway. The more we think the same thought or way, the deeper the pathway gets grooved into our psyche. We do indeed become dyed by the thoughts we entertain.

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I was listening to an old message from Francis Chan, and he said something was mind-blowing in a life-altering kind of way. While we’ve talked here before about living with Jesus (see “Are You Living For or With Jesus?”), Francis took it to an entirely new level for me. He said since Christ is both in us and with us, whatever we do, Jesus does.  Pastor Chan said it more forcibly. He intimated when we choose to engage in sin, we are essentially forcing Jesus to engage in the same behavior. He doesn’t mean this in a literal sense of course because Jesus never did and never will sin.

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But Jesus did experience the weight of our sin when He hung on the cross. So, every time we choose to sin we are causing Jesus to experience the horror and weight of that sin. Again, it’s not that Jesus must die again for the new sin. What He did on the cross was once and for all. Still, if we believe Jesus is always with us, does it not then follow He is with us when we sin?

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Jim Rohn was and is one of the great mentors in my life. One of the things he taught was to never be content to just get through the day, but rather see what you can take from the day. I’d take it one step further and ask, once you’ve taken everything you can from the day, what is it you can pour back into the day? Another way to think about this would be to determine how you can take what you gained from today and use it to help others tomorrow.

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I believe this aligns very well with the way Jesus lived. He didn’t get cheated on any day. He took every opportunity to share His message and glorify His Father. I think it’s the perfect example of taking what the day offers and pouring it back out into the lives of others. How can we do the same in our own lives?

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