What Sin Do You Need to Face… Today?

I have an acquaintance who didn’t deal with something very wrong in his life… and is now facing life in prison.  Whatever is going on in your life may not be punishable by prison, but there are definitely consequences for your life in what you’re doing.  I came across this devotion today that I think really challenges all of us to look at our lives closely.

by Janet Scott (originally titled “What Is Your Response?”)

Jeremiah 36: 3
It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.”

Throughout the generations we have all loved to hear the positive messages of having faith and everything turning out great and wonderful on the other side and those are good messages to have and are always my favorite but there are times when God has a different message. Kings used to kill prophets at times when they brought a bad word and other times they would tear their garments and repent and God would bring healing to the land. What’s your response?

God had told the Israelites over and over that if they would do as He said and follow His lead everything would be great and He would be their God and they would be His people. He almost begged them to ask for forgiveness and turn from their sins so He wouldn’t have to continue with the disaster He was bringing on them but they were hard hearted and wouldn’t listen, they would rather die and have their children die. Sad to say there are times when some of us are like that today, we can know what we are doing is wrong but we justify it by blaming someone else and claiming that God is a god of grace so it will be alright. God is a god of grace and He loves us and wants to forgive us and move us forward into all that He has planned for us but He is still a holy God and He will not allow us to rebel and not confess and face what we have done wrong.

The consequences of not bringing to light on our own what we have done or are doing and repenting and turning away from it and getting the help we need are much worse than anything we could possibly face from the people around us. God is God and He still hates sin! If we want His blessing and favor on our lives then we must stop being complacent Christians and we must strive to be more like Him. Don’t wait for Him to reveal what you have done.

Have you ever watched a child in the grocery store that wants something and when they don’t think they are going to get it they throw a fit expecting that to help them get what they want? I believe there are times when we seem to want God to overlook anything we are doing wrong and give us what we want and it doesn’t work that way. Trust me God would love to bless you even more than a parent wants to bless their child but He wants you to live right first.  I am not saying that we are blessed by our works, but we are blessed by our obedience!

It is God’s love for us that requires His discipline. Over and over He pleaded with the Israelites to repent and follow Him and when they did He was eager to forgive them and bless them. His desire was always for their good and to bless and He hasn’t changed, He feels the same way about you!

Maybe this message isn’t for you today, maybe it is for someone you know instead. I would encourage you to pray for them and ask for God to show mercy on them and those they are affecting. Restore people when they are ready for restoration and forgive those who sin against you as well. Don’t allow Satan to have victory in the situation on any level!

Shared this on TheHouseFM.com and MyPraiseFM.com today.
Maybe too much “stuff” is part of your discontentment. Focus on quality instead of quantity. Great thoughts here.

Happiness Requires Letting Go

by Rick Warren

Happiness requires letting go and learning to forget. Worry won’t change the past, so forget what can’t be changed and focus on the future.

Philippians 3:13-14 says, “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (NLT).

You only have a limited amount of energy. That’s why you get tired. That’s why you get fatigued. That’s why you get worn out.

Since you only have a limited supply of energy, I highly recommend you not waste any of it on the past. Every day, choose to focus your energy on what is in front of you and what lies ahead.

This habit is so important to your happiness, there are three traps you have to be aware of.

The trap of regret. You’ve got to let go of regrets. Are there things I wish I had done differently in life? Of course. But I can’t dwell on them because I can’t change them. Don’t waste any emotion on regrets.

The trap of resentment. Holding on to resentment doesn’t hurt anybody but you. Let it go! For your own sake, you must forgive. Do they deserve it? No. But do you deserve forgiveness from God? No. Those who experience grace are gracious.

The trap of tradition. Everything is constantly changing, and you cannot stop it. You have to decide whether to resist and resent those changes or to be happy. Happiness is a choice.

How you handle change in life reveals your spiritual maturity. When you’re guided by and anchored to eternity, change can take place all around you and you can choose to be happy.

Nine Doors Down

by Karen Ehman for Proverbs 31 Ministries

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.’” Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

In the two years since we’d moved into our new neighborhood, I’d seen her on my walks. Sometimes she was rolling her trash can out to the curb. Or in her front yard watering her flowers. I’d smile and say “Hi” for a brief second.

After all, my neighborhood is big; my life is busy. So I’d pop my headphones back in and keep walking to my house, just nine doors down.

Awhile back, there were flashing lights, sirens and all things alarming in our neighborhood. A fire, maybe? … I thought as I drove into my neighborhood, returning from an errand-running venture. My mama’s heart raced. My 12-year-old son was home alone. Had he burnt some toast and set the smoke alarm system blaring? Or worse?

As my car approached, I saw it was not my house, but another house nine doors down. Relief for my soul.

And though the rescue vehicles were parked in front of my nine-doors-down neighbor’s house, no fire appeared to blaze there either.

Must have been a false alarm, I reasoned to myself.

Two days later, I heard the awful news. No fire. No smoke. Just a terribly saddened soul.

You see, just nine doors down, something happened in the mind of my nameless, flower-watering, smile-and-say-hello fellow human being. Something told her this life wasn’t worth living anymore. And she agreed.

Now her heart no longer beats. Her flowers still grow, but she can’t water them anymore. I can still walk by her house, lost deeply in the Jesus-music blaring on my iPod. Staring straight ahead. Rushing to the next thing on my to-do list for the day.

Nine doors down, there will be no more hand-waves. No smiles as I stroll by. And no more thoughts of, I should stop and find out her name. I haven’t really met this gal yet. If I’d reached out and befriended her, would she have seen Jesus in our friendship?

Could we have walked the neighborhood streets together? Maybe gone for coffee to get to know each other a bit? Would a glimpse of the perfect God in the life of an imperfect me perhaps beckoned her to have a relationship with Him, too? Would she have found God’s purpose and peace instead of finding a way to end her emotional pain?

God only knows.

I am a woman who wants to love God, but so often I am too busy to really love the people He puts plainly in my path. But this love, as today’s key verse declares, is more important than all the sacrifices we could make.

I cannot beat myself up. But I can do something. So can you. We can pause, permitting God to tap us on the heart, gently interrupt us and rearrange our day.

We can go deeper … beyond a hurried “Hi!” to an authentic, “How are you?” When God knocks on our hearts, we can knock on their doors.

Will you do it? Will you try? Then once you’ve reached out, leave the results to God. Our job is obedience. God’s job is results.

Trust me, it is AWFUL to get to know your neighbor through the tales and tears of her relatives at a memorial service. I wish I had made the time and gotten to know her personally.

May we all respond to those taps on our hearts today and not ignore them. God just may use us as He saves a life.

After all, remember it isn’t that far of a walk … just nine doors down.

- See more at: http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/just-nine-doors-down/#sthash.tBeB6WtJ.dpuf

In a rut? Feel like life is just “meh”? Be encouraged.

Regrets to Avoid

by Jerry Del Colliano

Bronnie Ware who is a nurse to the dying in Australia wrote a book about dying that is actually very much for the living.

In The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed By the Dearly Departed, Ware gives us a second chance to avoid the regrets that so often come at the end of life.

They are:

  1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.  To me, this regret hits home and is a timely reminder to be the person you want to be.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.  I’m sure you can relate.  Life has a way of interrupting our master plan.  No one ever regrets more time outs spent with family and friends.
  3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.  There is a nice, pleasant way to say how you feel.  What is left unsaid at the end of life is more painful.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.  Friendship takes work that pays a dividend all during life.  It is not an accident.
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier.  People from mid-life on often say that they consider their personal happiness more than when they were younger, a practice that will leave few regrets.

Just writing these five things that I have shared previously makes me hope that I won’t have these regrets someday.  How about you?

  If you want more resources go to Jerry Del Colliano.com.

The Story of the Running Father

by Sherri Gragg and Proverbs 31 Ministries

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (NIV)

Sherri Gragg

Everything was quiet. I sat very still with my Bible and journal on my lap by my front window in a picture of perfect peace. But my heart was heavy with familiar grief.

I had been in church my whole life. “Amazing Grace” was as familiar to me as the lullabies my mother sang over my crib, yet somehow my image of God was less of a kind and gracious Father and more of an angry, distant judge. How could a holy God ever accept me, one so flawed?

I bowed my head and began to weep and pray with the kind of honesty that only comes when we are at the end of all our strength.

I know the Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, but I just can’t seem to believe it. Every time I turn to You, my first impulse is fear!

I give up. I can’t do this on my own. Will You please heal my heart?

Over the next year, God did for me what I had been utterly helpless to do on my own. He revolutionized my image of Him.

One of the stories that meant the most to me on my journey was the story many of us know by the title, The Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32. I discovered that in the Middle Eastern Church the story goes by another name: The Story of the Running Father. The difference in the title reflects important cultural knowledge that the people to whom Jesus spoke would have known.

In the biblical story, the son demands his share of the family’s wealth, leaves home and breaks his father’s heart in the process. Eventually the young man finds himself destitute in a foreign land and determines to return to his father’s house with the hope of working as a servant.

Scripture tells us the father sees his son a long way off and runs to him. It’s the image of this running father that was so powerful to the hearers of Jesus’ story.

First, it was considered extremely undignified for a Middle Eastern man to run anywhere. Running was for children. Also, running required men to hike up their robes and expose their legs, which was considered humiliating and disgraceful.

The reason he was running was even more significant. It was a very serious matter for a Jewish young man to lose his family’s inheritance in a foreign land. If he did, and he had the gall to actually return to his village, his entire community would then bring him to justice through a custom called the Kezazah. Once the community discovered the money was lost, they would surround him and break a pot at his feet. Then they would announce that from that moment on he was cut off from his family and community … as if he were dead.

But this young man’s father had been watching, and even though his son had broken his heart, he had been hoping for his return. He knew all too well what would happen when the villagers saw his boy. His son would be shamed and then the pot would fall, break, and his son would be lost. So, the father did what no first-century Middle Eastern man would do: he hiked up his robe and ran.

He ran through the village streets as his neighbors stared in horror. He ran as young boys began running along behind, shouting and mocking him in his shame. He ran ahead of the crowd as they moved toward his guilty, filthy son. He ran ahead of all that was reasonable and fair. He ran ahead of justice, taking his boy’s shame upon himself.

When he reached the boy, the father quickly gathered his son into his arms, kissed him on each cheek and called for a banquet in his honor.

This, Jesus tells us, is what God is like.

For too long my image of God was one of a tyrant, or a cold and callous judge. But now whenever I think of God, I see Him running toward me, gathering up my shame in His wake, to redeem me with His costly love.

My Father, thank You so much for running toward me. Help me rest in Your grace and trust Your great love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

- See more at: http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/the-story-of-the-running-father/#sthash.MxhZNZjW.dpuf

Positive Prayer Makes Strong Relationships

by Rick Warren

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11 NIV)

I want you to think of somebody who irritates you — maybe somebody you’ve got a strained relationship with or who just rubs you the wrong way. I have two questions for you: One, do you pray for that person? Or do you just complain and grumble and nag and nitpick? If you prayed more, you’d have a lot less to grumble, complain, nag, and nitpick about. It’s your decision.

Does nagging work? No. Does prayer work? Yes. So why do you do more of the thing that doesn’t work than does?

Paul says in Philippians 1:4, “Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy” (NLT).

Paul didn’t just pray for people in his life; he prayed with joy!

There are things in other people’s lives that you’d like to change. You don’t want to change yourself; you want them to change. We always want to change other people. But you can’t!

You can, however, pray, and let God do his work in other people.

Positive praying is more effective than positive thinking. All the positive thinking in the world isn’t going to change your husband or your wife or your child or your friend or your situation. Positive thinking can change you, but it won’t change somebody else. But positive prayer can make a difference in someone else.

Do you want to know the quickest way to change a bad relationship to a good one? Start praying for the other person! It will change you, and it can change the other person.

Paul even told us how to pray for others: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11 NIV).

From these verses, we can learn to pray for the people in our lives in four ways:

Pray that they will grow in love: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”

Pray that they will make wise choices: “… so that you may be able to discern what is best …”

Pray that they will live with integrity: “… and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ …”

Pray that they will become like Jesus: “… filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.”

Pray these for yourself and anyone else in your life, and watch how God turns around the relationship you thought had no hope or that needed to be revived.

Reading this thought from Rick Warren today made me think of this song from Fee. Here’s Rick’s thought:

“The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The LORD’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The LORD is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.” (Lamentations 3:19-26 TEV)

When your world is falling apart, it’s so easy to focus on the pain, the problems, the pressure, and the difficulties. It’s the natural response. But the biblical response is to turn your focus to God’s love.

Even though you’re mad at God, you need to remind yourself how much he loves you. Focus on his unconditional love. Remember that you can’t make God stop loving you. You can complain, yell at him, and scream at him, but he will still love you forever.

You can see this biblical approach in Jeremiah’s life in Lamentations 3:19-26. Jeremiah starts out focused on his pain: “The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed” (v. 19-20 TEV). He was consumed by the devastation around him; it filled his thoughts and made him bitter and depressed. 

If you want to change your life, you have to change your thoughts. So that’s what Jeremiah did. We see the mental switch in the next verse: “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The LORD’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The LORD is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.”

You don’t know God is all you need until God is all you’ve got. But that’s all you need, because God will take care of you.

We make dumb mistakes when we start doubting God’s love. We start to think, “I know better than God, and I’m going to start choosing to do things my way rather than following God’s way.” Or we think God is a cosmic killjoy who looks for ways to make our lives miserable.

We need to change our thinking. We need to remember, “The Lord is merciful and will not reject us forever. He may bring us sorrow, but his love for us is sure and strong. He takes no pleasure in causing us grief or pain” (Lamentations 3:31-33).

God loves you. He is not the strict parent that you couldn’t please. He is not the imperfect parent with weaknesses and faults who messed up. He is God — the eternal, all-knowing, infallible God who created you to love you and will never leave you.

So when you feel like you’ve lost everything, stop focusing on what’s lost and start focusing on what’s left: God and his love for you.

God sees what’s going on… He’s working on it

by Janet Scott

Psalm 94:14-15   For the Lord will not forsake his people, he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

The Lord loves you and He sees what is going on and He will bring justice to  your situation.  I know there are times we all feel like God is never going to straighten things out and we are going to just watch as the “wicked” seem to continue as we continue to pay the price but that is not how God works!  His timing is not our timing most of the time because He is much more patient and gracious than we are, He will always give someone the chance to repent (that doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences for sin) but He does see and He will not allow injustice to go on forever in the lives of His children.

Earlier in this chapter it says:  “O Lord, how long shall the wicked , how long shall the wicked exalt?  They pour out their arrogant words, all the evildoers boast.  They crush your people O Lord and afflict your heritage.  They kill the widow and the sojourner and murder the fatherless; and they say, ‘The Lord does not see, the God of Jacob does not perceive.’”  Understand, O dullest of the people!  Fools, when will you be wise?  He who planted the ear, does he not hear?  He who formed the eye, does he not see?

God sees and He isn’t ignoring what is going on, He wants to make things right.  God loves all involved and would love to see all come to repentance in order to restore but He will not sit by and allow His name to go on being tarnished if there’s no repentance.  Hidden sins destroy. God is a God of Light.

I don’t know what you are facing today but I do know He cares and He is working on your behalf and He will always bring grace to the situation.  He loves us all and would prefer to see everyone repent and follow Him with all their heart as He brings His grace and justice to the situation, He will not force anyone to follow Him even though He knows that is where His blessings are.  Trust Him to deliver you today, know that He has your best at heart and He has your back!  Nothing has escaped His notice and He will take care of you!