Friday, February 26, 2010

GOD CONSCIOUSNESS

"Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God." (1 Peter 1:18, The Message)

God consciousness is the most primal form of consciousness. And the longer we journey, the more aware of His presence we become, until we see Him everywhere all the time. Spiritual maturity has nothing to do with circumstances. It has everything to do with consciousness. A relationship with Christ doesn’t always change our circumstances, but it does change the way we see ourselves, see others, and see God. Why? Because we see with our souls. We become less self-conscious and more God-conscious. It's almost like a second childhood. As we capture a childlike sense of wonder, we perceive everyone and everything for what it really is: a miracle.

-- Mark Batterson in Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity


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Thursday, February 25, 2010

WORRY AND DEPRESSION

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." (Psalm 94:19)

After turning it over to God, the next step in the cure for worry, depression, anxiety, melancholy, brooding, is to go deliberately forth and try to lift, with one's empathy, the gloom of somebody else.

-- Unknown


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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

REAL DIALOGUE

The small-talk of everyday life can be a genuine road towards contact, a way of getting to know somebody, a prelude to more profound exchanges, a simple and natural approach. But, let us admit it, it is also often used as a means of avoiding personal contact. It is like a prologue that goes on so long that the play never begins. It allows us to be friendly and interesting with people without touching on subjects that would compel us to enter into real dialogue.

-- Paul Tournier in The Meaning of Persons


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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

WALKING WITH THE LORD

Accountability is the most important thing... without accountability you find yourself hanging out with the wrong people and sliding into old ways. The friends I used to have don't understand the changes in me and why I don't hang with them like I used to, but I pray in due time they will. As they continue to see me walk with the Lord and stay the course, I am hopeful that they will want what I have.

-- Gary Sheffield, Major League Baseball Player, in Sports Spectrum

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Monday, February 22, 2010

STRENGTHENED CHARACTER

Trials, temptations, disappointments -- all these are helps instead of hindrances, if one uses them rightly. They not only test the fiber of character but strengthen it. Every conquering temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.

-- James Buckham


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Friday, February 19, 2010

SERVICE AND PRAYER

Ministry is service in the name of the Lord. It is bringing the Good News to the poor, proclaiming liberty to the captives and new sight to the blind, setting the downtrodden free and announcing the Lord's year of favor (Luke 4:18).

Spirituality is attention to the life of the Spirit in us; it is going out to the desert or up to the mountain to pray; it is standing before the Lord with open heart and open mind; it is crying out, "Abba, Father"; it is contemplating the unspeakable beauty of our loving God.

We have fallen into the temptation of separating ministry from spirituality, service from prayer... Service and prayer can never be separated.

-- Henri J.M. Nouwen in The Living Reminder


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Thursday, February 18, 2010

THE HEART KNOWS

The unbelieving mind would not be convinced by any proof,
and the worshiping heart needs none.

-- A. W. Tozer


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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ONE AT A TIME

Jesus said God is like a shepherd who leaves ninety-nine sheep inside the fence to hunt frantically for one stray; like a father who can't stop thinking about his rebellious ingrate of a son though he has another who is respectful and obedient; like a rich host who opens the doors of the banquet hall to a menagerie of bag-ladies and bums. God loves people not as a race or species, but rather just as you and I love them; one at a time. We matter to God. In a rare moment when he pulled back the curtain between seen and unseen worlds, Jesus said that angels rejoice when a single sinner repents. A solitary act on this speck of a planet reverberates throughout the cosmos.

-- Philip Yancey in The Bible Jesus Read


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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

FOLLOWING JESUS

"Follow Me," Jesus said. (Luke 5:27)

Example has more followers than reason. We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and approximate to the characters we most admire.

-- Christian Nevell Bovee


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Monday, February 15, 2010

A GOOD REMINDER ON PRESIDENT'S DAY

In his book Love Is Eternal, Irving R. Stone records a poignant conversation between Abraham Lincoln's widow, Mary Todd Lincoln, and a man named Parker. Parker was the secret-service agent who was supposed to guard President Lincoln the night he was shot.

Parker entered, a heavy-faced man with half-closed lids. He trembled.

"Why were you not at the door to keep the assassin out?" she asked fiercely.

Parker hung his head. "I have bitterly repented it. But I just did not believe that anyone would try to kill so good a man in such a public place. The belief made me careless. I was attracted by the play and did not see the assassin enter the box."

"You should have seen him. You had no business to be careless." She fell back on the pillow, covered her face with her hands. And then said, "Go now, Mr. Parker. It's not you I can't forgive. It's the assassin. I can never forgive him!"

Then young Tad Lincoln, the son of the President, spoke: "If Pa had lived, he would have forgiven the man who shot him. Pa always forgave everybody."

Maybe Tad Lincoln put his finger on the very reason America has taken Abe Lincoln to its heart. He was like the One who said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." In fact, Lincoln learned it from Him.

-- James W. Moore in When You're a Christian, the Whole World Is from Missouri


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Friday, February 12, 2010

AN ABUNDANT GOD

On any given day in the summer, my backyard teems with variety. Monarchs and bumblebees flit from lavender to cone flowers, flickers and finches pick at seeds on the ground, squirrels dart up and down the maple and cedar, and cats leap at insects and leaves in between hours of napping. It is in this little patch of nature that I have rediscovered an abundant God.

What is necessary, for instance, about more than one kind of butterfly, or an infinite variety of flowers? I may not need all that diversity, but my life is certainly enriched for it.

If God has been so generous with nature, wouldn't God be generous with me? And wouldn't that generous God have already given me what I need to live the life I long for? Assuming I take responsibility for using the gifts I have been given, it seems entirely possible that the life I want is completely within my grasp.

-- Tricia Shug in Alive Now, May/June 2002, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN. Used with permission.


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Thursday, February 11, 2010

THE EXPANSE OF GOD'S LOVE

"May you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is." (Ephesians 3:18 NLT)

God's love is total, says Paul. It reaches every corner of our experience. It is wide -- it covers the breadth of our own experience, and it reaches out to the whole world. It is long -- it continues the length of our lives. It is high -- it rises to the heights of our celebration and elation. It is deep -- it reaches to the depths of discouragement, despair, and even death. When you feel shut out or isolated, remember that you can never be lost to God's love.

-- from the Life Application Study Bible


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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

THE RICHLY DWELLING WORD

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." (Colossians 3:16 NIV)

"Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly." It is very different to read and know the Word than it is to let it "richly dwell" in your very spirit. This means we find the purpose and pleasure of God's Word. It means that God's Word directs our paths and that the very core of our being is filled with the Word. We don't have the Word as a mere visitor to our lives - Sunday morning Bible readers! Rather we take the Word of God and let it sift through the "stuff" of our lives until it rests richly in our heart. Then we find the Word on our fingertips and tongues in each and every situation we encounter. As God's Word dwells richly we reap the rich rewards.

-- Pastor Gary Stone


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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

THE WORKS OF LOVE

To the Christian, love is the works of love. To say that love is a feeling or anything of the kind is really an un-Christian conception of love. That is the aesthetic definition and therefore fits the erotic and everything of that nature. But to the Christian, love is the works of love. Christ's love was not an inner feeling, a full heart and what-not: it was the work of love which was his life.

-- Søren Kierkegaard in Journals


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Monday, February 8, 2010

THE GOSPEL TODAY

The United Methodist Church is involved in a growth industry, and if we diminish, it is not because of circumstances, but because of our failure to challenge and satisfy those circumstances. Industries and enterprises in the world around us may retrench or go bankrupt because there is less need for their product, but the need for what we have to offer is greater than ever. Who could say that loneliness, fear, anxiety, and sin are less of an issue now than in Wesley's day? Was the gospel ever needed more?

-- J. Ellsworth Kalas in Our First Song: Evangelism in the Hymns of Charles Wesley


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Friday, February 5, 2010

ETERNAL LIFE

Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24)

[Eternal life] is a life in love, it is love itself. It is a life without the nature of death and sin, hence without sorrow, pain, anxiety, care, misery. To know this suffices to make one rejoice in eternal life. If there were no eternal life, this life of time would be without meaning, goal, or purpose, without significance, without seriousness and without joy. It would be nothing. That our life does not end in nothing, but that eternal life awaits us, is the glad message of Jesus Christ. He came to give us this promise as a light in this dark world. A Christian is a [person] who has become certain of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

-- Emil Brunner in Our Faith


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Thursday, February 4, 2010

NEW LIFE IN CHRIST

"[Jesus] breathed on [His disciples] and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.' " (John 20:22,23)

When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, He brought them more than proof that He was indeed alive -- He gave them new life. As Jesus breathes on His disciples, He is giving them the Holy Spirit. This is the ruach, the breath, the life, the Spirit of God filling them up and changing them. Something new is expected of them in light of this Spirit. They are to be new people, new creations. This act of breathing the Holy Spirit out brings new life for the disciples, one in which they follow a resurrected Christ who is Life, who is Spirit, who is Breath. With each breath, we too can take in the glory of God and be reminded of the Spirit that fills us and sustains us and changes us.

Merciful God, we breathe in Your Spirit as the disciples did before us. May the life You give us extend to others as we forgive and seek to be forgiven.

-- Carla Barnhill in The Green Bible Devotional


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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A NEW CREATION

"So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV)

The promise of the gospel's transforming power is that when you come to Christ, your old self is evicted and a new self arrives. When you tell your [faith] story, the critical contrast to draw for someone is this: What difference has Christ really made in your life? In other words, what were you like before Christ, and now what are you like after you've asked Christ to intervene?...

When someone opens a conversational door for you by asking why you are so fired up about your relationship with Christ, state as simply as possible what was going on before you met Christ and what has been going on since you began to follow Him. Interestingly, your before-and-after does not have to be dramatic. It just has to be brief, focused, coherent -- and true.

-- Bill Hybels in Just Walk Across the Room


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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

BEING CHRIST'S WITNESSES

I thought that all we have to do is build a Church, preach the gospel, sing a few hymns, and then people will flock to us. We'll hold a tea and the neighborhood ladies will come. We'll serve ice cream and all the youth will come running. That's all we have to do. Pray, give, worship, and socialize. We can send out missionaries to other countries to convert the heathen for us. That is the traditional way. We have been doing it for years.

But I can't find anything in Your words to substantiate this, Jesus. Nothing. You never said people should come to us. You did say that we should go to them. You never told us anything about socials, but quite a bit about prayer. You never said others should become missionaries for us. You said we all have the privilege of being Your witnesses. Did You, in fact, ever tell me anything else but to pray and witness, and that You would be with me? Have I fallen so far into my comfortable churchy pattern that I cannot hear Your disturbing voice any more?

-- H.S. Vigeveno in Jesus the Revolutionary


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Monday, February 1, 2010

FAITHFUL WITNESSES

What do we mean by "witnessing"? Spouting a lot of Bible verses to a non-Christian? Not quite. Witnessing involves all that we are and therefore do; it goes far beyond what we say at certain inspired moments. So the question is not will we witness (speak), but how will we witness? When we're trusting Jesus Christ as Lord as well as Saviour, He enables us to live and speak as faithful witnesses.

-- Paul E. Little


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