Thursday, April 30, 2015

SEEING POSSIBILITIES


Jesus said, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)

Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities -- always see them, for they're always there.

-- Norman Vincent Peale

#3648

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

JUST KEEP THROWING THE BALL

My son Ross was on the mound for his Little League team, pitching for only the second time in his nine-year-old life.  He walked two, and his confidence was shaken. Then he threw one wild pitch and hit the batter on the foot. Now he was really rattled.  He gave up a couple of hits and runs, and the bases were still loaded.  Suddenly, he pulled himself together, striking out two and catching a pop-up to end the inning.  After the game I told him how proud I was of his tenacity and wondered how he got through that tough spot.  He shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't know, Mom. I just kept throwing the ball."


I've been thinking a lot recently about that beautifully simple philosophy. I'm not a quitter, but I have my limits.  A friend and I have been trying for more than a year to work with a local business on an idea we think will help both the company and the community, but a lot of difficulties have blocked our way.  I'm trying to use the ideas and the inspiration God has given me to make the project work, but I'm starting to doubt myself and am ready to give up.  Then I hear Ross's innocent words.  They're akin to Paul's encouragement of Timothy: Forge ahead, strengthened by God's power. Only then will I know, as Paul did, that "I have fought the good fight…[and] finished the race" (2 Timothy 4:7, RSV).


Win or lose, Paul's aim was to finish the task God set before him.  I need to do the same.  In my trials I'm learning that while God doesn't promise victory, He does offer a guarantee: If I "just keep throwing the ball," God will be beside me every step of the way.


-- Gina Bridgeman




#3647

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

PEACEMAKERS NEEDED


James said, "Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." (James 3:8) He chose peace as the seed because true righteousness can't grow where there is discord. Unrighteousness grows like weeds in an environment where uncertainty and anxiety abound. Evil loves discontent and restlessness. Mind you, James doesn't use the word "peacekeepers," but "peacemakers." People who try to get rid of strife through kowtowing or weakening their principles fail in bringing about a deep and lasting peace. Peace for the sake of expediency is fragile, at best.

Peacemaking runs deeper than peacekeeping. To sow the seed of peace is to press a truth gently yet firmly into the soil of another's heart. When peace prevails, that which is "right" is given room to flourish. We can see circumstances for what they are. We are able to choose the right path.

Peace is a powerful seed in your hand. Sow it in the midst of a sinful world that is too contentious to discern right from wrong. Speak words of peace to those in your church who have lost their sense of what love is and who loves them dearly. Let dissension and discord pass from your hearts so that the stranger in your midst might be wooed to the Righteous One.

-- Joni Eareckson Tada in More Precious Than Silver,  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1998


#3646

Monday, April 27, 2015

MARRIAGE: GOD'S HOLY ORDINANCE


Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God's holy ordinance, through which He wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to His glory, and calls into His kingdom.

In your love, you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal -- it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.

As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of marriage above the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer in "A Wedding Sermon from Prison"


#3645

Friday, April 24, 2015

CONNECTING GENERATIONS


One of my great pleasures in working with trees is being able to see and work with trees that were planted and/or cared for by my father and some even by my grandfather. And, to be able to point out these trees with pride to my family. Trees are a marvelous gift from God that connect one generation to those that precede and succeed it. In this manner, the work of my ancestors has been passed along for me to enjoy and likewise, I pass along for my children and future generations.

-- Lauren Lanphear, Arborist


#3644

Thursday, April 23, 2015

LIVING WITH GOD IN THIS MOMENT


The greatest moment of your life is now.

Not because it's pleasant or happy or easy, but because this moment is the only moment you've got.  Every past moment is irretrievably gone.  It's never coming back.  If you live there, you lose your life.

And the future is always out there somewhere.  You can spend an eternity waiting for tomorrow, or worrying about tomorrow.  If you live there, you likewise will lose your life.

This moment is God's irreplaceable gift to you.  Most of all, this is the moment that matters because this moment is where God is.  If you are going to be with God at all, you must be with Him now -- in this moment.

-- John Ortberg in God Is Closer Than You Think


#3643

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ENTERING INTO SILENCE

"Be still, and know that I am God…" (Psalm 46:10)


Entering into silence is like stepping into cool clear water. The dust and debris are quietly washed away, and we are purified of our triviality. This cleansing takes place whether we are conscious of it or not: the very choice of silence, of desiring to be still, washes away the day's grime.


-- Sister Wendy Beckett in Meditations on Silence




#3642

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

EACH NEW DAY


"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24 NIV)

EACH NEW DAY arrives with an endless array of possibilities just waiting for the chance  for God to make a difference in your life.

EACH NEW DAY promises to give you all the best God has to offer and every chance to make His plans come to fruition in your life.

EACH NEW DAY contains numerous situations -- the highs, the lows, the routine -- for God to show up and photo-bomb your life.

AND EACH NEW DAY is a new opportunity for you to show up in someone else's life and to share the love of God in Christ with them.

-- David T. Wilkinson


#3641

Monday, April 20, 2015

OATMEAL DAYS


It's not always the red-flag crisis days that are hardest to take. It's the "oatmeal days." The ordinary, "zero" days of little or no consequence. The ho-hum days filled with nothing of any particular interest. Colorless. Uninteresting. Unfascinating. Unspectacular. And unfun. The days everyone deals with.

We cope. We wend our way through the tangle of tedious activity and sandpaper people scattered through our day and get applause, because coping is expected.

Not so during the red-flag crisis times. People tend to rally behind us with loving support. We're lifted above the crisis and enabled beyond human comprehension at times.

On oatmeal days, after a crisis has peaked, it may seem as if friends have forsaken us, as if God doesn't care. But the reality will be that life has merely pushed us and our friends one step further in the Christian growth-walk.

The God of the crisis times is the God of oatmeal days, too. Because He said He is. Because He keeps His promises -- always. Because we can't get along without Him. And because we wouldn't want to if we could.

-- Unknown, quoted by Barbara Johnson in So, Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy!


#3640

Friday, April 17, 2015

WHO IS JESUS?


Some say He was just a good teacher, but good teachers don't claim to be God.

Some say He was merely a good example, but good examples don't mingle with prostitutes and sinners.

Some say He was a madman, but madmen don't speak the way He spoke.

Some say He was a crazed fanatic, but crazed fanatics don't draw children to themselves or attract men of intellect like Paul or Luke to be their followers.

Some say He was a religious phony, but phonies don't rise from the dead.

Some say He was only a phantom, but phantoms can't give their flesh and blood to be crucified.

Some say He was only a myth, but myths don't set the calendar for history.

Jesus has been called the ideal man, an example of love, the highest model of religion, the foremost pattern of virtue, the greatest of all men, and the finest teacher who ever lived. All of those descriptions capture elements of His character, but they all fall short of the full truth. The apostle Thomas expressed it perfectly when he saw Jesus after the resurrection, and exclaimed, "My Lord and My God!"(John 20:28).

 -- John F. MacArthur, Jr. in The Miracle of Christmas


#3639

Thursday, April 16, 2015

WALKING BY FAITH

"For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7 NRSV)


Faith is meant to be an everyday companion -- not a weekend guest.  In the curriculum of the Christian life, faith is a required course -- not an elective.  Our whole life should be lived on the basis of faith -- not on the basis of just what we see.  Because appearances are often deceiving, obscuring rather than clarifying things of eternal significance (2 Corinthians 4:18).  Faith gives us the clues to distinguish between the temporal and the eternal, between our earthly hut and our heavenly home.


-- Charles R. Swindoll in The Practical Life of Faith




#3638

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

THE PRIORITIES OF GOD'S KINGDOM


Jesus said, "The thing you should want most is God's kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you. So don't worry about tomorrow."  (Matthew 6:33-34 NCV)

During the height of Jesus' popularity in Israel, crowds followed Him everywhere, hungry for a word of insight or a touch of compassion. At that time, Jesus spoke at length (probably over several days) the words of what has come to be known as the Sermon on the Mount. Seated on a hill, Jesus shared practical lessons based on spiritual principles relating to everyday concerns. Jesus spoke about anger, revenge, and greed, the importance of building strong relationships, and God's provision for everyday needs, such as food and clothing.

Just like people today, the people of Jesus' time must have struggled to put all this into perspective. They must have longed to "get their priorities straight." Jesus' answer was simple: Put God first and everything else will fall into place. This life principle is as powerful today as it was back then. Relationships, goals, responsibilities, and desires are constantly competing for your attention. Only by looking at them from God's perspective can you make wise decisions on how to use your time and energy in the way that makes the most positive and effective difference.

By continually choosing to live out your life in a way that reflects the priorities of God's kingdom in heaven, your concerns about things that are out of your control lose their grip on your heart. Your dependence on material provision is transformed into a deep dependence on God. That's when you discover that whatever God provides is enough.

-- from 100 Favorite Bible Verses


#3637

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

GOD HAS REVEALED HIMSELF IN CREATION

Consider the vastness of the universe.  Our galaxy is one of about a million galaxies in the range of our most powerful telescopes. If we could travel at the speed of light, 186,000 miles a second, it would take 100,000 years to go across our galaxy. In our galaxy it is estimated that there are 100 billion stars. Our sun is just one of them. Traveling in an orbit 155 miles a second, our sun would take 200 million years to complete a revolution around our galaxy.


"To whom then will you compare Me, or who is My equal? says the Holy One.  Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because He is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing." (Isaiah 40:25-26 NRSV)


No wonder the Psalmist writes, "The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork."  (Psalm 19:1 NRSV)


Consider the wonders of earth itself. It spins on its axis without slowing up -- giving us day and night. It is tilted, so that we have the different seasons. It is just the right distance from the sun, so that we do not freeze or burn up. The earth contains all the natural resources necessary to sustain life. There are countless scientific testimonials to the orderliness of the world that prove an incredibly powerful Being created the universe.


-- New York Gospel Ministries


#3636


NOTE: In connection with today's quote, I am offering one of my photographic images -- "Door County Sunset - Psalm 19" -- on a Limited Time Promotion.


Monday, April 13, 2015

WHO DO YOU SAY JESUS IS?


"Jesus asks the disciples, 'Who do you say I am?'" (Matthew 16:15)

Jesus Christ is end of all, and the centre to which all tends.  Whoever knows Him knows the reason of everything.

-- Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)


#3635

Friday, April 10, 2015

OUR TRUE IDENTITY


Do you find your identity in who you are or whose you are?

That subtle nuance makes all the difference in the world, both this one and the next.

You can base your identity on a thousand things -- the degrees you've earned, the positions you hold, the salary you make, the trophies you've won, the hobbies you have, the way you look, the way you dress, or even the car you drive. But if you base your identity on any of those temporal things, your identity is a house of cards. There is only one solid foundation: Jesus Christ. If you find security in what you have done, you will always fall short of the righteous standard set by the sinless Son of God. The solution? The gospel. There is only one place in which to find your true identity and eternal security: what Christ has done for you.


-- Mark Batterson in All In




#3634

Thursday, April 9, 2015

SATISFIED WITH SUPERFICIALITY


We all want to spend eternity with God. We just don’t want to spend time with Him. We stand and stare from a distance, satisfied with superficiality. We Facebook more that we seek His face. We text more than we study The Text. And our eyes aren’t fixed on Jesus. They’re fixed on our iPhone and iPads -- emphasis on ‘i.’ Then we wonder why God feels so distant.

-- Mark Batterson in All In


#3633

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

ALWAYS AND NEVER


Very few things in life are "always" and "never." Your wife doesn't always tell you how to drive. Your pastor isn't always asking for money. It's not like your kids never do a thing you say. But when it comes to God, there are some always and nevers you can take to the bank.

 

He is "always at His work" (John 5:17), never dozing off or growing tired of meeting your needs. He is "always righteous" (Jeremiah 12:1), never changing to accommodate the times. Jesus "always lives" to pray for you (Hebrews 7:25), to continually insure that your sins are forgiven, if you've trusted Him for salvation. He is a rock of refuge to which you can "always go" (Psalm 71:3).

 

He will "never stop doing good" to you (Jeremiah 32:40), always supplying you with all you really need. He tells us not to worry about money or the future, because He has promised, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). His years "will never end" (Hebrews 1:12). He has "set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed" (Daniel 2:44). "Heaven and earth will pass away," Jesus said, "but My words will never pass away" (Luke 21:33).

 

Life may seem a tangled mess of empty words and broken promises. But when your trust is in God, you're on the most solid footing of all. Blessed is the one who "always fears the Lord" (Proverbs 28:14). 

 

-- Joe Gibbs, from his blog "Game Plan for Life: Two-Minute Drills"


#3632

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

RESURRECTION POWER

"God will raise our bodies from the dead by His marvelous power, just as He raised our Lord from the dead." (Ephesians 6:14 NLT)

Think about the greatest manifestation of power you could witness.  Perhaps a hurricane or tornado came to mind, maybe an earthquake or an atomic bomb.  I read about something more powerful than any of these.  On May 18, 1980, there was an incredible explosion, estimated at 500 times the force of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.  The blast ripped 1,200 feet off the top of a 9,700-foot volcano named Mount Saint Helens.  Within one minute a cloud of ash blocked out the sun.  Sports Illustrated reported that the "heat, blast and ash destroyed 26 lakes, 154 miles of resident trout streams and 195 square acres of wildlife habitat."

That display of raw power is impressive.  However, the Bible tells us that the presence of our God could make not only Mount Saint Helens crumble but also all the mountains known on earth.  The psalmist wrote, "The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth" (Psalm 97:5, NLT).  God is an awesome and powerful God, Creator of both heaven and earth.  Ephesians teaches us that the greatest manifestation of God's power was not for destruction but for the resurrection of Christ from the dead!

-- Lenya Heitzig and Penny Pierce Rose in Pathway to God's Treasure: Ephesians


#3631

Monday, April 6, 2015

THE MYSTERY OF FAITH

When Jesus Spoke about a seed that is planted in the ground and then dies, He was referring primarily to His own death. He would pour out His life for others on the cross. At first, His death would look like a tragedy, but in the end it would be a triumph. It would look like defeat but would really be a victory. Jesus’ death would ultimately be the triumph of the resurrection power of God’s self-giving love over the forces of sin, evil, and death. This is why Christians say, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” We often call this proclaiming “the mystery of faith.”

This mystery is unique to Jesus. We cannot do what He did. But Jesus invites us to share in a different part of the mystery. Like a seed that is planted in the ground and dies, we are invited to die in order to live. This is the gospel secret expressed by Jesus. If we want to become alive to ourselves, to others, to the world, to God, to Jesus, and to the Spirit, we must let go. We must lay down our lives for God and for others in order to be raised to life.

Let me be clear. When Jesus spoke like this, He was not trying to lay heavy burdens on our lives. He was describing reality. Richard Rohr says that God always comes to us disguised as reality. Jesus was describing the reality of how life works. … We can embrace it or fight it. When we embrace it, we are transformed.

-- Trevor Hudson in Invitations of Jesus


#3630

Friday, April 3, 2015

THE CONDESCENSION OF THE CROSS

Despite our earnest efforts, we couldn't climb all the way up to God. So what did God do? In an amazing act of condescension, on Good Friday, God climbed down to us, became one with us. The story of divine condescension begins on Christmas and ends on Good Friday. We thought, if there is to be business between us and God, we must somehow get up to God. Then God came down, down to the level of the cross, all the way down to the depths of hell. He who knew no sin took on our sin so that we might be free of it. God still stoops, in your life and mine, condescends.

-- William H. Willimon in Thank God It's Friday: Encountering the Seven Last Words from the Cross


#3629

Thursday, April 2, 2015

THE ECONOMY OF THE CROSS

"God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

The moment you bow your knee to the lordship of Jesus Christ, all your sin is transferred to Christ's account and paid in full. It was nailed to the cross two thousand years ago! But that's only half the gospel. Mercy is not getting what you deserve -- the wrath of God. Grace is getting what you don't deserve -- the righteousness of Christ. Everything you've done wrong is forgiven and forgotten. And everything Christ did right -- His righteousness -- is transferred to your account. And then God calls it even.

It's like God says, "I'll take the blame for everything you did wrong and give you credit for everything I did right." It doesn't get any better than that, and that's why it's called the gospel. It's not just good news. It's the best news.

-- Mark Batterson in All In


#3628

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

THE COMPASSION OF THE CROSS

"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death -- even death on a cross!"  (Philippians 2:1-8 NIV)

Rick Warren has observed, "Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate." Jesus didn't. He demonstrated that on the cross.


#3627