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If spring could tip-toe past nature without stirring it from its winter slumber; if the sun could slip through the sky without dispelling the night; if rain could fall to the ground without bringing life to the desert – only then should you fear dry times, dark times, lean times. Though you feel as useless as a fur coat in a heat wave, the time will come when your warmth is treasured. For everything there is a season.
I’m the quiet, intelligent type. When I’m quiet, I’m intelligent. But I limp to the Bible and find comfort. I bump into Isaac, who blessed the wrong twin; and Jacob, the scheming mummy’s boy, who had to marry his sister-in-law to patch up his first mistake. I hear Job clawing for words to recount the tragedy that marred his childhood – he was born alive. I see Saul hiding amongst the baggage; David squabbling with his brothers; Jonah bewailing the death of a weed; Thomas poking holes in Jesus’ side. Whenever they had a brainwave heaven ducked for cover. Hard-boiled? These egg-heads were always in hot water.
Genuine success – the synthetic varieties don’t last – is achieving what God expects of us. Only God can measure it. Don’t gauge hurdlers by how high they jump, or pole-vaulters by how fast they run. Judge archers by their accuracy but don’t apply this measure to javelin throwers. If that seems obvious it’s because sport lacks the mystery of real life. In the game of life spectators speculate, the Judge judges.
God is making a smart cookie. If I’m covered with spilt milk, that’s marvelous. If there’s egg on my face, it’s a bonus. If I’m mixed up, I’m delighted. If I’m beaten, I’m making progress. If the heat is on, I’ll warm to my task. If I’m half-baked, something good is cooking. When I feel I could crumble, I’m nearing perfection. Everything is going my way.
Faith empowers us to soar beyond human limitations into the realm of the divine.
Like Naaman fuming at being told to have a bath, (2 Kings 5:7-14) we might do something heroic for God – terrorize demons, hang by our thumbs in the heart of Islam, rush an injured angel to a vet (who else sets broken wings?) – but when it comes to the mundane – well I stacked the chairs last week. And you had a bath last Christmas.
If you think praise is hot air, you’re right. It’s the hot air that makes faith balloon, lifting us to new heights in God, while warming the Father’s heart.
The mind-boggling intensity of God’s love is as close and as crucial as the oxygen you breathe. Despite this, we tend to drift into regarding the infinite love of God as if it had the practical relevance of the countless grains of sand in a desert we have never seen. Let’s bring our thinking down from the clouds to hard reality. The fact of divine love makes the happiness of Almighty God forever dependent upon your happiness. If you hurt, God hurts.
The enemy of our souls is the master deceiver because that is all he can do. The devil cannot change reality. He cannot change the fact that God loves you with all of this unlimited love and that Christ died for the sins of the entire world, which has to include every sin you have ever committed. So all he can do is mess with your feelings, hoping that you will start to believe them rather than believe in the power of Christ and the love of God.
One of the most important things in the Christian life is to focus on God’s great love for us and not let Satan trick us into thinking that God frowns on us when we fall into sin. Yes, God is disappointed, but when a little child falls, what’s the first thing he does? He runs to mommy or daddy for comfort. You, too, can run to Daddy, the instant you fall. The tender, forgiving Lord is devoted you. Satan, however, wants to you to fear, and feel bad about running to God. He knows we instinctively recoil from anyone we fear might be angry or displeased with us and keep that person at arm’s length. He wants us to be standoffish from the only One who can truly deliver us and defeat Satan in our lives. He doesn’t want us to rejoice in God’s forgiveness but to feel miserable.
Heroism is not the absence of fear, but plowing on regardless. Likewise, faith – spiritual heroism – is not the absence of doubt. In fact, doubt serves us as our personal spiritual trainer, enabling us to build spiritual muscle, and thus empowering us for eternal greatness.
From tongue-tied Moses (to er is human) to cave-mouth Peter; from down-in-the-mouth Jonah to high-as-a-kite Noah (Genesis 9:21); from Job in his trouble-bath to Mordecai having the last laugh, the Bible bristles with ordinary folk who achieved extraordinary things for God. And you were born to continue this tradition.
Encouraging fellow Christians works miracles because God is already working powerfully within them. Encouragement releases God to burst through the drizzle of despair and negativity that dampens the fire of God within a person. It builds the faith that gives God free rein to do the beautiful things he longs to do in the person’s life.
From the age of four, I loved helping grandpa lay cement paths. Almost anyone could do a better job than a little child, but that was irrelevant. I was irreplaceable. I had a special place in grandpa’s heart.
Christians wishing they had the abilities of others are nightingales coveting a peacock’s beauty or soaring eagles envying the powerful legs of an ostrich. Don’t despise the unique blend of abilities bestowed on you by the keenest Mind in the universe. Stop envying the ministry of others and start clarifying your own call. If, to your thinking, that call seems insignificant, the thing to be ashamed of is not your calling but your thinking!
The world is filled with God’s undercover agents – ministers of the gospel who have successfully infiltrated enemy territory using all sorts of ingenious covers – housewife, plumber, bus driver . . . Their exploits, unknown on earth, are the talk of heaven. These resolute, Christ-like conquerors cannot be bought. They refuse to trade eternal acclaim for temporal applause. Heaven’s megastars may be so inconspicuous, you’d think they’re in training for the Pew Warmer of the Year Award. No one would guess the shock-waves they send through Satan’s camp when these spiritual gladiators plunder his kingdom. Everyone scrambles to be in the limelight, except these saints: they are light – the light of the world.
In my mind’s eye I saw myself charging into a burning building to rescue someone I loved more than life itself. Every movement began to slow down. Shielding her body, I suffer horrific burns to carry her to safety, where I collapse, writhing in agony. But it is worth every throb of pain because the love of my life is completely untouched by the fire. All that matters is that she’s unharmed. Seeing my wounds she says, “I don’t deserve such love!” I look on in horror as, overwhelmed by a feeling of unworthiness, she then runs back into the fire and kills herself; breaking my heart by her death and rendering all my suffering an utter waste.
God loves playing hide-and-seek with his children. He deliberately hides spiritual truths and then begs us to seek them.
No matter how much you cry, beg, and wish, you have not moved from superstition to authentic Christian prayer until you can thank God for the answer, knowing it is yours before you hold it in your hand. Faith is not thinking that God can ; it is knowing that he will (Mark 11:24; James 1:5-8).
He became human so that divinity could flow through you. The Eternal died so that you could be more alive than ever before; took on your mortality to give you immortality. He wore your limitations so you could enjoy his infinity. The Almighty crumbled with your weakness to give you supernatural strength. The Pride of the universe agonized with your loneliness so that you would never be alone again; suffered your isolation so that you and he could be inseparable. The King of kings bore your shame and darkness so that you could be radiant with his honor; was humiliated with your depravity to infuse you with his holy majesty; lowered himself to the dust of death so that you could be enthroned with him in highest heaven. God’s noble Son shamed himself with your foolishness to give you his intellect; exchanging your dirty, cloudy thinking for his crystal purity; suffering for your idiotic blunders so that you could be dignified as a superior being, graced with divine wisdom. He let your sorrow crush him to let you beam with his joy; was impoverished by your debts so that you could revel in his riches. He absorbed within himself all your inadequacies so that you could overflow with his abundance.
No matter how you feel, you are the focus of God’s attention; doted on as though you are the only friend God has. If ever a man wanted to shower his bride with love, or his son with gifts, God longs to lavish you with his extravagance. Expect great things from God. Anything less is an insult to your almighty Savior. With your Lord impossibilities are playthings.
Faith is not a non-stop flight above reality; it’s a fight. What distinguishes people of faith is not how rarely they hit the dirt, but how often they get up again. To be perpetually positive is impossible. The mere attempt embroils us in prayer battles and Abrahamic effort. The enemy often flees to his corner, only to prepare for the next round. You might even have climbed out of the ring, but the reward for getting back in exceeds anything anyone could offer.
The great mystery of Christian life is not unanswered prayer, it’s unfinished prayer. Prayer that quits before the answer arrives is like a mansion carefully constructed, almost furnished, and then abandoned.
If you were treating the open wounds of accident victims you would realize that the most gentle, well-meaning touch could send patients reeling. You would not be offended if someone you were seeking to help lashed out in pain with almost involuntary action. You would half expect it. But imagine the confusion if the wounds were invisible and the person looked uninjured. Consider the further complication if in that person’s experience everyone who had tried to help (and how does he know you will be any different?) had in their ignorance done little but inflict pain.
We will never find the peace of God with a mere piece of God. For the peace of God we need all of God. For God’s peace to rule in your heart, God himself must rule in your heart. Peace is not found in a box of spiritual trinkets we can rummage through and select whatever titillates us. It comes inseparably melded to everything else that together forms God’s heart, such as selfless love, integrity and so very much more. Having peace and joy necessitates not merely acting as if we have the heart of God but, through the miracle of spiritual new birth and daily dying to self, actually having his very heart throbbing within us; driving our thoughts and deeds every moment of every day.
Earth sees us flattened on the wrestling ring canvas in faith’s fight. Heaven sees us forming on the canvas of the Great Artist.
The Bible is the biggest eye-opener. It shocks us by revealing that reality is spectacularly different to our superficial impressions. It declares that trials, though by their very nature highly unpleasant, are reasons for rejoicing, not sorrow. I used to think the Bible was saying, ‘Rejoice, even though trials are tragedies.’ Finally, I began taking more notice of the context and discovered that it is actually saying something stunningly different. It is not saying, ‘Rejoice, despite the trials,’ but ‘Rejoice, because of the trials.’ It is saying, ‘Trials are a spiritual windfall. Throw a party when hard times come because they are like being given an exciting promotion at work, only exceedingly better.’ They increase your spiritual status, your contribution to the Kingdom, and your spiritual pay packet. By developing your character, tough times increase both your eternal reward and your ability to achieve things of lasting significance.
At first thought, God’s will seems so oppressively restrictive that it’s frightening. And we’re scared we’ll be told to go somewhere awful and do something embarrassing. In reality, no one understands you like your Maker. No one knows your future like your God. No one has your best interest at heart like the One who shed his blood for you. No one can bring you happiness like the Inventor of sex and sunsets, sight and sound, touch and taste, life and beauty. He alone offers heaven.
As we draw closer and closer to God we will discover that real living is not about feeling good; it’s about being good. Like champions, our yearning will not for ease or comfort but for victory. Our own happiness will no longer interest us, just as Christ did not come to earth to be happy but to express his love for us and for the Father by being tortured to death. And our high calling is to follow him. We will be so deliriously in love that all we will care about is bringing joy to God, since real love seeks not its own happiness but the happiness of others.
Blinding light flashes from the Throne. Creation quakes. On Heaven’s Throne is a shining figure robed in purity. Powerful. Majestic. Holy. Who is this mighty victor, the one deemed worthy to rule forever, the joy of the Father’s heart? You. Yes, you, the butt of jokes, the focus of Satan’s slur campaign.
To be in this world is to be exposed to godless acts and to the inevitable suffering that results. But to be removed from this world is to be torn from the very place that most needs us; the place where we can achieve the greatest good and win for ourselves eternal glory.
In the next life, when we at last see things clearly, we’ll probably look back through the years and praise God far more for unanswered prayer than for almost all the answers to prayer we received.
‘Then will I teach transgressors your ways,’ crooned David. When? After a calamitous moral fall.
Suppose you are in a leaking boat. You are lounging on deck as the water seeps in a few bucketfuls an hour. No problem. Any fool can bail that out. Hour after hour you continue to snooze until you suddenly find yourself plunging towards the ocean floor. You then bail furiously but it’s too late. The disaster was not the product of some momentary weakness or inexplicable lapse the last five seconds. It was all so avoidable, if only the danger had been taken seriously.
We are a fallen race. Spiritually, we each entered this world with hideous birth defects. Trying to overcome our spiritual defects is like someone born with severe physical deformities heroically battling to overcome all the handicaps. Although on one level the attempt might look pathetic, people have won for themselves worldly fame and honor by battling physical handicaps to live close to normal lives. Likewise, we each have the potential to win eternal honor and acclaim by battling our spiritual handicaps.
We may seem the object of ridicule, but we’re the focus of infinite love. We’re fruit growing sweeter, wine gaining value; not milk going sour. We’re not cardboard caving, colors fading, under the weight of time; we’re concrete drying stronger, trees growing higher, dawn glowing brighter.
Immersed in gloom.
Confounded by a curse,
Scorned and spurned.
Haunted by despair,
Mocked by words of doom.
My eyes may fill with tears,
But not with dread or fear.
This grub, wings will sprout.
Founded on his Word;
Basking In Infinite Love
Swap Indignity For Indignation
Did you know ???
* Most actors wanting the role of Long John Silver are hopelessly inadequate. They have too many legs.
None of us have an infallible conscience. In fact, most of us have consciences are at times wildly inaccurate.
The goal of my entire ministry is to help people fall more in love with God. My extensive personal struggles with feeling God’s love have combined with years of counseling people to give me deep compassion for the many of us who find ourselves devastated by God feeling cold or distant or by us simply feeling nothing. “What is wrong with me?” we worry, when friends seem to find it so easy to feel God’s presence and/or love.
If you fear God could have a cruel streak, you are sure to unconsciously keep your emotions in check when relating to him. No normal person would feel secure about giving his or her heart to someone who might possibly be callous, or even sneak some twisted pleasure out of slaughtering innocents, or in tormenting people in hell, or a God who in any other way has less than the highest conceivable morality. It is vital that you keep seeking God for a deeper and deeper revelation of his love and goodness.
In Luke 15 Jesus delivers three consecutive parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost (prodigal) son. In them, God is likened to a shepherd and a father. Some of us are shocked to realize, however, that in the middle parable, Jesus likens God to a woman (Luke 15:8). Should this really surprise, since God made both male and female in his own image (Genesis 1:27)?
The flawless Son of God took upon himself all of your filth down to the very last speck and placed on you all of his purity, making you like a beacon of pure light, irresistibly attractive to the Holy One. On the cross, Jesus cried out that God had forsaken him. As surely as your imperfections drove the Father in revulsion from the Son, so Jesus’ perfection impels the Father to rush to you like a bee to honey.
They were beasts, not men, who violated your innocence. They stripped you of your decency. They invaded your body; shaming you, humiliating you. Terror gripped you by the throat. Stark naked, bleeding, pinned like a bug on display they exposed you to the world. Relentlessly they reviled and defiled you.
As we are a higher life form and more personal than plants, so God is higher and more personal than us. With passion, powers of attention, and concern for every detail that makes a nuclear explosion seem like a popgun, the Almighty is so intensely personal that alongside him we are colorless and superficial. And this magnificent God of perfection is in love with you.
Lord Jesus, no one comes anywhere near your love. No coach has ever gloried in his athlete’s success, no father has longed to lavish his children with gifts, no lover has delighted in his beloved’s pleasure, like you long to thrill and fulfill your loved ones with endless joys. I want to participate in your miracles, reveling in your supernatural power. Since delighting in the gift, honors the giver – and no one deserves thanks and honor like you – I want to thrill with inexpressible joy over your every gift. Surely this is a vital part of loving you and letting you have your beautiful way with me. And yet is that all there is to life? It sometimes feels as if there is a missing element.
How come “an eye for an eye” is found in the same Book as “turn the other cheek”? Did we suddenly get a new God when the New Testament was made?
If we give up judging people,
Consider the vines of the vineyard,
How they grow;
They neither toil nor strive,
Yet, I tell you,
Even man with all his technology
Cannot produce fruit like one of these.
If God so fruits the vine,
Which today is alive
And tomorrow is cast into the fire,
Will he not more surely
Produce fruit in your life,
O you of little faith?
So do not fret, saying:
‘How shall I achieve something worthwhile?’
Or, ‘How shall I leave my mark on this world?’
For after such fulfillment the heathen crave,
And your heavenly Father knows your need of it.
Who among you,
For more, see Waiting for Your Ministry, Chapter 3
I guess you’ve heard of the needless deaths of young men in fast cars driving at speed straight at each other, trying not to be the one who chickens out by changing course. When they both ‘win,’ they both lose – with horrific consequences. That’s the deadly game we play in relating to people when, instead of taking the responsibility upon ourselves, we wait for the other person to change. Leaving it to the other person ensures we end up losers, no matter how self-righteously we hold our ground.
Young David was out minding Dad’s sheep when he spied a lion ready to pounce on a lamb. David loved that lamb but this was a terrifying situation. If he let the lion have its way, he would lose a sheep, but David would be safe. If he tried to rescue the lamb, however, the lion would want to turn on David and tear him apart. No doubt, David quickly prayed for the lion to go away. Almighty God did nothing. Heart pounding, David refused to be intimidated by this ferocious beast. He faced that terrifying creature and slew it.
Scripture implies that Christians seasoned by heartache are the heroes most likely to be entrusted with the divine grace to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Someone who claims to be an expert on dream interpretation insists that every single dream – no exceptions – is from God. Until I heard him say that, I had highly regarded this man’s spiritual discernment. Shocked by his emphatic claim, I thought much about it, but I cannot agree with his assessment. However, there was a time when I took a position on the opposite extreme. And I was wrong.
If someone has broken your heart, your pain is your chance to enter into a deeper understanding of the most beautiful thing in the universe: God’s heart. The heart of God is so immense that even in the face of unfathomable pain he still has unbounded joy and peace because, despite his unfulfilled yearning for the love of individuals who break his heart, he is never self-obsessed. He keeps on loving and delights in the happiness of others.
When Jesus said we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily, he was referring to a choice that causes pain and shame and yet is voluntarily embraced for the Lord’s sake.
The only way we can truly understand our sexuality is to learn from the Creator of sex. If you believe you have greater access to the mind of the Creator than Jesus, I’m intrigued as to why someone of your infinite knowledge bothers to surf the Internet.
Suppose a person is trying his hardest to shoot someone dead. He takes careful aim but to his great disappointment he misses and the person escapes unharmed. Does that make him more righteous than if he were a better shot and the bullet killed the man? The consequences for the victim would be vastly different but in both scenarios the sinfulness of the offender would be identical.
Although you have not suffered to the point of death like Jesus, perhaps in your agony you think that would almost be preferable to your daily torment. Perhaps you would rather it were you who had been hurt than your loved one. God, too, knows that pain. No one loves humanity like its Maker. No one is as aware of injustice as the Judge of all the world. Yet still he reaches out in love to those who crush him by hurting his loved ones.
To restrain a baby elephant, circus trainers must chain it to a huge stake driven into the ground. When the baby grows into an adult, however, it is many times smarter and stronger. What trainers must then drive into the ground is just a tiny tent peg.
Throughout the universe the truth screams that God loves variety. Consider all the different means besides laying hands on people that Jesus used to transmit miraculous healing. Or think of the extensive range of literary forms that make up the Bible – history, poems, parables, proverbs, prophecies, letters, songs, visions, and so on. Wherever we look, be it snowflakes or fingerprints, flowers or sunsets, stars or molecules, scriptural revelation or God’s dealing with individuals in our own era, God’s love of variety is undeniable.
Anthropologists reported on a tribe in Irian Jaya in which, beyond the necessity of procreation, there seems astoundingly little interest in sex. We, in contrast, live in a self-indulgent society infatuated with sex. If this comparison is accurate, it raises the question as to why a pagan tribe could be more in control of its lusts than our society in which not even the threat of AIDS restrains people’s suicidal commitment to depravity.
Jesus was on the land praying. The disciples were in the boat on the lake. Jesus saw them straining at the oars because the wind was against them, so he went out to them, walking on the water. What baffles Bible commentators is that the text seems to say Jesus acted as if he were going to walk on past the boat until the disciples called out to him.
Many Christians are like me in having wrongly supposed that if God prophesies something, it is final. The startling truth is that Scripture emphatically and repeatedly declares that whether God’s prophecies come true depends on the response of the people the prophecy is aimed at.
The loving necessity of punishment when one’s eternity is in danger is something we need to understand, not just when we ourselves are being punished, but also when reading in Scripture of God punishing people. For God to strike someone dead means that person did wrong and a strong warning needs to be sent to that person’s contemporaries and perhaps even subsequent generations but it might say little about that person’s eternity.
The Bible was not even originally written in English, so – as any Bible scholar will insist – to understand what the Bible means by blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, it is pointless consulting an English dictionary for the definition of “blasphemy”. Instead of jumping to our own presumptions in panic-stricken horror, we need to calmly and prayerfully delve deep into God’s Word. Mark 3:22-30 states that Jesus said what he did about blaspheming the Holy Spirit because the teachers of the law were saying that Jesus has an evil spirit.
The benefits flowing from painful memories are very deep things. They hurt, but they go to the very heart and nature of God because God himself hurts. You have been hurt by someone else’s sins. God is hurt by everyone’s sins. Through your painful experiences God is able to share his secrets with you. It is something deeply spiritual and intimate and precious. Through the evil you suffered you have been granted unique insight into the heart of God. By it you will move from mere head knowledge to deep heart knowledge of God and his love and his ways. The most precious experiences cost, but they are more than worth all the pain.
God cares passionately about every trace of injustice you have ever suffered. The greatest torment you, in fit of fury, have ever wished to be savaged upon those who cruelly hurt you was rained upon Jesus to secure the justice you craved. By the abuse meted out to the innocent Son of God, the Almighty Lord, the Judge of all the earth, has proclaimed that the offense against you was so grave, and your honor so precious to him, that nothing less than the horrors Jesus suffered could put it right. For you, the holy Son of God let himself become the devil’s plaything; physically violated, emotionally broken, spiritually raped by evil. Will you let the magnitude of his sacrifice soothe your anger and give you peace? Bitterness is like barbed wire in your insides. Will you let his love dissolve it?
Never forget the power of Romans 8:28 – that God works all things together for good in the lives of those who love him. The Master Restorer treasures what lesser persons discard. He lovingly and tenderly collects the ugly incidents in people’s lives that even the owners want to trash. He works on events that people think of as junk and builds on them. He keeps polishing them until they gleam with divine glory and builds on them until they become astonishing works of beauty that all of heaven will admire for all eternity.
We feel too pressured to come up with answers and too lazy to provide practical help; too keen to flap our gums and too reluctant to offer a hug, a meal and genuine companionship. We are too fast at pointing the finger and too slow at lending a hand; too quick to quote the Bible at others and too slow to live it ourselves; too eager to act superior and too proud to weep with those who weep.
There is salvation through no one but Jesus (Acts 4:12) and no one who dies willfully rejecting him can be saved. Nevertheless, this does not imply that everyone must know about Jesus before Jesus can save them. Scripture teaches that Jesus died as much for those who died before his sacrifice, as he died for those who were born after his sacrifice (see Hebrews 9:25-28). Pre-Christian saints like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and so on, will be in heaven even though they never sought forgiveness through Jesus. As indicated in Hebrews 11, (note especially verse 7; Romans 4:1-24; Galatians 3:6-9) they were saved through faith, not by their animal sacrifices or good living. They trusted that God would somehow forgive them, without knowing the details as to how salvation was possible. At least in these instances, Jesus’ salvation clearly extended to those who had never heard of him. Abel, Enoch and Noah were outside God’s covenant mediated by Moses, and even outside the Abrahamic covenant.
Like a drowning man too scared to let go of a twig to grab his rescuer’s hand, we can fear anger so much that we cannot release the tight grip on our emotions long enough to get a decent grip on reality. Despite our best intentions to forgive, the mistaken fear that anger is unchristian can cause us to back off so far, so quickly after first sensing the slightest anger bubbling within us that we deny ourselves the opportunity to truly acknowledge the extent of the injury we have suffered. Sadly, this highly commendable desire to do the right thing could end up causing us to unknowingly short-circuit the entire forgiving process. You cannot forgive someone for stealing a million dollars when you believe he has only stolen five dollars. Forgiveness necessitates fully acknowledging the extent of the offence. We can think we have forgiven because we do not let ourselves feel anger, when deep within – so deep that most of the time we presume it isn’t there – unresolved pain and anger torment us year after year after year.
When surfing the sea, times of clumsy human effort (paddling) are interspersed by exhilarating times of being moved by a wave of power far beyond anything human. The same is true of prayer.
If owning a brand new Ferrari causes a toy peddle car to lose some of its appeal, heavenly pleasures outclass the best that earthly romance offers. What we now think is the ultimate in red-blooded passion, thrilling adventure and heart-thumping excitement will be seen as boring child-play, once we taste the wonders of heaven.
To continually expose yourself to the possibility of rejection is to be Godlike. He is perfect, and yet most people reject him. And because he truly loves, that rejection truly hurts him. No one knows the pain of a broken heart like him. Yet he is continually reaching out to people who despise him. And some eventually respond.
In a world crammed with people who seek ease and pleasure, we are called not called merely to admire achievers who sacrifice ease and pleasure to become champions; we are called to become those champions. We are called to greatness and never-ending fulfillment that pleasure junkies can only wistfully dream about.
Part of what makes us human is having a compelling need to apportion blame but Jesus took upon himself full blame for every sin ever committed. Suppose a woman let doctors treat some of her ailments but refused to let them examine the lump that will kill her if left untreated. That is like letting Jesus treat some of our problems, but insisting on dealing with the critical blame issue ourselves. Forgiving someone who has hurt us does not mean shifting blame from the other party to ourselves or trying to minimize the horrific gravity of the offense. That would not facilitate healing. Christian forgiving transfers all blame to the cross, where Jesus bore the horrific punishment it deserved.
Satan is a sore loser. Once he finds something that shakes us up he keeps trying it over and over relentlessly until he is absolutely convinced that his tactics will never again work with you. When, finally, he seems to leave, it is only to bide his time for a surprise attack. His persistence is most unpleasant. The positive side, however, is that this will make you stronger and stronger as you keep resisting his lies.
Because it describes an aspect of the enormity of what God has done for us, the Bible sometimes speaks of God adopting us as his very own children. Adoption by the King of kings opens to us wonders that will keep us dancing for all eternity. Through it we can enjoy God’s intimacy and inheritance and royal status. The full story, however, is even more astounding. When we were born of God we were not merely adopted into God’s family, we were BORN into his family. By this staggering act of God we received God’s genes, as it were. At that instant a fundamental change in our entire nature occurred. As effortlessly as a child’s nose begins to take on the shape of its father’s nose, so we will grow more and more like Father God, not merely because we try to model ourselves upon him but because God has transformed who we are by seeding his very own nature into our genetic blueprint.
Arrogantly assuming we know the end of the story when we’re still on the first page, we blindly jump to conclusions when we only know a fraction of the facts and get things so wrong that we end up blaming God, the one Person who is utterly innocent; treating as a sadistic torturer the only Person who cares enough to tend our wounds; instigating a hate campaign against the sweetest person in the universe; accusing of callousness the only one so moved by our plight that he weeps in secret; and despising the Person who on the cross has given us both his kidneys.
You could walk down church aisles all your life without ever marrying. Everyone knows that. Yet, tragically, countless thousands have walked down a church aisle and falsely assumed that made them born again. Like marriage, it is a relationship, not a ritual that counts. Spiritual rebirth results from a life-changing union between two persons. You can mumble the sinner’s prayer, the saints’ prayer, any prayer you like; you can join the best church, get wet, slurp communion, look more godly than an archangel, and have not a throb of spiritual life. Your act can be so convincing that you even fool yourself, and remain unaware that your life has missed an entire dimension.
If you agree with something a preacher says, make sure that it is because the Spirit of God agrees with it. Likewise, if you disagree with anything, ensure it is because the Spirit disagrees.
Nothing stirs divine compassion more than people overwhelmed by their own depravity. As air rushes to fill a vacuum, God rushes to cleanse and exalt such people. Conversely, nothing saddens, disgusts and infuriates God more than the arrogant self-righteousness of someone who thinks himself morally superior to the most despised sinner. The same Jesus who was ever so tender towards those acutely aware of their sin, tore strips of the self-righteous.
Relax. Know that you are in God’s strong, capable hands. There is no need to fear or fret about a thing. The Lord is in control and he is eager to sort out all your problems.
Christianity is no crutch; it’s a whole new set of legs. A living relationship with Jesus – and not everyone claiming to be a Christian has one – makes everything else look like a crutch. It’s power to face problems head on. The transformation is like a machine with nearly dead batteries being plugged into a new power source. Jesus fills the unfillable hole within us. He makes us whole. He meets our deepest needs. As pianos were made to be played, we were made for Jesus. He alone releases our full potential.
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Like a computer that has lost its connection to its server and the outside world, we had lost our connection with God. Like that computer, we could still function a little, but so much has been lost. For all eternity Jesus has been uniquely connected to God as a pure conductor of holy power. He offered himself so that through his own person you could be connected with God. While remaining united with God, he reached out to you and took upon himself humanity’s impurity. As usual, the infinitely high-voltage power of Almighty God surged through him, but this time, because he was no longer a pure conductor of such power, it killed him. Yet by his sacrificial act he become a safe connector for anyone willing to let go of their ineffective ways of coping with pain and, spiritually speaking, reach out and touch Jesus. The moment you do, you are suddenly connected to unlimited supernatural power. You spiritually light up. Because it is spiritual, not mental or emotional or physical, you may not feel it, but something of profound significance takes place in the deepest and most important part of you.
A man and a woman in love long for a union, the natural result of which is offspring that are neither entirely the man’s, nor the woman’s, but bear the unmistakable marks of both. That union, Scripture boldly declares, has a spiritual parallel (Ephesians 5:31-32). The inexhaustible creativity of God longs, through our union with him, to birth within us unique and wondrous things, bearing the image, not just of one partner, but of both him and us.
In the dark, things seem more frightening that they really are. It is when they are brought into the light that they lose their power to terrify. It is then that they cease to haunt us. Living in denial can never change reality. Nothing can change the past. But taking Christ’s head and embracing the truth of our past empowers us to change our future reality and find true healing.`
God tells us to forgive seventy times seven and yet some of us keep worrying that he will tire of forgiving us, as if perhaps God were a hypocrite. Driven by infinite love, he passionately longs to keep on forgiving you and to lavish his mercy upon you for all eternity. Since this is God’s burning desire, propelling him to the extreme of the cross, we are wrong to ever beg him to forgive us, as if there were any reluctance within him to cleanse us. His is eager to forgive; his only reluctance is in giving signs and feelings to confirm our forgiveness. Doing so makes us spiritually vulnerable by fostering a dependence upon something that the Deceiver can easily replicate and manipulate. The devil cannot touch spiritual truth but he can toy with signs and feelings. Faith is our only shield; our sole protection against his trickery.
Pause for a moment to imagine what it would be like to have had a heart transplant. Consider how you would cherish that precious new part of you. What was once a vital part of another person is now a vital part of you. Your body keeps your new heart alive and that heart keeps your body alive. Your welfare and destinies are one.
Our highest ideal is to be like Jesus – like the One accused of being in league with Satan.
To be in love is a fluke: by a freak of nature someone just happens to stimulate chemical reactions within you that, according to experts, might last thirty months if you are exceptionally lucky. To be loving, however, is another world. It is to be Christlike. It is not a fluke; it is a virtue, an achievement, a deliberate, praiseworthy act. Being in love is fleeting; being loving is eternal.
We all know what a thrilling, fulfilling experience being in love is. It’s not perfect – there is usually a hint of selfishness in being in love – but it is a giant leap in the direction of what the Bible calls dying to self. When in love we hardly think about ourselves other than wanting to make ourselves more desirable for the one we love. Our thoughts and dreams revolve around the other person. There is a huge shift away from ourselves. The one we love becomes the center of our universe. Does this make us feel half dead? Is this losing of our pre-occupation with ourselves a painful, miserable experience? Of course not. Anyone in love has never felt more excited or more alive. So it is with falling in love with the King of kings.
God is both our role model and the Fount of true love. The God who loves even his enemies keeps on loving, regardless of whether the objects of his love are deserving of it. He finds them lovable because he is loving; not because others find them desirable. He loves not because of who people are, but because of who he is. His love is driven not by what is in them but by what is in him – boundless love. This is how we must love.
God is resolutely and unselfishly devoted to our long term good, but this must not be confused with short term ease that ultimately turns us soft and robs us of eternal glory. Perhaps you are presently in so much pain that even that statement makes you angry. The Bible calls trials birth pangs. Many a woman immediately after childbirth is convinced she will never allow herself to have another baby. She’s certain nothing could be worth that much agony. And yet the time comes when she is happily planning another child. Why? Because the pain is lavishly compensated by the rewards.
Life is full of injustices, and the ultimate injustice was when the Son of God – in the absolute sense, humanity’s only Innocent – was crucified. He bore in his entire being the full consequences of every injustice this planet has ever seen. He did this to make it legal for him to reverse – by force if necessary – every injustice. That is what the second coming is all about. His delay is none other than his mercy in giving us opportunity to repent before crunch time. Those who respond before it is too late will spend eternity marveling at God’s justice. The rest will spend eternity suffering God’s justice.
Real love is not a whim that spurts and splutters at the fickle mercy of hormones and circumstances. It does not fizzle when hot-blooded leaps of imagination hit cold reality. It is unfazed by sagging beauty, declining abilities and changes of fortune. This unstoppable force powers on regardless. It is fueled not by the beloved but by daily dying to self and coming alive to the God of gods who sacrificed everything and became the highest by becoming the lowest. Yes, for love that never dies you must die daily. To find such love you must lose self.
Most of us suffer deeply from the Christian superstar mentality. A few burn in the limelight while the rest of us shiver in the shadows. The exaltation of a few and the hiding of their flaws makes us ordinary Christians feel inferior; hindering us from achieving the greatness we were born for.
Biblical thinking is so different to current thinking as to seem bizarre. This difference is not because Scripture was written by primitive people who did not know any better than to attribute natural events to God. It is because today’s society is plagued by spiritually primitive people who do not know any better than to attribute natural events to chance.
Imagine the President of the United States bestowing on you the authority to use the nation’s nuclear arsenal. You may never have a legitimate opportunity to use America’s nuclear capability, and enormous harm would result if you misused it, but by entrusting you with this huge responsibility, you have been greatly honored. Likewise, regardless of whether you ever get to use it, by making you a sexual being, God has honored you with a responsibility that not even angels are granted.
The Bible opens by affirming that God created humanity to rule. From the onset, the Lord of hosts delegated authority to man and woman (Genesis 1:26-28). Humanity lost much when it lost its innocence, but with the breaking of sin’s curse by the shed blood of the innocent Son of God, we are again expected to rule, acting like Jesus in ousting evil hordes.
Anyone can parrot words; what both God and humanity seeks is living proof of the power of the Gospel. You are called to be that proof.
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst,” Jesus told the woman who had five husbands and was now living with yet another man (John 4:13-14). The woman at the well was driven by a craving that was clearly not being satisfied. At an exorbitant emotional cost, her restless searching had taken her from man to man to man to man to man to man, with her heart being repeatedly shattered into smaller and smaller pieces.
Succeeding in situations where others would succumb, necessitates defiant faith in either yourself or in God – and which of the two you spend your faith on determines whether your achievement will be temporal or eternal. You might build an empire by believing in yourself. In time, however, every empire falls. Only by abandoning faith in self can you build for eternity.
Some modern Bible versions translate “blessed” as happy. It is a far richer concept than implied by “happy” but let’s use it for a moment. Jesus said, happy are the poor, the grieving, the meek, the persecuted . . . In other words: the secret of happiness is vastly different to what almost everyone thinks.
Our Lord purposely makes spiritual truth and even salvation an offense to people who pride themselves in their intellect or piety. He does this because he longs for us to be genuine – as manifested by our sincerity and humility – and he craves intimacy with us. It is faith, sincerity and humility, not native intelligence or prideful self-sufficiency, that he honors.
It takes no more than average ignorance to look at a painting close up and complain about what seem to be imperfections. You need a great intellect, however, to truly appreciate great art.
Royal blood flows in your veins. Dam-busting, mountain-blasting, Satan-crushing power resides in you. You are in Christ, incandescent with God’s glory; one spirit with the almighty Lord of heaven and earth. Jettison the dead-weights of doubt and defeatism and wing to the heights you were born for.
Consider the sun. A lesser god would have stopped at making it an essential power-house. Our Lord even went far beyond making it an exquisite time-piece. His love and ingenuity soared as he fashioned a warm bath of pleasure, delighting and inspiring all humanity. It forms weather patterns, sculpts clouds, sends leaves twisting and twirling like a ballerina. Its rays don’t just illuminate, they sparkle and dance, they paint rainbows and the ever-changing splendor of endless sunsets, splashing color through all the earth with unrestrained exuberance.
Stealing a look is robbing a woman of her modesty. It is violating her person; stripping her of her decency; invading her private parts. It is denying her the right to appear in public without someone using her for his sexual pleasure or having her physical attributes critically compared with a hundred images of airbrushed sluts distorted beyond what any woman can compete with. Stealing a look is to use her up, spit her out, and move on to the next victim; treating her with less respect than a blow-up plastic dummy. With intrusive eyes boring through her, she is allowed no more right of refusal than if she were taken prisoner, and forced to star in the sordid home-made video playing in someone’s mind. Her consent is not sought, nor is payment offered. A whore is treated with more dignity. The victim has no more control over her degradation than if she were abducted and reduced to a sex slave.
Can someone explain to me why dating couples go to movies? Honestly, I can’t understand it. To have someone special is so rare for me that I would want us to spend every second focused on each other, not squander the opportunity on a movie. Nevertheless, the existence of movie dates is of immense spiritual significance to me. It demonstrates that ordinary people can be absorbed in something else and yet simultaneously draw comfort and even excitement over someone’s presence. That charges me with hope. Living, as we do, in an era in which most relatively mindless tasks have been replaced by machines, the majority of us are left with days crammed with activities that demand full concentration. Can we, like moviegoers, be intensely involved in a task and yet retain such an awareness of God’s presence as to be able to draw strength and comfort from that awareness?
A thankful person is a happy person. An envious person torments himself with needless misery.
Your pain matters – so astoundingly so that, rather than luxuriate in ease, the most important Person in the entire cosmos would willingly suffer every trace of your pain for you. The stupendous Lord of the Galaxies, the Source of all beauty, feels for you so immensely that it would actually relieve his distress for him to fully bear your torment himself.
Imagine growing up in a jungle tribe of headhunters in which you and everyone you have ever met firmly believe that one’s masculinity is affirmed by murdering innocents. The more human heads in your collection of personal kills, the bigger the man you are. Only weak, effeminate, no-hopers would pass up an opportunity to murder a vulnerable person. With this background, if a man became a Christian, he would face nothing short of an identity crisis. To stop headhunting would be as devastating to this manhood and self-image as for a normal man in our society to start wearing high heels and dresses in public. Even though after his encounter with God he realizes that it is morally right not to murder, he would be repeatedly assaulted by self-accusations of being weak and effeminate if he stops murdering innocents.
Bible-believing Christians, are rightly horrified about the corrupting power of sin upon society, and yet adultery and rebellion against one’s parents are two sins that corrupt society just as much as homosexuality. Under the Old Testament each of these sins, attracted the death penalty. This does not excuse sin, but it renders us without excuse if we find ourselves hypocritically being more tolerant of some sins than others. We must remove the log from our own eyes, repenting of our own sins and hypocrisies and lack of love before we have a hope of being remotely Christlike in our attitude towards gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals.
I’m delighted for us to abandon any aspect of Victorian churchianity or of any era, including the first century, that is not an inseparable part of Christianity. By all means, let’s strip Christianity of all human traditions. Non-essential trappings weigh it down. We need to keep the Gospel message sleek and lean. To maximize its power-to-weight ratio is not just exciting and highly glorifying to God, it is essential for making Christianity the explosive force for good that it is divinely fashioned to be.
If you have so far achieved little, it says nothing of God’s plans for you, nor of his evaluation of your worth. Prized silverware is reserved for special occasions. The fact that it is rarely used hardly means it is of little value. A craftsman will use some tools more than others, simply because they have different functions. Frequency of use in no way indicates quality, nor the craftsman’s pride in the tool. No one in a right relationship with God has a sane reason for feeling inferior to people who are used often.
Our self-image is of extreme importance to God because it has serious spiritual implications. For example, an entire generation of Israelites missed out on the promised land and ended up dying in the wilderness because they saw themselves as “grasshoppers” rather than as people who are empowered by Almighty God (Numbers 13:33).
Being the all-powerful One in whom we all – even anti-Christians – ‘live and move and have our being,’ God can speak through anyone. Our magnificent Lord is so intellectually superior – so able to outwit every other intelligence in the universe – that he repeatedly uses as his own instruments, humans and spiritual beings who passionately hate him and are doing everything they can to destroy his purposes. We see this throughout Scripture. Consider Joseph’s brothers who sold him into slavery. God used evil intentions as instruments of his love. “…you thought evil against me; but God meant it for good,” declared Joseph (Genesis 50:20).
God’s will is always the best we could possibly experience and to settle for anything else is as smart as shaving with a chainsaw. But our long-term happiness and our short-term pleasure and ease are usually oceans apart. Our wonderful Lord wants our permanent happiness, not some sweet fizz that turns sour. We are so often like children wanting to sentence ourselves to a lifetime of gorging ourselves on no other food but chocolate and ice cream; having no idea that their conception of heaven on earth would slowly transmute into the opposite.
We can wither inside; worrying that no one could truly love us if our darkest secrets were exposed. But each of us can burst out of that shriveled existence and enjoy life like never before. What it takes is a deeper revelation of how God’s love soars incomprehensibly beyond fickle human love and how he washes clean our past, removing our every cause of shame, the moment we trust him to do so. It is because God passionately wants you to be happy and enjoy life that the Bible keeps urging you to rejoice.
To the delight of demons – and sometimes with their help – slanderous lies about ourselves attack us all. Thoughts come to us, such as, “I’m useless. God doesn’t love me as much as Pastor Bigwig or Sister Starchpants. I’ll never amount to anything.” Letting such untruths scurry like a rat plague unchallenged through our head quickly becomes a degrading mental habit as enslaving as any addition. You can definitely break free but, especially at first, it’s a formidably hard slog, requiring persistent determination.
Without ever intending to, vast numbers of caring, Bible-loving Christians have slipped from the Bible’s view of grief. They suppose they should be more lion-hearted than David the giant-killer, the man after God’s own heart who, upon finding Ziklag burnt and his family taken captive, wept aloud until there was no strength left in him, before heroically seizing back from the enemy everything that had been stolen (1 Samuel 30:3-19). There are Christians who think they should be less human than Jesus, and more spiritual than the Spirit-filled early church. See how the power-packed early church reacted to the death of its first martyr: “Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him” (Acts 8:2).
Justice demands “an eye for an eye.” When we don’t forgive we become so obsessed with the payment that we condemn ourselves to misery, effectively telling ourselves, “I refuse to be happy until that person pay in full.” In effect, we keep endlessly tormenting ourselves with the thought, “He/she owes me . . . He/she owes me . . . He/she owes me . . .” And what buries us even deeper into infuriating hopelessness and despondency is the nagging awareness that it is like demanding blood from a stone. Even if the offender desperately wanted to put things right, there is usually nothing he/she can do to adequately compensate us for what we have suffered. Our fixation on what we are owed, keeps us feeling miserably deprived and dependent upon the offender – feeling that unless he/she does something or something happens to him/her, we can never be happy.
Fear spreads beyond whatever originally caused it. Years ago, experimental psychologists proved this by first startling babies with a loud noise as soon as a white rat appeared. Thereafter, the babies would cry whenever they saw a white rat. No surprises there. You might also expect the babies to react the same way when they see other white rats that look similar to the original one. What the psychologists found, however, is that the babies would now cry if they saw a cute white bunny.
Feelings are fickle and easily manipulated by spiritual enemies or by life experiences that distort our perception of reality.
Many sexual stereotypes are troublesome strait jackets that are not from God.
It is sheer hypocrisy to ask God to take away the sins we hate if we plan to keep the sins we love. Our pet sins are just as deadly as the sins we loathe. Adam’s sin, with its cataclysmic results, was not mass murder, hideous perversion or demon worship. In fact, by human standards, it was two saints who were forever banished from Eden. It is blissfully easy to define sin a manner that makes us feel good.
God does not use synthetic saints petrified in stained glass or mummified in strained biographies. If the paper people squashed between book covers or exhibited in special Sunday services seem real to you, you’ll love the Easter Bunny. If you were thinking of cornering the market on your brand of inadequacy, forget it; heaven’s databanks bulge with the triumphs of people with quirks like yours. Heaven’s heroes are people with pimples and stringy hair; people with wrinkles and pug noses. If you’d like to see a real saint-in-training, a cheeky Master’s apprentice poised to gelignite Hell’s gates, someone on the brink of eternal acclaim, go to your mirror.
Even if God abandoned his commitment to making everything unique, and chose to craft someone with an absolutely identical body and intellect to yours, no one in the universe has ever had exactly the same combination of thoughts that you had in the last hour, and the same applies for every single hour of your entire life.
You are right to reject a religion that’s a list of dos and don’ts, or a gathering of dour-faced, self-righteous Bible thumpers. Jesus would reject it too. Anything Jesus is involved in is vibrant, liberating, compassionate, powerful and supernatural.
People keep telling us not to live in the past, to “get over it,” and so on. There is a time when such advice is applicable but only after one is well on the way to full healing. For example, there is point in healing from a broken leg when one must discard crutches but to expect anyone to run on a broken leg too early in the healing process is both foolish and cruel. It will only worsen the injury. So it is with inner healing, but those who insist people should act as if they have never been wounded typically have the audacity to blame others when their foolish advice does not work.
Without knowing it, you have probably met someone with multiple personalities. You might even know the person quite well and not realize this about him/her. As Christians it would seem a good guess that multiple personalities is demonic but it turns out to be not just a bad guess but as dangerous as a surgeon blissfully supposing he is doing wonders by amputating the leg of the wrong patient.
To take up our cross and follow Christ sounds horrific, until we discover that following Jesus takes us not only to crucifixion but to resurrection; not only to the death of self but to a gloriously new and superior life. It is only the spiritually corrupt part of us that we are asked to let die. Once that goes, we find ourselves tingling with life like never before. It’s the death of the grub so that butterfly wings might be stretched and soar heavenwards. It’s the death of the sin-addict, the groveling sin-slave, the despicable weakling, and the rising of the glorious conqueror. It’s the death of pollution and the emergence of purity; the death of lonesome self-infatuation and the release of true love.
Taken in context, Romans 8:28-29 seems to be saying that the good that God works towards by manipulating all things that beset us, is not that we get our selfish pleasure but that we end up conformed to the image of Christ. If that disappoints you a little; you haven’t thought it through. To be like Christ is something far more wondrous that any cheap thrills you might originally have had in mind.
Godly humility flows not from thinking lowly of oneself but from seeing things through God’s eyes. Pride is having the audacity to disagree with God. It is saying I know more than the God of the universe; my puny intellect knows better than the Almighty; the God of truth is wrong and I am right.
When encountering gays, prostitutes, child molesters, abortionists, liberal preachers or fallen pastors we might be exceedingly zealous in upholding God’s standard of righteousness, but do we uphold God’s standard of love and grace? How tender our heart is towards those who have failed morally is at least one measure of the hardness of our heart. How much our eyes are filled with God’s compassion is an indication of how likely we are to interpret God’s Word as he intended.
We don’t need more self-proclaimed experts who trample on other people’s feelings; arrogant theorizers exposing themselves to the wrath of God by ignorantly thinking they are helping when they are devastating people who are already writhing in inner agony. The world is filled with – in fact has had its fill of – such people. What are as rare as diamonds, however, are people who truly understand; people whose advice does not come from a book or vain imagination but from genuine experience; leaders who, like Jesus, can say, “I’ve been there – follow me.” The more you have suffered, the more you have qualified as one of those rare and valued people who truly know.
Pain and resentment are hideous parasites that feed not only off me but off each other. My pain increased my resentment of God and/or those who mistreated me, which increased my pain, which increased my resentment, which increased my pain . . . I found myself on a frighteningly out of control merry-go-round that was anything but merry.
The clean-living servant who buried his gift is typical of too many of us. He did not blow his talent on an orgy of self-indulgence. He simply neglected what was loaned to him. (In most modern versions, Luke 19:20 tells us he kept it in his handkerchief, of all places.) His implied excuse of fear of failure merely incurred the master’s wrath. Moral: if you hide your gift in a hanky, you’re sure to blow it.
Islam is not founded upon sacrificial love. So I can understand a few hate-filled people claiming to be true Muslims. I can find no such excuse, however, for anyone responding with hate to Muslim radicals, while claiming to be loyal to Christianity’s Founder who so loved his enemies that he shed his blood for them.
God is warm, passionate, highly personal and yet consistent and utterly dependable. His intelligence soars far too high above us for his ways to be predictable by mere humans, but his loving heart never changes. Everything God does – even his anger and judgments – is driven by love. Behind his every action beats a tender heart that longs to forgive and bless.
What would it be like to experience the sensations a lizard feels when it detects a sexually desirable lizard or a delicious cockroach? No matter how much ingenious research we did, trying to figure out what it feels like to be a lizard would remain mostly guesswork and we’ll never know how off the mark our presumptions are. The only way to perceive things as a lizard does, is if, for a while at least, we had the mind of a lizard. And even if offered that opportunity, some of us would find the offer too scary to accept.
When God saw you, it was love at first sight.
Few people have discovered just how powerful and life-transforming thanking and praising God is. Our failure to fully appropriate this power is because, although most of us imagine we have tried it, we typically engage in thanking and praising God with the half-heartedness of couch potatoes, rather than anything remotely approaching the steely resolve and daily discipline of Olympic champions.
If you had blood gushing out of massive wounds, you would have almost everyone’s sympathy but if there were no obvious injury – such as chronic back pain – the extent to which people believe you and sympathize will be much more variable.
You’re a leader, not a loner. It might be frustrating to have to go slow for the sake of the others, but a general who charges off at his own pace is in for a rude shock when he encounters the enemy and looks behind to find himself alone because his army was unable to keep up with him.
In Jesus’ day, devout Jews poured enormous effort into knowing the Word of God, but little into knowing the heart of God. They ended up knowing Scripture so well and understanding it so little that they could “prove” emphatically that the Son of God was guilty of blasphemy and that it was their holy duty to murder their Messiah.
Let’s rise to the challenge of being Spirit-led. God’s will for us last week, might be different to his will for us this week. Often the Lord deliberately takes us by surprise in his leading because he seeks intimacy with us. He wants us to be constantly trusting and seeking him, not to imagine we have God figured out and end up settling for our own presumptions about his will for us, rather than clinging to God himself.
To hate those who hate you is to copy their behavior and exalt them as your role model. Hate your enemies (be they Muslims, Satanists, abortionists, or whatever) and you will become increasingly like those you hate. Love your enemies and you will become like God.
Every part of the Spirit’s fruit (love, joy, peace and so on) is not only from the same source – our intimacy with God. Each is a facet of the one jewel or, looked at another way, a vital organ of the same divinely-conceived baby growing within us.
As wonderful as miracles are, the God of the Bible does not beg us to seek miracles but to seek wisdom. His yearning is not to use us as lab rats to work miracles on and show off his power. On the contrary, he longs to dignify us for all eternity by imparting his wisdom to us.
Without God, nothing is significant. With Him, nothing is insignificant.
Kill time, and eternity bleeds.
Your name is on God’s calendar.
Life’s too short to skimp on prayer.
Success is failure that tried one more time.
Faith in God is not escapism, it’s the power to face problems head-on.
You start from the top to dig a grave. You don’t commence a life-giving ministry that way.
Every problem will break under the weight of stubborn, faith-filled prayer.
If opposition brings you to your knees, remember what Christians do best in that position and victory won’t be far away.
We’re grounded on the Word, or grounded.
Can you be ripe for ministry if you’re green with envy? Can you make a sweet offering to God with bitterness in your heart? Can you enter holy service with unclean habits?
Committed to God, a string of failures are but a rainbow, at the end of which lies golden success.
Too often we speak piously of ‘closed doors’ as if Christ had never uttered those powerful words, ‘Knock and it shall be opened.’
As an eagle is created to soar, and a yacht to sail, you were made for God.
Heaven is a bit old-fashioned. The ‘buy now, pray later’ philosophy has never caught on up there.
The Bible is full of contradictions. Here’s one: God knows everything and He loves you.
As a piano and a pianist together make beautiful music, you and your Lord can unite to create things of exquisite beauty. What you can do together defies imagination. You make an awesome team.
Defeatists say, “Yesterday.” Winners say, “Yes” today.
Winds that kill candles make coals glow brighter. We’re a new creation, nothing like the wimps we used to be. Opposition will merely toughen us.
If oppression brings you to your knees, remember what Christians do best in that position, and victory won’t be far away.
Ministry is the height of intimacy. It is God and you in exquisite harmony bringing heaven to earth. It is your spirit mingled with God’s Spirit flowing out to a needy world. After refreshing the land, bringing life to desert sands, it ascends in clouds of adoration to heaven’s throne.
All service should be an act of worship; the overflowing of a heart brimming with love; a cascade of joyous thanksgiving to your wonderful Savior.
Even when the cause seems beyond human influence, all heartache can be traced not to God’s will, but to rebellion against God’s will.
It is usually the lowly tasks, not the great ones, that best reveal the heart. Like a stone in a slingshot, the lower you sink, the higher you will soar.
God made you a star, not the movie; an essential instrument, not the orchestra. We need each other.
God made you a star, not the movie; an essential instrument, not the orchestra. We need each other.
If people never disappointed me, life would be unbearable. What a miserable freak I’d feel, living on a planet where I’m the only one who makes mistakes!
It is usually the lowly tasks, not the great ones, that best reveal the heart. Like a stone in a slingshot, the lower you sink, the higher you will soar.
In this world, success is often relative – the closer the relative, the higher you go. Don’t decry the system: remember who you call Father.
If we give up judging people,
Creator God, Almighty Ruler of the galaxies, sees in you things he sees in no one else – and it thrills him. And he truly wants you to be you; not some copy of a Christian you admire.
Take nothing for granted. Continually seek divine guidance. Life is too short, too important and too complicated to leave anything to chance.
I recognize the space limitations of church bulletins, etc so the minimum I require is: © See www.Net-burst.Net at the end of a quote. There is no need to specify the exact page it is from. However, if the quote is used in a webpage, www.Net-burst.Net must be made into a link.