The Art of Acceptance

Come to terms with God and be at peace;  in this way good will come to you. – Job 22:21

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Sometimes, we must accept life on its terms, not our own. Life has a way of unfolding, not as we will, but as it will. And sometimes, there is precious little we can do to change things.

When events transpire that are beyond our control, we have a choice: we can either learn the art of acceptance, or we can make ourselves miserable as we struggle to change the unchangeable.

We must entrust the things we cannot change to God. Once we have done so, we can prayerfully and faithfully tackle the important work that He has placed before us: doing something about the things we can change . . . and doing it sooner rather than later.

Can you summon the courage and the wisdom to accept life on its own terms? If so, you’ll most certainly be rewarded for your good judgment.

– Steve Arterburn

Surrender to the Lord is not a tremendous sacrifice, not an agonizing performance. It is the most sensible thing you can do. – Corrie Ten Boom

He does not need to transplant us into a different field. He transforms the very things that were before our greatest hindrances, into the chief and most blessed means of our growth. No difficulties in your case can baffle Him. Put yourself absolutely into His hands, and let Him have His own way with you. – Elisabeth Elliot

Ultimately things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out. – Barbara Johnson

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, the events of this world unfold according to a plan that I cannot fully understand. But You understand. Help me to trust You, Lord, even when I am grieving. Help me to trust You even when I am confused. Today, in whatever circumstances I find myself, let me trust Your will and accept Your love . . . completely. Amen

Lunch With A Friend

Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. – Hebrews 13:18

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Only the good news of Jesus Christ encourages us to honestly think about who we really are and to address our shortcomings in a way that won’t cause us to wrongly rely upon our own efforts.

Let me explain with this example: A while back I had lunch with a non-Christian friend. As we ate, we began discussing spiritual things. I made reference to the prodigal son, and no sign of recognition crossed his face. He’d never heard the story; he knew nothing about the Bible.

As the conversation progressed, he got around to stating his theology: namely, good people make it to heaven. He considered himself a kind, loving, and good person. And without a doubt, he’s one of the nicest people I know. But as we talked longer, he discussed his internet relationships with women ready to leave their husbands to live with him. His “goodness,” as he called it, gave these women new hope about men.

I felt compelled to challenge his thinking. “What would these ladies’ husbands think of your so-called goodness?” I asked. “Has this ‘goodness‘ ever prompted you to call one of these men and ask if he minded that you were having an internet relationship with his wife?” As it turned out, his “goodness” wasn’t as good as he thought it was.

Rely upon God’s goodness. As good as you think you might be, that goodness is nothing next to His.
– Steve Arterburn

Reason often makes mistakes, but conscience never does.
– Josh Billings

Be Optimistic

My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. – Psalm 23:5-6

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Are you an optimistic, hopeful, enthusiastic Christian? You should be. After all, as a believer, you have every reason to be optimistic about life here on earth and life eternal. As C. H. Spurgeon observed, “Our hope in Christ for the future is the mainstream of our joy.”  But sometimes, you may find yourself pulled down by the inevitable demands and worries of life here on earth. If you find yourself discouraged, stressed, or both, then it’s time to take your concerns to God. When you do, He will lift your spirits and renew your strength.

Today, make this promise to yourself and keep it: vow to be a hope-filled Christian. Think optimistically about your life, your profession, your family, and your future. Trust your hopes, not your fears. Take time to celebrate God’s glorious creation. And then, when you’ve filled your heart with hope and gladness, share your optimism with others. They’ll be better for it, and so will you.

– Steve Arterburn

Go forward confidently, energetically attacking problems, expecting favorable outcomes. – Norman Vincent Peale

The people whom I have seen succeed best in life have always been cheerful and hopeful people who went about their business with a smile on their faces. – Charles Kingsley

No Christian can be a pessimist, for Christianity is a system of radical optimism. – William Ralph Inge

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, I will look for the best in other people, I will expect the best from You, and I will try my best to do my best—today and every day. Amen

Grief Not Allowed

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. – John 16:20

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In our culture, it seems more acceptable for us to be angry than sad. Consequently, many of us stumble through life without understanding our feelings, completely out of touch with our emotions. We may be deeply grieved by a number of circumstances, but we don’t feel safe acknowledging our sadness. It’s socially “okay” for them to vent their anger, but not to explore and discuss the deep hurt beneath it.

When you feel sad, anger seems like a safe retreat. It causes your adrenaline to rush. It commands attention and demands respect. It allows you to stay in control, and it keeps uncomfortable feelings and situations at a safe distance. However your failure to grieve can actually poison you.

The Bible offers no precedent for us to suppress our grief. The Old Testament depicts many people showing real grief. The men of Israel would rip their clothes, sprinkle themselves with ashes, wear black armbands, and spend time in mourning. They would wail before the Lord without feeling shame.

That experience allowed them to express their emotions and then move on without the baggage of repressed feelings. When we don’t grieve, we stuff our disappointments and sadness, and compensate for them with other less-threatening emotions, and at the top of the list is anger. But Scripture gives you liberty to grieve, so when you need to, openly grieve!

– Steve Arterburn

To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness. – Erich Fromm

Family

Choose for yourselves today the one you will worship . . . . As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord. – Joshua 24:15

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A loving family is a treasure from God. If God has blessed you with a close knit, supportive clan, offer a word of thanks to your Creator because He has given you one of His most precious earthly possessions. Your obligation, in response to God’s gift, is to treat your family in ways that are consistent with His commandments.

We live in a fast-paced, demanding world, a place where life can be difficult and pressures can be intense. As those pressures build, you may tend to focus so intently upon your obligations that you lose sight, albeit temporarily, of your spiritual and emotional needs (that’s one reason why a regular daily devotional time is so important; it offers a badly-needed dose of perspective).

Even when the demands of everyday life are great, we must never forget that we have been entrusted with a profound responsibility: the responsibility of contributing to our family’s emotional and spiritual well-being. It’s a big job, but with God’s help, we can be up to the task.

When we place God squarely in the center of our family’s life-when we worship Him, praise Him, trust Him, and love Him-then He will most certainly bless us in ways that we could have scarcely imagined.

So the next time your family life becomes a little stressful, remember this: That little band of men, women, kids, and babies is a priceless treasure on temporary loan from the Father above. And it’s your responsibility to praise God for that gift-and to act accordingly. Today, think about the importance of saying “yes” to your family even if it means saying “no” to other obligations.

– Steve Arterburn

When you think about it for a moment, it certainly makes sense that if people can establish a loving and compatible relationship at home, they have a better chance of establishing winning relationships with those with whom they work on a regular basis. – Zig Ziglar

You cannot honor your family without nurturing your own sense of personal value and honor. – Stephen Covey

Living life with a consistent spiritual walk deeply influences those we love most. – Vonette Bright      

 

 

Obedience Builds Character

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord!” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. – Matthew 7:21

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Obedience to God is determined, not by words, but by deeds. Talking about character-building is easy; living righteously is far more difficult, especially in today’s temptation-filled world.

Since God created Adam and Eve, we human beings have been rebelling against our Creator. Why? Because we are unwilling to trust God’s Word, and we are unwilling to follow His instructions. God has given us a guidebook for righteous living called the Holy Bible. It contains thorough guidelines which, if followed, lead to fulfillment, abundance, and salvation. But, if we choose to ignore God’s commandments, the results are as predictable as they are unfortunate.

Do you seek God’s peace and His blessings? Then obey Him. When you’re faced with a difficult choice or a powerful temptation, seek God’s counsel and trust the counsel He gives. Invite God into your heart and live according to His commandments. When you do, you will be blessed today, tomorrow, and forever. Obedience leads to spiritual growth. Oswald Chambers correctly observed, “We grow spiritually as our Lord grew physically: by a life of simple, unobtrusive obedience.” When you take these words to heart, you will embark upon a lifetime of spiritual growth . . . and God will smile.

– Steve Arterburn

Believe and do what God says. The life-changing consequences will be limitless, and the results will be confidence and peace of mind. – Franklin Graham 

All true knowledge of God is born out of obedience. – John Calvin 

Obedience that is not motivated by love cannot produce the spiritual fruit that God wants from His children. – Warren Wiersbe 

It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. – Deuteronomy 13:4

Contagious Faith

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. – Colossians 3:23

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The stronger your faith, the better you can rise above the inevitable stresses of turbulent times. And the more enthused you are about your faith, the better you can share it.

Are you genuinely excited about your faith? And do you make your enthusiasm known to those around you? Or are you a “silent ambassador” for Christ? God’s preference is clear: He intends that you stand before others and proclaim your faith.

Genuine, heartfelt Christianity is contagious. If you enjoy a life-altering relationship with God, that relationship will have an impact on others—perhaps a profound impact.

Does Christ reign over your life? Then share your testimony and your excitement. The world needs both.

– Steve Arterburn

Don’t take hold of a thing unless you want that thing to take hold of you. – E. Stanley Jones

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about. – Charles Kingsley

When we wholeheartedly commit ourselves to God, there is nothing mediocre or run-of-the-mill about us. To live for Christ is to be passionate about our Lord and about our lives. – Jim Gallery

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, let me be an enthusiastic participant in life. And let my enthusiasm bring honor and glory to You. Amen

Making Peace With The Past

Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:18-19

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The American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr composed a profoundly simple verse that came to be known as the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Niebuhr’s words are far easier to recite than they are to live by. Why? Because most of us want life to unfold in accordance with our own wishes and timetables. But sometimes God has other plans.

One of the things that fits nicely into the category of “things we cannot change” is the past. Yet even though we know that the past is unchangeable, many of us continue to invest energy worrying about the unfairness of yesterday (when we should, instead, be focusing on the opportunities of today and the promises of tomorrow). Author, Hannah Whitall Smith observed, “How changed our lives would be if we could only fly through the days on wings of surrender and trust!” These words remind us that even when we cannot understand the past, we must trust God and accept His will.

So, if you’ve endured a difficult past, accept it and learn from it, but don’t spend too much time here in the precious present fretting over memories of the unchangeable past. Instead, trust God’s plan and look to the future. After all, the future is where everything that’s going to happen to you from this moment on is going to take place.

The past is past, so don’t live there. If you’re focused on the past, change your focus. If you’re living in the past, it’s time to stop living there, starting now.

– Steve Arterburn

Shake the dust from your past, and move forward in His promises. – Kay Arthur

Whoever you are, whatever your condition or circumstance, whatever your past or problem, Jesus can restore you to wholeness. – Anne Graham Lotz

Discipleship Builds Character

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8

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When Jesus addressed His disciples, He warned that each one must “take up his cross and follow me.” The disciples must have known exactly what the Master meant. In Jesus’ day, prisoners were forced to carry their own crosses to the location where they would be put to death. Thus, Christ’s message was clear: in order to follow Him, Christ’s disciples must deny themselves and, instead, trust Him completely. Nothing has changed since then.

If we are to be disciples of Christ, we must trust Him and place Him at the very center of our beings. Jesus never comes “next.” He is always first. The paradox, of course, is that only by sacrificing ourselves to Him do we gain salvation for ourselves.

The 19th-century writer Hannah Whitall Smith observed, “The crucial question for each of us is this: What do you think of Jesus, and do you yet have a personal acquaintance with Him?” Indeed, the answer to that question will determine the quality, the course, and the direction of your life today and for all eternity.

Jesus has called upon believers of every generation (and that includes you) to walk with Him. Jesus promises that when you follow in His footsteps, He will teach you how to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30). And when Jesus makes a promise, you can depend upon it.

Today, think of at least one single step that you can take to become a better disciple for Christ. Then, take that step.

– Steve Arterburn

As we seek to become disciples of Jesus Christ, we should never forget that the word disciple is directly related to the word discipline. To be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is to know his discipline. – Dennis Swanberg   

There is not Christianity without a cross, for you cannot be a disciple of Jesus without taking up your cross.Henry Blackaby  

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children. – Ephesians 5:1

Are You Fitting In?

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you. – John 15:19

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“Don’t love the world’s ways.  Don’t love the world’s goods,” wrote the apostle John.  When he wrote of “the world,” he meant everything in life that ran counter to staying connected to Jesus; everything that contradicts what the Bible teaches and undermines a life of faith and discipleship.  Indeed, the world has a different take on how we should live.  Many today believe that all ideas are valid; that no one is wrong, because no absolute truth exists.

We are encouraged to believe whatever we want in the name of tolerance and diversity, no one’s viewpoint can be dismissed.  But Jesus presents Himself to us as the Truth, meaning all so-called truths must be measured against Him if they are to truly be considered truths.

Jesus Christ’s message to his disciples is His message to you: Fitting in with the world isn’t the mark of a follower of Christ.

– Steve Arterburn

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe