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

godsgoodness.newlife

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

Perseverance | Staying the Course

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1

Perseverance

If you’re a Christian, God has already transformed your heart. But He also wants you to enter life in him like an athlete enters com­petition. That’s why the Bible, more than once, likens the Christian life to a race. Our faith in Christ motivates us to run it, and His power provides the strength to finish despite the many times we all stumble along the way. This illustration of a race refers to races where the runner would strip off his tunic and robe so he could run without any hindrance. If someone tried to compete in his robes, he would get tangled up and wouldn’t have a chance at winning. God wants you to finish the race of life well.

Set aside the distrac­tions and the sins that entangle you. Pace yourself. Exert yourself. And remember, many have run and finished before you. They’re that “huge crowd of witnesses” Hebrews 12:1 speaks about, and they’re cheering you on!

– Steve Arterburn

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Take Responsibility

Much is required from those to whom much is given. – Luke 12:48b

Take Responsibility

Sometimes taking responsibility for our lives means completing unfinished business. Some of us may have left a trail of broken laws and relationships–things that need addressing before moving on. Others may be burdened by debts that inhibit spiritual pursuits. Before moving forward spiritually, we’ll need to take responsibility for wrongs done in the past.

A new life in Christ doesn’t excuse past obligations or erase the ongoing consequences of past sins. When the apostle Paul was in prison he led a runaway slave named Onesimus to Christ. But then Paul sent him back to his master–even though Onesimus faced a possible death penalty for his offense! Paul sent a letter back with the fugitive saying that if Onesimus had caused any harm or stolen anything that Paul would pay for it. Paul recognized that even though Onesimus was now a Christian, and forgiven of his sins, he needed to address the wrongs he’s committed in the past.

Likewise, before you can move ahead, you must face the unfinished business of your past. This may include facing up to some cowardly behavior, crooked schemes, or quick-fix solutions to difficult problems that just didn’t work. While you can be certain that God will meet you where you are, He calls you to take responsibility for whatever sins may have brought you to whatever circumstances you’re presently in. Once you accept ownership of your past, God will help you move ahead. But He’ll do it His way, not yours.

– Steve Arterburn

Nobody ever did, or ever will escape the consequences of his choices. – Alfred A. Montapert

Save

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Staying The Course

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1

Staying The Course

If you’re a Christian, God has already transformed your heart. But He also wants you to enter life in him like an athlete enters competition. That’s why the Bible, more than once, likens the Christian life to a race. Our faith in Christ motivates us to run it, and His power provides the strength to finish–despite the many times we all stumble along the way.

This illustration of a race refers to races where the runner would strip off his tunic and robe so he could run without any hindrance. If someone tried to compete in his robes, he would get tangled up and wouldn’t have a chance at winning.

God wants you to finish the race of life well. Set aside the distractions and the sins that entangle you. Pace yourself. Exert yourself. And remember, many have run and finished before you. They’re that “huge crowd of witnesses” Hebrews 12:1 speaks about, and they’re cheering you on!

– Steve Arterburn

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Bearing Each Other’s Burdens

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

Bearing Each Other's Burdens

We are called to walk alongside others on the journey of discipleship. We serve our brothers and sisters by helping them stay on or return to the path of faithfulness. And we also serve them by making sure we continue in faithfulness. Self-neglect and irresponsibility impose an unfair burden on your brother and sister in Christ, because they’re responsible to help you.

The body of Christ is not a place of self-sufficiency. It’s time we quit believing those lies we’ve been listening to for so long. The Christian faith is not each person looking out for him or herself. Nor is it the survival of the fittest. The body of Christ is a place of interdependency. When you share the troubles and problems of others, you’re fulfilling the law of love. Our burdens bring us together! As you call on others to help you bear your burdens, you will find your love and appreciation growing. Your weaknesses call forth other’s strengths. And when others call on you, you have the opportunity to be an agent of God’s mercy and grace, looking for nothing in return.

Do you know someone who is under a heavy burden at this time? What practical way can you come alongside that person and help him or her bear it? Prayerfully consider what God may be calling you to do, then step forward and do it.

– Steve Arterburn

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. – Charles Dickens

Struggles

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. Romans 8:17

Struggles

Both outright or subtly many people who follow Jesus and walk with God think they shouldn’t struggle. We think God will give us lives of ease and comfort once we decide to follow Christ. The idea is: If we’re good Christians, we’ll have it all together. If we have enough faith, our conflicts and problems would resolve them­selves. When you come to Christ, your problems disappear. In fact, many churches will communicate that very message week in and week out. As a result, those who attend those churches hide their struggles, because they mistakenly equate struggles with a lack of faith.

But the Christian walk wasn’t meant to be a stroll through the park. Following Jesus won’t remove struggles from your life; in fact it often adds to the struggle. Some of the most committed Christians have lived some of the most difficult lives. The Bible goes so far as to tell us to expect trials and difficulties, and to be joyful when we face them. With Christ, you can do that. On your own, you’re destined to fail.

– Steve Arterburn

If we desire our faith to be strengthened, we should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried, and therefore, through trial, be strengthened.George Mueller

Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever. – Brennan Manning

Honestly Admitting Our Needs

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him. – Matthew 7:9-11

smartenoughtoask.newlife

Are you reluctant to ask for help? You’re definitely not alone. Too many of us are unwilling to admit we need help. We think it’s a sign of weakness. But it’s really a sign of pride and self-sufficiency, both which go against the grain of a healthy dependence upon God and the power of His Holy Spirit in our lives.

God wants to give you good things. He’s hoping you’ll humbly admit that you have needs. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help.  Remember, God made us to relate to one another, to love one another. We weren’t made to live life alone. If you’re “the strong” one that is always lending a hand and seeing to it that others are taken care of, it’s hard for you to let someone know you need help, but it’s important that you do. We need more two way streets in our Christian community.

There’s an old saying that goes something like this, be smart enough to know when you need help and brave enough to ask for it.

– Steve Arterburn

Refusing to ask for help when you need it is refusing someone the chance to be helpful. – Ric Ocasek

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Nothing To Prove

I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?” Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. – Job 42:2, 3, 5

Nothing To Prove

Here’s a paradox for you. Those of you with a healthy sense of self are in the best position to exercise true humility. Why? Because the person with a healthy sense of self has nothing to prove. No agenda to push. No ego to shield. And no need to fret over what others think of you. When
you encounter a problem that exceeds your knowledge, you admit without pretense that you don’t know the answer.

Sometimes we Christians can really fool ourselves. We think that since God is all knowledgeable and wise, and since we have His Holy Spirit within us, we should be able to dispense pearls of wisdom like spiritual gumballs. The truth is, the more we come to know God, the more we realize what we don’t know. And that’s O.K.!

The more we experience God’s grandeur and the more we understand our dignity as his sons and daughters, the lower we’ll bow before His throne—with nothing to prove and everything to gain.

– Steve Arterburn

My dad used to say, You wouldn’t worry so much about what people thought of you if you knew how seldom they did.” – Phillip McGraw

Prayer and Meditation

Although it’s too seldom taught or practiced, our communing with God consists of two equally important parts: prayer and meditation. Prayer is our talking to God. Most of us have this aspect down. Meditation is our listening to God. And here most of us need a bit of work.

Prayer and Meditation

Have you ever been in a relationship where the other person does all the talking? There’s an up side to this: you become a good listener, and the other person feels great comfort and ease sharing personal issues with you. But there’s a down side too: as you’re called upon to always listen and never talk, you can begin feeling unknown, perhaps a little unloved, and sometimes, even used.

Now, think about how this scenario might apply to your relationship with God. Are you doing all the talking, without ever taking the time to listen? If you’re sharing with Him from the depths of your heart, and seeking guidance and wisdom, that’s fantastic! By all means, keep it up. Just make sure, that as you do this, you’re also taking the time and training the ears of your heart to listen to God as well.

Remember, God tends to speak with a still, small voice; He very rarely shouts at His children. That’s why meditation is such an important aspect of prayer. It teaches you to develop a quiet, patient heart and an open attentive ear. These are essential components of the mature Christian.

– Steve Arterburn