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

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      

 

 

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

Self-Centered Anger

Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. – Titus 1:7

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A good deal of human anger springs from selfishness. A man may get angry with his father for not including him in the business; with his wife for not serving the dinner he expected; with his daughter for telephoning in at midnight for a ride home from a party; or with his son for not weeding the garden when he wanted it done.

In the book entitled, Caring Enough to Confront, David Augsburger describes this self-centered anger as “a demand that also demands others meet your demands.” Simply put, self-centered anger erupts when you don’t get what you want, when you want it.

Self-centered anger isn’t what Jesus expressed. He didn’t get angry when someone snubbed Him, but he did when someone cast a slur on His Father or treated others unjustly. He wasn’t ticked at the money-changers for offending Him but for desecrating His Father’s house and disrupting the worship of His people. Jesus never got angry at the wrongs done to Him—including the ultimate wrong—His crucifixion. Instead, He forgave.

We all struggle with self-centered anger. And when we compare ourselves to Jesus, we must learn to call this type of anger what it is: sin. (Remember though, not all anger is sin.) Ask God for forgiveness and ask Him to help you to practice the habit of examining your motives when you become angry so that you can discern self-centeredness from God-centeredness.

– Steve Arterburn

Anger is a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind. – Robert G. Ingersoll

Understanding Anger

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?  You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. – Micah 7:18

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Is it wrong for you to be angry?  In other words, is anger a strictly negative emotion, and always an expression of sin?  Definitely not! Anger is a natural human emotion; a facet of the warning system God has built into our bodies to alert us of problems and prompt us to positive, problem-solving actions.

Furthermore, anger isn’t necessarily an expression of sin.  Jesus, the sinless Son of God, and the perfect man, expressed anger at several points in His ministry.  Jesus’ anger is perhaps most clearly seen when He drove the money-changers out of the Temple as seen in Matthew 21 and Mark 11.

It’s usually not our anger that gets us in trouble.  It’s what we do with our anger—where and how we direct it that we so often regret.  Remember, the Bible doesn’t say, “Don’t get angry.”  But it does say, “Be slow to anger.”

I challenge you, though, to consider what anger in your life is natural and healthy, which is sinful and destructive, and how best to direct your anger.

– Steve Arterburn

Life is 10% what you make it, and 90% how you take it. – Irving Berlin

Making the Most of our Mistakes

Instead, God has chosen the world’s foolish things to shame the wise, and God has chosen the world’s weak things to shame the strong. – 1 Corinthians 1:27

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Everybody makes mistakes, and so will you. In fact, Winston Churchill once observed, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” What was good for Churchill is also good for you, too. You should expect to make mistakes—plenty of them—but you should not allow those missteps to rob you of the enthusiasm you need to fulfill God’s plan for your life.

We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world; mistakes are simply part of the price we pay for being here. But, even though mistakes are an inevitable part of life’s journey, repeated mistakes should not be. When we commit the inevitable blunders of life, we must correct them, learn from them, and pray for the wisdom not to repeat them. When we do, our mistakes become lessons, and our experiences become adventures in character-building.

When our shortcomings are made public, we may feel embarrassed or worse, we may presume (quite incorrectly) “everybody” is concerned with the gravity of our problem. And, as a consequence, we may feel the need to hide from our problems rather than confront them. To do so is wrong. Even when our pride is bruised, we must face up to our mistakes and seek to rise above them.

Have you made a king-sized blunder or two? Of course you have. But here’s the big question: have you used your mistakes as stumbling blocks or stepping stones? The answer to this question will determine how well you perform in the workplace and in every other aspect of your life. So don’t let the fear of past failures hold you back. Instead, do the character-building thing: own up to your mistakes and do your best to fix them. Remember: even if you’ve made a colossal blunder, God isn’t finished with you yet—in fact, He’s probably just getting started.

Fix it sooner rather than later: When you make a mistake, the time to make things better is now, not later! The sooner you address your problem, the better. If not now, when?

– Steve Arterburn

Truth will sooner come out of error than from confusion. – Francis Bacon

Lord, when we are wrong, make us willing to change; and when we are right, make us easy to live with. – Peter Marshall

Look Up and Move On

All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. – Ephesians 4:31-32

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The world holds few if any rewards for those who remain angrily focused upon the past. Still, the act of forgiveness is difficult for all but the most saintly men and women. Are you mired in the quicksand of bitterness or regret? If so, you are not only disobeying God’s Word; you are also wasting your time.

Being frail, fallible, imperfect human beings, most of us are quick to anger, quick to blame, slow to forgive, and even slower to forget. Yet as Christians, we are commanded to forgive others, just as we, too, have been forgiven.

If there exists even one person—alive or dead—against whom you hold bitter feelings, it’s time to forgive. Or, if you are embittered against yourself for some past mistake or shortcoming, it’s finally time to forgive yourself and move on. Hatred, bitterness, and regret are not part of God’s plan for your life. Forgiveness is.

– Steve Arterburn

Acrid bitterness inevitably seeps into the lives of people who harbor grudges and suppress anger, and bitterness is always a poison. – Lee Strobel

Anger breeds remorse in the heart, discord in the home, bitterness in the community, and confusion in the state. – Billy Graham

Bitterness is the trap that snares the hunter. – Max Lucado

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, free me from anger and bitterness. When I am angry, I cannot feel the peace that You intend for my life. When I am bitter, I cannot sense Your presence. Keep me mindful that forgiveness is Your commandment. Let me turn away from bitterness and instead claim the spiritual abundance that You offer through the gift of Your Son. Amen

Marriage

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24

Marriage

How can a stranger tell if two people are married? When eight-year old Derrick was asked this question he stopped to think for a minute. Then he replied most seriously, “You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.”

Kids really have a way of making us laugh, reflect, and, yes. . . sometimes yell, don’t they? But young Derrick hit upon a very important fact: marriage can be tough and that’s true regardless of whether or not you have kids.

Finances, communication, intimacy, and sometimes-even kids can become sources of tension in your relationship with your spouse. Nevertheless, God’s intention for marriage is that it be a source of joy, encouragement, comfort, and grace that gives richness to life.

– Steve Arterburn

Marriage is the state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two. – Ambrose Bierce

Longing for Glory

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Longing for Glory

In 1997, Sports Illustrated published a survey of 198 Olympic athletes. They were asked if they would take a banned performance-enhancing substance if they were guaranteed they wouldn’t be caught and they would win their competition. One hundred and ninety-five athletes said yes; three said no.

They were then asked if they’d take the substance if they were guaranteed they wouldn’t be caught, would win every competition for the next five years, but would then die from the side effects of the substance. More than half the athletes said yes. This is both shocking and very sad.

O.K., sports fans, the Olympics take place every two years. Can you name five gold medalists at the most recent Olympics? (Can you even remember where they were held?)

We all have a longing for recognition and honor. But immortality and glory belong to God.

– Steve Arterburn

I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend. – J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hunt for Pleasure

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. – Philippians 4:12

The Hunt for Pleasure

Society says, ‘Just do it!‘ Friends say, ‘If it feels good, do it.‘ And our flesh says, ‘More, more, more!‘ Our appetite for pleasure fuels our lives.

Is this a bad thing? Actually, you were designed for pleasure but the pleasure that you were designed to seek the pleasure that will truly satisfy is finding pleasure in God.

Far too often, however, we set our sights too low, seeking satisfaction from power, food, status, money, or things. C.S. Lewis wisely reflected that we’re like ignorant children who want to go on making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. ‘We are far too easily pleased,’ he concluded.

Maybe you’re dissatisfied in your hunt for pleasure, or maybe you’re satisfied right where you are and you shouldn’t be. Pause and reflect on the source of your pleasure. Only one source is lasting seek God.

– Steve Arterburn

Pleasure can be supported by an illusion; but happiness rests upon truth. – Sebastien-Roch Nicolas De Chamfort