Reality Can Hurt

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. – 1 John 1:7-8

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Discomfort, pain, conflict, spiritual warfare-these are aspects of reality in a fallen world. Healthy faith recognizes them as biblical realities. Healthy faith has you look to Christ for help when you’re in the midst of them.

Having a healthy faith certainly doesn’t mean you’ll always like reality, or that you should become complacent or indifferent to the darker side of life. But it does mean you’ll recognize the way things are. You’ll be able to admit you’ve failed, that you’re a sinner, and you’re stumbling along the way. But you can choose to walk in the light, and enjoy the companionship of family, friends and Jesus Christ himself.

– Steve Arterburn

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, help me face my realities with faith and hope with the understanding that while today might not be all I hoped it would be, tomorrow and all my tomorrows are in Your hands. Thank you, Lord for your faithfulness! Amen.

Letting Go of Hatred

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. . . If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this com­mand: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. – 1 John 4:18-21

Letting Go of Hatred

It’s easy to say you love God. But it’s not always so easy to love other people, is it? And what is it that God wants from us? He wants us to love Him and love others. And, God has so intertwined your love for Him with love for others that when you really start loving others with His love, you’ll give up your hatred and prejudice.

If you truly love God and you truly love others, you’ll find that you don’t have the option of hating our brothers and sisters. In fact, He doesn’t even give you the option of hating your enemies. Jesus said, “But if you are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you” (Luke 6:27-28).

The bottom line is this: surrendering to God means surrendering your hatred as well. Loving people you like is easy. But God calls us to exhibit His love—which was a love that drove Jesus to the cross. That means loving people you don’t necessarily like. That means loving your enemy. You can’t do it on your own. You need to draw from God’s endless supply of His love. Draw from his well, and drink.

– Steve Arterburn

There is only one way of not hating those who do us wrong, and that is by doing them good. – Henri Amiel

I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him. – Booker T. Washington

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Tying the Tongue

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. – James 3:9

Tying the Tongue

Stop and think a minute about the damage caused by careless words, gossip, lies, sarcasm, hurtful comments, and bitter arguments. In the book of James, he gives us some strong instruction about the power of the tongue . . .such a small part of your body, but so powerful . . . for good and bad.

While we all learned the old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me,” it’s not really true, is it? The truth is: Broken bones heal much quicker and easier than wounds caused by hurtful words.

Paul said, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

In light of the immense power of words, both for good and for ill, you ought to guard your tongue carefully. From the silence of not answering back when baited into an argument, to not spreading gossip, to forgoing that sarcastic remark that would’ve gotten a laugh at someone else’s expense. This discipline is a powerful way to use (or not use) your tongue to bless and encourage others.

Steve Arterburn

Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means. – Ronald Reagan

Walking Our Talk

So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. – Galatians 6:9

Walking Our Talk
If you’re like most people, you seek the admiration of your neighbors, your coworkers, and your family members. But the eagerness to please others should never overshadow your eagerness to please God. And your desire to impress others should never cause you to compromise your beliefs or to defy your conscience. In short, you must be a “doer of the word” by putting God first. In other words, are you walking your talk of love, grace, peace, mercy and joy?

The words of Matthew 6:33 offer clear instructions for managing your day and your life: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (HCSB).

Each new day presents countless opportunities to put God in first place . . . or not. When you honor Him by living according to His commandments, you earn the abundance and peace that He promises. But, if you ignore God’s teachings, you’ll pay a price, perhaps a very great price indeed.

Would you like a time-tested formula for successful living? Here it is: Don’t just listen to God’s Word, live by it. Does this sound too simple? Perhaps it is simple, but it is also the only way to reap the marvelous riches that God has in store for you.

Ask yourself if your behavior has been radically changed by your unfolding relationship with God. If the answer to this question is unclear to you—or if the honest answer is a resounding no—think of a single step you can take, a positive change in your life, that will bring you closer to your Creator.

– Steve Arterburn

Although God causes all things to work together for good for His children, He still holds us accountable for our behavior. – Kay Arthur   

Either God’s Word keeps you from sin, or sin keeps you from God’s Word. – Corrie ten Boom

There may be no trumpet sound or loud applause when we make a right decision, just a calm sense of resolution and peace. – Gloria Gaither

The temptation of the age is to look good without being good. – Brennan Manning

If we have the true love of God in our hearts, we will show it in our lives. We will not have to go up and down the earth proclaiming it. We will show it in everything we say or do. – D. L. Moody

The Right Places, the Right Friends

He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed. – Proverbs 13:20

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Peer pressure can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending upon your peers. If your peers encourage you to make integrity a habit—and if they encourage you to follow God’s will and to obey His commandments—then you’ll experience positive peer pressure, and that’s good. But, if you are involved with people who encourage you to do foolish things, you’re facing a different kind of peer pressure . . . and you’d better beware. When you feel pressured to do things, or to say things, that lead you away from God, you’re aiming straight for trouble.

Are you satisfied to follow that crowd? If so, you may pay a heavy price unless you’ve picked the right crowd. And while you’re deciding whom to follow, be sure you’re determined to follow the One from Galilee, too. Jesus will guide your steps and bless your undertakings if you let Him. Your challenge, of course, is to let Him.

To sum it up, here’s your choice: you can choose to please God first (and by doing so, strengthen your character), or you can fall prey to peer pressure. The choice is yours—and so are the consequences. When you’re torn between trusting your peers and trusting your conscience, trust your conscience.

– Steve Arterburn

There is nothing that makes more cowards and feeble men than public opinion. – Henry Ward Beecher

Tell me what company you keep, and I’ll tell you what you are. – Miguel de Cervantes

Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it. – Rick Warren

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

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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

 

It’s Not About You!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – Hebrews 10:24

It's Not About You

The first sentence of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life is this: “It’s not about you!” Do you believe that? Does your life reflect that? It’s a struggle for me, and I bet it’s a struggle for you.

Consider these situations: You’re in the checkout line and the older gentleman in front of you wants to write a check, but can’t find his checkbook. He locates his checkbook, but now he has no pen. Finally pen in hand, he inquires about the date. The clerk noticing his out-of-state check calls for approval. This short “in-and-out” errand adds additional minutes to your packed schedule. It was probably the most inconvenient experience you’ve gone through. There ought to be a law! Or in the words of my mother, “It’s always something!

Or what about your restaurant experience with the hamburger and no ketchup because the waitress forgot. She is off talking, ignoring your request, and crying about something. The serving station has ketchup but it is her job. So you sit, tap your fingers on the table, and shoot darts at the lady crying at the back of the restaurant.

Did you think to say a kind word to the gentleman to help settle his nerves, or tell the waitress that you hope things get better. You might even leave a bigger tip or offer to pray for her. It’s not about you! Look outside yourself. It’s what we’re called to do. Try it. See if God doesn’t affirm you for it.

– Steve Arterburn

Only God can give us a selfless love for others, as the Holy Spirit changes us from within. This is one reason we must receive Christ, for apart from His Spirit we can never be freed from the chains of selfishness, jealousy, and indifference. Will others see Christ’s love in your life today? – Billy Graham

It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so ‘don’t fuss, dear; get on with it. – Audrey Hepburn

Confession

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. – 1 Timothy 6:12

Confession

In the Bible, the word ‘confess‘ means ‘to speak the same thing.’ So when it tells us to confess, it means we’re to say the same thing God says, to agree with Him, about the attitudes and actions of our lives.

As you can see, then, confession has two aspects: speaking the truth about ourselves and the truth about God.

For example, if we’re confessing greed, we can also confess God’s promise to supply our needs. The Bible says the same God who takes care of you will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to you in Christ Jesus.

– Steve Arterburn

We own up to minor failings, but only so as to convince others that we have no major ones.” – La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680)

Doing Wrong for the Right Reason

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. – Proverbs 16:25

Doing Wrong for the Right Reason

Have you ever done something for all the right reasons and yet the outcome was a total disaster?

Not long ago, a forest fire consumed nearly 1,000 acres in the local mountains. The fire raged on for days, as fire fighters battled to save the homes in its path. Investigators were able to trace the start of the fire back to a camper who had been staying in the area. Apparently he had decided to burn his trash as a way of protecting the environment.

In our human frailty, we quite often do the wrong thing for all the right reasons. The only way to be certain that you avoid the pitfalls is to let the Lord map your course.

I challenge you today, to make a habit of seeking the Lord’s guidance in every decision that you make. Allow Him to direct the steps you take in your life. It will prevent you from making costly mistakes. When you begin seeking God’s instruction through prayer instinctively, moment by moment, day by day . . . You will find yourself in the right road and going the right direction.

Life is pretty much like a cafeteria line. It offers us many choices, both good and bad. The Christian must have a spiritual radar that detects the difference not only between bad and good but also among good, better, and best. – Dennis Swanberg

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.Theodore Roosevelt

Will You Have a Ride?

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36

Will You Have a Ride

Have you ever desired something so much that you didn’t realize what you would be giving up in order to gain this prize?

In Des Moines, Iowa, a group of young men were arrested for trespassing and attempted burglary. The foursome had driven to a car lot late at night and removed a set of tires from a vehicle there. Unbeknownst to them, the owner of the lot had seen them on a closed circuit camera. So, while they were busy trying to steal his tires . . . he picked up their vehicle with his forklift and hid it inside a building. When they had finished their dirty work and were ready to leave; they had no transportation.

In much the same way, many people spend their lives striving to get all of the things that should make them happy, but they never develop a personal relationship with God. And it’s that relationship which will provide the transportation when the time comes to leave this life.

I challenge you to evaluate your personal relationship with God. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior? Someday, you will have to leave this earth. When that day comes, will you have a ride?

Radical obedience to Christ is not easy… It’s not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us. – David Platt

I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive. – Joseph Campbell