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      

 

 

Roots and Wings

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. – Colossians 3:16

Roots and Wings

We all need two basic things in life. The first is stability to be grounded and secure individuals. Only then can you be relationally healthy. The second is the vision and encouragement to discern and develop your unique gifts and aptitudes. Then you can recognize, pursue, and fulfill your calling. In simple terms, you need roots, and you need wings.

Today I want to focus on the latter—the wings. We all want to be discerning so that we can develop God’s design for our lives. But be prepared . . . it takes time and energy. It takes time to connect with God; to read and study His word, to pray, to talk to God and to listen to God, and connect with other people.

As you connect with God and connect with others, you will see God’s will for your life. It’s when you actively pursue life and pursue God . . . that you’ll see God’s will revealed. Don’t wait for it, move ahead and see it happen.

Steve Arterburn

No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in a sunny valley. – Seneca the Younger

Save

Save

Gifts And Gratitude

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. – 1 Peter 4:10

Gifts And Gratitude

There’s a real danger in thinking your spiritual gifts are blessings God has given you for your own benefit. The problem with this selfish viewpoint is that you see your use of these as an option or luxury that you neglect or use according to your will alone. That’s a far cry from a biblical understanding, which sees your spiritual gifts as expressions of gratitude God wills for you to use in service to others.

The Bible teaches that God gives us spiritual gifts so we can give to others. We use our gifts to continue Christ’s work on earth. The apostle Paul wrote: A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. His point: your gifts aren’t your possessions. Yes, they’ve been entrusted to you, but actually, they belong to the community of believers. The truth we need to think about is that God has woven a unique design into each of our hearts. And our spiritual gifts are part of that fabric.

So, what are your spiritual gifts? Not sure? Read the Bible’s teaching on spiritual gifts in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. Then ask yourself where you’ve felt the greatest satisfaction serving the Lord. Carefully thinking through that question will go a very long way in clarifying this issue; because when you do what you love in order to show God’s love, you’ll find spiritual fulfillment and renewal.

– Steve Arterburn

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, I used everything you gave me. – Erma Bombeck

Self-Talk

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.1 Peter 2:1-2

Self-Talk

Go ahead and admit it, you talk to yourself. It’s not something to be embarrassed about—self- talk can be used to your benefit in order to greatly improve your success in controlling your desires.

One way to use it is to constructively direct the anger you feel when you’re tempted by an unhealthy or inappropriate desire. Instead of getting angry with yourself, get angry at the offense, and at the stumbling block it poses.  This will help you resist it.

Another way self-talk can be used is to confront yourself and your appetites in order to bring rationality back into play when temptation threatens to confuse and disorient you.  When you actively engage your mind by talking to yourself, you’ll be less likely to act without thinking, and you’ll reinforce what you believe to be true, right, and good.

Make no mistake about it.  Self talk can be a very spiritually wise thing to do.  Listen to what the master theologian, J. I. Packer says on this topic in his book, A Quest For Godliness: “Richard Baxter convinced me long ago that regular discursive meditation, in which as he quaintly put it you ‘imitate the most powerful preacher you ever heard’ in applying spiritual truth to yourself, as well as turning that truth into praise, is a vital discipline for spiritual health.  This unanimous Puritan view is now mine too.

– Steve Arterburn

If you hear a voice within you saying you are a painter, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. – Vincent Van Gogh

Your self-talk is the channel of behavior changeGino Norris

Spiritual Disciplines

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men. – Ephesians 6:7

Spiritual Disciplines

The word “discipline” tends to put people on the defensive because it’s often mistakenly associated with the idea of punishment.  That’s unfortunate, and very inaccurate.  The Latin root of the word discipline means student.  That’s why Webster’s Dictionary defines discipline as “training or experience that corrects, molds, strengthens, or perfects, especially the mental faculties or moral character.”  And that’s why Jesus calls those who follow Him in faith His disciples.

Through the centuries, Christians have stimulated their life in Christ by practicing what are called “spiritual disciplines.”  But as our culture has increasingly lost the ability to be informed by its past, and as society grows ever more permissive and lax, the “spiritual disciplines” have been forsaken and almost forgotten.

I’m talking about daily Bible reading—alone in a time of devotion, and together with your family.  Concentrated, intentional, and regular time of prayer, alone and with fellow believers.  Taking time to care for the sick, the widows and the orphans.  Serving our neighbors in need as a response to Christ’s love for us.

Consider adding one Spiritual discipline to your life this week.

– Steve Arterburn

The best servant does his work unseen. – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Rest For The Weary Soul

My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. – Psalm 38:4

Rest For The Weary Soul

There are plenty of roads in life that promise joy, health, peace, or transformation. Most of them, however, don’t lead in that direction. You can literally exhaust yourself seeking spiritual refreshment. And that doesn’t make any sense.

We work hard at building a good life, but instead of joy on the journey, we often feel weighed down by life. Have you grown weary going down one wrong road after another?

Proverbs tells us, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (Proverbs 14:12) The fact that a way looks right at first glance doesn’t mean it’s leading toward spiritual renewal . . . it could be leading to a dead end. If you’re someone who has taken many paths but still finds yourself weary, turn to Jesus. He said these words for you: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Any spiritual path that doesn’t lead to Jesus Christ won’t lead to true spiritual renewal . . . no matter how right it seems at first.  In fact, Jesus Christ Himself is our way. Remember, the burden He calls you to bear on your journey is light, and the yoke of His expectation fits you perfectly. When you do this, He promises rest for your soul.

– Steve Arterburn

Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. – George Müller

We have a choice. We can carry the world on our shoulders, or we can say, “I give up, Lord; here’s my life. I give you my world, the whole world.” – Bruce Larson

If we believe that God is always at hand, always ready to hear, surely we should take delight in telling Him all our little cares, and woes, and hopes, as they flit by. – H.L. Sidney Lear

The Psalms

But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. – Psalm 3:3-4

The Psalms

It’s impossible to adequately summarize the richness and breadth contained in the book of Psalms.  It was Israel’s hymnbook, containing songs of praise to God.  It also contains the cries of God’s people in difficult situations.  And it was a prayer book for Israel.  The psalmists looked to God in moments of private despair, in times of national suffering, and in the joyous moments of mountain-top experiences.

The Psalms are for us right now, today.  They are brimming with honest emotion.  Through them you can learn to pour out your anguish and your adoration, your suffering and confession, your hopes and your fears.  Through them you feel safe asking God why he has or hasn’t acted in a certain way.  Through others you might express your pain, heartache, and discouragement.  Through still others you may praise God as he frees you from oppression and sin.  Each psalm is an expression of the heart.  None of them are neat little packages of answers tied up with pretty bows.  They are living words, a collection of spiritual diaries from people who honestly sought God’s help and His heart.

Do you need spiritual direction or encouragement?  The Psalms can function as deterrents to keep you out of trouble, guides to help you through problems, reminders of the one who actually delivers you, or as beacons of hope to encourage you in perplexing or painful situations.  Read the Psalms and be ushered into the very presence of your loving and merciful God. You’ll be glad you did!

– Steve Arterburn

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.Psalm 1:1-2

Wise Counsel

But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the Lord” – 1 Kings 22:5

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If you desire spiritual growth, then you’ll need wise counselors in your life. Even Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, recognized the need for wise and godly counsel. Turning to trustworthy counselors in times of confusion or uncertainty can help you preserve your spiritual strength.

In the book of Proverbs, Solomon gave this advice, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many counselors, bring success.” (15:22)  He also said, “. . . with many counselors there is safety.”(Proverbs 11:14)

Where else can you look for wise counsel? Solomon’s father David looked to God’s Word, saying, “Your decrees please me; they give me wise advice.” (Psalm 119:24) And the prophet Isaiah made it clear that the Messiah himself would be our great counselor when he came. He said, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Jesus is the one who grants wisdom, hope, and purpose to life, even and especially in times of confusion or trouble. Good counsel comes from God’s word and from godly people. It can come from professionally trained pastors, counselors, or from people who understand your specific issues and care for you. Whatever the case, don’t isolate. You’ll do yourself a great service if you seek wise counsel.

– Steve Arterburn

Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom. – Walter Benjamin

The fellowship of true friends who can hear you out, share your joys, help carry your burdens, and correctly counsel you is priceless. – Ezra Taft Benson

A Psalm

But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.  Psalm 3:3-4

A Psalm

It’s impossible to adequately summarize the richness and breadth contained in the book of Psalms. It was Israel’s hymnbook, containing songs of praise to God. It also contains the cries of God’s people in difficult situations. And it was a prayer book for Israel.  The psalmists looked to God in moments of private despair, in times of national suffering, and in joyous mountain-top moments.

The Psalms are for us right now, today. They are brimming with honest emotion. Through them you can learn to pour out your anguish and your adoration, your suffering and confession, your hopes and your fears. Through them you feel safe asking God why he has or hasn’t acted in a certain way. Through others you might express your pain, heartache, and discouragement. Through still others you may praise God as he frees you from oppression and sin. Each psalm is an expression of the heart. None of them are neat little packages of answers tied up with pretty bows. They are living words, a collection of spiritual diaries from people who honestly sought God’s help and His heart.

Do you need spiritual direction or encouragement? The Psalms can function as deterrents to keep you out of trouble, guides to help you through problems, reminders of the one who actually delivers you, or as beacons of hope to encourage you in perplexing or painful situations. Read the Psalms and be ushered into the very presence of your loving and merciful God. You’ll be glad you did!

Steve Arterburn

The hot water is to remain upon the tea no longer than whiles you can say The Miserere Psalm very leisurely.” – Kenelm Digby (1603-1665)

Confronting Those Who Do Wrong

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. – Galatians 6:1

Confronting Those Who Do Wrong

God has given us the responsibility to honestly confront those who do wrong. For most of us, confrontation is a difficult task. For a few, it’s much too easy. I hope you don’t delight in finding fault in others. If you do, stop and consider if you do this as a way of overlooking your own faults.

God does call you, however, to help others see the truth. In essence, you can hold up a mirror to your good friends, and they hopefully will do the same for you.

Jude, the brother of Jesus, reminds us that we are to deal honestly and directly with those who do wrong, while showing them mercy (Jude 22-23). Help others see their faults but with great humility. You’re not responsible for the behavior of others, but you are responsible to gently and tactfully point out areas of misbehavior that may cause them to stumble, fall, or lose their way.

Are you avoiding some tough conversations? If you have kids, are you confronting them? And when you do are you doing it with gentleness and humility? Check yourself. Is your tone respectful? Is your word choice uplifting or condescending? God calls you to show courage by addressing wrong. But remember the goal is always to see the other person restored, not belittled. Help that person turn back to God.

– Steve Arterburn

“I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.” – Plutarch