Happiness, Disobedience, and God

John 15:9-11
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

John 15:14-16 
"You are my friends if you do what I command. 
 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you."

1 Corinthians 6:17
 
"But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit."

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Today's blog is about how God sees us and who we are to Him.  James 4:4 says, "You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."  I think many in this world think they are right with God, and yet choose to live by the ways of the world.  This verse in James says that can't be so. "You can’t say you love Jesus and then go live like the devil.
You can’t say you’re a Christian and then keep on living a self-centered life.
You can’t say you’re a follower of Jesus and then pick and choose the verses that you want to listen to and ignore the ones you don’t.
Jesus says you’re his friend if you obey him and his commandments. 

Unbelievers are enemies of God and rebel against His ways and Word of Truth. 

Matthew Henry says, "Christ takes believers to be his friends. He visits them and converses with them as his friends, bears with them and makes the best of them, is afflicted in their afflictions, and takes pleasure in their prosperity; he pleads for them in heaven and takes care of all their interests there."

Many people think that being a Christian is a pathway to a loss of fun and happiness on this Earth.  Not true!  Jesus changes your desires.  Ungodly desires may look like freedom, but they don’t last, and they lead to despair, not dignity and depression, not delight.

We choose to obey God because he loves us, saves us and wants the best for us.  His loves leads us to true joy. 

"We must place our happiness in the continuance of Christ’s love to us, and make it our business to give continued proofs of our love to Christ, that nothing may tempt us to withdraw from him, or provoke him to withdraw from us. Note, All that love Christ should continue in their love to him, that is, be always loving him, and taking all occasions to show it, and love to the end." (M. Henry)

If you’re not living a full and satisfying life, it’s not because God doesn’t want you to have it. He wants to set you free from: (R. Warren)

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  • The pain from your past. This is the regret or resentment that keeps you from being all God wants you to be.

  • The pressures of your present. This is the stress or exhaustion you face trying to manage the complexities of everyday life.

  • The pessimism about tomorrow. These are the worries about your future or the futures of those you love.

If you’re not living a full and satisfying life with God as your center, also consider the consequences of disobedience on your life: (intouch.org)

  • You will never become the person that God wants you to be.

  • You limit your usefulness to the Lord.

  • You are willing to live a life of rationalized disobedience.

  • You’ll be governed by fear rather than faith.

  • You risk losing not only rewards in heaven but also blessings on earth.

Are you in some way refusing God’s call? The Lord is trustworthy. Whatever His plan of action for you, be assured He will see you safely through the ordeal.

Getting Through Each Day

Some days can be harder than others, but what keeps us going through it?  Is it our will power, drive or something bigger than ourselves?  "Our humility springs from our preparedness to say 'O Lord, I am totally dependent upon you today.'" [Alistair Begg]  "While there are no guarantees of surefootedness in the physical sense, there is One who stands ready to assist us in our quest to honor Christ in this life and prepare us to stand joyfully before Him in the next." (odb.org)

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Underneath the restless surface
Of each trial that comes in life
Flows the Savior’s love and power—
They can calm our inner strife. —D. De Haan

What is sustaining grace?

Sustaining grace is the power to keep on going when you feel like giving up. It’s the power to do the right thing, when you don’t feel like doing the right thing. There are many pitfalls in the marathon race of life. But regardless of what you go through, no matter what you face this year, you can count on God’s sustaining grace. “My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace” (1 Peter 5:12).

"Every day we face temptations (and even false teachings) that seek to divert us, confuse us, and entangle us. Yet, it’s not ultimately through our own efforts that we remain on our feet as we walk in this world. How assuring to know that when we hold our peace when tempted to speak angrily, to opt for honesty over deceit, to choose love over hate, or to select truth over error—we experience God’s power to keep us standing (Jude 1:24). And when we appear approved before God when Christ returns, the praise that we offer now for His sustaining grace will echo throughout eternity (v. 25)." (odb.org)

As for myself, I may seem strong but I'm also human with depressed thoughts and moments at different times.  I, too, need encouraging quotes like, “t is I, your Savior, who has brought this experience into your life to show you [that] this is the kind of person—with all your sinful thoughts and temptations which you thought were things of the past—that you always will be, but for My grace.”  It is by His sustaining grace and new mercies each day that I can face and get through each day.  Galatians 5:25 says, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."  

The Holy Spirit provides  the grace that meets us at our point of need and equips us with courage, wisdom, and strength.  Sustaining grace promises not the absence of struggle but the presence of God.  I know I need that kind of love from God.

Though tempted and sadly discouraged,
My soul to this refuge will flee
And rest in this blessed assurance:
"My grace is sufficient for thee."

Known For What?

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What do you want to be known for now or after you've passed on? 

Is it your earthly accomplishments, your wealth, your fame, your philanthropy, your success, your family, or your faith?   

"From God’s perspective it’s not our resumé or the amount of money we’ve accumulated that matters but rather the kind of life we have lived."

I think it's sad when loved ones scramble at the end of a loved one's life to know what to say at their funeral.  Your life should be representative of something, and it is good or bad.  The dash [-] is the symbol of your life on your tombstone, so make it stand for something more than time passed.  

The average human gets around 25 thousand days on this earth. That's it. This life is a breath. Heaven is coming fast, and we live in that thin space where faith and obedience have relevance. We have this one life to offer; there is NO second chance, no plan B. We get one shot at living to expand the kingdom, fighting for justice. We will stand before Jesus once, and none of our luxuries will accompany us. We'll have one moment to say, "This is how I lived".

As for myself and what inspired this blog, my parents and I went to eat dinner at IHOP last Friday night.  As we were leaving, a lady in the restaurant said "I know you, Angie!"   With a puzzled look on my face, I said "Really??'  She turned out to be a friend of my friend, Beth.  She knew me because of my blog and complimented me on it and my faith.  Wow!  Yes, please know me now and forever as the daughter of the King and his strength that helped me overcome this world and its struggles.

"You are not defined by anything that happened to you or anything you've done. You are defined by who you are in Christ. (Beth Moore)

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1.

"All of us are writing a story with our lives—one that affects others now and in the future. Are we living to please God? We don’t know when the Lord will call us Home. Let’s live every day with an eye on the harvest." [odb.org]

Only the truth that in life we have spoken,
Only the seed that on earth we have sown;
These shall pass onward when we are forgotten,
Fruits of the harvest and what we have done. —Bonar

A fruitful harvest requires a faithful life.

O keep up your courage, each day to the end;
Go forth in the strength of the Lord;
Trust wholly in Jesus, thy Savior and Friend,
And feed on His own blessed Word. —Miles


Peace in the Valleys of Life

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).  

Today's blog is about having personal peace within ourselves despite the chaos and circumstances around us.  Each of us have either come out of a hard valley or are in the midst of one or are about to face one and don't know it yet.  Life has it's moments of mountain tops, but we don't live there continuously.  The steep climb or descent is not an easy journey for any of us.  God sent the Holy Spirit to live within us, as believers, and be our guide during these difficult times.  John 14:16-17 says,  "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."

In the verse above John 14:27, "He wasn’t saying that all their conditions would be serene, easy, and comfortable. On the contrary, He was telling them they would have peace of mind and heart even though their circumstances were painful, difficult, and uncertain. And this is the same kind of peace Jesus promises to all of us who belong to Him." [intouch.org] 

As believers, we can have peace by knowing and trusting in God's control and that He is working things out for our good.

True peace comes from having a relationship with Jesus, a togetherness or oneness with him.  Any other source of peace is faulty, fraudulent, counterfeit and not everlasting.  If you don't have Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you will never have peace.  You will have fear, doubt, anxiety, needless worry, and uncertainty.  We are called to be followers of the Prince of Peace, Jesus. 

As followers, we are not to just enjoy the gift of peace but to be peacemakers in the world around us.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me,”  Psalm 23:4.   That verse resonates the kind of peace God wants to give to us.  Even tho, we may be in the worst situation of our life, we trust God to carry us through it, even death.  These valleys of life  are often a metaphor for difficult times, times of darkness, despair, defeat, or discouragement.

3 Things to Remember About the Valleys of Life [R.Warren]

  1. Valleys are a part of life. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 11:11, “The land you will soon take over is a land of hills and valleys” (NLT).Valleys are inevitable.  You can’t avoid valleys. Instead, you can count on them. 

  2. Valleys happen to everybody. They’re impartial. Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people. We’re in a fallen and broken world, so we have problems. Nobody’s immune. Nobody’s insulated from pain. Nobody sails through life problem free.“The good man does not escape all troubles—he has them too. But the Lord helps him in each and every one” (Psalm 34:19 TLB).

  3. Valleys are unpredictable. You can’t plan them. You can’t time them. Problems typically catch you off guard. In fact, your valleys and your problems come usually at the worst time—when you don’t have time, when you’re unprepared, and when it’s inconvenient. Proverbs 27:1 says, “Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring forth” (NLT).

    As for myself, I am on the upward climb out of my valley and headed to the mountaintop.  I can tell you the view gets better everyday as I make progress.  My recent valley, my fall, made me only look up to the heavens.  The Bible talks of being pulled up out of the miry pit and I definitely was.  The valley is not a place to dwell with your negative thoughts or your weakened body, but a place to draw close to God and gain strength from Him.  Valleys are a place to strengthen your faith and trust in Him, not yourself.

    “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us” (Chronicles 20:9).

Loved By God

  “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep." -John 10:14-15

“Sheep are essentially defenseless animals, so a shepherd uses a few tools to care for and protect his sheep. He uses a rod for guarding and protecting and a staff with a little crook in it to rescue the sheep.  We are like lost sheep, so Jesus came to Earth to be our Good Shepherd." 

This blog is about how much God loves us, cares for us, directs our paths, protects us and never forsakes us.  Below are some resources I've found to show us His love by examples and use of scriptures.

“Every once and a while, a ewe will give birth to a lamb and reject it. There are many reasons she may do this. If the lamb is returned to the ewe, the mother may even kick the poor animal away. Once an ewe rejects one of her lambs, she will never change her mind.
These little lambs will hang their heads so low that it looks like something is wrong with its neck. Their spirit is broken. These lambs are called “bummer lambs.” Unless the shepherd intervenes, that lamb will die, rejected and alone.
So, do you know what the shepherd does? He takes that rejected little one into his home, hand-feeds it and keep it warm by the fire. He will wrap it up with blankets and hold it to his chest so the bummer can hear his heartbeat. Once the lamb is strong enough, the shepherd will place it back in the field with the rest of the flock. But that sheep never forgets how the shepherd cared for him when his mother rejected him.
When the shepherd calls for the flock, guess who runs to him first? That is right, the bummer sheep. He knows his voice intimately. It is not that the bummer lamb is loved more, it just knows intimately the one who loves it. It's not that it is loved more, it just believes it because it has experienced that love one on one.
So many of us are bummer lambs, rejected and broken. But He is the good Shepherd. He cares for our every need and holds us close to His heart so we can hear His heart beat. We may be broken but we are deeply loved by the Shepherd."
(Sheila Walsh, "Loved Back To Life.)

5 Ways God Wants to Protect You and Direct You by Rick Warren

1. If you bring your hurts to him, Jesus is compassionate.

Jesus has compassion on us, because he knows that we are helpless without him (Matthew 9:36). He doesn’t put you down; he lifts you up. He doesn’t hassle you; he heals you.

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 ESV).

2. If you follow him, Jesus leads you in the right direction.

The Shepherd goes before. He leads from the front and calls you forward. Jesus is not going to push you through life. He’s going to say, “Watch how I do it. Look where I go.”

“When he has led out all of his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice” (John 10:4 CEV).

3. If you get confused or wander away, Jesus will find you and bring you back.

When God brings you back from wandering away from him, he will not punish you, but he may discipline you. If a shepherd has a sheep that is prone to wander, he will often wrap that sheep’s leg so it can’t move. In the same way, sometimes God gives us a limp to keep us from wandering.

“If a man has a hundred sheep but one of the sheep gets lost, he will leave the other ninety-nine on the hill and go to look for the lost sheep” (Matthew 18:12 NCV).

4. If you fail or fall, Jesus rescues you and sets you on the road to recovery.

Like all sheep, we not only wander, but we also stumble. When we trust that God is going to restore us and rescue us when we fail, we’ll faithfully run to him every time we mess up.

“If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not rescue it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!” (Matthew 12:11-12 NIV).

5. If you trust him to save you, Jesus will keep his promise to do just that.

It’s not your job to save yourself. Your job is simply to put your hand in God’s and say, “God, I’m all yours—the good, the bad, the ugly.” God loves you too much to ever let you go.

“My Father gave my sheep to me. He is greater than all, and no person can steal my sheep out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:29 NCV).

The goodness of God means he’s going to guide you, guard you, protect you, direct you, and save you. No one else can offer you those five benefits. They only come from Jesus, our Good Shepherd.

Overcoming the Scars

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Last week's blog talked about where our help comes from, which is Jesus Christ.  I want to continue this week with how we must not let the world and it's sin, harshness, hurts, cold heartedness, and manipulative ways change us from the path God intends.  

1 John 4:4 reminds us as believers, whose we are and where to put our faith in Him and not false gods or witnesses..."You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."  Also in 1 John 5:3-5, "In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God."

TobyMac has a new song with lyrics that describes the point of this blog well: 

"It doesn't matter who you are, this world's gonna leave some battle scars."   Can we not all relate to the following?  "When life cuts so deep, try and remember..You, you're are not alone, We've all been there.  Scars come with livin',  You, you're not alone.  We've all been there, oh, so lift your head, lift your head, to where your help comes from, you're not alone.”

Yes, it's true, we all have both physical and emotional scars from living in this world.  God knew this and that's why He gave us assurance by saying in John 16:32-33" “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

3 Things We Can Live With As Christians, God's Chosen People (J.D. Greear)

  1. Assurance:  Salvation begins in God, it is accomplished by God and what God starts He will finish.  He chose us before there was anything good in us.  He is more committed to our salvation than we are.  John 6:37-39,  "All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me,but raise them up at the last day."

  2. Hope: We can bravely face all of our trials, because God works all things for good for those who believe in Him.  We don't see the big picture, but God does and controls it.  God will one day turn our messy threads of life into a beautiful masterpiece for His glory.  Romans 8:18  " I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

  3. Boldness in Evangelism: God has revealed to us that it is our job to share Christ with others, and not discriminate with who we think is 'elected.'  Obedience to share the gospel with others is all that is required.

    Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.
    1 Chronicles 28:20

Where Does My Help Come From?

Psalm 121:2 
"My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth."


1 Thessalonians 3:13  
"May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones."


Psalm 22:19 
"But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me."


2 Thessalonians 3:2-3 
"And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 
 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one."

Psalm 33:20  
"We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield."


Psalm 28:7  
"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."

Psalm 12:1  
"Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race."

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The human race has developed many ways to call out for help; like the Morse code, 9-1-1, 'Uncle', Code Blue.  Our greatest call is through prayer to Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  Psalm 46:1  says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”   

God is waiting for us to call on Him for help and stop trying to rely on our own failing strength.

God is real, and when you trust in Him, He promises to be with you always.  Hebrews 4:15-16 reminds us “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Each one of us has a particular level at which our emotions overflow and we cry out, “God help me!” We may have just received disappointing results to a medical test or some devastating news from a family member. Our emotions are a mess! We don’t know if we’re angry, panicked, scared, fearful of the future...we do know that we can’t continue on our own strength.  

Destructive fear (worry, panic, suspicion) is generated from anticipation of the unknown. We all like to be in control of our circumstances. (And doesn’t it just make you angrier when you can’t be in control?) But when I compared my minimal human capabilities to that of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God, I surrendered my control. Suddenly my fears (and anger) diminished (Psalm 131:1-2).  

When you cry out, “God help me,” do you believe that there is a more fulfilling life ahead? A relationship with a dedicated and loving Heavenly Father changes your worldview from a temporary to an eternal perspective (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). The relationship that you develop through knowing God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior renews you mentally and physically."  (allaboutgod.com)

As for myself, my relationship with Jesus has comforted and sustained me as I've continually lost my physical strength and traded it in for spiritual strength.  I'm constantly crying out to God for help, because in reality, I can't do anything on my own.  He tells us all that we can do nothing without Him, but in my case it is a little more real and obvious. 

I depend on God to send me help to do all things in this life, for His will and my own.  First, I ask for His help.  Second, I trust in Him to provide.  Third, I wait patiently for His will and don't rush into actions that don't align with His will.

Sometimes when we are waiting on God to answer our cries for help, we may feel forsaken by God. We struggle with troubling thoughts. Our hearts become sorrowful. We’re sure that we’re fighting a losing battle.  David in Psalm 13:1-2 felt this way:  How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?"  

The needed response--Plead with God, trust Him, and praise His name.  

Money Matters, But What You Do With It Matters Most

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They say money can't buy happiness, which is true, but our goal in life is neither money or happiness.  Money is a tool, in which we can use to further the Kingdom and it's purposes.  "It is not your salary that makes you rich, but your spending habits."   Charles Spurgeon says, "Whatever a man depends upon, whatever rules his mind, whatever governs his affections, whatever is the chief object of his delight, is his god."  What does your bank statement say about your spending habits?   Do you give with others in mind, tithe regularly to your local church, and invest in the building of the Kingdom and it's purposes?  God uses money in your life to test your faith, responsibility, and honor with it.

Things money cannot buy:  Manners, Morals, Respect, Character, Common Sense, Trust, Patience, Class, Integrity, Love, Honor, Blessed Eternity, Fruit of the Spirit, Time, and Peace of Mind.

Hebrews 13: 5-6
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have,because God has said, never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.   What can mere mortals do to me?”

"When God blesses you financially, don't raise your standard of living.  Raise your standard of giving."   

I believe giving activates abundance.  

2 Corinthians 9:7 
"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under  compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."  

"A rich man without God is just a poor man with money."

Matthew 6:31-32  
"So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them."

Romans 13:8  
"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law."

2 Peter 1:3-7  
"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love."

How we handle money reveals much about our priorities. That’s why Jesus often talked about money. One-sixth of the Gospels’ content, including one out of every three parables, touches on stewardship. Jesus wasn’t a fundraiser. He dealt with money matters because money matters. For some of us, though, it matters too much." 

"Walking on the narrow road requires faith, discipline, and determination. We all have desires—that is, fleshly appetites—that find the easier pathway more attractive."

If we pursue mere earthly gain,
We choose a path that ends in pain;
But joy and peace are in our soulWhen we pursue a heavenly goal. 
—D. De Haan

A Question of the Heart

Deuteronomy 4:39,  "Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below."

Deuteronomy 5:29,  "Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!"

Deuteronomy 6:5,  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

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Deuteronomy 10:12,  "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul"

Psalm 13:2, "How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?"

Psalm 26:2-3,  "Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness."

Psalm 51:10,  "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

Psalm 64:6, "They plot injustice and say, “We have devised a perfect plan!” Surely the human mind and heart are cunning."

Psalm 81:12,  "So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices."

Proverbs 20:9,  "Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?"

Jeremiah 17:9,  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"

If your heart could speak to you, what would it say?  Sin begins in our hearts, when our will goes against God's will for us.  Our hearts can lead us astray, unless we turn and seek God in all things.  When the Bible refers to our heart, what is it referring to?  Our heart refers to our mind, intellect, thinking, reflections, memory, will, passions, feelings, conscience, character, motives, soul, understanding, the seat of our appetites, the seat of our courage.  

Matthew 6:21. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  
Psalm 139:23.
"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts."
Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."  

We often let our hurt or damaged hearts affect other things in our life, even without meaning to.  Our hearts become bitter, and therefore so do our words, thoughts, actions and reactions result in bitterness.  When we are out of our depths, we must turn and begin to touch the depths of God.  Forgiveness isn't impossible, but with God, forgiveness is HIM-possible.  Guarding our hearts means to watch over, preserve, protect, and be proactive in our habits that keep our hearts in line with God's will for us.

Unless we respond correctly to conflict, we limit our potential to grow, because we aren’t learning what the Lord is teaching. Also, we can develop an unforgiving spirit, which leads to bitterness and resentment. Eventually, such an attitude can destroy relationships.  There is also a positive way to handle conflict. Luke 23:34 reveals how our Savior responded when He was wrongly accused, unfairly judged, and killed for something He didn’t do. Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. Circumstances often prove painful. But even when situations seem overwhelming, believers can trust that our sovereign Lord knows all, is in control, and lovingly works everything for His children’s good. We can rest confidently, knowing that the unchanging God of all creation is taking care of us." [intouch.org]


”The soul is cast down when our sorrow does not bring us to God, but away from God. There is no discouragement in any affliction or trouble whatsoever, but it is a lack of trusting in God. We may not know the reason God has allowed it, and this requires our trust. When we do not trust in God, we are trusting in ourselves, and we cannot experience victory in our own strength." - R. Sibbes

As the saying goes, “Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it.”

Lord, please change our hearts and attitude about hard times. Bring about joy, perseverance, and maturity in each of us.  May our hearts be humbled by who You are and how powerful, just and loving You are as You watch over and protect us, even from our own heart's wickedness.

Where Do You Live and Love?

"The humble soul endeavors more how to glorify God in afflictions than how to get out of them." - Thomas Brooks

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It is said that the three basic needs of life are food, clothing and shelter.  Your shelter may be a room, an apartment, or a house.  How would you define your residence, a house or a home?  There is a difference.  Anyone can build a house but it takes more than physical strength to make a house into a home. 

“Home” includes peace, love, security, emotional warmth, things you love, respect of others, and hospitality.  Unfortunately many families live in houses, not homes.  "Home” is a place we seek out, long to return to when away, and fiercely defend, whether against invaders or from the outsider who tells us that any place is better than the one in which we live.

So what is missing? 

God and his command to "love one another."

"The Blessed will say 'We have never lived anywhere except Heaven.'  The Lost will say, 'We were always in Hell.'  And both will speak truly."  - C.S. Lewis

One of the hardest places to live out the Gospel and be a true reflection of Christ is in the home.  We schedule our times with others and make sure it is a good day with a good attitude and are feeling our best.  In our homes, we see it all... the faults, the tempers, the need for personal space, and just everyday reactions to life's unfairness.

Proverbs 24:3-4, "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures."

Proverbs 24:27, "Put first things first. Prepare your work outside and get it ready for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house and establish a home."

Proverbs 11:29,  "Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise."

The next two quotes are from Our Daily Bread...... 

C. S. Lewis wrote, “Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.” We can thank God for the “pleasant inns” in life, but let’s remember that our real home is in heaven where we “will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

"A loving, spiritual atmosphere is the feature most desired in a home, and that can be found in a simple one-room house or in a spacious mansion.  Yes, I think we would all agree that love for our family and the fear of the Lord can turn any house into a dream home." As Valentines Day approaches tomorrow, lets consider how much we show Christ's love to each other both inside and outside our homes.

Give me a house to call my own,
Family and friends to make it a home,
Love and kindness that never depart,
Enough to fill a thankful heart.