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“God created the world out of nothing , and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us.” Martin Luther

I came across this quote from Martin Luther today and my first thought was how, in today’s world, we are taught from birth just the opposite. The concept is driven into us that we have to always strive to be at the top of our game no matter what. Pride and arrogance are much more commonplace than humility. In fact, we often view humility as a weakness. We exert a lot of energy ensuring that we are valuable to the world around us and forget who values us more than we can even fathom.  We become so busy exalting ourselves that we forget to exalt God. And when we forget to exalt God, our perspective gets all out of proportion and our value of our own self tends to get inflated. Unfortunately, when we are all puffed up and strutting around like peacocks, God has a very difficult time accomplishing anything with us. Our pride swells our head up to the point that we don’t listen to anyone, even the One who created us. Pride is a dangerous thing because it can rob of us the plans God has for us, the blessings God has for us, and influence God has for us. Wise is the man who allows God to take him from nothing into something.

”Humbke yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” James 4;10

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“When one is thirsty one quenches one’s thirst by drinking, not by reading books which treat of this condition.” Jean Pierre de Causaade

I came across this quote a few days ago, and it reminded me that, in order to accomplish something, I have to actively do something. The quote speaks of quenching thirst by actually drinking, not by reading about drinking, but it could apply to so many aspects of our life. The thing that first popped into my mind was prayer. We can read every book available on prayer, and we may find some very helpful and useful information, but reading all the books in the world will never yield the same results as actually praying. You can read everyone else’s tips, best bets, formulas, and strategies, but none of it will do your prayer life any good if you don’t actually spend time conversing with God. So often we want the quick fix, the most convenient way, and what takes the least amount of effort for us, but taking the path of least resistance often leaves us unfulfilled and yearning for something more. Prayer is just one example…this concept can apply to a number of areas in our life. It may be worship, tithing, memorizing Scripture, or  serving that we are seeking to do, but all the books in the world won’t do anything for us unless we actively do whatever it is we want to do. God wants us to be doers, not just hearers.

”But be doers of the Word not hearers only, deceiving yourselves…”James 1:22

“Help me want the Healer more than the healing; help me want the Savior more than the saving; help me want the Giver more than the giving; help me want You, Jesus, more than anything…”

This is the chorus to “More Than Anything” by Natalie Grant. I wonder how many of us are guilty of seeking what Jesus can do for us rather than seeking Him. I wonder how much intimacy with Him we have sacrificed because we are seeking what He can do instead of who He is. It’s easy to get caught up with the attitude that God is a genie in a bottle just waiting to grant us our wishes. But, when we live with that expectation, we rob ourselves of truly knowing Him. Knowing Him intimately is priceless! There is nothing that He can do for you that compares to the fact that He desires to reveal Himself to you. When you find Him, you have found all you will ever need.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15.13

In the song “What Faith Can Do” by Kutless, there is one line that I would love for my life to portray:

”Hope that doesn’t end even when the sky is falling…”

Every single one of us experiences times in our lives when “the sky is falling” in our world. Sometimes those times are short lived, but other times, those times seem like they will never end. During those times of hardship, where we base our hope plays a very critical role in how we respond. If our hope is solely based on Jesus, no matter what we face, we will endure. We may come out on the other side beaten and bruised, but we will make it. And in enduring, we will find out that Jesus is more than enough to see us through. When we base our hope on anything else, when a crisis comes, we may very well find our source of hope crumbling right along with us. Nothing compares to the hope found in Jesus! Nothing endures like the hope found in Jesus! Nothing strengthens us, encourages us, motivates us, and helps us more than the hope found in Jesus! When our hope is built on Him, NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING can permanently shake us. We may be knocked down, but when Jesus is our hope, we will always get back up, and when we do, we will be even stronger than before.

“But Samuel replied, ‘Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

Our obedience is very important to the Lord! In fact, our obedience probably ranks right at the top of God’s list of important things. He doesn’t worry about our obedience because He is a wicked dictator, who is just bent on ruling us with an iron fist. In fact, He doesn’t concern Himself with our obedience in regards to His position at all. He concerns Himself with our obedience because He knows it is absolutely, positively, without question what is best for us. He knows when we obey Him, we are opening the way for His blessings and protection to flow. He knows our obedience is necessary for us to live the life He planned for us. He knows our obedience will save us some heartache, some grief, and a whole lot of regret. God desires our obedience above all things because He loves us and wants the very best for us. We, however, tend to fight obedience with every fiber in our being. Somehow we often convince ourselves that anything God asks us to do us going to be the worse thing possible we could ever do. We decide that if we obey Him, it’s going to cost us too much, it’s going to hurt too much, or it’s going to move us out of our comfort zone. Let’s face it…we like to be comfortable! We do not want to deal with anything that is inconvenient or that makes us slightly uncomfortable. Fortunately for us, God is not concerned with our convenience or comfort at all. He is concerned with what will help us, teach us, and transform us into Hia image. He is concerned with what is best…not what is comfortable!

Your past is meant to be a life lesson, not a life sentence.

Tonight in our Bible study, we talked about this quote which I snagged from someone’s social media this week.  Let’s face it…all of us have things in our past that we wish had not happened, whether it was something we did or something that was done to us.  And every single one of us can have that past jump up in our present and smack us right in the face.  We can struggle to let the past go, and we can quickly take up residence in the land of regret.  We can allow our guilt, our disappointment, our heartbreaks, and our grief to chain us to the past, thus hindering us from ever moving forward with our future.  None of us have walked exactly the same path, yet we’ve all been down this road…a road that God never intended us to travel.  Jesus died to give us abundant life…a life full of hope, promise, purpose, and joy.  He does not want us chained to things that can only bring us more hurt and will keep us from growing in Him.  Don’t get me wrong…He can use our past to teach us, but He only wants it to be a life lesson, not a life sentence that harms us forever.  He wants us to learn the lesson and move on.  He wants us to press forward toward the life that He planned for us.  Whatever happened in your past is gone…don’t keep picking it back up again.  Give it to Jesus, learn what He has to teach you, and let it go.  Move forward because each step forward gets you one step closer to Jesus.

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…” Philippians 3:13 – 14

 

 

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

I recently read a story told by Billy Graham about a group of fishermen in Scotland who gathered at a restaurant after a long day of fishing. One of the fishermen stretched his arms out wide, showing how big his catch was, and accidentally knocked a tea pot out of the server’s hand. Tea splattered all over the wall, and despite their best efforts to clean it, an ugly brown stain remained on the wall. The fisherman was very apologetic, but the damage was done. Another patron stepped up and said not to worry. He pulled a marker out of his pocket and started working. After some time, the fishermen were surprised to see that the other patron had turned the once ugly brown stain into a beautiful picture of a big deer with its antlers spread wide. The fishermen would soon learn that the other patron was actually Sir Edwin Landseer, Great Britain’s foremost painter of animals. In much the same way, we are like the fisherman who created a mess. Even though we may never intend to allow our sin to make a mess of our lives, somehow we end up with a disaster. And clean and scrub as we might, we are left with nothing but exhaustion and big, ugly stains. Then, Jesus steps up and starts working. Before long, He takes our disaster and turns it into a masterpiece. He covers those stains with His blood and creates something more beautiful than we can even imagine…an incomparable work of art.  Before you spend useless energy trying to clean up your mess yourself, turn to the One who can turn your mess into a masterpiece, and then step back and watch Him work.

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