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AskMe #2866040 09/18/15 05:40 AM
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Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT)
3 Don�t be selfish; don�t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don�t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

There is no greater enemy to Christian love than pride and passion. If we do things in contradiction to our brethren, this is doing them through strife; if we do them through ostentation of ourselves, this is doing them through vain-glory: both are destructive of Christian love and kindle unchristian heats. Christ came to slay all enmities; therefore let there not be among Christians a spirit of opposition. Christ came to humble us, and therefore let there not be among us a spirit of pride. [Matthew Henry Commentary]




Henry Varley is best known as the man who stated to Dwight Moody, "The world has yet to see what God will do with a man who is fully committed to him." Moody sought to be that man and went on to become the world's most prominent evangelist of his day.

What is not so well known about Varley is that he was himself a powerful evangelist and pastor. But he faced a pitch battle with jealousy when another preacher in his neighborhood began having great success and started drawing some of Varley's members. Varley felt deep resentment toward the other minister and later divulged:

I shall never forget the sense of guilt and sin that possessed me over that business. I was miserable. Was I practically saying to the Lord Jesus, "Unless the prosperity of [your] church and people comes in this neighborhood by me, success had better not come"? Was I really showing inability to rejoice in another worker's service? I felt that it was a sin of a very hateful character. I never asked the Lord to take away my life either before or since, but I did then, unless his grace would give me victory over this foul image of jealousy. [Vance Christie, "Addressing the Cancer of Envy�Henry Varley," Vance Christie's blog (8-8-14);]


Envy was one of the first sins that led to the death of Able. The Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. Because of the sin that ruled over Cain he killed his brother Able.

We might not physically kill our brothers in Christ, but instead we may be like Henry Varley who let sin overtake him with the desire to succeed over others. As Christians we must support one another, even if that means putting another first before ourselves.

AskMe #2866208 09/21/15 06:29 AM
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2 Corinthians 13:14 (NKJV)
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Thus the apostle concludes his epistle, and thus it is usual and proper to dismiss worshipping assemblies. This plainly proves the doctrine of the gospel, and is an acknowledgment that Father, Son, and Spirit, are three distinct persons, yet but one God; and herein the same, that they are the fountain of all blessings to men. It likewise intimates our duty, which is to have an eye by faith to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost-to live in a continual regard to the three persons in the Trinity, into whose name we were baptized, and in whose name we are blessed. This is a very solemn benediction, and we should give all diligence to inherit this blessing. [Matthew Henry Commentary]



It's possible to be so heavenly-minded that we are of no earthly good. But Professor Todd Whitmore from Notre Dame has also observed how being heavenly-minded can lead to incredible deeds of earthly goodness. After the war in Uganda had dragged on for over 20 years, Whitmore moved into the refugee camps in northern Uganda to hear the stories of the displaced Acholi people. As he observed the Christians who were working among the Acholi, he saw what he called "what real Christianity looks like." Whitmore discovered that the most practical and helpful workers among the Acholi were also the most heavenly-minded. He called them "reasonable apocalyptists," which means that these Christian workers thought a lot about God's intervention at the end of history.

These heavenly-minded Christians believed that no human effort could be relied upon to help the Acholi; it had to come from God. As one of the Christian workers in the camps said, "God is tired [of this war and suffering], and he will intervene." Because they believed that God would intervene, they also believed that it's worthwhile to work for good. In the United States, people who talk about God's future intervention are often accused of being escapists, impractical, or even mentally unstable. But in the refugee camps of northern Uganda they were the most rational people. Whitmore discovered that they were the ones who kept saying things like, "We want to make a difference here and now. We want to help with the orphans." [Adapted from Jason Bayassee, "Eschatological Innovation,' Faith & Leadership (8-4-09)]


God�s love and grace can help you do incredible things when you allow the Holy Spirit to be with you and guide you. Allow the love of God to work within you so you can help others.

AskMe #2866271 09/22/15 04:50 AM
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Romans 15:7 (NKJV)
7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.

Receive one another; for sometimes the prejudices of the weak Christian make him shy of the strong, as much as the pride of the strong Christian makes him shy of the weak, neither of which ought to be. Let there be a mutual embracing among Christians. Those that have received Christ by faith must receive all Christians by brotherly love; though poor in the world, though persecuted and despised, though it may be matter of reproach and danger to you to receive them, though in the less weighty matters of the law they are of different apprehensions, though there may have been occasion for private piques, yet, laying aside these and the like considerations, receive you one another. [Matthew Henry Commentary]



Gordon MacDonald shares the following story about visiting a small group of men and women affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous. MacDonald said that he visited the group because he has friends who are recovering alcoholics and he wanted to see for himself what they were talking about. Here's what he found:

One morning Kathy�I guessed her age at 35�joined us for the first time. One look at her face caused me to conclude that she must have been Hollywood-beautiful at 21. Now her face was swollen, her eyes red, her teeth rotting. Her hair looked unwashed, uncombed for who knows how long.

"I've been in five states in the past month," she said. "I've slept under bridges on several nights. Been arrested. Raped. Robbed (now weeping). I don't know what to do. I � don't � want � to � be � homeless � any more. But (sob) I can't stop drinking (sob). I can't stop (sob). I can't � "

Next to Kathy was a rather large woman, Marilyn, sober for more than a dozen years. She reached with both arms toward Kathy and pulled her close, so close that Kathy's face was pressed to Marilyn's ample breast. I was close enough to hear Marilyn speak quietly into Kathy's ear, "Honey, you're going to be OK. You're with us now. We can deal with this together. All you have to do is keep coming. Hear me? Keep on coming." And then Marilyn kissed the top of Kathy's head.

I was awestruck. The simple words, the affection, the tenderness. How Jesus-like. I couldn't avoid a troubling question that morning. Could this have happened in the places where I have worshiped? Would there have been a space in the program for Kathy to tell her story? Would there have been a Marilyn to respond in this way? [Gordon MacDonald, "My Small Group, Anonymous," Leadership Journal (Winter 2014)]


These type of stories are happening every day. There are those who are in desperate need of help. They have lost their way in life and often trapped by addiction that holds them in despair. The church I attend formed a Ministry group for people like those above called HopeQuest Ministry group. There are many other organizations that offer help as well. Let us pray that brotherly love for others will be shown so these people may be helped through the difficulties of life.

AskMe #2866342 09/24/15 05:10 AM
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Hebrews 10:35-36 (NKJV)
35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

He (the apostle) exhorts them not to cast away their confidence, that is, their holy courage and boldness, but to hold fast that profession for which they had suffered so much before, and borne those sufferings so well. [Matthew Henry Commentary]



The 1958 film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness is the true story of Gladys Aylward (Ingrid Bergman), an English servant who became a faithful missionary in a remote region of northern China. The China Inland Mission Center in England refused to sponsor her due to her lack of vocation and experience. Consequently, in 1932 she set out on her own, believing with all her heart she was called by God. Not officially under the authority of the Mission, she was free to stay in China according to her own discretion.

She finds work running an inn for traveling mule drivers. After the death of the inn manager, a seasoned missionary, a government official delivers a letter to Gladys, which states that funding for the Inn will be cut off because of her lack of experience.

Bewildered by the news, Gladys expresses her concerns to the Chinese government official, Captain Lin Nan, who delivered the message: "One reason and always the same one: I'm not qualified. I was a servant in England. That's what they mean. But I came here when they said I couldn't. And I'll stay here though they say I can't."

When Captain Lin Nan kindly offers to escort her to Sien Chen, where she will deport, Gladys stubbornly insists, "I'm not going to leave!"

Captain Lin Nan tries to dissuade her: she's broke, and vendors won't give her credit; she has no friends; and she is in an isolated country with inveterate problems. "It isn't your country. It isn't your problem," he says. "You're white. You shouldn't be in China at all."

Emphasizing her resolve to stay, Gladys reminds the captain, "I came here to be of value."

Mildly irritated, the captain says, "How? By trying to make people believe what you believe? By saving souls who don't want to be saved? Who will agree to anything for an extra bowl of rice, and laugh at you once the rice is eaten?" When Gladys attempts a retort, he says, "The dangers that confront you—those are real. Leave now, while you still can. Go back to England where you belong."

"If I feel that God wants me in China," Gladys argues, "then that's where I belong."

Lin Nan resigns, leaving Gladys in God's hands. As he leaves, Gladys cries out, "Oh, Captain Lin Nan. I know you think I'm stubborn. But I'm not ungrateful. For you to be concerned, to bother, it is very kind."

"If I were really kind," Lin Nan responds, "I'd have you ordered out of Bien Chen. But since I'm not obsessed with souls or lives, I wish you well."

Because she stays, God uses Gladys to convert the village's mandarin governor to Christianity. And when the Japanese army attacks China, she heroically leads over 100 orphan children to safety through numerous mountains, avoiding enemy soldiers.

[The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (Twentieth Century Fox, 1958), not rated, directed by Mark Robson, screenplay written by Isobel Lennart, based on The Small Woman, by Alan Burgess]


Each of you are of value and importance. Keep enduring life that you may do the will of God and not let your confidence be thrown aside.

AskMe #2866815 09/30/15 05:26 AM
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Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV)
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.

Paul often let his friends know what it was he begged of God for them, that they might know what to beg for themselves and be directed in their own prayers, and that they might be encouraged to hope they should receive from God the quickening, strengthening, everlasting, comforting grace, which so powerful an intercessor as Paul asked of God for them. It is an encouragement to us to know that we are prayed for by our friends, who, we have reason to think, have an interest at the throne of grace. [Matthew Henry Commentary]


In some ways, our biggest challenge in gauging Jesus' influence is that we take for granted the ways in which our world has been shaped by him. For example, children would be thought of differently because of Jesus. Historian O. M. Bakke wrote a study called When Children Became People: The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity, in which he noted that in the ancient world, children usually didn't get named until the eighth day or so. Up until then there was a chance that the infant would be killed or left to die of exposure � particularly if it was deformed or of the unpreferred gender. This custom changed because of a group of people who remembered that they were followers of a man who said, "Let the little children come to me."

Jesus never married. But his treatment of women led to the formation of a community that was so congenial to women that they would join it in record numbers � Jesus never wrote a book. Yet his call to love God with all one's mind would lead to a community with such a reverence for learning that when the classical world was destroyed in what are sometimes called the Dark Ages, that little community would preserve what was left of its learning. In time, the movement he started would give rise to libraries and then guilds of learning �

He never held an office or led an army � And yet the movement he started would eventually mean the end of emperor worship, be cited in documents like the Magna Carta, begin a tradition of common law and limited government, and undermine the power of the state rather than reinforce it as other religions in the empire had done. It is because of his movement that language such as "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" entered history.

The Roman Empire into which Jesus was born could be splendid but also cruel, especially for the malformed and diseased and enslaved. This one teacher had said, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me." An idea slowly emerged that the suffering of every single individual human being matters and that those who are able to help ought to do so. Hospitals and relief efforts of all kinds emerged from this movement; even today they often carry names that remind us of him and his teachings.

Humility, which was scorned in the ancient world, became enshrined in a cross and was eventually championed as a virtue. Enemies, who were thought to be worthy of vengeance ("help your friends and punish your enemies"), came to be seen as worthy of love. Forgiveness moved from weakness to an act of moral beauty. Even in death, Jesus' influence is hard to escape. The practice of burial in graveyards or cemeteries was taken from his followers � It expressed the hope of resurrection � Death did not end Jesus' influence. In many ways, it just started it. [John Ortberg, Who Is This Man? (Zondervan, 2012), pp. 14-16}


AskMe #2867197 10/05/15 06:40 AM
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Isaiah 55:6 (NLT)
6 Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.

Let them pray, and their prayers shall be heard and answered: "Seek the Lord while he may be found. Seek him whom you have left by revolting from your allegiance to him and whom you have lost by provoking him to withdraw his favour from you. Call upon him now while he is near, and within call.' [Matthew Henry Commentary]



Psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Grosz points to research that shows we usually don't respond when a fire alarm rings. Instead, of leaving the building immediately, we stand around and wait for more clues. But then even with more information, we still won't make a move�and sometimes that proves deadly. For instance, in 1985, 56 people were killed when a fire broke out in the stands of a soccer match in England. Close examination of television footage later showed that fans did not react immediately and continued to watch both the fire and the game, failing to move towards the exits.

Research has also shown that when we do move, we follow old habits. We don't trust emergency exits. We almost always try to exit a room through the same door we entered. After a fire in the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Kentucky left 177 people dead, forensic experts confirmed that many of the victims sought to pay before leaving, and so died in a queue.

Grosz concludes:

After 25 years as a psychoanalyst, I can't say that this surprises me. We resist change. Committing ourselves to a small change, even one that is unmistakably in our best interest, is often more frightening than ignoring a dangerous situation. We don't want an exit if we don't know exactly where it is going to take us, even�or perhaps especially�in an emergency � We want to know what new story we're stepping into before we exit the old one. [Stephen Grosz, The Examined Life (W.W Norton & Company, 2013), pp. 122-123]


Don�t resist the one who is call you, for God is call you to come close and leave sin behind.

AskMe #2867281 10/06/15 05:59 AM
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Isaiah 26:4 (NIV)
4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

"Let us make ourselves easy by trusting in the Lord for ever; since God has promised peace to those that stay themselves upon him, let us not lose the benefit of that promise, but repose an entire confidence in him. Trust in him for ever, at all times, when you have nothing else to trust to; trust in him for that peace, that portion, which will be for ever.' Whatever we trust to the world for, it will be but for a moment: all we expect from it is confined within the limits of time. But what we trust in God for will last as long as we shall last. [Matthew Henry Commentary]



I remember watching a father play with his little boy, repeatedly throwing him in the air and catching him just before he hit the ground. The child is relaxed and having a great time saying, "Do it again! Do it again!"

I thought, If that was me, I 'd be stiff as a board .

"Can you explain why he's so relaxed, even when he's out of control?" I asked the father.

"It's very simple," he said. "We have a history together. We've played this game before, and I've never dropped him." [Rod Cooper, "Worship or Worry?" Preaching Today, Tape No. 108.]


God is our eternal Rock and is always there to catch us when we fall, so let us trust in The Lord Forever!

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Psalm 63:1 (NLT)
1 O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

God's lovingkindness is in itself, and in the account of all the saints, better than life. It is our spiritual life, and that is better than temporal life, Ps. 30:5. It is better, a thousand times, to die in God's favour than to live under his wrath. David in the wilderness finds, by comfortable experience, that God's lovingkindness is better than life; and therefore (says he) my lips shall praise thee. [Matthew Henry Commentary]



"I don't believe in God, but I miss him."

This is the opening line from a book titled Nothing to Be Afraid Of by the award-winning British writer, Julian Barnes. Barnes, who describes himself as an agnostic, writes, "I was never baptized, never sent to Sunday school. I have never been to a normal church service in my life." And yet this agnostic intellectual still feels haunted by the beauty of Christian art and music and by what he calls the "wake up call to morality."

[Matt Woodley, Editor, PreachingToday.com; source: James K. A. Smith, How (Not) to Be Secular (Eerdmans, 2014), pp. 4-5]


Our soul thirsts for God and longs to be with Him. Even the author above who claims to be agnostic feels God tugging at his heart.

AskMe #2867380 10/08/15 05:05 AM
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Isaiah 43:11-12 (NLT)
11 I, yes I, am the Lord, and there is no other Savior. 12 First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,� says the Lord.

See what it is that the great God glories in, not so much that he is the only ruler as that he is the only Saviour; for he delights to do good: he is the Saviour of all men, 1 Tim. 4:10. [Matthew Henry Commentary]



For the past 25 years, Jim Cantore, The Weather Channel's "Storm-tracker," has tracked, chased, run into, and then reported on some of the most extreme storms on the planet. A 2011 USA Today article on Cantore noted, "Whether he is leaning into the ferocious winds of a hurricane or shivering as a blast of polar air drops down from the Arctic, Cantore, 47, is often on the scene to help viewers appreciate how weather tests us."

In the spring of 2011, Cantore provided coverage in the midst of the severe tornado outbreaks in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Joplin, Missouri. Both towns suffered extensive damage. "It was as unthinkable as you would think," Cantore says. "Houses were piled up into corners, and the streets looked more like movie sets."

But according to Cantore, these kinds of storms pale in comparison to the personal storms of life that some people experience on a daily basis. In particular, Cantore thinks of his two children, both of whom were born with Fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder that can lead to autism-like symptoms. Cantore says that his children have the real storms of life, or what he calls the "storms that hurt the most and never go away."

Cantore says, "What my children have to deal with on a daily basis is by far more difficult than anything I will ever come in contact with." [Jonathan Lebowitz, "Jim Cantore Has Weathered 25 Years of Chasing Big Storms," USA Today (8-10-11); submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky]


We all face the storms of life, but God is there not as a ruler over us, but as a savior, as one who loves us and cares for us. In our times of pain God picks us up and holds us tight.

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Deuteronomy 13:4 (NLT)
4 Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.

As prescribing a preservative from the temptation: "Keep close to your duty, and you keep out of harm's way. God never leaves us till we leave him.' Or, As furnishing us with an answer to the temptation; say, "It is written, Thou shalt walk after the Lord, and cleave unto him; and therefore what have I to do with idols? [Matthew Henry Commentary]




In his book Fill These Hearts, Christopher West describes a surprising and simple discovery that changed his marriage:

Years ago [my wife] and I were out to dinner and she observed that something was different about our marriage in recent years, something good. She asked me if I had any insight into what it was. After reflecting a bit I said with a smile, "Yeah, I think I know what it is. I think I've been realizing deep in my heart that you can't satisfy me." She got a big smile on her face and said, "Yeah, that's it. And I've been realizing the same thing: you can't satisfy me either." I imagine anyone overhearing us in the restaurant would have thought we were about to get divorced, but to us that realization was cause for joy and celebration. We had never felt closer and freer in our love.
I love my wife more than words can express, and I know she loves me. But I can't possibly be her ultimate satisfaction, and she can't be mine.
And that's why our conversation at the restaurant was cause for rejoicing. Only to the degree that we stop expecting others to be "god" for us, are we free to love others as they really are, warts and all, without demanding perfection of them, whether a spouse, a friend, a son or daughter, or any other relationship. And only to the degree that we are free from idolizing � human beings are we also free to take our ache for perfect fulfillment to the One who alone can satisfy it.



In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song; This cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease! My comforter, my all in all�Here in the love of Christ I stand. [In Christ Alone, written by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend]

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Proverbs 1:8-9 (NLT)
8 My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don�t neglect your mother�s instruction. 9 What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.

This is the plea from a father to his child to seek and find wisdom that come from correct, instruction and learning. Then the wisdom that has been received will become a crown of grace and a chain of honor.



Research studies indicate that up to 45 percent of adult siblings have relationships marked by rivalry or distance. A story from the Wall Street Journal featured Al Golden, 85, who still chokes up when he talks about his twin brother, Elliott, who died three years ago. The brothers shared a room growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., graduated from the same college and then married within a month of each other in 1947.

Yet Mr. Golden still remembers how their father often compared their grades, asking one or the other, "How come you got a B and your brother got an A?" Elliott Golden became a lawyer and eventually a state Supreme Court judge. Al Golden went into the mirror business then sold life insurance. He says he always envied his brother's status and secretly took pleasure in knowing he was a better fisherman and owned a big boat. Once, Elliott asked him, "I am a lawyer. How come you make more money than me?" Mr. Golden says. "He meant: 'How come you are making more than me when you are not as successful?' But it made me feel good."

One day, Elliott accused him of not doing enough to take care of their ailing mother. After the conversation, Al didn't speak to his brother for more than a year. "It might have been the built-up of jealousies over the years," he says. His brother repeatedly reached out to him, as did his nieces and nephews, but Mr. Golden ignored them.

Then one day Al received an email from his brother telling a story about two men who had a stream dividing their properties. One man hired a carpenter to build a fence along the stream, but the carpenter built a bridge by mistake. Mr. Golden thought about the email then wrote back, "I'd like to walk over the bridge." "I missed him," Mr. Golden says now. "I never had the chance to miss him before." [Elizabeth Bernstein, "Sibling Rivalry Grows Up," Wall Street Journal (3-20-12);]


When you carefully seek out wisdom you will find it is more than knowledge, it is also learning how to build bridges that create relationships. It is wisdom to understand one another and to be able to reach out on love with grace.

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Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,� declares the Lord, �plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Known unto God are all his works, for known unto him are all his thoughts (Acts 15:18) and his works agree exactly with his thoughts; he does all according to the counsel of his will. We often do not know our own thoughts, nor know our own mind, but God is never at any uncertainty within himself. We are sometimes ready to fear that God's designs concerning us are all against us; but he knows the contrary concerning his own people, that they are thoughts of good and not of evil; even that which seems evil is designed for good. His thoughts are all working towards the expected end, which he will give in due time. The end they expect will come, though perhaps not when they expect it. Let them have patience till the fruit is ripe, and then they shall have it [Matthew Henry Commentary]



John Beukema, from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania wrote: I attended a community prayer breakfast and sat at a table with a group of men I didn't know. In the course of our conversation, the subject of retirement came up. The man sitting next to me, who appeared to be in his early fifties, was quite excited by the prospect. He said how much he was looking forward to the end of his career and related a conversation he had with his wife that morning.

"My wife asked, 'What are you going to do when you retire?' I told her, 'I'm going to sit on the couch and watch TV all day every day.'"

The table was silent, but I couldn't keep quiet for long. "If you do that," I said, "you'll be dead in a year."

He looked at me, wide-eyed, and asked why.

I told him, "If the lack of purpose in your life doesn't kill you first, your wife will."



Throughout our lives God has a purpose designed for us. It�s a plan to prosper us in ways that give hope to the future and the future of others. We are God�s tools and God can use us for many things in life. Even those who have died for good causes have been inspirations to others to do things they may have never done before. Praise God for His mighty works.

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Romans 12:2 (NLT)
2 Don�t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God�s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Conversion and sanctification are the renewing of the mind, a change not of the substance, but of the qualities of the soul. It is the same with making a new heart and a new spirit-new dispositions and inclinations, new sympathies and antipathies; the understanding enlightened, the conscience softened, the thoughts rectified; the will bowed to the will of God, and the affections made spiritual and heavenly: so that the man is not what he was-old things are passed away, all things are become new; he acts from new principles, by new rules, with new designs. [Matthew Henry Commentary]



Based on the book by Nicholas Sparks, the movie A Walk to Remember illustrates how one person's life and death positively impacts an entire community. Jamie Sullivan (played by Mandy Moore) is the high school daughter of a widowed minister in the small town of Beaufort, North Carolina. Though she is ridiculed by the "in crowd" for her conservative appearance and values, Jamie resolves to be her own person. The high school yearbook calls attention to her primary ambition in life: "To witness a miracle."

Jamie is dying of leukemia. When Jamie befriends Landon Carter, one of those who mock her, her father and Landon's friends are concerned. But Jamie pours her life into Landon, helping him study, rallying him to memorize his lines for a school play, and introducing him to the wonder of astronomy. During this period, Landon falls in love with Jamie.

Eventually they marry. After a mere three months, Jamie dies. In honor of Jamie, Landon decides to attend college, where he distinguishes himself as a capable student. After graduation, he returns home to Beaufort. The first person he wants to see is Jamie's father.

As the two sit down, Landon announces he's been accepted into medical school.

Landon reaches into his backpack and pulls out a book of poetry and quotes that had originally belonged to Jamie's mom, but which Jamie had given to Landon when she had been sick.

"I want you to have it," Landon says to Reverend Sullivan, handing him the dog-eared volume.

Landon says, "I'm sorry she never got her miracle."

The minister looks straight at Landon. "She did. It was you." [A Walk to Remember (Warner Brothers, 2002), rated PG, written by Nicholas Sparks and Karen Janszen, directed by Adam Shankman]

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Psalm 19:14 (NLT)
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

He prays to God to keep him from sin, and then begs he would accept his performances; for, if we favour our sins, we cannot expect God should favour us or our services.




The website Business Insider ran an article titled "7 Brutally Honest Job Rejection Letters." Here are two examples of how not to confront someone.

Sub Pop, an independent record label in Seattle, sent the following rejection letter:

Dear Loser, Thank you for sending your demo materials to Sun Pop for consideration. Presently, your demo package is one of a massive quantity of material we receive everyday at Sub Pop World Headquarters. [Your material] is on its way through the great lower intestines that is the talent acquisitions process. We appreciate your interest and wish the best in your pursuit. Kind regards. P.S. This letter is known as a "rejection letter."

New Delta Review, a literary magazine in Baton Rouge, sent the following rejection letter:

Thank you for submitting. Unfortunately, the work you sent is quite terrible. Please forgive the form rejection, but it would take too much of my time to tell you exactly how terrible it was. So again, sorry for the form letter. [Vivian Giang, "7 Brutally Honest Job Rejection Letters," Business Insider (6-24-13)]


In prayer we ask that our words may be pleasing to God so we learn to also be pleasing to others. For the words we say have great impacts upon people. Imagine receiving one of the letters above, how would feel?

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Psalm 37:4 (NLT)
4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart�s desires.

We must not only depend upon God, but solace ourselves in him. We must be well pleased that there is a God, that he is such a one as he has revealed himself to be, and that he is our God in covenant. We must delight ourselves in his beauty, bounty, and benignity; our souls must return to him, and repose in him, as their rest, and their portion for ever. Being satisfied of his loving-kindness, we must be satisfied with it, and make that our exceeding joy, Ps. 43:4. [Matthew Henry Commentary]




One Sunday I was visiting one of Africa's largest slums, the massive Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. The conditions were simply inhumane. People lived in shacks constructed out of cardboard boxes. Foul smells gushed out of open ditches carrying human and animal excrement �. I thought to myself, This place is completely God-forsaken.

Then to my amazement, right there among the dung, I heard the sound of a familiar hymn �. Every Sunday, thirty slum dwellers crammed into this ten-by-twenty foot "sanctuary" to worship [God]. The church was made out of cardboard boxes that had been opened up and stapled to studs. It wasn't pretty, but it was a church made up of some of the poorest people on earth.

I was immediately asked to preach the sermon. I quickly jotted down some notes and was looking forward to teaching this congregation [about the sovereignty of God]. But before the sermon began, I listened as some of the poorest people on the planet cried out to God: "Jehovah Jireh, please heal my son, as he is going blind." "Merciful Lord, please protect me when I go home today, for my husband always beats me." "Sovereign King, please provide my children with enough food today, as they are hungry."

As I listened to their heartfelt prayers, I thought about my ample salary, my life insurance policy, my health insurance policy, my two cars, my house, etc. I realized that I do not really trust in God's sovereignty on a daily basis. I have buffers in place to shield me from most economic shocks. I realized that when these folks pray "Give us this day our daily bread" their minds don't wander as mine so often does. I realized that these slum dwellers were trusting in God's sovereignty just to get them through the day, and they had a far deeper intimacy with God than I probably will ever have in my entire life.

[Adapted from Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts (Moody Press, 2012), pp. 64-65]


Let out hearts turn to God in such a way that we are delighted to be with God and share our hurts, our pains and our wounds. And as we cry out to God, He will listen to the desires of our heart and give according to His will.

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Psalm 51:12 (NLT)
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

Though David penned this psalm upon a very particular occasion, yet, it is of as general use as any of David's psalms; it is the most eminent of the penitential psalms, and most expressive of the cares and desires of a repenting sinner. It is a pity indeed that in our devout addresses to God we should have any thing else to do than to praise God, for that is the work of heaven; but we make other work for ourselves by our own sins and follies: we must come to the throne of grace in the posture of penitents, to confess our sins and sue for the grace of God; and, if therein we would take with us words, we can nowhere find any more apposite than in this psalm, which is the record of David's repentance for his sin in the matter of Uriah, which was the greatest blemish upon his character: all the rest of his faults were nothing to this; it is said of him (1 Ki. 15:5), That "he turned not aside from the commandment of the Lord all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.' [Matthew Henry Commentary]



"I was years and years upon the brink of hell--I mean in my own feeling. I was unhappy, I was desponding, I was despairing. I dreamed of hell. My life was full of sorrow and wretchedness, believing that I was lost."

Charles Spurgeon used these strong words to describe his adolescent years. Despite his Christian upbringing (he was christened as an infant, and raised in the Congregational church), and his own efforts (he read the Bible and prayed daily), Spurgeon woke one January Sunday in 1850 with a deep sense of his need for deliverance.

Because of a snowstorm, the 15-year-old's path to church was diverted down a side street. For shelter, he ducked into the Primitive Methodist Chapel on Artillery Street. An unknown substitute lay preacher stepped into the pulpit and read his text--(Isaiah 45:22) "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else."

[Mary Ann Jeffreys. "Charles Haddon Spurgeon," Christian History, no. 29.]


Charles Spurgeon realized the need for God and change in his life. I pray we all understand our need for God and the changes that need to be brought about in our lives. We need a revival, a restoration of the joy of God's salvation in our lives.

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2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

It is a divine revelation, which we may depend upon as infallibly true. The same Spirit that breathed reason into us breathes revelation among us: For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men spoke as they were moved or carried forth by the Holy Ghost, 2 Pt. 1:21. The prophets and apostles did not speak from themselves, but what they received of the Lord that they delivered unto us.

It is profitable to us for all the purposes of the Christian life, for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. It answers all the ends of divine revelation. It instructs us in that which is true, reproves us for that which is amiss, directs us in that which is good. It is of use to all, for we all need to be instructed, corrected, and reproved: it is of special use to ministers, who are to give instruction, correction, and reproof; and whence can they fetch it better than from the scripture? [Matthew Henry Commentary]



Ever hear about the dihydrogen monoxide hoax? It's been around for a while, but it got a lot of media attention in 1997 when a 14-year-old student named Nathan Zohner circulated a petition to ban the substance as part of a high school science fair. According to Zohner, dihydrogen monoxide "may cause severe burns, accelerates the corrosion and rusting of many metals, and has been found in the excised tumors of terminal cancer patients." Despite these risks, he further noted, the nefarious chemical is often used "as an industrial solvent and coolant, in the production of Styrofoam, and as a fire retardant."

By now some of you have figured out that dihydrogen monoxide is the technical name for H2O, also known as water.

Nathan Zohner's story is a humorous one, but it illustrates an important truth: it's possible for us as human beings to develop a lot of misconceptions�even a dangerous familiarity�about something with which we are intimately connected. [Sam O'Neal, "What the Bible Says About God," in the introduction to the Building Small Groups newsletter.]


God grants us wisdom through His word that we would know what is true and help us realize what is wrong in our lives. God word corrects us and teaches us what is right so He can equip us to do every good work. It is through wise that we understand the details of life around us.

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Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)
12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

By the word of God we may understand either the essential or the written word: the essential Word, that in the beginning was with God, and was God (Jn. 1:1), the Lord Jesus Christ, and indeed what is said in this verse is true concerning him; but most understand it of the written word, the holy scriptures, which are the word of God.



On a recent bike trip it wasn't until I finally arrived home that I noticed something wrong. My tires were low. They needed air. The funny thing about bike tires is I don't remember taking air out of them. It just went. Somewhere. Somehow. Air leaks.

My tires weren't crazy low, but low enough to know that my efforts in peddling were not producing maximum return. Each rotation was just a little bit harder than it would be had the tires been filled properly.

It got me thinking. Life is like a bike tire. We don't intentionally take air out � it just leaves. And just as it's harder to peddle with flat tires, it's not as fun to live when the air has leaked out of our lives. We don't know where it goes or how. Life just has a way of deflating us. Difficult conversations � hisssssss (that's the sound of air leaving your tires!). Tough day at work � hisssssss. Overwhelmed by circumstance � hisssssss. It happens to all of us.

So where in my life am I being re-inflated? Where am I pausing long enough to "fill my tires"? I know for me it happens when I drive by myself, worship music cranked. Re-filling. It happens when I take my Bible and a journal to the beach and let God speak to me. Re-filling. It happens to me when the stories of God at work fill my spirit. Having a coffee with a wise and trusted friend.

What about you? Are you going through life with flat tires? How fun is that? How much effort are you putting out in relation to the return? What if you made a decision to pause and re-fill? Do you know your re-filling stations? How does God fill your tires and push you onward? [Mike Penninga, "Flat Tires?" Kelowna Gospel Fellowship blog (5-6-15)]


Lord fill our souls with Your word that we would not be empty, but instead have a full and useful life.

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1 Peter 1:24-25 (NLT)
24 As the Scriptures say, �People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. 25 But the word of the Lord remains forever.� And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.

The apostle having given an account of the excellency of the renewed spiritual man as born again, not of corruptible but incorruptible seed, he now sets before us the vanity of the natural man, taking him with all his ornaments and advantages about him: For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass; and nothing can make him a solid substantial being, but the being born again of the incorruptible seed, the word of God, which will transform him into a most excellent creature, whose glory will not fade like a flower, but shine like an angel; and this word is daily set before you in the preaching of the gospel. [Matthew Henry Commentary]




In 2001, just as his first child was about to be born, actor Mark Ruffalo (known for his portrayal of Bruce Banner/The Hulk in the movie The Avengers) discovered he had a brain tumor. It turned out to be benign, but half of his face was paralyzed for a long, uncertain year. The paralysis went away in time, but his left ear's hearing vanished forever.

"You start making deals," said Ruffalo, "OK, whoever, whatever�take my hearing, but don't take me away from my kid. That's a heavy moment to happen at three-year-old. But it was a blessing in disguise. I got a lesson in fallibility and mortality, you know, 10 years, 15 years ahead of my peers." [Brian Hiatt, "The Last Angry Man," Rolling Stone (5-7-15)]

Like the grass and the flowers of the field our bodies will eventually wither and fade away. But the Lord has given us a gift of eternal life, the Good News that is free to anyone who desires it. When we receive the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ we are given hope, a life worth living, and eternity with God.

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Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith�and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God� 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not the mere product of any natural abilities, nor of any merit of our own: Not of works, lest any man should boast, v. 9. These things are not brought to pass by any thing done by us, and therefore all boasting is excluded; he who glories must not glory in himself, but in the Lord. There is no room for any man's boasting of his own abilities and power; or as though he had done any thing that might deserve such immense favours from God. [Matthew Henry Commentary]



There are many reasons God saves you: to bring glory to himself, to appease his justice, to demonstrate his sovereignty. But one of the sweetest reasons God saved you is because he is fond of you. He likes having you around. He thinks you are the best thing to come down the pike in quite a while…. If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, he'll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart. And the Christmas gift he sent you in Bethlehem? Face it, friend. He's crazy about you! [Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder (Word, 1995]


God�s salvation to man is a gift, a gift born out of love, out of grace, out of mercy, and out of a tenderness for us. How can we boast of the things we have done, when God has done the greatest thing possible for us.

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