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AskMe #2763514 10/30/13 05:56 AM
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Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can�t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Matthew Henry states, �Every converted sinner is a saved sinner. Such are delivered from sin and wrath; they are brought into a state of salvation, and have a right given them by grace to eternal happiness. The grace that saves them is the free undeserved goodness and favor of God; and he saves them, not by the works of the law, but through faith in Christ Jesus, by means of which they come to partake of the great blessings of the gospel; and both that faith and that salvation on which it has so great an influence are the gift of God.�



Repentance is a process of showing that you are sorry for something bad or wrong you did and that you want to do what is right. Most often a person tends to feel regret or sorrow for their actions. But God doesn�t want us to live with regret and sorrow, which is why we were saved by grace. For in God�s mercy He does not want us to linger in a state of remorseful sin where we feel prisoners to the sins we have committed. Instead God wants us to know His mercy and be free from the weight of sin that holds us down with regret and sorrow.

God wants to show us that through His power we can move past the sins in our life. There are people who have committed sins and paid the consequences for them. Instead of being held in slavery to the sin they found freedom. They found they could use their past circumstances to help others and minister to people with the same problems they had faced in their life.

One example that comes to mind is Model and Actress Jennifer Gimenez. Even though she had a successful career she struggled in her personal life. Only those closest to her knew of the severity of her drug and alcohol addiction. The addiction threatened to destroy everything she had worked so hard to achieve. Jennifer went through her struggles to find a road to recovery from addition. Eventually Jennifer found grace and mercy that allowed her to move past her addition and start helping others.


Jennifer works as an addiction counselor, and she�s using her new project, SoberBook.com, as a way to help people open up and seek help. Anyone who has ever struggled with drugs, alcohol, or any other type of an addiction can post their story anonymously, offering hope and support to others who may be going through the same thing.

AskMe #2763722 10/31/13 05:54 AM
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Revelation 20:4 (NLT)
4 Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Mentioned here are The Saints who suffered for the sake of Christ. They had been faithful and had kept clear of pagan idolatry and rituals. In standing firm they had been beheaded for their testimony of God and Christ. They were given eternal life, honor and power to rule with Christ for their good deeds.



Many Christians know All Hallows Eve by the secular name "Halloween," and avoid any celebration or religious observance of the day. The prevailing thought within many churches is that the holiday glorifies evil and is anti-Christian in its ideology. While many of the customs and traditions associated with the celebration find their roots in Medieval superstitions and ancient European rituals, the prevailing theme of the holiday was to give thanks for the harvest and honor family and friends who died in the past year.

The Church recognized this facet of the observance as they expanded their missionaries into Northern Europe and Britain. Seizing an opportunity to advance the cause of Christ, the Church incorporated Christian ideology into the various harvest festivals throughout Europe and changed the day of honoring saints and martyrs to correspond with the celebrations of the autumn months.

Traditionally, All Hallows Eve is a vigil for the observance of All Saints Day and All Souls Day, which fall respectively on the first two days of November. The name itself means "holy evening". The night is marked within the Church with prayers, hymns, fasting, and the reading of various scriptures in preparation for the celebration of the faith of the saints and martyrs the following day.

All Hallows Eve falls on the 31st of October, which also happens to be the day for the Protestant celebration of the Reformation. Pope Gregory IV set the date for All Saints Day in the early ninth century to specifically interact with the Celtic festival Of Samhain. The prevailing belief within the Church Catechism was that "a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.

Whatever the prevailing view amongst churches, for many Christians, Catholic and Protestant, All Hallows Eve continues to be observed as a time of faith and hope. Remembering those who lived their Christian faith and served God with all their hearts, even to the point of giving their lives, provides inspiration and perseverance for those who still remain. [Excerpts from http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/all_hallows_eve.html What is All Hallows Eve Traditions? Written by David Katski]


Take time to remember that tonight is All Hallows Eve and take a moment of reverence to thank God for those who have served Him faithfully. For tomorrow we are to celebrate the faith of the saints and martyrs who are mentioned in Revelation 20:4 and others who gave their lives for Christ.

AskMe #2763894 11/01/13 05:30 AM
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1 Peter 2:11-12 (NLT)
11 Dear friends, I warn you as �temporary residents and foreigners� to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

The apostle gives warning to those who have accepted God�s salvation through Jesus Christ. For now they remain here on the earth where they battle against the temptations of sin. They are told to live properly, in wise fashion among those who do not place their trust in Christ. They do this so that in time the unbelievers will see their honorable behavior when God reveals the injustice of the world.



Author Henri Nouwen tells the story of a family he knew in Paraguay. The father, a doctor, spoke out against the military regime there and its human rights abuses. Local police took their revenge on him by arresting his teenage son and torturing him to death. Enraged townsfolk wanted to turn the boy's funeral into a huge protest march, but the doctor chose another means of protest. At the funeral, the father displayed his son's body as he had found it in the jail�naked, scarred from electric shocks and cigarette burns, and beatings. All the villagers filed past the corpse, which lay not in a coffin but on the blood-soaked mattress from the prison. It was the strongest protest imaginable, for it put injustice on grotesque display.

Isn't that what God did at Calvary? � The cross that held Jesus' body, naked and marked with scars, exposed all the violence and injustice of this world. At once, the cross revealed what kind of world we have and what kind of God we have: a world of gross unfairness, a God of sacrificial love. [Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God (Zondervan, 1997), pp. 185-186]


We often miss seeing the injustice of this world, but this father laid his son out for all to see. He allowed them to see what was done by the hands of others. Their shame was put on display for all to recognize the evil that exists in the world.

AskMe #2764175 11/04/13 07:29 AM
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Isaiah 53:6 (NLT)
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God�s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

All of mankind has been stained with the original sin brought into the world by Adam and Eve. We are bent on following our own ways and disregarding God when He is trying to lead us down the correct paths of life. Instead of walking with God we willfully and corruptly turned to our own ways following the sinful nature that lives inside of us. Despite our desire to go our own way The Lord has granted us mercy and grace from the transgression of our sin.




According to the Chicago Tribune, on June 22, 1997, parachute instructor Michael Costello, forty-two, of Mt.Dora, Florida, jumped out of an airplane at 12,000 feet altitude with a novice skydiver name Gareth Griffith, age twenty-one.

The novice would soon discover just how good his instructor was, for when the novice pulled his rip cord, his parachute failed. Plummeting to the ground they faced certain death.

But then the instructor did an amazing thing. Just before hitting the ground, the instructor rolled over so that he would hit the ground first and the novice would land on top of him. The instructor was killed instantly. The novice fractured his spine in the fall, but he was not paralyzed.

One man takes the place of another, takes the brunt for another. One substitutes himself to die so another may live. So it was at the cross, when Jesus died for our sins. [Choice Contemporary Stories and Illustrations, Baker Books, compiled by Craig Brian Larson, pg57.]


We may all have turned to our own ways, but God still offers a chance for redemption. God gave His son Jesus Christ to atone for our sin. It�s up to us to acknowledge our sin, have a desire to repent from the sin, and place our faith and trust in Christ who died for us.

AskMe #2764328 11/05/13 06:00 AM
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Romans 13:10 (NLT)
10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God�s law.

Love has no design to do wrong to others. In loving others we fulfill the requirements of God�s law in the treatment of others, because we do no wrong.



Canadian journalist Bronwyn Drainie in My Jerusalem: Secular Adventures in the Holy City (Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1994), p. 220; describes the surprising behavior of a Haredi woman�an ultra-orthodox Jew�at a Jerusalem street market. Drainie says:

The most heroic single act I heard of during my two years in Jerusalem involved a Haredi woman. At the Mahane Yehuda one day, the Jewish street market just around the corner from my boys' school, an Arab terrorist drew a knife among the throng of shoppers and managed to stab two young men before fleeing for his life. The crowd of Israelis, incensed, began running after him, a number of them drawing pistols as they ran. The Arab darted across the street, running straight towards a Haredi woman of 40 who was standing at a bus-stop. Her name was Bella Freund.

In a trice she sized up what was happening. She stepped directly into the Arab's path and tripped him so that he fell to the ground, and she threw herself on top of him to protect him. The crowd kicked her, spat on her, threatened her with their guns, but they could not loosen her hold on the Arab, and she lay there until the police arrived to take him into custody.

Later, when the reporters got to her, Bella Freund said: "It was very simple. If you can save a life, you do it." Her hatred of Arabs, her lifelong conditioning never to touch a man who wasn't her husband, all of it was set aside in a split-second of truth. "I could not see a helpless man killed by a mob, whatever he had done," she said. "That's not the way I was brought up."



In an instance Mahane Yehuda took everything she believed about religion and replaced it with love. It was a love for life that motivated her to save this man who had hurt others. She gave him the chance to be justly tried instead of being condemned by an outraged mob. Her love outweighed her beliefs and gave this man a chance to live and a chance to possibly change his ways of thinking too.

AskMe #2764512 11/06/13 06:39 AM
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John 13:34-35 (NKJV)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.�

Judas had left to go and betray Jesus. The other disciples were still with Jesus. Jesus in His authority gave the remaining disciples a new command that they were to pass on � they were to love one another as Jesus Himself had loved them. Jesus was soon to die and they needed their love for one another to sustain them through the difficult times ahead. They needed each other now more than ever.




In his book Dad the Family Coach, Dave Simmons describes the shape love took in the life of his daughter.

I took Helen (8-years-old) and Brandon (5-years-old) to the Cloverleaf Mall in Hattiesburg to do a little shopping. As we drove up, we spotted a Peterbilt 18-wheeler parked with a big sign on it that said "Petting Zoo." The kids jumped up in a rush and asked, "Daddy, can we go? Please. Please. Can we go?"

"Sure," I said, flipping them both a quarter before walking into Sears. They bolted away, and I felt free to take my time looking for a scroll saw. A petting zoo consists of a portable fence erected in the mall with about six inches of sawdust and a hundred little furry baby animals of all kinds. Kids pay their money and stay in the enclosure enraptured with the squirmy little critters while their moms and dads shop.

A few minutes later, I turned around and saw Helen walking along behind me. I was shocked to see she preferred the hardware department to the petting zoo. Recognizing my error, I bent down and asked her what was wrong.

She looked up at me with those giant, limpid, brown eyes and said sadly, "Well, Daddy, it cost 50 cents. So, I gave Brandon my quarter." Then she said the most beautiful thing I ever heard. She repeated the family motto. The family motto is, "Love is action!"

She had given Brandon her quarter, and no one loves cuddly furry creatures more than Helen. She had watched Sandy take my steak and say, "Love is action!" She had watched both of us do and say "Love is action!" for years around the house and Kings Arrow Ranch. She had heard and seen "Love is action," and now she had incorporated it into her little lifestyle. It had become part of her.

What do you think I did? Well, not what you might think. As soon as I finished my errands, I took Helen to the petting zoo. We stood by the fence and watched Brandon go crazy petting and feeding the animals. Helen stood with her hands and chin resting on the fence and just watched Brandon. I had 50 cents burning a hole in my pocket; I never offered it to Helen, and she never asked for it.

Because she knew the whole family motto. It�s not, "Love is action." It�s, "Love is sacrificial action!" Love always pays a price. Love always costs something. Love is expensive. When you love, benefits accrue to another�s account. Love is for you, not for me. Love gives; it doesn�t grab. Helen gave her quarter to Brandon and wanted to follow through with her lesson. She knew she had to taste the sacrifice. She wanted to experience that total family motto. Love is sacrificial action. [Dave Simmons, Dad the Family Coach (Victor Books, 1991), pp. 123, 124]

AskMe #2764739 11/07/13 07:26 AM
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1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NLT)
1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

The Apostle Paul writes Timothy giving him instructions on how Christians should pray. First they are to pray for all people. There is no specific manner in which they are to pray, but their prayers so be for God�s help; interceding on their behalf; and giving thanks specifically for there. It would be easy to neglect the upper class for they have much, but Paul reminded Timothy to pray for the leadership of the county so there can be peace among the people.



A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner. This is a happy discovery for the Christian who begins to pray for others. [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (HarperSanFrancisco, 1954), p. 86]



When you begin to pray for others they become someone special. They come to your mind often and it�s usually at that moment you say another prayer for them. You find a desire for them to have a good life and for peace and good will to fill their hearts. You want to see them free from sin. If they don�t know The Lord you pray they may know The Lord. If they travel you pray for safety of their life. You give thanks for them, you ask God to help them and you ask for God to intercede on their behalf. This is how a Christian loves another who others may not even love or like. Begin praying for others and see what God does in your own life.

AskMe #2764966 11/08/13 06:16 AM
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Joshua 24:15 (NLT)
15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.�

Chapter 24 concludes the life and reign of Joshua. In this passage Joshua challenges the faith of the people by first asking who they might follow. Then he makes a bold statement to show them his faith and to let them know that he and his family would serve The Lord. Joshua led the people to the Promised Land and now he challenged them to follow The Lord who got them there.



Many think to themselves, �One person can�t make a difference.� But the truth is one person can be the start of something great. Yesterday was Billy Graham�s 95th birthday and media covered the events of his life. Over the years Billy Graham preached in many cities, speaking to thousands of people about the love of Jesus Christ. Dr. Graham would talk to them about the cross Jesus suffered on and died on as payment for our sins. In hearing the message from this one man thousands upon thousands came to know Jesus Christ in a real in person way. They came to know the love of Jesus and the hope for a better tomorrow.

Start believing in what you can do to impact the world in a positive way. There are some many ways to reach out to people who are desperately in need of hope. There are those in need of shelter. There are those who need food. There are those who just need to know they are loved. Find ways that you can help others and start impacting the world for The Lord.

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November 14Reading: Apostle Phillip

This Apostle, one of the Twelve, was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and was a compatriot of Andrew and Peter. He was instructed in the teachings of the Law, and devoted himself to the study of the prophetic books.

Therefore, when the Lord Jesus called him to the dignity of apostleship, he immediately sought out and found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of Whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (John 1.45).

Having preached Jesus the God-man throughout many parts of Asia Minor, and having suffered many things for His Name's sake, he was finally crucified upside down in Hierapolis of Phrygia.


Reading:

The Gospel of�John 1:43-51

At that time, Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
Philip found Nathanael, and he said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."

Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these."

And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."

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John 17:17 (NKJV)
17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

This is part of a prayer Jesus gave for His disciples. The prayer was to God The Father that He would sanctify them according to the truth of His word.



Chuck Swindoll, in Embraced By the Spirit, published by Zondervan, 2010 wrote: One of my most unforgettable moments happened when I was about ten years old. My father served our country during World War II in a plant in our hometown, building all sorts of interesting equipment for the massive tanks, fighter planes, and bombers that defended us in lands far away. Dad worked too long and too hard. As a result he suffered a physical breakdown. And on its heels came an emotional trauma that puzzled everyone, including the doctors.

I was convinced in my heart that my dad was going to die. He may have had such thoughts too, because one night he called me into his room for a somber father-son talk �. I remember leaning hard against his bed, listening carefully to a voice that was hardly more than a whisper. I thought I was hearing him for the last time. He gave me counsel on life�how I should live, how I should conduct myself as his son. The counsel wasn't long, and then I left and went across the hall to the room that I shared with my older brother. All alone, I lay across my bed and sobbed, convinced that I would never see my dad alive again.

That scene still haunts me. Even though my dad recovered to live � I still remember the night he talked to me. Something very significant is wrapped up in our final words. Consider the night in Jerusalem when the Lord and his disciples gathered for � what we call "The Last Supper." Less than twelve hours after [that meal], Jesus was nailed to a cross; a few hours later, he was dead. Jesus understood the significance of those moments and the importance of his last counsel. And so he gave them exactly what they would need to carry them through the rest of their days.


Christ can give us exactly what we need in our lives. Take the time to fellowship with Christ, read the truth of His words and learn the lessons He teaches.

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2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NKJV)
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ�s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

As God desires for us to be reconciled to Him, we too should have the desire to reconcile ourselves to God. We are to make ourselves ambassadors for Christ, going to make known Christ and His gift of salvation for all. We are to demonstrate Christ in our actions and love for others. All but Christ were sinners and Christ who knew no sin took the sin of the world upon Himself that we would become righteous before God. Christ became the one who paid the debt for the sins of the world.



In the movie National Treasure, Ben Gates, played by Nicolas Cage is on a mission to find a National Treasure that was long forgotten. The character Ian Howe is out to find the treasure as well competing against Gates. Ian wants the satisfaction of claiming the treasure for himself. Gates is more interested in the preservation of the treasure and is therefore at odds with Ian.

A critical piece in the movie is the Constitution of The United States must be taken to find a map hidden on the backside of The Constitution. Gates has high regards for this important document, but Ian is willing to do anything to get it, including murder if necessary. Gates manages to obtain the document, but this draws the attention of the FBI as the document shifts between Gates and Ian.

In the end of the movie Gates finds the treasure and the FBI agent catches up with Gates and his crew. Gates discloses the information about the treasure and what has taken place. Gates asks the agent, �Now what?� The agent replies, �Somebody needs to go to jail.� It turns out that Ian Howe and his mercenaries take the fall for the theft of The Constitution after Gates turns over the treasure and lead the FBI to Ian and his crew who are in possession of The Constitution.


You see someone had to pay for the crimes committed. Someone had to take responsibility and pay the debt for the actions that had taken place. While Jesus Christ never committed sin, He took the responsibility to pay the debt for our sins. It should have been us that faced the punishment Christ faced, but instead Christ suffered a horrible death because He loved us and wanted to set us free from sin. For those who have placed their faith in Christ let us act as Ambassadors for Christ so the world can know about Him.

AskMe #2766998 11/20/13 06:25 AM
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1 Chronicles 16:8-9 (NLT)
8 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.
9 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.

The above verses are from a song of thanksgiving written by David. The Arc of the Covenant was returned to Jerusalem and there was great celebration because of its return. David encouraged others to give thanks to the Lord and sing praises about the wonderful things God had done.



Many churches, such as the one I attend, have ministries to help the homeless. Every Thursday evening our church takes a bus load of people downtown. Their purpose is to setup a temporary spot where the homeless can gather, listen to a sermon of encouragement, eat a warm meal and enjoy songs of praise.

The meals are usually simple - there are hot dogs, warn beans along with coffee, hot chocolate or tea. Local area stores often donate loafs of bread, donuts, and personal hygiene items to hand out. The homeless who come appreciate these items and are very thankful for what they receive. Many will take a loaf of bread with them to help them through the week stave off some of their hunger.

Most of us take for granted what we have. We have warm homes to come home to. We eat out or fix nice meals at home. Yet, the homeless who attend these meetings are thankful for the simple things they receive. On cold nights passes to a local shelter are handed out so these people have a warm place to go, but many will still sleep on the streets.

As our celebration of Thanksgiving approaches take time to give God thanks for all you have. Give God praise that you are blessed even with the simple things in life. Let others know what God has done for you and sing His praises.

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1 Corinthians 1:4-5 (NLT)
4 I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. 5 Through him, God has enriched your church in every way�with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge.

Paul begins most of his epistles with thanksgiving to God for his friends and prayer for them. The best way of manifesting our affection to our friends is by praying and giving thanks for them. It is one branch of the communion of saints to give thanks to God mutually for our gifts, graces, and comforts. [Matthew Henry Commentary]



Business researchers call it "the missing ingredient" or "the hidden accelerator." Most managers could transform their workplaces with this missing ingredient: showing appreciation. That's the focus of a recent book entitled The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. Based on a ten-year study that interviewed 200,000 people, Gostick and Elton conclude that appreciation tops the list of things employees say they want from their bosses. Some of the statistics to back up this claim include:
Of the people who report high morale at work, 94.4 percent agree that their managers show appreciation.
79 percent of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as the key reason for leaving.
56 percent of employees who report low morale also give their managers low marks for showing appreciation.

Of course these statistics tap into a fundamental need in all of our relationships: the need to give and receive affirmation and blessing. The authors of The Carrot Principle conclude, "The simple � act of a leader [or a spouse, parent, coach, mentor, or friend] expressing appreciation to a person in a meaningful � way is the missing accelerator that can do so much but is used so sparingly."
[Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, The Carrot Principle (Free Press, 2007), pp. 7-14.]


Let us try to do as the Apostle Paul by giving thanks and appreciation to those who are around us. Let us take time to thank people for their efforts. Let us tell them how much we appreciate them and acknowledge the good qualities in them. If we do we will find ourselves not only transforming them, but transforming ourselves.

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Colossians 3:15 (NLT)
15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Here the apostle calls Christians to live in peace because the peace of Christ rules in their hearts. We are to live in peace with God, with ourselves, with our family and with all others. We are to always be thankful for the work of thanksgiving to God is such a sweet and pleasant work that it will help make us sweet and pleasant towards all men.




According to new research from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity one out of five non-Christians in North America does not "personally know" a single follower of Christ. That's 13,447,000 people who don't have a Christian friend or even acquaintance. The percentages get higher for certain religious groups. For instance, 65 percent of Buddhists, 75 percent of Chinese people, 78 percent of Hindus, and 43 percent of Muslims in America do not personally know a follower of Christ.

Worldwide, the numbers are much worse: more than 8 in 10 non-Christians do not personally know a follower of Christ.

Todd M. Johnson, one of the researchers for the study, said that relatively small gestures�like inviting families into your home for Thanksgiving dinner�can have a bigger impact than huge mission campaigns. Johnson said, "You should really have lifelong friendships with Hindus, Buddhists, and so on. It's so simple, and yet it becomes a great deal." [Abby Stocker, "The Craziest Statistic You'll Read About North American Missions," Christianity Today (8-19-13)]


We need to make peace with all people and win them over as friends. We need to let them see the peace and love we have with Christ Jesus. We need to demonstrate the love of Christ to them in order that they might know Christ in a greater way. We can also pray those who are our enemies learn peace through our peaceful actions. Remember to always be thankful so you can find peace.

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Psalm 100:1-5 (NKJV)
1 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

This is a song of praise for the Lord�s faithfulness to His people. They express there thankfulness and praise the Lord for His greatness. They acknowledge his truthfulness and the mercy He grants.



Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision, reflected on his visit to a church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti nearly a year after the devastating earthquake. The church's building consisted of a tent made from white tarps and duct tape, pitched in the midst of a sprawling camp for thousands of people still homeless from the earthquake. This is how he describes the church and the lesson he learned in Haiti:

In the front row sat six amputees ranging in age from 6 to 60. They were clapping and smiling as they sang song after song and lifted their prayers to God. The worship was full of hope � [and] with thanksgiving to the Lord.

No one was singing louder or praying more fervently than Demosi Louphine, a 32-year-old unemployed single mother of two. During the earthquake, a collapsed building crushed her right arm and left leg. After four days both limbs had to be amputated.

She was leading the choir, leading prayers, standing on her prosthesis and lifting her one hand high in praise to God .� Following the service, I met Demosi's two daughters, ages eight and ten. The three of them now live in a tent five feet tall and perhaps eight feet wide. Despite losing her job, her home, and two limbs, she is deeply grateful because God spared her life on January 12th last year � "He brought me back like Lazarus, giving me the gift of life," says Demosi � [who] believes she survived the devastating quake for two reasons: to raise her girls and to serve her Lord for a few more years.

It makes no sense to me as an "entitled American" who grouses at the smallest inconveniences�a clogged drain or a slow wi-fi connection in my home. Yet here in this place, many people who had lost everything � expressed nothing but praise.

I find my own sense of charity for people like Demosi inadequate. They have so much more to offer me than I to them. I feel pity and sadness for them, but it is they who might better pity me for the shallowness of my own walk with Christ. [Richard Stearns, "Suffering and Rejoicing in a Haitian Tent Camp," Christianitytoday.com (1-12-11)]



When we allow ourselves to be thankful for all things there is a joy that fills us. This Thanksgiving count the blessings you have and give thanks. Let your heart be filled with joy as you reflect on how The Lord has been good to you. Shout joyfully to The Lord for all He has done.

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John 11:1-7 (NKJV)
1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, �Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.� 4 When Jesus heard that, He said, �This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.� 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, �Let us go to Judea again.�

Jesus was friends to Mary, Martha and Lazarus. It says in the verses about that Jesus loved them. Jesus however delayed in going to Lazarus because he had other purposes. Jesus said, �This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.� Jesus knew Lazarus was sick, but He waited to go so that God would be glorified through all of the works of Jesus.



In his book Unspeakable, Os Guinness tells the story about a well-known Christian leader whose son had been killed in a cycling accident. Although the leader was devastated, somehow he managed to suppress his grief, even preaching eloquently at his son's funeral. His display of hope in the midst of tragedy earned him the admiration of many.

But a few weeks after the funeral, the man invited Guinness and a few friends to his home. According to Guinness, this man spoke and even screamed "not with the hope of a preacher but with the hurt of the father�pained and furious at God, dark and bilious in his blasphemy." In his agony, he blamed God for his son's death.

Rather than rebuke him, one of Guinness's friends gently reminded the enraged father of the story of Jesus at Lazarus' tomb. On three occasions in that story, Jesus expressed anger, and even furious indignation, in the presence of death. When Jesus came to earth, he became a human being just like us, feeling the abnormality of our suffering. In Jesus' humanity we see God's perspective of our pain: the beautiful world God created is now broken and in ruins. Jesus will heal this broken world and our broken lives, but first, he came to earth in order to identify with our anguish.

Guinness concludes that when we understand Jesus' humanity, it frees us to face the world's brokenness just as Jesus did. Like Jesus, we must never accuse God of wrongdoing or blaspheme God, but like Jesus, we are "free to feel what it is human to feel: sorrow at what is heartbreaking, shock at what is shattering, and outrage at what is flagrantly out of joint � . To pretend otherwise is to be too pious by half, and harder on ourselves than Jesus himself was." [Os Guinness, Unspeakable (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005), pp. 144-145]


The afflictions of those who belong to Christ are designed for the glory of God that he may pour out grace and mercy. We may not understand why things happen, but we can be assured they are for the greater glory of a kingdom in which one day we will take part. Let us give thanks and praise to Christ who lived to know our pain that we may live to know His glory.

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Colossians 3:16 (NKJV)
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

The word of Christ that dwells within is the gospel of Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life among us, died unjustly on a Roman cross and rose to life 3 days later defeating death and giving hope of an eternal life in heaven. For Christ to dwell in each of us as individuals we must acknowledge the sin present in our lives, be willing to repent of that sin by turning our lives over to Christ and placing our faith in Christ that we may receive the benefits of adoption into an eternal heavenly family. So let us sing out with praise and thanksgiving with the grace that has filled our hearts.



The song Thanksgiving from Mary Chapin Carpenters "Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas" album.

Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.
From far and near we travel home,
Blessed that we are able.

Grateful for this sheltered place
With light in every window,
Saying welcome, welcome, share this feast
Come in away from sorrow.

Father, mother, daughter, son,
Neighbor, friend and friendless;
All together everyone in the gift of loving-kindness.

Grateful for what�s understood,
And all that is forgiven;
We try so hard to be good,
To lead a life worth living.

Father, mother, daughter, son,
Neighbor, friend, and friendless;
All together everyone, let grateful days be endless.

Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.


Let me say, I am thankful for each and every one of you. Let joy fill your hearts and enjoy the company of family and friends. Sing with joy songs of thanksgiving as you reflect on all that you have been given. God bless you and your families this Thanksgiving holiday.

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John 8:12 (NKJV)
12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, �I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.�

This verse follows the event in which a crowd asked Jesus whether they should stone a woman caught in adultery. Jesus had responded, �He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.� As the crowd heard these words they began to depart leaving the woman along with Jesus. Jesus reminded the disciples among Him that those who follow Him will be walking in the light of life and not darkness.



One weekend, author Paul Tripp gave his teenage son permission to spend the weekend at a friend's house. But during the weekend Paul received a call from the friend's mother, informing him that Paul's son was not at her home. (Her son had felt guilty about covering for Paul's son and confessed to his mom.) After Paul told his wife about their son's deception, Paul said, "Luella could feel my anger, and she said, 'I think you need to pray.' I said, 'I don't think I can pray for him right now.' She said, 'I didn't mean for you to pray for him; I think you need to pray for you.'"

Paul writes:

I went to my bedroom to pray for God's help, and it hit me that, because of his love, God had already begun a work of rescue in my son's life. God was the one who pressed in on the conscience of my son's friend, causing him to confess to his mom. God was the one who gave her the courage to make that difficult call to me. And God was the one giving me time to get a hold of myself before my son came home. Now, rather than wanting to rip into my son, I wanted to be part of what this God of grace was doing in this moment of rebellion, deception, hurt, and disappointment.

After giving his son a couple of hours to relax upon his return, Paul asked him if they could talk.

"Do you ever think about how much God loves you?" Paul asked his son.

"Sometimes," he answered.

"Do you ever think how much God's grace operates in your life every day?"

His son looked up but didn't speak.

"Do you know how much God's grace was working in your life even this weekend?"

"Who told you?" his son asked.

Paul said:

"You have lived your life in the light. You've made good choices. You've been an easy son to parent, but this weekend you took a step toward the darkness. You can live in the darkness if you want. You can learn to lie and deceive. You can use your friends as your cover � You can step over God's boundaries. Or you can determine to live in God's light. I'm pleading with you: don't live in the darkness; live in the light."

"As I turned to walk away," Paul wrote, "I heard his voice from behind me saying, 'Dad, don't go.' As I turned around, with tears in his eyes, he said, 'Dad, I want to live in the light, but it's so hard. Will you help me?'" [Paul David Tripp, Forever: Why You Can't Live Without It (Zondervan, 2011), pp. 151-153]

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Psalm 23 (NKJV)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name�s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Having been a shepherd himself, David understands the care given to the sheep and he finds peace and comfort in knowing that The Lord is his Shepherd.



In his book Thoughts in Solitude, Thomas Merton wrote the words below that have become known as "the Merton Prayer":

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. [Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999), p. 79]


Just as David, Thomas Merton faced the shadow of death and also like David he did not fear; for Thomas knew the promises of The Lord never to leave him to face his perils alone. Faith in The Lord is our stronghold from which we can find peace, comfort and security. Trust in The Lord with all your heart and soul and find the peace that passes all understanding.

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Matthew 7:1-2 (NJKV)
1 �Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

The verses above are a reminder that we should always first consider our own actions in life and do what is right and just. The comments were directed at the scribes and Pharisees who were harsh in condemning all around them. They judged the actions of people and placed harsh punishments upon them as judgment for their actions. It is not that we should hold back reproof, but we must have our own lives in order. For reproof is given to benefit another in order to help them see the faults in their life. The difference between judgment and reproof is that with reproof you are explaining how to make right what is wrong, while judgment passes condemnation on the actions.



I used the verses above this morning after seeing a picture posted on Facebook of a sign that read Cabaret Lunch Topless and then underneath was posted �You quote Job 31:1, we reply Matthew 7:1�. As someone commented, �Even Satan knows the word of God and will twist it around to continue to enslave others.

Job 31:1 says, �I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.� This was one of many statements Job made trying to present a case that he was a good man; for his friends judged that his pain and suffering were results of sinful actions he might have committed. It brings to mind the phrase, �With friends like this, who needs enemies?� These friends were wrong in their assumptions and their judgment was incorrect. Job had done no wrong, but instead God was testing the strength of Job�s faith.

If Job had made the comment to the owner of the establishment he would have been right to do so for Job was commenting on himself. There is no wrong in holding onto and abiding by the moral principles of God in one�s life. Now it would be a different story making that comment and then saying �You are going to hell because you aren�t doing the same.� In that statement you would be condemning by judgment without authority to do so.

Avoid judging others, but know it is okay to state God�s word and to remind others of what God has said. Reproof is a form of encouragement to do what is right. Judgment is a form of condemnation for the acts done. Remember we are to love one another and also encourage one another. If our reproof is correct the person will understand our love for them.

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