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Southside is a loving, vigorous, and growing congregation in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Our vision is toward the future: Our Children, Our Ministry, and Our Outreach. Our goal is to embrace all people in our hearts and fellowship as we strive together to support Christ’s mission on earth.

Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado

Chapter 16

Max tells the story of Rogers Cadenhead who registered the domain site www.BenedictXVI before the new pope was named. As a Catholic, he did not want the money from selling the domain to the Catholic church, but he did want three things from the church when they needed the domain: 1. one of those hats; 2. a free stay at the Vatican hotel; 3. complete absolution, no questions asked, for the third week of March 1987.

Max goes on: “Makes you wonder what happened that week, doesn’t it? It may remind you of a week of your own. Most of us have one, or more. Do you have a season in which you indulged, imbibed, or inhaled?”

“King David did. Could a collapse be more colossal than his?  He seduces and impregnates Bathsheba, murders her husband, and deceives his generals and soldiers. Then he marries her. She bears his child.”

At first, David believes all is well, but the feelings of guilt are still simmering. When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans.  The pressure never let up: all the juices of my life dried up.  Psalms 32:3-4 MSG.

Max invites us to underline II Samuel 11:27: The thing that David had done displeased the Lord.”  God has been silent all through David’s sins but now he will be silent no more.

God sends Nathan, a prophet, to David. Nathan tells David a story about a rich man with flocks of sheep who took the only sheep of a poor man and slaughtered it for a feast. David is incensed and says the rich man should die and restore the poor mans sheep fourfold.  Nathan then tells David that he is the rich man. David no defense because he knew it was true.

Through Nathan, God tells David that he had provided for him and blessed him, yet he had through his actions treated God with contempt. God is hurt by David’s actions. Max writes: “David had soiled God’s reputation, blemished God’s honor. And God, who jealously guards his glory, punishes David’s public sin in a public fashion.”  David loses his wives to other men for all people to see and the child of his adultery dies.

 

Numbers 32:23 ……. you can be sure that your sins will track you down. Colossal collapses will not leave us alone. They keep coming back to haunt us. Max says: “Unconfessed sin sits on our hearts like festering boils, poisoning, expanding. God takes your sleep, your rest. Want to know why? Because he wants to take away your sin. He will not rest until we do what David did: confess our fault.”

“It’s time for you to put your third week of March 1987 to rest. Assemble a meeting of three parties: you, God and your memory. Place the mistake before the judgment seat of God. Let him condemn it, let him pardon it, and let him put it away.”

 

 Chapter 17

David is well over sixty years old and his age beginning to show. Nathan told David after his affair with Bathsheba that “The sword shall never depart from this house.” 2 Samuel 2:10.  Nathan knew that David’s house would always be troubled because of David’s sin. David’s children are not a blessing to him. Amon, David’s son, raped his half-sister, Tamar, then discarded her.  She was desolate and moved in the home of David’s son Absalom. David was very angry with Amnon but did not confront him or punish him.

Max writes: “It was time for David to step up. Display his Goliath-killing courage, Saul-pardoning mercy, Brook-Besor leadership. David’s family needed to see the best of David. But they saw none of David. He didn’t intervene or respond. He wept. But wept in solitude.”

Because of David’s inaction, Absalom fled to Jerusalem to live with his grandfather for three years and David never tried to see his son. Absalom returned to Jerusalem and for two years David avoided him. In fact, David neglected all his children. Another son, Adonijah, staged a coup against his father and David did nothing.

Max writes about David: “David did so much well. He unified the twelve tribes into one nation. He masterminded military conquests. He founded the capital city and elevated God as the Lord of the people, bringing the ark to Jerusalem and paving the way for the temple. He wrote poetry we still read and psalms we still sing. But when it comes to his family, David blew it.”

David prayed about many things, but it seems he was too busy to pray about his family. He did not treat his family with the sense of priority he should have. Max says: “Your home is your giant-size privilege, your towering priority. Children spell love with four letters: T I M E.”

When David’s final hours were evident, he needed for someone to nurse him but there was no wife or children to serve and comfort him.  A young woman was brought in to care for David, a woman he did not know! Max’s thought: “He died in the care of a stranger because he made strangers out of his family.”

Max’s closing thought of this chapter: “Succeed at home first.”

 Facing Your Giants - Max Lucado - 2006 - Thomas Nelson Publishing - Used with permission

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GRANDPA SAYS --- “THINK ON THESE THINGS” by John Gray

 “You can’t go through life without influencing those around you. If your influence defines you - does it testify that you are a child of God? Does it say you leave folks better than you found them?”
 
“BIBLE HISTORY IS FULL OF EXAMPLES OF MAN'S TENDENCY TO GET OFF COURSE AND WALK IN A MANNER CONTRARY TO GOD’S WILL. ‘SHAZAM!’ - AS GOMER PYLE WOULD SAY - WE ARE STILL DOING IT.”
We all are guilty of getting sidetracked and unable to keep the main things - the main things, and as a consequence, unable to walk in a manner pleasing to God. Folks, a sincere commitment (to godly living) will cause Christians to live differently from the world.
 
In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon lists a series of activities, showing that there is a time for everything under heaven. However, is there ever a time when we should not be holy? Can we at times throw "caution to the wind" and behave anyway we desire? Are we allowed to "let our hair down" without restraint? Is it allowable to forget or ignore our duties and responsibilities to God? Can we occasionally take a vacation from our labors to become holy? No! --- “[B]ut like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living;” (1Pe 1:15).
 
Folks, there is no time when a person should be unconcerned about seeking holiness. There is no time when an individual (who strives to imitate the outstanding examples in God's Word) will put their self-control on-hold and stop seeking to put to death the fleshly desires that tempt them so strongly and frequently. Jesus warns that we are not to allow ourselves to become weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life (Luke 21:34). The apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 9:27 --- "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."
 
The person seeking holiness measures the value of everything in the light of whether it will draw them closer to God and to the image of Christ and whether or not it will make a positive and glorifying witness of God to the world.

Never forget, what you embrace defines you and sends messages that influence all who observe your conduct. Do not be deceived - your words and deeds speak from who and what you “Really” are.

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GRANDPA SAYS – “THINK ON THESE THINGS”

by John Gray

: “I’ve have learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.”
 
“THERE CAN BE DIFFERENCES OF OPINION WITHOUT THE DIFFERENCES BEING A TEST OF FELLOWSHIP.”
 
 “Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, unto edifying. For Christ also pleased not himself …” (Rom 15:1-4).
In general, a gray area is an area of life where the Bible neither specifically condemns an action nor condones an action, or the difference of opinion could be the fruit of spiritual immaturity.
Here are four practical questions to ask yourself when faced with questionable or grey situations.
1. Does it promote edification and/or encouragement? Will my choice of action promote unity among the saints? --- “So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up”. (Rom 14:19).
2. Can it lead to bondage (addition)? --- “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1Co 9:27).
3. Do you have an uneasy conscience about it? --- “But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned:” (1Ti 1:5).
4. Can it cause someone else to stumble? --- “Wherefore, if meat causeth my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh for evermore, that I cause not my brother to stumble.” (1Co 8:13).
Folks, Christianity is not a competition. It isn’t my faith against your faith or us against them. Christianity is supposed to be a relationship. We grow and mature and learn from each other. We lean on each other. We put others first. We run the race in such a way as to ensure that we all cross the finish line in a way that honors God. If there is something that I am doing that might trip you up, I need to get it out of the way. Don’t do anything that might ruin your witness to others. Don’t let gray areas or minor issues be the things that define our faith.
How I respond to those people that I don’t agree with makes all the difference in the world. There are things I don’t do that I could do; places I don’t go that I could go within my freedom in Christ. When we are all focused on Christ, we will all be in perfect harmony with each other. Remember, Jesus did not seek to please Himself.

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So each worshipper (Tuned to Christ) is following the same compass that will direct them to God.

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Rejoice in the Lord’s Mercy from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

From Mike: Paul writes in Romans 7 the following verses which describes my life:

16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

These verses also decribe the war I'm in with Satan. When I resist him, he may flee temporarily but he also waits around the corner to tempt me again causing guilt because of my failure to resist.  If they also describe your life. we can take hope in Max Lucado's words that follow:

 

Guilt sucks the life out of our souls. Grace restores it.

No one had more reason to feel the burden of guilt than did the apostle Paul. He had orchestrated the deaths of Christians—an ancient version of a terrorist. Yet, Paul gave his guilt to Jesus. Period. He surrendered it to Jesus. As a result he could write, “I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us” (Philippians 3:13-14 TLB).

What would the apostle say to the guilt-ridden? Simply this: “Rejoice in the Lord’s mercy. Trust in his ability to forgive. Cast yourself upon the grace of Christ and Christ alone!”

Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World

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What Are People Looking For?

Everyone is looking for something in life. Generally, we look for multiple things which is to be expected. Hopefully, a relationship with God is the priority. My relationship with God has not always been number one. Now that I am older I better understand that  NOTHING is more important than improving that relationship, I spend a lot more time in prayer and reading in an effort to improve the bond.

A significant function of that bond is my service to Him. In my younger years personal evangelism was a stressed in the congregation we attended. There was a fair amount of guilt because it was not a talent I felt I had. A true confession: there is still some guilt but there are other ways that God can be served. One of those ways is using authors’ thoughts and encouragement on this blog for the readers. Hopefully, God finds it acceptable.

When I visit a nursery to buy plants the first thing I tell them is that I have a black thumb. Sell me something that does not take a lot of care. The following was a posting on Facebook recently that struck home:

We cannot force someone to hear a message they are

not ready to receive. But we must never under estimate the

power of planting a seed.

If I can plant a seed with someone concerning their relationship with God, then he will take over the growth of that seed. Praying about that seed is then important. Down deep many people are looking for more!

This morning I planted a seed by emailing the following from Max Lucado:

“HE IS ABLE TO DO WHAT YOU CANNOT - July 8, 2021

What will happen if your job disappears? Or your health diminishes? Or the economy takes a nosedive? Does God have a message for his people when calamity strikes? He certainly had a word for Isaiah. The prophet wrote:

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up…above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:1-3).

God calmed the fears of Isaiah, not by removing the problem, but by revealing his divine power and presence. Rejoice that God is able to do what you cannot do! Your anxiety decreases as your understanding of your heavenly father increases.

Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World

Read more Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World”

I know nothing about your relationship with Him nor how you may serve Him but here is a thought. Use a Bible passage or your favorite spiritual writer to drop someone a note or email. Now pray for God to grow that seed!

Thanks!

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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THE COLLAGE OF HUMANITY - Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

Hopefully, as you read Max's thoughts below you will find comfort in them. Notice that he uses the word "Let this love happen". God is not going to force His love on you. Open your heart with prayer so He can come in. As the saying goes: "if you keep doing the same things" don't expect change. Work at this to gain more happiness!

Mike

 

The reason God loves you is that he has chosen to love you. Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you, but God will love you. These are his words: “I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved” (Romans 9:25 THE MESSAGE).

Let this love happen in your life, and prepare yourself for a new day. As God has his way with you, he will not let you live with your old hatred and prejudices. You’ll begin to see people in a different way. The neighbor down the street? He’s not a person who forgets to mow his lawn; he’s made in the image of God. God loves a diverse creation, and God’s love finds beauty in the collage of humanity. Life will become less a chore and more a stroll through God’s art gallery. This is how happiness happens.

How Happiness Happens - Finding Lasting Joy in a world of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado

 Chapter 15

 David’s life is now greatly changed Max says: “He has never been higher. The wave of his success crests at age fifty. Israel is expanding. The country is prospering. In two decades on the throne, he has distinguished himself as a warrior, musician, statesman, and king. His cabinet is strong, and his boundaries stretch for sixty square miles. No defeats on the battle field. No blemishes on his administration. Loved by the people. Served by the soldiers. Followed by the crowds. David is at an all-time high.”

While David’s army is out fighting battles, he stays at home on his balcony looking out over Jerusalem. He should be leading his men but from his balcony, he sees Bathsheba in her bathing place. He likes what he sees and inquires about her with one of his servants. To warn David away, the servant tells him who her father and husband, Uriah, are but David orders her to be brought to him.  David and Bathsheba had sexual relations.

David sends for Bathsheba to come to him many times to have sex with her. She becomes pregnant, so he eventually sends Uriah to the front of the battle where is sure to be killed. Now, David believes he has covered his tracks and marries Bathsheba. His arrogance leads him to think he’s alright with God and the world.

Maxis comments: “Who among us could ever ascend as high as David? We don’t have that can of clot.” But! “Haven’t you felt a bit superior to someone? A parking lot attendant. The clerk at the grocery store. And we’ve done what David did. We lost our sight and hearing.”

Max tells a story about losing patience with a flight attendant and grumbling to himself because of poor service. She asked him: “Are you the one who writes Christian books? Christian books, yes. Christian thoughts----that’s another matter, I said to myself, descending the stairs.”

She detailed her story about divorce papers arriving that morning and asked him to pray for her.  Max: “I did. But both God and I knew she was not the only one needing prayer. Perhaps you could use a prayer too? How is your hearing? Do you hear the servants whom God sends? Do you hear the conscience that God stirs?”

David’s was suffering from too much pride and arrogance. God hates arrogance: I hate pride and arrogance! Proverbs 8:13 NIV. Max offers: “Pursue humility. Humility doesn’t mean you think less of yourself but that you think of yourself less. “

Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given you. Romans 12:3 Phillips

Facing Your Giants – Max Lucado – 2006 – Thomas Nelson Publishing – Used by Permission

 

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FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER - June 24, 2021- Daily Devotion by Max Lucado

I believe that many times our attitude is afix blame and try to make our offender pay for it. Max says to tell the offender "the way it makes you fell" not assign blame. His advice below is very good but not always easy to do. Try to remember that you have also have offended and to work on your attitude towards forgiving!

Mike

 

The question is not “Did you get hurt?” The question is “Are you going to let the hurt harden you?” Wouldn’t you prefer to be “tenderhearted, forgiving one another”? Try these steps:

Decide what you need to forgive. Be specific. Narrow it down to the identifiable offense.

Ask yourself why it hurts. Why does this offense sting? What about it leaves you wounded?

Take it to Jesus. Talk to Jesus about the offense until the anger subsides. And when it returns, talk to Jesus again.

Tell your offender. If it feels safe, simply explain the offense and the way it makes you feel.

Pray for your offender. You cannot force reconciliation, but you can offer intercession.

Conduct a funeral. Bury the offense in the cemetery known as “Moving on with Life.”

This is how happiness happens.

How Happiness Happens - Finding Lasting Joy in a world of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations

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Chapter 14 - Facing Your Giants

David’s life could not be better.  He is no king, he’s through running from Saul and the ark is finally in its place. David is reflecting on his past when he remembers a promise: Is there still anyone in the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake? 2 Samuel 9

 Why should David care because is there is no one to remind him of his promise but his conscience causes him to remember the promise and the circumstances. When Saul was chasing David to kill him, Jonathan saved David and he made this request of David: If I make it through this alive, continue to be my covenant friend. And if I die, keep the covenant friendship with my family forever.

I Samuel 20:14-15 MSG

Jonathan does die, and David has many reasons to forget the covenant. Max writes: “The two were young and idealistic. Who keeps the promises of youth? Saul was cruel and relentless. Who honors the children of a nemesis? David has a nation to rule and an army to lead. What king has time for small matters? But, to David, a covenant is no small matter.”

 “Promises. We never escape their shadow. David, it seems, didn’t attempt to.”

He has integrity!!

 David’s search for a member Jonathan’s family was not an easy task.  A servant of Saul’s, Ziba, knows that Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth is alive.  There is, however, a complication, the boy is a cripple. After Saul and Jonathan are killed, members of the household flee the Philistines.  Mephibosheth is five years old as his nurse grabs him and runs. She drops him breaking both of his ankles leaving him incurably lame. Jonathan’s family hides in fear of the Philistines as well as David.

Max continues: “Collect the sad details of Mephibosheth’s life: born rightful heir to the throne, victimized by a fall, left with halting feet in a foreign land where he lived under the threat of death. Victimized. Ostracized. Disabled. Uncultured.”

 David orders the boy to be brought to his palace. Max goes on: “The boy assumes the worst. He enters the presence of David with the enthusiasm of a death-row inmate entering the lethal injection room. The boy bows low and asks, Who am I that you pay attention to a stray dog like me? David told Ziba: Everything that belonged to Saul and his family, I’ve handed over to your master’s grandson… from now on he will take all his meals at my table.  II Samuel 9:8-10 MSG

 Max’s comment: “A promise prompted by David. The king is kind, not because the boy is deserving, but because the promise is enduring.” Much like God’s promise to us through the sacrifice of Jesus.

 The story continues fifteen years later with the rebellion of Absalom against David.  David flees Jerusalem with a few friends including Ziba but not Mephibosheth. Ziba claims Mephibosheth has sided with the enemy. Upon David’s return to Jerusalem, Mephibosheth tells him that he had not turned against him but that Ziba refused to put him on a horse, so he could flee with David. David does not investigate which one is lying but remains loyal to Mephibosheth.  He does not break his promise.

 Max compares David’s loyalty to God’s: “God makes and never breaks his promise. The Hebrew word for covenant, beriyth, means a solemn agreement with binding force.’ God has made covenants throughout the Bible: He made a covenant with Noah to never destroy the world again through a flood; God promised Abraham to give his descendants the land and God’s covenant with us to provide Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins, so we can have eternal life in Heaven.

God, who never lies, promised this eternal life before the world began. Titus 1:2 God’s Word

 Max asks: “Shouldn’t God’s promise-keeping inspire you? Heaven knows you could use some inspiration. People can exhaust you. And there are times when all we can do is not enough. You’re tired. You’re angry. You’re disappointed.”

 Keep on loving these people. Max tells why: “So you can understand the depth of God’s love.  When you love the unloving, you get a glimpse of what God does for you. When you do what is right even though you have been done wrong when you love the weak and the sick, you do what God does every single moment. Covenant-keeping enrolls you in the post-graduate school of God’s love.”

“When you love liars, cheaters, heartbreakers, are you not doing what God has done for us? Pay attention to and take notes on your struggles. God invites you to understand his love.”

Max ends this chapter with a challenge for you: “Embrace God’s love. Who knows? Someone may tell your story of loyalty to illustrate the loyalty of God.”

Facing Your Giants – Max Lucado – 2006 – Thomas Nelson Publishing – Used by Permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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INVITE GOD TO BE GOD - June 17, 2021 by Max Lucado

Invite God to Be God

The faith-filled prayer is a prayer of admonishment. The prayer of faith invites God to be God, to be sovereign over a tumultuous time. Dennis McDonald models this type of admonishment. He was our church’s hospital chaplain for many years. I was always struck by the transformation that came over him as he began to minister. When he entered the hospital room, he went straight to work.

He would anoint the sick person with oil and pray, “Lord, this is your servant, whom you love and whom we love. Let your healing happen in this room. Satan, you must leave. You’re a liar, and your words have no merit. This child is bought by God. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.” This is the job of the church: to take struggling followers and lead them back to the path of faith. This is how happiness happens.

 
 
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LET LOVE SUCCEED - June 10, 2021 Daily Devotional by Max Lucado

The catchphrase “hate the sin and love the sinner” fits nicely on a bumper sticker, but how do we embed the principle in our hearts? Maybe these ideas will help.

Reserve judgment. Let every person you meet be a new person in your mind. None of this labeling or preconceived notions. Listening is a healing balm for raw emotions. Happiness happens not by fixing people, but by accepting people and entrusting them into the care of God. Jesus did this.

Another idea: Resist the urge to shout. You know, it’s better to keep quiet and keep a friend than to be loud and lose one. Besides, “They are God’s servants, not yours. They are responsible to him, not to you…” (Romans 14:4 TLB). Let’s reason together. Let’s work together. And if discussion fails, let love succeed—this is how happiness happens.

By Mike: I'm a fixer and manager by my personality. I've read this one three times this morning because I need it! I probably need to read this several times every day. 

God Bless

Mike

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Thoughts on Prayer By Lucado, Jackson and Smith

The Posture of Prayer by Max Lucado

“We have the opportunity to offer heartfelt prayers for every person we see: the attendant at the grocery store, the nurse in the doctor’s office. You don’t have to tell them of your intercessory prayer. When we seek to bless others through prayer, we are blessed. Studies draw causal links between prayer and faith and health and happiness. The act of praying for others has a boomerang effect. It allows us to shift the burden we carry for others to the shoulders of God.”

“Don’t grow angry at the church’s condition, pray for her. Don’t fret about the future of your family, pray for them. Assume the posture of prayer. Is there a crisis in your world? Are you called to give hope where hope cannot be found? Is prayer all that you have? That’s okay—prayer is all you need. This is how happiness happens.”

Mike: The bold emphasis is mine because I believe his words. Our faith should accept these words with no doubts.

Priority Conversations by Allen Jackson

Allen notices others on their cell phones as he goes about his business shopping and traveling. He writes: “I can tell from their earnest facial expressions and urgent tone of voice that weighty matters are being discussed. For there to be that much conversation required of that many people, we are clearly engaged in solving issues of great importance. Yet if someone suggests we should make conversation with the Lord a priority, the response is often, ‘Sorry. Not me. I don’t have the time, and I’m not much of a talker.’ I would challenge you to make talking with the Lord a priority in your day. There are matters of great importance to discuss.”

Mike: Again the bold emphasis is mine. God considers our prayers to be very important! It does seem that we all are ready to communicate with others while God comes as a second thought. God should always be first in our communication life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Intentional Prayer by Allen Jackson

Allen writes about Jesus going off alone to pray before He chose the twelve. “He went off alone and spent an entire night in prayer. ‘But this was Jesus, we think, God’s Son, who had experienced His Father’s Kingdom in its fullness. This was the Messiah who had turned water into wine, brought the dead to life, and quieted the wind and the waves. Still, He felt the need to spend several hours seeking His Father’s will in the matter. If God’s own Son relied on prayer so deeply and gave so much attention to His prayer life, I think we should follow His example. Let’s give the Lord more than our last fading thoughts of the day; let’s make prayer a priority in our lives.”

Mike: The bold emphasis is mine. Most of us can’t fathom praying for several hours bug we can make prayer a priority.

 

The Hunt by F. LaGard Smith

Mr. Smith writes about chasing materialism. He writes: “Isn’t it strange? In chasing after all the style and excitement this world has to offer, we end up being victimized by our own pursuits! It’s as if the rabbit turned on the fox, or the fox turned on the horses and their riders”

“There is a way out of the vicious circle. It comes by seeking, not chasing. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urged us to ‘seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ If we spend our time seeking God, we will never be disappointed. We will never be empty, or searching, or discontent. There will be no reason to chase after illusive happiness, for in Christ, true happiness is within our grasp!”

Mike: Once again the bold emphasis is mine. This seeking begins with prayer! Think about the thoughts these gentlemen have written about then pray.

Thanks

Mike  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Max Lucado’s Daily Devotional – May 2021 – Used with permission

Priority Conversations and Intentional Prayer by Allen Jackson –  From: Standing Firm – Allen Jackson – 2018 Intend Publishing - Used with permission

Taken from: Meeting God in Quiet Places by F. LaGrard Smith – Copyright 1992 - Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene Oregon, 97408 – www.harvesthousepublishers.com

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Unlock the Storehouses of Heaven by Max Lucado

"Someone you know is under attack. Your neighbor is depressed, your sibling is off track, your child is facing an uphill challenge. You may not know what to say. You may not have resources to help. But you have this: you have prayer. According to this promise, your prayers prompt the response of God in the lives of those you love. James 5:16: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

"When we pray for one another we enter God’s workshop, we pick up a hammer, and we help him accomplish his purposes. Our prayers unlock the storehouses of heaven. The link between God’s goodness and your friends is your prayers. When you pray, when you speak for the ones who need help to the One who can give it, something wonderful happens—this is how happiness happens."

Think about what Max is telling us. Some believe that God did not grant them talents. You may not be a leader, a public speaker or do well with personal evangelism but Romans 12:6 -  "We all have different gifts, each of which came because of the grace God gave us."  Your talent may be praying for others. Use your gift of prayer. He is looking for a righteous person not a perfect person. God is not looking for flowery words nor lenghty prayers but he is looking for an caring and honest heart. Serve God and others through your prayers.  Mike

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Do Nothing Out of Selfish Ambition by Max Lucado

“Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me” (Luke 10:40). Of all the ironies. Martha was in the presence of the Prince of Peace, yet she was the picture of stress. Martha’s downfall was not her work or request; it was her motivation. It doesn’t seem to me that she was making a meal for Jesus. She was really trying to make a big deal about her service.

Might there be a bit of Martha within us? What begins as a desire to serve Christ metastasizes into an act of impressing people. And gifted Marthas become miserable mumblers. Yet that Martha within is not easily silenced. Mark it down. When ministry becomes vain ambition, nothing good happens, and Jesus does not get served. No wonder the apostle Paul was so insistent and he said, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition” (Philippians 2:3). Because this is how happiness happens.

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Facing Your Giants - Chapter 13

Chapter 13

Max begins with the story of Uzzah. The ark of the covenant is a very holy item commissioned by Moses. It contains a gold jar of unspoiled manna, Aaron’s walking stick and the precious stone tablets that God engraved with his finger. These were used by the priest to worship and honor God. No one was to touch the ark except the priest at the holiest of times. David wants the ark of the covenant brought back to Jerusalem in a parade of people rejoicing.  He puts Abinadab, a priest in charge of the move.  Abinadab tells his two sons, Uzzah and Ahio, to load the ark on an ox-driven wagon and start the journey. It was only about a seven mile move and thought to be safe but one of the ox stumbled and Uzzah reached out to keep the ark from falling. God struck Uzzah dead for touching the ark!

Max continues: “This will dampen a parade real quick. Everyone goes home. Deeply distressed, David returns to Jerusalem. The ark is kept at the home of Obed-Edom while David sorts things out. Apparently, he succeeds, because at the end of three months David returns, reclaims the ark, and resumes the parade. This time there is no death. There is dancing. David enters Jerusalem with rejoicing.”

“Uzzah’s tragedy teaches this: God comes to us on his own terms. He gave specific instructions as to the care and transport of the ark. Only the priests could draw near it. Uzzah should have known this because he was a priest.”

God killing Uzzah for righting the ark seems totally unfair, but the ark was to be transported by using poles only with priests carrying it. God was angry because they totally set aside his instructions and did what they wanted not what he commanded.

But did God really have to kill Uzzah?  Max reminds us: “God comes, mind you.  BUT HE COMES ON HIS OWN TERMS! He comes when commands are revered, hearts are clean, and confession is made.”

“God’s greatest gift is himself.  Sunsets steal our breath. Caribbean blue stills our hearts. Newborn babies stir our tears. Lifelong love bejewels our lives. But take all these away and we still have reason to be happy. Because God is with us.”

“God loves you too much to leave you alone, so he hasn’t. He hasn’t left you alone with your fears, your worries, your disease, or your death. So, kick up your heals for joy.”

“Uzzah’s lifeless body cautions against his irreverence. No awe of God leads to the death of man. God won’t be cajoled, commanded, conjured up, or called down. He is a personal God who loves and heals and helps and intervenes. He doesn’t respond to magic potions or clever slogans. He looks for more. He looks for reverence, obedience, and God-hungry hearts. When he sees these, he comes.”

Facing Your Giants – Max Lucado – 2006 – Thomas Nelson Publishing – Used by Permission

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Anxiety by John Gray- Ideas on preaching

We all have probably struggled with anxiety at some point in our lives. There are folks who struggle with anxiety daily. We know someome who does. I admit that I don't understand it but as John says it is real. His article will help but only if you give your anxiety up to God. It is not easy but God will provide the Holy Spirit to help us if we let Him. Open your heart to God and ask Him for that help. Ask another believer to pray with you. Be one of those believers someone will ask you pray with and for anxious people.
 
GRANDPA SAYS – “THINK ON THESE THINGS”: “Why me? Sometimes the reason good things are not happening to you is because you are the good thing that needs to be happening to other people.”
 
“EVERY TOMORROW HAS TWO HANDLES. WE CAN TAKE HOLD OF TOMORROW WITH THE HANDLE OF ‘ANXIETY’ OR THE HANDLE OF ‘TRUSTING FAITH’.” (Henry Ward Beecher)
 
 “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” (Php 4:6-7).
 
Christians are not immune to anxiety. Often, we are made anxious by our thoughts. We get anxious - we worry and obsess about --- well, you name it! This is one reason we are wise to heed God’s command to take our thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5). When we are aware of what we are thinking and can evaluate those thoughts based on the truth of the Bible, we will not be defeated by our thoughts. Rather than sitting in “The rocking chair of worry going nowhere”, we will recognize the anxious thought and claim victory over it by the power of Christ and our trust in His loving care.
 
Jesus, unlike the world, can provide His disciples with a certain and trustworthy peace. He provides the real solution to anxiety, worry, loneliness, and other things that would make us insecure and disturb us. Specifically, the solution (John 14:26) was that Jesus would always be with his disciples. Even when He was physically apart from them, He would be with them because His Spirit would live in them. The Holy Spirit would uniquely empower and comfort them - bringing to their memory all that Jesus had said.
 
Jesus taught the disciples that peace doesn't come from the absence of difficult circumstances. Instead, peace comes from knowing that the Lord is with us - and in us (through His Spirit) if we have believed in Him. Because of that, we can have real peace, and instead of spending our time and energies being worried and anxious, we can do what He has designed for us to do - live in and walk with Him (John 15:1–11) - and love one another (John 15:12, 17).
 
-o-
“We Have an Anchor That Keeps the Soul” | Priscilla J. Owens, 1882
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
 
Thanks
 
Mike Clement
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GRANDPA SAYS – “THINK ON THESE THINGS”: “Is your heart as beautiful as an old barn?”

John Grey, a minister, writes on a Facebook page labeled, Preaching Ideas. He uses the theme “Grandpa Says”. Being an old man, I found his writing about the old barn had meaning for me!

Thanks!

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SOMETIMES PEOPLE ARE BEAUTIFUL. NOT IN WHAT THEY SAY. JUST IN WHAT THEY ARE. BEAUTY IS ABOUT HAVING A PRETTY HEART. REAL BEAUTY IS A LIGHT IN THE HEART THAT IS ALWAYS ON.”

No one defines for God His concept of beauty. If a person is beautiful to God, he fits God’s concept of beauty.  God told Samuel --- “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). Nothing in a person’s outward appearance impresses God. God looks upon the inner beauty, the beauty of one’s heart.

Sure, an old barn was a handsome building in its day. But the passing seasons have beat down on that old barn till all the paint's gone, and the wood has turned silver-gray. Now the old building leans a good deal, looking kind of tired. Yet, it has a beauty that can only come with the passing of time.  Only years of standing in the weather, bearing the storms, and scorching sun, can produce the beauty of persistent endurance.

You know, we're a lot like that old barn.  Only it's on the inside that the beauty grows with us. Sure we turn silver-gray too... and lean a bit more than we did when we were young and full of sap.  But the Good Lord knows what He's doing. And as the years pass, He's busy using the hard weather of our lives, the dry spells, and the stormy seasons to do a job of beautifying our souls that nothing else can produce. It is in our faithfulness that God sees beauty.

Spiritual beauty must never be taken for granted or be neglected. We must remember that just as it is possible to be one of society’s most impressive people and be ugly in the eyes of God, it is also possible to be an unknown in society and to be radiantly beautiful in His eyes.

Someday the old barn will fall down. And I reckon someday you and I will fall down and finish our journey to Heaven. And I suspect we'll be more beautiful in our glorified bodies because of the seasons we've been through here. 

Hold to God’s unchanging hand my friend!

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BE AN AGENT OF HAPPINESS - May 10, 2021 by Max Lucado

Be an Agent of Happiness 

Jesus wants to bring joy to the people of this generation, and he has enlisted some special agents of happiness to do the job: you and me.

Not an easy task. The people in our world can be moody, fickle, and stubborn. And that just describes my wife’s husband. Nah, if we are going to find the joy that comes through giving joy away, we need instruction. No wonder the Bible has so much to say about finding joy in the act of sharing it. The New Testament contains more than fifty “one another” statements.

You and I indwell a lonely planet. We cannot solve every problem in society, but we can bring smiles to a few faces. And who knows? If you brighten your corner of the world and I do the same in mine, a quiet revolution of joy might break out. It can be how happiness happens.

 
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Chapter 11 & 12 of Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado

Chapter 11

 Max opens this chapter with thoughts of navigating through our lives: “We’ve all scratched our heads a time or two, if not at highway intersections, at least at the crossroads of life. The best of navigators have wondered, do I…

  • take the job or leave it?
  • accept the marriage proposal or pass?
  • leave home or remain?
  • build or buy?”

“One of life’s giant-sized questions is: How can I know what God wants me to do?” The answer to this question is troubling because God is not going to give an answer by speaking directly to you.  There is no magic nor easy way.  His answer can be found in the Bible and in prayer. Consider God’s promises: Hebrews 13:5 NLT: I will never fail you. I will never forsake you. Philippians 4:6 NIV: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Max’s advice: “Don’t make a decision, whether large or small, without sitting before God with an open Bible, open heart, open ears, imitating the prayer of Samuel: Your servant is listening. I Samuel 3:10 NLT.”

In case you are wondering, there is no index in the Bible that will lead you to a list of your questions and God’s subsequent answer. You must study the Bible.

Max continues: “You aren’t the first to face your problem. Others have stood where you stand and wondered what you wonder. Seek their advice. Hebrews 13:7 NRSV: Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

This verse helps us to understand the importance of having a church family to help guide us when in need.

God will lead you through the Bible and the advice of the church family, but he will not lead us to violate his Word.

Max writes: “You have all you need to face the giant-sized questions of your life. Most of all you have a God who loves you too much to let you wander. Trust him!”

 

Chapter 12

 This chapter deals with our failures.  Everyone has at least one sin that he or she must deal with daily or maybe even several times each day.

Max questions: “Does one prevailing problem leech your life? Some are prone to cheat. Others are quick to doubt. Maybe you worry. Yes, everyone worries some, but you own the national distributorship of anxiety. Perhaps you are judgmental. Sure, everybody can be critical, but you pass more judgments than a federal judge.”

“What is that one weakness, bad habit, rotten attitude? Where does Satan have a stronghold within you? Ahh, there is a fitting word---stronghold: a fortress, citadel, thick walls, tall gates. It’s as if the devil stakes a claim on one weakness and constructed a rampart around it. You ain’t touching this flaw, he defies heaven, placing himself squarely between God’s help and your explosive temper, fragile self-image, freezer-size appetite or distrust for authority.”

Satan is not going away. He wants to keep a stronghold on your life. Max describes this stronghold as: “Strong enough to grip like a vise and stubborn enough to hold on. He clamps like a bear trap---the harder you shake, the more it hurts.”

David faces a stronghold in his desire to take over Jerusalem from the Jebusites. They scorned David by taunting him, “You shall not come in here, but the blind and the lame will repel you.” David ignored their taunts and took over Jerusalem.

Max writes: “The Jebusites pour scorn on David like Satan dumps buckets of discouragement on you:

  • You’ll never overcome your bad habits.
  • Born white trash; gonna die white trash.
  • Think you can overcome your addiction? Think again.”

In spite of the scorn David received, the Bible says in II Samuel 5:7 Nevertheless, David took the stronghold…  Max continues: “Wouldn’t you love for God to write a nevertheless in your biography? Born to alcoholics, nevertheless, she led a sober life. Never went to college, nevertheless, he mastered a trade. Didn’t read the Bible until retirement age, nevertheless, he came to a deep and abiding faith.”

Max says that we all need a nevertheless in our lives and God has plenty of them to go around.  We need to do what David did, turn to God for help.  He writes: “Two types of thoughts continually vie for your attention. One says, ‘Yes you can’. The other says, ‘No you can’t.’ One proclaims God’s strength; the other lists your failures. One longs to build you up; the other seeks to tear you down. And here is the great news: you select the voice you hear. Why listen to the mockers? Why give ears to the pea-brains and scoffers when you can, with the same ear, listen to the voice of God?”

“Do what David did. Turn a deaf ear to old voices. And, as you do. Open your eyes to new choices. Your nevertheless awaits you!”

Facing Your Giants – Max Lucado – 2006 – Thomas Nelson Publishing – Used by Permission

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Listening

The past twelve months has been a troubled time for us all. COVID has taken loved ones, taken away jobs and income and disrupted lives in general. We’ve had very contentious elections and are not dealing very well with our differences. Patience, understanding and love for each other is at an all-time low. Mr. Potato Head is creating a disturbance for some while a song nominated as number one is full of vulgarities. It’s time for the world to return to listening for God’s and our Savior’s voice.

F. LaGard Smith spends time each year in the Cotswolds’ of England. His book, Meeting God in Quiet Places, was written while there. One chapter he labels  “Lambing Time” is in the book. He begins the chapter with a quote from Job 34:4, “Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.”

Mr. Smith finds joy in the lambing time. The shepherd makes sure the ewes bind with her lambs by putting the mom in a yoke while the lamb feeds off of her. This assures the maternal instincts are created. Smith writes: “As much a matter of security as feeding, the mother lets her lambs know that they are alright, and then walks ahead of them, leading them out harm’s way.”

Smith continues: “From what I am told, with lambs it’s not a matter of sight, but sound. Apparently the lamb recognizes its mother’s distinctive voice. Of course there is yet another voice that sheep come to recognize---the shepherd. Perhaps that is due to the sense of security which the shepherd provides. Should it be any surprise, then, that we have a spiritual parallel in Jesus?”

“Jesus, of course, is the perfect, the quintessential Shepherd. At first not even His disciples understood this. So he said to them, ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Smith writes: “Surely that is what Jesus meant when he said that his sheep know his voice. As Jesus’ disciples—as his sheep—we don’t literally hear Jesus talking to us. Jesus’ voice hasn’t been heard on earth since the first century. But as Christians we have a relationship with the Good Shepherd that permits us to know his inner being. As a people of faith, we know how he thinks. We know what he believes. We know what he stands for.” I believe Smith makes the assumption that “people of faith” have studied the gospels so we can know his thinking and beliefs. This understanding does not come by osmosis but by study.

Smith points out that sheep have “the ability to recognize when it is not the shepherd’s voice calling. In fact they run headlong away from strangers—back to the voice they can depend on!”

Smith continues: “Whose voice are we listening to? Do we act as if there are no enemies prowling about—no need to stay near to him who protects us? Are we listening to voices that would lure us away from his care? Voices that seem more exciting, more sophisticated?” Let’s face it Satan has some tantalizing offers for us and he is not bashful about making them readily available. He is always calling us and is delighted when we listen for his voice not Jesus’ voice!!

He goes on: “Like sheep the only way to truly know the voice of God is to make sure that we have gone through the process of “mothering”. Without our own spiritual commitment to obediently follow God’s leading, even the Scriptures can be the instrument of counterfeit voices.”

“Hearing God’s voice is principally a matter of spiritual discernment. ‘The man without the spirit’, says Paul, ‘does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned”. Smith points out that “hearing God’s voice is not always easy”. He says: “But as believers born of the Spirit, we are able to discern.” It seems that we must have a true desire to discern and to believe the Spirit can and will guide us. Otherwise, we will keep listening to Satan and following him.

Smith offers this thought: “How sad it is that we too often turn to God only when something frightening happens to us. At those times, if no other, we recognize our complete dependence on God for, our very survival. If only we could realize how absolutely essential it is that we turn to God daily, aware that there is simply nowhere else to go. That there is no other worthy explanation, no other encouragement, no other hope. That he alone is the One who leads us out of harm’s way.”

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could begin each day recognizing our great need for spiritual nourishment and strength, and praising him for being the true source of our life, the One in whose image we want to continually re-created.”

“The more we come to know God, the more we appreciate how much he desires to satisfy our hearts with their very longing and need. Nothing is too much for us to ask. Certainly, he is our Source, but even more, he is our Sustainer. He suckles us with life and loved.”

“If wet and wobbly lambs are lovable because they are so dependent and vulnerable, how much more lovable we must be the heart of God! That thought alone ought to send us running to h is open arms. And he isn’t hard to find. Just listen to his voice. Over and over he calls to us.”

As I think about Smith’s ideas, it seems obvious that a successful relationship with God takes efforts on my part. Number one: I must CHOOSE to listen for his voice not Satan’s. If I make that choice, the Holy Spirit will make himself available to help me fight Satan’s offerings.  Number two: God is waiting for me to make my choice with open arms and heart. He wants me but it’s MY choice! Number three: If I choose to listen to Satan’s voice, God will be sad but will let me go. However, he always has open arms if I repent of my choice and listen for him.

Smith did not write about my next point in this chapter, but I really believe it deserves our consideration. If we are listening to the Good Shepherd, others will take note of our life and hopefully want to know about listening to God/Christ!

Additional verses about listening to God:

John 10:17 – “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

John 8:47 – “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Romans 10:17 -  “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Isaiah 30:21 – “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Psalm 32:8 – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

Thanks!

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Taken from: Meeting God in Quiet Places by F. LaGrard Smith – Copyright 1992- Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene Oregon, 97408 – www.harvesthousepublishers.com

 

 

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