Southside's Blog

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.

GOD STILL CHANGES FAMILIES 

Hopefully, Max Lucado's devotional this morning doesn't apply to you because your family is functioning well.  If you are struggling with your family pray and hold on Max's last two sentences.

"To recognize God as Lord is to acknowledge that he is sovereign and supreme in the universe. To accept him as Savior is to accept his gift of salvation offered on the cross. To regard him as Father is to go a step further. Ideally, a father is the one in your life who provides and protects. That is exactly what God has done. Now it just falls to us to be trusting children. Let God give you what your family does not."

"Having your family’s approval is desirable, but it’s not always possible, and it’s really not necessary for happiness. Jesus gave his family space and time and grace. And because he did, they changed. One brother became an apostle and others became missionaries. So don’t lose heart. God still changes families."

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GOD HEARS OUR REQUESTS - June 14, 2022

It's kind of early but maybe your day is already off to a rough start. The other day my was because of agitation about something but I kept praying and God stepped in. He eased my mind! Let Him step in for you this morning!

Max Lucado:

The King of creation gives special heed to the voices of his family. In Matthew 6:9 he even tells us what to ask him: “Thy kingdom come.”

When you pray, “Thy kingdom come,” you are inviting the Messiah himself to walk into your world. Come, my King! Take your throne in our land. Be present in my heart. Be present in my office. Be Lord of my family, my fears, and my doubts. This is a bold appeal for God to occupy every corner of your life. Who are you to ask such a thing? You are his child, for heaven’s sake! And so you ask boldly. “So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need” (Hebrews 4:16 TLB).

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The Decisions We Make for God

Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” I take this verse literally. Scriptures do not provide an approved list of requests or problems that God will entertain but common sense tells us not every request is appropriate. Asking God to cause harm your enemies or help you make money from an illegal scheme etc. would not be appropriate.

It seems some seem to think that asking God for help is not appropriate because He’s too busy or the request is too minor. In 1999 when Kay and I were considering buying an antique mall we were performing our due diligence with CPAs, attorneys, insurance experts and other business people whose opinion we valued. During a discussion with my father about how things were going, I gave him an update and told him that God was the most valued expert. Dad said he did not believe God worked that way. We should reserve request for major matters. This was a major matter for us. I was not asking for God to make the decision but for His guidance through the decision process. Yes, if we bought the mall then for His continued guidance as we tried to make it a success.

That encounter started me thinking that at times we make a decision for God. We decide what He is interested in or what He’s got time to listen to. It could be that we decide what He can do or is willing do. Every day I ask that He take away COVID. That does not seem like an unreasonable request. He CAN do it because He is God. Will He? That’s up to Him.

God loves us so He wants us to tell HIM in prayer what’s on our hearts and our minds. He always has time for you. If it’s important to you then it’s also important to God. Never doubt what God can do!! Let Him decide what He WILL do!

 

Thanks!Do not make these decisions for Him! He can make them Himself!

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

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EPIPHANY OF HOPE

Pardon the personal reference but I can really relate to Max's message today. After my massive stoke on March 20, 2015, I knew that only through God could there be improvement. Many of you know the same thing maybe not from a stroke but some other tragic event. Our responsibility now is to offer encouragement!

Max: "On April 21, 2008, Katherine Wolf suffered a massive stroke. She lost her ability to walk, talk clearly, and care for herself. She went from being a California model to a wheelchair-bound patient. God stepped in. In her wonderful book, Hope Heals, she writes, “I felt a deep awakening of the Word of God, which I had known since I was a little girl…It was my epiphany of hope! I would never lose heart in this situation because my soul was not what was wasting away.”

"Don’t try to weather this storm alone my friend. He is still the great I AM. The next time you pray, Is anyone coming to help me? listen for the response of Jesus: I AM with you in the storm. And remember my friend, you are never alone. "

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New Beginnings

There are a number of new beginnings around us always. This time of the year  graduates are launching new education or career opportunities. Newly weds or those that are about to be starting married life. Newborns coming into the world who are going to change Mom’s and Dad’s lives beyond their imagination. Grandparents with broad smiles pasted on their face. These are all marvelous beginnings.

Some new beginnings are not so marvelous. People loose their spouses, others move into nursing homes, loose their jobs, divorce happens and a number of other  developments change our lives and not for the better.

Max Lucado’s devotion comes Monday thru Friday. I forward it almost every day to my children and their family. Our son’s mother-in-law has been diagnosed with and started treatment for breast cancer. She’s very frightened and is searching for encouragement. She doesn’t have a close relationship with God so I include her in the email. Hopefully, Max’s devotion can give her encouragement to build a closer relationship with God. Think about your relationship with Him as you read Max’s writing for today.

I AM IS NEAR - May 19, 2022 - by Max Lucado

Jesus says to us what he said to the disciples on the stormy sea. “It is I! Don’t be afraid” (John 6:20).

The literal translation of what Jesus said is “I AM; don’t be afraid.” I AM. That’s God’s name. When we wonder if God is coming, he answers with his name, “I AM!” When we wonder if he is able, he declares, “I AM.” When we see nothing but darkness, feel nothing but doubt, and wonder if God is near or aware, the welcome answer from Jesus is this: “I AM!”

Pause for a moment and let him tell you his name. Your greatest need is his presence. Yes, you want this storm to pass. Yes, you want the winds to still. But yes, yes, yes, you want to know, need to know, and must know that the great I AM is near. Remember, friends, you are never alone.

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Team Growth

 It’s my responsibility to encourage others in their relationship with God. The following is an excerpt from a chapter in Alan Jackson’s book Standing Firm.

“True team players understand that it takes the whole group to be successful, and they are grateful when every person fulfils their role. Achieving spiritual strength is also easier to achieve in a group. We each have spiritual gifts and talents and insights that help us mature as individuals but also contribute to the collective maturity of the group. God did not intend for us to “go it alone”, so I’d encourage you to invest yourself in a group of people who are willing to be on your team and encourage others as they are encouraged.”

Alan’s prayer: “ Heavenly Father, teach me more fully what investing in others looks like. Help me to be consistently loving and compassionate, forgiving and encouraging to those around me so that they might be drawn into your light and purposes.” In Jesus’ name. Amen

I had a boss that after each regional phone call would say “that was good stuff!” Alan’s writing is “good stuff”!

Thanks

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

Standing Firm – Alan Jackson -2018 – Intend Publishing – Used by permission

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Is God a stranger to you?

These are the opening remarks to an article by John Gray: Think on these things:

“Many Christians grow up in church but never grow in Christ!”.  “They know hymns but don't know "Him". 

 Do they describe you?

I have cut his article down to these last two paragraphs. For me, they are really the meat of the article.

 “Growing in faith requires both time and effort. God ultimately causes the growth, yet He expects us to follow His ways and seek to grow, becoming mature followers of Jesus who can help make disciples of others --- “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations….” (Mat 28:19); “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2Ti 2:2).”

“Is your rate of spiritual growth pleasing to God or are you still an infant in Christ? Are you pleasing God or is He a stranger to you?”

His final two questions require some thought and soul searching. We need to be honest with ourselves!

Mike

 

 

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Love who?

God, You want me to love him/her? You are kidding, right? He raped and killed that child. She is the vilest politician ever! He would steal his grandmother’s false teeth if he could make a buck. They love themselves! These people have NO love for You nor Your word. They have no use for me because I’m a believer in You and Christ. Why should I love them God?

In today’s society, it’s a struggle for me to love some people. The definition of despise is: feel contempt or a deep repugnance for. Despise describes my feelings towards many politicians, entertainers, athletes, and news people. Then I read the following verses:

John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”

Mark 12:30-32  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Some believe Christ was talking about loving His followers only. I can’t agree with their interpretation. I’m a class “A” sinner and He loves me so He wants even expects me to love those I may despise. When I stand before Him, I don’t want to explain why I did not love these people.

Your thoughts?

Thanks!

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

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OUR EVER-PRESENT HELP 

Hopefully, you'll be encouraged by Max Lucado's words from his daily devotion that follow:

"The father may have thought he was walking the road to Capernaum all alone. Quite the contrary. Christ had supernaturally gone into the nobleman’s residence and not only healed the son, but also won the hearts of the entire household. Was the father’s prayer answered? By all means. It was answered in a manner greater than he had requested."

"Yours will be as well. Perhaps the answer will come this side of heaven. Perhaps it awaits you on the other side. Either way, this story urges you and me to keep walking and believing in our God who is our “ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 NIV). Ever present. You’ll never be put on hold or told to check back later. Ever present. As near as your next breath. Ever present help. He is here to help. That’s the message of this miracle. That’s the message of the gospel. Remember, friends, you are never alone."

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PRAYERS NOT YET ANSWERED

The context of Max's devotion today hits us all. We are either in a situation or know someone that is currently struggling. As I've grown older, Hebrews 13:5 takes a special place in my heart. Take it to your heart as well!

Thinking about heaven and what it will be like also is more prevalent. It just has be so much better than this life!

Mike 

 from Max Lucado:

The gospel of John tells the story of a man from Capernaum who approached Jesus in Cana. “Come heal my son,” the man asked. And Jesus said the boy would be healed, and the man set out for Capernaum.

Do you find yourself somewhere between Cana and Capernaum? Like the official, you begged Jesus for help. And, like the official, you didn’t receive the answer in the way you wanted. This is the issue of not-yet-answered prayer. Or not-answered-in-the-way-I-asked prayer. How should we react? I’m sorry the job did not materialize or the cancer chose to metastasize. Life has its share of dark, dank moments.

Read the Bible from the table of contents in the front to the maps in the back, and you will not find any promise of a pain-free life on this side of heaven. But you will find this assurance: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV). You are never alone.  

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WHY?

How many times did or do your children say Why? For us it seemed like that word came out of their mouths a thousand times each day. Sometimes it got to be too much and I would say, “Because” or “Don’t ask me why again!”

Do you ever ask God why? That four-year-old girl from the Shelbyville area was killed by a careless driver in Florida recently. Your loved one has been struggling with an illness for years now and constant prayers have not healed them. The prayers for God’s help with your marriage seem to be meaningless. Your spouse has had so many jobs over the years, you can’t keep count. The struggles with your children don’t bring about change in your relationship. A number of parents continue to be involved in drugs and are in and out of jail. There are any number of issues in our lives that can make us say, “WHY GOD?”

I’ve been struggling to produce an article with the title: IS IT OK TO PRAY FOR GOD TO CHANGE HIS WILL? for quite a while now. Even after editing it what seems like it hundreds of times, it’s still not ready in my mind. The following paragraph from that article has stuck in my mind:

“I’m not sure it’s meant for us to completely understand God’s will. Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Romans 11:34 - “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” It’s more the need of man to understand God’s will in whole than His need for us to understand everything. This is where faith comes into our life.”

My daily prayers include a number of the circumstances from above, but no change seems to come in many of them. I even think about eliminating some of these situations from my prayer. I want to say, “Why God?”, my pleas are for the good of these people and for the right reason. So, why?

Does God ever want to say to us “Because” or “Don’t ask why again”. I don’t think so. He’s more patient and understanding than I am. Remember Isaiah and Romans, have complete trust and faith and continue to pray! He does love us especially when we don’t understand!

Thanks

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

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Control of Our Lives

My prayer is that Southsides' Blog provide encouragement in everyone's life for their relationship with God! As we live our lives many of us want to control it completely. We would be so much better off if we let God have control. We will still have problems and disappointments but God's grace and love will help us through them. Hopefully, you'll take encouragement from what Max writes:

 

 

PROVISION OF GRACE - Max Lucado

“’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” When John Newton penned this promise, he did so out of personal experience. His greatest test came the day he buried his wife, Mary. He’d loved her and prayed his death would precede hers. But his prayer was not answered.

"Yet, on the day Mary Newton died, John Newton found strength to preach a Sunday sermon. The next day he visited church members. Later he officiated at his wife’s funeral. He grieved, but in his grief he found God’s provision. He later wrote, “The Bank of England is too poor to compensate for such a loss as mine. But the Lord, the all-sufficient God speaks, and it is done. Let those who know Him, and trust Him, be of good courage.”

"My friend, disease, calamity, and trouble populate your world. But they do not control it. Grace does."

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Sometimes I Just Don't Understand

 
I've read and discussed II Corinthians 12:7-9 many times but confess that at times I just don't understand "WHY". Recently, one of my former CASA boys lost his mother. This young man was already angry with God because about two years ago "God let my grandmother die". He lived with her and loved her deeply. He would not allow me to have a prayer with him. His foster grandfather says his mother's death has driven him further away from God.
 
We all have been through the experiences Max describes in the second paragraph. These are not the times to abandon God but a time to hold on tightly to His grace even if you are like me and sometimes just don't understand.

 
MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT -  Max Lucado's Daily Devotion

Paul wrote, “There was given me a thorn in my flesh, from Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

The cancer in the body. The sorrow in the heart. The child in the rehab center. The craving for whiskey in the middle of the day. The tears in the middle of the night. The thorn in the flesh. “Take it away!” you’ve pleaded. Not once, twice, or even three times. You’ve out-prayed the apostle Paul, and you’re about to hit the wall. But what you hear Jesus say is this: “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Sustaining grace. Grace that meets us at our point of need and equips us with courage and wisdom and strength. Sustaining grace. It doesn’t promise the absence of struggle, but it does promise the presence of God.

 

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A Tender Heart

Max's devotion today takes a heart that is tender to God. If you pray grudgingly don't bother. God wants our prayers with a heart that is so tender that we willingly are open to Him for complete confession with humbleness.

 

SEARCH YOUR HEART -  by Max Lucado

What would an X-ray—an MRI—of your soul reveal? Regrets over teenage relationships? Remorse over a poor choice? Interested in an extraction? Confess. Request a spiritual MRI. “Search me, O God and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Many voices urge you to look deep within and find an invisible strength or hidden power, but that’s a dangerous exercise. Self-assessment without God’s guidance just leads to denial or shame, justification or humiliation. We need neither. We need a prayer of grace-based confession: God, I’ve done what you say is wrong. Would you wash away my guilt and make me clean again? No chant, no candle needed. Just a prayer of confession – try it.

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Each Day

Four soldiers. One criminal. One cross. Simon, a farmer, stands among the crowd and can’t see the man’s face, only a head wreathed with thorny branches. Jesus stops in front of Simon and heaves for air. The beam rubbing against an already raw back.

“His name is Jesus,” someone speaks. “Move on!” commands the executioner. But Jesus can’t, and the beam begins to sway. Simon instinctively extends his strong hands and catches the cross. “You! Take the cross.” Simon dares to object. “I don’t care,” the soldier says, “take up the cross!”

Simon did literally what God calls us to do figuratively—take up the cross and follow Jesus. Luke 9:23 says, “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me.”

From Mike:  The meaning of "take up your cross" is interpreted in different ways. Some say Jesus’ point is that we must be so committed to denying yourself that you are willing to die for Christ. Others believe it implies that whatever difficulties we may be experiencing that we must follow Jesus. Whatever you may believe the interpretation is the key point is each day we must follow Christ!

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Search Your Soul

After reading Max'x devotion, I searched my soul and found myself lacking. We have missionaries we pay, although not enouh, to tell the story of Jesus but what can I do. Pray!

 

JESUS IN YOUR UPPER ROOM - April 11, 2022

When the Roman soldiers took Jesus out of the Garden of Gethsamane, Jesus’ followers took off. We don’t know where they went but we do know they couldn’t get him out of their minds. They came back and the church of our Lord began with a group of frightened men in an upper room.

Sound familiar?  How many churches have just enough religion to come together, but not enough passion to go out? Good people. Good intentions. Words. Promises. But while all this is going on, the door remains locked and the story stays a secret.

What will it take to unlock it? Allow Jesus to come into your upper room and stand before you. Place your hand in the pierced side. Look into those eyes that melted the gates of hell and sent Satan running. Look at them as they look at you. You’ll never be the same.

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JESUS’ VICTORY CRY - Max Lucado

It is finished!” Jesus cried. Stop and listen. Can you imagine the cry from the cross? What was finished? The history-long plan of redeeming man. The message of God to man. The works done by Jesus as a man on earth were finished.

A cry of defeat? Hardly. Had Jesus’ hands not been fastened down, I dare say that a triumphant fist would have punched the dark sky. This is no cry of despair. It is a cry of completion. A cry of victory. A cry of fulfillment. Yes, even a cry of relief: “Take me home.” Come, ten thousand angels! Come and take this wounded one to the cradle of his Father’s arms. Farewell, manger’s infant. Take this Son to his Father. He deserves a rest. Bless you, holy ambassador. Go home, rest well. The battle is over! It is finished.

 

Thank you, Father!

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WHAT JESUS FELT - Max Lucado

 

 

On Calvary’s Hill, Christ lifts his heavy head toward the heavens crying out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”—that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

We would ask the same. Why him? Why forsake your son?  Forsake the murderers.  Desert the evildoers.  Abandon them, not him.

What did Jesus feel on the cross?  The icy displeasure of a sin-hating God. Why? Because Jesus carried our sins in His body. With hands nailed open, he invited God, Treat me as you would treat them.  And God did.  In an act that broke the heart of the Father, yet honored the holiness of heaven, sin-purging judgment flowed over the sinless Son of the ages.

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Why did God scream those words? So you’ll never have to!

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GO TO JESUS - Max Lucado

Christ lived the life we could not live, and took the punishment we could not take, to offer the hope we cannot resist. Why?

Jesus was angry enough to purge the temple, distraught enough to weep in public, winsome enough to attract kids, poor enough to sleep on dirt, responsible enough to care for his mother, tempted enough to know the smell of Satan. Why?

Why would heaven’s finest son endure earth’s toughest pain? So you would know that he is able. . .to run to the cry of. . .those who are being tempted and tested and tried. Whatever you’re facing, he knows how you feel. When you turn to him for help, he runs to you to help. Why?

He’s been there. He’s not ashamed of you. Your actions don’t bewilder him. Your tilted halo doesn’t trouble him. So go to him!

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SING AGAIN - Max Lucado

What do we say about someone who claims to be a Christian, yet behaves like anything but? Well, God places a song in the hearts of his saved children. Some sing this song loud and long every single day of their lives. In other cases, the song falls silent. Long seasons pass in which God’s song is not sung.

Truth is, we don’t always know if someone has trusted God’s grace. A person may have feigned belief but not meant it. Whether or not someone’s faith is real isn’t ours to know. But we know this: where there is genuine conversion, there is eternal salvation. Our task is to trust God’s ability to call his children home. We join God as he walks among his wayward and wounded children, singing. Eventually his own will hear his voice, and something within them will awaken. And when it does, they will begin to sing again.

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