ABOVE ALL, LOVE - January 14, 2022 from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

"We did a lot of shouting on our elementary school playground. All the boys marched around the playground shouting, “Boys are better than girls!” In response, the girls paraded around the school announcing, “Girls are better than boys.” We were a happy campus."

"Shouting feels good. But does it do any good? It seems to me there is a lot of shouting going on. On the airwaves, on bumper stickers, on social media."

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). It is one thing to have an opinion; it’s something else to have a fight. Let’s reason together. Let’s work together. And if discussion fails, let love succeed. If love covers a multitude of sins, can it not cover a multitude of opinions? Resist the urge to shout."

From Mike: Our politicans are acting just like they are on the playground!! I'm afraid that's leaking over to some Christians. We cannot control how the politicians act but sure must contol ourselves as Christians. We must show "deep love to everybody". We are to pray for the politicians even those that we abhor! Think about it!

 

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IF YOU KNEW… - January 12, 2022 from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

I don’t know the day and the hour of Christ’s return.  But I do know the Bible urges us to look for specific signs:

  • The preaching of the gospel to all nations (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10)
  • Days of distress in which saints will suffer and the creation will tremble (Mark 13:7-8, 19-20)
  • The coming of the Antichrist, an enemy of God who will deceive many (2 Thessalonians 2:1-10)
  • Salvation of many Jews (Romans 11:12, 25-26)

If you knew Jesus was returning tomorrow, how would you feel today? Anxious, afraid, unprepared?  If so, you can take care of your fears by placing your trust in Christ.  If your answer includes words like happyrelieved, and excited, hold tightly to your joy.  Heaven is God’s answer to any suffering you may face.

If you knew Jesus was coming tomorrow, what would you do today?  Live in such a way that you would not have to change your plans.

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Who Is the Holy Spirit from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

If you want to see believers search for words, ask, “Who is the Holy Spirit?”

The Bible makes more than a hundred references to the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said more about the Holy Spirit than he did about the church or marriage. The Holy Spirit is central to the life of the Christian.  Everything from Acts to Revelation is a result of the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit came alongside the disciples, indwelled them, and gave the early church the push they needed to face the challenges ahead.

After Jesus ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit became the primary agent of the Trinity on earth.  He will complete what was begun by the Father and the Son. “Keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). He directs and leads; you must obey and follow.

From Mike: Max's closing statement is absolutley correct but we must allow His direction and leadership. He is not going to force his guidance on us. Don't just give the Spirit lip service but actively seek His help as we live our lives. He loves us and cares about us. Trust Him!

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At Home In Christ from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

Odds are that you know what it means to be at home somewhere. To be at home is to feel safe. The residence is a place of refuge and security. To be at home is to be comfortable. You can pad around wearing slippers and a robe. To be at home is to be familiar. When you enter the door, you needn’t consult the blueprint to find the kitchen.

Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you” (John 15:4). Our aim is to be at home in Christ. He is our place of refuge and security. We are comfortable in his presence, free to be our authentic selves. His roof of grace protects us from storms of guilt. His walls of providence secure us from destructive winds. His fireplace warms us during the lonely winters of life. He is our home.

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As We Grow Old

 
My cousin posted the following article on facebook this morning. The author is unknown. For the older reader, you can definitely relate! For those of you who are middle age with older parents, this gives a very good glimpse of what we are experiencing and what's not too far off for you. For the younger crowd, you are probably not reading this article and can't really relate.
 
The only thing that I would change is the author does not mention God nor a relationship with God. The final sentence in the article really sums up life: "It's Not What You Gather, But What You Scatter That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived" Hopefully, what we have scattered is the message that a life without God and telling others about Him is not a complete life. Think about what you are scattering. It's never too late even at my age! God Bless!
 
Mike
 
"AND THEN IT IS WINTER You know. . . time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.
It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams. But, here it is... the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise...How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go?
I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like. But, here it is...my friends are retired and getting grey...they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me...but, I see the great change....Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant...but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we'd be.
Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore... it's mandatory! Cause if I don't on my own free will... I just fall asleep where I sit!
And so...now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!
But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I'm not sure how long it will last...this I know, that when it's over on this earth...it's NOT over. A new adventure will begin!
Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn't done...things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I'm happy to have done. It's all in a lifetime.
So, if you're not in your winter yet...let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly! Don't put things off too long!
Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life...so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember...and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!
"Life" is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.
LIVE IT WELL! ENJOY TODAY! DO SOMETHING FUN! BE HAPPY! HAVE A GREAT DAY!
REMEMBER:....
"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
"LIVE HAPPY IN THIS YEAR AND EVERY YEAR!
LASTLY, CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
TODAY IS THE OLDEST YOU'VE EVER BEEN, YET THE YOUNGEST YOU'LL EVER BE SO - ENJOY THIS DAY WHILE IT LASTS.
~Your kids are becoming you.......
~Going out is good.. Coming home is better!
~You forget names.... But it's OK because other people forgot they even knew you!!!
~You realize you're never going to be really good at anything
~The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don't care to do them anymore.
~You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It's called "pre-sleep".
~You miss the days when everything worked with just an "ON" and "OFF" switch..
~You tend to use more 4 letter words ... "what?"..."when?"... "what?" . ???
~Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it's not safe to wear it anywhere.
~You notice everything they sell in stores is "sleeveless"?!!!
~What used to be freckles are now liver spots.
~Everybody whispers.
~You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet.... 2 of which you will never wear.
~But Old is good in some things: Old Songs, Old movies, and best of all, OLD FRIENDS!!
Stay well, "OLD FRIEND!" Send this on to other "Old Friends!" and let them laugh in AGREEMENT!!!
It's Not What You Gather, But What You Scatter That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived"
 
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Catch a Glimpse of New Possibilities - From Max Lucado

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

from Begin Again

Water. All Noah can see is water. Water to the north. Water to the south. Water to the east. Water to the west. Water. For forty days it has rained. For months they have floated. For weeks Noah has been wondering, How long is this going to last? Can God re-create this world? Is he able to start over? Can he, and we, begin again?

Finally the boat bumped, and the rocking stopped. The hull of the ark was resting on ground, but the ground was still surrounded by water.

Noah sent a raven on a scouting mission; it never returned. He sent a dove. It came back shivering and spent. Then, he pulled a dove out of the bowels of the ark and ascended the ladder. With a prayer he let it go and watched until the bird was no bigger than a speck.

All day he looked for the dove’s return but all he sees is water. Water to the north. Water to the south. Water to the east. Water to the . . .

You know the feeling. You have stood where Noah stood. You’ve known your share of floods. Flooded by sorrow at the cemetery, anger at the disability in your body, fear of the uncertainty of a pandemic. You’ve been on Noah’s boat. And you’ve needed what Noah needed: hope.

Hope doesn’t promise an instant solution but rather the possibility of an eventual one. Sometimes all we need is a little hope. That’s all Noah needed. And that’s what Noah received.

This is how the Bible describes the moment: “When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf!” (Gen. 8:11).

An olive leaf. This leaf was more than foliage; this was promise. The bird brought more than a piece of a tree; it brought hope. For isn’t that what hope is? Hope is an olive leaf—evidence of dry land after a flood. Proof to the dreamer that dreaming is worth the risk.

To all the Noahs of the world, to all who search the horizon for a glimpse of hope, God proclaims, “Yes!” And he comes. He comes as a dove. He comes bearing fruit from a distant land, from our future home. He comes with a leaf of promise that he can make all things new.

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God Where We Are - From Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

God didn’t tell me, “Clean up before you come in.” He offered, “Come in and I’ll clean you up.” It’s not my grip on him that matters but his grip on me. And his grip is sure. So is his presence in my life. Christmas presents from Santa? That’s nice. But the perpetual presence of Christ? That’s life changing.

God is always near us. Always for us. Always in us. We may forget him, but God will never forget us. We are forever on his mind and in his plans. He called himself “‘Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” (Matthew 1:23).

Not just “God made us.” Not just “God thinks of us.” But God with us. God where we are: at the office, in the kitchen, on the plane. He breathed our air and walked this earth. God…with…us!

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When we “Think” we have been wronged by John Gray

Recently, a man mocked me which was very offensive. I told two mutual acquaintances about it which is gossip. It did not serve God only my weakness. I had already read John's article so had to reread it and pray. The scriptures are very plain about our actions and attitudes when we are faced with these type things.
 
GRANDPA SAYS – “THINK ON THESE THINGS: “What if everybody acted just like you?”
 
When we “Think” we have been wronged do we keep score and add to the tally for that person, or do we choose to suffer the consequences of being wronged? Paul asks an insightful question --- “… Why not rather be defrauded [suffer, take or accept the wrong]? (1Cor 6:7), i.e., Why not choose to be wronged rather than mar your witness of Jesus Christ? Paul says to the Corinthians that it is better to be wronged and be at peace --- “Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.” (Rom 12:17-18).
Folks (Believers and unbelievers) surround us every day. They see us on good days and bad. They see our day-to-day behaviors, and they see what we do when we feel slighted or mistreated. They witness if we choose to be wronged for the sake of Christ or if we live by the principle of always being right --- no matter what it does to our witness for Christ. They see whether or not our witness for Christ is more valuable to us than our resentments and bitterness. Our choices about peaceful relationships with others, speaks much more loudly than our words --- “See that none render unto any one evil for evil; but always follow after that which is good, one toward another, and toward all.” (1Th 5:15).
 
When we invite and unforgiving spirit to live with us it brings some extra baggage called grudging resentment. Folks, grudges facilitate all sort of non-edifying thoughts and actions. However, our love for God (and one another) pleads with us to accept God’s peace plan at the price of being wronged. Our savior suffered the greatest wrong every inflicted and His love for us paid a debt that He did not owe for all of us that owed a debt that we could not pay. We need to be about following the example He gave us --- “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully…. when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” (1Pe 2:19-21).
 
Folks, when we live in bitterness (with an unforgiving spirit) the process of moving towards serious spiritual compromise is accelerated. Sadly, we do not even realize we are on this journey because the first thing that the unforgiving spirit does to us is to deceive our conscience so that we feel that we are justified in our unforgiving activities --- while our conscience takes a nap.
 
Frequently the enemy entices Christians to harbor an unforgiving spirit. Such bitterness, fault-finding and hatred inflicts a severe blow upon our spiritual life. We must realize that if we are unforgiving, then we are unforgiven.”
 
“What If?”
“By forgiveness inspired, let all our days
With various holiness be crowned,
Let truth and goodness, prayer and praise

In all abide, in all abound.” ~ (Thomas Gibbons)

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God With Us from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

 God knows what it is like to be a human.

When I talk to him about deadlines or long lines or tough times, he understands. He’s been there. He’s been here. Because of Bethlehem, I have a friend in heaven.

Because of Bethlehem, I have a Savior in heaven. Christmas begins what Easter celebrates. The child in the cradle became the King on the cross. And because he did, there are no marks on my record. Just grace. His offer has no fine print.

He didn’t tell me, “Clean up before you come in.” He offered, “Come in and I’ll clean you up.” It’s not my grip on him that matters but his grip on me. And his grip is sure.

So is his presence in my life. Christmas presents from Santa? That’s nice. But the perpetual presence of Christ? That’s life changing.

God is always near us. Always for us. Always in us. We may forget him, but God will never forget us. We are forever on his mind and in his plans. He called himself “‘Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” (Matt. 1:23).

Not just “God made us.”
Not just “God thinks of us.”
Not just “God above us.”

But God with us. God where we are: at the office, in the kitchen, on the plane. He breathed our air and walked this earth. God . . . with . . . us!

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What If? and A Time to Kill

What If?

I’ve known people who like to go through life asking, “What if?” Going through the exercise of asking the question much of the time is worthless. You can’t change the past this way. Asking the question to make an analysis for future decisions can be useful.

Matthew 26 records Christ’s three prayers requesting for God to deliver Him from the crucifixion. Each time Christ ended His prayer asking that God’s will be done not His. What if Christ had stuck to His guns and demanded that He not go through the awful crucifixion? Would God have honored Christ’s prayer? What about our hope if Christ was not crucified. Would God have found a different way to save us? I’m sure He could have but not one that would have not been as meaningful.

The giving of His Son was the ultimate act of love! Christ’s manner of death was a demonstration of  just how much love God has for us. Would you give your only child to go through the same death for the world? Probably not! Be thankful for not having to ask, “what if”! It’s a worthless question in this case! Spend your time giving praise, glory and honor to God and Christ!

A Time to KIll

In the movie by the same title, Matthew McConaughy, the attorney, used a very effective means of getting the jury to consider their verdict. He got them to close their eyes and picture in their minds the molestation of the little girl.

Try the same method as you think about Christ’s crucifixion. My mind sees Christ walk into the garden, fall to His knees then to His face and cry. He pleads with God, His Father, to not make Him go through the crucifixion. Picture your own child with the same pleas.

They put Christ on trial telling lies about Him. When He refuses to answer their lies, they begin beating Him. They beat Him till His face is misshapen. I believe His face was a bloody pulp then they spit in His face. For me, there is no greater show of disrespect than to spit on someone, especially in the face.

The whips come out creating more pain and blood. A crown of thorns is crammed down on His head, and He is mocked as “King of the Jews”. Thorns are extremely painful, and the scalp is very tender.

The cross, about 180 pounds, is laid on His back with orders to march. People surround Him jeering, mocking and cursing. He’s too weak to make it all the way so the Roman’s spare Him until they reach Golgotha. Once there He’s laid on the cross and nails are pounded through His hands and feet. They raise the cross to shove it in the hole jarring the cross and ripping His flesh.

While He suffers, the mocking and cursing continues. He asks for something to drink and to further mock Him they give a mixture of vinegar and other bitter drink. He hung there for six hours which seems like forever when you are suffering and dying.

Finally, Christ dies but not before He cries out in a loud voice asking God why He has forsaken Him. Christ not only suffered physically but emotionally. To feel alone and forsaken especially while suffering death is indescribable and unimaginable.

God did not sit in heaven watching and listening Christ’s execution without also suffering right along with His Son maybe even shedding a tear.

In the movie one of the jurors shed a tear as Matthew described the little girl’s molestation. It’s ok to shed one as you think about Christ’s molestation after all His molestation was for YOU!

Christ then spent three days in the tomb but then was raised to increase our HOPE!

Praise God and Christ!

Thanks!

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

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SATAN

This probably seems like a strange subject for the Christmas season but this the result of a conversation this past week. A lady thinks that COVID is happening because God is unhappy with us. I agree that God is most likely unhappy and disappointed given the shape of the world, but I do not believe he is the author of this terrible disease. It seems very possible that Satan is using it to his advantage.

My assumption is that if you are reading this you are already a Christian or at least say you are. Hopefully, this is an encouragement to you in the war for your soul.

Who is Satan?  Why does he hate me so much that he wants to drag me down to hell to be with him for eternity? Most leaders in the world, especially military leaders, believe that you should know your enemy and know what he/she is capable of so you can defeat them. If someone were out to destroy you and your family, you would do everything in your power to find out about them in order to defeat them. Well, that person exist, Satan, Lucifer, the devil or whatever name you choose, he is real and wants to destroy you. 1 Peter 5:8  “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

I thought writing this would be easy, short and sweet but found out different. When the subject of the devil is Googled, the science of the devil comes out immediately. Data about his reality and his believers came out initially and it took several clicks to find a Biblical and commentator discussion about the subject.

The Hebrew name Satan (pronounced SA-tan) actually means "adversary", Greek diabolos, also means "adversary". So, he’s NOT your friend.

References to Satan: Genesis 3:14 - “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly, and you will eat dust all the days of your life”

Isaiah 14:12 outlines the destruction of Babylon and its wicked king: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”

Revelation 12:9 “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”

Satan is God’s enemy, but he cannot attack God directly, so he attacks those made in God’s image, and dearly loved by him. Satan knows his doom is sure, and wants to bring as many people down with him as he can.

The Bible describes him as crafty, sneaky, clever, cunning, subtle, intelligent and shrewd. Satan is a clever devil who is very good at what he does. Satan never takes a holiday like Christmas. I even wonder if he doubles his efforts when we are trying to come closer to God.

Here is Max Lucado’s description of satan:

“Want to read his rap sheet?”

“Satan . . . incited David” (1 Chron. 21:1 NIV).

“Satan has asked . . . to sift you [Simon] like wheat” (Luke 22:31 TLB).

“The devil . . . persuaded Judas Iscariot . . . to turn against Jesus” (John 13:2 NCV).

“This woman . . . Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years” (Luke 13:16 NIV).

“He has “blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. As a result, they don’t see the light of the Good News” (2 Cor. 4:4 GOD’S WORD).”

“He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn’t obey God” (Eph. 2:2 CEV).

“Satan incites, sifts, persuades, binds, blinds, and rules.”

The following is a paraphrase from the internet: “The devil is responsible for all the sin, sickness, sorrow, suffering, crime, poverty and death on this earth. Everlasting fire is prepared for the devil and his angels.  Evil men and women are his angels and do his bidding. Look at any news headline whether TV or computer and there’s no doubt that evil things are happening all over the world. And despite our desire for peace, evil seems to be increasing day by day.“ I’m not comfortable with idea that Satan is responsible for all sickness. In searching for a Bible verses that clearly gives that thought, I could not find one. The theologians have very different views about the origin of sickness.

Ok, you already knew all this, so this is a reminder of both our war and who the enemy is, Satan. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

So how I do I win the war with Satan? The beginning is found in Acts 2:38 – “And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you qin the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit is a gift because he ALWAYS stands ready with us to defeat Satan.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). The word “if” is very important because we must live by Him not just say we do.  We must walk the walk! “With so much soap, why are there so many dirty people in the world? Christianity, like soap, must be personally applied if it is to make a difference in our lives.” Billy Graham

Pray without ceasing! Invite the Spirit to control your life always! You have to care and want to win! This war you don’t want to lose!

Thanks!

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

FYI - Max Lucado’s Daily Devotional for December 16. 2021:

We Know He Came

Spiritual beings populate the stories of Scripture. Angels singing. Demons infecting. Heavenly hosts fighting. Ignore the armies of God and you ignore the heart of Scripture. Ever since the snake tempted Eve in Eden, we’ve known there is more to this world than meets the eye.

We know less than we desire about these beings. Their strategies and plans we can only imagine. If Satan could preempt Christ in the cradle, there’d be no Christ on the cross. Don’t you think he tried?

The conflict was, no doubt, far grander and more dramatic than anything we can fictionalize. But while we can only imagine if such a war occurred, we can be sure of this: we know who won. Because we know he came.

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A Lord to Lead You from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

“There has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). The Greek word used in this verse is Kyrios. It signifies one who rightfully holds a position of authority. Jesus was born with this title. He has a lawful right to rule over every sphere, star, galaxy, and gulf. He is the Lord of legislators, liberators, light bearers, and laborers. He bears the signet of the highest office and wears the insignia of “Lord of both the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9).

"Congress doesn’t run the world. Cancer doesn’t control your destiny. Death doesn’t have the last word. The faceless hand of fate isn’t directing history. The Lord Jesus is. You have a Lord to lead you."

From Mike: I'm very grateful for what Max wrote in the last paragraph! Just need to keep that mind every day!

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Why Joseph? from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

 Jesus’ earthly father is a small-town carpenter who lives in Nazareth. Why Joseph? A major part of the answer lies in his reputation, and he gives it up for Jesus. Nazareth viewed Joseph as we might view an elder, deacon, or Bible class teacher. Now what? His fiancée is blemished, tainted; he is righteous, godly. The law says stone her. Love says forgive her. And Joseph is caught in the middle. Then comes the angel’s announcement, “She carries the Son of God in her womb.” But who would believe it?

Joseph makes his decision. “Joseph…took to him his wife, and did not know her until she had brought forth her firstborn Son” (Matthew 1:24-25). He swapped his Torah studies for a pregnant fiancée and an illegitimate son and made the big decision of discipleship. He placed God’s plan ahead of his own.

From Mike: I made Max's last point bold because we need put God's plan ahead of our own. Life can often be difficult so our plan does not include difficulty but we need to trust God. It may not feel good but have FAITH!

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THE NORTH POLE OR THE MANGER? - December 8, 2021by Max Lucado

God did what we wouldn’t dare dream. He did what we couldn’t imagine. He became a man so we could trust him. He became a sacrifice so we could know him. And he defeated death so we could follow him.

It defies logic. It’s a divine insanity. Yet, it is the very impossibility of it all that makes it possible. For only God could create a plan this mad. Only a Creator beyond the fence of logic could offer such a gift of love. What man cannot do, God does.

So, when it comes to goodies and candy, cherub cheeks and red noses, go to the North Pole. But when it comes to eternity, forgiveness, purpose, and truth, go to the manger. Kneel with the shepherds. Worship the God who dared to do what man dared not dream.

Christmas Stories: Heartwarming Classics of Angels, a Manger, and the Birth of Hope

Read more Christmas Stories: Heartwarming Classics of Angels, a Manger, and the Birth of Hope

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GRANDPA SAYS --- “THINK ON THESE THINGS”:

“Your ‘Point-of-view’ determines a lot of things. Everyone you meet or know needs Jesus. Everything in your life is an opportunity to worship, honor, and glorify God.”

“PEOPLE WILL NOT REMEMBER WHAT YOU SAID OR WHAT YOU DID BUT THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.”  (Maya Angelou)

 “Come, and hear, all ye that fear God, And I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” (Psa 66:16).

     Everyone you meet is living in want of some joy.  Consequently, they are thirsty for good feelings.  What an opportunity to share Jesus with them.  Folks, Christ left me better off than when He found me. When you are acted upon by Christ, you are inevitably and irresistibly left better off than you were before you met Him.  The Spirit’s regeneration sets off an alert system that lets us know things have changed. Sinful behaviors that we once found comfortable no longer are. The old way of life passes away --- “Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.” (2Co 5:17). 

     I believe in leaving people better off than when I found them by leaving them with thoughts about Christ and His great love.  Leaving people better off than when you found them is one way you can connect the gospel to real life. But how to do this does not come naturally because it’s a spiritual discipline --- “For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.”  (Rom 8:5).

     Folks, we are immersed in a world system that trumpets its own ideals and slanders anyone who disagrees. Before we are saved, we accept what the world says without even thinking about it. We don’t know anything else. After we are saved, our eyes are opened to the truth, and we can perceive the lies of the world. Being a Christian is difficult because we are swimming upstream against the current of the world around us.

     How can we make a difference in the lives of those struggling? As you go be an encourager – love intentionally, redeem the time, be a blessing to others and leave folks better than you found them. Leave footprints of love and kindness wherever you go. Be an encouraging builder of hope – just like Jesus. Be someone who makes everyone feel like a somebody by letting the beauty of Jesus be seen in you and make a positive difference in someone’s Life.  Never underestimate the power of planting the seeds of the Gospel or encouragement --- “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Mic 6:8). Don’t just tell folks the story of Jesus - show them the beauty of Jesus in your life!

From Mike: I put the last paragraph in bold because it is important for all of us to be an encourager. We may not have many talents but we can develop oursselves into a person that will encourage others in their struggle. God wants us to be an encourager! Take to heart Grandpa's words!

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An Important Question to Ask when Facing Life's Problems by Max Lucado

Do you recall the question God asked Abraham and Sarah? He promised them a son, though both were past child-bearing age. Sarah laughed at the thought of bouncing their newborn on her knee.

Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘I am too old to have a baby’? Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:13–14 NCV)

That is what we need to ask. Is anything too hard for God? Does he ever give up because the problem is too great? Does he ever throw up his hands and quit? Does he ever shake his head at the sound of a prayer request and say, “I can’t handle that problem”?

The answer, the welcome answer, is, “No, nothing is too hard for the Lord.” You must start here.

Don’t measure the height of the mountain. Ponder the power of the One who made it. Don’t tell God how big your storm is. Tell the storm how big your God is. Your problem is not that your problem is so big but that your view of God is too small.

Accept the invitation of the psalmist: “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Ps. 34:3 KJV).

Our tendency is to magnify our fears. We place a magnifying glass on the diagnosis, the disease, or debt. Stop that! Meditate less on the mess and more on the Master. Less on the problems and more on his power.

- Excerpt adapted from You Were Made for This

From Mike: I believe we often short change God by not asking for things because our minds discount what God can and will do. I pray every day that He will take COVID away and that there be no more deaths. That in my mind is a huge request but He has the power. Remember what what Max says: "Your problem is not that your problem is so big but that your view of God is too small." Give your problems to God. He may not answer them in the exact way you requested but He cares about and loves you!!

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A New Think on These Things from John Gray

GRANDPA SAYS – “THINK ON THESE THINGS”: Even the appearance of evil gives Satan an opportunity.”

“IN EACH OF US, TWO NATURES ARE AT WAR – THE GOOD AND THE EVIL. ALL OUR LIVES THE FIGHT GOES ON BETWEEN THEM, AND ONE OF THEM MUST CONQUER. BUT, WITHIN OUR HANDS LIES THE POWER OF CHOICE – WHAT WE WANT MOST TO BE – WE WILL BECOME.”

 “abstain from every form of evil.” (1Th 5:22)

 “neither give place [opportunity] to the devil.” (Eph 4:27)

    Folks, there will always be someone who thinks that something you are doing is wrong, or that it looks wrong to them. Paul wrote --- "Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts" (1Th 2:4). Folks, our goal is to live righteously before God - not to please others --- “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1Co 8:9). Keeping this in mind, we know that when Paul told us to “Abstain from all appearance of evil,” he was strongly urging you and me to put distance between ourselves and any appearance of evil, i.e., put great distance between ourselves and suspicious-looking situations.

     Christians must be willing to sacrifice a liberty or suffer a wrong for the sake of a soul --- “For it is better, if the will of God should so will, that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing.” (1Pe 3:17). | “Nay, already it is altogether a defect in you, that ye have lawsuits one with another. Why not rather take wrong? why not rather be defrauded?” (1Co 6:7). | “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).

     To avoid the appearance of evil, or every form of evil, means to stay far away from evil. We need not become legalistic about what others may perceive to be evil, but we do need to remain aware of our witness to the world and of our duty to support fellow believers.

     Avoiding the appearance of evil, or abstaining from every form of evil, means to live in God’s light by the power of the Holy Spirit and we guard the integrity of our own walk (with Christ) by avoiding every kind of evil, and we strive to --- “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14).

Virtue consists not in abstaining from vice but in not desiring it.

From Mike: John makes an interesting statement to close his article. The definition of virtue is behavior showing high moral standards. Both abstinence and not desiring are virtue!

Also, to what extent do you take 1 Corinthians 6:7 and 8:13? What about MY rights most of us want to know.

As John says: “Think on these things”!!

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Think on These Thinks from John Gray

GRANDPA SAYS --- “THINK ON THESE THINGS”: “Sometimes in the storm, we feel alone but a heart that trusts in God will always be a quiet peaceful place.”
 
“EVERYBODY TALKS ABOUT THE WEATHER, BUT NOBODY EVER DOES ANYTHING ABOUT IT – EXCEPT JESUS.”
SONG -> “Sometimes He Calms the Storm” | Lyrics: Scott Krippayne | Inspiration: Mark 4:35-41
“All who sail the sea of faith find out before too long how quickly blue skies can grow dark and gentle winds grow strong and suddenly fear is like white water pounding on the soul but still we sail on knowing that our Lord is in control
Sometimes He calms the storm with a whispered peace be still He can settle any sea but it doesn't mean He will not sometimes hold us close and let the wind and waves go wild sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms His child.”
----
Folks, there is simple prayer below (conveyed through song) that makes the request for Jesus to take the hand of one too weak to stand alone. One can always stand with the help of the hand of Jesus that lifts from the kneeling position to the presence of God.
 
When we read the account of Jesus’ saying to the storm --- “Peace, be still” (Mk 4:35-41), we need to remember that Jesus is always in control of our circumstances, and, when we trust Him, He will calm the raging inside our souls. When we find ourselves raging and tossing and turning on the inside, Philippians 4:6–7 tells us what to do --- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
 
Those who stand with Jesus stand, in the certainty of the forgiveness and love offered and delivered through His life, ministry, sacrificial death on the Cross and resurrection.
God has not promised to bring peace to every storm, but He has promised to give us peace through any storm if we will trust Him to take care of us.
 
SONG ->“WHERE NO ONE STANDS ALONE” | Lyrics: Thomas Mosie Lister | Inspiration: “When I felt safe and secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” (Psa 30:6-7)
“Once I stood in the night with my head bowed low in the darkness as black as could be and my heart felt alone and I cried Oh Lord, don't hide your face from me
Like a king I may live in a palace so tall with great riches to call my own, but I don't know a thing in this whole wide world that's worse than being alone
Hold my hand all the way every hour, every day from here to the great unknown take my hand, let me stand where no one stands alone”
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Relationship Inconsequential?

In today’s society, a relationship with God seems inconsequential to the majority of the world. We could blame it on the millennials like most everything else is now, but I don’t believe that’s  accurate. That’s like blaming the long hair hippies for everything in the 60’s.

 A 2017 Gallop poll showed that in 2001 90% of people believed in God and it decreased to 64% in 2017. I’m not sure of the accuracy of the poll but the numbers seem very possible. Just believing in God though is NOT a relationship. It takes much more than just belief to develop, nurture and maintain our relationship with God! That is a fulltime responsibility of ours! It’s not God’s responsibility to cultivate a relationship with us ! God does not need anything from us so what is He looking for in a relationship with us?

You cannot inherit your relationship with God from your parents nor anyone else. Your relationship is very personal.  The first step is believing God is the Lord God almighty. Then we can only begin our relationship with God through a relationship with Christ. John 14:5  “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Notice Christ did not tell us that religion is the way to God but rather He Himself. It’s necessary to confess  Christ is the Son of God and our Lord and Savior. For me, the next step is to commit to Christ through baptism.

Ok, now I have confessed my faith in God and Christ and been baptized so I have done all that’s necessary for my relationship with God. No, that’s like saying to your spouse we’ve been through the marriage ceremony, so we have a relationship. No, you’ve started one that takes love, care and nurturing. What do I have to do to nurture my relationship with God?

The answer to that question is found in the Scriptures so study becomes a major commitment to nurture the relationship. Can’t I just go to church for the knowledge needed? No, church is a guide only to the Bible. Remember your relationship with Him is through Christ only so study.

What’s next? Prayer, communication is essential. God loves you and wants to hear from you. Philippians 4:6 ESV –“ do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Is there anything else? Of course, but your relationship is not with me so study about being obedient to God’s commands, discover what gifts He gave you so you can serve Him, learn how you are to worship Him and how to conduct your life.

God has blessed us in many different ways. He wants us to be thankful! He wants our praise and thanksgiving especially for Christ and His sacrifice.

There is much more that could be said about nurturing our relationship with God so study and pray. Realize that God wants us to completely surrender to Him! II Timothy 2:15 –“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

Be aware that Satan is not happy with your efforts to cultivate your relationship with God. He’ll stop at nothing to discourage you! 1 Peter 5:8, ESV: "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." Don’t let that someone be you!

F. LaGard Smith writes in Meeting God in Quiet Places, about the rich young ruler: “What Jesus undoubtedly saw was a heart that was unwilling to completely surrender to God. Whether possessions, career, or perhaps some relationship, something would always stand in his way. But for the fully surrendered heart, no sacrifice is too great.”

“Surrendering to God is the most difficult decision we will ever make. The prophet Joel reminds us that we are not alone when we face the moment of choosing: ‘Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” What Joel really means is that most of us live an entire life in the valley of indecision. To surrender or not to surrender that is the ultimate question of life!”

“Through His complete surrender on the cross, Jesus has already grasped the nettle for us. He has taken away the sting of death. All we need to do is to put our hand in His—to feel softness of His love and never let go!”

It’s never too late to start and cultivate your relationship with God! If you would like a study partner, there are a number of people at Southside that will welcome the opportunity!

Thanks Mike

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Meeting God in Quest Places – F. LaGard Smith – 1992 – Harvest House Publishers – Used by permission

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God Is In The Details Daily Devotional by Max Lucado

"Do you think the odds are against you? If so, ponder the plight of Haman and the outcome of Mordecai in the book of Esther. God flip-flopped their stories. Haman began the day large and in charge. Mordecai began the day praying in the shadow of a gallows that bore his name. Yet from one moment to the next, Haman was humiliated, and Mordecai was given the keys to the city."

"The next time you hear someone say, “The devil is in the details,” correct them. God is in the details. He works in the small moments. The insignificant becomes significant because he is ever orchestrating the day-to-day details of innumerable lives through a millennia of time to do what he has foreordained to do."

From Mike: I believe many people think God only pays attention to the BIG matters of our lives. We should take comfort that everything whether large or small in our life matters to God!

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