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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.

Doused with the Love of God by Max Lucado

 
 Max's Daily Devotional

There are moments when the Spirit enchants us with sweet rhapsody. You belong to the Father. Signed, sealed, and soon-to-be delivered. Been a while since you heard him whisper words of assurance? Then tell him. He’s listening to you, and he’s speaking for you. Romans 8:26 says, “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness” Weak bodies, weak wills, weakened resolves. Whether we are feeble of the soul or body or both, how good to know it’s not up to us. Verse 26 of Romans 8 says, “The Spirit himself is pleading for us.”

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Two of Max Lucado's Recent Devotionals

The God Who Follows

 

Not easy to trust, you say? Try these ideas: Trust your faith and not your feelings. Your feelings have no impact on God’s presence. Measure your value through God’s eyes, not your own. God loves you, you are family, and he will follow you all the days of your life. See the big picture, not the small. It’s never too late to begin again. Perhaps your home and health have been threatened. The immediate result might be pain, but the long-term result might be finding a Father you never knew—a Father who will follow you all the days of your life.

 

God Gives Us Himself

 

God has followed us on our journey but, we’re quick to turn away. God is slow to anger; he’s determined to stay. Sometimes we don’t accept God’s gifts, but God still gives them. He gives us angels, not just pinned on a lapel, but placed on our path.

And most of all, God gives us himself. Even when we choose our hovel over his house and our trash over his grace, still he follows. Never forcing us, never leaving us. Patiently persistent, faithfully present. Using all of his power to convince us that he is who he is and that he can be trusted to give us new beginnings throughout our journey and, in the end, lead us home. Trust your new beginning to him, won’t you? Follow the God who follows you all the days of your life.

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Surely Goodness and Mercy by Max Lucado

“If the Lord is the shepherd who leads the flock, goodness and mercy are the two sheepdogs that guard the rear of the flock. Psalm 23:6 says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…”  Goodness and mercy. Not goodness alone, for we are sinners in need of mercy. Not mercy alone, for we are fragile, in need of goodness. We need them both.”

“Goodness and mercy. If that duo doesn’t reinforce your faith, try this phrase: “all the days of my life.” What a huge statement. Goodness and mercy follow the child of God each and every day. Think of the days that lie ahead. What do you see? God will be at your side. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me—not some, not most, not nearly all—but all the days of my life.”

Some days it feels like goodness and mercy are way behind me. It seems as if there is no goodness going on at all and mercy can’t catchup with me. The security I want, and need is not in sight. What to do?

F. LaGard Smith says in Meeting God in Quiet Places that we use  “Why not join with the psalmist in joyfully proclaiming. ‘I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust’? With God on our side, there is no terror too great, no illness that can’t be faced, no calamity that can’t be overcome. Gargoyles---whatever ours may be-----are empty and powerless. They cannot save. By sublime contrast, our God is alive, and in the shadow of His sheltering wings we can rest secure.”

When we have these feelings of insecurity, it’s time to stop, think about these psalms and then ask the Father to wrap His loving arms around you to get you through whatever is causing these feelings.

Thanks

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

Max Lucado’s Daily Devotional

F. LaGard Smith – Meeting God in Quiet Places – 1992 - Harvest House Publishers – used by permission

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God of Fresh Starts by Max Lucado

 
 
 Water. All Noah can see is water. You can relate. 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. And you’ve needed what Noah needed; you’ve needed hope. 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!” (Genesis 8:11).

Hope is an olive leaf—evidence of dry land after a flood. Could you use some hope? Could you use a fresh start? At some point in life we all could. And the oh-so-welcome news of Scripture is this: our God is a God of fresh starts.

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Who Were the Twelve?

We tend to hold the twelve apostles in high esteem. After all these men were handpicked by Jesus. God approved of them. Most of them deserve the esteem. If you dig deeper, you’ll find that they were no better or no worse than you and me. They were common men with faults and short comings.

Peter, a fisherman, was strong-willed and courageous man; however, at times he was quick to speak, impulsive, and impetuous. He denied Christ three times, when Christ told him to come to Him on the water Peter sank because of his lack of faith. He was long winded. (Many preachers are) Peter and Paul clashed at times over the best way to serve.

Andrew, the brother of Peter, was the first called by Jesus. He was a fisherman with no know outstanding characteristics but was a faithful preacher of the gospel of Christ.

James and John were brothers and also fishermen. They both had  stormy personalities. They were easily angered and quick to judge enemies of Christ. James and John were both very close to Christ. One commentator described them as Momma’s boys because of her request that one sit on the right hand and the other on the left-hand of Christ.

Phillip and Bartholomew are often mentioned together because they were close friends. It is believed that Phillip was slow to come to Christ but did influence Bartholomew once he was convinced of who Christ was.

Thomas was referred  as “doubting Thomas” because he was so slow to believe in Christ. He also needed to see the scared hands of Christ before he would believe He had arisen from the dead.

Matthew was a tax collector and not well thought of by the people. Tax collectors were considered filth. One commentator described Matthew as self-absorbed.

Very little is known of James, the son of Alphaeus.

There is not much recorded of Thaddeus.

The only recoding of Simon is his initial listing as one of the twelve called to be an apostle.

We all know who Judas was and his betrayal of Christ. He called Christ friend and betrayed Him with a kiss which was despicable.

Matthias was chosen to replace Judas but not much is recorded about him.

These ordinary men were those Christ chose to spread the word and make disciples. Overall not an impressive bunch to be entrusted with spreading the word. None of the twelve already held high office which could be used as a jumping off place. No writers like Max Lucado, no public speakers with the talent of Billy Graham just ordinary men who once they became believers were dedicated to their mission. Christ equipped them with what they needed.

These men may have been ordinary men but they a had a fierce will to serve God. They were willing to suffer for Him. Some were beaten and jailed for preaching the word. Some historians believe that several were martyred because of their service to God. Christ predicted Peter’s death in John 21, and many believe he was crucified upside down. In Acts 12:1-2, Herod had James put to death by the sword. Many believe he was beheaded. Some believe that Andrew, Phillip and Bartholomew were also crucified. John was exiled for his preaching.

Most of us are ordinary people and must work to make disciples of Christ. My excuse is that God did not give the talent to do this work. I lean towards 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 ESV  “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” When I first went through sales training over forty years ago, this was described as “call reluctance”, you don’t feel comfortable with making contact.

Then I read Hebrews 13:21 ESV “Equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Southside is emphasizing evangelism with Win One In Twenty-one. As Jeff speaks about personal evangelism or making disciples, listen carefully. I have a decision to make. Am I going to use Hebrews or 1 Corinthians as my basis for decision. I need to pray. How about you?

Thanks

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

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Stand Up and Lean into God’s Grace

 
Max Lucado writes:

You can do that! You can arise and go to your Father. Maybe you can’t solve all your problems or disentangle all your knots. You can’t undo all the damage you’ve done, but you can arise and go to your Father. Landing in a pigpen stinks. But, friend, staying there is just plain stupid.

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Give Your Fears to Your Father

By Max Lucado with my thoughts added

“How did Jesus endure the terror of the crucifixion? He went first to the Father with his fears. He modeled the words of Psalm 56:3: “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” Do the same with yours. And be honest; do what Jesus did. Open your heart. And be specific; Jesus was. “Take this cup,” he prayed. Share the details. God has plenty of time, he has plenty of compassion, he doesn’t think your fears are foolish or silly. He knows how you feel, and he knows what you need.”

“In the case of Christ God did not take away the cross, but he took away the fear. Who’s to say he won’t take away your fear? Please, don’t measure the size of the mountain; talk to the One who can move it. Hope is just a look away. Now, what were you looking at?”

I believe at times we expect God to take away the object of our fear. If he doesn’t, we do not consider Him to have given us a blessing. Think about what Max is saying. Pray that He will help us deal the fear. If he does not take away the object of our fear but helps us to deal with the fear, we may grow and learn to deal better with the next fear.

Focus on Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anoints my head with oil; my cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Thanks

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

Think about it: “Going to church doesn't make you a Christian, any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.”

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The Lord Is on His Throne

Daily Devotional by Max Lucado

“When tragedy strikes—whether personal, national, or global—people wonder how God could allow such things to happen. Is God really in control? Can we trust him to run the universe if he would allow this? It is important to recognize that God dwells in a different realm. God said to Isaiah, “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).”

“How vital, then, that we pray, armed with the knowledge that God is in heaven. And he has chosen to bend near toward earth to see our sorrow and hear our prayers. Though we may not be able to see his purpose or his plan, the Lord of heaven is on his throne and in firm control of the universe and our lives.”

I understand and agree with what Max writes in his devotion! BUT at times it is difficult to understand and accept the tragedies we experience. What is the purpose of His plan for that child dying? People are struggling and dying every day from Covid. Through my work with CASA I see so many children neglected or abandoned by their parents. The cause is drug use. There are three former CASA boys and at least one father in jail. I greatly appreciate what God does for all of us but at times I have no understanding of His plan or purpose for these people. It takes every ounce of my faith and trust to hang on.

Kay was pregnant with our third child when she lost the baby early in the first trimester. After the physician performed the D&C, he informed us that something was definitely  wrong with the baby. Neither of us felt that we were equipped to take care of a special needs child. We were OK with God’s plan for that baby but …..

I worked for a company that lost 292 people on September 11, 2001. Employees were housed in both towers. Gary, from the Memphis office, was in a conference room where the first plane hit. The following February regional managers were brought to New York for meetings. One afternoon we had the opportunity to tour the spot where the towers once stood. We were then taken to a photographer’s studio where he displayed more than a thousand photos he had taken on 9/11. One of those pictures will always be with me. In time lapse photos, a man stood on the ledge crossed his arms over his chest and leaned forward until he fell off. The tour buses drove us by New York’s Bellevue Hospital where refrigerated trailers were end to end still trying to identify body parts. Why God? What possible purpose can You have for this?

God is on His throne. He allows life to happen. Even though we may not understand His mind, the only way to make it through life is to have faith and trust. If we can’t accept Isaiah 55 and go ahead then life will be even tougher. Pray for God’s help in finding peace in your life!

Thanks

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

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Encouragement by Max Lucado

First, thanks Cameron for your thoughts on your post. They are great!

 When tragedy strikes—whether personal, national, or global—people wonder how God could allow such things to happen. Is God really in control? Can we trust him to run the universe if he would allow this? It is important to recognize that God dwells in a different realm. God said to Isaiah, “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

How vital, then, that we pray, armed with the knowledge that God is in heaven. And he has chosen to bend near toward earth to see our sorrow and hear our prayers. Though we may not be able to see his purpose or his plan, the Lord of heaven is on his throne and in firm control of the universe and our lives.

 

We ask God, “Where are you taking me? Where is the path?” And he doesn’t tell us. Oh, he may give us a hint or two, but that’s all. If he did, would we understand? Would we comprehend our location? No, we’re unacquainted with this jungle. So rather than give us an answer, Jesus gives us a far greater gift. He gives us himself.

Does he remove the jungle? No, the vegetation is still thick. Does he purge the predators? No, danger still lurks. Jesus doesn’t give hope by changing the jungle; he restores our hope by giving us himself. And he has promised to stay until the very end. “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). We need that reminder. We all need that reminder, for all of us need hope.

 God Bless!

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

 

 

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Abe Lincoln thoughts

Washington, D.C.
September, 1862
Abraham Lincoln ~

The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party -- and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose.....

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He Restores My Soul

 
 From Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

Three answers come quickly to mind. The first would be a person who knows the way out, someone you can trust. And from him you need some vision, someone to lift your spirits. Perhaps most important, you need direction. If you have someone who can take you from this place to the right place—there, now you’ve found someone who can restore your hope. Jesus offers to do this for you. Or, to use the words of King David, “He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3).

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A Prayer

 
Annette Pigg share the following on Facebook:
 
When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities,
but this is what they heard:  It seems prayer still upsets some people.
"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says: "Woe to those who call evil good", but that is exactly what we have done.
* We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.
* We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism.
* We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
* We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle.
* We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
* We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
* We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
* We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
* We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
* We have abused power and called it politics.
* We have embezzled public funds and called it essential expenses.
* We have insitutionalised bribery and called it sweets of office.
* We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.
*We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
* We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, Oh GOD, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen!"
The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest.
In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls
responding negatively.
The church is now receiving international requests for copies of
this prayer from India, Africa and Korea.
With the LORD'S help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and WHOLEHEARTEDLY become our desire so that we again can be
called "ONE NATION UNDER GOD."
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Max Lucado's Daily Devotion

Prayer Changes Things

 

We are never without hope because we are never without prayer. Prayer confesses, “God can handle it, and since he can, I have hope!” When we pray in the name of Jesus, we come to God on the basis of Jesus’ accomplishment. The Scripture says, “Since we have such a great high priest [Jesus] over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:21-22).

Some people say, “Prayer changes things because it changes us.” I agree, but only in part. Prayer changes things because prayer appeals to the top power in the universe. It is the yes to God’s invitation to invoke his name. Prayer moves the world because prayer moves the heart of God.

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Devotional by Max Lucado

The 12/24/2020 edition:

 

The Story of Christmas

 

Maybe your life resembles a Bethlehem stable – crude in some spots, smelly in others, not much glamour. You do your best to make the best of it, but try as you might, the roof still leaks, and the winter wind still sneaks through the holes you just can’t seem to fix. You’ve shivered through your share of cold nights, and you wonder if God has a place for a person like you.

Find your answers in the Bethlehem stable. The story of Christmas is the story of God’s relentless love for us. The moment Mary touched God’s face is the moment God made his case. There is no place he will not go. No place is too common, no person is too hardened, no distance is too far. There is no person he cannot reach. There is no limit to his love.

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A Relationship

Most of the world is focused on the birth of Christ now and then at Easter the focus turns to His death. People will attend church services on both of these occasions and feel good about their relationship with God/Jesus. It seems an appropriate time to think about our relationship with God and Christ in light of what’s being celebrated.

Everything in our lives revolves around relationships. Our marriage, children, other relatives, friends, work relationships, etc. Working at relationships is a fulltime effort if you want to cultivate and maintain them.

When asked about their relationship with God people answer “yes, I believe in God”. Just because you believe that God and Jesus exist does not mean you have a relationship with them! I believe you exist, but we probably don’t have a relationship. Think about your relationship with the One who brought you into the world, gives you blessings, sacrificed His Son for you and finally will decide where you spend eternity. Is He not worthy of a very close, loving and obedient relationship? Is His Son who suffered immeasurable for you not worthy?

The professional counselors write that a good relationship with others is made up of the following: understanding, strong foundation of respect, love, honesty, loyalty, trust and strong communication. Communication is the key according to them! I’ll add that working at the relationship is very important as well.

What efforts are needed for a good relationship with God? The religious writers recommend the following characteristics so do an inventory of your efforts for a relationship with God. I’ve added a couple. As you read these take an inventory of your efforts.

First, decide you want a relationship with Him! Being ambivalent about God does not work for Him. Revelation 3:15-17 NIV - 15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” If your attitude is “I’m giving all I’m willing to give!”, then take a step back and think about your attitude towards God. This statement implies you have more to give to the relationship but are unwilling and not committed!

Love, honor and respect Him. - Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  Do you? Is He your priority? He expects to be. Would your spouse feel like you valued the relationship with him or her if you treated them the same way you treat God?

Pray -Talk to Him. Just as with any other person in your life, communication is essential to strengthening your relationship with God. I Thessalonians 5:17 NLT– “Never stop praying.” Yes he knows what’s in your mind, but He wants to hear from you, frequently. If you do not talk with your spouse, your relationship is not likely to be a good one. It’s the same way with God. At one time I believed formality was required when I talked with God. Now I am very respectful but not as formal. Open your heart and let him know in your words. He can deal with whatever is on your heart.

Obey God's commandments. John 14:15 ESV - “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” People have a tendency to pick the commandments they are comfortable with and discard those they don’t like. Jesus did not say to choose the commandments with which you agree but made a flat statement to obey all! Never think that God’s commandments are outdated and not relevant in today’s world.

Study the scriptures – Study of the scriptures is God’s way of communicating with us.

2 Timothy 2:15 – NIV “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” If you do not make Bible study a regular habit how can you grow your relationship with Him?

Listen for Him – Listening to God Psalm 37:7-9 ESV – “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;”. F. LaGard Smith wrote in Meeting God in Quiet Places: “The peace of God comes to us when we use the quiet times in our life to turn our hearts over to God so that He can prepare us for whatever struggles we face.”

Trust Him! Have faith in Him! God does not always answer our prayers the way we want but He wants our trust. It’s not always easy to trust especially when you lose a loved one, lose your job and income, can’t pay bills and put food on the table. How can I trust Him when bad things happen? Why must these things happen?  I have no answers other than to pray for peace through Him. Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”

Mr. Smith spends part of his life living in England.  He watches hot air balloons floating over the skies in the village of Cotswold. He compares in Meeting God in Quiet Places  his trust in God to being in the basket of the balloon: “From my youth I have happily committed my trust to an unseen God. Even now, in most cases, I am truly a willing passenger. And so far the flight has been, if not always smooth, at least accompanied by an abiding sense of security. Over the years, I have been through storms and calm, through ups and downs; through the heartache of broken relationships, the passing of loved ones, the tears of defeat, the fear of loneliness, and the discouragement of my fallibility. But somehow I keep flying. Somehow he lifts me higher. In the safety of his gracious providence he carries me over the rough times and shares with me the joys of a life lived by faith.”

“I confess that there are times when I find faith in God to be as confining as the basket hanging beneath the balloon. Sometimes I can’t understand why I always have to be in his basket, or why I always have to do everything his way. Yet every time I truly turn my life over to God, I invariably forget the basket and find myself concentrating on the beauty. When I let God’s invisible power take control, I am dependent, but oddly free. I am no longer in control, yet I am safe and secure in his leading.”

 “Nothing can surpass the reality that settles in on us when we reach the point with God where we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is in control. When we really know that we have nothing to fear! When we take that confident step and actually get in the basket! It is then, when we have let go of everything that holds us back, that we will know true freedom. And beauty. And breathtaking heights of exhilarating joy!”

Show gratitude to Him - Psalm 86:12 – “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” God wants us to be thankful to Him even in the bad times. Always remember even though things may not be going your way, He is there.

Max Lucado writes on gratitude: “Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse God’s accomplishments is to discover his heart. To discover his heart is to discover not just good gifts but the Good Giver. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread. It does to anxiety what the morning sun does to valley mist. It burns it up.”

Be content with Him and His blessings– I do not do well with whinners and I do not imagine God does either. LaGard Smith writes in Meeting God in Quit Places: “In our discontent and greed, we miss what Jesus wants to teach us about true joy. How could we ever be discontented with things here on earth if we put our affections on things above? In view of eternity, what is there to really to worry about in the here and now?

Those who can’t live with godly contentment in the here and now will miss out on the joys of the here and then. Heaven itself would disappoint them!”

How did you do on the inventory? Be honest. It’s not that you won’t fail Him at times but is your whole heart in your efforts to cultivate and maintain the relationship?

Allen Jackson writes in Standing Firm about how we came about our relationship with God and Jesus. We cannot inherit our relationship from someone else but must choose to build the relationship. He asks “Is your relationship with Jesus one you feel you inherited , or is it one you have established for yourself?

Mr. Jackson continues to write about the Pharisees and Sadducees: “We, too, can be outwardly religious and not believe in God. We can sit in church, carry a big Bible, and know every song, and yet have no relationship with Jesus. Let’s examine our hearts to ensure our desire is not to put on a religious show, but to be a friend of Jesus.”

Max Lucado writes in Just Like Jesus: “Our relationship with God is exactly that– a relationship. His invitation in Psalm 27:8 is simple. ‘Come and talk with me, O my people.’ And our response? Lord, I’m coming! We abide with him and he abides with us.”

“Psalm 119:105 says in everything, His word is a “lamp unto our feet.” It’s not a spotlight into the future, but He gives enough light to take the next step.”

“Our “Glory Days” are such because we learn to hear God’s voice telling us to turn this way or that way. Isaiah speaks of it in chapter 30, verse 21. “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go.” Wait until God speaks before you act. Be patient and monitor your impulse. If you feel a check in your heart, heed it and ask God again. Consult God in everything!”

“God rewards those who seek Him. Not those who seek doctrine of religion or systems or creeds. Many settle for these lesser passions, but the reward goes to those who settle for nothing less than Jesus himself. And what is the reward? What awaits those who seek Jesus? Nothing short of the heart of Jesus.”

“God’s love never ceases. Never. Though we spurn him. Ignore him. Reject him. Despise him. Disobey him. He will not change. Our evil cannot diminish his love. Our goodness cannot increase it. Our faith does not earn it any more than our stupidity jeopardizes it. God doesn’t love us less if we fail or more if we succeed. God’s love never ceases.”

Our relationship with God is an investment in our life now and after death. It’s not that we earn heaven through our relationship but I’m confident what no relationship with Him will get us! God bless you in your efforts to build and maintain your relationship with Him!

I’m certain that I did not cover everything about our relationship with God so send your thoughts and I will share them.    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thanks!

Mike   

Max Lucado, Just Like Jesus: Learning to Have a Heart Like His – 1998 – Word Publishing – Used by permission

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

Meeting God in Quiet Places written by F. LaGard Smith – 1992 - Published by Harvest House Publishers Eugene, Oregon 97408 - Used by permission

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The Human Heart Problem - Max Lucado 's Daily Devotional

 
 

Christmas commemorates the day and the way God saved us from ourselves. The angel speaking to Mary in Matthew 1:21 says, “…you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Each of us entered the world with a sin nature. Each of us entered the world with a sin nature; God entered the world to take it away.

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Look into God’s Face

 
 Covid seems to be getting worse. With people sick and dying this maybe a very difficult Christmas. Read what Max Lucado has to say in his Daily Devotional.

Would you like to see God? Take a look at Jesus. Hebrews 1:3 says, “Jesus radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God.” In John 14:9 Jesus himself said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Anyone who has seen me weep has seen the Father weep. Anyone who has seen me laugh has seen the Father laugh. Anyone who has seen me determined has seen the Father determined.

Everything changes when we see the face of God. He came with tears, too. He knows the burden of a broken heart. He knows the sorrow life can bring. He could have come as a shining light or a voice in the clouds, but he came as a person. Does God understand you? Look into God’s face and be assured. Find the answer in Bethlehem.

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Good Story on Facebook

A good friend just posted this. It really touched my heart ❤ I have no idea who wrote this but it sure is powerful & beautiful. ❤
In 1979, I was managing a Wendy's in Port Richey Florida. Unlike today, staffing was never a real problem, but I was searching for a someone to work three hours a day only at lunch.
I went thru all my applications and most were all looking for full time or at least 20 hours per week. I found one however, buried at the bottom of a four-inch stack that was only looking for lunch part-time. His name was Nicky. Hadn't met him but thought I would give him a call and see if he could stop by for an interview. When I called, he wasn't in but his mom said she would make sure he would be there.
At the accorded time, Nicky walked in. One of those moments when my heart went in my throat. Nicky suffered from Downs Syndrome. His physical appearance was a giveaway and his speech only reinforced the obvious.
I was young and sheltered. Had never interacted on a professional level with a developmentally disabled person. I had no clue what to do, so I went ahead and interviewed him.
He was a wonderful young man. Great outlook. Task focused. Excited to be alive. For only reasons God knew at that time, I hired him. 3 hours a day, 3 days a week to run a grill.
I let the staff know what to expect. Predictably the crew made sure I got the message, "no one wants to work with "HIM." We had a crew meeting, cleared the air, and prepared for his arrival.
Nicky showed up for work right on time. He was so excited to be working. He stood at the time clock literally shaking with anticipation. He clocked in and started his training. Couldn't multi task, but was a machine on the grill.
Now for the fascinating part.....
Back in that day, there were no computer screens to work from. Every order was called by the cashier. It required a great deal of concentration on the part of all production staff to get the order right. While Nicky was training during his first shift, the sandwich maker next to him asked the grillman/trainer what was on the next sandwich. Nicky replied,"single, no pickle no onion." A few minutes later it happened again. It was then that we discovered Nicky had a hidden and valuable skill.
He memorized everything he heard! Photographic hearing! WHAT A SKILL SET. It took 3 days and every sandwich maker requested to work with Nicky. He immediately was accepted by the entire crew.
After his shift he would join the rest of his crew family, drinking Coke like it was water! It was then that they discovered another Rainman-esque trait. Nicky was a walking/talking perpetual calendar!
With a perpetual calendar as a reference, they would sit for hours asking him what day of the week was December 22, 1847. He never missed. This uncanny trait mesmerized the crew.
His mom would come in at 2 to pick him up. More times than not, the crew would be back there with him hamming it up. As I went to get him from the back, his mom said something I will never forget. "Let him stay there as long as he wants. He has never been accepted anywhere like he has been here." I excused myself and dried my eyes, humbled and broken hearted at the lesson I just learned.
Nicky had a profound impact on that store. His presence changed a lot of people. Today I believe with every fiber of my body that Nicky's hiring was no accident. God's timing and will is perfect.
This Christmas, I hope we all understand what we are celebrating. We are all like Nicky. We each have our shortcomings. We each have our strong points. But we are all of value. God made us that way and God doesn't make mistakes. Nicky certainly wasn't a mistake. He was a valuable gift that I am forever grateful for.
We are celebrating the birth of the ONE that leveled the playing field for all of us. God doesn't care if you are rich or poor, republican or democrat or black or white. He doesn't care if your chromosome structure is perfect. He doesn't care what level of education you have attained.
He cares about your heart. He wants us all to love and appreciate the gift HE gave us on Christmas, His son, the Savior, our salvation. His Son that was born to die for our sins. To pay our debt. To provide us a path for eternity.
So this Christmas, let’s check our hearts. There is a little bit of Nicky in all of us and I suspect there is a Nicky somewhere in your life that is looking for the chance to be embraced. Thank God for that. Thank God for His perfect gift, Christ Jesus.
Kindness is FREE!
 
 
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Is God Fair?

As a child, I had my own concept of fairness. A spanking was unfair! Well, not every time. My mother telling me how disappointed she was in me was really playing dirty. Taking away what I judged as rights which were actually privileges was totally unfair. My father’s and mother’s response to my charges of unfairness was the classic, “life is not always fair, accept that and move on.”

As I matured, I accepted that people were sometimes unfair and learned to live with it. I still struggled with God’s fairness. He is God so He should always be fair! In the fifth grade my good friend, Jerry, died. He and his father were shooting roman candles around Christmas time. Jerry’s father held the candle by the stick to light it. Jerry copied him only to have the stick fire back into his abdomen. He was treated at the emergency room and released. A few days later Jerry died from an infection. As I looked at Jerry lying in the casket I thought “Why God?” Jerry’s death was totally unfair!! By my standards God had failed in the fairness department!!

Webster’s definition of fairness as an adjective is in accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate. As an adverb means it is without cheating or trying to achieve unjust advantage. We each have our own version and standards of fair.

Webster’s definitions don’t always match ours. We develop our own set of standards from life’s experiences. We at times even try to judge God’s fairness by our own standards. Do we have a right to judge God’s fairness? No, He’s God! He is the standard! God should not and cannot held to our standards.

Jesus is God’s son, and He did not try to judge God’s fairness. In the face of the awful death He was facing, He did ask God to deliver Him but there was no charge of unfairness. There was no whining. Jesus knew that whether it was fair or not he had to endure for our sakes!

Recently I experienced the God is “unfair” attitude with one of my CASA boys. I asked him and the foster parent at the end of our visit if we could pray. The foster parent said “yes” but the boy gave an emphatic “NO”. God had let his Nana die. Nana had taken care of him and acted as his parent. That was unfair and he wanted absolutely nothing to do with God. He is angry with God, the foster parent, me and you if you met him!

Since that meeting I’ve thought about how I could answer the teenager to hopefully help him. I have struggled for a long time with the charges that God is unfair. So what should I say to people who have that attitude? Sometimes it just takes a great deal of faith and trust to live with God’s ways.  Accepting God’s decisions can be very difficult, and our faith is the one thing that pulls us through.

The author, Daniel Darling, from NRB wrote an article Is God Fair? Maybe Not, but He's Right. Mr. Darling writes about the parable in Matthew 20 where the workers that came in the last hour of the day received the same pay as those that started work the first hour. As you read what he has to say, think about your attitude.

Mr. Darling: “Sadly, many Christians in America, walk around feeling as though they’ve been cheated. They ask questions like, “Why can’t I be healthy like others?” or “Why does God allow him or her to be married?” or “Why couldn’t have I been born into a wealthy family?”

“Unfortunately, the church itself has become an unwitting accomplice in this unbiblical thought process. We’ve tried to market Christianity as the better alternative, where life will be more successful. This may be true, but we must realize that Christianity is not about benefiting and taking and getting more of what we want out of a cosmic, vending-machine God. It’s about worshipping a God who has given us far more grace than we deserve. It’s about following the example of Jesus in sacrificing for the good of others.”

“We should view everything we’ve got in life as a gift from God, not complain when things don’t go our way. Because thankfully, we don’t have a God who is fair, but a Heavenly Father who is always right.” 

“Grace gives us the proper perspective on life’s seeming injustices. As hard as it is to fathom, the most tragedy-struck Christian has tasted overwhelming amounts of God’s grace. More than even that soul deserved.”

“So if we were to be completely honest, we wouldn’t want God to be fair. If He was, then He wouldn’t have sent Jesus to pay for our sins and we would be bound for a hopeless eternity. And He wouldn’t walk beside us daily, giving us strength. He wouldn’t extend His hand of forgiveness when we fail.”

“Instead, we should be glad we serve a God who is right. Because we’re not getting what we deserve. Nobody who walks this earth is. Instead, we’re getting something far greater. His grace.”

Recently, I quoted a prayer from Allen Jackson where he says to God “you’ve never failed me.” Can you say Amen to that? I try to say that but do not always make it. We need to practice what Mr. Darling writes, keep our perspective and have the same attitude as Mr. Jackson.

“Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.” ― Max Lucado, He Still Moves Stones: Everyone Needs a Miracle – Used by permission

Thanks

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

Daniel Darling, NRB  Is God Fair? Maybe Not, but He's Right.  Used by permission.

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

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You Will Overcome by Max Lucado

 
 

God’s word to Joshua is God’s word to us: “Be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:6). Do not cower before your woes. Take the land God has given to you to possess. “And the Lord said to Joshua: ‘See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor’” (Joshua 6:2). God did not say, “Joshua, take the city.” God said, “Joshua, receive the city I have taken.” Joshua did not go forth hoping to win; he knew that God had already won.

The same can be said about you and your challenge. God says, “Receive the blessing of my victory.” You see, the question is not will you overcome? It is when will you overcome? Life will always bring challenges, but God will always give strength to face them.

Read more God Is with You Every Day

We studied about being bold in prayer now pray about being bold, "strong and of good courage", concerning our challenges. We will not win every challenge as we wish but with God's help we will endure.

Mike

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