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.

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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“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.”


 “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.”


 “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.”
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

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

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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It's Time To Pray From Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

"Daniel was a young man when he was taken into Babylonian captivity. Later he realized that the seventy years of prophesied captivity were coming to an end, and he took the matter to the Lord. Now, if any person deserved to be heard by God, it was he. Yet in the presence of God, this holy man offered a brokenhearted prayer. The prayer so moved the heart of God that an angel was sent with this message: “From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard…” (Daniel 10:12 MSG)."

"Friend, the moment you bow your head to pray is the moment God lifts his hand to help. Your heavenly Father wants to hear from you. Are you desperate, without options? By no means. Now, more than ever, is the time to get down on your knees and plead for help."

From Mike: I've read some authors who urge you go to God in prayer and DEMAND of Him! Demanding does not seem like a humble heart but a proud heart. We are encouraged in Philippians 4:6 to pray - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Be patient, humble and continue to pray. 

The story of Daniel teaches us God will deliver on His time not ours!

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A Dramatic Deliverance from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Does your view of God include a certain relief and a dramatic deliverance? This is no small question. Indeed, that is the question. For most people, their summary of life reads, “We live in a beautiful but broken world, and we just make the best of it and die.”

"But God offers a better story, and his story ends in a better place. His story says our Creator made this world and did not destine it for brokenness. His death gave birth to eternal life. He arose from the dead and is recreating our world and invites all of us to be a part of it. One day he will restore this world to its intended beauty and reclaim his family, and we will live with him forever. That’s the story God offers. Is it your story? I sure hope so."

From Mike: We all probably know people with the attitude of "first you live and then you die".. God's story is a much better story. Share Max's writing with one of those people. You may not change their thinking but you won't know until you try. Share it and then let God go to work!



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This seemed to fit with yesterday's post from Max Lucado.
: “Let go and let God!” | “I can’t handle it, God can - so, I think I will let Him!”
 “Jesus said, 'Don't be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me.'” (Joh 14:1)
The truth is that working at “letting go” is just as much work as anything else we try to do for God and not nearly as easy to do as some folks may think.
Many folks believe that, if we are truly in a state of “letting go,” we will be able to cease from striving and struggling. But Jesus said --- “Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Luk 13:24). By striving, He means that we should be diligent, active, and earnest and that we should continually make every effort to overcome our sinful tendencies.
We will always struggle against life’s hard circumstances. The reality is that we struggle for a variety of reasons. One is that we have a weak faith. We just don’t have enough confidence (trust) in God to rest in the reality of His nature and have the peace that comes with a strong faith in Him. For instance, when trials come, do we really believe that ---“God works all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28)? If we know God intimately, we have faith in His plan and purposes, His love for us, His sovereign control over all circumstances in life, and we rest in the “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil 4:7).
Struggles are just one of the ways God strengthens us for the hard things life throws at us. Trials are designed to show us (and others) that our faith is real --- “Your faith will be like gold that has been tested in a fire. And these trials will prove that your faith is worth much more than gold that can be destroyed. They will show that you will be given praise and honor and glory when Jesus Christ returns” (1 Pet 1:7).

In Christ, we can face the trials of life with grace and faith that whatever God has for us is OK. This comes from years of walking with Him, trial upon trial, struggle upon struggle.

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Troubles Come With Life from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

How do we survive the bitterly cold winds of life? When the account has no cash. When the marriage has no joy. When the crib is empty or the grave is occupied. Well Scripture offers a couple of starchy observations.

First, no one gets a free pass. Trouble knocks at the door of us all. Someone needs that reminder. Someone has been led to believe that the Christian life is a yellow-brick road. Consequently, when the inevitable bad stuff happens, the person is forced to face the tough questions about a God who didn’t keep his promises. To which God says, “Well I never made those promises.” God did promise, in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” Troubles come with life. We gain nothing by pretending they don’t.

No one gets a free pass, but we can believe this: one way or another, relief and deliverance will come.

From Mike:It will do us all good to remeber this!

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Decide Now from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

 "Resistance matters. Long after acts of compliance are forgotten, acts of courage are pondered. In the story of Esther, Mordecai refused to bow before evil Haman. And his refusal to bow was the first link in a chain of courageous acts that led to the salvation of his people. Your resolve might be the decisive gesture that breaks the stronghold."

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The Joy of Certainty

At the doctor’s office a few weeks ago, there was a book titled A Little God Time which looked interesting, so I read a few devotionals. The title actually ended with “For Women” in different font but didn’t notice that part at first. There is a devotional for each day of the year, and they are actually fitting for both men and women. The publisher granted rights to copy on Southside’s blog so some of the material will start showing up.

“Yesterday we read about hearing God’s voice behind us, leading us down the path he’s chosen for our lives. Perhaps this idea isn’t entirely comforting to you. What about free will? What if I want to wander off the path a little bit? The idea of just blindly following someone, even God Himself, can seem a little daunting. What if His path is no fun?"

"Rest assured. You are not blindfolded, and He is not pushing you down His-or any-path. You will only hear His voice if you are listening. And the choice to follow His lead is entirely yours. But what a wonderful choice it is! Consider Psalm 16: [You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.]"

"He doesn’t just tell us which way to go, he shows us the path. And even better he is with us, joy and pleasure are ours-forever. Rest in the lovely assurance today and pray for the courage to surrender to His lead.”

My initial thought was of my grandchildren. They seem to think they have the world by the tail, but then again didn’t I think that at their age about myself? Even at 71+ years, I need this message!

Think about it!


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

A Little God Time For Women – BroadStreet Publishing Group, LLC – 2021- Used by permission

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Stand Out and Assist by Max Lucado

Max' s Daily Devotional

1 Peter chapter 2, verses 9 and12 read, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God.”

How do God’s people live in a godless society? Do they blend in and assimilate? No, this is the time to stand out and assist. We were made for this moment. This is no time to play around. You were made for more than social media and flashy parties. You were made to serve the almighty God and be a temple of his Holy Spirit. Society offers nothing. Hollywood can’t satisfy your needs. Madison Avenue makes big promises but leaves people naked of hope. Godless living is no life to live.


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The Hope The World Needs by Max Lucado

From Max's Daily Devotional:

You know, we’re caretakers of the message of Jesus. As you and I live out our faith, he is delivered into a faith-famished culture. We have the hope this world needs, but sometimes we forget. Billion-dollar industries are conning you by luring you into lifestyles that will leave you wounded and weary.

How about some examples? Pornography is one. Pornography, they say, is a harmless expression of sexuality. Hardly – it is as addictive as alcohol and drugs. Or this one: Whoever dies with the most toys wins. Take on the liability. Borrow the money. But your Maker tells you, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20).

The lies are everywhere, and their consequences are devastating. Be careful! Don’t get too cozy in this culture.

From Mike: Max tells us that we have the HOPE this world needs.  I Peter 3:15 Message Translation: 

 "If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God."
If we become involved with the examples Mav gives in his writing, how can possibly fulfill I Peter 3:15?
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Life if not about you – it is about others by John Gray

Mike: Sometimes we wear our feelings on our sleeves. I did recently and had some bad thoughts towards someone else. I did not feel right about my what was going through my mind so I kept praying for God's help. He helped and I got over it. It did not really amount to a hill of beans as the old saying goes. This morning I remembered John's article. It helped so maybe it can help you!

Jonh Gray: To be offended is a choice we make; it’s not a condition inflicted or imposed on us by someone or something else.



 "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." (Phil 2:3).

It is not strange that so many folks act as if personal offenses or slights, hurt feelings, differences of opinion and disagreements are sins against them. When our pride is challenged and/or slighted, the devil puts us on the ‘fast-track’ to making a mountain out of a mole hill or creating a tempest in a tea pot.

Folks, if we walk through life with a “Chip” on our shoulder, then a lot of things will “Offend” or “Trigger” us into giving Satan an opportunity to make a mountain out of a mole hill.  We can clearly see that when the Bible speaks of an offense, it refers primarily to some act or series of acts which lead someone into sin. However, irritations and annoyances have the unfortunate inclination to build into far worse bitterness and grudges, which are sins that a person has allowed himself to be led into - in many cases by his own devious mind.

Folks, we need to choose to love instead of pouting.  Focus on forgiving immediately and loving others, rather than the so-called “Offense”. Practice that, and you will begin to take less offense --- “Hatred stirreth up strifes; But love covereth all transgressions. (Pro 10:12) | --- “above all things being fervent in your love among yourselves; for love covereth a multitude of sins [transgressions]:” (1Pe 4:8).

As God grows us, He transforms us into people who can love well. Pray for help to choose the God-honoring avenue.  We should forgive so much that it becomes second nature - our automatic response to irritations in our relationships with others should be --- “If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.” (Rom 12:18) | “Strive for peace with all men …” (Heb 12:14).

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I recently placed a piece on this blog about winter written by Max Lucado. Most people associate winter with darkness. This brought about thoughts of people that are experiencing darkness/winter in their lives. One older gentleman lost his wife at the beginning of summer. A former high school classmate lost his daughter to cancer and an additional one recently received a very bad prognosis about his health. Several years ago a boy of eight asked his mother why she gave him away when she delivered him to the State. Almost three years ago another boy of eight told me he saw the devil and evil people with pitchforks coming after him. People today are losing their loved ones to COVID. In every CASA family I’ve worked with there is drug abuse. Unfortunately, the children have followed after their parents. It seems as if darkness/winter is always present and affects all ages and walks of life.

The following are thoughts from F. LaGard Smith’s book, Meeting God In Quiet Places. He writes a chapter titled Darkness. He set out one evening on a walk to Stanton, England about an hour from his home. When he realized darkness was coming on him quickly, he hurried to get home. “Already, a  cold gloomy mist was moving in over the hills.”

“As I slowly made my way, almost by instinct, I couldn’t help but think of the words of the psalm, ‘You Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.’ In the deep darkness of that night, I was able to see more clearly than ever just how God’s revelation works in my life. The Bible is not simply the story of human existence, but that upon which I can depend in times of trouble. It is the light in my darkened world of “lostness.” No matter how adverse the circumstances, somehow it always gets me through.” Take note that he doesn’t say God takes away the darkness but gets him through it. Many expect God to eliminate the darkness, but He will see you through it.

Mr. Smith is able to get through his darkness because he has studied Scriptures and relies on God’s message. If you are not studying the Scriptures then don’t expect much help as you experience darkness. He writes: “For me, the Bible is neither a fail-safe mantra to be recited at the first alarm, nor a tag-along security blanket to ward off all potential enemies. Rather, it has become as familiar as the path to and from my home—so familiar, in fact, that I often fail to appreciate it fully until I find myself in some kind of trouble. But it is precisely in those special times of needs that his Word becomes my light, showing the way to safety.”

He continues: “The skeptic might point out that I only see the path by faith—in my mind’s eye. But that is the beauty of God’s Word. It is not only written on the pages of the Bible, but in the inner recesses of my heart, stored there for whenever I need to hear the Lord’s guidance. In times of spiritual darkness—whether I am confronted by temptation, haunted by fear, or overwhelmed by loneliness—I am better able to find my way out of it. It’s almost instinctive, as if I could actually see the way. Wherever I am, whatever the need, because of God’s word which is now part of my very essence , I am always in the grip of the familiar.”

Mr. Smith writes about seeking advice from his dad when he was alive then goes on: “My heavenly Fathers voice is not just a memory. Through His Word and through His Spirit, he speaks to me every day. He is literally with me at every moment. Never am I without his involvement in my life. Far greater even that being in the grip of the familiar, I am in his grip!”

“It must be similar to what King David felt when he wrote in his exquisite 23rd Psalm: ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.’ Not even the anticipate darkness of his own death was fearful for David, for throughout his life he had walked God on familiar paths. With God constantly in his life through good times and bad, he lived confidently in the presence of his Lord.” I added the bold to Mr. Smith’s words because they are important. David had an up and down life. Morally, he  had failed God and was punished with the death of his and Bathsheba’s first son, but he still hung on to God! We should also! Who else or what else is going to see you through your bad times?

Mr. Smith continues: “When all is said and done, it’s all about trusting God in the darkness, whatever the darkness be. Certainly, David would have expected nothing less from him who made the first light out of darkness—from him who first said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light’!”

“If God could bring physical light itself into existence, why should I ever think that he could not shed his spiritual light whenever and wherever I might need it? Light to show the way when I am stranded in despair and lost in loneliness. Light to lead me in paths of right living. And, in the end, light to lead me safely home.”

When people are in darkness or have just gone through darkness, you often hear them ask “Why?”. My unspoken answer is “I don’t know”. It gives a feeling of inadequacy not to  able to explain their darkness. Explaining God’s mind is not a talent so that’s why I turn to the Bible first then writers like F. LaGard Smith and Max Lucado for their thoughts!


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

Meeting God in Quiet Places – F. LaGard Smith – 1992 – Published by Harvest House Publisher – Used by permission

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WRAPPED IN WINTER - October 1, 2021 by Max Lucado

Mike: If you are like me and have a hard time with the season of winter then the following devotional is for you! Winter is cold often dreary. The daylight hours are shorter and the dark of night comes too early. "Winter" is often used as a description when we are living through a time of troubles. Take HOPE from what Max writes.

Max: Winters are a part of life—some personal, some global—but all are powerful. Try as we might to bundle up and lean into the wind, the heartiest among us can fall. Nights are too long, and the question is all too common: Will this winter ever pass?

God has a six-letter word of encouragement: E-S-T-H-E-R. The book of Esther was written to be read in wintertime for the person who feels outnumbered by foes, outmaneuvered by fate, and outdone by fear. It’s as if God, in his kind providence, heard all the prayers of all the souls who have ever been stuck in an arctic February. And to every person who has longed to see a green sprig on a barren branch, he says, “Follow me. I want you to see what I can do.”

You Were Made for This Moment

Read more You Were Made for This Moment

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Jesus Values You by Max Lucado

Jesus’ love does not depend upon what we do for him. Not at all. In the eyes of the King, you have value simply because you are. You don’t have to look nice or perform well. Your value is inborn. Period.

Think about that for just a minute. You’re valuable just because you exist. Not because of what you’ve done, but simply because you are. Remember that the next time you are left bobbing in the wake of someone’s steamboat ambition. Or some trickster tries to hang a bargain basement price tag on your self-worth. Remember that the next time someone tries to pass you off as a cheap buy.

Just think about the way Jesus honors you, and smile. I do. Because I know I don’t deserve love like that—none of us do.


Mike: Many people spend their lives trying to earn love from others.  They want to prove their value in a marriage, in a friendship especially in a job. Unfortunately you see it in a child feeling he/she has to earn the parents love. In some cases that's true but not from Jesus. Yes, He has expectations of us but regardless of our failures He still loves. Think about Max's last sentence often today and tell God/Jesus "THANK YOU"!

Remember that He suffered and died for you. No one can be loved more than that!

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