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.

The Christian Spirit by John Gray

GRANDPA SAYS – “THINK ON THESE THINGS”: “Everyone is a tale of two spirits.”
 “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” (Rom 7:15, NASB).
Every person has a ring-side seat where they see the battle of their spirits (the mind of Christ and the mind of the world) for the title of – “Governing/Dominating Spirit.” The inclination of a mind like Christ is to do “Righteousness,” i.e., to hate evil and love what is righteous. A person will find the effect of their former habits (ways of thinking) lingering in their mind and annoying their peace for years. Thus, it is with every vice and sin. It is one of the effects of bad habits - “The very passage of an impure thought through the mind leaves and artifact or pollution behind it,” and where sin has been long indulged, it leaves its withering, desolating effect on the soul long after repentance, and produces that state of conflict (that interferes with our peace of mind) with which every Christian is familiar. God can forget but we are governed by our dominating spirit.
The same conflict of conscience has been experienced and described in ancient writings, e.g., Xenophon Araspes said --- “Certainly I must have two souls; for plainly it is not one and the same which is both evil and good; and at the same time wishes to do a thing and not to do it. Plainly then, there are two souls; and when the good one prevails, then it does good; and when the evil one predominates, then it does evil.” So also Epictetus said ---” He that sins does not do what he would, but what he would not, that he does.” With these passages it would almost seem that Paul was familiar with them when he wrote Romans 7:15-25 --- “For that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practise; but what I hate, that I do. But if what I would not, that I do … So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not …. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord….”

We may fail to obey, giving way to passion by the allurements of temptation; but we know that we ought to obey righteousness. The great crises of life arise when conscience is issuing one command, while self-interest, or passion issues another. The question (which must be decided) is which of the two is to be obeyed. But how does anyone know which of the choices is the right and which is wrong? Folks, the heart (the conscience – the dominate spirit) can only give back what it has been fed! ---- “Thy word [the truth] have I laid up in my heart, That I might not sin against thee. (Psa 119:11).

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THE PRICE OF PRIDE - February 2, 2022 from Max Lucado's Daily Devotion

The other day I saw some children at play on a large vacant lot where someone had dumped a mound of dirt. They were playing the greatest of kid games: King of the Mountain. The rules are as simple as they are brutal: fight your way to the top, and shove off anyone who threatens to take your spot.

Versions of King of the Mountain are played in every dormitory, classroom, boardroom, and bedroom. And since mountaintop real estate is limited, people tend to get shoved around. Mark it down: if you want to be king, someone is going to suffer. Your arrogance might prompt a broken marriage, an estranged friendship, or a divided office.

Pride comes at a high price. Don’t pay it. Consider the counsel of the apostle Paul: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought” (Romans 12:3).

From Mike: We all know someone that Max's writing describes. My question is: Does it describe me? I need to think deeply and be honest with myself. Do I need to make changes?

Do his thoughts describe you?

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You Are Heard in Heaven by Max Lucado

“Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard” (Daniel 10:12). Those words were spoken by an angel to the prophet Daniel. The moment Daniel began praying, the answer was issued. Demonic forces blocked the pathway of the angel. The impasse lasted a full three weeks until the archangel Michael arrived on the scene with his superior authority. The standoff was ended, and the prayer was answered

Have your prayers been met with a silent sky? Have you prayed and heard nothing? Are you floundering in the land between an offered and an answered prayer? If so, I beg you, don’t give up. What the angel said to Daniel, God says to you. You have been heard in Heaven. Angelic armies have been dispatched. Reinforcements have been rallied. Do what Daniel did – remain before the Lord.

From Mike: When I pray about people and their circumstances but nothing happens, I wonder about that. I've been praying for one of the CASA families for at least three years. The father and the boys keep getting in trouble with the law because of drugs. Is it time to shake the dust off my feet and move on? It seems that Max's last paragraph may be the answer. Keep praying, be patient and wait of the Lord!

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Delivering Happiness - from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

 Albert is a mail carrier in Waco, Texas. He makes daily deliveries to the furniture store where my daughter Sara used to work. Being a start-up, the business had a constant level of chaos. That’s why they all loved Albert. Sara remembers, “He’d ask how each of us was doing. He looked us in the eyes and said, ‘God bless you.’”

Albert delivers more than mail. He delivers happiness. I’d like to challenge you to do the same. Set out to alter the joy level of a hundred people over the next forty days. Pray for people, serve more, practice patience, and bring out the best in people. Keep a journal to describe the encounters and what you learned. At the end of forty days, would your world be different? Would you be different? I took the challenge, and I certainly am.

From Mike: A very good challenge, especially if you are having difficulty with finding your way to serve God. Albert not only brought happiness and goodness to others but to himself as well. I'm not good at journals and maybe you are not either but we shouldn't let that stop us. Let's try it!!                        

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Are you making Christ real to others? by John Gray



Christians are --- “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Eph 2:10). These last four words --- “to do good works” epitomize the behavior that glorifies God and makes Christ real to others. Granted, there are obstacles in our daily lives that can encumber our minds and hinder our spiritual progress, but only if we let them. Nonetheless, Christians are called to live lives that are --- “holy and pleasing to God” (Rom 12:1).

Faith must be proven by actions. Christians are a chosen people, belonging to God so that we may declare His praises (1 Pet 2:9). To “declare His praises,” it is essential that we spend time in His Word so we can learn how to behave in Christian fashion. However, knowledge alone is not enough; we are called to do more than to know and believe. Christians are to be --- “doers of the Word” (Jam 1:22). As the apostle James informs us, we are deceiving ourselves if we think we are spiritual by only hearing the Word. Hearing is not the same as doing --- “Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead [by] itself.” (Jas 2:17).

Folks, it is easy to show love to those who walk as we do. It’s not always so easy to be kind to those who ridicule our beliefs, show contempt for our Savior, or make a mockery of the principles that Christians hold sacred. Yet Christ taught us to love our enemies, and to pray for those who persecute us. Recall how He dealt with the woman caught in adultery. Her captors wanted her dead; our Savior showed compassion even though He was the One who would die for her sinful behavior (John 8:11).

Christian behavior includes heeding Jesus’ call for us to be His witnesses to --- “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We are to share the gospel, which Paul defined as the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15:1-4). The validity of our witness is in how we live our lives.

We are to --- “offer your bodies as living sacrifices” (Rom 12:2). This, ultimately, is the essence of true Christian behavior – surrendering our hearts and yielding our bodies to Christ so He might continue God’s work through us. We are to be beacons of light in a dark world.

 From Mike: Some have the attitude, "Look I have a hard enough time taking care of me and mine so don't lay the responsibility on me about others! As far as "good works", I do the best I can so that will have to do! God understands!" Yes He understands but He expects more.

John's third paragraph is a strong reminder for me. Christians are under attack from a great many in our society so loving our detractors is a challenge for me, especially our elected leaders. I remember the church sign that offered this thought: "Love everyone and let God separate them!" A great idea to practice.

Hopefully, as you read John's article you conducted a realistic inventory of yourself and didn't rationalize your failings. The Holy Spirit will helps us if we allow him to guide us. As John says, "Think on these things"!


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




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GOD’S IDEA - January 18, 2022 from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional


“This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

"A divine spark indwells you. When you say yes to God he blows on that holy ember, and it begins to flame. It grows day by day within you. Are you perfect? No. But you are being made perfect. And he has a wild and inexplicable love for you. You are God’s idea, God’s child."

"You were loved in heaven before you were known on earth. You aren’t an accident. You are being made into God’s image. You are a diamond, a rose, and a jewel, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. In the eyes of God you are worth dying for. Would you let this truth find its way into your heart?"

From Mike: Notice Max writes that "when" we say "yes" to God he will stoke our fire. Saying "yes" to God is not just a one time action but an everyday event. I'm finding that many people believe a one time statement of belief will carry them forever. A  fire not tendered will extinguish itself. Don't allow yours to go out! Nurture your fire with scripture reading and prayer!

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Make Your Deals with God by John Gray

The following article was written by John Gray and published on the preaching group that offers these articles.

As you read the article, examine your life. Do you always make your “deals” with God, or do you occasionally work a side deal with Satan? We can rationalize that a deal with Satan every once in a while won’t do damage or will it. If that’s your attitude, pay close attention to John’s fourth paragraph. Once you make one side deal with Satan it becomes easier to make more and more until you are only dealing with Satan. This article is a good reminder for everyone and excellent reading for young people.

God Bless!

GRANDPA SAYS – “THINK ON THESE THINGS”: The road best traveled is the road less traveled --- “Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.” (Mat 7:13-14).

DEVOTION ASSERTIONS: (1) Good times tend to make us hard of hearing. We learn more in hard times because we are more ready to learn. (2) Choose wisely who you are going to partner and dance through life with because it is a decision with eternal consequences. (3) Satan is the father of lies and deception – “… for he is a liar, and the father thereof.” (Joh 8:44).

     Since the dawn of creation, mankind has always wanted to do things their own way.  Folks, going your own way without the right compass can have disastrous side effects which not only impact us directly, but also our loved ones and others we encounter - choices have consequences.

     Every day there is someone who enters into a pact with the devil and believes that it will be the best thing that ever happened to them.  Making a pact with the devil may seem like a good decision at first. But eventually, payment will be demanded (by Satan) as we painfully realize that the price which must be paid is much greater than the promised benefits --- “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  (Mar 8:36).  Satan is good at blinding us with the promises and pleasures of sin – for a season (Heb 11:25).

     Folks, God loves us so much that He offers us a “Sincere Deal”. He will save our souls, giving us everything our hearts truly needs for eternity, in exchange for nothing but our obedient faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. In a great exchange, Jesus has appeased God’s wrath for us, taking our sin and its penalty upon Himself (1 John 4:10; 1 Pet 2:24). In Christ, God will make us alive, and He will fill our futile lives (on this side of eternity) with meaningful work and joyful anticipation of eternal bliss.

     Before we are saved, we are all in bondage to the devil, as 1 John 5:19 says --- “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Praise the Lord, we have a new Master, One who can break the chains of any sin and set us free (1 Cor 6:9-11; Mark 5:1-15).

     Let us make all or our “Deals” with God! He keeps his promises!

If you want to contact me, I have a new email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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GOD IS ON THE THRONE - January 17, 2022 from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

From Mike: In one fashion or another many people are facing struggles in life. Health, marriage, children, older parents, spouses health, struggling with the death of a loved one, job, drugs etc. The last paragraph is a message we need to carry with us at all times. You don't have to go to the church building to worship Him! In your prayers give appraise and thanks!

"God’s answer for troubled times has always been the same: heaven has an occupied throne."

"During the eighth century BC, ancient Judah enjoyed a time of relative peace, thanks to the steady leadership of King Uzziah. He kept enemies at bay for fifty-two years, then Uzziah died. Isaiah the prophet was worried. What would happen now that Uzziah was gone?"

"Or, in your case, what will happen now that your job is gone? Or your health has diminished? Does God have a message for his people when calamity strikes? He certainly had a word for Isaiah. The prophet wrote, “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up…” (Isaiah 6:1). Uzziah’s throne was empty, but God’s was occupied. He was, and is, alive, on the throne, and worthy of our endless worship."

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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!
"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 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 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'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, 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.
"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
~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


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!


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

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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!


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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