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Shelbyville TN 37160

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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.

FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER - June 24, 2021- Daily Devotion by Max Lucado

I believe that many times our attitude is afix blame and try to make our offender pay for it. Max says to tell the offender "the way it makes you fell" not assign blame. His advice below is very good but not always easy to do. Try to remember that you have also have offended and to work on your attitude towards forgiving!

Mike

 

The question is not “Did you get hurt?” The question is “Are you going to let the hurt harden you?” Wouldn’t you prefer to be “tenderhearted, forgiving one another”? Try these steps:

Decide what you need to forgive. Be specific. Narrow it down to the identifiable offense.

Ask yourself why it hurts. Why does this offense sting? What about it leaves you wounded?

Take it to Jesus. Talk to Jesus about the offense until the anger subsides. And when it returns, talk to Jesus again.

Tell your offender. If it feels safe, simply explain the offense and the way it makes you feel.

Pray for your offender. You cannot force reconciliation, but you can offer intercession.

Conduct a funeral. Bury the offense in the cemetery known as “Moving on with Life.”

This is how happiness happens.

How Happiness Happens - Finding Lasting Joy in a world of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations

Read more How Happiness Happens - Finding Lasting Joy in a world of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations

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Chapter 14 - Facing Your Giants

David’s life could not be better.  He is no king, he’s through running from Saul and the ark is finally in its place. David is reflecting on his past when he remembers a promise: Is there still anyone in the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake? 2 Samuel 9

 Why should David care because is there is no one to remind him of his promise but his conscience causes him to remember the promise and the circumstances. When Saul was chasing David to kill him, Jonathan saved David and he made this request of David: If I make it through this alive, continue to be my covenant friend. And if I die, keep the covenant friendship with my family forever.

I Samuel 20:14-15 MSG

Jonathan does die, and David has many reasons to forget the covenant. Max writes: “The two were young and idealistic. Who keeps the promises of youth? Saul was cruel and relentless. Who honors the children of a nemesis? David has a nation to rule and an army to lead. What king has time for small matters? But, to David, a covenant is no small matter.”

 “Promises. We never escape their shadow. David, it seems, didn’t attempt to.”

He has integrity!!

 David’s search for a member Jonathan’s family was not an easy task.  A servant of Saul’s, Ziba, knows that Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth is alive.  There is, however, a complication, the boy is a cripple. After Saul and Jonathan are killed, members of the household flee the Philistines.  Mephibosheth is five years old as his nurse grabs him and runs. She drops him breaking both of his ankles leaving him incurably lame. Jonathan’s family hides in fear of the Philistines as well as David.

Max continues: “Collect the sad details of Mephibosheth’s life: born rightful heir to the throne, victimized by a fall, left with halting feet in a foreign land where he lived under the threat of death. Victimized. Ostracized. Disabled. Uncultured.”

 David orders the boy to be brought to his palace. Max goes on: “The boy assumes the worst. He enters the presence of David with the enthusiasm of a death-row inmate entering the lethal injection room. The boy bows low and asks, Who am I that you pay attention to a stray dog like me? David told Ziba: Everything that belonged to Saul and his family, I’ve handed over to your master’s grandson… from now on he will take all his meals at my table.  II Samuel 9:8-10 MSG

 Max’s comment: “A promise prompted by David. The king is kind, not because the boy is deserving, but because the promise is enduring.” Much like God’s promise to us through the sacrifice of Jesus.

 The story continues fifteen years later with the rebellion of Absalom against David.  David flees Jerusalem with a few friends including Ziba but not Mephibosheth. Ziba claims Mephibosheth has sided with the enemy. Upon David’s return to Jerusalem, Mephibosheth tells him that he had not turned against him but that Ziba refused to put him on a horse, so he could flee with David. David does not investigate which one is lying but remains loyal to Mephibosheth.  He does not break his promise.

 Max compares David’s loyalty to God’s: “God makes and never breaks his promise. The Hebrew word for covenant, beriyth, means a solemn agreement with binding force.’ God has made covenants throughout the Bible: He made a covenant with Noah to never destroy the world again through a flood; God promised Abraham to give his descendants the land and God’s covenant with us to provide Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins, so we can have eternal life in Heaven.

God, who never lies, promised this eternal life before the world began. Titus 1:2 God’s Word

 Max asks: “Shouldn’t God’s promise-keeping inspire you? Heaven knows you could use some inspiration. People can exhaust you. And there are times when all we can do is not enough. You’re tired. You’re angry. You’re disappointed.”

 Keep on loving these people. Max tells why: “So you can understand the depth of God’s love.  When you love the unloving, you get a glimpse of what God does for you. When you do what is right even though you have been done wrong when you love the weak and the sick, you do what God does every single moment. Covenant-keeping enrolls you in the post-graduate school of God’s love.”

“When you love liars, cheaters, heartbreakers, are you not doing what God has done for us? Pay attention to and take notes on your struggles. God invites you to understand his love.”

Max ends this chapter with a challenge for you: “Embrace God’s love. Who knows? Someone may tell your story of loyalty to illustrate the loyalty of God.”

Facing Your Giants – Max Lucado – 2006 – Thomas Nelson Publishing – Used by Permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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INVITE GOD TO BE GOD - June 17, 2021 by Max Lucado

Invite God to Be God

The faith-filled prayer is a prayer of admonishment. The prayer of faith invites God to be God, to be sovereign over a tumultuous time. Dennis McDonald models this type of admonishment. He was our church’s hospital chaplain for many years. I was always struck by the transformation that came over him as he began to minister. When he entered the hospital room, he went straight to work.

He would anoint the sick person with oil and pray, “Lord, this is your servant, whom you love and whom we love. Let your healing happen in this room. Satan, you must leave. You’re a liar, and your words have no merit. This child is bought by God. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.” This is the job of the church: to take struggling followers and lead them back to the path of faith. This is how happiness happens.

 
 
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LET LOVE SUCCEED - June 10, 2021 Daily Devotional by Max Lucado

The catchphrase “hate the sin and love the sinner” fits nicely on a bumper sticker, but how do we embed the principle in our hearts? Maybe these ideas will help.

Reserve judgment. Let every person you meet be a new person in your mind. None of this labeling or preconceived notions. Listening is a healing balm for raw emotions. Happiness happens not by fixing people, but by accepting people and entrusting them into the care of God. Jesus did this.

Another idea: Resist the urge to shout. You know, it’s better to keep quiet and keep a friend than to be loud and lose one. Besides, “They are God’s servants, not yours. They are responsible to him, not to you…” (Romans 14:4 TLB). Let’s reason together. Let’s work together. And if discussion fails, let love succeed—this is how happiness happens.

By Mike: I'm a fixer and manager by my personality. I've read this one three times this morning because I need it! I probably need to read this several times every day. 

God Bless

Mike

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Thoughts on Prayer By Lucado, Jackson and Smith

The Posture of Prayer by Max Lucado

“We have the opportunity to offer heartfelt prayers for every person we see: the attendant at the grocery store, the nurse in the doctor’s office. You don’t have to tell them of your intercessory prayer. When we seek to bless others through prayer, we are blessed. Studies draw causal links between prayer and faith and health and happiness. The act of praying for others has a boomerang effect. It allows us to shift the burden we carry for others to the shoulders of God.”

“Don’t grow angry at the church’s condition, pray for her. Don’t fret about the future of your family, pray for them. Assume the posture of prayer. Is there a crisis in your world? Are you called to give hope where hope cannot be found? Is prayer all that you have? That’s okay—prayer is all you need. This is how happiness happens.”

Mike: The bold emphasis is mine because I believe his words. Our faith should accept these words with no doubts.

Priority Conversations by Allen Jackson

Allen notices others on their cell phones as he goes about his business shopping and traveling. He writes: “I can tell from their earnest facial expressions and urgent tone of voice that weighty matters are being discussed. For there to be that much conversation required of that many people, we are clearly engaged in solving issues of great importance. Yet if someone suggests we should make conversation with the Lord a priority, the response is often, ‘Sorry. Not me. I don’t have the time, and I’m not much of a talker.’ I would challenge you to make talking with the Lord a priority in your day. There are matters of great importance to discuss.”

Mike: Again the bold emphasis is mine. God considers our prayers to be very important! It does seem that we all are ready to communicate with others while God comes as a second thought. God should always be first in our communication life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Intentional Prayer by Allen Jackson

Allen writes about Jesus going off alone to pray before He chose the twelve. “He went off alone and spent an entire night in prayer. ‘But this was Jesus, we think, God’s Son, who had experienced His Father’s Kingdom in its fullness. This was the Messiah who had turned water into wine, brought the dead to life, and quieted the wind and the waves. Still, He felt the need to spend several hours seeking His Father’s will in the matter. If God’s own Son relied on prayer so deeply and gave so much attention to His prayer life, I think we should follow His example. Let’s give the Lord more than our last fading thoughts of the day; let’s make prayer a priority in our lives.”

Mike: The bold emphasis is mine. Most of us can’t fathom praying for several hours bug we can make prayer a priority.

 

The Hunt by F. LaGard Smith

Mr. Smith writes about chasing materialism. He writes: “Isn’t it strange? In chasing after all the style and excitement this world has to offer, we end up being victimized by our own pursuits! It’s as if the rabbit turned on the fox, or the fox turned on the horses and their riders”

“There is a way out of the vicious circle. It comes by seeking, not chasing. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urged us to ‘seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ If we spend our time seeking God, we will never be disappointed. We will never be empty, or searching, or discontent. There will be no reason to chase after illusive happiness, for in Christ, true happiness is within our grasp!”

Mike: Once again the bold emphasis is mine. This seeking begins with prayer! Think about the thoughts these gentlemen have written about then pray.

Thanks

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

Max Lucado’s Daily Devotional – May 2021 – Used with permission

Priority Conversations and Intentional Prayer by Allen Jackson –  From: Standing Firm – Allen Jackson – 2018 Intend Publishing - Used with permission

Taken from: Meeting God in Quiet Places by F. LaGrard Smith – Copyright 1992 - Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene Oregon, 97408 – www.harvesthousepublishers.com

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Unlock the Storehouses of Heaven by Max Lucado

"Someone you know is under attack. Your neighbor is depressed, your sibling is off track, your child is facing an uphill challenge. You may not know what to say. You may not have resources to help. But you have this: you have prayer. According to this promise, your prayers prompt the response of God in the lives of those you love. James 5:16: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

"When we pray for one another we enter God’s workshop, we pick up a hammer, and we help him accomplish his purposes. Our prayers unlock the storehouses of heaven. The link between God’s goodness and your friends is your prayers. When you pray, when you speak for the ones who need help to the One who can give it, something wonderful happens—this is how happiness happens."

Think about what Max is telling us. Some believe that God did not grant them talents. You may not be a leader, a public speaker or do well with personal evangelism but Romans 12:6 -  "We all have different gifts, each of which came because of the grace God gave us."  Your talent may be praying for others. Use your gift of prayer. He is looking for a righteous person not a perfect person. God is not looking for flowery words nor lenghty prayers but he is looking for an caring and honest heart. Serve God and others through your prayers.  Mike

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Do Nothing Out of Selfish Ambition by Max Lucado

“Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me” (Luke 10:40). Of all the ironies. Martha was in the presence of the Prince of Peace, yet she was the picture of stress. Martha’s downfall was not her work or request; it was her motivation. It doesn’t seem to me that she was making a meal for Jesus. She was really trying to make a big deal about her service.

Might there be a bit of Martha within us? What begins as a desire to serve Christ metastasizes into an act of impressing people. And gifted Marthas become miserable mumblers. Yet that Martha within is not easily silenced. Mark it down. When ministry becomes vain ambition, nothing good happens, and Jesus does not get served. No wonder the apostle Paul was so insistent and he said, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition” (Philippians 2:3). Because this is how happiness happens.

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Facing Your Giants - Chapter 13

Chapter 13

Max begins with the story of Uzzah. The ark of the covenant is a very holy item commissioned by Moses. It contains a gold jar of unspoiled manna, Aaron’s walking stick and the precious stone tablets that God engraved with his finger. These were used by the priest to worship and honor God. No one was to touch the ark except the priest at the holiest of times. David wants the ark of the covenant brought back to Jerusalem in a parade of people rejoicing.  He puts Abinadab, a priest in charge of the move.  Abinadab tells his two sons, Uzzah and Ahio, to load the ark on an ox-driven wagon and start the journey. It was only about a seven mile move and thought to be safe but one of the ox stumbled and Uzzah reached out to keep the ark from falling. God struck Uzzah dead for touching the ark!

Max continues: “This will dampen a parade real quick. Everyone goes home. Deeply distressed, David returns to Jerusalem. The ark is kept at the home of Obed-Edom while David sorts things out. Apparently, he succeeds, because at the end of three months David returns, reclaims the ark, and resumes the parade. This time there is no death. There is dancing. David enters Jerusalem with rejoicing.”

“Uzzah’s tragedy teaches this: God comes to us on his own terms. He gave specific instructions as to the care and transport of the ark. Only the priests could draw near it. Uzzah should have known this because he was a priest.”

God killing Uzzah for righting the ark seems totally unfair, but the ark was to be transported by using poles only with priests carrying it. God was angry because they totally set aside his instructions and did what they wanted not what he commanded.

But did God really have to kill Uzzah?  Max reminds us: “God comes, mind you.  BUT HE COMES ON HIS OWN TERMS! He comes when commands are revered, hearts are clean, and confession is made.”

“God’s greatest gift is himself.  Sunsets steal our breath. Caribbean blue stills our hearts. Newborn babies stir our tears. Lifelong love bejewels our lives. But take all these away and we still have reason to be happy. Because God is with us.”

“God loves you too much to leave you alone, so he hasn’t. He hasn’t left you alone with your fears, your worries, your disease, or your death. So, kick up your heals for joy.”

“Uzzah’s lifeless body cautions against his irreverence. No awe of God leads to the death of man. God won’t be cajoled, commanded, conjured up, or called down. He is a personal God who loves and heals and helps and intervenes. He doesn’t respond to magic potions or clever slogans. He looks for more. He looks for reverence, obedience, and God-hungry hearts. When he sees these, he comes.”

Facing Your Giants – Max Lucado – 2006 – Thomas Nelson Publishing – Used by Permission

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Anxiety by John Gray- Ideas on preaching

We all have probably struggled with anxiety at some point in our lives. There are folks who struggle with anxiety daily. We know someome who does. I admit that I don't understand it but as John says it is real. His article will help but only if you give your anxiety up to God. It is not easy but God will provide the Holy Spirit to help us if we let Him. Open your heart to God and ask Him for that help. Ask another believer to pray with you. Be one of those believers someone will ask you pray with and for anxious people.
 
GRANDPA SAYS – “THINK ON THESE THINGS”: “Why me? Sometimes the reason good things are not happening to you is because you are the good thing that needs to be happening to other people.”
 
“EVERY TOMORROW HAS TWO HANDLES. WE CAN TAKE HOLD OF TOMORROW WITH THE HANDLE OF ‘ANXIETY’ OR THE HANDLE OF ‘TRUSTING FAITH’.” (Henry Ward Beecher)
 
 “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” (Php 4:6-7).
 
Christians are not immune to anxiety. Often, we are made anxious by our thoughts. We get anxious - we worry and obsess about --- well, you name it! This is one reason we are wise to heed God’s command to take our thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5). When we are aware of what we are thinking and can evaluate those thoughts based on the truth of the Bible, we will not be defeated by our thoughts. Rather than sitting in “The rocking chair of worry going nowhere”, we will recognize the anxious thought and claim victory over it by the power of Christ and our trust in His loving care.
 
Jesus, unlike the world, can provide His disciples with a certain and trustworthy peace. He provides the real solution to anxiety, worry, loneliness, and other things that would make us insecure and disturb us. Specifically, the solution (John 14:26) was that Jesus would always be with his disciples. Even when He was physically apart from them, He would be with them because His Spirit would live in them. The Holy Spirit would uniquely empower and comfort them - bringing to their memory all that Jesus had said.
 
Jesus taught the disciples that peace doesn't come from the absence of difficult circumstances. Instead, peace comes from knowing that the Lord is with us - and in us (through His Spirit) if we have believed in Him. Because of that, we can have real peace, and instead of spending our time and energies being worried and anxious, we can do what He has designed for us to do - live in and walk with Him (John 15:1–11) - and love one another (John 15:12, 17).
 
-o-
“We Have an Anchor That Keeps the Soul” | Priscilla J. Owens, 1882
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
 
Thanks
 
Mike Clement
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GRANDPA SAYS – “THINK ON THESE THINGS”: “Is your heart as beautiful as an old barn?”

John Grey, a minister, writes on a Facebook page labeled, Preaching Ideas. He uses the theme “Grandpa Says”. Being an old man, I found his writing about the old barn had meaning for me!

Thanks!

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

SOMETIMES PEOPLE ARE BEAUTIFUL. NOT IN WHAT THEY SAY. JUST IN WHAT THEY ARE. BEAUTY IS ABOUT HAVING A PRETTY HEART. REAL BEAUTY IS A LIGHT IN THE HEART THAT IS ALWAYS ON.”

No one defines for God His concept of beauty. If a person is beautiful to God, he fits God’s concept of beauty.  God told Samuel --- “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). Nothing in a person’s outward appearance impresses God. God looks upon the inner beauty, the beauty of one’s heart.

Sure, an old barn was a handsome building in its day. But the passing seasons have beat down on that old barn till all the paint's gone, and the wood has turned silver-gray. Now the old building leans a good deal, looking kind of tired. Yet, it has a beauty that can only come with the passing of time.  Only years of standing in the weather, bearing the storms, and scorching sun, can produce the beauty of persistent endurance.

You know, we're a lot like that old barn.  Only it's on the inside that the beauty grows with us. Sure we turn silver-gray too... and lean a bit more than we did when we were young and full of sap.  But the Good Lord knows what He's doing. And as the years pass, He's busy using the hard weather of our lives, the dry spells, and the stormy seasons to do a job of beautifying our souls that nothing else can produce. It is in our faithfulness that God sees beauty.

Spiritual beauty must never be taken for granted or be neglected. We must remember that just as it is possible to be one of society’s most impressive people and be ugly in the eyes of God, it is also possible to be an unknown in society and to be radiantly beautiful in His eyes.

Someday the old barn will fall down. And I reckon someday you and I will fall down and finish our journey to Heaven. And I suspect we'll be more beautiful in our glorified bodies because of the seasons we've been through here. 

Hold to God’s unchanging hand my friend!

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BE AN AGENT OF HAPPINESS - May 10, 2021 by Max Lucado

Be an Agent of Happiness 

Jesus wants to bring joy to the people of this generation, and he has enlisted some special agents of happiness to do the job: you and me.

Not an easy task. The people in our world can be moody, fickle, and stubborn. And that just describes my wife’s husband. Nah, if we are going to find the joy that comes through giving joy away, we need instruction. No wonder the Bible has so much to say about finding joy in the act of sharing it. The New Testament contains more than fifty “one another” statements.

You and I indwell a lonely planet. We cannot solve every problem in society, but we can bring smiles to a few faces. And who knows? If you brighten your corner of the world and I do the same in mine, a quiet revolution of joy might break out. It can be how happiness happens.

 
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Chapter 11 & 12 of Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado

Chapter 11

 Max opens this chapter with thoughts of navigating through our lives: “We’ve all scratched our heads a time or two, if not at highway intersections, at least at the crossroads of life. The best of navigators have wondered, do I…

  • take the job or leave it?
  • accept the marriage proposal or pass?
  • leave home or remain?
  • build or buy?”

“One of life’s giant-sized questions is: How can I know what God wants me to do?” The answer to this question is troubling because God is not going to give an answer by speaking directly to you.  There is no magic nor easy way.  His answer can be found in the Bible and in prayer. Consider God’s promises: Hebrews 13:5 NLT: I will never fail you. I will never forsake you. Philippians 4:6 NIV: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Max’s advice: “Don’t make a decision, whether large or small, without sitting before God with an open Bible, open heart, open ears, imitating the prayer of Samuel: Your servant is listening. I Samuel 3:10 NLT.”

In case you are wondering, there is no index in the Bible that will lead you to a list of your questions and God’s subsequent answer. You must study the Bible.

Max continues: “You aren’t the first to face your problem. Others have stood where you stand and wondered what you wonder. Seek their advice. Hebrews 13:7 NRSV: Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

This verse helps us to understand the importance of having a church family to help guide us when in need.

God will lead you through the Bible and the advice of the church family, but he will not lead us to violate his Word.

Max writes: “You have all you need to face the giant-sized questions of your life. Most of all you have a God who loves you too much to let you wander. Trust him!”

 

Chapter 12

 This chapter deals with our failures.  Everyone has at least one sin that he or she must deal with daily or maybe even several times each day.

Max questions: “Does one prevailing problem leech your life? Some are prone to cheat. Others are quick to doubt. Maybe you worry. Yes, everyone worries some, but you own the national distributorship of anxiety. Perhaps you are judgmental. Sure, everybody can be critical, but you pass more judgments than a federal judge.”

“What is that one weakness, bad habit, rotten attitude? Where does Satan have a stronghold within you? Ahh, there is a fitting word---stronghold: a fortress, citadel, thick walls, tall gates. It’s as if the devil stakes a claim on one weakness and constructed a rampart around it. You ain’t touching this flaw, he defies heaven, placing himself squarely between God’s help and your explosive temper, fragile self-image, freezer-size appetite or distrust for authority.”

Satan is not going away. He wants to keep a stronghold on your life. Max describes this stronghold as: “Strong enough to grip like a vise and stubborn enough to hold on. He clamps like a bear trap---the harder you shake, the more it hurts.”

David faces a stronghold in his desire to take over Jerusalem from the Jebusites. They scorned David by taunting him, “You shall not come in here, but the blind and the lame will repel you.” David ignored their taunts and took over Jerusalem.

Max writes: “The Jebusites pour scorn on David like Satan dumps buckets of discouragement on you:

  • You’ll never overcome your bad habits.
  • Born white trash; gonna die white trash.
  • Think you can overcome your addiction? Think again.”

In spite of the scorn David received, the Bible says in II Samuel 5:7 Nevertheless, David took the stronghold…  Max continues: “Wouldn’t you love for God to write a nevertheless in your biography? Born to alcoholics, nevertheless, she led a sober life. Never went to college, nevertheless, he mastered a trade. Didn’t read the Bible until retirement age, nevertheless, he came to a deep and abiding faith.”

Max says that we all need a nevertheless in our lives and God has plenty of them to go around.  We need to do what David did, turn to God for help.  He writes: “Two types of thoughts continually vie for your attention. One says, ‘Yes you can’. The other says, ‘No you can’t.’ One proclaims God’s strength; the other lists your failures. One longs to build you up; the other seeks to tear you down. And here is the great news: you select the voice you hear. Why listen to the mockers? Why give ears to the pea-brains and scoffers when you can, with the same ear, listen to the voice of God?”

“Do what David did. Turn a deaf ear to old voices. And, as you do. Open your eyes to new choices. Your nevertheless awaits you!”

Facing Your Giants – Max Lucado – 2006 – Thomas Nelson Publishing – Used by Permission

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Listening

The past twelve months has been a troubled time for us all. COVID has taken loved ones, taken away jobs and income and disrupted lives in general. We’ve had very contentious elections and are not dealing very well with our differences. Patience, understanding and love for each other is at an all-time low. Mr. Potato Head is creating a disturbance for some while a song nominated as number one is full of vulgarities. It’s time for the world to return to listening for God’s and our Savior’s voice.

F. LaGard Smith spends time each year in the Cotswolds’ of England. His book, Meeting God in Quiet Places, was written while there. One chapter he labels  “Lambing Time” is in the book. He begins the chapter with a quote from Job 34:4, “Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.”

Mr. Smith finds joy in the lambing time. The shepherd makes sure the ewes bind with her lambs by putting the mom in a yoke while the lamb feeds off of her. This assures the maternal instincts are created. Smith writes: “As much a matter of security as feeding, the mother lets her lambs know that they are alright, and then walks ahead of them, leading them out harm’s way.”

Smith continues: “From what I am told, with lambs it’s not a matter of sight, but sound. Apparently the lamb recognizes its mother’s distinctive voice. Of course there is yet another voice that sheep come to recognize---the shepherd. Perhaps that is due to the sense of security which the shepherd provides. Should it be any surprise, then, that we have a spiritual parallel in Jesus?”

“Jesus, of course, is the perfect, the quintessential Shepherd. At first not even His disciples understood this. So he said to them, ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Smith writes: “Surely that is what Jesus meant when he said that his sheep know his voice. As Jesus’ disciples—as his sheep—we don’t literally hear Jesus talking to us. Jesus’ voice hasn’t been heard on earth since the first century. But as Christians we have a relationship with the Good Shepherd that permits us to know his inner being. As a people of faith, we know how he thinks. We know what he believes. We know what he stands for.” I believe Smith makes the assumption that “people of faith” have studied the gospels so we can know his thinking and beliefs. This understanding does not come by osmosis but by study.

Smith points out that sheep have “the ability to recognize when it is not the shepherd’s voice calling. In fact they run headlong away from strangers—back to the voice they can depend on!”

Smith continues: “Whose voice are we listening to? Do we act as if there are no enemies prowling about—no need to stay near to him who protects us? Are we listening to voices that would lure us away from his care? Voices that seem more exciting, more sophisticated?” Let’s face it Satan has some tantalizing offers for us and he is not bashful about making them readily available. He is always calling us and is delighted when we listen for his voice not Jesus’ voice!!

He goes on: “Like sheep the only way to truly know the voice of God is to make sure that we have gone through the process of “mothering”. Without our own spiritual commitment to obediently follow God’s leading, even the Scriptures can be the instrument of counterfeit voices.”

“Hearing God’s voice is principally a matter of spiritual discernment. ‘The man without the spirit’, says Paul, ‘does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned”. Smith points out that “hearing God’s voice is not always easy”. He says: “But as believers born of the Spirit, we are able to discern.” It seems that we must have a true desire to discern and to believe the Spirit can and will guide us. Otherwise, we will keep listening to Satan and following him.

Smith offers this thought: “How sad it is that we too often turn to God only when something frightening happens to us. At those times, if no other, we recognize our complete dependence on God for, our very survival. If only we could realize how absolutely essential it is that we turn to God daily, aware that there is simply nowhere else to go. That there is no other worthy explanation, no other encouragement, no other hope. That he alone is the One who leads us out of harm’s way.”

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could begin each day recognizing our great need for spiritual nourishment and strength, and praising him for being the true source of our life, the One in whose image we want to continually re-created.”

“The more we come to know God, the more we appreciate how much he desires to satisfy our hearts with their very longing and need. Nothing is too much for us to ask. Certainly, he is our Source, but even more, he is our Sustainer. He suckles us with life and loved.”

“If wet and wobbly lambs are lovable because they are so dependent and vulnerable, how much more lovable we must be the heart of God! That thought alone ought to send us running to h is open arms. And he isn’t hard to find. Just listen to his voice. Over and over he calls to us.”

As I think about Smith’s ideas, it seems obvious that a successful relationship with God takes efforts on my part. Number one: I must CHOOSE to listen for his voice not Satan’s. If I make that choice, the Holy Spirit will make himself available to help me fight Satan’s offerings.  Number two: God is waiting for me to make my choice with open arms and heart. He wants me but it’s MY choice! Number three: If I choose to listen to Satan’s voice, God will be sad but will let me go. However, he always has open arms if I repent of my choice and listen for him.

Smith did not write about my next point in this chapter, but I really believe it deserves our consideration. If we are listening to the Good Shepherd, others will take note of our life and hopefully want to know about listening to God/Christ!

Additional verses about listening to God:

John 10:17 – “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

John 8:47 – “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Romans 10:17 -  “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Isaiah 30:21 – “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Psalm 32:8 – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

Thanks!

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

Taken from: Meeting God in Quiet Places by F. LaGrard Smith – Copyright 1992- Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene Oregon, 97408 – www.harvesthousepublishers.com

 

 

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How Wide Is God’s Love by Max Lucado

 

It’s nice to be included. You aren’t always. Universities exclude you if you aren’t smart enough. Businesses exclude you if you aren’t qualified enough. And sadly, some churches exclude you if you aren’t good enough. But though they may exclude you, Christ includes you. When asked to describe the width of his love, he stretched one hand to the right and the other hand to the left and had them nailed in that position so you would know he died loving you.

Surely there has to be a limit to this love. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But David the adulterer never found it. Paul the murderer never found it. Peter the liar never found it. When it came to life, they hit bottom. But when it came to God’s love, they never did. How wide is God’s love? Wide enough for the whole world, and you’re included.

Read more He Chose the Nails: What God Did to Win Your Heart

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Facing Your Giants - Chapters 9 & 10

Chapter 9

Max tells a story about watching a lady trying to walk her dog on a hot day.  The dog plopped down in the cool grass and refused to take one more step.

Max asks: “Have you ever reached your “plopping point?” You can’t do one more thing. That’s absolutely it.

After finding the village burned and their families kidnapped, David’s men threaten to stone him.  David found strength in God and leads his six hundred men to chase after the Philistines. Max goes on: “How essential that we learn to do the same. Support systems don’t always support. Friends aren’t always friendly. Pastors wander off base and churches get out of touch. When no one can help, we have to do what David does here. He turns to God.”

David and his men continue their chase and arrive at a brook called Besor. They rest for a brief period and press on but two hundred of the men plop down and cannot continue with the others even though their families are still being held, hostage.

Max believes the present-day church also so has its share of folks who plop down. He illustrates:” Maybe it is a defeating string of defeats. Divorce can leave you at the brook. Addiction can as well. Whatever the reason, the church has its share of people who just sit and rest.”

David’s army continues the chase and finds an Egyptian servant who is disabled and the Philistines have left behind to die. The Egyptian shows them the campsite of the Philistines.  David and his army overcome the Philistines and all the families being held hostage are rescued.

As the rescued families begin to look for their warrior imagine their feelings as they discover he stayed behind at Besor to rest. Some of David’s men became angry with their comrades who stayed behind. They refused to share to the spoils captured at the Philistines’ camp.

David convinced the angry soldiers that those who remained at Besor served a purpose by protecting the supplies left with them. This was probably the noblest act David ever accomplished. David’s words: “Don’t do that after what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and given us the enemy who attacked us. Who will then listen to what you have to say? The share will be the same for the one who stayed with the supplies as for the one who went into battle. All will share alike.” I Samuel 30: 23-24 NCV

Max ends with these thoughts; “Are you weary? Catch your breath. Are you strong? Reserve passing judgment on the tired. Odds are, you’ll need to plop down yourself. And when you do, Belsor is a good story to know.”

 

Chapter 10

Max devotes this chapter to dealing with grief.  People get bad news from policeman explaining that your loved one died in an accident, a surgeon delivers bad news, or a soldier knocks on your door to explain how your soldier died in the war.

David’s bad news comes from another soldier that Saul and Jonathan have been killed in a battle with the Philistines. Saul was God’s chosen king and Jonathan was closer than a best friend, he was like a brother. About Saul’s and Jonathan’s deaths Max writes: “Leaving David to face yet another giant---the giant of grief. And we, like David face, have two choices: flee or face the giant.” “What else can you do? The grave stirs such unspeakable hurt and unanswerable questions, we’re tempted to turn and walk. Change the subject, avoid the issue. Work hard. Drink harder. Stay busy. Stay distant. Head north and don’t look back.”

“Yet we pay a high price when we do. Bereavement comes from the word “reave”. Look up “reave” in the dictionary, and you’ll read “to take away by force, plunder, rob”. Death robs you. The grave plunders moments, memories not yet shared: birthdays, vacations, lazy walks, talks over tea. You are bereaved because you’ve been robbed.”

There are constant reminders of the one you lost. Favorite places to eat, songs and many other things that will make you grieve again and again.

Max advises: “Understand the gravity of your loss. You didn’t lose at Monopoly or misplace your keys. You can’t walk away from this. At some point, within minutes or months, you need to do what David did. Face your grief.” David wept, ripped his clothes and fasted the rest of the day.  “You need to do the same. Flush the hurt out of your heart and when the hurt returns, flush it again.”

Max quotes from Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV – There is…. a time to mourn. “Give yourself some. Face your grief with tears, time, and—and once more—face your grief with truth. God has the last word on death. And, if you listen, he will tell you the truth about your loved ones. You miss them like crazy, but can you deny the truth? They have no pain, doubt, or struggle. They really are happier in heaven.”

Max’s conclusion: “So go ahead, face your grief. Give yourself time. Permit yourself tears. God understands. He knows the sorrow of a grave. He buried his son. But he also knows the joy of resurrection. And, by his power, you will too.”

Although I’ve never experienced a divorce, many people who have tell me it’s feels like death has happened.  On occasion, folks will do something stupid and run afoul of the law.  I know a man who became involved with a scam and even though he denied knowledge of wrong doing, he spent over a year in jail. He and his family were devastated.  These types of events may also need some time to grieve.  Go ahead if you need to grieve, it’s OK.

Facing Your Giants – Max Lucado – 2006 – Thomas Nelson Publishing – Used by Permission

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Chapters 7 & 8 Facing Your Giants

Chapter 7

Max relates the story of Ernest Gordon who was a prisoner of war in World War II. Ernest was held in the Death House of Chungkai, Burma is known for the extreme cruelty of the Japanese guards.  Life was “every man for himself” amongst the Allied prisoners. They stole food from one another, robbed the dying men and generally acted like barbarians.

Max states: “Selfishness, hatred, and pride-you don’t have to go to a POW camp to find them.  A dormitory will do just fine. As will the boardroom of a corporation or the bedroom of a marriage or the backwoods of a country.  The code of the jungle is alive and well. Every man for himself. Get all you can and can all you get. Survival of the fittest.”

David had the same experience with Nabal, an extremely wealthy man, who lived in the desert of Maon where David had lead his people. Nabal was a complete jerk and never had a thought of sharing with anyone. Max says of David and Nabal: “They cohabitated the territory with the harmony of two bulls in the same pasture. Both strong-headed. It was just a matter of time before they collided.”

David and his men provided protection for Nabal’s crops and flocks of sheep from the Bedouins and other robbers. At harvest and shearing time Nabal threw a huge party and David felt that his men deserved to attend. When David sent ten of his men to make his expectations known, Nabal acted as though he did not know any David. Of course, this infuriates David, so he takes four hundred of his men to enforce his will. Before he can arrive, Abigail, the very beautiful wife of Nabal intercepts David carrying meat and bread for his men. She agrees that Nabal is a jerk and asked David to leave Nabal’s fate to God. David agrees to her request and returns to his camp.

Abigail returns to Nabal to let him know how she saved his life from David’s anger. Upon hearing this, Nabal has a heart attack and dies ten days later. When David learned of Nabal’s death he could not forget how beautiful Abigail was and marries her. Max analyzes the story of David and Nabal: “Meekness saved the day that day. Abigail’s gentleness reversed a river of anger. Humility has such power. Apologies can disarm arguments. Contrition can defuse rage. Olive branches do more good than battle-axes ever will.”  Soft speech can crush strong opposition. Proverbs 25:15

 Max continues: “Abigail teaches so much. The contagious power of kindness. The strength of a gentle heart.  Her greatest lesson, however, is taking our eyes from her beauty and set them on someone else’s. She lifts our thoughts from a rural trail to a Jerusalem cross. Abigail never knew Jesus. She lived a thousand years before his sacrifice. Nevertheless, her story prefigures his life.”

“Abigail placed herself between David and Nabal. Jesus placed himself between God and us.  Abigail volunteered to be punished for Nabal’s sins. Jesus allowed heaven to punish him for yours and mine. Abigail turned away the anger of David. Didn’t Christ shield you from God’s?”

Jesus is our mediator, the one who stands between God and us. Max points out: “And what did Christ do but stand between God’s anger and our punishment? Christ intercepted the wrath of heaven.” God has piled all our sins, everything we have done wrong, on him, on him,” Isaiah 53:6 MSG

 Max finishes this chapter: “Do you find your Nabal world hard to stomach? Then do what David did: stop staring at Nabal. Shift your gaze to Christ. Look more at the Mediator and less at the troublemakers.”

Chapter 8

 Max opens this chapter by describing what he calls a “slump gun”. “It fires, not bullets, but sadness.  It takes, not lives, but smiles. It inflicts, not flesh wounds, but faith wounds.” Nothing seems to go right.  For every step forward, you take at least two back.

David feels as though Saul is using a “slump gun” on him. David is constantly on the run hiding from Saul in the hills, sleeping in caves and trying to care for six hundred men and their families. David says: “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.” I Samuel 27:1 NIV   

Max’s comment: “Confused? David talked to God. Challenged? He talked to God. Afraid? He talked to God…. most of the time. But not this time. On this occasion, he talks to himself. He doesn’t even seek the counsel of his advisors. When Saul first lashed out, David turned to Samuel. As the attacks continued, David asked Jonathan for advice. When weaponless and breadless, he took refuge among the priests of Nob. In this case, however, David consults David.”

David forgets that God has been his strength during this whole ordeal, and he seeks comfort with the enemy. This only brings about temporary relief from Saul. Max’s observation: “Stop resisting alcohol, and you’ll laugh---for a while. Move out on your spouse, and you’ll relax---for a time. Indulge in porn, and you’ll be entertained---for a season.”  He offers Proverbs 14:12-13 MSG: “There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again-it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.”

The Philistines decide to attack Saul and David leads them to believe he is on their side. He and his men turn and fight the Philistines.  When David’s warriors return with him to their village, they find that everything has been burned and the Philistines have kidnapped their families. David’s men turn on him with threats of stoning him to death. The “slump gun” has hit David again.

Max offers this: “How we handle our tough times stays with us for a long time.  How do you handle yours? When you are tired of trying, tired of forgiving, tired of hard weeks, or hardheaded people…. how do you manage your dark days?”

“With a bottle of pills or scotch? With an hour at the bar, a day at the spa, or a week at the coast? Many opt for such treatments. So many, in fact, that we assume they reenergize the sad life. But do they? No one denies that they help for a while, but over the long haul?  They numb the pain, but do they remove it?”

If these things are not the solution, then what is? Prayer!  Max says: “Be quick to pray, seek healthy counsel, and don’t give up. God is never downcast, never tires of your down days!”

Max closes with I Samuel 30:6 NIV - David found strength in the Lord his God.

Facing Your Giants - Max Lucado - 2006 - Thomas Nelson Publishing

 

 

 

 

 

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The Fruit of Sin by Max Lucado

 The 04/06/2021 edition:

 
 
 What is the fruit of sin? Step into the briar patch of humanity and feel a few thistles. Shame. Fear. Disgrace. Discouragement. Anxiety. Haven’t our hearts been caught in these brambles? The heart of Jesus, however, had not. He had never been cut by the thorns of sin. Anxiety? He never worried. Guilt? He was never guilty. Fear? He never left the presence God. He never knew the fruits of sin until he became sin for us.

And when He did, He felt anxious, guilty, and alone. Can’t you hear the emotion in His prayer? “My God, my God, why have you rejected me?” These are not the words of a saint; this is the cry of a sinner. And these are words that we should say, but these are words we don’t have to say because Jesus said them for us. He took on the fruit of sin so that we could enjoy the fruit of eternal life.

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God’s Suffering

Some have the picture of God as stoic with no emotions except anger. God and Christ are one in the same and John 11:35 tells us that Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. God made us in his own image, so he has emotions especially as he watched his Son suffer.

As I pray each day, I am very thankful for Christ’s suffering for me. As a father myself, I believe God was suffering along with his son. I don’t believe he could watch and hear Christ’s suffering without being distressed.

Think about your emotions as you witnessed and heard the following if it was your own son:

  • Your son falls to the ground and cries and pleads for you to deliver him from the crucifixion three times but thankfully he requests your will be done not his;
  • Watch as he is beaten until his face was disfigured and a made a bloody pulp;
  • Watch as he is flogged with a whip made with bone and stone in the tips;
  • Hear them curse and mock him;
  • Watch as they spit in his face;
  • Watch him wince as they push the crown of thorns down on his head;
  • Watch him struggle to drag about 180-pound cross through a crowd of people cursing and laughing at him;
  • Watch the pain in his face as they drive the nails into his hands and feet;
  • See the anguish in his face as the cross bangs around while settling in the hole ripping his flesh;
  • Watch as he tries to push his torso up so his lungs can get some air;
  • Hear him ask for something to drink and see him take a sip of vinegar;
  • Watch and hear the total disrespect for your son;
  • Then finally hear him ask you why you had forsaken him! This would be the final straw that would break my heart!

Some do not understand why we take communion every Sunday. They think that every Sunday causes communion to become mundane. How could it become mundane when you genuinely think about what God/Christ suffered for you. Would it be mundane if it were your son?

Most of the Christian world will celebrate Easter this Sunday. The focus will be on Christ’s crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection that gives us hope!

Concentrate on the suffering and be grateful because it’s the only hope you have!

Thanks

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

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AN EASTER HALLELUJAH

The original Hallelujah song was written by Leonard Cohen in 1984.The Easter version words are credited to Kelley Mooney to Cohen’s music. To listen to a beautiful version push control and click on the website below, The lyrics are posted below that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j3NZEdHQaI

A crown of thorns placed on His head

He knew that He would soon be dead

He said, "Did you forget me, Father did you?"

They nailed Him to a wooden cross

Soon all the world would feel the loss

Of Christ the King before His Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

He hung His head and prepared to die

Then lifted His face up to the sky

Said, "I am coming home now Father, to you"

A reed which held His final sip

Was gently lifted to his lips

He drank His last and gave His soul to glory

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

The soldier who had used his sword

To pierce the body of our Lord

Said, "Truly, this was Jesus Christ our Savior"

He looked with fear upon his sword

Then turned to face his Christ and Lord

Fell to his knees crying Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Took from his head the thorny crown

And wrapped him in a linen gown

Then laid him down to rest inside the tomb

The holes in his hands, his feet and side

Now in our hearts we know he died

To save us from ourselves, oh Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Three days went by, again they came

To move the stone, to bless the slain

With oil and spice anointing Hallelujah

But as they went to move the stone

They saw that they were not alone

For Jesus Christ has risen, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

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The Dwelling Place of God by Max Lucado

'Do-it-yourself Christianity isn’t much encouragement to the done-in and worn-out. “Try a little harder” is little encouragement for the abused. At some point we need more than good advice; we need help. Somewhere on this journey we realize that the fifty-fifty proposition is too little. We need help from the inside out. The kind of help Jesus promised. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it does not see him or know him. But know him, because he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).'

'Note the dwelling place of God: in you. Not near us, above us. But in us. In the hidden recesses of our beings dwells not an angel, not a philosophy, not a genie, but God. Imagine that."

Mike: This one hits home beause of my work with CASA children who are abused and/or abondoned. The young ones are confused. One 8 year old ask his mother why she gave him away. The older ones are angry. They need to understand Max's lesson. These children are all over Bedford County. Please pray for the children of our county!

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