Daniel Prayed

Christian, remember today that Daniel didn’t go grumbling into the lion’s den about how unfair it was that he was being punished for breaking the law by praying. But that he trusted in the Lord through whatever trial he must go, so that the Lord would be glorified. The same was true with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” – Daniel 3:16‭-‬18 NLT


In other words, if we are going to stand bold for God, we must be ready to see it through to the end, without grumblings or doubt, without expecting there should be no trials or troubles – but instead, rejoicing that we might suffer with Christ in this world, just as we are heirs with Christ in eternity.

Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire. Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy. So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.” So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius! We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. And now, Your Majesty, issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.” So King Darius signed the law. But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Then the officials went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help. So they went straight to the king and reminded him about his law. “Did you not sign a law that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions?” “Yes,” the king replied, “that decision stands; it is an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.” Then they told the king, “That man Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, is ignoring you and your law. He still prays to his God three times a day.” Hearing this, the king was deeply troubled, and he tried to think of a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament. In the evening the men went together to the king and said, “Your Majesty, you know that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, no law that the king signs can be changed.” So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night. Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.” The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God. Then the king gave orders to arrest the men who had maliciously accused Daniel. He had them thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. The lions leaped on them and tore them apart before they even hit the floor of the den. Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end. He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Daniel 6:3‭-‬28 NLT

You see, God ordained and set in place these trials with a plan and a purpose. To make a clear distinction between those who trust Him and know Him and believe Him, versus those who are not and are grumblers who do not believe that He is sovereign and in control and has a purpose in all things. To shine a light brightly in rose who are His that points them right back to Him and His glory. 

So trust Him, fully trust Him in this very hour, call upon His name, the only name by which salvation has come to the world, the name of Jesus Christ. And when you profess with your mouth and confess with your heart that He is Lord — not some particular words, not some particular religious ceremony, those are just meant to be an outward witness to what has happened inwardly, so don’t trust in those things as the source of your salvation! No, trust in God who came in the flesh to die for your sins as the ONLY worthy sacrifice, and as the ONLY Savior powerful enough to overcome death and the grave to rise, just as we will rise, to life – not just rise one day to heaven,  but rise and awaken to new life TODAY, walking in a new way, powered by the very spirit of God that comes to live in His people as He pours out His spirit onHis people, as He lives with us, in us, and through us, so that His will is done on earth as it is in heaven, so that His Kingdom,  a spiritual Kingdom not built by the works of men, but by His grace and mercy in those who will believe and live. Amen.

Change, Stress, Decisions, Direction

There is a lot of change going on in our lives. And any change to out normal and expected way of life usually brings an extra level of stress over the unknown that lies ahead.

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And the Lord tells us –

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.
Psalms 32:8 NLT
http://bible.com/116/psa.32.8.NLT

But don’t we have a responsibility to follow His leading? He says that He will guide us and advise us and watch over us – but He doesn’t say that He will force us down His path. So isn’t there a point,  a crossroads at which we might wonder, “Where are we going? Which path should I take?”

In fact, doesn’t the next verse make it clear that He shouldn’t have to force us into following Him –

Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
Psalms 32:9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/psa.32.9.NLT

Our perspective and relationship with God is not meant for us to be striving against His will, with Him pulling and tugging at us as He tries to keep us from stepping into the traps of this life,  as He tries to lead us into the safety of His stable and away from the slaughterhouse.

“So how does that help me know the right way? I’m looking for answers here,  coach,  not vague warnings about what to be on the lookout against.” This might be a normal response during those stressed out times where we are facing change or major decisions in our lives. It can even be our response when we are overwhelmed by the situations and circumstances of our lives. And isn’t it better for us to be honest and transparent with God in our prayers? He already knows our hearts and our thoughts anyways, right?

In fact, He promises that He will guide us and lead us. So what is it that we are overlooking? What is it that we are missing here? Why isn’t our direction clear? Why is there a tension?  Why is there stress?

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.16.33.NLT

We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.
2 Corinthians 5:2 NLT
http://bible.com/116/2co.5.2.NLT

While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.
2 Corinthians 5:4 NLT
http://bible.com/116/2co.5.4.NLT

For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.
2 Corinthians 5:7-10 NLT
http://bible.com/116/2co.5.7-10.NLT

So we have to ask ourselves, is our stress over silly things that really don’t matter? Are they over the material things of this world? Or is our struggle truly over which decision would please God – over which is good and which is evil?

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:4-9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/php.4.4-9.NLT

So we have to ask ourselves whether or not we’ve asked Him, whether or not we are trusting and following Him, whether we are seeking the road that is in His will. And again,  we might say, “I’m not sure” – and I’ll tell you – if neither path clearly leads you contrary to God’s will, remember that you are free to live your life for His honor and glory. He is not some harsh taskmaster for His children. Not every decision is a test, nor should we be walking constantly in fear and heavy burden if He is our Father God and Lord of our life.

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
1 John 4:16-18 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1jn.4.16-18.NLT

If you do not trust your own deceitful heart because it has tricked and fooled you so many times before,  that is good. But God does not want to trick you or mislead you.  Trust Him. He is faithful and true. He doesn’t wish that even one will perish.

Trust Him. Have confidence in Him. He is faithful and true. The trust and the closeness is what matters. Maybe this situation is meant to bring you closer into His presence in prayer. Maybe it isn’t the situation itself that matters,  but it is the opportunity that will bring you closer to Him in heartfelt prayer. Maybe it is what is necessary to bring you into a place of greater trust in Him, and less reliance upon yourself. I really don’t know the answer,  friend. But He does.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus. I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
Philippians 1:6-11 NLT
http://bible.com/116/php.1.6-11.NLT

Are you certain? Why?

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Philippians 1:6 NLT
http://bible.com/116/php.1.6.NLT

We can be confident that if God has started a work in us, that it will be completed. We can be confident,  when we look and see lives that are being filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit,  with the change that comes from seed that has been planted and watered and has been budding and growing over time into a new and changed character in a person that there is something spiritual at work inside them. And when God starts a work in someone,  He intends to complete it,  so we can find confidence in His being faithful and true.

I look to the story of Balaam and his donkey. That very same donkey that he had ridden all of his life suddenly began acting quite different than usual. It resisted the way that Balaam wanted to go because it knew that if he went that way Balaam would be killed. But Balaam was concerned about how foolish he was looking to those around him by his not being able to follow in the same path where those men with him were going. He wasn’t concerned with the why, and he didn’t think about whether or not this path might be contrary to God’s will,  he intended to follow it. So he began beating his donkey.

“But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted. Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him. “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.” Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the Lord , “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.” But the angel of the Lord told Balaam, “Go with these men, but say only what I tell you to say.” So Balaam went on with Balak’s officials.
Numbers 22:30-35 NLT
http://bible.com/116/num.22.30-35.NLT

If we know someone, especially if we have known them long enough to know their character,  the baseline of their normal behavior, we can also recognize when there is difference in their behavior that is “out of character” for them. We can have reasonable expectations for how both their emotional feelings and rational mind are going to work together to respond to a situation our circumstance, because we’ve seen the evidence and know their patterns. But there are also spiritual influences that can alter this normal/baseline behavior.

We can recognize the spiritual influence of growth and change in ourselves if we have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and we are indeed born again Children of God, because our lives will be altered and we will bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is how those who are spiritual can make right judgements about whether or not someone is “in the faith”. In fact, this is how we can encourage others to have confidence that God will complete the work that He has begun.

And it is not because someone pretends that they are perfect and without sin, because those are blind, lying to themselves, without any real understanding of the ways of c Good,  but blinded by their own prose and religious attitudes. It is also not because of a strong but short lived interest in God because someone has come to the knowledge of their sin and have felt shame and guilt and reacted in emotion towards the Word of God for a short time and then turned back to the ways of the world.

Paul in this letter to the Philippians can have confidence in what the Lord is going to accomplish in their lives because he has seen the change to their character,  the change to their baseline attitudes,  the change to their desires and motivations that comes from a new heart and the teaching and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul can confidently trust in the Lord and encourage them that the Lord will complete His work in them, not just because He saw them say a prayer,  not just because he saw them dunked under water, but because he saw the evidence of true change in their lives. If we know the change of repentance, if we examine our lives and see true change and interest in following the will of God,  we can find confidence in that.

But if we are more interested in following in the ways of the world, and we are frustrated that we can’t go the way of the world, afraid that we are going to look foolish in the eyes of the world if we don’t walk that same path that they are walking – if we are more interested in our own way, we might need to examine ourselves for fruit and determine whose way and life is truth and which leads to destruction.

Just because you’ve ignored that other voice in your head because it sounds foolish and limiting and restrictive doesn’t mean that you are wise or right.

Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.
Proverbs 12:15 NLT
http://bible.com/116/pro.12.15.NLT

I wonder how often we beat and resist the very donkey in our lives that has c a message from God for us,  because we are more interested in listening to the world than God?

This is why it is important that we examine ourselves – not so that we can think that, we’ve arrived – no,  that is pride! But so that we can have confidence in the Lord that He is, at work in us and that our deceitful heart is not deceiving us.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord , search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jer.17.9-10.NLT

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you ; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
2 Corinthians 13:5 NLT
http://bible.com/116/2co.13.5.NLT

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Galatians 5:16-26 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.16-26.NLT

Can I trust in the Lord and have confidence that He will complete the work that He has started in you,  friend? The answer depends not on God,  but on you,  whether or not you have believed,  received and repented so that His work has yet begun in you. Because His promises are faithful and true.

I hope the answer is yes. Our I hope if the answer has been no up to this moment,  that it will be yes today and forevermore and eternity as you surrender your life to Him,  choosing to now walk in the one way,  the one truth,  the one life,  Jesus Christ.

Choose the narrow gate of our only Hope in Jesus Christ, and walk the narrow path of Faithfulness, and the Holy Spirit of Christ will come upon you and anoint you with the Love of God that pours out upon His Children.

There is no greater peon,  there is no greater prize, than to serve at the feet of the Lord and never leave His presence – and I’m not talking about one day after you are dead. I’m talking about today, now, while your service is of use in waking others to the truth.

Awake,
Arise,
Go.

Are you taught by God?

As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.
John 6:45 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.6.45.NLT

This is refering to the book of Isaiah telling what to expect in the coming Kingdom of God that would be ushered in by the Messiah:

I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace.
Isaiah 54:13 NLT
http://bible.com/116/isa.54.13.NLT

In the book of Matthew,  Jesus warns us to call no one c teacher,  because He is to be our only teacher:

And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.
Matthew 23:10 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.23.10.NLT

In the book of, John,  Jesus tells us about the Spirit of Truth that is to come

John 16:13 ESV
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

And Jesus clarifies further when, He describes the gift of the Holy Spirit that we who are followers of Christ receive:

John 14:26 ESV
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

You see, He doesn’t tell us to seek out a great, charismatic preacher or teacher and dedicate ourselves to them. No, in fact He warns us about putting our trust in them and says that we should trust only in Him:

Psalm 118:8 ESV
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.

Jeremiah 17:5 ESV
Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.

And this is because men aren’t meant to be as much teacher as messenger, sharing the Word of God and what they to learn from the Holy Spirit’s guidance in their own lives. But since you cannot easily confirm the source of anything they claim to be “from God”, we must test it against what we know is from God.

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.
Acts of the Apostles 17:11-12 NLT
http://bible.com/116/act.17.11-12.NLT

We aren’t supposed to blindly follow what a religious leader tells us, this can be very dangerous with the false teachers who are like wolves amongst the sheep. We aren’t just supposed to read the Bible as a self help guide to try to figure it out for ourselves either. We are to be taught by God.

So how do I start being “taught by God”? First, you must surrender your heart to Jesus Christ and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is not just a water baptism, but being reborn as a new creation with Christ living inside you. It isn’t signing up for a religion, and it isn’t buying your get out of hell free card with a one time prayer. It is deciding to do this life,  hand in hand with Christ who loves you,  forgives,  you,  and wants to teach you and change you moment by moment,  day by day, to be more like Him.

Then, you must be willing to seek His wisdom and to listen, and to examine and test what you hear against the truth of the Word of God. Yes, this requires accepting that the Word of God is Truth. It takes accepting that God knows better than you what is good and acceptable for your life. It takes seeking not only what is acceptable,  but what is holy and will bring God glory and honor. It takes putting God’s will first as the center of your life.

Then you must be willing to repent and put it into action. This isn’t a mind game, learning it in our heads but not applying it in our lives – that is empty religious practice and sacrifice. God desires the change in our hearts that results in a changed life, a changed perspective,  a humbling to remain teachable at the feet of the master.

Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Matthew 9:13 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.9.13.NLT

We aren’t to practice traditions of men and man made ideas as commandments from God. If you are participating in a church that tell you that you must follow their traditions, or that you must be taught by their leader, or that God recognizes them differently than He recognizes you, test them against the Word of God,  find them false,  and abandon these dens of deceit where they feed off of the lambs like wolves,  or like hirelings who kill the sheep to fatten their own bellies,  instead of sacrificing for, and suffering for, and feeding and providing for the sheep as Christ gave the example of the Good Shepherd.

Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.  You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ ”
Matthew 15:3, 6-9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.15.3-9.NLT

I encourage you, friend. Examine where you are receiving your teaching. Examine who you have laid your trust upon. Is it a man? Or are you being taught by God?

Get it from the source. Examine and test it against the Word of God.

I pray that we can all continue to stay out of the way and simply be the messengers receiving and then delivering the Word of God as humble and faithful servants – not teachers who thinks themselves yet wise or righteous or completed works. I too need to remain teachable, and listening, and growing.

Without Trust, we walk alone

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Today’s Manna – Our Daily Bread
http://bible.com/116/hab.2.18.nlt
What good is an idol carved by man,
or a cast image that deceives you?
How foolish to trust in your own creation— a god that can’t even talk!

Life Application Devotional
Idolatry may seem like a sin that modern people need not fear. But idolatry is not just bowing down to idols; it is trusting in what one has made, and therefore, in one’s own power as creator and sustainer. If we say we worship God but put our trust in bank accounts, homes, businesses, and organizations, then we are idolaters. Do you trust God more than you trust what your hands have made?

Observation
Where do we put our trust? What do we desire?

Continue reading “Without Trust, we walk alone”

Wow, He told them to STOP GIVING, really? Which church are we talking about again?

http://bible.com/116/exo.36.3-7.nlt
Moses gave them the materials donated by the people of Israel as sacred offerings for the completion of the sanctuary. But the people continued to bring additional gifts each morning. Finally the craftsmen who were working on the sanctuary left their work. They went to Moses and reported, “The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the lord has commanded us to do!” So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: “Men and women, don’t prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary. We have enough!” So the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings. Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.

Our level of generosity is a pretty strong reflection of either how strong of a hold we are clutching onto our money with,  or how open handed we are with the blessings of God as we seek to be good stewards of what He has entrusted us with.

How often do we give with abandon in our lives?  And not just with our money,  but with our time and our attention?

Can we imagine someone saying to us, you have given enough already,  we have all that we need. Please, you don’t need to give more.

Continue reading “Wow, He told them to STOP GIVING, really? Which church are we talking about again?”

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!

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Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 NLT
And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

Contentment truly is a gift from God.

Continue reading “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!”

Are we soaring, or too short to dunk?

Is letting someone go loving them or giving up on them?

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What about God’s design – letting us choose to either love and obey Him,  or to live a life of rebellion that ends up with us eternally separated from Him – is that Him loving us, or throwing in the towel and giving up on those that don’t bow down and worship Him?

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I think that the answers come down to the situation. If I give up trying to learn something new without even trying, you would call me a quitter. For example, if I was a child and you were trying to teach me how to fold a paper airplane, and all the other children were folding their airplanes,  but I refused – you might encourage me, you might take extra time to give me pointers and extra instruction. But if even after that individual attention and effort, I still refused to try, and I quit – you might be concerned that I’m a quitter at heart.

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But if you see me trying over and over again diligently only to fail time and time again, you might honor my diligence but realize that I’m not capable of the task at hand,  and hope that at some point I might be worse enough to give up and learn that it is beyond my abilities. For example,  if you see me at 5’6″ trying over and over again to dunk a basketball and never even coming close to the rim,  you might eventually consider me to be either foolish or insane if I did not come to the conclusion that it was beyond my abilities to dunk a basketball.

So doesn’t it matter whether we are trying our not?

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If a parent hands over their child to the state because they do not want the hassle of a child getting in the way of their party lifestyle,  isn’t that different than a parent that knows that they’ve tried and there is no way for them to provide a safe and healthy environment for that child? 

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Whether the decision is big or small,  doesn’t it come down to the amount of effort we are willing to put forth?

Doesn’t it come down to heart?

Doesn’t it come down to the “why” that is underneath the visible,  outside evidence of the choice?

You see,  the “why” is the meat of the issue.

We can look at the visible evidence of choices that others make in their lives, but without knowing the “why”, is it fair at all to judge their decisions?

So if we want to understand God, isn’t it important for us to dig for some level of understanding about “why” He allows us to choose between rebellion and obedience, between forgiving and judging, between faith and disbelief, between love and hate, between patience and irritability, between joy and misery, between peace and worry, between a life focused on self and a life surrendered to Him.

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You see, He knows who we are. We don’t. He knows what will happen if we actually try to fold that paper airplane and we complete the task at hand.  He knows that we will be amazed when we see it flying and soaring and floating through the air. He knows that we are capable.

But we think of ourselves as the little 5’6″ boy who can’t even reach the rim. Most of us sell ourselves short without even trying to reach the rim.

You see, He can lift us up to heights we can’t even imagine.

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The “why” is uncovered by whether or not we are trying.

Proverbs 21:2 NLT
People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart.

But He doesn’t expect us to do it alone,  and He doesn’t ask us to do anything that He doesn’t give us the strength to accomplish through Him:

Isaiah 41:9-10 NLT
I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

So let’s choose to soar today.

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