He is with us always

Christians who center their lives around the glorious promises of God find themselves blessed beyond all expectations. To live in the knowledge that Jesus is always with us. When His presence is the focal point in our life’s consciousness, all the pieces of our life fall into place. As you gaze at Christ through the eyes of your heart, you can see the world around you from His perspective. The fact that He is with us always only makes every moment of our life so much more meaningful. 🙂

~ Jesus Calling: Devotion, January 28 …Matthew 28:20; Psalm 139:1-4

Dating Someone Else Even Though You’re Married

This Man Is Dating Someone Even Though He’s Married. Sounds Disgusting, But I’m On His Side.

 

Jarrid Wilson is a husband, pastor, author, and blogger. And he has a confession that has everyone talking lately. You’ll see why below.

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On Jarrid’s blog post titled, “I’m Dating Someone Even Thought I’m Married,” he writes:

“I have a confession to make. I’m dating someone even though I’m married.

She’s an incredible girl. She’s beautiful, smart, cunning, strong, and has an immensely strong faith in God. I love to take her out to dinner, movies, local shows, and always tell her how beautiful she is. I can’t remember the last time I was mad at her for longer than five minutes, and her smile always seems to brighten up my day no matter the circumstances.

Sometimes she will visit me at work unannounced, make me an incredible lunch, or even surprise me with something she personally baked. I can’t believe how lucky I am to be dating someone even though I am married. I encourage you to try it and see what it can do for your life.

Oh! Did I mention the woman I am dating is my wife? What did you expect?

Just because you’re married, doesn’t mean your dating life should end.

I need to continue to date my wife even after I marry her. Pursuing my wife shouldn’t stop just because we both said, “I do.” Way too many times do I see relationships stop growing because people stop taking the initiative to pursue one another.

Dating is a time where you get to learn about someone in a special and unique way. Why would you want that to ever stop? It shouldn’t. Those butterflies you got on the first date shouldn’t stop just because the years have passed. Wake up each day and pursue your spouse as if you are still on your first few dates. You will see a drastic change for the better in your relationship.

When it comes to any relationship, communication and the action of constant pursuit is key. Nobody wants to be with someone who doesn’t want to pursue them whole-heartedly.

I encourage you to date your spouse, pursue them whole-heartedly, and understand that dating shouldn’t end just because you said, “I do.”

– Jarrid Wilson

~credit to http://www.viralnova.com/married-and-dating/

Change me, Lord

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It’s a new year, it’s a new season,

I pray that my heart, will be more like Christ

Change my heart Lord, when I get so blind,

Keep me accountable, when I get stuck in the ugliness of this world.

It’s simple to pray and ask that the Lord to change someone else’s heart,

But only to find out, that it was me who needed the changing.

Anger and bitterness often times cloud my view when I pray,

God says, “hold on child, it’s you who needed the disciplining.”

So here I ask again, change my heart Lord, change the way I pray,

And begin every prayer with, “Change me, Lord.”

I want to start off the year 2014 with only your blessings. In Jesus’ name, amen.

~Happy New Year to all the bloggers out there! May this year brings you lots of new perspectives, God blessings and a willingness attitude for God’s purpose. 🙂

Blessings,

Sue

~picture is not mine and credit to Proverbs 31 Ministries.

The Power of Assumptions

nice_flowers_2-wide~picture isn’t mine.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

Assumption, we all do it all the time and it’s costly.

The assumption battle is one I have fought most of my life. I’ve questioned friends’ motives, assuming they were against me. To avoid being hurt, I’ve detached from relationships with no valid reasons.

Perhaps you’ve fought the same battle?

Your friend didn’t sit with you in Bible study like she usually does; she must be upset with you, so you avoid her at your weekly meetings. Another friend is invited to several parties you aren’t; obviously the two of you are drifting apart, so you don’t reach out any more. Your sister hasn’t responded to your text and phone messages; she must have found another friend in whom to confide, so you stop calling her.

It’s easy to assume others are upset, have “more important” friends, or are too busy for us when their behavior changes. Anger and hurt can well up in our hearts and we may pull away from friendships in order to protect ourselves. There is a danger in assumptions: they can destroy relationships.

Before we know it, even without proof, what we assume becomes our truth. Our misguided feelings lead to misguided thoughts, which cause misguided responses. The result: ruined relationships.

Living under the havoc of assumptions isn’t the way God intended it though. Second Timothy 1:7 tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (NKJV). Looking at the last part of this verse, we see God gives us the ability to think, reason, and understand.

Through Christ, we have a mind that is well balanced and considers things in context. Our sound mind is stronger than our feelings, but we have to give our thoughts time to catch up with our emotions. A good way to do this is to pause and think clearly about the conclusions we’ve made.

When an assumption rears its ugly head, simply take a moment to ask if this assumption is consistent with your friend’s normal behavior. If it isn’t, this would be a good time to ask a few more questions: Is my friend okay? Have I done anything to hurt her? How can I pray for her? Do I believe the best before assuming the worst?

Repeat the pause until the assumption passes. The result: positive relationships.

Ruined relationships can be prevented and assumptions can be put to rest when we stop and focus on our thoughts. God has blessed us with a sound mind to surrender to the truth and not allow our imaginations to run wild.

Before the power of assumptions ruins a relationship in your life, pause. Settle your emotions and consider what you know to be true about your friend. Take a moment to pray for her and plan how to reach out to her. She might just be struggling with her own assumptions that you could help her clear up!

Dear Lord, thank You for empowering me to overpower assumptions. I commit to believe the best before assuming the worst, and to not allow my emotions to jump to conclusions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Would you like to bring the message of this devotion to the women of your church? Click here to find out more about considering Wendy Pope as your next retreat / key note speaker. And be sure to visit Wendy’s blog today as she shares how she overcame the power assumptions had on her life.

Trusting God for a Better Tomorrow Bible Study by Wendy Pope, available in a printable download, Kindle, Nook, and hardcopy.

The I Am His medallion necklace is a great reminder that we belong to Christ and His truths are ours to hold on to! Click here for more information.

Reflect and Respond:
What power have assumptions had on your life?

Reach out and make an attempt to reconcile with someone with whom you made an assumption.

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (NIV)

Philippians 2:4, “Don’t be concerned only about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others.” (GW)

~Credit to Proverbs 31 Ministries

Love for the enemy

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      When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, He Himself gives us the love that He demands from us.

   In Africa I visited the cell of a young man who was sentenced to death. His hands were chained and his dark skin had many red wounds, caused by lashes. Behind me stood three soldiers. The cell was absolutely empty; only a plank on the floor and high up in the wall a very little window. The prisoner looked very healthy and strong. The tragedy that this man had to die overwhelmed me.

I sat down beside him and prayed for a word from the Lord. “Have you ever heard of the cross of Jesus Christ, where He carried the sins of the whole world, also your sins?” He nodded. “Do you believe in Jesus Christ, that He will be your Savior too?”

“Yes, I love Him, but I have not always been faithful. Politics have taken up my time and attention completely, but now I have brought all my sins to Jesus. He has forgiven me. If I may live any longer, then I will serve Him with all my life.”

“Have you forgiven the people that have brought you here, who have your death on their conscience?”

“No, I hate them.”

“I can understand that. I will tell you one of my experiences. During the war in Holland, I helped to save Jewish people, because Hitler wanted to kill them. One day a man came to me who told me that his wife had also helped the Jews and that now she had been arrested. ‘She is in the police station and probably she will be put to death. Now there is a policeman who is willing to let her escape, if we pay him six hundred guilders, but I have no money,’ he told me. ‘I can help you,’ I said. ‘Come back in an hour.’ In the meantime I collected all the money from my friends and all I had myself, and it was exactly six hundred guilders. I gave it to him to save the life of his wife. But he was a betrayer. His wife was not arrested at all. The enemy had told him to find out whether I helped Jewish people. So this man thought that at the same time he could make some money out of this situation. He went home with six hundred guilders in his pocket. But five minutes later the enemy came and my whole family was arrested. Later, when I heard that this man had betrayed us, hatred came into my heart, just at it happened with you. I had given him the last money that I had. But then I read in the Bible that hatred is really murder in God’s eyes (Matthew 5:21-22).

“How glad I was that I knew what I could do against hatred. ‘The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin…If we confess our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:7,9). I brought my hatred to Jesus. He forgave me and cleansed my heart with His blood. After the war this betrayer was sentenced to death. I wrote to him: ‘What you have done through your betrayal caused the death of my 84 year old father, my brother, his son, and my sister in prison. I myself have terribly suffered through your fault, but I have forgiven you everything. This is just a very little example of the forgiveness and love of Jesus. He lives in my heart; that is why I can forgive you. Jesus will also come into your heart and will make you a child of God. Confess your sins to Him. On the cross of Calvary He has finished all for your sins and mine.’ Later he wrote me: ‘I have prayed: “Jesus, when You can give such a love for the enemy in the heart of someone who follows You, then there is hope for me.” I have indeed confessed my sins to Him. Now I know that I am a child of God, cleansed by the blood of Jesus.’

“So you you see that Jesus used me to save the soul of this same man I had hated so much. Do you know that if you do not forgive, you yourself do not receive forgiveness? Jesus said: ‘For if you forgive other people their failures, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you will not forgive other people, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you your failures’ (Matthew 6:14-16). You cannot do that, neither can I, but Jesus can!” That same day, the prisoner sent a message to his wife: “Forgive my murderers. You are not able to do it, I am not able, but Jesus is able. If we are not willing, then we ourselves do not receive forgiveness.”

When Jesus comes and we have bitterness, yes, even hatred in our hearts, then we are not ready to meet Him with a clean heart: “Everyone who has at heart a hope like that keeps himself pure, for he knows how pure Christ is.” (1 John 3:3).

In the time of the final battle, many will be filled with hatred, then we do not stand on victory ground. It is very easy to belong to the masses of people. It is one of the laws of the kingdom of God that men receive peace only if they are always ready to forgive unreservedly. We never touch the love of God so much as when we love our enemies. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5). He does the job. Hallelujah!

~Corrie ten Boom

A truly thankful person

thankful defined

 

The truly thankful person is a truly peaceful person. They have made a habit no matter what, to notice, pause, and choose.

Noticing something for which to be thankful no matter their circumstance.

Pausing to acknowledge this something as a reminder of God’s presence.

Choosing to focus on God’s presence until His powerful peace is unleashed.

Will we be a noticer? A pauser? A chooser? A person of thanksgiving no matter what circumstance we’re facing?

I find this truth about the power of thanksgiving over and over in Scripture. What was the prayer Daniel prayed right before being thrown in the lion’s den and witnessing God miraculously shutting the lion’s mouths? Thanksgiving.

After three days in the belly of a fish, what was the cry of Jonah’s heart right before he was finally delivered onto dry land? Thanksgiving.

How are we instructed to pray in Philippians 4:6 when we feel anxious? With thanksgiving.

And what is the outcome of each of these situations where thanksgiving is proclaimed? Peace.

Powerful, unexplainable, uncontainable peace.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 NIV).

One of Webster’s official definitions of thanksgiving is: “a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness.”

I wonder how we might celebrate God’s divine goodness today.

I wonder what might happen if we decide in the midst of our circumstances today to notice, pause, and choose something for which we can truly be thankful.

Are you thankful today?

You can start today with this prayer: Dear Lord, will You help me notice things for which I can be thankful in each circumstance I face today? Will You help me remember to pause and acknowledge this as evidence of Your presence? And will You help me remember to choose to focus on Your presence until Your powerful peace rushes into my heart and helps me see everything more clearly? Thank You for the reality that being thankful changes everything. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

~credit to Proverbs 31 Ministry

Purity Underrated? I don’t think so

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~picture is not mine

by Lauren Winner

Chastising Chastity

Those two quotations sum up a lot about Christian chastity — it’s really important, and we really don’t like having to deal with it. By chastity, I mean conforming your body and your sexual self to God’s vision of human sexuality as laid out in Scripture and articulated by church tradition — for married people, fidelity, and for unmarried people, abstinence. Why is chastity so unpopular? Simple: It’s difficult; and now, even more so than when Lewis wrote, we live in a society that does not give us much support for living chastely. Indeed, American culture seems determined to mock and ridicule chastity as much as possible.

And why is chastity so “dear to heaven,” so important to God’s vision of discipleship and faithful Christian living? That question requires a somewhat longer answer — indeed, I can only begin to scratch the surface here.

It’s Not My Body

Chastity is important because it involves how we comport our bodies — and through faith, our bodies are no longer our own. In faith, you have become part of Christ’s body, and it is Christ through the Church, who must give you permission to join His body to another body.

In the Christian worldview, we have no right to sex. The place where the Church confers that privilege on you is the wedding; weddings are specific acts that grant us permission to have sex with one person.

In other words, chastity is a fact of gospel life. The New Testament makes clear that sex beyond the boundaries of marriage — the boundaries of communally granted sanction of sex — is simply off limits. To have sex outside those bounds is to commit an offense against the body. Abstinence before marriage, and fidelity within marriage — refraining from sex with someone other than your husband or wife — is just one of those basic rules that keeps you inside the Christian community. Any other kind of sex is embodied apostasy.

Practicing premarital chastity is also important because it safeguards and protects marital sex — that is, it protects us, so that if and when we do get married, we are able to experience sex as God intended it to be.

The Thrill of the Known

Marital sex is very different from premarital sex. Think about the TV shows or movies you’ve seen, in which people have premarital sex. How is it portrayed? It is almost always portrayed as being dramatic — because, almost by definition, it is part of a relationship that is itself not wholly stable. Even when you’ve been dating someone for a year, the lack of permanence that characterizes your relationship seems to add a certain frisson to everything you do with that person, from going on a Saturday hike to smooching on the sofa. Everything in your relationship gets some of its charge from the uncertainty, the unknown.

This may be the single most significant way that married sex — sex as it was created to be — differs from unmarried sex. Married sex does not derive its thrill from the possibility of the unknown. Married sex is a given. It is solemnized and marked in ritual. It is established. It is governed by vows. It becomes a ritual in itself; it becomes a routine. Married sex is exciting, but its excitements are very different, and much more tender, than the instability of the hook-up scene.

The sex of blind dates and fraternity parties, even of relatively long-standing dating relationships has, simply, no normal qualities. It is based on mutual desire, and it dispenses with the ordinary rhythms of marital sex, trading them for a seemingly thrilling, but ultimately false, story. This may be the way that the sin of premarital sex sticks with us most lastingly; it may be the twisted lesson it teaches us most convincingly: That sex derives its thrill from instability and drama. In fact, the opposite is true: The dramas of married sex are smaller and more intimate, and in fact it is the stability of marriage that allows sex to be what it is.

Delayed Gratification

So practicing premarital chastity is important, in part, because having premarital sex — that is, giving ourselves over to sexual sin — teaches us false, destructive lessons about what sex is.

Consider another genre of sexual sin, pornography. (And, since the advent of Internet porn, we have seen more and more that it is not just a “guy’s problem.” Today, more women than ever are logging on and searching porn sites.) What is wrong with pornography? It’s not just that by using porn, you’re exploiting another person and turning the human in the centerfold into a mere object. If we use pornography, we also wrench sex out of the relational context in which God intended it to take place. If we use porn, we learn something false: That sex is about immediate gratification. Pornography is destructive because it forms in its clientele expectations that are simply not connected to reality, to real men and women with real bodies (not to mention real souls, hearts, and minds).

It is helpful to remember that chastity is a spiritual discipline — just one of many disciplines that, like prayer and fasting and practicing silence, the church has given us not because they get us into heaven, but because they help us to become new creatures; they help us align our wills with God’s will. Chastity is not the mere absence of sex, but an active conforming of one’s body to the shape that Scripture requires. With all aspects of ascetic living, one does not avoid or refrain from something for the sake of rejecting it, but for the sake of something else. In this case, one refrains from sex with someone other than one’s spouse for the sake of union with Christ’s body. That union is the fruit of chastity.

Chastity is a Virtue

We often talk in the church about the consequences of having premarital sex — and there are, of course, consequences. We talk about the possibility of STDs, or unwanted pregnancy — we talk about cheapening something that God intended us to participate in with only one other person. All those points are true, of course, but the most essential truth of chastity is that in turning away from certain expressions of sexuality and romanticism, we can allow ourselves to focus on God in a particular way that would otherwise not be possible.

So don’t dress modestly or refrain from having premarital sex because doing so will help you attract the attentions of an upright, God-fearing Christian partner (though, of course, that might also happen) — dress modestly and refrain from premarital sex because doing so allows you to focus on your truest Lover, the Lord. Practice chastity because, in the words of 6th-century monk John Climacus, “Chastity makes us familiar with God.” 1

I have written this article — indeed, I have written a whole book on the topic of chastity and sexuality — because I think chastity is a crucially important piece of Christian faithfulness and Christian discipleship. But it would be, I think, irresponsible to discuss the importance of chastity without making two related points.

First, chastity is not the only, or even the most important, aspect of Christian discipleship. Indeed, even to think about, say, chastity, tithing, and prayer as wholly discreet, distinct activities is to miss the point — for the gospel is not an invitation to compartmentalized living. It is, instead, an engagement in love. The questions we Christians should ask are not, “Do I have the energy to deal with chastity or tithing this week?” but, “What is the whole duty of man? What does it mean to be wholly converted?”

Second, by Jesus’ standard, the standard of lusting in our hearts, every one of us has sexual sin to deal with. And though having premarital sex does, as we’ve discussed above, have consequences, it is not the unforgivable sin. Jesus’ blood is more powerful than any sin we can commit, and should we repent and turn around, away from sin and toward God, we will find both forgiveness, and — like the adulterous woman whom Jesus tells to go and sin no more — the grace to live more faithful lives of Christian discipleship.

~Originally appeared on TrueU.org. Copyright © 2005 Lauren Winner. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Doing What Is Right In God’s Sight

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~ Wallpaper is not mine. 🙂

 

Good morning, a great inspirational devotional message for you today:

“If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.” 

Exodus 15:26

In many ways, modern cultures are like the ancient society of Israel — everybody doing what is right in his or her own eyes. In pluralistic cultures where tolerance is the highest value, people hold dear the right to do whatever they want. And indeed, citizens have that right (up to a point). But it’s the consequences that arise over time that people don’t like.

When God brought the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt, the people agreed to “do what is right in His sight” (Exodus 15:26). That was the covenant agreement the people entered into, God promising to bless them for their willingness, in essence, to set aside what they thought was right and do what God said is right. However, their commitment didn’t last long (Judges 17:6; 21:25). By the time Solomon became king he identified as fools those who do what is right in their own eyes (Proverbs 12:15; 21:2).

Wise are the people who are willing to believe that what God says is right, is right for them.

Nothing is right for a Christian if it is not God’s will for him. 
John Blanchard