Daily Devotional

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – The Truly Successful Life – Gaining the Perspective of Eternity - Tuesday, October 27th

    Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. Proverb 16:3

    Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. Proverbs 16:8

    We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

    Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil. Proverbs 15:16

    Better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud. Proverbs 16:19

    True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life. Proverbs 22:4

    If you are slack, in the day of distress, your strength is limited. Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, “See, we did not know this,” does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? and does He not know it who keeps your soul? and will He not render to man according to his work? My son, eat honey, for it is good, yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste; know that wisdom is thus for your soul; if you find it, then there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 24:10-14 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    How we engage with what is here in the middle of what we call life on planet earth makes all the difference in regard to whether we are truly “successful” or not. There are “those who don’t get it” and there are “those who do get it.” For “those who don’t get it,” engaging with what is here on planet earth is all about how to get life to serve them and how they can use it. For “those who do get it,” engaging with what is here on planet earth is not about trying to use life but serving it. They are ones who are focused on being a steward of life and not a consumer of life. Herein lies the true “measure” of success.

    Above is a whole set of Proverbs. Please read through them again and write down things that stand out to you. What is the one thing that resonates the most with you? Finally, identify one change you need to make in your life in regard to how to measure success?

    For those who keep God out of the equation and don’t take into account what happens next after this life, maximum consumption of what this life has to offer becomes the end result they pursue. The path they take, the process they go through, and the means they use are all justifiable for achieving the end result they are after. In the end they will find out that they were wrong about “success” in life. Like those in our Proverb 24 passage, they will say, “we did not know this.” Oh, that somewhere along the way they had come to realize that “God weighs the hearts,” “he keeps your soul,” and “he will render to man according to his work.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I thank you that you are accomplishing the great work of delivering me from myself and living merely for myself. Thank you for the perspective of eternity. I ask that you continue to bring to me wisdom for my soul so that as I continue to walk with you it will come about more than ever before that the living I do will truly line up with how you measure “success.”

  • Wisdom from Proverbs - The Truly Successful Life – Becoming a Steward of Life - Monday, October 26th

    Evil people get rich for the moment, but the reward of the godly will last. Godly people find life; evil people find death. The Lord detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those with integrity. Proverbs 11:18-20

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Here we are in the fourth and final week of looking to the book of Proverbs for the wisdom we need for life. This week the area of life to be addressed by the book of Proverbs is “success.” Our opening passage contrasts evil people and godly people. Let’s separate out what the verses say about each. This will give us a clear look at God’s take on what “success” in life is and what it is not.

    “Evil people get rich for the moment - evil people find death - the Lord detests people with crooked hearts.”

    When life is about the moment, what you can get from it is all important. When a person’s focus is entirely on how to get life to serve them and how they can use it, they find death. God detests this. The one who approaches life in this way will be a person with a crooked heart and will be one whom God finds detestable. This is what “failure” in life is all about.

    “The reward of the godly will last - Godly people find life - he delights in those with integrity.”

    For reward that lasts you have to look beyond our time here. This changes how we engage with what is here. When we are not trying to use life but serve it, we find life. The one who approaches life in this way will be a person of integrity and will be one in whom God is delighted. This is what “success” in life is all about.

    The truly successful person is a steward of life and not a consumer of life. The whole dynamic of a truly successful person is that of “treatment” and not “consumption.” As we go forward in our week we will look at all this in more detail as we explore more fully God’s take on “success” through the wisdom found in the Book of Proverbs.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, as I live my life here in this world, I confess that I have allowed the conventional wisdom of the world to have far too great an impact on my life. I really do want to experience transformation in a full and complete way. So, here I am before you, asking that you fill my life with your presence, your purposes, and your power. Amen!

  • "The Silversmith" - An Inspirational Story for Sunday, October 25th

    The Silversmith

    Some time ago, a few ladies met in a certain city to study the scriptures. While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse:

    "And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver (Malachi 3:3)"

    One lady proposed to visit a silversmith, and report to them on what he said about the subject. She went accordingly, and without telling the object of her errand, begged the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver.

    After he had fully described it to her, she asked, "But Sir, do you sit while the work of refining is going on?"

    "Oh, yes madam," replied the silversmith; "I must sit with my eyes steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."

    The lady at once saw the beauty, and comfort too, of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." God sees it needful to put His children into a furnace; His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.

    Before she left, the lady asked one final question, "When do you know the process is complete?"

    "Why, that is quite simple," replied the silversmith. "When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished."

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Anatomy of Work – Observing Spiritual and Physical Rest - Saturday, October 24th

    Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work. Exodus 20:9-10A (NASB)

    Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:6-11

    Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

    Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father …. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:17, 23-24

    Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

    He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will find good. Proverbs 19:8

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today, we wrap up our week of looking to the book of Proverbs for wisdom in regard to the subject of "work." At the beginning of the week we talked briefly about "rest" the counterpart of "work" and said we would come back to it today. It seems that there are two major struggles people have with work: getting started and getting stopped. Some of us struggle with one or the other and some struggle with both. However, very few of us find the right balance between work and rest.

    In the Old Testament system God's requirements for his people provided very specifically for this balance between work and rest.

    The New Testament system employs the principle of Sabbath rest rather than the specific Sabbath day rest of the Old Testament.

    The Hebrews passage above captures the shift to the New Covenant relationship God has with His people. So, the primary emphasis of Sabbath/rest for us is spiritual. God is at work in us to produce a life through us that corresponds with Who He is and all He desires for us. But we must rest from our own works and let the Spirit work in and through us. This is the Sabbath rest God has for His people today. This does not mean that we escape work. We will need to work hard at all of life.

    It is God’s plan that we work heartily at all he gives us to do. But as temples of God indwelled by the Holy Spirit, the work we give ourselves to and the work that comes forth from us must always be God’s doing. In addition to the primary emphasis of Sabbath/rest we must give ourselves to the secondary emphasis of Sabbath/rest as well. Here we are looking at the concept behind the Old Covenant understanding of Sabbath/rest. While Sabbath observance is not carried forward, the concept of resting from human activity is. We should be devoted to hard work but not so devoted that we don’t build necessary rest into our lives.

    So, Sabbath/rest is first, a new covenant concept that deals with the inward spiritual reality of entering God’s rest, whereby we rest from work generated by us in favor of work generated by Him in and through us; and second, the need to rest from the human activity (the concept behind the Old Covenant understanding of Sabbath/rest). The idea of resting from human activity includes the physical rest of sleep, as well as the need for breaking away from routine responsibilities in favor of recreational rest (this is multi-faceted and includes daily breaks, days off, vacations, etc.).

    Sabbath is all about rest. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath and the Lord of rest. Most of us are weary and heavy-laden and desperately in need of rest on all levels. We have much to learn about Sabbath rest and Jesus invites us to come and learn from Him. He is gentle and humble in heart and waiting to give rest to our souls. He will do it if we will come to Him. He really means it when He says His yoke (work) is easy and His burden is light.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Come up with your own prayer response today (for the whole week) the incorporates some "good" wisdom that has truly touched your soul.

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Anatomy of Work – Valuing Integrity - Friday, October 23rd

    Wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap. Proverbs 21:6

    Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers set up by previous generations. Do you see any truly competent workers? They will serve kings rather than working for ordinary people. Proverbs 22:28-29

    The Lord detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights. Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people. Proverbs 11:1-3

    Godly people find life; evil people find death. The Lord detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those with integrity. Proverbs 11:19-20

    Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool. Proverbs 19:1 (NASB)

    Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1

    Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. Proverbs 16:8

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today we consider aspect # 4 of work: "Value integrity." The Scriptures below from Proverbs include both the ones from Sunday's message and additional ones that go along with them. There are so many things about "work" that these Proverbs speak to. To comment on all of it would be too much. Please read through the Proverbs and write down things that stand out to you. What is the one thing that resonates the most with you? Finally, identify one change you need to make in your life in regard to the common sense reminder: "Value integrity."

    Someone has said, "integrity has no need of rules." It has also been said, "It's easy to maintain your integrity when no one is offering to buy it." And then there is this quote, "One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised." If there was ever a word that captures the heartbeat of what it means to be a Christian, it is the word integrity. Yes, there are all the wonderful words of our Christian faith like redemption, grace, forgiveness, salvation, etc., but without integrity they are just words. The person who has integrity is a person who is genuine; they are the real deal. The greatest trial for Christianity over the centuries has come from those who claim to be adherents but are not genuine. Integrity in regard to their Christian faith is missing and so they are not the real deal.

    The common sense reminder: "Value Integrity," is being put before us in a rather strong manner. The purpose for this is not to make us feel guilty, but to inspire us to a "higher plane" or "higher road." There are those who have not come to genuine faith in Christ and stand in need of true salvation. Our prayer for them is that they would embrace Christ for all that he is and has done so that they become recipients of eternal redemption and are put squarely on the path of becoming all that they can become through Christ. However, our concern today is for the rest of us. We are those who have been redeemed and there are probably very few of us who do not need to be put more squarely on the path of becoming all that we can become through Christ. We need to be inspired to this higher path and the key is integrity and that is our hope and prayer for today.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, forgive me for all the ways my walk has not matched my talk. Lord, in all the nitty-gritty areas of my life like those today's Proverbs put before me, help me to have "integrity" like I've never had before. I want to walk with you 24/7 and I want it to be clearly seen been all the world that I am the real deal. Amen!

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Anatomy of Work – Taking the Long View - Thursday, October 22nd

    Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time. Proverbs 13:11

    Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find. Proverbs 12:27

    Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper. Proverbs 13:4

    Those who follow the right path fear the Lord; those who take the wrong path despise him. Proverbs 14:2

    Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor. Proverbs 21:21

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today we consider aspect # 3 of work: "Take the long view." There are so many things about "work" that the Proverbs above speak to. To comment on all of it would be too much. Please read through the Proverbs and write down things that stand out to you. What is the one thing that resonates the most with you? Finally, identify one change you need to make in your life in regard to the common sense reminder: "Take the long view."

    The "now generation" term was coined sometime after World War II in the midst of an unparalleled age of prosperity that began and continues on even now. It is a term that captures a dynamic that no one in our present culture can escape entirely. The following statements are attempts to grasp and address this dynamic:

    - We live in a culture of instant gratification versus investment in activities with rewards accruing over time or in the long term.

    - Being able to find a meaningful role to play in communities via employment or service is a great counter-measure.

    - Opportunities to feel ones contribution either in employment or volunteering are essential.

    - The fact that things are more accessible than rewarding experiences is a real problem.

    - Our sense of achievement is no longer based on a goal but on quick changes to the latest and greatest things.

    Quite insightful stuff that helps us get a handle on some of what contributes to "now view" thinking and "long view" thinking in our approach to life. We need to know what makes us tick. We need to address the things that are true of us that interfere with our living lives that really count. Living for the "immediate" is unacceptable. Read back over the five statements again, but think in terms of living for Christ and his kingdom as you read. Self-centeredness, materialism, gratification, etc. can be countered but it requires a "long view" of life where our goal is Christ and his kingdom.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, teach me how to persevere in my work. Each and every day, help me to care deeply about other people in the midst of everything you give me to do. May my life bless those around me in ways that impact them for your kingdom, Lord. Deliver me from the scourge of the "immediate" and fill my life with that which truly counts for the "long haul." Amen!

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Anatomy of Work - Being an Obstacle Overcomer - Wednesday, October 21st

    Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work. Proverbs 21:25

    The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion on the road! Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!” As a door swings back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed. Lazy people take food in their hand but don’t even lift it to their mouth. Proverbs 26:13-15

    Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave. Proverbs 12:24

    Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty! Proverbs 14:23

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today we consider aspect # 2 of work: "Be an obstacle overcomer." There are so many things about "work" that the Proverbs above speak to. To comment on all of it would be too much. Please read through the Proverbs and write down things that stand out to you. Someone has said, "The bumps are what we climb on." We not only have our "work," but we have the work of overcoming the obstacles to the work that is ours to accomplish. Life is truly a challenge, but we must not be immobilized by the element of "challenge" that permeates life. Jesus said, "In the world you have tribulation (challenges), but take courage; I have overcome the world (John 16:33B).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, deliver me from fear and fill me with your peace. Grant me a confidence in you that allows me to rest in spirit, but invigorates me with divine energy for the work of actively serving you. Help me to see obstacles as surprise avenues that foster and connect me more fully with your presence, your grace, and your mission (work). Amen!

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Anatomy of Work – Planning Your Work - Tuesday, October 20th

    Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty. Proverbs 21:5

    Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. Proverbs 6:6-11

    The Lord detests evil plans, but he delights in pure words. Greed brings grief to the whole family, but those who hate bribes will live. Proverbs 15:26-27

    We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:1-3

    We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

    There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Proverbs 16:25

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today we consider aspect # 1 of work: "Plan your work." There are so many things about "work" that the Proverbs above speak to. To comment on all of it would be too much. Please read through the Proverbs and write down things that stand out to you. What is the one thing that resonates the most with you? Finally, identify one change you need to make in your life in regard to the aspect of work: "Plan your work."

    The old adage "plan your work and work you plan" rings true. The work to which we give ourselves is all-important. Always, we want our work, the plans we have for doing that work, the attitudes and motives we bring to our work, and the overall course of our lives to be fully aligned with God and his ways.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you that you are always at work. I sense that you are at work in my life right now in some very special ways. Where I am too lax in the management of my life, help me to be more deliberate and diligent. Where I am too uptight and controlling in the management of my life, help me to be more relaxed and dependent on you. I commit myself to you, Lord, and the changes you want to make in my life. Amen!

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Anatomy of Work – Pursuing Occupational Fitness - Monday, October 19th

    The wages of the righteous is life, the income of the wicked, punishment. He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray. Proverbs 10:16-17 (NASB)

    Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work. Exodus 20:9-10A (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Here we are in the third week of looking to the book of Proverbs for the wisdom we need for life. Our first week was all about "start-up wisdom." We found wisdom for how to go about getting wisdom that prepared us to let God use the book of Proverbs in our lives. Last week the area of life addressed by the book of Proverbs was our "relationships" with others. This week the area of life to be addressed by the book of Proverbs is "work." Primarily, when we think of "work," we think of our occupations (this will be our main emphasis this week). But certainly, in the broader sense, all of life is work. The Bible says, we "reap what we sow." Generally, we get out of something in proportion to what we put into it. So, yes, life is work, but we can also say, the right kind of work is life.

    As seen in the first phrase of our Proverbs 10 passage above, when we do the work of living right, we earn "life." The next words, "He is on the path of life who heeds instruction," is really what our "Proverbs" series is all about. Let's swing back the other way now. A significant part of right living is right work (in the occupational sense) and we need to heed the instruction that the Book of Proverbs offers us on it. There are four aspects of "work" that we will consider on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday of this week and then wrap everything up on Saturday.

    We are going to add something very important into the mix for today, which is mentioned in our Exodus passage above, and we will come back to it on Saturday. It is "rest," the counterpart of "work." We are doing this in order to give a bigger context to our considerations on the subject of "work." It seems that there are two major struggles people have with work: getting started and getting stopped. Some of us struggle with one or the other and some struggle with both. However, very few of us find the right balance between work and rest and become occupationally fit.

    In the Old Testament system God's requirements for his people provided very specifically for this balance between work and rest. The New Testament system employs the principle of Sabbath rest rather than the specific Sabbath day rest of the Old Testament (We will come back to this on Saturday). So, as we move through the week considering what Proverbs has to say about the subject of work, we will keep the need for balance between work and rest in view.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I pray that you will help me go further than ever before in my response to you and your instruction regarding work. Truly, I want to heed instruction and not ignore reproof. Set me more fully on the path of life in regard to "work" throughout the coming week. May it be that I become one who lives right because I learn to work right. May you be glorified through my work. Amen!

  • "What is Grace?" - An Inspirational Story for Sunday, October 18th

    What is Grace?

     The boy stood with back arched, head cocked back and hands clenched defiantly. "Go ahead, give it to me."

    The principal looked down at the young rebel. "How many times have you been here?"

    The child sneered rebelliously, "Apparently not enough."

    The principal gave the boy a strange look. "And you have been punished each time have you not?"

    "Yeah, I been punished, if that's what you want to call it." He threw out his small chest, "Go ahead I can take whatever you dish out. I always have."

    "And no thought of your punishment enters your head the next time you decide to break the rules does it?"

    "Nope, I do whatever I want to do. Ain't nothin' you people gonna do to stop me either."

    The principal looked over at the teacher who stood nearby. "What did he do this time?"

    "Fighting. He took little Tommy and shoved his face into the sandbox."

    The principal turned to look at the boy, "Why? What did little Tommy do to you?"

    "Nothin, I didn't like the way he was lookin' at me, just like I don't like the way your lookin' at me! And if I thought I could do it, I'd shove your face into something."

    The teacher stiffened and started to rise but a quick look from the principal stopped him. He contemplated the child for a moment and then quietly said, "Today my young student, is the day you learn about grace."

    "Grace? Isn't that what you old people do before you sit down to eat? I don't need none of your stinkin grace."

    "Oh but you do." The principal studied the young mans face and whispered. "Oh yes, you truly do..."

    The boy continued to glare as the principal continued, "Grace, in its short definition is unmerited favor. You can not earn it, it is a gift and is always freely given. It means that you will not be getting what you so richly deserve."

    The boy looked puzzled. "Your not gonna whup me? You just gonna let me walk?"

    The principal looked down at the unyielding child. "Yes, I am going to let you walk."

    The boy studied the face of the principal, "No punishment at all? Even though I socked Tommy and shoved his face into the sandbox?"

    "Oh, there has to be punishment. What you did was wrong and there are always consequences to our actions. There will be punishment. Grace is not an excuse for doing wrong."

    "I knew it," Sneered the boy as he held out his hands. "Lets get on with it."

    The principal nodded toward the teacher. "Bring me the belt." The teacher presented the belt to the principal. He carefully folded it in two and then handed it back to the teacher. He looked at the child and said. "I want you to count the blows."

    He slid out from behind his desk and walked over to stand directly in front of the young man. He gently reached out and folded the child's outstretched, expectant hands together and then turned to face the teacher with his own hands outstretched. One quiet word came forth from his mouth. "Begin."

    The belt whipped down on the outstretched hands of the principal. Crack! The young man jumped ten feet in the air.

    Shock registered across his face, "One" he whispered. Crack! "Two." His voice raised an octave. Crack! "Three..." He couldn't believe this. Crack! "Four." Big tears welled up in the eyes of the rebel.

    "OK stop! That's enough. Stop!" Crack! Came the belt down on the callused hands of the principal. Crack! The child flinched with each blow, tears beginning to stream down his face.

    Crack! Crack! "No please", the former rebel begged, "Stop, I did it, I'm the one who deserves it. Stop! Please. Stop..."

    Still the blows came, Crack! Crack! One after another. Finally it was over.

    The principal stood with sweat glistening across his forehead and beads trickling down his face.

    Slowly he knelt down.

    He studied the young man for a second and then his swollen hands reached out to cradle the face of the weeping child.

    "Grace..."

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Human Relationships – Gain the Higher Perspective of Christ - Saturday, October 17th

    Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth! Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts. May the Lord cut off their flattering lips and silence their boastful tongues. They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content. Our lips are our own—who can stop us?” Psalm 12:1-4

    “Do not give what is holy to dogs—they will only turn and attack you. Do not throw your pearls in front of pigs—they will only trample them underfoot. Matthew 7:6 (GNT)

    Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 A

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today we wrap our week of letting God use the book of Proverbs to help us with personal relationships. While the book of Proverbs has been our main focus, we have looked at a few Scriptures from other places in the Bible that fit in and we will do that again today. We have found Proverbs 12 to be filled with wisdom for personal relationships. Here are several more fitting lines: "To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. The Lord approves of those who are good, but he condemns those who plan wickedness. Wickedness never brings stability, but the godly have deep roots .... The wicked are trapped by their own words, but the godly escape such trouble. Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards."

    We have talked about "getting it right" with our personal relationships. For this to happen, we must be willing to learn and that takes discipline and an openness to correction. This is the focus of those who are "good" in contrast to those who plan wickedness and of course this is where God's approval rests. God knows what is best for us and his ways bring stability and deep roots to the godly. When it comes to relationships, there is no more powerful factor in what kind of relationships we will have than the words we speak. Those who "get it right" in regard to the words they use in their relationships are the ones who escape the trap that those who "get it wrong" fall into and the trouble that follows. Truly, the hard work of becoming one who consistently uses "wise words" in personal relationships will reap many benefits and rewards.

    The Psalm above reminds us that "godly" and "faithful" people (those who pursue "getting it right") are the exception rather than the rule. This Scripture is surely a commentary on today's world and the abundance of ruined relationships we see all around us and all too often within our own personal experience. We are going to conclude today and the week with the two portions of Scripture above from Matthew and Luke. They provide a great way to overcome those moments that come in our relationships and "do us in" so to speak. In the heat of the moment we can so easily forget all about being "godly" and "faithful."

    Thinking of those we are in relationship with in terms of "dogs" and "pigs" doesn't sound like such a good idea on the surface. Let's put the focus on the words "holy" and "pearls." There are things that are special and precious to us and we need to discern when to open up and put such things out there and when not to. Often it is those who we are closest to that trample on our "pearls" so to speak. We need to be selective and judicious in sharing the things that are the most special and the most precious to us. All too often, we set ourselves up for trauma in our relationships because we are not "wise" about when and who we share what is most important to us.

    The words of Jesus in the Luke passage above were said while he hung on the cross. He was surrounded with people who were at extreme odds with him. When you are up against those who are at odds with you, picture yourself lifted up (like Jesus) to a higher perspective. Don't settle for staying in the fray. Remind yourself that those at odds with you just "don't get it." Stop and say within yourself, "they don't know what they are doing." Jesus felt sorrow for those who crucified him. He had a very lofty perspective and he forgave them. Try this out and it will make a huge difference in how you handle the tough spots in your relationships with others.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Put together a prayer response to God for yourself in regard to the higher perspective of Christ and remember to incorporate our theme response for the series "Lord, I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments (Psalm 119:7)."

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Human Relationships – Handle Conflict in Godly Ways (Calm, Peaceful, & Private) - Friday, October 16th

    Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything. Proverbs 13:3

    The mouths of fools are their ruin; they trap themselves with their lips. Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart .... The first to speak in court sounds right-until the cross-examination begins .... An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. Proverbs 18:7-8, 17, 19

    When arguing with your neighbor, don’t betray another person’s secret. Others may accuse you of gossip, and you will never regain your good reputation. Proverbs 25:9-10

    A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence. Proverbs 11:13

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today's focus is on how we handle the inevitable conflicts that are a part of our personal relationships with other people. The kind of communication that takes place in the middle of our conflicts has an awful lot to do with the longevity of our relationships.

    The Proverb 13 verse above says it well, doesn’t it? Controlling the tongue is the key to a lifetime of solid, long-term relationships. If we have problems controlling our tongues in the middle of our conflicts, it is almost a sure thing that we will have problems controlling our tongues in regard to what we have to say to third parties about the relationships in which we are experiencing conflict. The additional Proverbs above speak very well to the issue of gossip and the additional destructive impact it has on our relationships.

    Earlier in the week we talked about the "throw away" world we live in and the devastating impact this has on relationships. Whether we realize it or not, poor communication in our relationships during times of conflict is a manifestation of a "throw away" orientation to life. Consistent poor communication in times of conflict reflects a lack of commitment to getting the relationship right. Whether we realize it or not, if we are not working at getting a relationship right, we are in the process of "throwing it away."

    Our Proverbs 12 passage from earlier in the week gives us several fitting lines that help us see our need for this kind of commitment: "A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted .... Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing .... Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil; joy fills hearts that are planning peace!" The person who lacks a commitment to getting communication right in times of conflict in their relationships, will very likely be one who is quick-tempered, makes cutting remarks, and plots evil (retaliation). The committed person is one who is planning on peace and seeks to stay calm when insulted and use words that bring healing.

    We have a lot to think about today. Keep in mind that when we are in the book of Proverbs, truth comes to us primarily in the form of principles that need to be applied to our lives. But realize this: the inherent danger of having principles to apply to life, is approaching them in a self-help kind of way and not in a godly way. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understandings. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and 'he will make' your paths straight." Godly ways are “always” the best ways.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Put together a prayer response to God for yourself in regard to godly conflict and remember to incorporate our theme response for the series "Lord, I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments (Psalm 119:7)."

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Human Relationships – Pursue Honest Interactions that Genuinely Build Up - Thursday, October 15th

    Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but jealousy is even more dangerous. An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Proverbs 27:4-6

    In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery. Proverbs 28:23

    Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it. But I pray constantly against the wicked and their deeds. Psalm 141:5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The key word for today is "edification." If we want to do our part in the pursuit of good relationships we will have to learn to genuinely "edify" the people around us. Edification is all about building up and not tearing down. The secret ingredient in being one who edifies is honesty. Our Proverbs 12 passage from earlier in the week speaks to this: "An honest witness tells the truth; a false witness tells lies .... Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed. Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil .... The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth."

    The focus on honesty in our pursuit of being one who edifies other people is not so much on accuracy as it is on appropriateness. Whatever we speak into the lives other people needs to be accurate but not everything that is accurate needs to be spoken. This idea is captured well in the following Proverb.

    A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word! Proverbs 15:23 (NASB)

    Edification includes both correction and affirmation. If the words we speak into another person’s life are all correction or all affirmation, then we don't really have an "honest" relationship. Words that are "apt" and "timely" will sometimes "correct" and sometimes "affirm." This being said, we need to address the more blatant dishonesty of "flattery" that is so prevalent in our day. The verses from Proverbs and the Psalm above speak to this very well.

    Honesty moves us past flattery to genuine "building" up. How easily we become ones who are afraid to say anything to our friends that is not positive and affirming. How readily we surround ourselves with the wrong people. We need to have people in our lives who speak "truth" to us. But again it is truth where "accuracy" is tempered by "appropriateness." How blessed we will be if our relationships with others are characterized by "appropriate" interactions that truly build up with just the right amount of "correction" and "affirmation."

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Put together a prayer response to God for yourself in regard to honest edification and remember to incorporate our theme response for the series "Lord, I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments (Psalm 119:7)."

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Human Relationships – Cultivate Abundant Sensitivity and Empathy - Wednesday, October 14th

    A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning will be taken as a curse! Proverbs 27:14

    Don’t visit your neighbors too often, or you will wear out your welcome. Proverbs 25:17

    The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel. Proverbs 12:10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We saw yesterday that good relationships and friendships need a good foundation and that foundation is loyalty. Loyalty springs from our commitment to consistently extend unconditional love to another person. One's ability to love unconditionally is directly proportional to one's personal experience with God and his unconditional love. The person who is learning to love unconditionally and to be loyal in their relationships with other people will also become someone who cares deeply about and connects solidly with the needs of others.

    Good relationships need all the sensitivity and empathy we can bring to them and the wisdom of Proverbs gives us some great help with this as seen in the verses above.

    The one who doesn't get the above Proverbs 27 verse right either doesn't care or can't accept that their friend is hard wired not to be a morning person. Accepting and caring about the make-up of others is what sensitivity and empathy and are all about.

    A "wearing out your welcome" kind of person as seen in the above Proverbs 25 verse is focused on themselves and what they want from their friend and not on caring about the needs of their friend.

    The above Proverbs 12 verse on godly care of animals is included because of the truth that the kind of nurture and care present in one who treats animals properly is the kind of friend we need to be.

    Caring about and for the needs of others is essential for good relationships. The person who truly cares is a person who is learning the art of sensitivity and empathy. The vital element of all of this is learning to "listen" to others. Our Proverbs 12 passage from earlier in the week speaks to this, "Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others." The more we listen the more we will be in touch with the needs of others. The more we are in touch with the needs of others, the more they will trust us and count on us. And the more others can trust us and count on us, the more we will earn the right to speak wisdom into their lives. Again, our Proverbs 12 passage from earlier in the week speaks to this quite well, "To speak an encouraging word cheers a person up. The godly give good advice to their friends."

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Put together a prayer response to God for yourself in regard to caring fully about the needs others and remember to incorporate our theme response for the series "Lord, I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments (Psalm 119:7)."

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Human Relationships – Build a Foundation of Unconditional Love/Loyalty - Tuesday, October 13th

    A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. Proverbs 17:17

    There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

    This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13

    But Ruth said, “Do not beg me to leave you or turn away from following you. I will go where you go. I will live where you live. Your people will be my people. And your God will be my God. I will die where you die, and there I will be buried. So may the Lord do the same to me, and worse, if anything but death takes me from you.” Ruth 1:16-17 (NLV)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In all that we are, in all that we do, and in all that we proclaim, there is nothing we at Cape Cod Church value more than the "unconditional love" of God. The more we are steeped in the world around us, the more foreign the notion of "unconditional love" is to us. At the same time, however, the extremely "conditional" environment of the world makes the truth of God's "unconditional love" tremendously appealing.

    "Unconditional love" is the backbone of relationships. In contrast we live in a "throw away" world and the impact of this is devastating to relationships. People constantly move from one thing to the next, from one situation to the next, from one relationship to the next. The pattern is: get it, use it, dispose of it, move on; get it, use it, dispose of it, move on; get it, use it, dispose of it, move on; etc. Are you not overjoyed and overwhelmed with the fact that God does not do this with us. "Unconditional love" is the backbone of God's relationship with us and it must be the backbone of our relationships with others."

    We have a term that characterizes those who make "unconditional love" the backbone of their relationships with others. It is "loyalty. "Loyalty" in relationships is a rare thing in our "throw away" world today, but it is the paramount need of the times in which we live. Here is a line from our Proverbs 12 passage from yesterday, "The words of the wicked are like a murderous ambush, but the words of the godly save lives." Notice the phrase, "the godly save lives." Let's be quite literal here, the godly save lives and don't throw them away. In other words, the godly are loyal.

    Read through the Scriptures above again and note all that is said about unconditional and loyal love.

    Think about your own relationships with people and determine to check them out carefully for what you actually bring to those relationships in regard to loyalty. Let God help you replace "throw away" thinking and behavior for "loyal" (unconditional love) thinking and behavior.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Put together a prayer response to God for yourself and incorporate into your response our theme response for the series "Lord, I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments (Psalm 119:7)."

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Human Relationships – Become a “Get It” Person First - Monday, October 12th

    To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. The Lord approves of those who are good, but he condemns those who plan wickedness. Wickedness never brings stability, but the godly have deep roots .... The words of the wicked are like a murderous ambush, but the words of the godly save lives .... the godly are well rooted and bear their own fruit. The wicked are trapped by their own words, but the godly escape such trouble. Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards. Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted. An honest witness tells the truth; a false witness tells lies. Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing. Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed. Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil; joy fills hearts that are planning peace! No harm comes to the godly, but the wicked have their fill of trouble. The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth. The wise don’t make a show of their knowledge, but fools broadcast their foolishness .... Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray .... The way of the godly leads to life; that path does not lead to death. Proverbs 12:1-3, 6, 12B-23, 25-26, 28 (NLT)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Last week was all about what we might call "start-up wisdom." In other words wisdom about how to go about getting wisdom. Our prayer responses from last week (which follow) seem to capture this for us and help to prepare us as we began this week:

    Lord, as we explore the book of Proverbs in the weeks ahead, it is my prayer that I will be able to give you the center place in my life more than ever before. I pray that through the book of Proverbs all the many facets of my life will be touched by practical wisdom and become beautifully aligned with you and your desires for my life. Amen! 

    Lord, with as much of my heart, soul, and mind as I know how, I express these words to you now, "I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments." I look forward to saying them to you over and over again in the coming weeks in response to all that you bring to me of yourself and your intentions for my life. Amen!

    Lord, help me to hunger for you and the wisdom you have to offer. Teach me what it means to put you at the center of everything. Please continue your work of grace in my life that infuses me with a genuine humility of mind, heart, and spirit. I love you, I worship you, and I depend on you, Lord. Amen!

    Lord, I do pray that I will be more willing than ever to be instructed, to admit where I am wrong, and to accept where I need to change. Truly prepare my heart for the work you want to do in my heart and life through the book of Proverbs over the next several weeks. Amen! 

    Lord, forgive me for all the times I wouldn't come and didn't pay attention. Continue your work of transforming my heart, soul, and mind, so that, more and more, you have the center place. Help me to see you in the midst of everything. Speak your wisdom into every aspect of my life and grant that I become more and more aligned with the practical and spiritual intentions you have for my life. Amen!

    Lord, thank you for the "start-up wisdom." Please continue to put all these things in place in my life and prepare me in every way for all that you want to accomplish in my life through the book of Proverbs as it speaks to key areas of my life. In the words of the Psalmist from earlier in the week, I say to you, Lord, "I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments." Amen!

    So, here we are ready and prepared to let God use the book of Proverbs in our lives. The area of life to be addressed by the book of Proverbs this week is our relationships with others. There are four aspects of relationships that we will consider on each of the next four days, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then wrap everything up on Saturday.

    We are going to let Proverbs 12 help us begin to consider the practical wisdom God has for us in our relationships with other people. A good portion of Proverbs 12 is found above. Please read it through and then read it through again. But the second time, in all the places it uses the words wicked and good/godly or foolish and wise, substitute this instead: "those who get it" and "those who don't get it." Throughout the week we will use portions of this passage along with other verses from the book of Proverbs and Scriptures from elsewhere in the Bible as well.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    This is enough for one day. Please identify a few things that can form the basis of a prayer response that you put together for yourself. God Bless you today and as you go forward in our adventure with the book of Proverbs.

  • "SHMILY - Love for Life" - An Inspirational Story for Sunday, October 11th

    SHMILY. Love for Life

    What did it mean? SHMILY? I would find it, stumble on it really, in strange places. It was some kind of game for my grandparents, and I didn't understand it. What exactly was a SHMILY? And why was it sometimes in capital letters, sometimes handwritten in beautiful script, and sometimes the "shmily" was hidden away.

    My grandparents were married for over half a century and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word “shmily” in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving “shmily” around the house and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more.

    They dragged “shmily” with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers, to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio (where my grandma always fed us warm, homemade pudding with blue food coloring).

    “SHMILY” was written in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath. At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper, to leave “shmily” on the very last sheet. There was no end to the places “shmily” would pop up. Little notes with “shmily” scribbled hurriedly were found on dashboards and car seats, or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows. “SHMILY” was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents’ house as the furniture.

    It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparents’ game. Skepticism has kept me from believing in true love - one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents’ relationship. They had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatious little games; it was a way of life Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affection, which not everyone is lucky to experience.

    Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses, as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each others sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble. My grandma whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was, how handsome and old he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew “how to pick ‘em.” Before every meal they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune and each other.

    But, there was a dark cloud in my grandparents’ lives: my grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier. As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so that she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside. Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane and my grandfather’s steady hand, they went to church every morning.

    But, my grandmother grew steadily weaker (until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore.) For a while, Grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone. “Shmily.” It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my grandmother’s funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time.

    Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother’s casket and (taking a shaky breath) he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came (a deep and throaty lullaby). Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For I knew that (although I couldn’t begin to fathom the depth of their love) I had been privileged to witness its’ unmatched beauty.

    S-H-M-I-L-Y: See How Much I Love You.

    Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for letting me see.

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Start Up Wisdom – Christ Alone Provides Truth, Changes Hearts, and Produces Holy Living - Saturday, October 10th

    God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (NLT)

    Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment. Proverbs 4:7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    At the start of the week we saw that the book of Proverbs declares that the "fear of the Lord" is the foundation of true knowledge. The "Fear of the Lord" involves a reverence for God where we truly embrace the fact that "God is God and we are not." A "Fear of the Lord" kind of person is someone who embraces life in terms of God being at the center of everything.

    A little later in the week we talked about the necessity for humility and teachability being in place in our lives if we expect to benefit from the wisdom found in the book of Proverbs. It is from a place of humility that we are able to see our need for wisdom from God for living life properly. It is with a spirit of teachability that we become open to being instructed and then are able to admit when we are wrong and accept the need for change. None of this will come about apart from a work of grace by God in our lives.

    Yesterday we talked about "wisdom speaking" to us. First, it was in the general sense of an appeal to pay attention to all the facets of life and apply true wisdom to each and every one of them. Then, we talked about "wisdom speaking" to us in a more actual or direct sense. When we give God the center place of our heart, soul, and mind, we begin to "see" him in the center of everything. Wherever we are, whatever we are engaged in, whoever we are with, we will see God in the midst and he will speak his wisdom to us. He will guide us and bless us with a wisdom that is both practical and spiritual.

    This week has really dealt with what we might call "start-up wisdom." In other words wisdom about how to go about getting wisdom. What a special thought from our 1 Corinthian passage: "God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself." It is our union with Christ that makes it possible for us to be ones who allow God to be at the center of everything. It is because Christ is in our lives that God's intentions can be brought about in our lives. As we look to the book of Proverbs over the next several weeks we will gain practical wisdom for some of the key areas of life. As we do so we will become aligned with that wisdom not because somehow we are able to put it in place, but rather because we will know what we need to let Christ bring about in our lives. This is the true meaning of the words: "For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself."

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for the "start-up wisdom." Please continue to put all these things in place in my life and prepare me in every way for all that you want to accomplish in my life through the book of Proverbs as it speaks to key areas of my life. In the words of the Psalmist from earlier in the week, I say to you, Lord, "I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments." Amen!

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Start Up Wisdom – Always Come and Listen to God’s Counsel - Friday, October 9th

    Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square. She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in from of the city gate .... Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise. I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention .... But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm. Proverbs 1:20-21, 23-24, 33

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Have you ever heard wisdom shouting in the streets? Have you ever heard wisdom crying out in the public square? Have you ever heard wisdom calling to the crowds along the main street? It was said earlier in the week that Proverbs takes the multi-faceted thing we call life and zeros in on many of its facets. Today's Proverbs passage could easily have said that wisdom shouts, cries, and calls in the living room, the kitchen, and the bedroom.

    In one sense today's Proverb passage is saying that we need to pay attention to all the facets of life and apply true wisdom to each and every one of them. However, in another sense, our passage is more than just an appeal for true wisdom to be applied to each facet of life. There really is a sense that wisdom speaks to us in the midst of the nitty-gritty details of life. Yes, the book of Proverbs zeros in on the many facets of life and gives us the wisdom we need, but, as we also said earlier, it does so in terms that put God right in the center of things.

    Something beautiful happens when we give God the center place of our heart, soul, and mind. We begin to "see" him in the center of everything. Wherever we are, whatever we are engaged in, whoever we are with, we will see God in the midst and he will speak his wisdom to us. He will guide us and bless us with a wisdom that is both practical and spiritual. We will see that the dichotomy of secular and sacred is a myth. We will no longer be counted among those who "wouldn’t come" and "paid no attention." We will be counted among those who "come and listen to my counsel" and with whom "I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise." There is an urgent need for us to "listen to wisdom." If we do so fully and completely, we "will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm."

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, forgive me for all the times I wouldn't come and didn't pay attention. Continue your work of transforming my heart, soul, and mind, so that, more and more, you have the center place. Help me to see you in the midst of everything. Speak your wisdom into every aspect of my life and grant that I become more and more aligned with the practical and spiritual intentions you have for my life. Amen!

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Start Up Wisdom – A Teachable Spirit Needed - Thursday, October 8th

    Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more. Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. Proverbs 9:9-10 (NLT)

    Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to dishonest gain. Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways. Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You. Psalm 119:33-38 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Yesterday we talked about the necessity for humility to be in place in our lives if we expect to benefit from the wisdom found in the book of Proverbs. A close companion of humility is teachability. Teachability needs to be in place in our lives as well if we are going to benefit from the bestowal of wisdom through the book of Proverbs that God wants to bring about in our lives over the next few weeks. While teachability begins with an openness to being instructed, it also includes being able to admit when we are wrong and to accept the need for change.

    This brings us back to what we said about grace yesterday. As with humility, teachability is all about putting ourselves under God's authority and care. Without a teachable spirit it is highly unlikely that we will be recipients of wisdom. To become a person with a teachable spirit, we need a special touch of grace from God. Teachability does not usually come naturally to us and the conditioning influence of society militates against it. Without a work of grace by God in our lives, we would remain unteachable.

    As our verses from Proverbs for today point out, the wise person (teachable) when instructed will become even wiser and they will learn even more. The teachable person is not the center of his own existence. This center place is reserved for God alone (fear of the Lord) and the teachable person has given God this place. Let's join the Psalmist in his prayer regarding teachability. Notice all the things he asks God to do in regard to being taught, "Teach me," "Give me understanding," "Make me walk," "Incline my heart," "Turn away my eyes," "Revive me," and finally, "Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You."

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I do pray that I will be more willing than ever to be instructed, to admit where I am wrong, and to accept where I need to change. Truly prepare may heart for the work you want to do in my heart and life through the book of Proverbs over the next several weeks. Amen!

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Start Up Wisdom – Humility of Heart Required - Wednesday, October 7th

    Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

    And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God .... Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. James 4:6-7A, 10 (NLT)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We have said that Proverbs is a book about wisdom for life, a wisdom that begins with the fear of Lord. We noted that the "Fear of the Lord" involves a reverence for God where we truly embrace the fact that "God is God and we are not." So, Proverbs takes the multi-faceted thing we call life and zeros in on many of its facets in terms that put God right in the center of things. In order to gain that which the book of Proverbs has to offer, we need to be ones who are willing to put our primary focus on God and that which he communicates to us about his intentions for our lives. The willingness to have this kind of focus comes from a genuine humility of mind, heart, and spirit. So, the words from today's verse from Proverbs makes absolute sense, "with humility comes wisdom."

    Humility is all about putting ourselves under God's authority and care. This is a wise thing to do and it allows us to become ongoing recipients of wisdom. But for this to come about we need a special touch of grace from God. It is not in our nature to be humble. Society conditions us to be anything but humble. This is why James prefaces what he says about humility with a reminder that God gives grace generously. Without a work of grace by God in our lives, we would not be able to humble ourselves before him. It is in this place of humility that we see our need for wisdom from God for living life properly. And of course Proverbs is all about wisdom from God for living life properly.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to hunger for you and the wisdom you have to offer. Teach me what it means to put you at the center of everything. Please continue your work of grace in my life that infuses me with a genuine humility of mind, heart, and spirit. I love you, I worship you, and I depend on you, Lord. Amen!

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Start Up Wisdom – Established in God’s Ways - Tuesday, October 6th

    How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart. They also do no unrighteousness; they walk in His ways. You have ordained Your precepts, that we should keep them diligently. Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statutes! Then I shall not be ashamed when I look upon all Your commandments. I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments. Psalm 119:1-7 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We continue today with an introductory emphasis to our new series on "Wisdom" from the book of Proverbs. The Psalmist's words capture well the "right overall approach" we need for gaining the most from our "Wisdom" series as we let God speak to us from the Book Proverbs. The Psalm speaks of the law of the Lord, his testimonies, his ways, his precepts, his statutes, his commandments, and his righteous judgments. Proverbs is a collection of all of these kinds of things. Truly Proverbs is a book of wisdom. The Psalmist says the person who observes what God has communicated is blessed. However, this blessing also requires that they "seek Him with all their heart." Having the "right overall approach" always keeps the focus on God and that which he communicates to us about his intentions for our lives.

    Let's join the Psalmist and embrace the expectations he had for the future. The Psalmist said of the future, "I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments." In anticipation of all that God will bring to us of himself and his intentions for us through the book of Proverbs, may we, too, say of the future, "I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments."

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, with as much of my heart, soul, and mind as I know how, I express these words to you now, "I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments." I look forward to saying these words to you over and over again in the coming weeks in response to all that you bring to me of yourself and your intentions for my life. I really do want to become established in your ways. Amen!

  • Wisdom from Proverbs – Start Up Wisdom - God at the Center - Monday, October 5th

    These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser .... The fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:5, 7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today we begin a series from the book of Proverbs, on "Wisdom." The book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings that express timeless truth and are brief and to the point. Wisdom is the key word of the book and basically means “skill in living." Proverbs contains a gold mine of biblical theology. In Proverbs the themes of Scripture are expressed as practical righteousness. The book of Proverbs addresses our ethical choices and calls into question how we think about life. They help us examine how we live and manage daily life in the light of divine truth. More specifically, Proverbs calls us to live as the Creator intended mankind to live when he first created human beings. The recurring promise of Proverbs is that generally the wise (the righteousness who obey God) live longer, prosper, and experience joy and the goodness of God temporally, while fools suffer shame and death (Condensed from Discover Books of the Bible by Ken Cayce).

    The fear of the Lord is mentioned 14 times in the book of Proverbs and is said to be the foundation of true knowledge. As Tom Main once said in a message, the "Fear of the Lord" involves a reverence for God where we truly embrace the fact that "God is God and we are not." A "Fear of the Lord" kind of person is someone who embraces a view of reality, an approach to living life, and the actual living of life, in terms of God being at the center of everything. Proverbs takes the multi-faceted thing we call life and zeros in on many of its facets in terms that put God right in the center of things.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, as we explore the book of Proverbs in the weeks ahead, it is my prayer that I will be able to give you the center place in my life more than ever before. I pray that through the book of Proverbs all the many facets of my life will be touched by practical wisdom and become beautifully aligned with you and your desires for my life. Amen!

  • "The Rosebud" - An Inspirational Story/Poem for Sunday, October 4th

    The Rosebud

     A young, new preacher was walking with an older, more seasoned preacher in the garden one day and feeling a bit insecure about what God had for him to do, he was inquiring of the older preacher.

    The older preacher walked up to a rosebush and handed the young preacher a rosebud and told him to open it without tearing off any petals.

    The young preacher looked in disbelief at the older preacher and was trying to figure out what a rosebud could possibly have to do with his wanting to know the WILL OF GOD for his life and for his ministry.

    Because of his high respect for the older preacher, he proceeded to TRY to unfold the rose, while keeping every petal in tact...It wasn't long before he realized how it was impossible to do so.

    Noticing the younger preacher's inability to unfold the rosebud while keeping it in tact, the older preacher began to tell the following poem...

    "Unfolding the Rosebud"

    It is only a tiny rosebud,

    A flower of GOD's design;

    But I cannot unfold the petals

    With these clumsy hands of mine.


    The secret of unfolding flowers

     

    Is not known to such as I.

     

    GOD opens this flower so sweetly,

     

    When in my hands they fade and die.

     

    If I cannot unfold a rosebud,

     

    This flower of GOD's design,

     

    Then how can I think I have wisdom

     

    To unfold this life of mine?

     

    So I'll trust in Him for His leading

     

    Each moment of every day.

     

    I will look to Him for His guidance

     

    Each step of the pilgrim way.

     

    The pathway that lies before me,

     

    Only my heavenly Father knows.

     

    I'll trust Him to unfold the moments,

     

    Just as He unfolds the rose.

     

  • The Tongue - The Transforming Power of “Delightful” Words – God’s Sweet Truth – Tasty, Transforming, and Transmitted - Saturday, October 3rd

    My child, eat honey; it is good. And just as honey from the comb is sweet on your tongue, you may be sure that wisdom is good for the soul. Get wisdom and you have a bright future. Proverbs 24:13-14 (GNT)

    I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:102-103 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    God's Word is truly amazing. It is the wisdom from above given to us for the health and welfare of body, mind, and soul. Truly God's Word is the means to a bright future on so many levels. God's Word is absolutely "delightful." "How sweet are Your words .... sweeter than honey to my mouth." Today we are going to look at three wonderful themes from Scripture that God speaks into our lives that are truly "sweet as honey" and "delightful." We are going borrow some "sweet and delightful" words from the game of Monopoly to help us with this.

    Can you remember being sent to jail and having in your possession the "Get out of jail free" card? How "sweet and delightful" were those words at that moment. They remind us of these words from Colossians 1:13-14: "For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins." Being set free for free is a beautiful thing and words like these from Scripture are "sweet and delightful" words to our ears.

    How about the card that said, "Advance to Go?" These were "sweet and delightful" words to hear, particularly when things were not going so well and it would be difficult to advance on the board without landing on someone else's property that could wipe you out. It was kind of like a fresh start. The rules we played by when we landed on “Go” allowed for collecting $400 dollars and not just the usual $200 for passing go. These two things, getting past the threats you were in the middle of and getting some cash in hand, often made all the difference. All this reminds us of words like these from Philippians 3:13B-14 : Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (NASB)." Being able to start fresh is a beautiful thing and words like these from Scripture are "sweet and delightful" words to our ears.

    Finally, there is "Free Parking" space. This space was often a game changer for us because of the rules we played by. We put a $500 bill in the middle of the board and added all the money that cards instructed people to pay to the bank during the game. While there was not a card instructing a player to advance to the "Free Parking" space, they were truly "sweet and delightful" words if you landed on that space because it meant you collected whatever cash had accumulated in the middle of the board. This treasury of riches made all the difference to a player with a great need for resources in order to keep playing the game. Here we are reminded of words of like these from 2 Peter 1:3 ".... His divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence (NET)." The reminder of words like these from Scripture, that God grants to us all the resources we need for life and godliness, is a great encouragement for staying in the game and going forward in confidence and strength. Yes, these are "sweet and delightful" words to our ears as well.

    The wisdom God's Word brings to us really does ensure our overall health and welfare. God's Word really is the means to a bright future on so many levels. As we are impacted and blessed by the "sweet and delightful" words God speaks to us through Scripture, we becomes ones who can impact and bless others with "sweet and delightful" words that contribute to the health and welfare of their souls. God has given us a high calling and bright prospects of a great future.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    You are encouraged to put together you own prayer response to God today. Today is not only the end of the week, but also the end of the four week series on "The Tongue." You have a lot to draw from. God Bless, Ken Hart.

  • The Tongue - The Transforming Power of “Delightful” Words – The Blessing of Christ, the Living Word - Friday, October 2nd

    And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth …. For of his fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. John 1:14, 16

    Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. Colossians 1:15-20

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The words of our Colossians passage are "Delightful" words to us as they describe how "Christ is everything." As you read again each description of Christ in the following list, let these "Delightful" words fully penetrate your mind and heart:

    Christ is the visible image of the invisible God

    He .... is supreme over all creation

    Everything was created through him and for him

    He holds all creation together

    Christ is also the head of the church

    He is first in everything

    Through him God reconciled everything to himself

    He (God) made peace with everything .... by means of Christ’s blood on the cross

    How delightfully reassuring is the reality that "Christ is everything." He is the Living Word who provides for all needs and ultimately solves all issues for all mankind and all creation. How blessed we are as we rest in the amazing provision of his unlimited grace, eternal redemption, and unconditional love.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I give to you my worship and praise. You alone are worthy to receive glory and honor. I bow before you in surrender and devotion. Christ Jesus, you are everything! Thank you for all that you are to me forever. Amen!

  • The Tongue - The Transforming Power of “Delightful” Words – God’s Loving Presence and Voice - Thursday, October 1st

    May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:19-20

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We are talking about "Delightful" words that contribute to our health and welfare as believers in Jesus Christ. Today we explore some of the most "Delightful" words of all. Think about all the times the message of Scripture has spoken to your spiritual ears and you have heard the "Delightful" words, "God Loves You!" Has it not been a glorious thing for you to enter into the reality that "God loves you?" As wonderful as it is, perhaps it's possible to go further than just being told, "God loves you." In Jeremiah 31:3, God says to us, "I have loved you with an everlasting love." In essence, this Scripture tells us that God has directly spoken the "Delightful" words, "I love you." Wow!

    Picture a young man and a young woman named Mark and Mary. They are falling head over heals for each other and love is truly blossoming. When the message of Scripture speaks to your spiritual ears and you hear the "Delightful" words, "God Loves You," it is like a good friend of Mark saying to Mary, "Mark loves you." Mary is thrilled to hear these delightful words from Mark's friend. When you read the words above from Jeremiah, that in essence tell you God has spoken the "Delightful" words, "I love you," it is like Mark expressing his love to Mary in a letter. Mary is even more thrilled to hear these delightful words in writing from Mark.

    But perhaps it's possible to go even further. Picture Mark and Mary in a setting of intimate dining. They are alone at a candlelit table for two with beautiful music playing in the background. They look into each other's eyes and they experience the love they have for each other. Then in the midst of an actual experience of love, Mark says directly to Mary those truly "Delightful" words, "I love you" and Mary does the same.

    Our Ephesians passage speaks about actually experiencing the love of Christ. It is in communion with him that you experience his love more fully and completely than at any other time. In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him, and he with Me." Jesus is not talking about him coming into your life (salvation) but about letting him come into your awareness within the inner sanctuary of your heart. It is Christ and you experiencing each other in the intimacy of prayerful communion (dining) with each other. It is in such intimate moments with Christ that he pours out his love for you to experience fully within the inner sanctuary of your heart. What an amazing way for Christ to say to you, "I love you!" And if you are quite still before him in the intimate moment of experiencing the depths of his love, you make even hear his "still small voice" whisper in your ear, "I love you."

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know you are able to accomplish infinitely more than I otherwise might have thought to ask or think. I am more than thinking about your love now and I am truly asking you to help me experience you and your love. Here I am, Lord. In the intimacy of prayerful communion with you, I surrender to your wonderful presence and love and say to you, "I love you."

  • The Tongue - The Transforming Power of “Delightful” Words – Dealing with Our True Condition and Behavior - Wednesday, September 30th

    People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble. Proverbs 28:13-14

    Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone—my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared. Psalm 32:5 (MSG)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Our series is about the "Tongue" and this week we are looking at the roll of "Delightful" words (Mellifluous/honey words) in our lives. Yesterday, we focused on the idea that "Delightful" words are not just those which validate and support good (safe) behavior (Yes) but include those that challenge and confront bad (harmful) behavior (No). Perhaps a good way to describe today's focus is this: being open and honest about anything "bad" in our lives that doesn't fit in with the "good" that God desires for us and then speaking the corresponding "Delightful" words, "I'm sorry, forgive me" (to God, to others, or to both).

    These "Delightful" words come from us and while they are spoken to God and others, we hear them for ourselves as "Delightful" words that impact us to the core of our being. It begins with looking within and really seeing what's there that needs to be dealt with, getting it out in the open, and then letting God apply his love, grace, and forgiveness to it. But then often it extends to other people who have been recipients of the "bad" we are dealing with. Read again our verses above from Proverbs and Psalms, let them sink in, and become convinced that when you genuinely speak the restorative and healing words, "I'm sorry, forgive me," they are "Delightful" to God, others, and yourself. How freeing it is all the way around (God, others, you) when sin is acknowledged, confessed, and forgiven.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, deliver me from the trap of hiding the "bad" in my life. Help me become absolutely convinced of the necessity of sin in my life being acknowledged, confessed, and forgiven. Lord, I am here before you, seeking to be open and honest with you about anything "bad" in my life that doesn't fit in with the "good" you desire for me. Help me to acknowledge and confess it all to you and to believe you will apply your love, grace, and forgiveness to everything. Lord, "I'm sorry, forgive me." Help me, likewise, to go to anyone in my life that needs to hear these "Delightful" words from me as well. Amen!

  • The Tongue - The Transforming Power of “Delightful” Words – Embracing Needs over Wants - Tuesday, September 29th

    Jeremiah, say to the people, "This is what the Lord says: 'When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back? .... Even the stork that flies across the sky knows the time of her migration, as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane. They all return at the proper time each year. But not my people! They do not know the Lord’s laws.'" Jeremiah 8:4, 7

    My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:11-12

    So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you. Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more. Proverbs 9:8-9

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    A small child suddenly hears the loud, sharp command of his parent from across the room. A small child suddenly feels his arm in the uncomfortable grip of his parent at his side. In both instances the small child has been kept from a harmful action and in both instances it is not a "delightful" experience for the child. Yesterday we said that as relational people who routinely experience the words (and actions) of other people, we long for the delightful and shun the unpleasant. What is not known by the small child but is clear to us is this: the intervention of a loving parent to keep him from harm and the pain and suffering that goes with it, is a "delightful" thing. The small child doesn't know what he doesn't know.

    This is what our Jeremiah passage is dealing with. God's people don't know what they don't know. Even our feathered friends keep in step with the order of things God has for them. God's people need to delight in his ways (laws) and in the help (words and actions) he brings to them directly and through others for staying on track (encouragement) and getting back on track (admonishment) when we get off track. The good words (and actions) of God and others are "delightful" if we have the right perspective. This is the message of our two Proverbs passages.

    Our world today does not know what is good for them. Ignorance in the long run is not bliss. We are pulled by the world toward a twisted view of what is "delightful." The world's view of "delightful" is all about finding pleasure, enjoyment, and delight in anything and everything one can find it in. This is why it is socially unacceptable to say or do anything that interferes with another person's pursuit of personal "delight." Be that as it may, we can "delight" in God's ways and the help he brings to us directly and through others for living right. The more this becomes our approach to life the more God can use us to help others live right through our good words (and actions).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

     Lord, my prayer today is twofold: first, help me hear whatever I need to hear from you and from others that will help my life be more on track and then help me to become one who routinely hears such words as "delightful" words. Second, help me have a nurturing spirit that cares deeply about the welfare of other people so I can do the part you give me in nurturing others toward the good and away from the bad through encouragement and admonishment. Grant that the core desire of my being is wrapped up in you and your ways. May I live for your good pleasure and not my own. Amen!

  • The Tongue – The Transforming Power of “Delightful” Words – Being Honest about what Really Happens - Monday, September 28th

    Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29

    Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and good for your health and welfare. Proverbs 16:24

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    What type of words do you want to hear from other people? Do you want foul and abusive language or do you want fragrant and nurturing language? Do you want bad and hurtful speaking or do you want good and helpful speaking? Do you want negative words that discourage you or do you want positive words that encourage you? Do you want mean words that are like vinegar and are bitter to your soul and detrimental to your health and welfare or do you want kind words that are like honey and sweet to the soul and good for your health and welfare.

    It is safe to say that as relational people who routinely experience the words of other people, we long for the delightful and abhor the unpleasant. Shouldn't we want for others what we want for ourselves? Perhaps we do in theory, but how often in the heat of the moment, our words are far less than delightful. How easily we inflict others with words that are hurtful and painful. Somehow, things get twisted within us so that we think our health and welfare depend on getting out our anger and frustration. Far too often, the worst comes out and we let those we think deserve harsh and detrimental treatment have a good dose of our negative and destructive words.

    We have learned that we cannot control the tongue. We also know that the tongue must be controlled. While we know that God's presence and power in our lives is the key, we struggle to experience the difference God can make as fully and consistently as we need in regard to tongue management. This is our fourth and final week in our series on the Tongue. We will be looking at our own experience with "delightful" words that come from God and others and how our full and consistent experience with them can transform the words we bring to others from ones that undermine their health and welfare to ones that wonderfully contribute to it. 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I ask you for a shift in outlook regarding the possibility of change in the use of my tongue from an outlook of apprehension to and outlook of anticipation. Bring to me afresh the good and kind words you want to bring to me directly and those you want to bring to me from others. So fill my inner being with things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8-9) that more and more, I have helpful and encouraging words to bring to others. Help me throughout this week to experience significant and lasting growth and change. Amen!

  • "One Day I Woke Up" - An Inspirational Story for Sunday, September 27th

    One Day I Woke Up

    One day, I woke early in the morning to watch the sunrise.

    Ah the beauty of God's creation is beyond description.

    As I watched, I praised God for His beautiful work.

    As I sat there, I felt the Lord's presence with me.

    He asked me, "Do you love me?"

    I answered, "Of course, God! You are my Lord and Savior!"

    Then He asked, "If you were physically handicapped, would you still love me?"

    I was perplexed. I looked down upon my arms, legs and the rest of my body and wondered how many things I wouldn't be able to do, the things that I took for granted. And I answered, "It would be tough Lord, but I would still love You."

    Then the Lord said, "If you were blind, would you still love my creation?"

    How could I love something without being able to see it? Then I thought of all the blind people in the world and how many of them still loved God and His creation. So I answered, "Its hard to think of it, but I would still love you."

    The Lord then asked me, "If you were deaf, would you still listen to my word?"

    How could I listen to anything being deaf? Then I understood. Listening to God's Word is not merely using our ears, but our hearts. I answered, "It would be tough, but I would still listen to Your word."

    The Lord then asked, "If you were mute, would you still praise My Name?"

    How could I praise without a voice? Then it occurred to me: God wants us to sing from our very heart and soul. It never matters what we sound like. And praising God is not always with a song, but when we are persecuted, we give God praise with our words of thanks. So I answered, "Though I could not physically sing, I would still praise Your Name.

    And the Lord asked, "Do you really love Me?"

    With courage and a strong conviction, I answered boldly, "Yes Lord! I love You because You are the one and true God!"

    I thought I had answered well, but...

    God asked next, "Then why do you sin?"

    I answered, "Because I am only human. I am not perfect."

    "Then why in times of peace do you stray the furthest from me? Why do you only pray fervently in times of trouble?

    No answers. Only tears.

    The Lord continued: "Why only sing at fellowships and retreats? Why seek Me only in times of worship? Why ask things so selfishly? Why ask things so unfaithfully?"

    The tears continued to roll down my cheeks.

    "Why are you ashamed of Me? Why are you not spreading the good news? Why in times of persecution, you cry to others when I offer My shoulder to cry on? Why make excuses when I give you opportunities to serve in My Name?"

    I tried to answer, but there was no answer to give.

    "You are blessed with life. I made you not to throw this gift away. I have blessed you with talents to serve Me, but you continue to turn away. I have revealed My Word to you, but you do not gain in knowledge. I have spoken to you but your ears were closed. I have shown My blessings to you, but your eyes were turned away. I have sent you servants, but you sat idly by as they were pushed away. I have heard your prayers and I have answered them all."

    "Do you truly love me?"

    I could not answer. How could I? I was embarrassed beyond belief. I had no excuse. What could I say to this? When I my heart had cried out and the tears had flowed, I said, " Please forgive me Lord. I am unworthy to be Your child."

    The Lord answered, "That is My Grace, My child."

    I asked, "Then why do you continue to forgive me? Why do You love me so?"

    The Lord answered, "Because you are My creation. You are my child. I will never abandon you."

    "When you cry, I will have compassion and cry with you.

    When you shout with joy, I will laugh with you.

    When you are down, I will encourage you.

    When you fall, I will raise you up.

    When you are tired, I will carry you.

    I will be with you till the end of days, and I will love you forever."

    Never had I cried so hard before. How could I have been so cold? How could I have hurt God as I had done? I asked God, "How much do You love me?"

    The Lord stretched out His arms, and I saw His nail-pierced hands. I bowed down at the feet of Christ, my Savior. And for the first time, I truly prayed.

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