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Posts Tagged ‘God’

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Blessed are the pure in heart
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for they will see God.
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Matthew 5:8
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Being “pure in heart” seems to be an impossible goal, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). A part of being pure boils down to the choices we make each day. This past Sunday, I had the privilege of listening to a presentation by Eric Tooley, president and founder of Noble Choices. Eric shared his story of his struggle with pornography. His nonprofit organization is speaking boldly about sexual topics. I would like to pass on his challenge to you: make noble choices in all areas of your life.
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Below is an excerpt from the Noble Choices web site. I encourage you to invite Eric to speak at the your schools and churches. 
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Noble Choices is a nonprofit organization that helps people see all of their choices and empowers them to choose the highest quality of life.

Noble Choices believes that people make good choices when they have good information.

  • We help people see all of their choices.
  • We help people evaluate the outcome of each choice on their own goals and dreams.
  • We help people minimize or eliminate bad consequences.

Noble Choices’ Truth About Sex programs for schools and churches specializes in programs on sexual abstinence, pornographysocial media, and cultural discernment.

 

Jesus looked at them intently and said,
“Humanly speaking, it is impossible.
But with God everything is possible.” 
 Matthew 19:26
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Remember to reach out to those who are 
lonely and hurting on Valentine’s Day!

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“You do not realize now what I am doing,
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but later you will understand.”
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~ Jesus
 
John 13:7
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As Jesus’ disciples did not understand what Jesus was doing, we also often do not understand what God is doing in our lives.  The following devotional thought, from Streams in the Desert, encourages me as I think about John 13:7. 
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In this life, we have an incomplete view of God’s dealings, seeing His plan only half finished and underdeveloped.  Yet once we stand in the magnificent temple of eternity, we will have the proper perspective and will see everything fitting gracefully together!    
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Imagine going to the mountains of Lebanon during the reign of Israel’s great king Solomon.  Can you see the majestic cedar?  It is the pride of all the other trees and has wrestled many years with the cold north winds!  The summer sun has loved to smile upon it, while the night has caused its soft leaves to glisten with drops of dew.  Birds have built their nests in its branches, and weary travelers and wandering shepherds have rested in its shade from the midday heat or taken shelter from the raging storms.  And suddenly we realize that this old inhabitant of the forest has been doomed to fall victim to the woodsman’s ax!  
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We watch as the ax makes its first gash on the cedar’s gnarled trunk.  Then we see its noble limbs stripped of their branches as the tree comes crashing to the ground.  We cry out against the wanton destruction of this “Tree of God,” as it is distinctively known, and express our anger over the demolition of this proud pillar in the forest temple of nature.  We are tempted to exclaim with the prophet Zechariah, “Wail, O pine tree, for the cedar has fallen …!” (Zech. 11:2), as if inviting the sympathy of every less-majestic plant and invoking inanimate things to also resent the offense.       
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We should not be so quick to complain but should follow the gigantic tree as the workmen of “Hiram king of Tyre” (2 Chron. 2:3) take it down the mountainside.  From there we should watch it being sailed on rafts along the blue water of the Mediterranean.  And finally, we should behold it being placed as a glorious and polished beam in the temple of God.  As you contemplate its final destination, seeing it in the Holy of Holies as a jewel in the diadem of the almighty King, can you honestly complain that this “crown jewel of Lebanon” was cut down, removed from the forest, and placed in such a noble setting?  The cedar had once stood majestically in nature’s sanctuary, but the “glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house” (Haggai 2:9).
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So many people are like these cedars of old!  God’s axes of trials have stripped them bare and yet we can see no reason for such harsh and difficult circumstances.  But God has a noble goal and purpose in mind: to place them as everlasting pillars in His heavenly Zion.  And he says to them, “You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God” (Isaiah 62:3).  J.R. Macduff
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Pastor Saeed has been moved from a prison cell to a hospital room.
Please continue to pray that he will be released,
and free to return home to his family.
 

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Darkness to Light

Even in darkness light dawns
for the upright,
for those who are gracious
and compassionate.
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Psalm 112:4
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The words gracious and compassionate are perfect words to describe my Dad, Terry, S. Smith.  He also constantly radiates joy.  He has recently written a book about his life story, Delta Blues: From Darkness to Light.  For Valentine’s Day, it is offered free on Kindle through February 16th, 2014.  The following is a book review written by Meghan over at goodreads.com
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One of the most inspiring stories of personal redemption, Terry Smith’s ‘Delta Blues Darkness to Light’ is one of those literary rarities that we see only every once in a while. And even now I’m getting goosebumps—the most positive kind—from the story..Make no mistake about it, this book is not a straight-out “preachy” self-help book. In fact, it has a strong literary quality about it—as if you’re reading a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography-slash-novel. There is something about Terry’s writing that pulls you in and hooks you—the clever cadence, the verisimilitude, the emotional gravitas that subtly courses just underneath the surface of the entire narrative. Let me suffice it to say that apart from the story itself—apart from Terry’s personal sharing of his journey “from darkness to light”—is the exceptional language.The book demonstrates that author Terry, as a life coach, actually knows what he talks about—he has been there, done that, endured much, which makes him a much more effective life coach than all the rest. In fact, I wish somebody from Hollywood turns this book into a movie so that it can find a wider audience and inspire countless others. But as it is, this book is a keeper—read the introduction or the first few chapters and you’ll see. If Terry’s story doesn’t immediately grip you, then perhaps nothing will.‘Delta Blues: Darkness to Light’ is a definite must-read. If you’re feeling down in the dumps or you know of anyone who can benefit from a power upliftment, get a copy of this book or send this as a gift. You will not be disappointed. A sold five-star rating for this one.
I will turn darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. ~ God  Isaiah 42:16
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 I pray you may have power to grasp how
wide and long and high and deep
is the love of Christ, and to know this love.
Ephesians 3:18-19
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People often feel blessed when their lives are going well and angry with God when their lives are painful.  Our challenge is to know we are loved, even when our life circumstances are distressing.  It is important that this knowledge is not based on feelings.  The apostle Paul was greatly loved and the Lord said of him, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”  Many different times, Paul boasted about his suffering.  His suffering did not make him think God loved him less.
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Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move.  I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food;  I have been cold and naked” (2 Corinthians 11:25-28).
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If I were going through what Paul went through, I would be thinking, “God has abandoned me,” but Paul confidently assures us, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).  I believe that Paul knew Jesus so well and knew that he was loved so well that whatever his circumstances were, he had peace.   
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From Jesus
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“I thirst for you. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe my love you: I thirst for you. I thirst to love and be loved by you — that is how precious you are to me.  I thirst for you.  Come to me, and fill your heart and heal your wounds.” Mother Teresa 
(see complete essay below)
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“I know you through and through – I know everything about you.  The very hairs of your head I have numbered.  Nothing in your life is unimportant to me, I have followed you through the years, and I have always loved you – even in your wanderings.
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I know every one of your problems.  I know your needs and your worries.  And yes, I know all your sins. But I tell you again that I love you – not for what you have or haven’t done – I love you for you, for the beauty and dignity my Father gave you by creating you in his own image. 
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It is a dignity you have forgotten, a beauty you have tarnished by sin.  But I love you as you are, and I have shed my blood to win you back.  If you only ask me with faith, my grace will touch all that needs changing in your life; and I will give you the strength to free yourself from sin and all its destructive power.
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I know what is in your heart – I know your loneliness and all your hurts – the rejections, the judgments, the humiliations.  I carried it all before you. And I carried it all for you, so you might share my strength and victory.  I know especially your need for love – how you are thirsting to be loved and cherished.  But often have thirsted in vain, by seeking that love selfishly, striving to fill the emptiness inside you with passing pleasures – with even greater emptiness of sin.  Do you thirst for love?  “Come to me all you who thirst” (John 7:37).  I will satisfy you and fill you.  Do you thirst to be cherished?  I cherish you more than you can imagine to the point of dying on a cross for you. 
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I thirst for you.  Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe my love for you:  I thirst for you.  I thirst to love and to be loved by you – that is how precious you are to me.  I thirst for you.  Come to me, and fill your heart and heal your wounds. 
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If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all.  For me, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you.  I thirst for you.  Open to me, come to me, thirst for me, give me your life – and I will prove to you how important you are to my heart.
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No matter how far you may wander, no matter how often you forget me, no matter how many crosses you may bear in this life, there is one thing I want you to remember always, one thing that will never change: I thirst for you – just as you are.  You don’t need to change to believe in my love, for it will be your belief in my love that will change you.  You forget me, and yet I am seeking you every moment of the day – standing at the door of your heart, and knocking.
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Do you find this hard to believe?  Then look at the cross, look at my heart that was pierced for you.  Have you not understood my cross?  Then listen again to the words I spoke there – for they tell you clearly why I endured all this for you: I thirst (John 19:28).  Yes, I thirst for you – as the rest of the Psalm verse which I was praying says of me: “I looked for love, and I found none” (Psalm 69:20).
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All your life I have been looking for your love – I have never stopped seeking to love and be loved by you.  You have tried many other things in your search for happiness;  why not try opening your heart to me, right now, more than you ever have before.
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Whenever you do open the door of your heart, whenever you come close enough, you will hear me say to you again and again, not in mere human words but in spirit: “No matter what you have done, I love you for your own sake.”
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Come to me with your misery and your sins, with your trouble and needs, and with all your longing to be loved.  I stand at the door of your heart and knock.  Open to me, for I thirst for you.”
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Essay by Mother Teresa, From Bread and Wine ~ Readings for Lent and Easter, The Plough Publishing House 2003
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Grace and peace to you from God 
our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
1 Corinthians 1:3
 
 
“I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus.  For in Him you have been enriched in every wayin all your speaking and in all your knowledge–because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you.  Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.  He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
 
– You have been enriched in every way.
– You do not lack any spiritual gift.
– Jesus will keep you strong until the end.
– God is faithful.
 

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Love the Lord your God
 with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind
and find out what pleases the Lord.
 
Matthew 22:37 & Ephesians 5:10
 
 
 
Loving somebody and wanting to please them go hand in hand.  This is a natural connection — a relationship connection that the Lord wants to have with us.  Recently, I have been noticing many verses that mention some form of the word “please,”and I would like to share some of them with you:
 
We have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.  And this is his command: to believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. (1 John 3:21-23)
 
Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (Romans 8:8)
 
Jesus said, “The one who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.”  (John 8:29)
 
I urge you in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)
 
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. (Romans 14:17-18)
 
My righteous one will live by faith.  I will not be pleased with the one who shrinks back. (Hebrews 10:39)
 
We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:1)
 
Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all
spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10)
 
And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” (Exodus  33:17)
 
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
 
“Is this pleasing in your sight Lord?” is a question that should filter our thoughts and actions.  A great love for the Lord is the motivation for wanting every aspect of our lives to be pleasing to Him.
 

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God’s Words

“… my words remain in you …”
 
~Jesus
 
 
During this first month of 2013, I have been talking to my children about ways that we can keep more of God’s words in our hearts and minds.  We have also been talking about why it is important to do so.  My goal for my family is this: each day we will hear or read one or more verses from the Bible.  The phrase from John 15:7, “my words remain in you,” has shaped this goal.  To reach our goal, we have to make deliberate behavioral choices.  Ideally, I would like to read my children a Bible story each day, but often (for various reasons) it doesn’t happen.  However, I try to create a climate where hearing God’s word is natural part of our day.  We talk about different verses throughout the day, and when we are in the car, we sometimes listen to a recording of the book of Psalms.  After dinner, sometimes we read from one of the gospels or from the book of Proverbs.  I try to provide a variety of ways for my kids to interact with scripture so they won’t feel like it is a burden or boring.  If we have had an extremely busy day and they haven’t heard any of God’s words during the day, I like to add a scripture to our traditional bedtime song and prayer.  Having this goal of hearing and reading God’s word each day helps me keep my children, and as well as myself, receiving daily spiritual nourishment.
 
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourself to be my disciples. John 15:7
 
 
Dedicated to my mom, Charlotte on her 70th birthday.  I have wonderful memories of my mom reading me Bible stories, reading me Little Visits with God at breakfast, and reading family devotionals after dinner.  As I was growing up, my mom helped me hear God’s words every day. 
 

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