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Friday, November 16, 2018

Don't Give Up... Keep Going... You Can Do This

"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve..."  Joshua 24:15

I was having dinner with a couple of good friends a few months ago.  It was good for my heart.  As we were talking, one of the ladies gave me some great advice.  Since we were at a restaurant, she used what was available to illustrate her point... a butter knife and two forks.  Imagine the butter knife laying flat on the table and pointing towards the other end of the table.  Then imagine the two forks arranged at the point of the knife so that it almost looked like the letter "Y."

She said we're all traveling down the same road when we come to a fork in the road and we have to choose which way to go.  One way is toward God.  The other way is toward Satan.  It seemed so harsh, but she was right.  She said if we choose to go away from God, we are walking towards Satan and thus, walking farther away from God.

The illustration continued that to choose the path of Satan is very easy.  It looks great.  It looks easy.  It feels natural.  You don't have to put forth much effort.  There are a lot of other people you will travel with along the way.  But although that path is the easier one, it gets harder and harder the longer you travel that road.  Choosing that path always has consequences that you may not see right away.  Although it looks good, it leads toward destruction and you may not even realize it until it's too late.

Then she talked about taking the path towards God.  That is the more difficult route to take.  It starts out with sacrifice and giving up of our fleshly desires if they are not what God desires.  It requires persistence.  It can also be lonely at times because most people around you have chosen the easier path.  However, in contrast to the other path, the longer you travel on the path toward God the easier it gets.  Choosing this path always has blessing which you also might not see right away.  It doesn't lead to deprivation and lack of happiness as the doorman on the other path may tell you.  Instead, it leads to a peace that passes all understanding and an unexplainable joy.

I never forgot that.  I have experienced the difficult path of plodding my way along the difficult, narrow pathway towards God.  And my friend was right.  It does get easier.  Not that life or circumstances change or everything works out the way I want it to.  But God sustains me and gives me grace and peace and even joy as I travel.  I am better equipped to keep walking.

Henry Cloud gave some great thoughts in his book, "Never Go Back:  10 Things You'll Never Do Again" when he reminded me of the following:

"Never go back to avoiding short term pain that is the path to long term benefit."

"Jesus went through the pain of the Cross in order to save us and forgive us."

"Death before resurrection... discipline before strength... investment before return... discomfort before healing."

No matter how difficult the path, it will get easier if you stay on the right path.  Each one of us has a choice with every decision which way we will take.  Which path will you take?

"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve... as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."  Joshua 24:15

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Encouragement

I think my favorite preacher of all time is Charles Stanley.  I've been listening to a lot of his sermons lately.  I listen to him through the In Touch app on my phone so I'm not able to underline and highlight the things that stand out to me.  Instead, I've started typing these things out on my computer.  All of the quotes below come directly from various sermons that Charles Stanley has preached.  These are the things he has preached about ENCOURAGEMENT:


  • No matter what:  God is faithful

  • Lamentations 3: 22-23 “The Lord’s loving kindnesses is indeed never cease.  For his compassions never fail.  Great is Your faithfulness.”

  • God always does exactly what He says He will do.

  • He always keeps His promises.

  • He is reliable.

  • He is unwavering.

  • He is unfailing.

  • He is trustworthy.

  • He is steadfast.

  • Whatever God says He will do, He will always do it.

  • He is faithful in good times.  He is faithful in bad times.

  • God didn’t choose the Israelites because of their numbers.  He chose them because He loved them.

  • Psalm 36 “Your loving kindness… reaches to the skies.”

  • I Corinthians 1:9 “God is faithful…” v 8 … God will keep you all the way to the end

  • He is faithful.  I can trust Him.

  • “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.  In God, I have put my trust.  I shall not be afraid.  What can mere man do to me?”

  • “Trust in Him at all times.  Pour out your heart before him.”

  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Lean not on your own understanding but in all ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”  Proverbs 3: 5-6

  • We can trust Him because He is omniscient.  My circumstance is fully understood by the One who knows every single aspect of it.

  • He knows what I need, what I think I need … He knows how much pain I feel.  He knows where I’m hurting and what He knows will take healing to my soul, my spirit, my body or to meet my needs.

  • He has all power.  I can rest assured that my God has adequate power to meet every single need and to move the circumstances of my life and to enable me to walk through them with a sense of assurance in my heart that while there may be snares along the way, He will see me through it.

  • Every season of life that I’ve ever traveled through, I have traveled through in His presence.  I have never been alone.  He will never leave me nor forsake me.

  • God is changeless.  The same God who watched over all the men of the Bible is the God who watches over me.  He watches over me no matter what.

  • He is working in my life according to His perfect will.

Taking Control of Your Thoughts

I think my favorite preacher of all time is Charles Stanley.  I've been listening to a lot of his sermons lately.  I listen to him through the In Touch app on my phone so I'm not able to underline and highlight the things that stand out to me.  Instead, I've started typing these things out on my computer.  All of the quotes below come directly from various sermons that Charles Stanley has preached.  These are the things he has preached about TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR THOUGHTS:


  • As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.

  • What you watch and listen to will program the way you think.

  • Set your mind on things above and not on the things on Earth. 

  • The mind can be easily deceived by the devil unless you fill it with the Word of God.

  • Whatever you put in your mind is there to stay until Jesus delivers you from it.

  • The Holy Spirit is a “helper.”  He enables us in our thinking and He helps us to remember scripture.

Patience

I think my favorite preacher of all time is Charles Stanley.  I've been listening to a lot of his sermons lately.  I listen to him through the In Touch app on my phone so I'm not able to underline and highlight the things that stand out to me.  Instead, I've started typing these things out on my computer.  All of the quotes below come directly from various sermons that Charles Stanley has preached.  These are the things he has preached about PATIENCE:

  • Patience is not a trait; it is something we develop.

  • The greater the blessing God has in store for us, the greater the patience He often requires.

  • I’m patient when I can calmly tolerate and respond to some difficulty.

  • Patience says I am willing to let go of some need for immediate gratification.

  • Calm acceptance of things that God chooses not to give.

  • We develop patience when we see God at work in our lives.

  • Patience = the willingness to wait on God’s timing.

  • Patience is a vital attribute in every relationship.  If you always have to have your way in your time you will never have a loving relationship with anybody.

  • Patience is a strong form of protection.  Anytime God is saying to you “wait,” he’s loving you enough to protect you from things that are not going to turn out right at this moment.

  • God may give you exactly what you ask for and God is getting the circumstances ready.  If we quit praying because we’re impatient we’ll miss the blessing of God.

  • Patience enables us to endure suffering.

  • Patience allows me to see God at work.

  • I have to decide if I’m going to indulge myself now because I might lose something or if I’m going to wait on God.

  • The more patient we are, the more God can trust us with.

Unconditional Surrender

I think my favorite preacher of all time is Charles Stanley.  I've been listening to a lot of his sermons lately.  I listen to him through the In Touch app on my phone so I'm not able to underline and highlight the things that stand out to me.  Instead, I've started typing these things out on my computer.  All of the quotes below come directly from various sermons that Charles Stanley has preached.  These are the things he has preached about UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER:


  • “What am I going to have to give up now?” is the negative attitude that Satan will put in our mind to cheat us out of a powerful blessing from God.

  • It may be that surrender opens the door to receive something that you wanted all along… to receive God’s best for your life.

  • You are willing to surrender control of yourself and everything that relates to you and turn it all over to Jesus Christ.  We do not attempt to barter with God.

  • God is looking out for my best interest.  He wants to use me.

  • It may hurt and it may be painful and I may have to walk away from something or someone, but if God says you have to walk away, you have to walk away.  If He says lay it down, you have to lay it down.  Until you do, you will quarrel with God continuously.

  • You can’t disobey God in one area without it becoming two… and then more.  Any area of disobedience will multiply unless I deal with it.

  • When you say “God, I can’t,” He tells you, “Yes, you can.”  And then you do and realize that God was right.

  • When you surrender unconditionally, you position yourself for God’s maximum blessing and maximum usefulness and maximum intimate fellowship with God and maximum power of the Holy Spirit.

  • A lot of times we say, “I can’t,” when we really mean, “I won’t.”

  • Recognize that God has the right to require me to surrender.

  • I make a deliberate, willful decision and say to him, “Lord, I surrender all of my life to you, body, soul, and spirit in order that You can have your way in my life with no conditions.”

  • I cease all quarreling with God.  We argue over the things we don’t want to give up.

  • Be willing to receive what He wants to give you.

  • Don’t hold onto garbage and miss the power and blessing and usefulness from God.

  • Giving up increases my ability to love.

  • I cannot surrender on my own… only by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • What you’re holding onto is not eternal.  You could lose it in a split second.  Are you willing to hold onto that and forsake God’s best?

Temptation

I think my favorite preacher of all time is Charles Stanley.  I've been listening to a lot of his sermons lately.  I listen to him through the In Touch app on my phone so I'm not able to underline and highlight the things that stand out to me.  Instead, I've started typing these things out on my computer.  All of the quotes below come directly from various sermons that Charles Stanley has preached.  These are the things he has preached about TEMPTATION:

  • Temptation:  An enticement of our natural, God-given desires to go beyond God-given bounds.  An enticement to disobey God.

  • Am I trying to get a need met in my life in my way and in my time?

  • Satan will tempt us in ways he knows we are temptable.  He knows us that well.

  • Pleasure for the moment as a substitute of the love of God and being obedient to Him.

  • Build your defenses.  You don’t have to yield.

  • Thought – Idea of fantasy or imagination – Experiencing in your mind what you desire to experience in reality (Satan already at work) – Your will – Choice – Consent – Sin

  • I am personally responsible for what I think and what I allow in my life.  When the thought comes, say... “This does not fit who I am.  I will not tolerate this in my life.  You have promised to put a limitation on all my temptation, God.  I don’t want that in my life.  I choose by an act of obedience to You to trust You that any time thoughts come into my mind that do not match your will for my life, I choose to let them go and I trust you to empower me to identify them and to let them go.”

  • Satan shows us the little picture… look at God’s big picture.

  • You don’t want the consequences of sin in your life.

  • Any pleasure Satan brings to your mind are only temporary.  Consequences are lasting.

  • God always has the best for His children and He does not want us suffering the consequences of sin.

  • HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired (the times when we are the most temptable)

  • Make yourself accountable to a friend.  Someone who will encourage you and remind you of the truth.  Someone to say, “Do you want the consequences of that?”

  • Satan will get you if you ignore the Word of God.

  • God will empower you and enable you to overcome and be victorious no matter what.

  • The consequences of sin get worse, not better.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Salted Caramel Mocha (It's as good a title as any)

Last night while my kids were at church, I stopped and visited with a good friend for a little bit.  After that, I still had about 40 minutes so of course I went to get a salted caramel mocha from Starbucks....

Mmmm... salted caramel mocha...

Okay, I'm back.  Anyway, I was feeling a little anxious last night so I thought I would try and find a good podcast to listen to.  I really like listening to Charles Stanley but I just felt like I wanted to listen to something else last night.  I searched around online and just couldn't find the one that seemed right to listen to.  So I ended up reading back over my old blog posts for a while.  And this is so weird... but that is what God used to encourage me.  When I thought that I wanted to listen to someone other than Charles Stanley, I didn't know that it would be myself.  Well, really it wasn't.  It was God.  I always write about things that God teaches me and I know that in my heart, God directed me back to those things last night.

I realized that some of the things that God taught me years ago still apply the same today.  Some of my very thoughts I had back then I still have today sometimes.  I guess it isn't crazy but to me it was just like, "wow."  And it made me glad that I wrote things down.  That's what encouraged me, I guess.  The fact that years later I know the outcome of how God took me through different times in my life and I was fine.  I didn't always feel like I was going to be fine back then.  But the truth is, I was.  God is always faithful.  He is never changing.

Speaking of Charles Stanley and God's faithfulness, I was listening to one of his old sermons the other day and some things he said were so encouraging that I ended up typing them up and putting them in a frame that now hangs in my bathroom to see every morning:

Great is Thy faithfulness.
His mercies are new every morning.

God is going to be faithful to me today.
It is His nature to be faithful.
He's not going to waver on me today.
He's not going to change on me today.

Great is Thy faithfulness.

He is faithful when I'm asleep.
He is faithful when I'm awake.
He is faithful when I love Him.
He is faithful when I don't love Him.
He is faithful when I'm good.
He is faithful when I'm bad.
He is a faithful, loving God.
He is ready, willing and present
in every season of my life.

I read that every morning now and it's a great reminder.  And maybe years from now I'll be looking back on this post and it will encourage me all over again.