30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 30 – Faith

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The Christian faith is formed in a living faith based on grace and forgiveness.

Scripture of the Day:

Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is being confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see.”

In concluding 30 days of gratitude, I realize there is vastly too much to be grateful for that could never be fully expressed. But today I am grateful for the gift of faith. How is it that I came to believe? That God would have mercy on me? It was God alone Who opened my eyes to see and understand His amazing salvation and God alone Who overcame my unbelief. And I am grateful beyond words.

This faith is a conviction deep within our souls despite not seeing fully what we hope for. Though it is tested, the confirmation in our souls is not swayed by the storms of this life. The storms of this life only serve to strengthen our faith as it is built on Christ.

When God first opened my eyes to understand His salvation, people around me said it was a crutch. I was mocked and persecuted and it only made me believe all the more. This lost world mocks faith yet has a faith, as well – in the creation rather than in the Creator.

This false faith formed in manmade, dead religion, is based on fleshly pursuits and good works that a fallen people could never fully achieve. The Christian faith is formed in a living faith based on grace and forgiveness by a God Who knew we could never be good enough to please a Holy God.

Each day God’s word is a love letter to His people, inviting them to go deeper with Him. Come be a “fool” alongside me and find the greatest joy of your life. Michael Card says it well in “God’s Own Fool” – Christ humbled Himself to reach His people with the message of the cross – foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.

Lord, thank You for the gift of faith and enabling us to know You – Our God.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 17 – Relationship

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We were made to relate to God and to one another in a redemptive way in this mystery called life.

Scripture of the Day:

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:13

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Sometimes we can become hardened in a world of busyness that threatens to undo the essential need at the core of our humanity. Relationship. We were made to know and be known. Our value does not come from our accomplishments (which are really God’s) or from our function in this life. It comes from Being. In. Relationship. With. God. And. Others.

Yes, I know that last sentence is incorrect. But I, too, wanted to pause and soak those words in. I get busier than I should be and need the same reminder to be still before my God and to make time for people in my life.

Abiding is not an easy thing. The natural thing is to drift away from God and others and to allow sin to separate us.

We were not made to be isolated, not made to be an island. We were made to relate to God and to one another in a redemptive way in this mystery called life. All too often relationships can be difficult as pride and self are on the throne more than people or honoring God in those relationships.

Christ exemplified perfect relationship with God the Father. He and the Father are one. He told us to be the same.

So how do we relate to a Holy God when we are unholy? By the mercy of God alone. How do we relate to people when we are different from one another? By God’s grace.

God has given us access to Himself though we did not deserve it. So often this access is not utilized and we can take this amazing reality for granted. God wants us to be in a relationship of dependence upon Him, where our needs are met by Him and we can enjoy His presence. He wants us to seek His will and understanding, constantly reading His love letter to us – His Word – and praying to Him. This is where we find our greatest peace, when we are living as God intended.

Religion is the complete opposite of this privilege of relationship we have with God in Christianity. Religion is man-made, dead, focusing on a performance mentality of doing good works. Sadly, for the one pursuing religion, they will never arrive at their goal or achieve real relationship.

In our relationship with God, it has all been done. This truth causes us to worship the One Who set us free so we could know Him. It also causes us to realize that we need to relate to one another in a way that God intended.

Do we see the people in our lives as precious gifts from God? Even the thorny relationships that bring us to our knees? How can we relate to one another in a humble, others-centered way? It might mean dying to our own agenda, building others up instead of ourselves, and pausing long enough to think, serve and pray for others.

In the end, relationships with people cause us to go deeper in our relationship with God. When relationships of this world fall short of our expectations, our God helps us to pick up the pieces and to be like Christ, Who laid down His life for others.

When Christ is at the center of our human relationships, it is a beautiful witness to the world of what it means to know God and one another and still be accepted and accepting.

Lord, thank You for drawing us near to You that we could know You – our God and Creator. Help us to never forsake this amazing privilege and to love others as You have loved us.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 14 – The Word of God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in the faithful daily reading of Scripture that a relationship with God is built.

Scripture of the Day:

Matthew 4:4

“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

The Word of God is precious to me and I am beyond grateful for the gift of Scripture, but it has not always been that way. Even as a Christian there were times in my walk where my Bible sat and gathered dust. It felt like a duty, void of relationship. Thank God that He has shown me the living treasure that His word is!

I can hardly read Scripture without being overwhelmed with the presence of God as truth washes over me. It is in the faithful daily reading of Scripture that a relationship with God is built.

This daily habit of reading God’s Word will have to be guarded and fought for tenaciously, as our flesh does not want it. When we apply God’s Word to our lives, our flesh dies. When the church lives according to God’s word, quarrels and fleshly pursuits go by the wayside.

His Word is a lamp to our feet, His precepts at the core of our salvation. He communicates His love and grace, commands and purposes to us through His Word. He gives wisdom to the simple, understanding to those who were once far off. His Word is alive and able to humble us with its piercing, loving truth. Amazingly, time and again the Holy Spirit applies our daily reading into the context of our daily lives.

Although the Bible is such an amazing gift from God, many neglect it and pursue religion instead of the relationship garnered through the study of Scripture. For the God of this world to communicate through pages carefully preserved is a miracle.

Don’t let fleshly excuses keep you from God’s Word – it is your very life. Don’t let the enemy keep you from it, as well. His Word is our daily bread – we get daily inspiration and empowerment to live for God when we bask in His Word. Who knows what God can accomplish through a people yielded to Him and abiding in His Word?

If reading the Bible is intimidating, try a reading plan. I choose from this website every year. In this relativistic world, it is so encouraging to know that God has not left us without instruction. His Word is absolute truth. This article discusses the authenticity of Scripture and how the amazing sovereignty of God worked to preserve His Word.

Oh God! I cannot thank You enough for Your precious Word! Open the eyes of all who might read this blog to see their need of consistent time in Scripture. Draw us nearer to You and may we rightly apply Your Word in our lives.

Day 26: The Foundation of Hope

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The battle for Hope Reinvented begins at the foundation of our hope and is a battle in the mind.

Scripture of the Day:

Romans 15:4

“For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.”

Ephesians 2:12

“In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.”

1 Corinthians 3:11

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

When we are at the place of broken dreams, trying to rebuild our hope can seem futile, especially when the future ahead does not appear to have hope in the natural.

If you have been reading this series on Hope Reinvented, we have walked through all of the pitfalls and detractors from having a living hope in Christ. We have examined our former hope and let it go if it was not the hope God has for us. We have also seen that real hope is only found in Christ. Now we will examine what is at the foundation of this Hope Reinvented in Christ alone.

God’s Word. At the foundation of this Reinvented Hope is God’s Word. Man’s word or promise could never fulfill the demands of a hope that never fails. His promises speak life when death is all we see, but another friend at the level of foundation must be present to apply God’s word . . .

Trust. Trusting when everything is going well is not trust at all. But trusting when nothing is going well – now this is trust. Some people think it is foolish to trust in what you cannot see, but this is the definition of faith, as well. Without faith no one can please God. God delights in us and in giving us His promises. He loves it when we look to Him and hope in Him. This is another layer of the foundation of hope – relationship.

Relationship is a necessary layer in our foundation, for without it we cannot claim the promises given by God. Sometimes we can be guilty of just wanting relief from the burdens of this life and seeking the hope of God to escape. Having a relationship with God enables us in times of adversity and also becomes our beacon of hope as we have confidence in the promises He has made to those who trust Him.

Action. As we begin to live out this Reinvented Hope we see another layer in our foundation – action. Living hope in action means we live boldly in the face of dashed hopes. We exemplify this reality by going against the flesh and taking God’s promises at face value. Studying His Word, applying it, memorizing it and living it out is what makes this eternal hope come to life. Action must accompany mentally agreeing with God’s hope.

Discipline. Consistency in nurturing our hope is necessary to cultivate and grow our confidence in this secure hope we have. Taking captive hopeless thoughts and replacing them with God’s, coupled with studying His word daily are not optional. We will be tossed to and fro, otherwise.

When my world was encompassed by constant strife (and this still happens from time to time), I thirsted for God’s promises and read them constantly. I put myself in a place to receive those promises by seeking Him fervently and crying out for Him to deliver me instead of running to other vices or “hopes”.

The challenge in such times is to not look around you at the waves or the supposed failures. They work to tear down our hope. Mental toughness is created and our faith strengthened when we choose to focus only on God and His Word. Sometimes we have to guard our heart to keep away the “hope stealers”. These hope stealers or crushers can be pretty convincing, but they are not eternal.

The battle for Hope Reinvented begins at the foundation of our hope and is a battle in the mind. We must choose which hope we believe in and fight for it with all we have. I close today with words from Woodrow Kroll from his series, “Back to the Bible”: “No one who utterly despairs will pray, for prayer is the proof of lingering hope. Even in the midst of despair, the psalmist recognizes that, should there be any hope, it will be found only in God.”

Lord, You are awesome and faithful, our only Hope! Help us to stay rooted in this hope and to share this hope as stewards of the only real eternal hope that only You can give.

Day 13: Facing the Enemy

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Ultimately victory cannot be won if we do not even know what we are aiming at.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 119:114

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.”

The enemy lines are drawn and we think we know the enemy’s tactics. Adrenaline pumping through our veins, we brace ourselves for the next attack and prepare our own offensive strategy . . .

. . . Or maybe we are wandering out on the field unaware that we are standing in the middle of a battleground. Yep. That is more like me.

Pelted with attack after attack we cannot fathom that anyone could be so manipulative or conniving. But we better wise up, because there is no sign of things letting up and we don’t want to be another casualty on the field of life, strewn with people who lost their hope and let the enemy take it from them. What we need is a strategy.

Though we feel weakened, God is calling us to rise up and fight.

How do we fight? What does this fighting look like? David has some ideas to share with us. He prayed and asked God to deal with his enemies. Though he entered into God’s presence stressed and wanting vengeance, he left God’s presence keenly aware of the mercy that had  been extended to Him.

Wise up. Ever had someone believe the worst in you or relentlessly attack you? You kind of wonder if there is a sign on your back, saying, “kick me while I am down”, right? The fool keeps on going and suffers for it, though, and we need to be spiritually discerning to understand our enemies tactics, how to counter them, as well as who, in fact, is our enemy. The moment of revelation is sobering when we realize we have another enemy in the ranks – especially when they claim to be our friend. Jesus understands. One He loved and washed the feet of betrayed him with a kiss.

Get over it. Hurt can paralyze us if we let it. We have to get over the reality of the betrayal to be able to see clearly. God knows it hurts but that hurt can be a tool to help us or a vessel to trap us with bitterness and pain. 

Motivations. Trying to get into the heart and mind of one who has us under siege proves difficult, but God’s word opens our eyes to a spiritual understanding that trumps the world’s perspective every time.  The motivations of another person just don’t matter. Let God deal with that. What matters is our response to their affront or attack.

Stick to the facts. People might intend harm and they might not. We can get lost walking in a mine field if we try to guess the motivations of another. Only God knows that. Sticking to the facts keeps us from the dangerous territory of presumption, which is a real joy and hope killer. It is a lot easier to understand objective facts rather than subjective ideas.

No blaming. Blaming comes naturally to us. It is easier to think that we do not bear the responsibility, and somehow makes us feel better to cast aspersions on the other wicked people. Sometimes we truly don’t bear responsibility for an attack. But blaming cannot erase the pain or fix our heartache. Instead of blaming, we can pour out our heart to God and ask for His understanding.

No hiding. Trying to destroy the evidence of our broken heart will not rid us of the scar it has left behind – it will only cause it to harden. Pretending just does not work for long. Exposing our responses to our enemies helps us to be real. Ultimately victory cannot be won if we do not even know what we are aiming at.

No Benedict Arnold. Don’t play into the enemy’s tactics. The enemy of our soul is cunning and comes like an angel of light. He trips us up to sin then condemns us and blames us. He uses other people, too. We don’t have to let them provoke us or cause us to stumble – that is defeating ourselves.

Be strong. I love the verses in Joshua reminding him over and over again to be strong and courageous. The strength is available to us, but we have to come to God and His Word to get it.

Let Him Fight For You. Todays’ scripture is not just a nice poetic illustration. It is real. He is our refuge. He is our shield – if our hope truly is in His Word. What does that mean? It means I confess doubt and place everything in His hands. I hunt for verses that speak life and truth and surrender my way to His. We have the God of the universe fighting for us and can take authority over the enemy in Jesus’ name.

So, who is our enemy? It might be an illness, another person, ourselves, or even a fellow believer who poses as an enemy in our lives. But the real enemy is the devil, seeking to use anything at his disposal to destroy us.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and sometimes we let people beat us up. That’s not what God wants for us. We can rise above attacks and glorify God in them by overcoming evil with good. Fighting for our enemies in prayer and asking God to reveal their sins as well as our own sends the devil packing. Let’s fight on our knees together and see what God does. Our victory is sure.

Lord, thank You for overcoming every enemy we will ever face. Help us to let go of a vain hope in vengeance and to have our hope in You and Your word alone.

Maybe this song will help you to fight in a way that honors God: God is Fighting For Us

Truthful Tuesday: The Gift of Gab – Blessing or Cursing?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Choose words carefully, for each one can affect the destiny of another.

Scriptures of the Day:

Exodus 20:7

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold guiltless anyone who takes his name in vain.”

Psalm 10:4, 7

4 “The wicked man is so arrogant he always thinks,“God won’t hold me accountable; he doesn’t care. 7 His mouth is full of curses and deceptive, harmful words; his tongue injures and destroys.”

Proverbs 15:2,4

2 “The tongue of the wise treats knowledge correctly, but the mouth of the fool spouts out folly. 4 Speech that heals is like a life-giving tree, but a perverse tongue breaks the spirit.”

Matthew 12:36-37

36 I tell you that on the day of judgment, people will give an account for every worthless word they speak. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matthew 15:11

“What defiles a person is not what goes into the mouth; it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person.”

Ephesians 4:29

“You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Ephesians 5:4

4 “Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting–all of which are out of character–but rather thanksgiving.”

Colossians 3:8

“But now, put off all such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language from your mouth.”

James 1:26

“If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile.”

James 3:10

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters.”


 

I know what you are thinking – with the litany of Scriptures I have on speaking blessing instead of cursing that a mighty sermon is coming. 🙂

Well, not really. I hope today’s post will be an encouragement and a reminder of how God wants us to communicate and the sheer joy of it all. And I figured we could use some reminders from God’s word in case anyone tries to rationalize cursing, gossiping or speaking ill of another person as ever being ok.

Words are amazing. They can really encourage or discourage another person on toward greatness, apathy or destruction. It is such a gift to be able to communicate to another person, to praise our Creator or cheer someone on. Sometimes we forget that it is indeed a gift.

Sometimes my heart is so full of joy it could burst. This happens often when I am reading God’s word and culminates in tears flowing, full of gratitude as all I can mouth are the words, “thank you, God”!

With so many words in the human language, it would seem we have a lot of terms in our arsenal to be able to effectively communicate, but alas, words often cannot convey fully what our heart really intends.

Sometimes there are no words that could fully express the soul’s joy, ire or sorrow. It is in those times that my spirit cries out to the living God and I know He understands, even though I have not spoken a word.

With such a tremendous privilege of speaking and writing, it would seem we would have a God-given purpose in it. If ultimately every word is known by God before it is even spoken, wisdom encourages us to carefully consider each one.

He made us to communicate with Himself and with others for the purpose of edification, fellowship and loving one another. But sometimes communication is hard. Sometimes it seems impossible to say anything edifying when our hearts are hurt. Perhaps we shouldn’t in those moments.

One thing I know God did not intend is for us to misuse the gift of language. Like every tool or thing in creation has a God-given purpose, so does our language.

Today it seems there is a carelessness to our communication. Almost like a knee jerk response, we can spew something out of our mouths that brings no glory to God and does not benefit those who listen. Curse words are in most movies, television, music – even spoken by those who profess Christ. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

People who mistakenly profess freedom in Christ yet let vile words flow out of their mouths at whim are deceived. They claim that people are judgmental or perhaps not “enlightened” or legalistic if they would say that cursing is wrong. Hmmm. Maybe a Top 10 David Letterman style list will help here . . .

Top Ten Reasons People Curse, Gossip, Slander, or Speak unkindly:

  1. The person does not fear God or believe His Word when God commands us to bless and not curse.
  2. The person is not respecting their audience and wants to use words to hurt.
  3. The person is not respecting themselves and is insecure.
  4. The person lacks intelligence, using the same word repetitively which does not mean what they think it means. :0)
  5. The person has forgotten why they are given the gift of communicating.
  6. The person thinks they are cool? No, probably not.
  7. The person lacks self control and is led by emotions rather than reason.
  8. The person is deceived and does not think cursing is a sin.
  9. The person did not receive a good education.
  10. The person wants to be part of our culture – they want to conform to society and their brain rewards them for such behavior (contributed by one of my daughters).

The point is, there is no valid excuse for cursing ever. Nada. Never. We can choose not to let them fly out of the mouth. If we will remember the original purpose of words, perhaps we will consider how to spur one another on and glorify God. We don’t know how long we will be able to tell the people in our lives how much we love and cherish them. Use words to bless, heal, minister and spread God’s Word – it never returns void and reverberates throughout all eternity.

LORD, thank You for giving us the ability to share with others our innermost thoughts. Please grant us grace to speak love and grace to those around us and to overcome the temptation to “vent” when we are hurt.

Mundane Monday: Freedom in Yielding

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 18:4-6

“Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit. 5 Then the LORD said to me, 6 I the LORD, say: “O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.”

My youngest child still loves to play with clay. The delight shown on his face by a new creation made according to his specifications is felt by those around him. The clay responds to his touch and yields to the form the creator is making. If it were made of another material that was less pliable, it could not do so.

So, too, when we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be. But when we fight His working in our lives, we do not rise to our God-given potential.

There are many ways a lump of clay can resist the work of God. We might look the part on the outside, but on the inside we resent the work being done. Instead of yielding, we can inwardly seethe and doubt God’s goodness when we would rather be left alone.

Or perhaps we can compare ourselves to other vessels and wonder why their process of being shaped seems easier. We wonder what the purpose is in it, anyway. It might seem mundane or perhaps cruel, this shaping of our wills in which our flesh has to die so our spirit is made alive.

But when we resist the shaping of our lives because it hurts, we do not recognize that we are in fact harming ourselves. Protecting ourselves from God’s work on our hearts is only impeding the progress He is making. The tools might seem crude or unnecessary, but our loving God sees the complete design. His character is revealed in the fruit of the work He is doing, and His grace is sufficient to enable us during the process.

There is hope in the knowledge that God’s work is always redemptive and for our good. It is in fact in yielding that we taste of the freedom of being a child of God. Free from the shackles of sin, at peace and free to be what He intended in the first place.

The joy my son has in displaying his creation reminds me of the joy of the Father, delighting in His children. He is glorified when we surrender our lives to Him and let Him work in us. Patient perseverance develops us, changing us from the inside out. The end of His labor is a beauty to behold – forever changed into His image, made to be more like Him!

Lord, help us to trust Your working in our lives and to yield to Your purposes, even when they do not make sense to us.

Denise Pass Promo Pic

Denise Pass  •  www.seeingdeep.com  •  www.denisepass.com

Author | Worship Leader | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

Thoughtful Thursday: Treasured Treasure

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Something might not have even been precious to us previously, but the absence of it makes its value increase exponentially.

Scriptures of the Day:

Proverb 2:1-5

“My child, if you receive my words, and store up my commands within you, by making your ear attentive to wisdom, and by turning your heart to understanding, indeed, if you call out for discernment – raise your voice for understanding –if you seek it like silver, and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand how to fear the Lord, and you will discover knowledge about God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. 7 He stores up effective counsel for the upright, and is like a shield for those who live with integrity, 8 to guard the paths of the righteous and to protect the way of his pious ones. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity – every good way. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and moral knowledge will be attractive to you. 11 Discretion will protect you, understanding will guard you, 12 to deliver you from the way of the wicked, from those speaking perversity.”

The thrill of the hunt is the height of our pursuit, until we find that precious treasure we were hunting for. Once we have found what our hearts longed for, we have peace and satisfaction – until another treasure calls our name.

When we lose something dear to us or something we needed to function in this life, everything else suddenly pales until we find that thing. It might not have even been precious to us previously, but the absence of it makes its value increase exponentially. It is in this moment of revelation that we are grateful and realize we took for granted the treasure we had.

With each each quest for treasure is a burning need for what we are searching for and at the same time a sense of our status of being unworthy of receiving the gift of the treasure in the first place.

If life is about going on one treasure hunt after another and never being fully satisfied with that treasure once we find it, then it is in vain that we pursue such a temporary pleasure, yet an inward craving for something more urges us on.

But there is a lasting treasure that calls out to those who will listen. It’s jewels never fade and the treasure hunter never ceases to discover new beauty within the treasure trove. It is the treasury of wisdom.

For me there is a delight in learning. The discovery of knowledge that was before hidden from my understanding is a delight to my soul. But it does not compare to the sheer ecstatic joy I feel when reading God’s word and the inward burning in my soul imparting truth deep in my heart.

Some walk right past wisdom and don’t recognize its value. Walking in His wisdom, we understand our purpose on this earth and don’t waste our days with temporary treasures. When we don’t understand, wisdom teaches us the value of fearing God so we live in a way that pleases Him. Everything is suddenly viewed through the lens of God’s perspective. When this crazy world tries to distract us, wisdom guides us to God’s deeper purposes and sets our hearts at ease.

This insight from God’s word is not just knowledge stuck on a shelf. It is our very life and a constant companion in all of life. Understanding the God of this universe is the highest treasure we could ever receive – even if it is only in part, for His vastness is far superior to any learning we could ever obtain and there is no end to the limitless wisdom of God.

Lord, thank You for the treasure of You. Help us to chase after You and never tire of seeking You. You are beautiful and our heart’s desire.

Denise Pass Promo Pic Denise Pass | Author | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Truthful Tuesday: Relying on our Reliable God

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Inspirational thought of the day:

Whether or not God give us what we want, His character and faithful promises testify to His reliability at all times.  

Scriptures of the day:

Isaiah 45:19

I have not spoken in secret, in some hidden place. I did not tell Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain!’ I am the LORD, the one who speaks honestly, who makes reliable announcements.

Isaiah 43:12

I have revealed and saved and proclaimed– I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.

The well-known game of “Trust” in which you close your eyes and blindly trust someone to catch you has been used many times as an illustration or object lesson to demonstrate surrender in a tangible way.

The thing is, people let us down and sometimes we trust only to have people break that trust. As time goes on, we learn to diligently guard our heart but can also begin to get a hard heart that does not let fallible man in.

Jesus did not entrust himself to man, yet He made Himself vulnerable to sinful man and died for him.  He chose the route of humility and unconditional love for a stubborn people who could never return such love on their own.

God has made it obvious that He keeps His word.  He went to extravagant measures to tell His people ahead of time what He was going to do. Every prophesy foretold – fulfilled. Radical deliverance from the parting of the sea to fire from the sky.  Yet His people still doubted.

As a parent, it would hurt deeply if my children did not trust me or my heart toward them. My desire is only for their good and blessing.  What must it do to the heart of God that the people He lavishly chose and called into relationship with himself do not trust Him, despite Him giving His Word and Holy Spirit?

When people promise us something they never fulfill, we have a choice to love and forgive like God did for us.  We fail God over and over again.  Yet He remains faithful.  His example and His Holy Spirit can enable us to be reliable to those around us and help us to rely on Him, as well.

Lord, help us to rely on You at all times instead of trying to find solutions to life’s problems on our own.  

Thoughtful Thursday: Influential Influence

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our battle is not fleshly, but spiritual.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Romans 12:12

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Timothy 3:1-6

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,

Ephesians 2:1-2

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”

One verse my children know well as it was a mantra repeated continuously in their childhood was 1 Corinthians 15:33.  It was challenging to strike a balance between warning them about being influenced by ungodly people around them and not judging them, either.

Much like the Israelites had to be reminded to write God’s word down and keep it before them, we need reminders to be aware of the influences all around us.

Most of us do not pause to perceive why we are feeling a certain way about another person or circumstance.  We casually give in to the emotions, unchecked unless we ask God for discernment to see the spiritual influence all around us.

The prince of the spirit of the air is busy.  So are our minds, with over 2100-3000 thoughts per hour going through them.  Keeping track and being accountable for all of those thoughts is overwhelming.

But when we study God’s Word and surround ourselves with godly influences, the sorting of wicked and godly influences becomes easier.  God has made a way out and He will show us what is pleasing to Him and what is not.  The choice is ours.  There is no middle ground. Life or death. Righteousness or wickedness.

Apathy is not the answer, self-righteousness is not the answer.  There are absolute standards that God has set.  We are accountable.

Choosing to abstain from bad influences is not enough, though.  Keeping oneself unsoiled is not the same as becoming a source of godly influences for those around us.  We are a light not because we have anything inherently good in us, but because we have the light of the world within us and He is good and able to use us for righteousness.

Lord, help us to be an influence on those around us that draws people nearer to You.  Help us to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world and to live for Your glory.