The Best, No Fail, New Year’s Resolution

fullsizeoutput_2ac5Sometimes picking a New Year’s Resolution can be as difficult as keeping one.  There are so many good choices, it’s tough to narrow it down to only one.

Should I focus on eating better and exercising more?  Spending more quality time with my family?  Making a plan toward a financial or career goal?

Or maybe something more spiritual like:  reading the Bible through in a year?  Going on a mission trip?  Or volunteering at church or a favorite charity?

But what if I told you that there’s a resolution that you could make this year that would cover all of the ideas mentioned above?  Would you do it?  Consider this:  The one resolution that will help you eat better, exercise more, improve your family time, finances, career, Bible reading, missions, and ministry is the one recommended by Charles Spurgeon below.  Try it for a year and let God prove it to you…

“Our resolution this year must be: continue in prayer.” 

~ Charles Spurgeon

 

To Be Known By God

I received the devotion “Saving Faith” by Charles Stanley in my inbox this morning and thought it too important not to pass along.

Galatians 4:9 begins, “Now that you have come to know God, OR RATHER, TO BE KNOWN BY GOD…”

In other words, “Let’s make certain that your picture of salvation is correct here, because according to Matthew 7:21-23, there will be people who call God “Lord”, and who even do many mighty works in His name, but God will respond, “I never knew you.”

Do you know God?  Or do you just know about Him?  But more importantly, DOES GOD KNOW YOU?

Saving Faith

~ by Charles Stanley

The greatest tragedy that can befall someone is to think he’s saved, only to discover after death that he isn’t.  We’d all like to believe the claims of those who say they’re Christians, but Jesus gives a harsh warning because He knows many will be deceived.  They will sit in churches week after week, professing that Jesus is the Son of God, but won’t ever really enter into a personal relationship with Him.

Intellectual faith isn’t the same as saving faith.  It’s not enough to know facts about Jesus or to believe He died and rose again.  Even demons believe that (James 2:19). Salvation involves more than mere knowing.  It requires trusting that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sin, receiving His forgiveness, turning away from old sinful ways, and entering into a relationship with Him.  What matters is not what we say with our mouth, but what we believe in our heart.

Although you probably won’t understand all that happens at the moment of salvation, when Christ becomes your Savior, He also becomes your Lord. As the Master of your life, He then has a right to govern what you do. His Holy Spirit takes up residence within you when you are saved, and that means you will changeGod’s Spirit continually works to remove sinful attitudes and behaviors, replacing them with His spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22-23).

We recognize a person’s salvation not by his profession but by fruit. If you are truly saved, your character will become more Christlike over time, and your desire will be to obey the Lord.  This does not mean you’ll never sin or stumble, but overall, your life will be characterized by obedience.

 

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The Word Became Flesh…

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As we enter this Christmas season and ponder the meaning of the incarnation, the excerpt below from Philip Yancey’s, “The Jesus I Never Knew” may very well shed some light in your heart on the light of the world — God in flesh.

 

The Jesus I Never Knew

~ by Philip Yancey

I learned about incarnation when I kept a salt-water aquarium.  Management of a marine aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task. . . You would think, in view of all the energy expended on their behalf, that my fish would at least be grateful.  Not so.  Every time my shadow loomed above the tank they dove for cover into the nearest shell.  They showed me one “emotion” only: fear. . .

To my fish I was deity.  I was too large for them, my actions too incomprehensible.  My acts of mercy they saw as cruelty; my attempts at healing they viewed as destruction.  To change their perceptions, I began to see, would require a form of incarnation.  I would have to become a fish and “speak” to them in a language they could understand.

A human being becoming a fish is nothing compared to God becoming a baby.  And yet according to the Gospels that is what happened at Bethlehem.  The God who created matter took shape within it, as an artist might become a spot on a painting or a playwright a character within his own play.  God wrote a story, only using real characters, on the pages of real history.  The Word became flesh.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,

the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

–John 1:14

 

Two Great Truths

crazystairs I’ve often heard that we are either in a trial, coming out of a trial, or headed directly into one!  The words of wisdom below are from Chuck Swindoll and are a great reminder for any of those times when life is unfair and doesn’t make sense….

Chuck says, “I have found great help from two truths God gave me at a time in my life when I was bombarded with a series of unexpected and unfair blows (from my perspective).  In my darkest hours these principles still become my anchor of stability, my only means of survival. Because they work for me, I pass them on to you.  Memorize them.  Write them on a card and carry it at all times.

  • Nothing touches me that has not passed through the hands of my heavenly Father. Nothing.  Whatever occurs, God has sovereignly surveyed and approved.  We may not know why, but we do know our pain is no accident to Him who guides our lives.
  • Everything I endure is designed to prepare me for serving others more effectively.  Everything.  Since my Heavenly Father is committed to shaping me into the image of His Son, He knows the ultimate value of this painful experience.  It is being used to empty our hands of our own resources, our own sufficiency, and turn us back to Him—the faithful Provider.  And God knows what will get through to us.

Things may not be logical or fair, but when God is directing the events of our lives, they are right.”

~ Taken from “Day by Day With Chuck Swindoll”…

“And now your Local on The 8s.”

Currently, we have snow on the ground in 48 of the 50 states, with more snow in the forecast for all 50 states in the next seven days.  (Yes, including Florida and Hawaii!)  Snow in all 50 states at the same time is a rare occurrence, and of course the forecast could change as it usually does, but the possibility of this happening definitely caught my attention.

This most recent snowfall caused me to pause and reflect on the snow that is blanketing our nation and the following passage from Isaiah:

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earthmaking it bud and flourishso that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eaterso is My Word that goes forth from My mouth:  It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

~ Isaiah 55:10-11

When and if the snow passes through your state this week, meditate on this verse and why God chose this comparison of His Word with the snow and water cycle.  Then, consider the following…

  • Am I willing to slow down, take a spiritual “snow day”, and allow the Word of God (the written Word and the Living Word) to water and replenish my life as the rain and snow “water” and “replenish” the earth?
  • Is there an area of my life that is experiencing a season of winter and I have impatiently tried to hurry the changing of the season to spring?
  • Do I truly believe that God has the final word, or have I been expecting His word to “return empty”?
  • Many people do not realize the important part that snow plays in the world’s ecological cycle, protecting plants and helping to replenish the water supply.  Have I been equally unaware of the importance of the Word of God in my life?  Remember, a lack of snow in places that normally receive snow is NOT a good thing causing a domino effect in the world!
  • Without a “blanket” of snow to help insulate the soil during very cold temperatures, the root systems of trees and shrubs would become damaged as the soil begins to freeze deeper and deeper.  How has God’s “blanket of snow” in my life insulated and protected my “roots”?
  • Do I see the hope and the sovereignty of God in this verse that the falling snow in my life is not without purpose?

God’s Word WILL water our lives and any dilemma or situation that we bring to Him, causing it to “bring forth”, “sprout”, giving “seed to the sower” (for future harvests) and “bread to the eater” (for our needs now).  So all right then, let’s get ready for times of refreshing, put on our spiritual snow boots, and hit the slopes!

“He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth…'” ~ Job 37:6

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