Loose Grip

Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Jesus’ words are neither complicated nor vague. He simply says, “If you are going to call yourself one of My disciples, you must release your grip on materialism.”

To keep all this in proper perspective, think of it this way. He is not saying that we cannot possess anything, but things must not be allowed to possess us. To use His words, we must “give up” our possessions.

Corrie ten Boom, that saintly lady who endured such brutality from the Nazis during World War II, once said that she had learned to hold everything loosely in her hand.

She said she discovered, in her years of walking with Him, that when she grasped things tightly, it would hurt when the Lord would have to pry her fingers loose.

Disciples hold all “things” loosely.

Do you? Can you think of anything that has a tap root to your heart? Let go! Give it up to Him! Yes, it may be painful . . . but how essential!

You’ll Never Miss It

Frustrated that income never covered expenses, a longtime church treasurer resigned. Another member, who owned the town’s grain elevator, volunteered to take over with one stipulation: He wouldn’t submit a report for the first year.

The puzzled board members agreed because they knew he was an honest man. After all, they trusted him to process their grain.

By year’s end, the new treasurer gave a glowing report. The church’s building debt had been erased. Staff salaries had increased 15 percent. And the budget showed a healthy balance.

When the shocked but delighted congregation asked for an explanation, the treasurer said, “Most of you bring your grain to my elevator. When I paid you, I simply withheld 10 percent on your behalf and gave it to the church in your name. You never missed it!”

Imagine what we could do for God if we willingly returned the first tenth of his gifts back to him.

Need for Inner Change

You may have seen the television commercial (I believe it’s for insurance) in which a young man tells his friends, “I’m never getting married!” But then he does. Then he says, “We’re never having children!” “We’re never moving to the suburbs!” “We’ll never own a mini-van!” “We’re never having another child!” Each time his “never” changes into a reality in his life. The last scene of the commercial shows him, his wife, and two children snuggled together on the couch—and he’s perfectly content.

Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
—2 Corinthians 5:17

The world says that all we need to do is be decent, respectable, and reasonable. True, that is all one needs to do to be a member of the Great Society, but to be a member of the Kingdom of God, there must be an inner change. A Communist in Hyde Park, London, pointed to a tramp and said, “Communism will put a new suit on that man.” A Christian standing nearby said, “Yes, but Christ will put a new man in that suit!”

Friday Funnies

EXAMPLE

One recent Sunday, a young boy arrived to his Sunday school class late. His teacher knew that the boy was usually very prompt and asked him if anything was wrong. The boy replied no, that he was going to go fishing, but that his dad told him that he needed to go to church instead. The teacher was very impressed and asked the boy if his father had explained to him why it was more important to go to church rather than to go fishing. To which the boy replied, “Yes, ma’am, he did. My dad said that he didn’t have enough bait for both of us.”

MEDICAL ADVICE

There were two church-going women gossiping in front of the store when a dusty old cowboy rode up. He tied up his horse the kissed it right on the lips.  Repulsed, one of the women asked, “That’s disgusting, why did you do THAT?” To which the cowboy replied, “I’ve got chapped lips.” Confused, the women continued, “Does that make them feel better?” “No, but it stops me from licking them!”

CONFUSION

A man is visiting a foreign country but does not speak the language that they speak there. He decides to go to a church service, but the priest is speaking the native language, so the American man just does whatever the man in front of him does. When the man in front of him stands, so does the American man. When the man in front of him sits, so does the American man. At one point, the priest says something, and the man in front of him stood. So the American man stood too. Everyone in the church gasped, so the American man hurriedly sat back down.

Later, the American man figured out that the priest was congratulating a birth. When he had asked for the father to stand, and both men stood up, it had caused some confusion!

The Decisions That Lead to Contentment

By Charles Stanley

Think about a circumstance in your life you’d change if you could. Are you frustrated? Worried? Angry? To experience the freedom of contentment in the midst of it—whether a hardship or unfulfilled desire—you must accept the situation as having been allowed by God, even if He didn’t cause it.

In these situations, I often pray, “Lord, I choose to accept this as though it’s coming from You. No matter what I see, I’m choosing to look to You.” Then I can rest in His omnipotence and the knowledge that I’m a child of the living God. Instead of feeling like a helpless, hopeless victim of my circumstance, I know I’m cared for and guided by my sovereign Father through whatever may come.

The second crucial decision is total submission. This doesn’t mean approaching God insincerely and saying, “Well, Lord, I just want to thank You for this! It’s all just so sweet, Jesus.” No, it’s not. Be honest and admit, “This is painful and I don’t like it. But I choose to submit to You because You are trustworthy and loving. I’m willing to persevere until You accomplish in me whatever You want. I choose to draw from Your strength for everything I need.” My friend, if you make this decision and follow through, your fears will lose their power.

Either you believe Romans 8:28 (And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose) or you don’t. And if you do, you can entrust yourself to the Lord, knowing that He has your best interest at heart, will take care of you, and won’t ever leave your side. When you embrace these truths, you’ll have no reason to be anxious.

Wade’s Wednesday

Through Our Trials

Dr Charles Stanley

The troubles and suffering we experience in life are not random events without purpose. God works through them for our good (Rom. 8:28). We may not like or understand exactly what He’s doing, but knowing some of His general goals helps us trust Him and cooperate so we can reap the benefits of a season of affliction.

Protection. After Paul fervently prayed that his thorn in the flesh be removed, God revealed to him that it was a protection from pride. We all have areas of weakness that could lead us into sin, and God in His wisdom knows how to safeguard us. Sometimes pain accomplishes what nothing else can.

Reliance. Paul’s thorn, which made him weak, also taught him to endure by relying on Christ’s grace and strength. In the same way, the troubles in our life often bring us to the end of our rope so we’ll reach out to the Lord in humble dependence. Then we are positioned to receive the divine strength He promises to provide.

Divine Perspective. When Paul finally realized what the Lord was trying to accomplish in his life, he viewed his suffering in a totally different way. He stopped focusing on it as a pain and hindrance and instead became content: Paul could actually rejoice because he recognized that Christ’s power in him was more important than freedom from pain.

Unless we realize that God always prioritizes the eternal over the temporal, we won’t see the value of pain. According to 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weigh of glory” Therefore, we don’t lose heart.

Difficult situations are easier to bear if we know that something good is going to result from them. The problem is that our idea of good may not be the same as God’s. Since His ways and thoughts are much higher than ours, we must trust Him to know what is best, even if it causes us pain, frustration, or hardship (Isa. 55:9). The ultimate good the Lord is working to accomplish is our conformation to the image of His Son, and trials are one of the tools He uses in the process.

The Lord designs our trials. However, we should never think that God sends affliction into our lives and then sits back to see what will happen. Our loving heavenly Father oversees every aspect of the situation. God considers every adversity necessary to achieve a specific purpose in our life . He knows each of us intimately and sees where we need correction or spiritual growth to become more Christlike.(1 Peter 1:6-7) “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

God determines the length of our trials. From our perspective, any suffering lasts too long. But when we depend on the Lord, He gives us grace and strength to endure until His purpose is accomplished (Phil. 4:13).” I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

The Lord limits the intensity of our trials. He knows what we can handle and will not give us more than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).”There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Nothing in our life is random or meaningless. Even when we don’t understand what the Lord is doing, we can trust that He will use our trials to make us more like His Son in character, conduct, and conversation

 

Tuesday With Karen

Enough Broken Bread

There’s enough broken Bread to feed all men,
Christ died on the cross to save us from sin;
He’s the Bread of Life, He feeds every heart,
When He comes in, He loves us like we are!

There’s enough broken Bread to save every soul,
The power of salvation, in His hand, He holds;
He feeds us from His table after we’re saved,
Fulfilling our heart in so many ways!

There’s enough broken Bread to go around,
He lifts up the one who’s cast to the ground;
He keeps us inside His strong, able hand,
Doing things beyond what we understand!

There’s enough Bread, & always will be,
Supplying to hearts their tiniest need;
He extends His hand, says Come unto Me,
He’s the Door to enter for all eternity!

The Holy Space of Love

An ancient story is told of two brothers who shared grain fields and a mill and, at day’s end, equally divided the results of their labor. But the unmarried farmer felt that his brother, with a family to support, should have a greater share. So each night, under cover of darkness, he added some of his grain to his brother’s.

Meanwhile, the married brother was concerned that his single brother would have no children to care for him in his old age. So each night he, too, added to his brother’s granary.

One night, the selfless brothers ran into each other. Grasping what was going on, they laughed and embraced. Rabbinic legend holds that on that spot — where love was freely shared — God decided his Temple should be built. Wherever people act in sacrificial love, the space between them is holy.

Great Exploits

Colorado pastor Mike Paulison, who’s made many mission trips to Haiti to build and maintain an orphanage, shares about prayer’s power:
“On one trip, we were bringing large items that could’ve been problematic, because in Haiti customs officials often make up their own rules. We urged our prayer-support team back home to be praying as we went through customs. But when a storm delayed our flight from Miami for two hours, the schedule was off. We encouraged one another, saying at least prayers had been lifted. Later, on the plane to Haiti, I noticed I’d made a mistake on the schedule. It was off by exactly two hours. The supporters were actually praying the very moment we landed in Port-au-Prince!

“In line at customs, we watched officials opening luggage. But by the time we got to the front, the inspectors were gone, and we were allowed to walk into the country. We experienced firsthand the promise in Daniel 11:32b (KJV): “but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits..”

God’s Conversation Hearts

Those familiar conversation hearts that show up every February can be more than just trite romantic or friendly sayings. Use them to remind you — or to teach a child — of the greatest love of all: God’s love for us, which empowers our love for others. For example:

  • TRUE LOVE: What love is truer than giving up one’s only Son so people might have everlasting life? (John 3:16).
  • MINE: Jesus knows us intimately, as a shepherd knows his sheep. No one can snatch us from him (John 10:27-29).
  • FOREVER: God loves us with an “everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).
  • LOVE ME: The greatest commandment is to love God with our whole being (Luke 10:27).
  • TRUST ME: “Let not your hearts be troubled.” We can count on Jesus, now and for eternal life (John 14:1-3).
  • SWEET TALK: God’s words are sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103).
  • BE GOOD: We show our love for Christ by keeping his commands (John 14:15).
  • CALL ME: God longs to be in fellowship with us. We can talk to him anytime in prayer (Jeremiah 33:3).
  • FRIENDS: The greatest love involves laying down your life for your friends (John 15:13) — precisely what Jesus did.
  • #1: “We love because [God] first loved us” (1 John 4:19).