Keeping Faith in the Perfecting Work of God

Bible Reading: Philippians 3 (emphasis on verses 8-16) I love Philippians 1:6. It fills me with hope and confidence in my Savior.  It reads, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  This picture Paul has painted gives me such comfort as I strive to live for God day in and day out.  Sometimes, I can beat myself down by thinking that I should be better than I am. I have thoughts running through my head saying, “I have been a Christian…

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Don’t Waste Your Talents

Bible Reading: Matthew 25:14-30 Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”  We read this, and there is an immediate agreement.  We all know that when we work diligently, we see the fruits of our labor.  We also know and agree that the lazy person will not see and fruit because they did not labor for it.  Even though we know both of these statements to be true, there is still a thought I cannot get out of my head.  Everyone I talk to seems to be…

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Praying Without Ceasing

Bible Reading: Psalm 86 How beautiful is prayer?  Could God have given us a more precious gift?  He could have kept our relationship as Creator and creation, but He made it so much more intimate.  Now, thanks to the gift of prayer, we can come to God as His children and call Him our Heavenly Father.  Have you ever stopped to think about how amazing prayer is?  The God who created the entire universe allows us to communicate with Him.  The Almighty God who breathed out the stars and can number them, calling each one by name, hears your prayers…

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A Parent’s Compassion

Bible Reading: Matthew 15:21-28; 1 John 4:18-19 There is not a more desperate time for a parent than when their child is very sick or hurting.  We rush them to the hospital, and we plead for immediate help.  We seek compassion from the nurses and doctors, and we beg them to help.  There is no length we would not go to in order to get our children the help and care they need.  We will humble ourselves to the point of begging and tears.  We have love and compassion for our children, and we plead for others to have the…

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The Forgiveness of the Forgiven

Bible Reading: Isaiah 64:1-9, and Matthew 6:9-13, placing emphasis on verse 12. Other than love, forgiveness may be the most powerful force in the world.  Do you remember those times as a child or teen when you had done something horribly wrong, and you knew you had to apologize?  It gave you that burden in your stomach to the point that you felt sick with fear and worry.  We could grow so anxious because we do not know how they will respond to our apology.  Will they get angry and shout at us?  Will they try to add on guilt…

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Faith that is Sincere, Pure and Good

Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 1:3-7 We are past due to realize the situation our nation is in: trust is irrelevant and faith is under attack.  Many try to live in denial, while others may turn a blind eye to this situation, but the time has already come for the Church to wake up to its calling.  Somewhere throughout our journey, the Word of God lost its place of value in our lives, and it is to a point where people who say they love Jesus have no idea of anything He said!  We live in an age where we post…

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All Things In Common

Bible Reading: Acts 2:37-47 Acts 1 and 2 contain so much exciting news!  Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will come and fill the disciples’ hearts, and then He ascends into heaven.  After this, the disciples go to Jerusalem to pray and wait for the Spirit, and then the Spirit falls and fills them up!  The power and presence of the Holy Spirit empowers the disciples to preach the Gospel to all of the people who are gathered in Jerusalem.  Many nations and languages are present, and the Spirit allows for each one to hear the Gospel in their own language! …

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Jacob: the Deceiver gets Deceived

Bible Reading: Genesis 29:1-30 (Jacob’s story goes from Genesis 27-35) We all enjoy seeing justice served.  There is something so sweet about seeing the person who takes advantage of others being taken advantage of.  This is what Jacob’s story is for me.  I love seeing the story of Jacob, whose name means to deceive or cheat, deceive his father, and then two chapters later he is deceived by his uncle.  To clarify, I do not love the story because Jacob gets deceived, but the change this seems to spark in him.  First, some back story.  Jacob and his brother, Esau, are…

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Jesus Christ, Our Advocate

Bible Reading: Romans 7:14-25; 1 John 2:1-6 Any believer who has taken time to seriously reflect on the state of their heart and soul can relate to Paul’s dilemma in Romans 7.  “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Rom. 7:15) We have asked God to forgive us of our sins through Jesus, and we have committed ourselves to living for Him, but we still sin!  Why do we still sin, even though we have surrendered to Christ?  Shouldn’t we have stopped sinning from…

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The Emmaus Road to Hope and Joy

Bible Reading: Luke 24:13-35 and Proverbs 10:28 Two men are on a seven mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  They are very sad.  The man they had hoped would redeem Israel had been unfairly condemned and brutally murdered three days ago.  Their hope was ruined, and their minds were probably racing and scrambling to find some kind of foothold to figure out what to do next.  We don’t know why they are traveling seven miles to Emmaus, but it is likely they are going home since the Passover feast had ended.  What we do know for sure is this:  these…

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Forgiven and Holy

Bible Reading – Colossians 1:13-24 Yesterday was Palm Sunday, and it has focused our hearts and minds on the coming events of the week.  Maundy Thursday will remind us of the night Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples and established the Lord’s Supper.  Good Friday focuses on the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  And next Sunday will be Easter, where we remember the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.  The emotions of this week can seem like a roller coaster.  We have the peaceful feeling of family when we come to the Lord’s Supper, followed by…

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God is Love

Bible Reading – 1 John 4:7-21 As Easter gets closer, I keep thinking about how great the love of God is.  A time of year where we remember that God loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins.  Not only did Jesus die so our sins could be forgiven, but He resurrected back to life so that we no longer have to fear death.  Sin and death are defeated in Jesus Christ for all those who love Him.  Easter is a season of love, and we would do well to think more about…

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What Defiles a Person?

Bible Reading: Mark 7:14-23; James 1:12-15 It is fairly easy to identify things that are bad and harmful.  We believe things such as murder, adultery, and stealing are bad, and they certainly are.  We view these things as something that, if we participate in them, we are defiling and ruining ourselves.  But in this passage from Mark 7, Jesus teaches us the truth about sin and wickedness.  “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile…

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Having Joy During Trials

Bible Reading: James 1:1-18 The epistle of James is very popular because of how practical its teachings are.  James offers us great instructions on how to live out our faith in Jesus Christ.  But James opens with a very interesting thought.  He writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”  All of us face trials of various kinds, and every one of them is hard on us in one way or another.  But James tells us to count those trials as joyful.  How are we supposed to count our trials as joyful?  Going through…

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Why is Submission to God so Difficult?

Bible Reading: Romans 7:14-25 Last time we looked at submission we talked about how it is not a bad thing.  Submission to God is based in love.  Because God has loved us so much and adopted us as His children, we lovingly submit to following Him.  When we set our hearts and minds to following and obeying God, that is the first step.  In step two the rubber meets the road!  When we first begin trying to live for God, we find it to be more difficult than we thought.  What is going on?  We love God, but we keep…

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Showing Mercy to All People

Bible Reading: Luke 6:27-36 Most of us were taught the golden rule growing up: “As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (6:31) Most of the time, the thing we are taught when we are young become a key part of our character.  However, even though we are taught the golden rule from the time we are young, it gets harder and harder to follow this rule as we get older.  There are a few reasons why this is.  It could be that we have been hurt and rejected too many times, so we stop…

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Be Full of Jesus

Bible Reading: Philippians 4:8-13 The character trait for this week is a challenging one: contentment.  To be content is to be satisfied, but not just temporarily satisfied.  To be content, I think, is to be full.  It is so hard to be full and content in our society today.  We are flooded with advertisements that cause us to never be satisfied with anything in our life.  The ads do their job very well, because we often think, “If I could just have that, then everything would be right with the world.”  Of course, we know this is silly, but when…

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Love Your Enemies

Bible Reading: Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount has a way of putting us in our place.  We may think, “I’m doing great!  I haven’t even murdered anyone!”, but then Jesus comes and raises the bar to not being angry and holding a grudge against anyone.  Arguably one of the most challenging sections of the sermon deals with us loving our enemies.  We may think we do well to love our family and friends, and this love helps cancel out the anger we feel against our enemies.  Jesus asks some questions in this section that truly clear up our…

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Faith That Stands Firm

Bible Reading: Daniel 3 Everything we say and do effects who we are.  We are who we are because of all of the past decisions we have made.  Of course, there is nothing about our past that makes us beyond the grace of God.  I am speaking only to our character.  Our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions all influence our character and the kind of person we are.  This is one of the reasons why our faith is so important.  When we are born again and made new through Jesus, our whole life is changed.  What we used to be…

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The Faith of the Sinful Woman

Bible Reading: Luke 7:36-50 “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”  These are the words Jesus spoke to the sinful woman in Luke 7.  This story never ceases to bless my heart.  There is no telling what this woman thought of herself, or felt in her heart every day.  We get a glimpse of the public’s opinion on her in verse 39 when the Pharisee says to himself, “If this man (Jesus) were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”  What a horrible…

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God is Love

Bible Reading: 1 John 4:7-12 Don’t you just love “love”?  “Love” is so lovely, you cannot help but love it!  What is interesting about what John writes in this passage is that he says not many people know what love even is.  His reasoning for this:  only somebody who knows God and has experienced God’s love can know what love is.  How true that is!  We would all agree there are different degrees of love.  I love my wife, my daughter, Alabama football, and chicken wings, but you understand that love applies differently to each of these things.  Chicken wings,…

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Work and Worship While You Wait

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 Ordinary life can be challenging for the Christian.  Think about this with me:  we have heard countless testimonies of faith in the midst of extraordinary times.  Testimonies of faith in the midst of illness, loss of a loved one, divorce, job loss, bankruptcy, addiction, and many more things.  These are all amazing testimonies that give glory to God and encourage fellow believers as they go through similar circumstances.  But what about ordinary, routine, daily life?  This has been my struggle over the years.  Is my faith growing and showing through in the ins and outs…

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Obedience Can Be Scary

Bible Reading: Judges 6-7, the story of Gideon When God calls us to follow Him, we are very excited…until He tells us something scary to do!  God must test our faith so that it can be strengthened and grow.  We know God never leaves us, and that He is able to do all He has said He will do, and we trust that if He gives us a mission He will be working to guarantee its success, but we still get scared!  Praise God that He is patient with us in our fear, and gives us the courage to be…

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Naaman’s Lesson of Faith

Bible Reading: 2 Kings 5:1-19 I must make two confessions: 1) I am a Bible nerd!  And 2) I LOVE the Old Testament!  So much rich history of how God has been active in the world and blessing His people since He created the universe.  One story in particular that I love is found in 2 Kings 5, and it is the story of Naaman.  Naaman was a general in the armies of Syria, and he was very successful.  He was a fearless leader, a great warrior, and won many battles for Syria.  Verse 1 even tells us, “because by…

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Prudent Planning for 2017

Bible Reading: Psalm 1; Luke 14:28-34 I won’t lie, before this blog post I had no idea what prudent meant!  It is not a word that I have ever used, or had intended on using. But after looking up the definition, prudent is a pretty cool word!  To be prudent is to be wise and calculating; to have the forethought to count the cost before making a commitment.  It made me think about Jesus’ words in Luke 14:28-34, where He is talking about counting the cost of discipleship.  A prudent person thinks very carefully before making a decision. After learning…

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Peace of Christ

Bible Reading: Colossians 3:12-17; Hebrews 13:5-6 As 2016 comes to a close and we look forward to 2017, I always love to reflect over the past year.  How far have I come in accomplishing my goals?  How have I changed, good or bad, over the past year?  What life changes happened?  These are just a few questions that help me put the past year in perspective as I try to make the next year even better! There are parts of 2016 that will bring back great memories and put a smile on my face.  My daughter was born, I got…

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Bowing Before a Baby

Bible Reading: Matthew 2:1-12; 1 Peter 5:5b You must be humble to be a Christ-follower.  To confess that you are a sinner who cannot save him or herself, and then ask for Jesus to save you; this takes a humble heart.  If you are a proud person, you do not like the idea of relying on somebody else so fully.  In our culture, we are brought up to do our best, work hard, and earn what we get.  If you want good things, you have to work for it!  So why would salvation be any different?  Shouldn’t we do as…

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A Beautiful Heart

Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 There is a certain irony about the Christmas season.  Some of the favorite characters for this season, like Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Grinch, all teach us that love for neighbor is better than wealth and possessions.  I personally love the Grinch! His deviousness as he stills Christmas from Who-ville, and then to see his heart grow three sizes that day as he realizes Christmas is about more than gifts. Each of us has a favorite Christmas movie or story, and they all teach a similar lesson: Love people, not things. We love these stories, and yet…

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Abraham’s Patience in God’s Promises

Bible Reading: Genesis 15:1-6; 17:15-19; 21:1-3 God had promised to make Abraham a great nation that would be a blessing to all the families of the earth, but there was one problem…. Abraham was 99 years old and still had no son!  In Genesis 15 God tells Abraham that if he could number the stars in the sky, so is the number of descendants Abraham will have.  The Bible tells us that Abraham laughs at this promise.  How can a 99-year-old man and his 90-year-old wife (who is also barren) possibly have a son?!  Every time God tells Abraham this,…

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Peter’s Path to Peace

Bible Reading: John 16:33, 18:25-27, and 21:15-17 There is nothing that the heart desires more than peace.  A person can spend their whole life seeking peace and never find it, and that is because peace, true peace, is only found in Jesus Christ. There are times in each one of our lives where we feel alone and abandoned.  During these seasons of life nothing seems to go right.  Relationships are unfulfilling, times are tough, and there is no sign of relief.  Some have come to know this as, “the dark night of the soul”.  There is the absence of inner…

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Always-Thankful Hearts

Bible Reading: Psalm 69 It is easy to skip over psalm 69.  When we are wanting to read a psalm, we normally don’t like the longer ones.  Besides, if we were feeling adventurous and decided to read psalm 69, it begins so bleak and sad.  Reading the happier psalms is much more enjoyable!  We love psalm 23 because of the picture of a shepherd caring for a tiny sheep.  Awe!  But psalm 69 begins by saying, “Save me, O God!  For the waters have come up to my neck.” Yikes!  That is not a picture I like to imagine.  I…

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The Beginning of Wisdom

Bible Reading: Proverbs 1:1-7 and 1 Kings 3:5-12 In 1 Kings 3, we have Solomon asking God for wisdom so that he can lead God’s people and be able to discern between good and evil.  Solomon was given a blank check from God, and he could have requested anything.  He could have asked for a long life of health, or riches untold, but instead Solomon asked for wisdom. There are some days that I am thankful God has not made me the same offer He made to Solomon, because there are somedays that I would ask for all of the…

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The Attitude of the Heart

Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 and Philippians 1:6 I have always loved the saying, “God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called.”  We see this demonstrated in 1 Samuel 16.  When Samuel comes to anoint the next king of Israel, he is told to find the man Jesse and look at his sons.  When the sons of Jesse come walking in, Samuel waits to see who the Lord will choose for His next king.  Seven of Jesse’s son come by, and they are not getting any better!  They begin tall, strong, and attractive in stature, but as they…

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Being A Living Sacrifice

Bible Reading: Mark 12:13-17 and Romans 12:1 Being submissive, or to submit, puts a bad taste in our mouths.  It almost makes us think of a tyrant trying to make us kneel before them.  But submission is not always a bad thing.  The Bible invites us to view submission in an entirely different way than the world does.  Looking at this story from Mark 12, we read the question, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”  The question was meant to be a trap for Jesus.  At the time, taxes were paid to the Roman emperor.  The…

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The Courageous Confession

Bible Reading: Matthew 16:13-20 In this passage from Matthew, Jesus is learning from His disciples who people think he is.  The people are undecided and throwing out different answers.  “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  The people just do not know what to think about this miracle performing, carpenter’s son.  Then Jesus asks His disciples who THEY think He is.  Peter answered saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  In saying this, Peter is claiming that Jesus is the Messiah that Israel had been looking for. …

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Hall of Fame Faith

Bible Reading: Hebrews 11:23-40 When you look back at old photos, whether in an old photo album or the time-hop app on Facebook, are you flooded with memories of people, places and events?  These pictures trigger memories we had stored away and bring with them so many thoughts and emotions.  This is why I love looking back at pictures from my wedding, my friends from college, and pictures of my baby girl.  For a moment, I feel like I am back in that time and place, and I can relive my memory.  Our cellphones have little to no memory because…

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The Faith of Father Abraham

Bible Reading: Hebrews 11:8-19 We have all sung the song and danced the dance to “Father Abraham”.  Even as I write this the song is stuck in my head!  Abraham is a favorite Bible story for many of us because of his great faith in God, and his willingness to live out his faith by obeying God.  Hebrews 11:8-19 gives us a quick snapshot of the faith of Abraham and his wife, Sarah.  What an amazing story they have together!  Leaving his homeland at an old age because God promised him a future kingdom and future descendants to live in…

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Unseen Hope

Bible Reading: Romans 8:22-25; Revelation 21:1-5 The older I get, the less excited I am about my birthday.  But I remember growing up and not being able to sleep the night before!  I was so excited for what the day would hold.  Would I get a special birthday breakfast?  What present would my parents have waiting to surprise me with?  If I was having a party, what presents would people bring, and what games would we play?  I was so excited because of the hope that was in me for the day would bring.  But let’s imagine for a second…

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The Pure in Heart Shall See God

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” The Beatitudes are often memorized by believers, but I think these amazing statements are often overlooked and under-considered. Read the verse again, and this time consider what Jesus is saying. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” What an amazing thought! The Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of all things; the redeeming, all-knowing, all-powerful, everlasting Lord, and those who are pure in heart will see Him! It is hard to even imagine! Throughout Scripture, when people encounter the Lord, they fall on the ground as…

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Having Teachable Faith

As a man, I despise instruction manuals.  It is in my DNA to try to figure out how something is put together and how it works, and I do NOT need an instruction manual to tell me how to do that.  My leaning bookcases at home may disagree with me, but I think I can do anything without instructions.  When it comes to little DIY projects like bookcases and tables, I am what the book of Proverbs refers to as, “foolish”.  There is no positive outcome in the book of Proverbs for the person who ignores instruction and help.  Proverbs…

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Running the Race

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 1 Timothy 4:7-10 This old adage has always proved true: You must crawl before you can walk, and you must walk before you can run. This is why we do not sign our newborns up for 5k runs!  They first must learn to crawl, and then they have to get strong enough to walk.  They may run in a 5k, or maybe even a marathon one day, but there is a lot they need to learn first. When we read this passage from 1 Corinthians 9, we get this picture of someone running a race. …

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Walk Humbly With Your God

Bible Reading – Romans 8:1-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 Humility is a hard character trait to practice, but it does not have to be.  We can define humility like this: I don’t think too much of myself or think too little of myself, but see myself as God sees me.  We often pair humility up with humiliation, and this is wrong.  God does not want to humiliate us, but He desires for us to be humble.  When Jesus walked this very earth, God in the flesh, He did not look to humiliate people by pointing out what miserable sinners they are…

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Our Ways Are Not God’s Ways

Bible Reading - Proverbs 3:5-8; 1 Samuel 16:1-13 In Isaiah 55:8, God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”  How true that is!  We all struggle with knowing God is in control of everything.  We know God has everything taken care of, but we wrestle when His plan is different than our plan.  Numerous times in my own life God has worked things out, but He did not do it the way I wanted Him to.  One of my favorite examples of this is how God gave us our daughter, Lucy Grace.  My wife and…

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Be A Role-Model of Obedience

Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” Obedience is a tricky trait.  When we look at newborn babies, they are incredibly obedient, but that is mostly because they do not have a choice!  Parents try to set a schedule for eating, playing and sleeping, and the baby slowly adjusts to the program.  But not long after these newborns become toddlers, they start to ask their parents, “Why?”  We tell…

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Faith that is Tested: 1 Peter 1:6-9

If you are like me, just hearing the word test sends chills through your body and break into a cold sweat. The thought of being tested and having to prove myself can be terrifying. There is a fear of being “found out” when we know we will be tested. Whether it is a test of our knowledge or a test of our skills, whether it is some kind of official test or just being watched by others to see how we will do, we fear that we will not measure up to the standard that is expected from us. The…

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Compassion: Hebrews 4:14-16; Ephesians 4:32

Being tenderhearted is being sensitive to the concerns and hurts, as well as the joys and triumphs of others. It is the ability to empathize with others. The Bible gives us both good examples and bad examples of empathy. Job’s friends are the classic bad example of tenderheartedness and empathy. They start out well enough when they come and spend a week just sitting silently with Job on the ash heap, but everything goes downhill when they open their mouths. Instead of continuing to sit with their suffering friend, giving him their empathy they begin to give him their answers…

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Forgiveness: Colossians 3:13

Imagine a friend owes you $10,000. You loaned it to them with an agreement for them to pay it back, but now they are no longer able to. There is no way for them to take care of their own debt, so what do you do? Here are several options.   You could still require them to pay back the debt regardless of their ability to. You could continue to ask them and even harass them to pay whatever they can until the it is paid in full. This will of course require a lot of energy from you, it…

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Sincerity: 2 Corinthians 4:1-2

Have you ever talked to someone you strongly disagreed with but were at least compelled by their sincerity? Their arguments or reasoning for a particular stance may not be superior to your own, but just the sincere way they held their beliefs, while not enough to convince, at least gave you respect for them in their views. This is true most of the time. Even if a person has an airtight argument for their given position, if they seem insincere in any way, most people will not be convinced. The sincerity of a person, in many ways, is as important…

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The Righteous Giver: Psalm 37:21

We often hear that giving should be cheerful and done with joy.  A gift is not really a gift if it is done out of compulsion. Most people understand this aspect of generosity and accept it. But an aspect of generosity that we may overlook is that giving generously is also a righteous thing to do. Over and over again, God declares that giving generously is a righteous act. The wicked are commonly characterized as those who only consume and take away from others. Just in this verse it describes the wicked as borrowing without paying back. The wicked are…

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Truth Applied to Our Hearts: Psalm 139

Given the choice between a lie and the truth, most people would value being told the truth. A patient at the doctor’s office wants to know the truth about their physical condition, even if it is bad news. We demand that our politicians be truthful, and when they are caught in a lie we may demand their resignation. We want our children to be truthful and value the truth over falsehood. The truth reveals and instructs. But the truth also demands a response. When a physician gives a diagnosis, it is up to the patient take to heart the recommendations…

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