Doing the Right Things.

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“You…harvest what you plant.” Gal 6:7 CEV

George Bernard Shaw said, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get ahead are those who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, they make them.” A farmer can plant anything he wants; the land doesn’t care one way or the other. Suppose he plants both wheat and poisonous hemlock. The land will return poisonous hemlock as plentifully as it does wheat. Your mind is far more fertile, but the same principle applies. It doesn’t care what kind of seeds you plant; success or failure, good or evil, anxiety or peace – what you sow returns to you. The Bible says, “If you follow your selfish desires, you will harvest destruction…if you follow the Spirit, you will harvest eternal life” (v. 8 CEV).

Success lies in your daily routine. So, get to know God better through His Word and prayer. Make up your mind to be of service to somebody every day. Tackle a problem bigger than you. Encourage everyone you meet. Take the first step toward overcoming a bad habit. Do something for somebody who can’t repay you. Change your thinking from TGIF (thank goodness it’s Friday!) to TGIT (thank goodness it’s today!). Do three things that will take you outside your comfort zone. Be thankful for what you have. Ask for help when you need it. Give God the best part of your day. The Psalmist said, “This is the day the Lord has made…rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps 118: 24 NLT). The time to be happy is now, and the place to be happy is here.

Spiritual Warfare (3)

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“The Lord disciplines those he loves.” Heb 12:6 NLT

It’s important to know when you’re under attack – and when you’re not. One writer says: “There’s a tendency among Christians to view anything unpleasant as spiritual warfare, rather than admit we’re reaping what we’ve sown. For example, if you’ve neglected your role as spiritual teacher to your children, God may let them fall into sin. If you’ve been dishonest, He may let you face the consequences. ‘The Lord disciplines those He loves.’ It would be foolish to ask Him to ease your discomfort when He’s disciplining you to get your attention. How tragic never to make the connection. God’s discipline won’t help you if you dismiss it as Satan’s doing. If you misunderstand, you may blame Him for not answering your prayers or failing to protect you; meanwhile, God’s warning you of danger.”

Spiritual Warfare.

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“Our struggle is…against…spiritual forces.” Eph 6:12 NAS

When the first plane hit the World Trade Center we thought it was accidental. When another plane hit it, we knew we were under attack. Dr. Robert Jeffress says: “Knowing the source of the problem is crucial…a navigational accident demands one response. A hostile strike requires a completely different strategy. Every day our world is invaded by what we consider random events. Couples divorce, so we develop marriage enrichment seminars; drug use increases, so we educate our children to ‘just say no;’ pornography among Christians rises, so we organize accountability groups; churches threaten to split, so we hire arbitrators to help with conflict resolution; Christians battle depression and suicidal thoughts, so we medicate them with the latest drugs. Please understand, I’m all for [such programs], but what if the source is more than random events and we’re under Enemy attack? Would we change our strategy? Through Scripture we discover there’s an unseen world and it’s at war. Paul writes: ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…spiritual forces of wickedness.’ You can’t just shrug your shoulders and say, ‘I don’t have a dog in that fight.’ You’re living in the crossfire of this spiritual war…the Enemy’s determined to destroy everything and everyone important to you. And those who dismiss such words as being over the top, do so to their own detriment. Martin Lloyd Jones said, ‘Not to realize you’re in a conflict, means you’re so hopelessly defeated and you don’t even know it.’ We’re in a very real war, the stakes are high, the enemy skilled, armed, and determined. The possibility of losing…is real. You must be aware of what’s happening and be prepared to fight.”

Spiritual Warfare (2)

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“Our struggle is…against…spiritual forces.” Eph 6:12 NAS

When the first plane hit the World Trade Center we thought it was accidental. When another plane hit it, we knew we were under attack. Dr. Robert Jeffress says: “Knowing the source of the problem is crucial…a navigational accident demands one response. A hostile strike requires a completely different strategy. Every day our world is invaded by what we consider random events. Couples divorce, so we develop marriage enrichment seminars; drug use increases, so we educate our children to ‘just say no;’ pornography among Christians rises, so we organize accountability groups; churches threaten to split, so we hire arbitrators to help with conflict resolution; Christians battle depression and suicidal thoughts, so we medicate them with the latest drugs. Please understand, I’m all for [such programs], but what if the source is more than random events and we’re under Enemy attack? Would we change our strategy? Through Scripture we discover there’s an unseen world and it’s at war. Paul writes: ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…spiritual forces of wickedness.’ You can’t just shrug your shoulders and say, ‘I don’t have a dog in that fight.’ You’re living in the crossfire of this spiritual war…the Enemy’s determined to destroy everything and everyone important to you. And those who dismiss such words as being over the top, do so to their own detriment. Martin Lloyd Jones said, ‘Not to realize you’re in a conflict, means you’re so hopelessly defeated and you don’t even know it.’ We’re in a very real war, the stakes are high, the enemy skilled, armed, and determined. The possibility of losing…is real. You must be aware of what’s happening and be prepared to fight.”

Spiritual Warfare.

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“The weapons we fight with…demolish strongholds.” 2Co 10:4 NIV

In Bible times when an attack was launched against a city, a first strategy was to bring in a battering ram, demolish the gates and defeat the inhabitants. Today you are at war with Satan! Only when you recognize that, is victory possible. And the good news is, “The weapons we fight with…have…power to demolish strongholds.” But you must “Put on the whole armor of God” (Eph 6:11 NKJV). It’s not something you pick up and wear when you feel like it. And you’ve got to keep it on, because the Enemy never lets up. He wants you to think he’s equal with God. He’s not! God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; He can do anything, anywhere, anytime. No question, Satan is a formidable foe, but there are limits on what he’s permitted to do (See Job 1:12). Your mind is command central; it’s where victory or defeat is decided. Paul told the Corinthians, “I fear, lest…your minds…be corrupted” (2Co 11:3 NKJV). Satan knows Christ’s return is imminent and he’s ratcheting up the opposition (See Rev 12:12). The way you win the battle is through: (1) Praise, the garment that protects you (See Isa 61:3). (2) Abiding in Christ, your source of spiritual growth and fruitfulness” (See Jn 15:8-10). (3) God’s Word. It’s “living…active…sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12 NAS), and it’s designed to defeat the Enemy. When Satan comes against you, combat his lies with what God says. (4) Walking in love toward others. It’s impossible to be victorious when you’re wrapped up in yourself.

Kindness

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“What does the Lord require of you…to love kindness.” Mic 6:8 NAS

Every day we miss opportunities to be kind in order to save a few seconds. One author writes, “When I treat people as obstacles, or a means to getting things done, I become a smaller man. With each brusque comment…dismissive glance…curt reply I lose a little more of myself…my relationship with God suffers.” Paul says, “The fruit of the Spirit is…kindness” (Gal 5:22 NKJV), and you can’t love God without being kind to those He loves. Consider Ruth and Naomi. When circumstances left them widowed, Ruth told her aging mother-in-law, “Don’t ask me to leave you…May the Lord punish me…if I allow anything but death to separate us!” (Ru 1:16-17 NLT). Consider Jonathan and David. When Saul tried to kill David, Jonathan stuck by him and “loved him as himself” (1Sa 18:3 NIV) although it meant sacrificing his chance to become king. Consider David and Mephibosheth. In an era when newly-appointed monarchs routinely banished those associated with former dynasties, David sought out Jonathan’s son and said, “I will…show kindness to you for the sake of your father…and…restore to you…the land of your grandfather…you shall eat at my table regularly” (2Sa 9:7 NAS). Consider the Shunammite woman who noticed Elisha was always passing her house, so she built a little room so he could “turn in” when he was tired (2Ki 4:9-10 NAS). You never regret kindness. Og Mandino says, “Treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend all the care, kindness and understanding you can, with no thought of reward, and your life will never be the same.”

Peace in the Time of Terror!

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“My future is in your hands.” Ps 31:15 NLT

September 11, 2001, Americans awoke to scenes of horror that would remain enduringly etched on the national memory. Its shock waves told the world that things would never be the same again. Sleepy eyes stared transfixed as television brought home the collapsing twin towers with their thousands of innocent occupants, the deadly attack on the Pentagon, and the cruel fate of an airliner and passengers hurtling into a rural Pennsylvania field. Unexpected, swift and violent, these attacks shook people to the core and exemplified a jarring new reality: the proliferation of universal terrorism. Fears of suicide bombers, chemical and biological attack still reverberate through our world of high-tech, security-conscious cities, airports, trains and bus terminals. King David faced the threat of conspiracy from both his enemies and his friends. Feeling abandoned, alone and vulnerable, he cried out, “There is terror on every side” (Ps 31:13 NIV). King, warrior and giant-slayer, David still felt the palpable terror of his situation. Frightened, he refocused his thoughts and heart to the source of real protection. “But, I am trusting you, O Lord” (v. 14 NLT). Afraid, but still trusting! And choosing to trust restored his perspective. “My future is in your hands” (v. 15 NLT). His litany of fears gave way to faith and prayer. “How great is the goodness you have stored up…You lavish it on those who come to you for protection” (v. 19 NLT). “You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them” (v. 20 NLT). In Jesus, you’ll find peace in the time of terror!

Handling Temptation

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“Keep your heart with all diligence.” Pr 4:23 NKJV

We all have our battlegrounds; in some cases they’re things we surrendered to years ago that now prowl through our innermost thoughts. That’s why the Scriptures warn, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Max Lucado writes: “I’m at a desk in a hotel room far from home. The voices that encourage are distant; the voices that entice are near. A placard on my nightstand invites me to the lounge ‘to make new friends in a relaxing atmosphere.’ Another on top of the TV promises late-night movies that will ‘make all my fantasies come true.’ In the phonebook several columns of escort services offer ‘Love away from home.’ Voices! Some for pleasure, some for power. The world rams at your door, Jesus taps. The world promises fleshly pleasure, Jesus promises us a quiet dinner…with Him: ‘I will come in and eat with him, and he with me’ (Rev 3:20 NIV). Which voice will you obey?” You ask, “How should I handle tempting situations?” In two ways: First, by filling your mind with Scripture so that your first response is always, “It is written.” Second, by keeping your eyes on Jesus. Lesley Durkin writes, “My father used to put a bit of meat on the floor near his dog and say, ‘No!’ The dog never touched it. But he never looked at it either, because if he did the temptation to disobey would have been too great. He just kept looking at my father’s face.” Keep your eyes on Jesus. “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (Ps 34:5 NIV).

A Notable Woman, or Man.

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“Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman.” 2Ki 4:8 NKJV

The Bible says: “Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food. And she said to her husband…‘Let us make him a small upper room…and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand’” (vv. 8-10 NKJV). Observe:

(1) Whatever you need more of, make room for it. You don’t get what you “want” in life, you get what you “prepare for.” This woman’s generosity toward Elisha resulted in her having a child when she wasn’t able to, and her child later being raised from the dead when sickness claimed him. When you make room for God in your life, you make room for the blessings that come with Him. (2) Notice the four things she put in the prophet’s room: (a) A bed. There are times when you must run, and there are times when you must rest. Indeed, if you don’t learn to slow down, you’ll break down. (b) A table. You need spiritual food to nourish your soul. If you plan to keep giving out, you must keep taking in. (c) A chair. This speaks of study. “Study to [show] thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2Ti 2:15). (d) A lamp. A place of illumination. Even after you’ve studied long and hard, you need the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to your heart. And that’s how to become a notable woman (or man).

A Judgmental Spirit.

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“You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.” Lk 9:55 NKJV

One day Jesus went into a Samaritan village and was not well received. So the disciples said, “’Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’ But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them’” (vv. 54-56 NKJV).

What’s at work in this story? A judgmental spirit. A poll taken by the Barna Research Group reveals that today most nonbelievers view Christians as too judgmental. So you can be sincere, but too severe. When you mix and mingle only with those who share your views and values, you can communicate with others in ways that attack, rather than attract. Let’s be clear; never has it been more important to know the truth of God’s Word and stand for it. But if you have the right doctrine and the wrong spirit, you’ll drive more people away from Christ than you’ll draw to Him. If Satan has his way, he will drive holiness out of our hearts and into our fists. Imagine- Christ’s disciples wanting to incinerate those who didn’t agree with them! They weren’t even aware of the spirit that was at work within their own hearts. “Jesus said…‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 19:19 NKJV). That includes your non-Christian neighbor. You don’t have to defend Jesus, or “sell” Him. All you have to do is introduce Him. The Psalmist says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8 NKJV).