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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Words to Die For

Live so that in death, you’ll be in peace.

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Always keep a part of your heart reserved for God. (1)

 

I have known people with hard hearts or, as Ezekiel writes, hearts of stone.

 

People with hard hearts are generally unforgiving, self-centered, and cold.  They are not drawn towards others nor are others drawn to them.

 

A hard heart is the ugliest attribute a person can possess.  

 

Hard hearts do not make room for God.  They are devoid of love and are unmoved by the beauty and mystery of life.  

 

Hard hearts are never broken, but neither do they live.

 

Not only does God want us to have hearts that have a spot reserved for Him, but he promises to give us one:

“I will remove your heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh.” (2)

 

A heart of flesh is a goldmine for love and life.  

 

A hard heart is nothing more than a gravel pit.

 

Your heart is your treasure chest. (3) 

 

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  1. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 290). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  2. Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26.
  3. Matthew 6:21

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Don’t calculate without God (1)

I have always been a whiz with numbers.  In school I could add, subtract, multiple, and divide with the best.  Word problems and algebraic equations were my soul mates.  

Arithmetic was home base.  I consistently made A’s in math until I hit trigonometry and calculus.  My guaranteed A’s turned into hard won B’s.  After completing my second semester calculus class at Chapel Hill, I had enough.

Life is like calculus, it’s hard to figure out.  I was never able to look at a calculus problem and know the correct answer immediately.  Life is the same.  Just when I think I have life figured out, reality steps up to the plate and throws me a sinking curve ball.

When I became a Christian and began to include God in the equation, life did not necessarily become easier, but the answer became clearer.  With God in the mix, I know how the story ends, thus I know where I am going and can more easily find my way.

Because God’s ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts (2) my greatest error in life is to make plans, do my life calculus, without considering God.  

I am a list maker.  My favorite is a list of pros and cons.  I will consider every obstacle and possibility while completing this list.  Once my list is complete, I weigh my options and make a decision.  Once a decision is made, I move forward.

Periodically I will show my list to a group of leaders in the church or to the men in my Covenant Group, to help them understand that I made a wise and careful decision.

One day, a friend who was reviewing my list asked me, “Where’s God?”  

I stumbled and stammered, I was struck dumb, silenced with nothing to say.  God was not considered.  I had not calculated for God.  I had planned for opposition, deficiencies, sin, evil, rainy days, surprises, and a host of other potential problems the world might throw down in my path.  But I had not planned on God.

My friend said,”Without God, your plans will fail.”

I hate it when my friends are right and I am wrong. 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (3)

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  1. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).
  2. Isaiah 55:8.
  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jeremiah 29:11.

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The way you handle your sin 

is as important as the sin itself. (1)

A friend came to me recently to let me know how I had hurt them awhile ago.  Since my offense, our relationship had been broken for them, while I thought all was well.

While I had not intended to hurt them, I had.  This is a common everyday event in all relationships.

When a friend points out our sin to us we have the choice of responding in one of two ways.  We can take offense and defend ourselves or we can humble ourselves and graciously apologize.

Our natural tendency is to defend ourselves, especially when we did not mean to offend.  By doing so, we communicate that our friend, who has come to us in love and with wounds, is wrong, unreasonable, and overly-sensitive.

A defensive response not only exasperates the brokenness within the relationship, but causes the the relationship to quickly descend into a downward spiral.

Why do we do this?  I’ll place my money on pride.  I hate being wrong.  I loathe being told I was wrong.  However, I must confess that my friend did me a great favor.

By listening, I learned that I need to be watch my behavior in a specific situation which causes me stress and frustration as a pastor.  While I did not intend to sin, the manner in which I handled myself was offensive.

I am grateful that my friend came to me.  Their compassionate honesty helped to make me a better pastor.

In the end my sin made me a better person.

Paul reminds us,

“We all sin and fall short of the glory of God … the wages of sin is death.” (2)

Sin does not have to lead to a death.

Grace covers the wages of sins.

When sin is handled with a gracious apology, it leads to life.

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  1. Blackaby, Richard (2006-12-01). Experiencing God Day By Day (Kindle Location 3115). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  2. Romans 3:23 and 6:23

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Life is a Battle!

A friend told me recently, “I avoid conflict! I’ll do anything to get out of conflict!”

I was tempted to add to his last sentence, “… except kill yourself.”

Can you live life and avoid conflict or battles?

In my devotional reading today I read these two quotes:

Life is not victory, but battle. (1)

Combat comes before victory. (2)

The sum of the two could read: 

Life is a battle which precedes victory!

The presence of evil and the reality of sin assure us that life is a battle between good and evil.  This is the story of life … Good and Evil are in a battle to the finish.  Only one can win the battle.    

People often complain that the Bible, especially the Old Testament and The Book of Revelation, is a gruesome battlefield which does not seem befitting for the people of God. 

It’s a valid complaint because the battle of Good and Evil is the story of The Bible.  We often forget that the cosmic battle between Good and Evil is fought everyday on earth, as well as in the heavens.

Thus, the ultimate question of life is,

“Which will be the victor? Good or evil?”

I believe both will win.  

Evil will win the battle of the flesh and Good will win the battle of the cosmos.  

However, since the Eternal will always outlive the Temporal, I am casting my lot with the God, the Eternal Good! 

Martin Luther wrote in his great hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God:

Though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, 

we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.  

The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; 

his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; 

one little word shall fell him.

– – –

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth; 

the Spirit and the gifts are ours, thru him who with us sideth.  

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; 

the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still; 

his kingdom is forever.

Yes, life is a battle!  This is the bad news.

The Good News is: Jesus wins!

It’s good to know who will win!  

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  1. Samuel G. Hardman and Dwight Lyman Moody, Thoughts for the Quiet Hour (Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998).
  2. Reimann, Jim; Cowman, Mrs. Charles E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 239). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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