Author Topic: Happy Independence Day  (Read 18316 times)

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Happy Independence Day
« Reply #320 on: May 25, 2012, 08:36:45 am »

Prayer

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. - Luke 22:42-3
 
Have you ever heard someone say, “If you had your act together, you wouldn’t be struggling with knowing or following God’s will.” Don’t believe it! It’s a common, mistaken belief, and Jesus’ own actions teach that this isn’t so. 
 
Jesus’ final moments before his crucifixion were spent in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. There he prayed three times. Each prayer was a step in letting go of things that would hold him back so that he could take hold of God’s will. The first prayer was an outburst of grief. Jesus shuddered at the chill of death’s dark shadow. Prayer seemed his only refuge. 
 
The second prayer was one of release. Jesus was faced with two choices: If he saved his life, he would lose us. But if he lost his life, he would save us. Christ desired to do the will of his Father, and so he accepted his calling to die for us. 
 
The third prayer strengthened his resolve. It was like the tempering of steel, in which the refined metal is reheated a second time to increase its strength. As a soldier readies himself for battle or a patient prepares himself for a difficult surgery, so Jesus gathered strength from his Father for the task and left all his anxiety with him.
 
If Jesus can struggle, then I guess it’s o.k. if I do, too.
 
“Pray often; for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.” - John Bunyan (1628-1688)
 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Happy Independence Day
« Reply #321 on: May 26, 2012, 08:24:36 am »
Doubt

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief. - Mark 9:24
 
Distrust or wavering faith is a reality for most of us. But how would you like to be labeled a “doubting Thomas?” Do you ever wonder what it was like for Thomas, Jesus’ disciple who became known for his lack of faith? Thomas simply didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. But that’s not the end of his story.
 
Thomas didn’t doubt Jesus’ resurrection out of fear. He continued to meet with the followers of Jesus in the upper room. He just happened to be absent when the risen Jesus first appeared to them. He wanted some kind of proof that his companions had not just been seeing things. Thomas was given the undeniable evidence he asked for when Jesus appeared a second time, dispelling all his doubts.
 
Undeniable evidence, however, isn’t necessary to begin a life of faith. As a matter of fact, it makes faith unnecessary. Jesus said to Thomas, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway.” You too have evidence of the Resurrection. You can experience God’s transforming power in your own life. You can overcome your troubling doubts as you continue to trust God to show you his power in your life. 
 
When Thomas overcame his doubts, he set out on a ministry that exhibited extraordinary faith. As you experience God’s deliverance, it will motivate you to minister to others as well. Do you have doubts? If faced honestly, doubt can lead to deeper faith. 
 
“Doubt can only be removed by action.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
 
 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!


Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Happy Independence Day
« Reply #322 on: May 27, 2012, 12:27:12 pm »
Priorities

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. - Psalm 1:1
 
“I really don’t know what’s wrong with me,” said forty-two-year-old Tyrone to his counselor. “I’ve attained many of my personal and business goals. But I’m still breeding ulcers, trying to climb up the ladder. With all my success, I’m still bummed out when someone else beats me to a big sale or a new account. I have a wonderful wife and two great kids, but I kind of feel like an outsider when I’m with them. I’m often around people and have lots of friends. But I don’t enjoy it, and I don’t think they’re really enjoying me. I’m afraid my dark moods are distancing me from the ones I love. But I don’t know what to do about it.”
 
Tyrone looks and acts like the American Dream personified. By all outward appearances he’s succeeded in the areas of life that really matter in our society: family, friends, career, finance. But like so many men, Tyrone’s warm smile and confident exterior mask a deep sadness and uncertainty. He often wonders what’s really worthwhile in life. Despite all the trophies he’s accumulated indicating he’s a winner, he always feels defeated.
 
Can you relate to Tyrone? The pursuit of the American Dream has left many feeling alone and angry. Why? Because prosperity cannot be measured by money or even family. Who does the Bible teach is prosperous or blessed? Only when you seek to find joy in your Creator and not in His creation, will your soul begin to find significance and true happiness. Stop and assess where you seek your joy.
 
 “God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there.” - Billy Graham (1918-    )

 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Happy Independence Day
« Reply #323 on: May 28, 2012, 08:50:49 am »

Surrender or Fight

But if serving the Lord seems undesireable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. - Joshua 24:15
 
Saul was the first king of the Israelites. He was a man with great potential for leadership. Unfortunately he failed miserably. He allowed his fearfulness, disobedience, and self-sufficiency to come between him and God’s plan for his life. I think we can all resonate with Saul’s struggles, so why not learn from him.
 
At the beginning of his career, Saul was a shy and reluctant leader. He was found hiding in the baggage when Samuel called the people together to publicly anoint him as king. Saul’s humble, restrained style worked well in the early days of his rule, but he came to a point that many of us come to:  he had to decide to either follow or fight against God’s authority in his life. Unfortunately, Saul made the wrong choice.
 
During his reign, Saul had great successes when he obeyed God. His greatest failures resulted when he acted on his own. Even his weaknesses, though, could have been used by God if Saul would’ve confessed them and left them in God’s hands.
 
Just like Saul, you’re faced with the choice of surrendering your life and will to God or continuing to fight God’s plan for your life. Saul was a people-pleaser. He surrendered to outside pressure rather than surrendering to God and it cost him his kingdom.Today, you are faced with the same choice. Will you surrender to God or go your own way? Just like Saul, your answer to that question will set the course of your life. 
 
“In any project the important factor is your belief. Without belief there can be no successful outcome.”  - William James (1842-1910)
 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Happy Independence Day
« Reply #324 on: May 29, 2012, 08:44:53 am »
Build a New Life

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  - 2 Timothy 3:16-17
 
Your past sometimes gets in the way of your vision for the future, doesn’t it? If you allow yourself to dwell on the areas where you’ve failed or on losses and disappointments that hurt you, you might find it difficult to look forward to the future God has for you.
 
King David is a man who dreamed of building a magnificent temple. When he commissioned his son Solomon to do the work he said, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God is with you.” (1 Chronicles 28:20)  Many years later the apostle Paul said, “We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:21)
 
Just as David dreamed of building a magnificent temple, you can dare to dream of building a new life. God has the blueprint already drawn up: just follow it by faith. You may be afraid that you will start and fail, but in the words of David, “be strong and courageous, and do the work.” As someone once said: Beginning is half done. In other words, take the first step, it’s the toughest.
 
What dreams have you been quietly suppressing? Dreams of becoming a missionary? Maybe you have dreams of adopting. Or dreams of starting a new career. Maybe you’ve been dreaming about building deep friendships or making an impact on your community. Don’t be frightened. When God begins a good work, He is faithful to complete it. 
 
“It’s a shallow life that doesn’t give a person a few scars.” -Garrison Keillor (1942-    )

 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Happy Independence Day
« Reply #325 on: May 30, 2012, 10:27:18 am »
Restoring Relationships

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. - 2 Corinthians 5:18
 
Are you living with a strained relationship? Restoration of human relationships doesn’t happen instantaneously. If you’ve broken someone’s heart or trust, you have a responsibility to face your failures. And you also have the tough responsibility of avoiding the urge to blame others for the problems you’ve caused. It may take some time before you’re able to face up to your failures. Expect the process of restoration and regaining trust to take time.
 
The prophet Hosea was a remarkable man. He was told by God to marry a prostitute. His marriage was to be a living example to the nation of Israel of her infidelity toward God. It must have hurt Hosea deeply when his wife returned to her life of prostitution. Hosea said, “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go and get your wife again. Bring her back to you and love her, even though she loves adultery. For the Lord still loves Israel even though the people have turned to other gods, offering them choice gifts.’” (Hosea 3:1)  Hosea needed some time before he could be close to his wife again, for such deep restoration takes time.
 
It’s your responsibility to wait patiently while God helps you restore your broken relationships and the hearts you may have broken. God can give those you’ve hurt love when love has been lost; he can help you trust and become trustworthy again, but these things take time.
 
“When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.” - William Ward (1921-1994)
 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Happy Independence Day
« Reply #326 on: May 31, 2012, 08:29:26 am »
Overcoming Expectations

He went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. - Matthew 14:23
 
One of the subtlest enemies of spiritual life and growth is the influence of other’s expectations of you. The world expects you to continually seek possessions and prestige. It expects you to fill your time with busy activity, whether meaningful or not. 
 
Are you allowing the world’s expectations to dictate your life? How often do you act in order to please others rather than because you want to please God? Sometimes pleasing God may actually require that you disappoint others because you can’t fulfill their demands on you.
 
What do people expect of you? What do you do when the world’s demands are pressing in on you? Solitude can help you break free from other’s expectations. When you spend some time quietly alone you can see more clearly what the world is asking of you. In solitude you’re more able to evaluate these expectations in relation to God’s desires for you and then decide which demands should or should not be fulfilled. 
 
Following one of the busiest days - and nights - of his ministry, the book of Mark tells us that Jesus “awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray.” Is your life busy? Are you feeling pressure from your work, your spouse, your friends, or your kids? Follow the example of Jesus. Make solitude a priority in your life today. You’ll be better for it.
 
“In solitude, where we are least alone.” -Lord Byron (1788-1824)
 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Happy Independence Day
« Reply #327 on: June 01, 2012, 08:12:44 am »
Hope for Change

And we . . . are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. - 2 Corinthians 3:18
 
Simon the fisherman was reckless, impulsive, and often thoughtless. His friends could probably think of some apt nicknames for him, but I doubt any of them came close to what Jesus called him: Peter, which means “Rock.” What greater evidence could there be that Jesus accepted Simon as he was, but also had a vision for the man he’d become? And what an amazing transformation took place in that burly fisherman!
 
Most of us can readily identify with Simon Peter. His intentions were usually good, but he was impetuous in speech and impulsive in action. When Jesus revealed that his mission would involve a painful death, Peter rashly told Jesus to stop talking that way. At the last supper he brazenly objected to Jesus washing his feet. When Jesus was arrested he cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. And we all know how he denied three times knowing Jesus.
 
Later in Simon Peter’s life, however, we see what Jesus saw when he called him “Rock.” He was used by God to perform miracles, he preached publicly about Jesus despite opposition, and exhibited strong leadership in the early church. In Simon Peter’s life we see hope for our spiritual renewal and transformation. He wasn’t perfect, but he grew in His life in Christ and God used him to have a profound effect on the world. 
 
Jesus has the power to transform even the most unlikely people. Keep this in mind for yourself and for others.
 
“God defend me from the Welsh fairy, lest he transform me to a piece of cheese.” - William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Happy Independence Day
« Reply #328 on: June 02, 2012, 10:24:06 am »
Rest for the Weary Soul

My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. - Psalm 38:4
 
There are plenty of roads in life that promise joy, health, peace, or transformation. Most of them, however, don’t lead in that direction. You can literally exhaust yourself seeking spiritual refresh-ment. And that doesn’t make any sense.
 
We work hard at building a good life, but instead of joy on the journey, we often feel weighed down by life. Have you grown weary going down one wrong road after another? 
 
Proverbs tells us, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (Proverbs 14:12) The fact that a way looks right at first glance doesn’t mean it’s leading toward spiritual renewal . . . it could be leading to a dead end. If you’re someone who has taken many paths but still finds yourself weary, turn to Jesus. He said these words for you: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
 
Any spiritual path that doesn’t lead to Jesus Christ won’t lead to true spiritual renewal . . . no matter how right it seems at first.  In fact, Jesus Christ himself is our way. Remember, the burden he calls you to bear on your journey is light, and the yoke of his expectation fits you perfectly. When you do this, he promises rest for your soul. 
 
“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” - Sidney J. Harris (1917-1986))
 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Happy Independence Day
« Reply #329 on: June 03, 2012, 12:19:30 pm »
Regret and Restoration

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. - 3 John 4
 
“If only . . .” is a haunting phrase. It implies that you failed and that you wish you could go back and do things differently. 
 
When you dare to see the truth and accept responsibility for your life, you may feel sad and ashamed. You may regret your irresponsibility and destructive behavior, and wish to erase the past. The Bible is full of stories of regret. Take for example the Old Testament book of Zephaniah. The prophet Zephaniah condemned the idol worship and self-center living of the nation Judah. If only they had obeyed and trusted God instead of going their own way!
 
This book shows us how many of our troubles are a direct consequence of our irresponsibility. The nation Judah was irresponsible in her relationship with God. She worshipped false gods and ignored God’s laws, which were intended for her own good. But Zephaniah made it clear that their irresponsibility would carry heavy consequences. 
 
With the help of Zephaniah and King Josiah the people confessed their sins, took responsibility for their lives, and turned back to God. As a result, they received substantial healing and restoration. When you are irresponsible in your relationship with God and others, your situation will grow progressively worse. The process of your spiritual renewal may start out painfully. When you confess the truth about yourself, it hurts. But as you begin to see the truth, speak the truth, and accept responsibility for your life, you’ll discover the great relief and hope that God offers.
 
“My one regret in life is that I’m not someone else.” -Woody Allen (1935-    )
 
 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!