When a Believer Dies (3)

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“We tell you this directly from the Lord.” 1Th 4:15 NLT What Paul wrote about death, he got directly from the Lord: “We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.” The Lord reserves this high privilege exclusively for those who die … Read More

When a Believer Dies (2)

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“God will bring back with [Jesus] the believers who have died.” 1Th 4:14 NLT Dealing with death separates us into two categories: The hopeless and the hopeful. The hopeless believe they have nothing to look forward to. Their losses feel permanent—the end of life and all that’s good. But the hopeful have everything to look forward to. Their losses are … Read More

When a Believer Dies (1)

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“You will not grieve like people who have no hope.” 1Th 4:13 NLT Our culture makes death a subject to avoid or to speak of with gloom. When the subject comes up even Christians try to dodge the bullet by escaping into vague, irrelevant-sounding metaphors. But God’s Word makes death clear and unthreatening for those who trust in Christ. “Dear … Read More

Gratitude—It’s Contagious!

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“In every thing give thanks.” 1Th 5:18 Author Barbara Johnson was frazzled; she was running late, and had to stand while riding the bus to work. Her attitude was going downhill fast when a cheery voice from the front of the bus announced, “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” She couldn’t see the man, but she listened to his commentary as he … Read More

Who Are You Trying to Please?

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“Let my words and…thoughts be pleasing to you, Lord.” Ps 19:14 CEV Are you afraid to speak up in case you encounter disapproval? The Bible says, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap” (Pr 29:25 NLT). And fear is common among people-pleasers. One author writes: “A pleaser daughter is one who, at any age, still tries to please her parents. From … Read More

Thinking for a Change

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“The plans of the diligent lead to profit.” Pr 21:5 NIV In his book, Thinking For a Change, Dr. John Maxwell says, “The right thought, plus the right people, in the right environment, at the right time, for the right reason, always produces the right result.” Let’s take a minute and break those words down: (1) The right thought. Thinking … Read More

Tap into Your Creativity

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“God created man in his own image.” Ge 1:27 NIV The Bible says: “God created man in his own image…male and female he created them. God blessed them and said…‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over…every living creature that moves on the ground.’ Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on … Read More

Imagination and Freedom of Choice

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“The world and all that is in it is mine.” Ps 50:12 NRS The Bible says, “God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Ge 2:7 NKJV). Until then, we were just inanimate hunks of clay in human form. At that point God breathed … Read More

Have You Been Rejected?

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“Do not be afraid…I am with you.” Ac 18:9-10 NIV When Paul tried to share his new faith with his old friends, “They opposed him” (v. 6 NKJV). It hurts to be rejected by those you love. It seems like Paul was so hurt by their rejection that God had to encourage him, saying, “Do not be afraid…I am with … Read More

Are You in the Wilderness?

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“He…guided them in the wilderness.” Ps 78:52 NKJV The wilderness is a place where growth comes hard, water is scarce, and you plod on when there’s no end in sight. You can have a wilderness experience anywhere: at a graveside, in an unemployment line, or in a divorce court. In the wilderness: (1) There seems to be no way out. … Read More

Don’t Run Out of Steam!

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“I bear him witness that he has a great zeal.” Col 4:13 NKJV John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, travelled two hundred and fifty thousand miles on horseback, averaging twenty miles a day for forty years. He preached forty thousand sermons, produced four hundred books, and knew ten languages. At eighty-three he was annoyed that he couldn’t write more … Read More

You Are Special

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“My unfailing love for you will not be shaken.” Isa 54:10 NIV Chinese missionary John Bentley distributed a book written by Max Lucado, entitled You Are Special, to children who lived in a Chinese orphanage. In that country male children are favored over female ones. Healthy babies outrank impaired ones. Indeed, children who cannot speak or hear stand little chance … Read More

Getting Serious About God (4)

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“Let us not give up meeting together.” Heb 10:25 NIV They took God’s Word seriously. “They spent their time learning the apostles’ teaching” (Ac 2:42 NCV). Researchers tell us that today personal Bible reading is less common among Christians than prayer. Instead of a Word from God that fortifies us for the challenges of the day, we’ve substituted exercise and … Read More

Getting Serious About God (3)

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“All the believers devoted themselves to…prayer.” Ac 2:42 NLT They took prayer seriously. The New Testament church was conceived in the womb of prayer. After ten days of united prayer in the upper room, “Everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit” (v. 4 NLT). What happened next? They launched a church that’s still impacting the world after two thousand … Read More

Getting Serious About God (2)

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“The believers met together…and shared everything.” Ac 2:44 NLT They took fellowship seriously. We are more than a common-interest-based social club. We’re a family—birth-children of our heavenly Father, blood relatives. The cross made it so. “We have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit” (1Co 12:13 NLT). Those early disciples valued their relationship. It went beyond merely singing … Read More

Getting Serious About God (1)

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“The believers met together in the Temple every day.” Ac 2:46 NCV It’s estimated that there are over half a billion practicing Christians in the world. But the church wouldn’t even exist today if it hadn’t been for a small group of disciples who were sold out to Christ. The things of God were not a part-time interest or a … Read More

Deal With It Now

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“No matter how fast you run, you won’t escape. No matter how strong you are, you will lose your strength.” Am 2:14 CEV Sorry, problems don’t magically solve themselves because you refuse to deal with them. Actually, they multiply, and “no matter how fast you run, you will not escape.” Kristin Armstrong says: “We become…adept at running…We try to flee … Read More

Show Hospitality

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“Given to hospitality.” Ro 12:13 Making others feel loved and valued is a hallmark of discipleship (See Jn 13:34-35). Welcoming newcomers was important in the early church, and it’s just as important today. Social customs may change, but God’s Word doesn’t. Jesus said, “Anyone who receives you receives me” (Mt 10:40 NLT). As a follower of Christ it’s your job … Read More

E-V-A-L-U-A-T-E

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“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Am 3:3 NKJV A successful marriage is based on two things: “finding” the right person, and “becoming” the right person. And the second thing is harder than the first. Just because two people share the same bed and the same name, doesn’t guarantee harmony. Here are some practical suggestions based on the … Read More

Adapting to Change

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“Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them.” Isa 42:16 NIV Change forces us out of the comfort of the familiar and into the discomfort of the unfamiliar. And while it can turn your world upside down, it makes you face your greatest fears and deal with the things that steal your joy, peace, and confidence. Change can be your friend … Read More

Confidentiality

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“They gather gossip, and…spread it.” Ps 41:6 NLT A man approached Socrates one day to share some gossip. The wise philosopher asked, “First, are you certain it’s true? Second, is it something good? Third, is it something useful?” When the man said, “Not really,” Socrates replied, “Well, if it’s not true, good or useful, why talk about it?” Gossip can … Read More

Spiritual Maturity Comes by Degrees

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“From one degree of glory to another.” 2Co 3:18 AMP How would you describe someone who is spiritually mature? Leonard Wedel says: “A mature person does not take himself too seriously…keeps himself alert in mind …does not always view with alarm every adverse situation that arises…Is too big to be little…never feels too great to do little things, and is … Read More

Change Your Self-Talk

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“You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you.” Job 22:28 NKJV It’s not what others say to you or about you that determines your future; it’s what you say to yourself after others get through talking! The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will … Read More

Keep Your Eyes on Jesus (2)

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“Jesus…went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.” Ac 10:38 NKJV The Bible says: “Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to … Read More

Keep Your Eyes on Jesus (1)

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“The boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves.” Mt 14:24 NKJV Jesus had accompanied His disciples in a previous storm and calmed it. But now He was up on a mountain praying, and they were alone, “tossed by the waves.” Why? Because sometimes the teacher has to step back in order to see how … Read More

The Power of Forgiveness (2)

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“Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” Col 3:13 NIV In Restoring Your Spiritual Passion, Gordon MacDonald writes: “One memory that burns deep within is that of a plane flight on which I was headed toward a meeting that would determine a major decision in my ministry. I knew I was in desperate need of a spiritual passion … Read More

The Power of Forgiveness (1)

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“Forgiving each other, just as…God forgave you.” Eph 4:32 NIV The power of forgiveness is an awesome thing. No relationship can survive without it, much less thrive. Whatever the issue, forgiveness sets both sides free, takes a weapon out of Satan’s hands, and opens the door for God to go to work in the situation. This is never more so … Read More

Have Realistic Expectations (2)

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“He knew what was in a man.” Jn 2:25 NIV Here are three areas in which you must learn to have realistic expectations: (1) You must have realistic expectations of yourself. When you do things poorly you usually feel bad. That sets in motion a never-ending cycle of reaching for things that are out of reach, hoping to prove something … Read More

Have Realistic Expectations (1)

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“He knew what was in a man.” Jn 2:25 NIV Jesus saw the best in people and worked to bring it out. But He wasn’t naïve; He understood human frailty. When people disappointed Him, He didn’t retaliate in anger, or distance from them. What did He do? “Many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his … Read More

“Let Us Pray”

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“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.” Eph 6:18 NLT In August, 1806, five Williams College students met in a field for one of their twice-weekly prayer meetings when a thunderstorm drove them to take refuge in a nearby haystack. Continuing in prayer, Samuel John Mills shared his burden that Christianity be sent abroad, and the … Read More

“Whatever It Takes”

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“The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” Pr 13:4 NIV The word “diligence” includes such qualities as hard work, honesty, persistence, and striving for excellence. The New Living Bible Translation puts it this way: “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.” One expert says, “Success … Read More

Learn to be Tactful

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“I try to find common ground.” 1Co 9:22 NLT Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy. To win someone over, you must first do two things: (a) understand them; (b) become comfortable with diversity. Paul wrote, “So I can bring them to Christ…I try to find common ground with everyone” (vv. 21-22 NLT). Paul wouldn’t … Read More

Secure in God’s Presence

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“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Ex 33:14 NIV Unless you spend time in God’s presence you will always have an underlying sense of insecurity. There are certain people we draw security from just by being around them; their presence and approach to life make us feel better. Likewise, when you need to be … Read More

The Cost of a God-Given Dream (3)

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“I have suffered the loss of all things.” Php 3:8 NKJV Stop and listen carefully to what some of the people around you are saying. Many of them express regret because they backed off from their dream of earlier years: a career not pursued, an opportunity left unseized, a relationship allowed to wither and die. Decades later they come back … Read More

The Cost of a God-Given Dream (2)

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“I have worked…been in prison…been flogged.” 2Co 11:23 NIV Second, there’s the ongoing cost. We all want what successful people have. The problem is, we don’t want to pay the price they paid initially, and continue to pay every day. Paul spells out the true story behind his success: “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been … Read More

The Cost of a God-Given Dream (1)

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“I consider everything a loss…compared to…” Php 3:8 NIV Y our dream will never be fulfilled unless you’re willing to pay the price that comes with it. And that price is paid not once, but over a lifetime. First, there’s the initial cost. You will have to make personal and sometimes painful sacrifices. You may have to walk away from … Read More

Your Heart Condition

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“Above all…guard your heart…it is the wellspring of life.” Pr 4:23 NIV Heart disease will kill you if you don’t detect it and treat it in time. That is true— physically and spiritually. It’s why the Bible says, “Above all…guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Wanting to look your best is commendable. It can enhance your … Read More

“Thank You”

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“He will not forget how hard you have worked for him.” Heb 6:10 NLT Are you thinking, “I do so much for others; now I just want a little appreciation in return”? But there doesn’t seem to be any coming, so you feel unappreciated and taken for granted. Just two simple words, but oh how much they mean: “Thank you!” … Read More

Happiness Is Found in Christ Alone

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“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are.” Eph 1:11 TM Where can you find happiness? (1) Not in unbelief. Atheist Voltaire wrote, “I wish I had never been born.” (2) Not in pleasure. Lord Byron wrote, “The worm, the canker, and the grief are mine alone.” (3) Not in money. When dying, Jay Gould, the American multimillionaire, … Read More

Don’t Lose Control!

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“Anger resides in the lap of fools.” Ecc 7:9 NIV The word “anger” is just one letter short of the word “danger.” When you lose control you risk losing other things as well, like the respect of others or the chance to find a constructive solution. Anger toward human suffering is not only appropriate, it’s the catalyst for change. Paul … Read More

God’s Timetable

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“By your patience possess your souls.” Lk 21:19 NKJV When God makes you wait for something longer than you want to, He’s teaching you patience. Your emotions are like a wild horse—they need to be reined in. “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he … Read More

Roots and Wings (5)

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“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother.” Ge 2:24 NIV Healthy parenting calls for finding the right mix of autonomy with each of your children. Some kids distance sooner, some later; some take small tentative steps, some leap confidently into the gap. There are no “good” or “bad” kids when it comes to this, just more … Read More

Roots and Wings (4)

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“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother.” Ge 2:24 NIV You can’t always prevent your child from getting hurt. “In this world you will have trouble” (Jn 16:33 NIV). Either they’ll get hurt and learn to deal with reality, or suffocate in your cocoon, never becoming mature—a hurt much sadder and much more painful and debilitating. … Read More

Roots and Wings (3)

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“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother.” Ge 2:24 NIV The second gift you must give your child is “wings.” They are born to fly, not stay in the nest. By becoming overly protective and stifling them in the name of responsible parenting, you’ll end up losing them. Jesus said children are designed to leave and … Read More

Roots and Wings (2)

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“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother.” Ge 2:24 NIV On the journey from adolescence to adulthood, your kids will experience insecurity, contradictions and mood swings. They will send you conflicting signals: needing closeness, yet distance; connection, yet independence; all at the same time. They will pull you in with one hand and push you away … Read More

Roots and Wings (1)

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“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother.” Ge 2:24 NIV You’ll know you’ve succeeded as a parent when your children are able to leave you and go out and build a successful life on their own. You will never cut them off, but there comes a time when you must “cut the apron strings” and let … Read More

“Up Close and Personal”

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“That…which we have heard…seen…touched.” 1Jn 1:1 NIV You can draw closer to the Lord if you really want to. You can have first-hand knowledge of Him. You don’t have to settle for Sunday morning sound bites, second-hand information, or a long-distance relationship. You can get “up close and personal” with Him. John writes, “That which was from the beginning, which … Read More

Show Your Gratitude

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“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord.” Ps 107:8 NKJV The Psalmist writes, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord, for his goodness.” Notice the word “would.” A thankful attitude is a choice you make regardless of the situation. You choose your attitude just like you choose the food you eat and the clothes you wear … Read More

De-stressing

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“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places.” Isa 32:18 NIV Years ago stress was considered mostly a male problem, but not anymore. Women are experiencing the stress of pursuing perfection, looking a certain way, competing in the workplace, attempting to do it all, never saying no, and having no time for themselves. That’s not how God wants you to … Read More

Healing for Your Grief

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“He heals the brokenhearted.” Ps 147:3 NIV One of the most moving scenes in Scripture is Jesus weeping at the graveside of Lazarus. It’s not that He was powerless to change the situation, which He did, but that He empathizes with us in our time of loss. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” The Lord didn’t promise … Read More