The Muck and the Mire

Posted December 27th, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional


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by Max Lucado

For thirty-three years he would feel everything you and I have ever felt. He felt weak. He grew weary. He was afraid of failure. He was susceptible to wooing women. He got colds, burped, and had body odor. His feelings got hurt.

To think of Jesus in such a light is—well, it seems almost irreverent, doesn’t it? It’s not something we like to do; it’s uncomfortable. It is much easier to keep the humanity out of the incarnation. Clean the manure from around the manger. Wipe the sweat out of his eyes. Pretend he never snored or blew his nose or hit his thumb with a hammer.

He’s easier to stomach that way. There is something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant, packaged, predictable.

But don’t do it. For heaven’s sake, don’t. Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out.

How to Develop Self-Discipline

Posted December 26th, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional

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by Rick Warren

God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NCV)

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God wants you to develop a self-discipline that pushes you to do things, even as others are giving up.

Over the years, I’ve observed six key expressions of self-discipline:

People with self-discipline master their moods. They live by their commitments, not their emotions. People who do the right thing even when they don’t feel like it accomplish most of what gets done in the world! “A man without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls” (Proverbs 25:28 LB).

People with self-discipline watch their words. They put their minds in gear before opening their mouths. “He who guards his lips guards his life” (Proverbs 13:3 NIV).

People with self-discipline restrain their reactions. How much can you take before you lose your cool? “If you are sensible, you will control your temper. When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it” (Proverbs 19:11 GNT).

People with self-discipline stick to their schedule. If you don’t determine how you will spend your time you can be sure that others will decide for you! “Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility … Make the best use of your time” (Ephesians 5:15–16 PH).

People with self-discipline manage their money. They learn to live on less than what they make and they invest the difference. The value of a budget is that it tells your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where it went! “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets” (Proverbs 21:20 LB).

People with self-discipline maintain their health. That way they can accomplish more and enjoy their achievements. “Every one of you should learn to control his body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect” (1 Thessalonians 4:4 PH).

The disciplines you establish today will determine your success tomorrow. But it takes more than just willpower for lasting self-discipline. It takes a power greater than yourself: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT/NCV).

The more I accept God’s control over my life, the more self-control he gives me!

How to Face an Uncertain Future

Posted December 25th, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional

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by Rick Warren

Do not boast about [what you’re going to do] tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Proverbs 27:1 (NIV)

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The Bible offers three timeless principles for facing an uncertain future:

1. Let God set your goals. It’s foolish to make any plans without first consulting God. He’s the only one who does know the future, and he’s eager to guide you through it. The Bible says “We may make our plans, but God has the last word” (Proverbs 16:1 GNT). In other words, planning without praying is presumption. Start by praying, “God, what do you want me to do?”

2. Live one day at a time. While you can plan for tomorrow, you can’t live tomorrow until it arrives. Most people spend so much time regretting the past and worrying about the future, they have no time for today! Commit to making the most of each moment of each day. Jesus said, “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time” (Matthew 6:34 LB).

3. Don’t procrastinate. Procrastinating is a subtle trap. It wastes today by postponing things until tomorrow. You promise yourself that you’ll do it “one of these days,” but then “one of these days” turns into “none of these days.” The Bible says, “Do not boast about [what you’re going to do] tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1 NIV). What have you planned to do that you haven’t done yet? When do you intend to start working on it?

He is Waiting in the Midst of the Storm

Posted December 23rd, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional


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by Max Lucado

Peter knows he is in trouble.

The winds roar down onto the Sea of Galilee like a hawk on a rat. Lightning zigzags across the black sky. The clouds vibrate with thunder. The rain taps, then pops, then slaps against the deck of the boat until everyone aboard is soaked and shaking. Ten-foot waves pick them up and slam them down again with bonejarring force.

These drenched men don’t look like a team of apostles who are only a decade away from changing the world. And you can be sure of one thing. The one with the widest eyes is the one with the biggest biceps—Peter. He’s seen these storms before. He’s seen the wreckage and bloated bodies float to shore. He knows what the fury of wind and wave can do. And he knows that times like this are not times to make a name for yourself; they’re times to get some help.

That is why, when he sees Jesus walking on the water toward the boat, he is the first to say, “Lord, if it’s you … tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28)

He is aware of two facts: He’s going down, and Jesus is staying up. And it doesn’t take him too long to decide where he would rather be.

Perhaps a better interpretation of his request would be, “Jeeeeeeeesus. If that is you, then get me out of here!”

“Come on” is the invitation.

And Peter doesn’t have to be told twice. It’s not every day that you walk on water through waves that are taller than you are. But when faced with the alternative of sure death or possible life, Peter knows which one he wants.

The first few steps go well. But a few strides out onto the water, and he forgets to look to the One who got him there in the first place, and down he plunges.

Peter’s response may lack class—it probably wouldn’t get him on the cover of Gentleman’s Quarterly or even Sports Illustrated—but it gets him out of some deep water:
“Help me!”

And since Peter would rather swallow pride than water, a hand comes through the rain and pulls him up.

The message is clear.

As long as Jesus is one of many options, he is no option. As long as you can carry your burdens alone, you don’t need a burden bearer. As long as your situation brings you no grief, you will receive no comfort. And as long as you can take him or leave him, you might as well leave him, because he won’t be taken half-heartedly.

But when you mourn, when you get to the point of sorrow for your sins, when you admit that you have no other option but to cast all your cares on him, and when there is truly no other name that you can call, then cast all your cares on him, for he is waiting in the midst of the storm.

How Do You Develop Self-Control?

Posted December 22nd, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional

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by Rick Warren

God does not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

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Successful people have one obvious trait in common: personal discipline. They are willing to do things that average people are unwilling to do.

It’s my observation that successful people express their self-discipline in six ways:

· Successful people master their moods. They live by their commitments, not their emotions. They do the right thing, even when they don’t feel like it. “A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls” (Proverbs 25:28 NLT).

· Successful people watch their words. They put their minds in gear before opening their mouths: “Those who control their tongue will have a long life . . .” (Proverbs 13:3 NLT).

· Successful people restrain their reactions. How much can you take before you lose your cool? “People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs” (Proverbs 19:11 NLT).

· Successful people stick to their schedule. If you don’t determine how you will spend your time, you can be sure that others will decide for you! “So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days” (Ephesians 5:15-16 NLT).

· Successful people manage their money. They learn to live on less than what they make, and they invest the difference. The value of a budget is that it tells your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where it went: “The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get” (Proverbs 21:20 NLT).

· Successful people maintain their health. That way they can accomplish more and enjoy their achievements: “Control your body and live in holiness . . .” (1 Thessalonians 4:4 NLT).

Now, where do you need to develop self-control?

The disciplines you establish today will determine your success tomorrow. But it takes more than just willpower for lasting self-control. It takes a power greater than yourself. Think about this promise from the Bible: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT).

The more I accept God’s control over my life, the more self-control he gives me!