Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Refocus


 REFOCUS

2 Corinthians 10:5b:  “We … take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

            Twelve year old kids scrambled outside to board busses in the pouring snow.  Jeremy quickly gathered up enough to form a snowball and playfully threw it at his friend Brad. All classmates quickly joined in the fun. … Not Scotty.  He formed his snowball—packing it as tightly as he could—and threw it hard at a boy who was using crutches to walk.  That boy fell down.  He used crutches to walk because he had a broken leg.

            Another kid wanted to throw a snowball hard at a girl who wouldn’t sit with him during lunch.  But this boy remembered his manners.  He refocused on his mom.  She would frown at this attitude.  Instead, he threw his snowball as far as he could, then smiled as it crashed into a bus window.

            The second boy got it right.  The secret to fighting temptation is to refocus. 

            Whatever we resist, persists.  The Bible never teaches to resist temptation.  But it does teach resisting the Devil.  The secret to overcoming temptation is not to push back, but to change focus. 

            Whatever has our attention has us.  Temptation begins in our minds.  Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and it’s filled with many goodies.  Verses 5-6 says, “Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying Your decrees!  Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all Your commands.” 

            Whenever we think about God, (how much He loves us, for example), we’re not thinking about other stuff.

            It’s true!  Focusing on godly things pull us in that direction.  When we focus on stuff like scandals in magazines or on TV, we’re pulled in that direction.  Whatever we focus on gets our attention. 

            Whatever gets your attention gets you!

            Free will means that we can change our minds anytime we want to.

            Temptation follows a predictable pattern that never changes:  A), Attention.  B), Arousal.  C), Action.  Once one’s mind gets hooked—it can’t fight—and so we act.  Quickly changing focus as soon as we know that something isn’t right, stops it from taking hold.  That stops the action of sin.  The pattern changes from wrong behavior to right behavior.  

            No sense fighting temptation.  We can simply refocus. 

Take Home Nugget

            Taking every thought captive to Christ takes practice.  We rarely control circumstances; often we cannot control how we feel; but we ALWAYS control what we think.  Let’s turn God’s gift of free will into a weapon to defeat the Devil.

            It’s our choice.  Changing the way we think changes the way we feel.  Then the way we act is truly our choice!

Wandering mind, refocus!  Sinful thoughts, refocus!  God’s Word, FOCUS!   

Adapted from “You Can Change the Way You Think” by Rick Warren.  August 25, 2016.  For more Daily Hope with Rick Warren, visit rickwarren.org

 J.D. Griffith

 





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Friday, January 13, 2017

Positive Prayer Requests


POSITIVE PRAYER REQUESTS

Philippians 1:9-11:  “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

 

            Everyone knows annoying people who irritate us.  How we deal with offensive people speaks volumes about our spiritual growth in Christ.

            What is your opinion of results in the recent presidential election in the USA?  Apostle Paul teaches truth, even providing why in 1 Timothy 2:2: “I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, or intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

            Even small kids know how parents feel about the new president-elect. 

            Whether you’re pleased or unhappy—the opening Scripture offers peace by praying positive prayer requests.  Praying for annoying people definitely does not come naturally for those who’re upset.

            When people are disappointed over life issues, prayer ought to be the first thing we do seeking help.  Believers-in-Christ can affect change.  We can change the world one person at a time, and prayer is the quickest way to affect change.   For sure, positive prayer will change others…and you, too!

            When we follow the opening Scripture’s play-book, that person will (A) grow in love.  But not just surface, “I love you” kind of love.  This love grows profoundly in knowledge and deep insight.  (B) That person will also become wise and make smart choices for what is the best way to act. 

            (C) One of the best improvements in people is to live with integrity [in-TEG-ri-tee].  “Pure and blameless” showcases honesty and truth.  Uh-oh, we’ll be praying for that person to become like Jesus!  

            (D) “Filled with the fruit of righteousness…to the glory and praise of God” defines Jesus’ walk on Earth. 

            Wouldn’t you like to squelch your sinful nature and grow more Christ-like?  Praying these four simple things for others will also change you.  Galatians 5:22-23 promises: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”           

Take Home Nugget

            But, before you think this is easy, Jesus also commands in Matthew 5:44: “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”  

Holy Father, Teach me to prayer positive requests for others that brings Your will from heaven down to Earth.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Adapted from “Positive Prayer Makes Strong Relationships” by Rick Warren.  November 19, 2016.  www.christianity.com

J.D. Griffith

 





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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Shine On


 SHINE ON

Genesis 15:5:  “He [God] took him [Abraham] outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can cunt them.’  Then He said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’”

 

            How do you react when someone promises you something that seems wildly unlikely to happen?   

            The reason Abraham is listed in Hebrews 11 is because he believed God.  Abraham didn’t pooh-pooh God during the opening Scripture; he just figured that the Almighty knew something to make it true.

            Hebrews 11:11 shows why Abraham’s faith was so admired: “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he [Abraham] considered Him [God] faithful as one who had made the promise.”

            Just like sports have a “Hall of Fame” where great players are admired forever, Hebrews’ chapter eleven is the Bible’s Hall of Faith.  Check out the lesson linked below to see other greats cherished in the Bible’s Hall.

            In today’s distrust, to believe a promise simply because we think that person is faithful is pretty weak.  Now you understand why Abraham is preserved in the Hall.  

            Using stars as His example, do you think that God meant only the number of Abraham’s offspring?  That’s surely what Abraham thought.  But there is another similarity besides the number of stars in His example.  God intended for Abraham’s offspring to possess star quality. 

            We see stars as tiny specks in the night sky.  But really, every star is like our sun.  Every speck in the vast sky is actually a brilliant orbit of light.  If we could expand the image, we’d be blinded by stars’ brilliance! 

            As Senior Patriarch of our Christian faith, Abraham lays claim to being the father of all Christians, who number in the billions!  Granted, Believers usually don’t see ourselves as stars.  Often, we feel rather insignificant.  But truthfully, Believers-in-Christ are magnificent and brilliant in the heavens.  We just appear insignificant on Earth. 

Take Home Nugget

            When we see others—especially children—remember that we are all like stars.  Let us reframe people from how they appear on Earth to the infinite potential each one has.  Each one may neither accomplish much nor reach a standard of greatness…but who are we to judge?

            “Then their good character will shine through their actions, adding luster to the teaching of our Savior God.” Titus 2:10, The Message.

            Not only are we made in God’s image—but through faith in Jesus—we are superstars in God’s eyes! 

Holy Father, teach me to see others as You created them, and never judge them according to my standards.  May I view not only others—but myself that way, too.  Praying this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Adapted from “Shine Like the Stars” by Rabbi Eckstein.  November 10, 2016.  www.holylandmoments.com
J.D. Griffith

 





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Friday, January 6, 2017

Others First


 OTHERS FIRST

Genesis 18:1-2:  “The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.  Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby.  When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.”

 

            Ten year old Shakira woke up with ANOTHER sore throat.  She swallowed hard to see if it would disappear.  “Hi Mom,” she croaked weakly. “Did you sleep here all night?”

            “I didn’t want to leave until you woke up.  The operation was harder and took longer than the doctors predicted,” mom said.  “But everything is good, now. … Yet I fear that you still have a sore throat.”

            Shakira nodded her head, yes.  She didn’t want to talk, but her eyes teared up.

            “Nurse Hetty, will you please prescribe something for her sore throat?” Shakira’s mom inquired.

            “The usual prescription for a sore throat after removing one’s tonsils is ice cream,” was the answer.  What flavor, Shakira?”     

            “Chocolate, of course!” Shakira’s mom teased.

            Shakira feels worse than Abraham felt after his surgery.  Check out the lesson linked below to see what Abraham did the day before the opening scripture.

            Father God waited for Abraham to wake up before appearing to him the morning after his surgery, just like Shakira’s mom.   Abraham was probably delighted to find the Lord checking in on him then, just like Shakira was glad to wake up to her mom.

            Sitting at the entrance to his tent was Abraham’s typical daily routine.  But this was no ordinary day.  Abraham was recovering when God made a house call.

Take Home Nugget

            Abraham’s routine was to meet strangers he saw while sitting at the entrance to his tent.  Today, he was talking with God Almighty.  And when Abraham saw three men nearby, he abruptly left God’s presence to greet them.  We’d consider his behavior rude.  We see no evidence that Abraham pardoned himself, “Hold on, I see three men over there!”

            Abraham RAN to the men.  Their presence made up for yesterday when he missed greeting people.   Abraham understood that there is something even better than talking to God—his plan was to be like God!

            Since humans are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), His intent is for us to be God-like. 

            How are we to be God-like?

            Just as the Lord clothed naked Adam and Eve and visited sick Abraham, so are we to imitate God.  Believers are to consider the needs of others first. 

Father, help me to clothe the naked, visit the sick, feed the hungry, comfort the bereaved, and console those who are sad.  Help me to be God-like You! Amen.        
  

Adapted from “Being Like God” by Rabbi Eckstein.  November 15, 2016.  www.HolyLandMoments.com

J.D. Griffith
 


 

 


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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dominion Covenant


 DOMINION COVENANT

Revelation 20:1-2:  “Then I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.  He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.”

 

            The previous devotion, Line Up Under God’s Rule, said the new covenant of grace that Jesus brought was a “dominion” covenant.  This may be confusing.  That devotion urged Believers-in-Christ staying in line under the Father’s rule.  HIS dominion [dom-IN-yon].  Dominion is defined as power to control with authority. 

            That opening Scripture was Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, ‘Let us make men in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”   

            Genesis 1:26 is the Father’s dominion covenant with man to rule.  He always intended that His children, made in His likeness, would SHARE dominion with Him over Earth.  Adam and Eve began our dominion covenant badly.  They handed over their authority to Satan—when they disobeyed God’s one command (Genesis 3:11).  So, Satan set up his kingdom on Earth.  

            The Father’s plan was always to DEFEAT the kingdom of Satan.  

            Every time we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we agree for God’s kingdom to come to Earth. That’s Jesus’ gospel message.  He preached the kingdom of God in Mark 1:15. 

            We learned earlier the foundations necessary for any kingdom is a ruler, subjects (people to rule), and land.  There are four separate ways people are to accept rule.  We are to rule ourselves (self-control).  We are to obey our parents (family).  We are to line up under God’s rule (the church).  And we’re to practice being good citizens, both locally and nationally (civic duty).   

            The good news that Jesus preached is the kingdom of God because that’s when He makes everything right.  At Jesus’ second coming, He’ll set up His thousand year reign on Earth.  That’s when Satan is tossed into the Abyss [ab-ISS], a hole so deep that one cannot see the bottom.

            Jesus Christ is coming back to set up His millennial reign, God’s kingdom on Earth.  That is the final triumph of God’s glory over the devil. 

Take Home Nugget

            But for now, God’s assignment for you and me is to take hold of that authority and rule (make decisions for) a part of God’s creation.  Every person was created with that divine intent.  God uses us to parade His glory to the devil that “lesser creatures”—you and me—have more authority than him!

Heavenly Father, Thank You for creating and equipping me to rule alongside You! Amen.


Adapted from “Kingdom of God” by Dr. Tony Evans.  November 15, 2016.  The Urban Alternative at LightSource.com.

J.D. Griffith

 



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Friday, December 30, 2016

Line Up Under God's Rule


 LINE UP UNDER GOD’S RULE

Genesis 1:26:  “Then God said, ‘Let us make men in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”


            If you decided to change your behavior in 2017, may your New Year’s resolution change things for the better.  If the previous devotion, Our Own Love, inspired you to develop a relationship with God, believe that things will definitely get better! 

            A relationship with you is exactly what God wants.

            Seriously. 

            Jesus ushered God’s new covenant into the world at His resurrection.  Believers-in-Christ are covered under that covenant of grace, a dominion covenant.  We’re protected and provided for.  Jesus promises in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

            “All these things” include food, drink, and clothing that are provided under the grace/dominion covenant that Jesus covers over His Believers.

            Lining up under God’s rule means that we agree He knows what’s best for us.  Created creatures—humanity and the heavenly host—are inferior to the omnipotent (all-powerful) Creator.  When Satan tried to be God, he got tossed out of heaven (Revelation 12:9).  Check out the lesson linked below.

            Earth is the devil’s playground where Believers are engaged in spiritual warfare every day.  We never need to be afraid because Jesus already defeated the devil when He rose to life!  Believers win the war when we line up under God’s authority and kingdom rule. 

            We choose victory in life when we operate under God’s sovereign will instead of challenging Him.

Take Home Nugget

            Being made in God’s image equips humans with power to rule, as the opening Scripture says.  That rule is limited, though.  Jesus gave His followers authority to heal the sick, raise the dead, and to cast out evil spirits in Matthew 10:7-8, PLUS authority to use the keys of the kingdom of heaven to bind and loosen circumstances on earth in Matthew 16:19. 

            Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

            God gave people free will to see who freely comes under His sovereign rule.  Our authority to rule is limited to what Jesus commanded—just like Jesus’ authority is second to the Father’s sovereign rule. 

Holy Father, teach me to line up under Your sovereign rule in my life, in the precious name of Jesus, Amen. 


Adapted from “Aligning with God’s Will” by Dr. Tony Evans.  November 19, 2016.  The Urban Alternative at LightSource.com.

J.D. Griffith

 





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