Psalms 18:1-2 

1 I love you, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Ponder the words “I love you Lord”. How much time do we spend there? “You are my strength”. Is He your strength or are you your strength? I know He is way, way, way, way, way, way stronger than I am.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer”. Rock, fortress, deliverer, shield, salvation, stronghold. – sounds like solid protection.  Protection from what? The trouble of the world or from a battle?

Question – if you’re using these purely out of a defensive position, why? Go on the offensive, in God’s love, grace, peace, and strength. Live a life that glorifies Him, love the lost, love the broken, love the unlovable. Be the light. Boldly go where God is leading you. Go to battle as God is calling you.
Use God to recover from your battle wounds, not to subsist cowering in the world.

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Ecclesiastes 7:9

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
Or as paraphrased in The Message “Don’t be quick to fly off the handle.  Anger boomerangs. You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head.”

My head looks like the Teton’s covered by a dunce cap.

So much anger is tied to our buttons getting pushed, salt poured in our weeping, infected wounds. Some anger is righteous as some thing’s are just wrong.

If you let Him, Christ can and will heal the first wounds as He walks you through the healing process. It’s hard work.

Christ can heal the second type too if you let Him use you in service.

No, there’s nothing He can’t do, no good He won’t do.

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Pray for Paris. Pray for the persecuted.

Pray for the people who were impacted by the Paris attack. Only Satan can think this is good. Pray for the persecuted Christians and persecuted Church in world where Paris is an everyday reality. Pray for the persecuted everywhere. Pray for those who are wicked, that they may see His love and reject Satan’s lies.

Proverbs 16:7

When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

What happened in Paris doesn’t make sense to anyone who loves. It make perfect sense for self-righteousness and anger. Proverbs 16:4 says “The Lord works out everything to its proper end – even the wicked for the day of disaster.”
A God of love mourns more than we do at the loss of life and the hatred shown. How does He allow this to happen? How do WE allow it to happen also needs to be asked because it happens in our backyard too. Hello Chicago. Hello poverty. Hello broken homes. There is violence and hatred all around us and it isn’t God.
The only solution is love and action. One person helping another leads to that person helping another. It’s the mustard seed effect. Have you committed to serve? If yes, you’re a blessing. If not, the time for hand wringing is past. We are called to serve in love, in His love.

Go, love, serve. Overcome evil and hatred with love. Love does make a difference. So does hate. Love in everything you do, like Christ loves us. Let Christ use you to go big. Let Him use you to make a difference with His love.

Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Proverbs 16:5 reads “Though sinners strengthen themselves and one another, they shall not escape God’s judgement.”

The day will come. Until then, we need to actively love like God loves us. Push back the dark with the light of love.

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1 John 4:10-11 

This is love: not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

This is where we as Christians often fall down, where self-righteousness, look down your nose, I’m glad I’m not like that, Pharisees like behavior creeps into our actions and love. I’m very grateful Christ doesn’t think like that.
We are to love like Christ loves us. No excuses, no borders, no boundaries, no class distinctions.
Matthew 25:31-43
Read it. If you don’t have a bible handy, Google it.
Love unconditionally like Christ loves us. Give unconditionally even if it hurts like it hurt Christ. Praise like Christ even if it seems as dark as it did for Him.
Love. Give. Praise.

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1 Samuel 2:2-3

1 Then Hanna prayed and said:…

2 “There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.
3 “Do not keep taking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed.”

There it is. We are so full of ourselves we forget God is watching and taking it inventory of everything we do. This God of ours loves us more than we love ourselves, loves us for who we are (which might not be who He created us to be – yet), and, like any parent, wants us to succeed.
However, He it’s watching us, judging us, keeping tabs on our lives. He is so deeply concerned He sent His Son to atone for our sins (being judged and judgemental, two “weighty” topics that we hate to do but can’t live without. We make judgements every day – do I like these texts? That’s a great latte! Learn how to drive you idiot!…. etc.).
Don’t be so arrogant to think He doesn’t notice, so small minded to think He doesn’t care, so ignorant to think He doesn’t exist.
There is no God like our God, no Rock like Him. Believe and truly prosper. It matters and has eternal consequences.

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Matthew 5:11-12

11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Or, as paraphrased in The Message: “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. 11 Not only that – count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close to comfort and they are uncomfortable. 12 You can be glad when that happens – give a cheer, even! – for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.”

The world doesn’t like what God has to say. Do you? Think about the implications of your answer. A no means you’re thinking like the world. Anything like “I like part of it, but only part, forget the rest, it’s to restrictive, to confining, requires to much of me” is a no. An I disagree with this our that us a no. God doesn’t give us an option to partly believe.

A yes though means you’ve realigned your life. A yes means that even though His words call you out, call out your sinful ways, you still crave to hear them, read them, study them. There is such love in the words, such peace, such joy, such a wonderful life. Just like children are way more well adjusted and secure when raised with boundaries, so are we adults.

Yes, it’s a life of being martyred, jailed, marginalized, muzzled, called a narrow minded bigot, simpleton, hypocrite, and so forth. This is nothing new.

Read the words again. Think about this: you’re blessed when your commitment to God causes the world, Satan, to attack you. Heaven cries at your pain and rejoices in your faith.

Please don’t be halfway because only all the way works. Please don’t say no to God without studying Him intensely. Please don’t be afraid of discomfort here on earth; don’t let that get in the way of eternal party and joy that is waiting for us in heaven.

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1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Our temptations are no greater than what others experience, they are common to man, we all deal with them. Where we are on the scale doesn’t matter because the minute we come off perfect we are toast anyway. If it wasn’t for God’s grace, His forgiveness, in your life, the long term outlook is grim.
What happens to us, what we feel, the urges of our body, are normal. They require a response, and that’s where choice comes in, where self-will, self-determination, come into play. That’s where our choice matters. Will we seek the wisdom of God, seek His protection, or will we cave to the desires of our body, the worldly desires?
Good gives us the tools. He gave us a savior, someone to save us from sin. No one ever said it was going to be easy, and it isn’t. That said, not leaning into God is a choice. Fighting the good fight, running the good race is a choice. Caving to your worldly desires is a choice.
Choose wisely, choose eternally, choose real life.

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Proverbs 15:1

 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Sounds reasonable. Should be easy to do. Yet, have you ever raised your voice in anger? What are the results? Aren’t your emotions often mirrored back, or you hit pay dirt and tap into a high pressure well of ugly?
Anger most often plays on the wounds of the party’s involved which is why it’s so sick, why the results are so damaging, so long lasting. I’ve spent a lot of time in anger, done a lot of damage, been damaged. No good had come out if it, only scars.
Why does God share this wisdom with us? Words matter. V4 says “Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim”.
The tongue can be very evil and it’s tied directly to the brain. They both need training in what’s right, and the best place for that training, the best place to learn, the best trainer in what’s right, it’s all recorded in scripture. Wisdom, the difference between right and wrong, the most amazing man ever grace the earth (by a country mile), that’s where you’ll find it.
Jesus, wisdom, and God’s law. Follow them, study them, live them. It is the right way because v3 “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere keeping watch on the wicked and the good”.
It ain’t Santa who “knows what you’ve been thinking, He knows when you’ve been bad our good, so you’d better be good for goodness sake…..”.
Ponder this: how would your life change if you could truly respond without anger?

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Ephesians 1:3-6 (MSG)

3 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He is the father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in Him. 4 Long before he laid down the earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. 5 Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) 6 He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
We are invited to the banquet (Luke 14:15-24), and it’s been the plan all along. It’s part of God’s glorious plan, an incredible, awesome, amazing blessing. However, it’s not a given.
The blessing must be accepted first. Yep, all it takes is to say yes. Yes to the giver of the blessing, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God. Accept all three, not just some nebulous God of our own creation. Accept Him then lean into Him. Drop your vanity and self-righteousness, humble yourself to the creator of the universe. Believe it or not, He’s bigger, wiser, more loving than you or me.
It’s who He is. He’s the good Father. Don’t miss the blessing because you don’t want to get your head around the fact that we were chosen before time began. Don’t miss the blessing because you’re to busy being the ruler of your own life to realize that He is a better ruler than you are. Don’t say no to the ultimate blessing because you’re content with the table scraps that fall from His table (Matthew 15:27).
Oh Lord, thank you for this glorious blessing, for this day, and for Your grace.

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Luke 12:29-31

29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Don’t worry, and more importantly, don’t anxiously pursue the things of this world, even necessary things. God will provide as He always has, always will. “If we [crave] the beauty of holiness, we shall not crave the luxuries of life…. Christ is our Master, and we are His servants; not only working servants, but waiting servants.” (Matthew Henry Concise Commentary) …Relax, don’t be so worried about getting that you can’t respond to God’s giving. (loosely from The Message)
Faith is partly the belief that God will give us better than we can get ourselves, even when it doesn’t seem like He’s noticing our struggles. He wants us to serve in everything we do, and that means getting off our behinds and moving, yet waiting on Him and letting Him use us, not trying to do His work for Him.
Who reading this has died of starvation? Who reading this has thrown 10%, 20%, 30% of their food bill to feeding those that are starving?
Do not worry but seek His kingdom. Do not worry and trust in Him, even when things aren’t going your way. Lean into Him, and you’ll find things aren’t going your way because they are going His way. Find joy and peace there.

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Proverbs 3:5-8 

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Be not wise in your own eyes, do not lean on your own understanding. Do Godly things and submit to Him to have your paths made straight. Trust in Him with all your heart. Then health will be brought, nourishment for our bones arrives.
I guess I’m missing that last part since I’m not doing the first part. It strikes me as strange that I don’t do this naturally since it would be really good for me, and my life would be much fuller with what matters.
I’m guessing I’m not alone since the Proverbs were written a few years ago. It’s safe to say that we haven’t learned much if something written so long ago still has so much to say about our daily behavior.
I’m very curious why it’s so difficult to lean on the Lord, to trust Him with our whole heart, to submit to Him, to shun evil, to run to God.

“The founder of every major religion said I will teach you how to find God. Christ said I am God and have come to find you.” (Tim Keller)
He has come to find us, to guide us, to love us, to save us. Why do we resist?

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Matthew 5:4

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
How do we heal the wounds of life we pick up as we live in the world? Does God wound us? No He doesn’t. We make choices out of the flesh, we pay the consequences. How do we heal those wounds?
I think there are a couple of important things to remember. 1) God won’t hurt us, but we will hurt ourselves. Crazy, but true – He’s God, we’re not. 2) Grieving is important. Mourning is important. The healing process is intentional. You don’t heal a wound (correctly) by ignoring it. You have to be intentional about treating it. There are right things to do and wrong things to do. Ignoring the wound often leads to bad things happening. Same with a wounded soul. A soul wounded by the world needs to be healed by a perfect, loving God. How? Mourn your wounds with Him. Your wounds aren’t the first He’s seen, nor the first of its type. He knows your pain and finding peace in His word is the biggest step. As you grieve the hurt, come to peace with it, embrace it, own it, define it, learn from it, grow from it, and heal of it. Don’t accumulate it in a dirty little secrets bag. That bag is really a millstone around your neck that everyone sees. They might not know why it’s there, but everyone knows it’s there.
Learn from His love how to grieve, mourn your pain, heal with Christ. Turn the millstone into tools. Turn your pain into joy – the joy of forgiveness and repentance, the joy of freedom from, the joy of using what was meant for bad for good, the joy of service. Heal in Him, heal through Him, heal with Him.
His love knows no end, so live in that love, not in our tiny, fleshy world.

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Galatians 5:16-17

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
How interesting that God would set up conflict in us as the result of original sin.  How interesting that we have a battle going on between self (flesh) and God (Spirit)? Walk by the Spirit, He who was sent to transform our souls, or the flesh? I know my flesh is strong. Holy Spirit, be in me so I can overcome the desires of my flesh.
Now unlock this “they are in conflict with each other” so you’re conflicted when we want to do what we want to do vs. what we need to do. There is natural conflict between who we are and God created us to be.
Are you caving immediately to what you want to do,the way of the world and self, or are you craving to overcome the flesh and do what God created you for?
Are you caving to a self centered life or craving a God driven life?

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