Each child is unique

Each child is unique

Jeremiah 1:5 NIV

Does a baby come into the world with a complex personality, or is that child a blank slate on which experience will write? In the past, behavioral scientists believed newborns had no temperamental or emotional characteristics upon arrival from the womb. Their little personalities were supposedly formed entirely by the experiences that came their way in ensuing years. But most parents knew better. Every mother of two or more children was convinced that each of her infants had a different personality – a different feel – from the very first time they were held. N ow, after years of research, numerous authorities in child development acknowledge that those mothers were right. One important study identified nine characteristics that varied in babies – such as moodiness, level of activity, and responsiveness. They also found that the differences from child to child tended to persist into later life. Indeed, babies do differ in infinite ways that define our humanness and our individuality. If every snowflake that falls has its own design, and if every grain of sand at the seashore is unique, it makes no sense to suppose that children are assembly-line products stamped out by the same giant cookie cutter. There’s no denying the importance of environment and human experience in shaping who we are and how we think. But there can be no doubt that each person on earth is a one-of-a-kind creation from the earliest moments of life. As God told Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” You need to know that about your children.

Soul food: Num 1-2Matt 10:11-20Ps 100Prov 3:7-8

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The island of blessing

The island of blessing

Colossians 2:9 NKJV

In his book Outlive Your Life, author Max Lucado says the Greek word for “blessed,” makarios, was the name of an island off Greece. It was known as “the blessed island” because it was self-contained. The residents didn’t need to leave it in order to get their needs met. The natural resources of this island were so rich that everything needed to enjoy life was already there. There’s a lesson here for you. The moment you trust in Christ as your Savior, He becomes your king and you begin living in His kingdom. You don’t have to leave it and go elsewhere to f ind what you need, because it’s all around you in the island of blessing. You don’t have to strive for God’s blessing; you simply have to “tune in” and receive it. It’s like your radio; there are no orchestras or newscasters inside it, it’s only a conduit and a point of contact. Even when your radio stops working, there are still signals in the air. All your radio does is receive the signal that comes from another source and deliver it to you. If you lose sight of that fact, you’ll give the radio more credit than it deserves. One of the reasons we don’t recognize the blessings of God in our lives is that we confuse the means of delivery with the source. If something doesn’t miraculously fall into our lap, we think it didn’t come from God. No, God will bless you at different times, through different people, in different ways. But you must always remember that they are only the carriers of blessing, while He is the source of it (See Psalm 31:19).

 

Soul food: James 3-5Matt 10:1-10Ps 96Prov 3:5-6

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Don’t just read it, do it (2)

Don’t just read it, do it (2)

John 14:26 NIV

Jesus ended His Sermon on the Mount with a striking story that addresses the gap between knowing and doing: “Therefore anyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24 NIV). The problem is, we find is easier to be smart than to be good. You don’t need to know more about the Bible until you put into practice what you already know. John Ortberg says that when he taught tennis, unskilled novices would agonize over which racket to buy – whether to use nylon or gut strings, whether to string them up at sixty-five or seventy pounds. The problem was, they couldn’t even hit the ball. Instead of debating the minutiae, they simply needed to practice. But a word of caution here: You don’t become a “doer of the word” by drawing on your own strength and willpower. The Holy Spirit who dwells within you is referred to in Scripture as “the paraclete.” The word means “one who comes alongside to help.” When you decide to do what’s right, the Holy Spirit within you empowers you to do it. When a situation arises, He will prompt you as to what you should do. Jesus promised, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” You ask, “But what if I don’t get it right?” He will work with you, giving you opportunities until you do get it right.

Soul food: James 1-2Matt 9:27-38Ps 91Prov 3:3-4

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James 1:22 NIV

Don’t just read it, do it (1)

James 1:22 NIV

A businessman known for his ruthlessness, arrogance, and religiosity told Mark Twain that before he died he intended to visit the Holy Land, climb Mount Sinai, and read the Ten Commandments aloud. “I have a better idea,” Twain replied. “Just stay here in Boston and keep them!” We’d rather cogitate on what we don’t know, than act on what we know we need to do. For example, a company knows it needs to improve its quality control so the executives discuss the problem, listen to presentations, read all kinds of books, look at state-of-the-art systems – but never actually get around to doing anything. Their problem isn’t ignorance; it’s knowing too much but doing too little. Another everyday example: People would rather debate the merits of protein vs. carbs, French cooking vs. vegetarian, lifting weights vs. cardio, than change how they eat. The bottom line is simple: Expend more calories than you take in. Likewise, some Christians would rather debate doctrine than do what Jesus says. As the old ad for Nike sneakers said – just do it! Practice loving a difficult person; try forgiving someone; give some money away; stop and say thanks; worship God; encourage a friend; bless an enemy; when you’re in the wrong say, “I’m sorry.” Face it: You already know more than you need to. And nothing turns people off faster than somebody with a head full of knowledge, who lacks grace and character. It’s the same today as it was when James wrote, “Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers.”

Soul food: Dan 11-12Matt 9:14-26Ps 89:38-52Prov 3:1-2

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Philippians 3:21 NLT

Your new Christlike body

Philippians 3:21 NLT

The Bible says our heavenly bodies will be exactly like the one Jesus had following His resurrection. He resembled Himself, because the disciples could recognize Him. He ate and drank with them. He could be touched. He could miraculously pass through walls. Talk about “time travel” – He could appear in various places to different people without traveling by any recognized means. His transformed body no longer aged, nor was it subject to sickness and death. And your new body will be like His. “Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. After that the end will come” (1 Corinthians 15:23-24 NLT). Scottish Presbyterian Robert Baillie learned in 1684 that he would be hanged for his alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate King Charles II, then drawn and quartered, and his head and hands nailed to a local bridge. How did he respond? By first quoting this Scripture: “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior…who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21 NKJV). Then he declared: “They may hack and hew my body as they please, but I know assuredly that nothing will be lost, that all these my members shall be wonderfully gathered and made like Christ’s glorious body.” The truth is that whether you get buried in a casket or cremated and your ashes scattered, it makes no difference. God has prepared for you a glorious body just like Christ’s.

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Soul food: Dan 8-10Matt 9:1-13Ps 89:15-37Prov 2:21-22

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1 Samuel 12:12 NKJV

The difference between Samson and Samuel (3)

1 Samuel 12:12 NKJV

Difference three: Motives. Samson repeatedly dishonored the Lord by his actions and his lifestyle. That’s because he had no regard for God’s honor. What a contrast Samuel was! When Israel wanted a king in order to be like all the surrounding nations, it broke his heart. He said to the people, “The Lord your God was your king.” Honoring God was his highest priority. And there’s a lesson here for us, especially those in ministry. Every time someone steps behind a pulpit, they must check their ego and ask themselves the motive questio n: “Is my aim to make God look good, or myself look good?” And it’s a hard question to answer. The Bible says, “For the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 2:3 NKJV). The truth is that without the power of God’s indwelling Spirit, none of us have what it takes to do the job, and we must never forget that. The tragedy of Samson’s end is described in these two Scriptures: “He awoke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him” (Judges 16:20 NKJV). “So it happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, ‘Call for Samson, that he may perform for us.’ So they called for Samson from the prison, and he performed for them” (v. 25 NKJV). Note the word perform. Without God’s grace and power we are all, at best, just performers. So stay humble, and seek only to exalt the Lord.

Soul food: Dan 3-4Matt 8:18-27Ps 84Prov 2:16-19v

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The difference between Samson and Samuel

The difference between Samson and Samuel (2)

Judges 14:3 NKJV

Difference two: Relationships. “Then his father and mother said to him, ‘Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren…that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?’ And Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me, for she pleases me well.'” When it came to relationships, Samson was guided by his lower impulses instead of the principles of God’s Word. And he paid dearly for it. Three times we read in Scripture: “Samson went down” (v. 1 NKJV). He went down to Timnath and married the wrong woman. He went d own to Gaza and spent the night with a harlot. He went down to Sorek, ended up in the lap of Delilah, and lost his strength, his freedom, his reputation, his anointing, and his life. Samuel, on the other hand, was raised up to purify the ministry. Eli the High Priest had two sons called Hophni and Phinehas that he had ordained to the priesthood, but they were taking bribes to cover sin and brazenly consorting with prostitutes. There’s a lesson here for every redeemed child of God: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV). Is God being biased or unloving? No, He’s being protective! When you’re “yoked together” in a relationship with someone who doesn’t share your faith, your values, your goals, and your priorities, you end up in a tug of war with each pulling in a different direction. When problems arise, as they surely will, what you need is someone by your side who turns to the same source you do for the solution: God.

Soul food: Dan 1-2Matt 8:10-17Ps 81Prov 2:11-15

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